APSS - Current Seminars

Islam in Contemporary Indonesia

30 May 2016

This workshop will present papers by current UNSW Canberra students who are currently conducting research on the role of Islam in contemporary Indonesia.  Three papers will explore important social issues such as the politics of religious pluralism, Islamic microfinancing and Islamic organisations involved in disaster recovery.  The workshop will chaired by Dr Minako Sakai (HASS).  ALL WELCOME.

 Venue: 29-106

Time: 12:10-13:30


Indonesian democracy and religious pluralism –  with a particular focus on the role of Islam

Ting Ting Luo (Indonesian Studies Major, HASS, UNSW Canberra)

Despite Indonesia being trumpeted as a model for democracy with the largest Islamic population in the world, one aspect of democracy continues to be challenged from within the archipelagic nation.1 Within Indonesia, religious pluralism is a key pillar to the functioning of this democratic nation. Trumpeted by Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity), Indonesia’s national motto as well as Pancasila, Indonesia’s philosophical foundation, the Indonesian government have set a strong ideological foundation towards democracy for Indonesians. Yet, cases of religious intolerance have and continue to rise substantially in recent years.2 Given that democracy is a broad and contested concept, this essay will focus on religious pluralism, or rather, intolerance within Indonesia’s democracy. It will first look at the case of the Gereja Kristen Indonesia (GKI Yasmin) church shutdown in 2008, and subsequently the extent religious values affect decisions made by individuals in positions of authority. This essay will then look that the threat to democratic values of religious tolerance with the rise in radical Islam within Indonesia before examining mechanisms the Indonesian government should be taking to cope with the threats to democracy from groups that are using democratic space for fundamentally anti-democratic ends.

Mudarabah Financing, Between Idealism and Reality

Bhirawa Anoraga, PhD Candidate, Southeast Asian Social Inquiry, HASS, UNSW Canberra

Baitul Mal Wat Tamwil (BMT) can be defined as Microfinance Institution (MFI) that operates based on Islamic law. In contrast to conventional financial institutions, BMT as Islamic financial institutions are prohibited to employ interest in their financial transactions, thus, they utilise different kinds of financial contracts. Among the variety of contracts that BMT uses, mudarabah is one of the contracts which is deemed to reflect Islamic spirit fully due to profit sharing nature. This contract is signed by the full contribution of financing to a business which is run by the client and all the risks will be borne by the financier. However, due to these characteristics which are unfavorable to the financier, mudarabah often becomes the least popular contract practiced by BMT despite the Islamic spirit of growing together.

This paper draws my Master dissertation at Durham University and investigates the application of mudarabah financing as the representation of Islamic based transactions in the light of Islamic economy development in contemporary Indonesia signed by the growth of BMTs. This paper argues that BMTs are more cautious in giving mudarabah financing, thus, they only target specific market segment which is non-poor mostly by utilizing social capital that they have. In other words, there is a gap between the idealism of Islamic financial institution in using profit-sharing transactions and economic reality. This paper also highlights the commitment of BMTs to aspire Islamic values in their practices, especially through the selection of Islamic financial products, despite the economic constraints that they face.

Faith-Based Organization (FBO) and Social Capital in Disaster Recovery: The Case Study of Wallet for the Poor in 2013 Gayo Earthquake of Central Aceh, Indonesia

Muhammad Riza Nurdin

PhD Candidate, Southeast Asian Social Inquiry, HASS, UNSW Canberra

Many studies demonstrate that FBOs have good capacity to translate faith into practice and work better at the grass root level. However, the focus on disaster management and particularly in the recovery period remains understudied. This paper attempts to examine the emerging role of FBOs in disaster management in Indonesia. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Jaluk village of Central Aceh, this study investigates one of the largest Indonesian Islamic FBOs namely Dompet Dhuafa (Wallet for the Poor) during recovery period following the 6.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013. It is argued that, to some extent, CSOs are able to fill the gap when the government capacity is limited. The findings show that while the government focused mainly on housing recovery, the gap in economic recovery is partially filled by Pertanian Sehat Indonesia (Indonesian Healthy Agriculture), one of the Dompet Dhuafa’s wingsin agriculture-based community development. Using religious values and objective through support in coffee plantation, this paper will explore a variety of assistances provided by the Dompet Dhuafa and its short term impacts. It is also argued that FBOs are good in generating social capital. The findings from this study illustrate various ways of social capital formation by the Dompet Dhuafa mainly through shared religious and cultural values e.g. the function of mosque, meugang (celebrating Ramadan)tradition, alang tulung (mutual helping), musyawarah (building consensus) and strong kinship. This paper will contribute to the growing discussion on the nexus between faith, social capital and development.

Keywords: Disaster recovery, Gayo, Indonesia, Faith-based, economic development, social capital, Dompet Dhuafa