Islam Nusantara Berkemajuan
Indonesian Islam has a number of distinctive characters vis-à-vis Middle Eastern and South Asian Islam. Indonesian Islam, by and large, is a moderate, accommodative kind of Islam, and the least Arabicized Islam. Therefore, Indonesian Islam is for that matter much less rigid compared to Saudi Arabian or Pakistani Islam for instance.
For that reason, Newsweek magazine once calls Indonesian Islam as ‘Islam with a smiling face’; Islam which in many ways is compatible with modernity, democracy, and plurality. Despite these distinctions, Indonesian Islam is surely not less Islamic compared to Islam somewhere else. It is true that geographically, Islamic Indonesia is far away from the so-called centers of Islam in the Middle East, but that does not mean that Indonesian Islam is religiously peripheral.
Various research and suverys on the belief and practice of Indonesian Muslims such as conducted by Professor Nikki Keddie (1986), Riaz Hassan (2002), Pepinsky, Liddle and Mujani (2018) and some other scholars found that Indonesian Muslims have the high scale in terms of ‘religiousity’ or ‘piety’. Therefore, the long-held misperception of Indonesian Islam as ‘peripheral’ should be discarded.
Indonesian Islam has long adopted the Islamic paradigm of ‘middle path’ (ummah wasat), justly-balanced Islam, which can also mean ‘moderate’ Islam. The Islamic justly-balanced paradigm is a Qur’anic teaching as stated in Sura al-Baqara (2:143): “Thus, we have have created you as umma wasat [justly-balanced nation], that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger Muhammad be a witness over yourselves”.
Islam has a great impact on various aspects of Indonesian life, religiously, socially, culturally, and politically. This can be seen in daily public life in the sheer demography of Indonesian Muslims that represents more than 88 percent of the country’s total population.