On Being Radical or Moderate: The Many Ways of Interpreting Radicalism and Promoting Moderate Islam in Contemporary Indonesia

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Abstract

What does radical actually mean is highly diverse. Radical literally means “pertaining to roots”, from the Latin radix. The use of “radical” in Islamic and political studies marks a desire to reach down to the very roots of something in order to change it, or reform it entirely. In Indonesia, radical Islamic groups are associated with a group of people who proselytize the picture of Islam in stickler way. They often call for the need to install an Islamic State (Khilafah), replacing Pancasila, the Indonesia’s constitution, seen as a corrupted ideology. In the Indonesian context, particularly before the Reform era came to the fore, progressive Islamic mass organizations like NU and Muhammadiyah have come up with a common platform that Pancasila is the sole Ideology of Indonesia’s nation-state. No question about it anymore. But after the reform era, new Islamic organizations emerged as the more opened political atmosphere was introduced. These transnational organizations, such as HTI, tried to challenge Pancasila or interpret it in an Islamic way, repudiating the fact that Pancasila is the umbrella ideology for every group of people regardless of their religious background. Consequently, NU and Muhammadiyah with their jargon of Islam Nusantara (the archipelagic Islam) and Islam Berkemajuan (the developing Islam) respectively have been trying to promote their views about Islam which are moderate, tolerant and inclusive. Although their efforts did not run smoothly, Islam Nusantara and Islam Berkemajuan have been taken for granted by NU and Muhammadiyah activists in promoting moderate Islam in Indonesia nationwide. This panel invites papers that touch on the many experiences of the activists of NU and Muhamamdiyah in their effort of promoting moderate Islam in Indonesia and beyond. It also welcomes the varied interpretations of what Islam Nusantara and Islam Berkemajuan mean to different Muslims and context.