Islam in Provincial Indonesia: Middle Class, Lifestyle, and Democracy

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ISLAM IN PROVINCIAL INDONESIA: Middle Class, Lifestyle, and Democracy Noorhaidi Hasan

  Mass education andmass communication have facilitated an awareness in Muslims of the onfigure the nature of religious thought and action, createneed to rec new forms of public space, and encourage debate over meaning. This paper is aimed at analysing the changing landscape ofIndonesian provincial towns marked by the mushrooming of religious symbols that has occurred in tandem with the emergence of a new middleclass which has become aware of the importance of religious identity for their social status and lifestyle.

A. Introduction

  This paper is aimed at analysing the changing landscape ofIndonesian provincial towns marked by the mushrooming of religious symbols that has occurred in tandem with the emergence of a new middleclass which has become aware of the importance of religious identity for their social status and lifestyle. This paper thus also examines the way in which the middle class plays a pivotal role as an agency facilitating the growth of public Islam inprovincial Indonesia where ideas about locality, tradition, modernization and globalization as well as ideas about Isla m’s significance for town publiclife are mutually reinforcing.

B. Islamization in Town

  Looking at Indonesia from provincial towns allows us to understand how the local, the cosmopolitan, and the global have intertwined in informingmultiple manifestations of the complex relationship between the political, the economic, the social, the cultural and the religious. Despite criticism from some sceptics who still judges superficial, based on the assumption Indonesia’s emergent democracy a that it remains procedural rather than functional, and driven by politicalmoney and manipulation, one cannot deny that the electoral democratic system evolving in Indonesia today is rooted in the opening of politicalopportunity bolstered by certain levels of social mobility, economic growth, and broader participation in education and politics.

C. Middle Class and Lifestyle

  63-70.16 Ken Young, “Consumption, Social Differentiation a nd Self-Definition of the New Rich,” in Michael Pinches, Culture and Privilege in Capitalist Asia, London: Islam in Provincial Indonesia lifestyle of the educated urban middle class inspired the image of modernIndonesia promoted on the nation’s television screens and through nd exemplified by the nation’s leaders. As a matter of fact, the rising consciousness of the new Muslim middle class of the importance of Islamic symbols, with its willingnessto engage in debate and objectify religion, looked to the availability of religious space within the urban landscape of metropolitan and bigcities.

D. C ommodification

  Religiousommodification has in fact very much to do with the way religion, in cthis case Islam, is packaged and offered to a broader audience, and how this has produced a framework for the moral order of society throughthe objec tification and systematization of Islamic values and practices as a normative model. But the end result is determinedby those on the economic margins who “show a fascination with the35 cultural codes associated with the wealth and power of the new elites.” The sprouting of Islamic symbols in Indonesian provincial towns is almost identical to the success of the middle class in expanding business.

E. Islam in Local Politics

  As Casanova has argued, religionsin the globalizing era have entered the public sphere and the arena of political contestation to participa te in the very struggles to define and setthe modern boundaries between the private and public sphere, between system and life-world, between family, civil society and state, between49 nations, states, civilizations and the world system. Especially outside Java, there were many who felt that they hadnever really enjoyed the fruits of 30 years of New Order development, but instead bore the brunt of corruption, collusion and nepotism from55 Kendra Clegg, “The Politic s of Redefining Ethnic Identity in Indonesia: Smothering the Fires in Lombok with Democracy,” in Nicholas Tarling and Edmund Terence Gomez (eds.), The State, Development and Identity in Multi-Ethnic Societies.

56 Islam in Provincial Indonesia

  Referring to the thesis proposedby local anthropologist Alfani Daud, the main concept underlying the by-laws is that “Islam is Banjar and Banjar is Islam.” In his opinion,however, the pressures of rapid modernization and globalization andJakarta-centric development had resulted in the fa ding influence ofIslam as the most important source of reference among the Banjarese people. They only reached peaceful agreement60 Interview with Anang Armawan, former bupati candidate, Martapura, 10 February 2008, and with Fauzan Saleh, the Chairman of the Executive Council of NU branch in Martapura, 13 February 2008.61 Interview with Mashuri, former chief of the socia l office and now of the economic office at the Banjar regency, 16 February 2008.62 Interview with Mawardi Abbas, Martapura, 16 February 2008.

63 Islam in Provincial Indonesia after mediation by Guru Zaini

  Its significance for Saleh was that the Jawi script is identical to the alphabet of the Qur’an, which63 Interview with Rizki Wijayakusuma, former NGO activist, Martapura, 19 February 2008.64 On the notion of the bureaucratization of Islam and how this policy has begun to work out especially in the context of Malaysia under Mahathir’s government, see Liow, Piety and Politics, pp. Every morning civil servants in the Banjar regency listen to a short sermon, piped into their offices, on the importance of such virtues aspiety, transparency, honesty, and the ethos of meritocracy for the success of regional development - laced with Qur’anic quotations.

F. Conclusion

  The growing interest of the middle class in a market-friendlyIslam-based lifestyle has spread to a large and diverse segment ofIndonesian Muslims, including those on the economic margins who show66 Interview with Khairul Saleh, the Regent of Banjar, Martapura, 21 February 2008. Seen froma similar perspective, the application of shari’>a bylaws in Martapura is best understood not as evidenc e of the growing influence of Islam inpolitics, but rather as the maneuverings of the town’s political elites in their efforts to secure their own interests.

h, Moeflic “Cultural Presentation of the Muslim Middle Class

  Islamism in Contemporary Malaysia, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.ommodification of Religion and the Lukens-Bull, Ronald, “C‘Religification’ of Commodities,” in Pattana Kitiarsa (ed.), Religious C ommodifications in Asia: Marketing Goods, London and New York: Routledge, 2008. Interview with Muhammad Dahsyad, a member of the Education Council of Muhammadiyah in Kebumen, and Muhammad Abduh Hisyam,the Secretary of Muhammadiyah in Kebumen, 12 October 2007.

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