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  • Islam in Contention: Rethinking Islam and State in Indonesia ed. by Ota Atsushi, Okamoto Masaaki, and Ahmad Suaedy
  • Iqra Anugrah (bio)
Islam in Contention: Rethinking Islam and State in Indonesia. Edited by Ota Atsushi, Okamoto Masaaki, and Ahmad Suaedy. Jakarta: Wahid Institute; Kyoto: Kyoto University Center for Southeast Asian Studies; Taipei: Academia Sinica Center for Asia-Pacific Area Studies. 2010. 468 pp.

Islam in Contention covers recent developments concerning Islam in Indonesia's political processes, with a particular focus on state-Islam relations, the strategies Islamic groups pursue to gain political influence, and how such dynamics shape the discourse about the proper role of Islam in Indonesian society.

In the introduction, the three editors state that the primary aim of the book is to "reveal the dynamism and diversity of the current thoughts and movements surrounding Indonesian Islam," (p. 12) rather than to provide a comprehensive theoretical monograph of Islam and politics in Indonesia. The book also tries to bridge the gap between activists and scholars, and, consequently, the editors have included the works of members of non-governmental organizations as well as academics in this volume.

The first part of the book, "Islam and Social Justice," juxtaposes normative and empirical approaches to state-Islam relations. In the first essay, Masdar F Mas'udi discusses the compatibility between Islam and modern societal institutions, such as democracy, a market economy, human rights, and social welfare. He argues that the Islamic conception of an ideal state is a democratic welfare state. In the second essay, Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao responds to Mas'udi's Islamic political vision by contrasting the gap between that vision and political realities. Hsiao highlights the challenges and difficulties of translating Islamic political ideas into modern state institutions. Hsiao also points out the need for Islam-inspired political ideas to deal with the diversity of society.

In part two, "Contemporary Contentions over Islam," the authors, who are mostly activists, share their insiders' perspectives to shed light on issues that have generated considerable controversy in Indonesia over the past years, such as the adoption of shari'a regulations, the writing of a counter legal draft of the Islamic law compilation, the pornography bill, and violations of minorities' religious freedom. In chapter three, Abubakar Eby Hara discusses the changing context in which debates about shari'a regulations occur, highlighting how groups that are advocating shari'a regulations now invoke freedom of speech and freedom of religious practices to support the implementation of shari'a regulations. In chapter four, Marzuki Wahid, a member of the team that proposed the counter legal draft of the Islamic law compilation (Counter Legal Draft-Kompilasi Hukum Islam, CLD-KHI), describes controversies surrounding CLD-KHI, especially from the mainstream Islamic perspective of Indonesia's established religious institutions like Indonesian Council of Clerics (Majelis Ulama Indonesia, MUI). Abdur Rozaki writes in the fifth chapter about the politics of the pornography bill as expressed in the views of supporters and opponents of the bill, from both the national parliament and society. In chapter six, Ahmad Suaedy shares his experience from being personally involved in various movements promoting [End Page 181] cultural pluralism and freedom of religion in Indonesia against an increase in violence against minorities perpetuated by Islamic fundamentalist organizations.

The third part of the volume shifts to the role Islamist social movements and political parties have played in influencing politics since 1998. In "Strategies in Struggle," Fahlesa Munabari discusses the rhetoric of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), whereas Okamoto Masaaki underlines the Islamist Partai Keadilan Sejahtera's (Justice and Welfare Party, PKS) pragmatic strategies in local politics through a case study of Banten province. In chapter nine, Sasaki Takuo's essay shows how the Indonesian government—particularly under the Yudhoyono administration—projects itself as the promoter of moderate Islam in the midst of anti-Ahmadiyah sentiments.

In the collection's fourth section, "Discourse and Practice of Islam in Society," Kobayashi Yasuko presents an essay on the changing perspectives of Nahdlatul Ulama's (NU, the Awakening of Religious Scholars) discussion forum for legal issues (BM, BahtsulMasa'il) with regard to women's public role. In chapter eleven, Syuan-yuan Chiou explains the politics of "Chinese theory," which...


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