Annotated Bibliography on Political Islam

Asad, Talal, “Reconfiguration of Law and Ethics in Colonial Egypt”, Formation of the Secular Christianity, Islam, Modernity, Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press (1994), 205-256

Asad seeks to trace the root of secularism in Muslim country. Asad gives the explanation how the idea of secularism was made thinkable in Muslim country. The proponents of secular Indonesian embrace the modern idea of a secular society that “included a distinctive relation between state law and personal morality, such that religion became essentially a matter of (private) belief.” (205).
Like in Egypt, which Asad is talking about, in Indonesia, “The shariah was not abandoned, but it was restricted to matters of personal status and to area where it could be clearly and easily codified”. (227)
I think the most relevant point he made is that “…only where there is this public realm can personal ethics become constituted as sovereign and be closely linked to a personally chosen style of life – that is, an aesthetic” (p. 255). The absence of public realm in the most part of Muslim societies’s history, a history of despotic society where there were only two distinctive entities, individual vis-a-vis state, seemingly makes the idea of independent individuals, supported by civil society, implausible.
From Asad’s explanation, I can understand that secularism is preferred by Indonesian than Islamic state because it is easily handled. Like in Egypt, Islamic law in Indonesia is restricted to the family law because it is simpler to codify them.

Barber, Benjamin R., Jihad vs McWorld, New York: Ballantine Books (2001)

Because I am talking about Indonesian fundamentalist and liberal, I need to give a theoretical framework of fundamentalist Muslims. Barber refers to Marty and Appleby who take fundamentalist religions to be engaged in militancy, in a kind of permanent fighting: they are militant, whether in the use of words and ideas or ballots or, in extreme cases, bullets.” (205-206)
The debate on Islamic law is also related to the debate between the rationality and belief, and “In at least one version of its history,” Barber said, “Islam too is story of the struggle between reason and belief, between consent and authoritarianism, between resistance to tyranny and tyrants.” (208)
It is interesting that the debate in Indonesia is not about “democracy”, rather using democracy in promoting Islamic law. Barber confirms this fact by saying that “fundamentalist Islam is not first of all opposed to democracy but to modernization as manifested in the Westernization.” (209)

Bowen, John R., “‘Religion in the Proper Sense of the Word’: Law and Civil Society in Islamicist Discourse.” Anthropology Today 12.4 (1996), 13-14

This article tries to address non-sympathetic attitude toward implementation of Islamic law. Bowen mentions two reasons: First, suspicion toward the law — whether it because we don not want to its presence to rule us, or, because it decreases the quality of civil society. Second, religious law contradicts the modern European stance toward religious faith and social toleration.” (p. 13)
Bowen himself proposes three steps toward constructing toward an adequate ethnography of religious law. First, distinguishing between fiqh and sharî‘ah. Fiqh is a human interpretation, but sharî‘ah is God prescribed “path” for human being. By distinguishing those entities, we can treat fiqh as other human-made-law. The second step is to point out that religious law making is cultural interpretation. And the third one, the most challenging for the West, is to critically examine the folk model available in the European and American culture for the analysis of public religious pluralism. One of the solutions Bowen proposes is that we need to begin with Habermas’s idea that individual autonomy requires that the citizen sense that the laws are their own. (p.14)
The important of this article to my topic is that it can help me understand more on the argument of those against implementation of Islamic law and what the possible solution they do not think yet.

Fuller, Graham E, “The Use of Political Islam”, The future of Political Islam, New York: Palgrave (2003)

Fuller give attention to the roles that religion, Islam in this case, can play in human life other than mediating human being and his God (faith). Islam can be used in many ways: self perception, identity, and also politics.
In understanding the Indonesian case, I can borrow his explanation on the functions of political Islam: 1) to critique authoritarian regime and corruption, 2) support for political party, 3) vehicle for class aspiration, and 4) providing the vocabulary of political critique.

Gole, Nilufer, “Islam in Public: New Visibilities and New Imaginaries”, Public Culture 14.1 (2002), 173-190

The space where the Indonesian Islamist and the liberal Muslims have been struggling for is a public sphere and, as Gole puts it, “the public sphere is not simply a preestablished arena; it is constituted and negotiated through performance.” (p. 179). As the case of Turkey, public sphere in Indonesia also become a site for modern and secular performance.
The reluctant of Indonesian liberal Muslim also can be explained through her point of view regarding stigmatization. In the case of Islamist, in the public sphere, there is a double movement that causes uneasiness among the secular-liberal Muslims: Islamist seek to enter into spaces of modernity, yet they display their distinctiveness. (p. 186)

Kazemi Farhad, “Perspective on Islam and Civil Society”, Islamic Political Ethics: Civil Society, Pluralism, and Conflict, Princeton: Princeton University Press (2002), 38-55

Kazemi explanation on the relation between state and society in Islamic world view is important to explain the fundamentalist demand on the implementation of Islamic law. According to him, “In the Islamic worldview, a vibrant society needs the state in order to allow for full participation in public life. It is the state that provides protection, maintains legal order, and safeguards right of individual and groups.” (41)

Lewis, Bernard, What When Wrong?, New York: Oxford (2002)

Since Indonesia declared its independence and the new state was established, the Indonesia’s founding fathers decided to build a state that is based on secularism, rather than an Islamic state even though 87% of Indonesians are Muslim. However, there have been Islamic groups promoting another way, which bring about tension between secularism and Islamism. The current tension between Islamist and secularist in Indonesia can be explained through Bernard Lewis’s statement that there was no native secularism in Islam (p. 100). There has been a demand from the Islamist to implement Islamic Law in Indonesia because they believe, following Lewis, that there is no human legislative power (p. 101).

Roy, Oliver, “Introduction”, The Failure of Political Islam, C. Vol trasl., Cambridge. Mass.: Harvard University Press (1994), 1-27

In the in the introduction, Roy pose challenging question on how Western outlook is trapped on the old fashion of Enlightenment whereby only one scheme for Progress: Political modernity, embodied in parliamentary democracy, and secularization. Many forget that there have been many puritan revolution, secular dictatorship, industrialization under dictatorship, and so on. Understanding political Islam requires a new framework.
In understanding political Islam, he contend not to establish a relationship of causality between, on the one hand, the manner in which the Islamic tradition thinks of politics and, on the other, the reality of regimes and institution in Muslim countries (p.12). This is the case in Indonesia.
For my paper, his explanation that for the Islamist the function of state is “to defend the shariah”(14) is also helpful in understanding the popular demand on the implementation of Islamic law.

Turner, Bryan S., “Orientalism and the Problem of Civil Soiety in Islam & Politics and Culture in Islamic Globalism”, Orientalism, Postmodernism, and Globalism, New York: Routledge (1994), 20-35, 77-94

Turner’s work is necessarily important in the way that he, as Edward Saeed did in his Orientalism, put the issue of politics in the colonial discourse of Oriental. The Orient, he argues, is only the place for the Occident to build itself. To make itself “liberal”, the Occident have to make sure themselves that the Oriental despotism is absent of them. To put it in his words, “The debate about oriental despotism took place in the context of [Western] anxieties about the state about the state of political freedom in the West.” (p. 34).
From that point of view, the Indonesian liberal Muslims seems to be caught in the Western discourse (Orientalism trope) where they don’t believe their own heritage, viewing the Islamic history in skeptical way and rejecting any attempt to rebuild the past. By contrast, the hard liner offer no comprehensive way to a return to the past.

Kramer, Gudrun, “Islamist Notion of Democracy”, Middle East Report 183 (1993), 2-8

This article addresses the question if Islam is compatible with democracy. Many suggest that Islam is not compatible with democracy and the only way for Muslims to embrace democracy is to choose “Mecca or mechanization”.
To give the different picture, arguing that it is possible to talk about Islam and democracy, Kramer present an analysis on the books written by authors representing mainstream in the Middle East.
Drawing the remarks from these books, Kramer helps us understanding several issues pertinent to the relation between religion and state. The most relevant point to my topics is his finding on the “agreement” among the authors that “the hallmark of truly Islamic system (al-nizâm al-islâmî) is the application of sharî‘a and not any particular political order” (p. 4) and “… the sharî‘a to be applied requires social organization and state” (p.5).
Kremer also help us to understand, in the context of Indonesia debate on shari‘a, how Indonesian state does not really matter. According to those Middle Eastern authors, “Islam is religion and state”, whose task is enforcing shari‘a, but, “the precise form of the government is left to human reason to define.” (5). Thus, the Indonesian Islamist propose no change for Indonesian state except that it has to implement Islamic law (shari‘a).

McBeth, John, “The Case for Islamic Law”, Far Eastern Economic Review, 165.33 (2002), 12-15

McBeth begins his article with straightforward statement, “It is not only extremists who admire Islamic law. In Indonesia, a surprising number of moderate Muslims, worried about a collapse of moral values, would like to see a bigger role for sharia.” (p. 12). This article is about the current issue in Indonesia where the debate in the public sphere has reached the top state body, People’s Consultative Assembly (Majlis Permusyawaratan Rakyat). Even though the debate eventually won by those who reject amendment of Indonesia Constitution to include shari‘a, there is a fact of growing support for the shari‘a. In recent study by the Jakarta-based Center for Islamic and Community Studies, more than 61% of the respondent approved of the implementation of shari‘a, though that number decline significantly on the harsh punishment. Therefore, the campaign to fully implement shari‘a has failed to win support.
This article relatively covers new developments in Indonesia, giving the reader broader understanding about the complexity of the issue at question in a new liberal, democrat, and secular state like Indonesia.


Brenner, Suzanne, “Reconstructing Self and Society: Javanese Muslim Women and ‘the veil’”, American Ethnologist, 23 (1996), 673-697

While she talks about veiling (jilbab), her account on the background of this veiling movement is important in describing how the secular Indonesia, unexpectedly, urges Muslims to find an “origin” identity in Islam (676-677). Living under secularism, modernization, and westernization has been “annoying” for those who realize that they are Muslim and should maintain their identity as Muslim. In producing themselves as modern Muslims, veiled women simultaneously produce a vision of a society that distances itself from the past as it embarks upon new modernity (673).
Out of conscience, unlike in Iran, Indonesian Muslim women find jilbab as the way of subject self-building. I think the popular demand on the implementation of Islamic law is best framed on such context.

Woodward, Mark R, “Indonesia, Islam, and the Prospect for Democracy”, SAIS Review, XXI.2 (2001)

Woodward maps Indonesian Muslim into five categories: (1) Indigenized Islams, in which religion is a thoroughly integrated component of a larger cultural system, are common throughout the country, particularly in east and central Java. (2)The traditional Sunni Islam of Nahdlatul Ulama is rooted in the study of the classic legal, theological, and mystical texts. It is most prevalent in east Java. (3)The Islamic modernism of Muhammadiyah rejects mysticism and extols modern education and social services. Modernists are usually found in urban areas. (4) Islamist groups espouse a highly politicized and anti-Western interpretation of Islam. They are most common on university campuses and in large urban centers. (5) Finally, neo-modernism seeks to find Islamic foundations for many features of modernity, including democracy and religious and cultural pluralism.
With regard to my topic, it is the fourth and fifth group who is now struggling for more Islamic and more secular Indonesia.

Cammack, Mark, “Islamic Law in Indonesia’s New Order”, The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 38.1 (1989), 53-73

In this article, Cammack deal with the dynamic of the implementation of Islamic law during New Order regime. In an episode involving demonstration and public denial on the reformation of Islamic law in 1973, we can learn how Islamic law has always been a political issue for Indonesia.
What Cammack presents in this article is important to describe the historical events where the implementation of Islamic law has been argued for and against by various group in Indonesia. We can see, from this article, that in 1970s and 1980s, Islamic voice was relatively compact: against the government cooptation. However, if we compare to the post New Order period, as the cooptation disappear, Islamic voice can be various. Those who denied “unification” of law under the New Order, like NU and Muhammadiyah, now became the main voice in denying implementation of Islamic law demanded by the Islamist.
To this point, Mark Emmeck’s works is relevant to provide historical background for the current debate.

Wahid, Abdurrahman KH, “Indonesia’s Mild Secularism”, SAIS Review XXI. 2 (2001), 25-29

Article by this former Indonesian president, the first president elected democratically in the history of Indonesia, well describe the relation of religion (Islam) and the state in Indonesia.
According to Wahid, Islam was introduced to Indonesia through the way that completely different from other part of the world. While most part of the Middle East, North Africa, and others conquered by Islamic warriors during vast expansion in 7th – 11th centuries, Islam was introduced to Indonesian through peaceful trade and then developed under the influence of the traders included traits like egalitarianism, dynamism, entrepreneurship, and independence, which affected the ideology and practice of Islam in the country significantly. As a result, the Indonesian people are now basically egalitarian in their outlook, an important ingredient for a functioning democracy (25).
Although Islam is the religion of the majority of Indonesians, the country’s founding fathers, supported by the people, unanimously agreed that the Republic of Indonesia should not become a theocratic state. Instead, they agreed that the Indonesian state should be based on patriotic as well as humanitarian and religious values (26). To put it differently, Indonesian state is in between: it is not secular as Turkey, but it is also not theocratic like Iran — Indonesia pursues a mild secularism.
In the context of the debate on the implementation of Islamic law, Wahid’s account is important to analyze the trend. Is Islamic law important for Muslims about whom Wahid describe egalitarian in their outlook?

Syariat Islam: Pandangan Muslim Liberal, Jakarta: The Asia Foundation and JIL (2003)

The heated debate over implementation of Islamic law was well documented by those involved. This book was compiled by Jaringan Islam Liberal (JIL), the network of liberal Muslims who promote secularism. It contains five main articles and three transcripts from the discussion between the liberals and the Islamists. For my research, this book is main site where the ideas of liberalism on the Islamic law are unpacked.

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