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Development in Indonesia of radical and moderate Muslim groups

Published: 03rd April 2023 Last updated: 21st September 2023

In modern Indonesia, different social classes developed their own radical and moderate interpretations of the teachings of Islam in politics and society. PhD candidate Abdul Aziz examined how they construct their ideological legitimacy and are influenced by social developments. Indonesian Islam also experienced the rise of the conservative form of Islam, which led to major divisions and competition both in traditionalist and modernist Muslim communities. Aziz will receive his doctorate on April 5.

In particular, Aziz focused his research on the Islamic Defender Front (FPI), which represents the interests of the radical Muslim middle class. The FPI’s radicalism grew alongside Muslim traditionalism, in which Muslim traditionalism was considered a manifestation of Muslim moderatism. From the moderate Muslim middle class, his research focused on the Muhammadiyah Young Intellectual Network (JIMM). The moderation of the JIMM developed as a form of resistance to the strengthening of Muslim conservatism among modernist Muslims. In Indonesian Islam, Muslim modernism has been considered a manifestation of Muslim moderatism.

Interests of social classes

Aziz concludes that in its empirical setting as an ideology, it might be convincingly understood that Islam is a constructed reality the legitimacy of which is contested by various Muslim associations. The formation of this ideology is heavily influenced by the interests of its adherents. Thus, the radical and moderate tendencies of Muslims cannot be separated from their background and interests as competing social classes, especially in gaining and maintaining political power and economic prosperity. 

Abdul Aziz is a lecturer at the State Islamic Institute of Bone (IAIN Bone) in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

More information
Abdul Aziz will defend his PhD-thesis on the 5th of April in the Auditorium with live stream.
The dissertation is entitled: Constructing Ideological Authority: A Study on the Radical and Moderate Muslim Middle Classes in the Contemporary Politics of Indonesian Islam.
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