Urban Sufi and politics in contemporary Indonesia: the role of dhikr associations in the anti-‘Ahok’ rallies

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Abstract

Huge rallies organized by Islamists at the end of 2016 in Jakarta attracted scholarly debate, with some arguing that the influence of Islamists is rising. However, members of those Islamist groups are still a minority in Indonesia. Examination of Islamist groups alone hardly explains why so many middle-class individuals outside these organizations supported and took part in the rallies. This article argues that the Islamist leaders of rallies intentionally created a dhikr assembly-like atmosphere to attract dhikr followers and other ordinary Muslims to take part. I then scrutinize the response of Majelis Rasululluah (The Prophet’s Assembly, MR), one of the biggest Sufi dhikr litany associations in Jakarta. The MR leadership gave in to the overwhelming demand from its followers who wished to take part in such activities, called the political rally a ‘dhikr event’ and announced its permission to participate. Although relationships between Islamists and Sufis have been conventionally understood as antagonistic, this Indonesian case demonstrates that their temporary alliance can be possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-237
Number of pages13
JournalSouth East Asia Research
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jul 3

Keywords

  • dhikr
  • Indonesia
  • Islamism
  • Jakarta
  • Sufism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations

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