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Islam and the Secular State in Indonesia

Luthfi Assyaukanie

Publication Year: 2009

This is an excellent book which will have a major impact on the current debate about the relationship between Islam and politics in Indonesia. Its greatest strength is its innovative characterization of three Indonesian Muslim models of polity, as opposed to the normal two, Islamic state and secular state. Assyaukanie brilliantly delineates a third model, which he calls the Religious Democratic State, in the process greatly clarifying our understanding of the previous models, which he now proposes to label the Islamic Democratic State and the Liberal Democratic State. Another strength of the book is methodological. Each of its arguments is solidly grounded in the thoughts and actions of particular players, Indonesian Muslim thinkers and activists.-- Professor R. William Liddle, Ohio State University, United States of America

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Front Matter

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xii

For the last ten years, popular and academic books on Islam revolve around various aspects of Islamic radicalism. There seems to be no analysis of Islam unless it is rendered with the phenomenon of Islamic radicalism. Books on Indonesian Islam are no exception. The outbreak of religious conflicts since 1998 and...

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pp. xiii

An earlier version of Chapter 5, “Model 3: Liberal Democratic State” was first published in Luthfi Assyaukanie, Robert Hefner and Azyumardi Azra, Muslim Politics and Democratisation in Indonesia, Annual Indonesian Lecture...


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pp. xiv-xviii

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pp. 1-23

This book is about political thought, particularly about Islamic political thought as demonstrated by Indonesian Muslims since independence. It deals mainly with political change and how Muslims develop their arguments in facing it. The main questions I am concerned with in this study are: Why, for example, did many...

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pp. 24-56

In its September 2004 edition, the New Statesman addressed a provocative question: Can Islam change? The article, which was written by renowned Muslim scholar Ziauddin Sardar, gave a clear answer: Islam is indeed able to change. What Sardar meant by “Islam” was primarily shari‘ah or Islamic law. It is shari‘ah that regulates...

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3. MODEL 1: Islamic Democratic State

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pp. 57-96

The will to establish an independent nation-state based on Islam and democracy had resonated since pre-independence times. As we have seen in Chapter 2, the idea of “nation-state” was broadly accepted by Indonesian Muslims as an ideal political system, despite the fact that they were under non-Muslim colonial...

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4. MODEL 2: Religious Democratic State

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pp. 97-139

We have seen that Model 1 failed to become an alternative model of an ideal government in Indonesia. The model’s vision of the state-religion relationship is not applicable to the Indonesian pluralist community. Mohammad Natsir’s and Zainal Abidin Ahmad’s view of equality and of minority political rights is not conducive to...

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5. MODEL 3: Liberal Democratic State

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pp. 140-176

Model 3, which will be discussed in this chapter, is a response to various problems of the religion-state relationship that arose in Model 2. It fundamentally criticizes the hegemonic position of the state over people’s religious activities and radically attempts to present a more feasible format of the religion-state...

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pp. 177-221

This chapter will discuss the current developments of Muslim political thought. It will highlight the attitude of Muslim intellectuals towards political issues in Indonesia, particularly since the post-Soeharto era. The chapter will also examine the trajectories of the models of polity discussed in the previous chapters. As I...

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pp. 222-233

The history of thought is an elusive area to write about. It has many holes where writers are trapped into making generalizations or simplifications. However, generalizations and simplifications are sometimes necessary in giving an intelligible picture of the complex phenomenon of human thought. There is, however, a...


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pp. 234-251


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pp. 253-261

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About the Author

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pp. 262

Luthfi Assyaukanie is a deputy director of the Freedom Institute and a senior lecturer at Paramadina University, both in Jakarta. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne. His Ph.D. thesis, which has now become this book, won the 2007 Chancellor’s Prize from the university. He has published...

E-ISBN-13: 9789812308900
Print-ISBN-13: 9789812308894

Page Count: 262
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: 1

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Islam and secularism.
  • Islam and secularism -- Indonesia.
  • Islam and state -- Indonesia.
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