Talking Indonesia: religious authority in Islam

The mass demonstrations against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in 2016 and 2017, and rising intolerance against religious and sexual minorities have raised concerns about the growing influence of more conservative forms of Islam in Indonesia. The popularity of radical and conservative clerics such as Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab and celebrity preacher Felix Siauw have also led to questions about new forms of religious authority in contemporary Indonesian Islam. Amid these trends, mainstream Islamic organisations such as Nadhlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah have been criticised for not speaking out enough against rising conservatism and radicalism.


Are we seeing a conservative turn in Indonesian Islam? What are some examples of new Islamic organisations, and what challenges do they pose to well established Islamic organisations such as NU and Muhammadiyah? What is the role of television and social media in this new contestation for religious authority? I discuss these questions with Dr Ahmad Najib Burhani, a senior researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and visiting fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.


The Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Charlotte Setijadi from the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, and Dr Dirk Tomsa from La Trobe University.


Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via iTunes or listen via your favourite podcasting app.



Charlotte Setijadi is Assistant Professor of Humanities in the School of Social Sciences at Singapore Management University.