chapter  20
11 Pages

Salafism in Indonesia

Transnational Islam, violent activism, and cultural resistance
WithNoorhaidi Hasan

Transnational Islam, which aggressively promotes rigid purification of faith under the banner of Salafism, has exerted its influence in Indonesia since the second half of the 1980s. This movement flourished as a consequence of Saudi Arabia’s politics of expanding their geo-political influence throughout the Muslim world – by exporting reconstituted Wahhabism. Under the changing political circumstances in Indonesia during the 1990s, it succeeded in establishing an exclusivist current of Islamic activism, even reaching remote areas of the countryside. Salafism captured public attention following the fall of the Soeharto regime in 1998. Certain groups of Salafis called on Muslims to perform jihad in Maluku, where skirmishes between local Christians and Muslims had escalated into full-blown communal conflicts. The most radical, known as jihadi Salafis, perpetrated terrorism. Salafism had to confront the changing politics after 9/11, particularly related to the government’s determination to fight terrorism and mounting resistance from Muslim villagers. The latter have been active in organizing cultural performances aimed at de-contextualizing and de-legitimating the Salafi call for purifying Muslim beliefs and practices.