Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Islam is the Solution"

Since several years ago, I have been exposed with PKS or Partai Keadilan Sejahtera, whether by the reading or the religious lecture. It is very interesting to observe how Islamic parties in Indonesia survive especially after democracy was reestablish there. Fortunately, I found one article (below) in Scribd that enhance my knowledge and understanding regarding PKS and other Indonesian Islamic Organization especially Masyumi's inheritor - the first Islamic party in Indonesia led by Muhammad Natsir which was banned by Soekarno. 

“Islam is the Solution”
Dakwah and Democracy in Indonesia

The bomb blasts that rocked Bali on October 12, 2002 and killed 202 people have led to a new concern with the Islamic revival that emerged in Indonesia under the New Order in the 1980s. Although there is a long history of bombings in Indonesia—the national news magazine Tempo lists 20 since July 4, 2000 and another list compiled by the Volunteer Team for Humanitarian Aid from various sources lists 64 bombings between 1962 and 2002—Indonesians were shocked by the target chosen (foreign tourists) and the size of the bomb.2 Immediately speculation arose about who was behind the bombing. Initially, many Indonesians were certain that this bomb was too big to be the work of local terrorists. Some were suspicious that the Indonesian military might be involved, but most people seemed to prefer the theory that the CIA (or possibly Mossad) was behind the bombing.3 Western intelligence agencies were accused of plotting the bombing in order to discredit Islam and pressure Indonesia’s government into supporting the American war against terrorism.

At the time of the bombing, I was teaching a seminar on globalization at the State Islamic University (UIN Syarif Hidayatullah) in Jakarta. I found that all of my student were suspicious that the United States was behind the bombing. They brought me articles from the Islamist magazine Sabili and from websites to support their belief that Western intelligence organizations were involved.4 Over the following months, I found that this suspicion lingered on despite police investigations that uncovered Jemaah Islamiah (JI), an underground network of Islamists fighting for the establishment of an Islamic State in Southeast Asia. Even after the arrest of 83 members of JI as of August 2003 doubts persisted.5 A little over a year after the Bali bombing, polls showed that less than half the Indonesian public believed that JI exists.6 The belief that the bombings were engineered by an intelligence agency to discredit Islam is particularly strong among Muslim students, among whom there is growing acceptance of the idea that the Islamic world is under attack by Western forces. This view has been promoted by a movement of religious purification and intensification (dakwah) that has been reshaping the face of Indonesian Islam over the last three decades.

Dakwah is conducted by all Islamic organizations as a religious obligation, and it includes both spreading the faith to unbelievers and providing a better understanding of Islam to nominal Muslims. However, the dakwah movement that operated underground or with a low profile under the New Order was an Islamist movement that targeted university students. Islamist refers to those who maintain that Muslims must struggle to establish an Islamic government and shari’ah (Islamic law) in majority Muslim states. The Islamists believe that Islam is under attack by the Western world (glossed variously as secularism, a Jewish conspiracy, communism, Christianization, and American domination), and it must be defended. Radical Islamist groups are prepared to use violence in defense of Islam. The dakwah movement appealed to a younger generation of Islamic activists disillusioned with the promise of the secular nation state to bring prosperity and greater social and economic justice. They believe that only the establishment of an Islamic government can bring genuine reform and justice. Their slogan, derived from the Muslim Brotherhood, is “Islam is the solution.”

In the first part of this essay I describe how the dakwah movement began in the 1970s, how students who had studied in the Middle East, where they were inspired by Islamist thinkers, established new dakwah organizations in the 1980s and how the dakwah movement emerged as a political force in the 1990s. I distinguish four different (but overlapping) streams of dakwah. In part two I apply the analysis of Gilles Kepel in Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (2002) to Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS), the dynamic new political party to emerge from the dakwah movement. I argue that PKS is a moderate alternative to radical Islamism.
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