Cultural Islam: The Politics of the Indonesian Muslim Middle Class

Moeflich Hasbullah
(MIMBAR STUDI, Jurnal Ilmu Agama Islam,
No. 1, Th. XXIII, September-Desember 1999)


The rise of the santri middle class in the 1980s has been accompanied by a shift in political orientation within the Muslim community from ‘political Islam’ to so-called ‘cultural Islam.’ ‘Political Islam’ refers to a political orientation that still characterises what Anwar terms the ‘kelas menengah santri lama’ (the old santri middle class), that is the Muslim ‘middle class’ in the period of Soekarno’s regime. In the New Order’s time, this class lost popular support both economically and politically. In the period of politik aliran in the 1950s and 1960s, when political parties were based on ‘primordial foundations,’ the economic bases of the old santri middle class were embedded in local businesses, petty bourgeoisie, and land-owners. However, since the New Order established the free market economy in the 1970s, huge foreign investment had almost totally destroyed the santri-based economic activities as happened to local industries in Solo, Pekalongan, Majalaya, Majalengka, and Kudus which in the 1950s were part of the established network of local santri businesses (Anwar 1995). Meanwhile, the private sector was dominated by a few Chinese groups and client businessmen with connections to the New Order elite. When the old santri businesses went bankrupt, they lost their political patrons and had no more access to the New Order bureaucracy. Eventually, many of them shifted their activities by moving into Islamic proselytisation movements affiliated with organisations such as Muhammadiyah and N.U. This was accompanied by “the explicit recognition that Islamisation was itself a form of politics” (Hefner 1995: 81).

However, given the fact that their old political consciousness was ideologically rooted, their links with the old political leadership, particularly the former Masjumi activists, could not be eroded either ideologically or psychologically (Anwar 1995: 122).  Their support for an Islamic political party was manifest in the struggles to rehabilitate the Masjumi Party in 1968 and to create a new party in the spirit of the Masjumi a couple years afterwards.  The links with the old santri had the following effect: “their political articulation tends to be politically romantic, religiously scripturalistic, and emphasises confirmation of the self-identity accompanied by political struggle which prioritises commitment to the formal text of ‘political Islam’” (Anwar, 1995: 122).[1]

Given the awareness that there is no prospect of ‘political Islam,’ this generation has either consciously or unconsciously carried out ‘cultural reproduction.’ They attempted to capitalise their children with ‘cultural capital’ by providing them a better education. This was the basis of the emergence of the new educated Muslim middle class. Unlike the old santri middle class, they

“have never directly felt bitterness and political trauma. Their political education was not gained through membership of a political party, rather, they matured through extracurricular activities, in particular by means of student cadre training in the HMI (Muslim Association of University Student) or other extracurricular activities. Cadres of this kind matured, not only mentally but also intellectually. Their attitudes and political orientation changed also. They are not as romantic as the former middle class santri, but tend to be pragmatic, emphasising the use of rational and moral approaches, they are open and receptive to change” (Anwar, 1995: 126-127).

With the advent of cultural Islam we see Muslims entering a new historical phase, leaving formal politics and going into wider cultural fields. Cultural Islam is similar to what Kuntowijoyo (1985) describes as “the period of ideas or scientific knowledge” in the historical development of Indonesia.[2]

The rise of cultural Islam can be traced from the “angkatan 1966” (the generation of 1966). Some of these Muslims were student activists who had supported the collapse of Soekarno’s Old Order. In supporting the new government’s attempt at socio-political change, economic development and modernisation, these Muslim activists divided into two groups: First were those who cooperated with the New Order regime, who believed in modernisation and prospects for cooperation with the government. They were neither technocrats nor economists, and the most influential came from the HMI and PII. Second were those who were independent of the government and became prominent writers, university lecturers, NGO activists and the like.

In the latter group, there were some prominent Muslim intellectuals who were independent of the government but supported modernisation. They were leaders of HMI and PII such as Nurcholish Madjid (head of HMI), Usep Fathuddin and Utomo Danandjaja (from PII), and Dawam Rahardjo, Ahmad Wahib and Djohan Effendi (from the “Limited Group” a Yogyakarta-based discussion club). As a consequence of their support for the government program of modernisation, these young intellectuals clashed with senior Muslim activists who used to be Masjumi leaders and the proponents of ideologically oriented politics.

Initiated by Nurcholish Madjid and his supporters in 1970, the so-called ‘Islamic renewal movement’ was recognised as the correction of the old Muslim political agenda. Nurcholish Madjid declared:

“In principle, if considered as a historical process and a development of thought, the emergence of the notion of an “Islamic state” is a form of apologetic inclination . . . this apology comes from at least two directions: First, there is the apology for (modern) Western ideologies like democracy, socialism, communism and so forth. . . . This leads to an ideological and political appreciation of Islam. This sort of appreciation supports the emergent idea of the “Islamic state” as well as democratic, socialist, communist state etc. Second, it is legalism that drives some Muslims to that apologetic “Islamic state.” The legalism creates a legalistic appreciation of Islam…[a belief] that Islam is a structure and codification of law” (1987: 253-255).

Faced with no prospect of establishing an Islamic political party, Nurcholish publicised the idea of “Islam Yes, Islamic Party No!” in 1970. Such an idea was decidedly non- mainstream, and Nurcholish became the target of a wave of strident criticism. He was accused of being anti-Islam or of having no loyalty to Islam. However, as society became transformed by wider access to education, Nurcholish’s ideas and his Islamic renewal movement became more and more popular especially among middle class supporters. Since the 1980s, as a result of the movement, ideas of an ‘Islamic political party’ and an ‘Islamic state’ were disappearing from the Muslim political consciousness. Instead, “non-political” ideas of Islam, that is to say, ideas about how to make Islam compatible with modernity, or how to make Islam the underlying values of the development process became more popular. It is in this context, that the idea of cultural Islam was established. Calls for an Islamic state were abandoned and ‘cultural Islam’ or ‘civil Islam’ was put forward as a concept that should hold a primary role in the life of the nation, “to serve as a source of ethical and cultural guidance” (Hefner 1997a: 79).

In the history of Islamic politics since independence we have therefore seen a shift from ‘structural Islam’ to ‘cultural Islam.’ What is the difference between the two? It is actually difficult to define these terms separately, however, Kuntowijoyo (1996) suggests that ‘structural Islam’ involves a struggle undertaken by means of technical structures: bureaucracy, government institutions, political parties, and whatever is related to the political decision making process. A strategy is ‘cultural’ when it is related to the empowerment of society. The proponents of the cultural strategy include Islamic preachers, thinkers, teachers, individuals of political organisations, leaders of mass organisations and the like. Kuntowijoyo (1996: 21) gives as examples Yusuf Hasyim who left his military career, returned to civilian life and became ‘ulema in the pesantren. E. Zaenal Abidin in West Java, a high ranking activist of Masjumi who, after the party was dissolved, became a lecturer at the Islamic University of Bandung. Moh. Natsir, an ex-Majumi leader, is active in the DDII (Indonesian Body of Islamic Proselytisation).

Cultural Islam emerged when, on the one hand, Muslims no longer viewed Islamic political parties as the only outlet for their political aspirations, and on the other, there was a process of deepening Islamic devotion amongst various social communities, educated middle class, political parties, and government bureaucracy. When Muslims in many communities became more devout, religious expression started to be seen widely. Taufik Abdullah describes the shift from ‘political’ to ‘cultural’ Islam:

“‘Political Islam’ is now being abandoned –because it has to go– and “cultural national Islam” needs a form. It’s for that reason that people start searching. That is an interesting phenomenon. Don’t be surprised if various buildings which have been national symbols have now become a place for Islamic activities. If various universities have become the centre for youth proselytisation activities, it’s practical for offices to have a mushalla (prayer room). This can be regarded as a shift from “political national Islam” to “cultural national Islam” (Anwar 1995: 133).

In addition, because this type of Islam does not adopt an ideological tone, but social and cultural emphasis, it has spread very easily and is now widely accepted, even by government officials who were formerly opposed to Islam. This cultural Islam is no longer viewed as militant Islam that aims to build an Islamic state or to threaten Pancasila. Islam has spread beyond the boundaries of Islamic political parties. Hefner concluded that Muslim acceptance of Pancasila (as the Asas Tunggal, “the sole foundation”) has resulted in “unintended consequences,” that is to say, “once Islam was no longer associated with any single party and once politicians recognised that the nation was experiencing an Islamic resurgence, all of the political parties begun to advertise their commitment to Islam” (1997a: 89). Islamic expression was found in Golkar, PDI, universities, governments offices and the civil service, professional clubs, business groups, artist groups, parliament, NGOs etc. where only abangan or nominal Muslims used to exist. “In Java,” Hefner gives an example, “where the nominally Islamic Javanist community had long posed a serious obstacle to Islamic reform, media and academic reports in the 1980s took note that many former strongholds of Javanist Islam were beginning to take on a santri (pious Muslim) face” (Hefner 1995: 90).

The shifting orientation to cultural Islam has also been strengthened by the members of santri middle class who have completed their Masters and Ph.D studies both at home and abroad. These intellectuals, through discussions, seminars, speeches, writing in media, and publishing books, promote their ideas on Islamic issues and contemporary social problems. In this way, “they attempt to show the academic and benign image of Islam that is compatible with the ideal of Indonesian development.” (Anwar 1995: 132).

Those in the bureaucracy, who have adopted cultural Islam, made a change from within. Slowly but surely, the abangan priyayi who dominated the government increased their religious devotion and became more and more Islamic. This was the so-called santrinisasi priyayi or santrinisasi birokrasi, which refered to the number of abangan who were becoming santri. This was the period when the santri-abangan dichotomy began to dissolve in the Indonesian New Order. For this reason, Geertz’s formulation was no longer relevant to the analysis of Islam in Indonesia.

Soeharto’s New Order government, fully aware of Islam as an important source of political support, welcomed the Islamic development. In his last periods of office, during which time his support from the armed forces declined and he appointed Habibie as his vice-president,[3] Soeharto granted many concessions to Muslims, including government permission for Muslim women to wear the veil in secular universities and public schools; the validation of UUPA (religious marriage law); the establishment of an Islamic bank (Bank of Muamalat); government financial assistance for building thousands of mosques throughout the country; and finally, the most attractive, yet problematic, the establishment of the Indonesian Muslim Intellectual Association (ICMI). The developments mentioned were, in religious as well as in political terms, far more “meaningful than anything that might be accomplished in the electoral arena” (Hefner 1997a: 90),[4] These Islamic developments were unimaginable in the period of Soekarno and the early years of Soeharto’s power when Islamic aspirations were contained within Islamic political parties. Huntington remarks correctly that “the political manifestations of the Resurgence, have been less pervasive than its social and cultural manifestation . . .” (1996: 112).

From this account, it can be seen that cultural Islam does not mean culture an sich without political purposes. Culture is actually the political means of the Muslim middle class in the New Order period to make Islam widely accepted by many political communities, and especially the state, by changing the impression of Islam as a national threat. When Muslims changed their outward political expressions, the government also changed its point of view. At one extreme, it might be true that the state, as claimed by Liddle (1996) and Wahid (Schwarz 1994), has merely co-opted Muslims for its own political interests. It is evident from the actions of the “Kabinet Reformasi” (cabinet of reform) led by President Habibie, the former ICMI leader, that although it has made some significant reforms such as withdrawing UU Subversi (act of subversion), creating press-freedom, freeing political prisoners, declaring public openness, and banking restructuring etc., it is only making halfhearted attempts to bring Soeharto’s family to trial for corruption. Habibie is seemingly so in debt to Soeharto for his career including ICMI position that he protects Soeharto instead of meeting the people’s political demands in the case of Soeharto’s corruption.

At the other extreme, Muslim politicians view the state as a strategic means for widening Islamic influence. As a consequence of these two views, both sides, the state and Islam, have had to accommodate each other and this situation in turn has led to political rapprochement between the two. The government of Soeharto, co-opted Islam for its political legitimacy even though it was finally trapped by its own scenario,[5] and Islam co-opted the state for Islamic political interests. Cultural Islam has been the ground for the discovery of the appropriate Islam-state relationship. Munawir Sadzali, a Muslim intellectual and former Minister of Religion points out that “cultural Islam has shown a fresh atmosphere, attracting sympathy, and supporting a better relation between the umat Islam and the state” (1990: 49-53).

Thanks to its political effectiveness, cultural Islam has been reinforced by the more conceptual efforts of the Muslim middle class in focusing on what targets or programs should be prioritised and which should not. Kuntowijoyo (1986: 11-13), a Muslim intellectual and historian from the University of Gadjah Mada, endorses the three agendas of Islam as a cultural movement: intellectual, ethical, and aesthetic.

Islam as an intellectual movement supports Islamic values as scientific concepts in challenging the existing concepts of the social, economic and political sciences. The Qur’an, he suggests, is rich in values which are able to be the basis of scientific concepts for establishing a better human civilisation. Islam as an ethical movement views Islam as a complement to existing modern values. If the ethos of capitalism is economic growth, Islam should add to it equality, justice, and so forth. Finally, Islam as an aesthetic movement creates a new symbolic system with Islamic meanings. As a simple example, Kuntowijoyo states that the large number of mushalla located in offices is only made possible by people’s religious consciousness. The mushalla symbolise religious awareness in managing day to day activities, demonstrating that there are not only economic and productive considerations but also spiritual ones.

The New Hegemony of Santri’s Cultural Symbols

To understand the social phenomena or social dynamics of a society requires an understanding of its culture. ‘Culture’ here refers to Geertz’s definition of “an historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life” (1973: 89). The development of Islam in the 1980s and 1990s Indonesia is culturally best understood as the shifting hegemony of symbolic structure from the abangan to the santri.

From post-independence to the mid-1980s, Indonesia was dominated by the abangan culture. This period saw non-Islamic symbols being constructed and accepted by Indonesian people.

The national cultural symbols under the New Order regime were drawn from “proudly Hindu heritages,” which revealed that the Indonesian state and nation was possible only because of the glorious Hindu Madjapahit kingdom heritage of the past. Thus, Borobudur, Prambanan and other Buddhist and Hindu temples –though very few compared to the many historical mosques– were often cited as reminders of past Indonesian glory. Soekarno and Soeharto immortalised this ‘imagined glory’ by using Hindu terms as the names of many  important national symbols. The five principles of Indonesia were named “Pancasila,” Indonesian unity in diversity was termed “Bhineka Tunggal Ika,” the Presidential palace was named “Bina Graha,” Pancasila doctrinal education was called “Eka Prasetya Pancakarsa”, ten soldier’s oath is named “Sapta Marga” etc. The santri were referred to as “santri budug” (“mangy” santri), a colonial pejorative term referring to the pesantren-based santri, or “Islam kampungan” (backward Islam). By the late 1970s, a common pejorative for those who performed shalat (prayers five times a day) in mosques let alone in government offices was “onta Arab” (“Arabic camel”), a term used to denote the backwardness of pious Muslims.

Those who openly practised shalat and showed Islamic political interests, were taunted and called DI supporters (Darul Islam, the West Java-based Kartosuwiryo-led rebel movement that sought to an Islamic state) by those who opposed Islam, since for many decades the DI had induced ‘Islam-phobia’ amongst Indonesians. Muslim demands to implement Islamic law for cases involving Muslims had always been suspected as an attempt to establish an Islamic state. In 1985, there was a controversy surrounding the government’s prohibition of female students attending school with the kerudung (the veil) covering their heads, with officials arguing that such a dress was not approved within the Indonesian school uniform regulation. This policy had attracted stormy protests within the Muslim community. Muslims accused the government of violating their human rights and being “anti-Islam.” In short, at the time of abangan cultural supremacy, many things associated with a commitment to Islam were considered “backward,” an expression of the “extreme movement,” or “extreme right,”[6] “anti-nationalism” and “anti-Pancasila.”

However, thanks to the Islamisation process both within the middle class and among government officials, the process of Muslim middle class formation has been accompanied by the emergence of new santri symbols. In the last two decades, Islam in Indonesia has been entering a new symbolic environment. In this situation, new religious symbols have begun to dominate national culture, with middle class actors behind the trend.

Ida Royani, a prominent singer and actress, began wearing the veil in 1978 and opened a busana Muslimah (Muslim women dress) business in the prestigious Cinere Mall in Jakarta. Royani’s boutique caters for middle and upper class consumers with prices, before the economic crisis, of between Rp. 500.000 and Rp. 1.500.000. Ida Leman and Nani Wijaya (well-known actresses) and Anne Rufaidah (a popular designer) also wore the veil and together with Royani established a Karima foundation that supported an expensive busana Muslimah business (Umat, 30 October 1995). Sitoresmi Prabuningrat, the Javanese former wife of prominent Indonesian poet W.S. Rendra, began wearing the head-scarf, became a muballigh, Islamic preacher, and also established an Islamic dress business (Umat, 2 October 1995). Neno Warisman, a popular actress, also wore the veil and continues to wear it now as a commercial star. Mariana Ramelan, a former television (TVRI) music show presenter put the veil on. Dewi Motik Pramono, a graduate of Florida International University USA, and now the head of IWAPI (The Indonesian Association of Businesswomen) with 3,500 small businesses under her control in the cooperative De Mono, began wearing the veil in 1997 after performing the hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca. Those mentioned above are only a few of a great many middle class women who wear the veil in government offices, private business offices, universities, professional clubs and the like.

Although there is no exact number available, the wearing of the veil has become a widespread phenomenon and  is visible at every level of society. In the 1970s it was very rare to wear the veil and was identified as an expression of Islamic fundamentalism. In some places, like Bandung, the head-scarved girls became the target of taunts  such as gadis ninja (“ninja girl”) or Ibu haji (“Ms. Hajj”), expressions that symbolised people’s disdain. Today however, the veil has become part of the daily landscape of the Indonesian social environment; found in department stores, offices or public entertainment places. Formerly synonymous with backwardness, Islamic dress has now become very common and an expression of the middle class and modernity, as can be seen from the various Islamic fashion shows held in prestigious hotels.

In October, 1987, Nurcholish Madjid established a group for religious learning among middle class Muslims called the Paramadina Foundation (from the Sanskrit parama meaning superior or excellent, and Arabic din meaning religion) which met in the 6th floor of the Hotel Sari Pacific, Jakarta. The idea came from middle class businessmen like Ir. Ahmad Ganis, Director of PT. Radiant Utama, Drs. Abdul Latif, Director of Sarinah Jaya who was appointed to be Minister of Manpower in later years, and Dawam Rahardjo, a former Director of LP3ES (Institute for Economic and Social Research, Education and Information). The invited guests at the inaugural meeting were distinguished New Order figures including Dr. Emil Salim, Minister of Environment; Dr. Abdul Gafur, Minister of Youth and Sport; Munawir Sadzali, Minister of Religion; and Alamsjah Ratuperwira Negara, Minister of Public Welfare. At the first meeting, 400 people applied to be members, and at the second meeting, 600 people did so. Professionals, intellectuals, and high-ranking government officials were the main patrons (10 of them were Ph.D graduates). The program aimed to deepen religious understanding. According to Nurcholish, only the Paramadina has created such a program and he claims nothing similar existed in America or even in Egypt at that time (Tempo, 3 January 1987). Paramadina was first but since then many similar prestigious pengajians (religious learning) have emerged, held in luxury hotels, for the purpose of learning and deepening knowledge of sufism (Islamic mysticism), Islamic philosophy, law, the Islamic family and so forth.

In 1990, some Muslim activists initiated a colossal program called Festival Istiqlal (Istiqlal Festival) held at the Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta. This “pesta budaya rakyat bernafaskan Islam” (people’s cultural party with Islamic image) has continued with the Festival Istiqlal II held during September-October 1995. Not only did this festival reveal the Islamic cultural heritage of Indonesia through such programs as the exhibition of Islamic calligraphy, architecture, art designs, and academic works, it also raised Islamic development issues in contemporary Indonesia and in other Southeast Asian countries. The aim of the festival was to show that the Islamic heritage of the national culture is overwhelming. The festival gained a huge welcome from the umat Islam throughout the country. In two months, the festival had attracted 5-6 million visitors to Jakarta from Medan, Ujung Pandang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Bandung, and other cities and towns. The program aimed to show how Islam laid the foundation for modern Indonesian culture in architecture, art, scholarly tradition, history and the like.

In the 1990s, the term “ijo royo-royo” and “penghijauan DPR/MPR” (greenisation, green being the colour of Islam) were coined by Tempo magazine. The two terms became part of the national political discourse and were widely quoted because they symbolised the increasing numbers of santri-background people who were appointed to the House of Representatives (DPR/MPR). Ramage (1995: 100) described,

The Cabinet announced by Soeharto in March 1993 is broadly representative of the religious affiliations of the population as whole and therefore it appears to respond to some Muslim concerns about the previous overrepresentation of non-Muslims. Out of over forty Cabinet posts, three are held by Christians, and one by a Hindu.

On December 6 1990, there was a national symposium held in Malang, East Java. With the motto: “To Develop Indonesian Society in the 21st Century,” the symposium was inaugurated by President Soeharto and closed by Vice-president Soedharmono. The meeting was to establish the Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI). Minister of Research and Technology, B.J Habibie was elected as the chairman for a five-year term. The symposium was attended by 500 Muslim scholars, intellectuals, academics, scientists and the like, who paid Rp. 500 million in fees (Tempo, 8 December 1990).

In the 1990s, President Soeharto performed the pilgrimage to Mecca. Iwan Fals sang a song which was a mixture of rock, pop and kasidah music entitled “Kantata Taqwa” at a gathering in Senayan Jakarta attended by thousands of youths calling for social justice and an end to poverty. Bimbo’s religious songs (kasidah), praising the beauty of spirituality and religious devotion, are broadcast on television every Ramadhan and Ied Fitr, Islamic celebration days. After converting to Islam, Rendra, a prominent critical poet, together with Zainuddin M.Z (a popular Islamic preacher), Setiawan Djodi (Businessman) and Iwan Fals (a popular critical singer) established the Gua Hira Foundation aimed at supporting dakwah (Islamic preaching) through arts and education. In 1997, accompanied by popular figure Emha Ainun Nadjib and his ensemble, President Soeharto bertakbiran (recited the Almighty God publicly all night long welcoming the Ied Fitr) together with the Jakarta masses, witnessed by Indonesian people over the television broadcast. Many considered this an unimaginable scene before the 1990s.

What does all this mean? To say that Indonesia has been experiencing an “Islamic moral revolution” or “true Islamisation” might still be questionable. However, the new Muslim middle class does appear to be overlaying Indonesian national culture with an Islamic feel and colour. Throughout this process, the santri have been gradually “replacing” and eliminating the abangan symbols of political hegemony. The political development of the 1980s provided the basis and has made it possible for the santri to create their own new symbolic environment. Due to the new social, cultural and religious mobility as well as Islamisation, the abangan have gradually become santri; the Javanese cultural expressions have been converted to Islamic ones; and Islamic expressions in music, arts, lifestyle, and cultural identity have become visible and have spread extensively while reinforcing the shape of the Muslim middle class. Given these facts, Kuntowijoyo (1993, 238) concludes that “the dichotomy of santri popular culture and abangan is no longer realistic. The huge process of social change that occurred over the last decade has eliminated the cultural distinction between the santri and abangan. What emerged is a new generation of popular Islam looking for a new formation in a modern world.”



[1] This aspiration clearly survived up to the time of Soeharto’s resignation in May 1998. In the post Soeharto era, this ‘old political aspiration’ has been realized as indicated by the rebirth of Islamic parties such as Partai Bulan Bintang (PBB) headed by Yusril Ihza Mahendra, Partai Masyumi Baru (PMB) led by Ridwan Saidi, Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (PKB) headed by Matori Abdul Jalil and Partai Umat Islam (PUI) under the leadership of Deliar Noer. In spite of the renewal of these Islamic political parties they appear to have lost their historical zeitgeist. That is the rebirth of ‘political Islam’ has occurred in a completely new situation where the support for an Islamic state has vanished. In addition, improved relations between Islam and the state have hastened the decline of ‘political Islam’s formal goals. It is evident that nono of the various Islamic parties established in 1998 aim to achieve the goal of an Islamic state. To sum up, Islamic parties in the reformation era are no longer based on ideological interests, despite the fact that religion has replace Pancasila and has once again become the basis of these parties.

[2] Kuntowijoyo divided history of Indonesia into three stages: mythical, ideological, and scientific periods. In the mythical period, the umat Islam had a mystical belief. The knowledge of the people in this period was the myth as indicated by 19th century millennium rebellion movements. From the early 20th century up to 1965 was an ideological period. This was the time of the emergence of ideological movements as indicated by the establishment of Syarikat Islam (SI). The SI offered Islam as ideology to unite the traders. Besides SI there were also PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) with the ideology of communism and  PNI (Indonesian Nationalist Movement) with nationalism as its ideology. If in ideological period the most important thing was to mobilize the mass, in the age of idea or science, that is from the 1980s onward, the significant one is to mobilize the mass consciousness. The key is no longer the state, but the system. In ideological era, the Muslim concern was the Islamic state. However, from 1965 onward, the main concern is how to create rational political system. The state is only part of the system, and the people’s political program is no longer undergone through parliament but to any social institutions. Because of the state is no longer the central, and people’s culture is growing powerfully, this is the period of cultural Islam. See Kuntowijoyo (1985: 26-35).

[3] Habibie was at that time increasing his wide political influence through his hi-tech vision. The armed forces disliked Habibie because “the military hierarchy resents Habibie’s interfering in the procurement of military hardware in order to drum up  business for his ‘strategic industries’ [such as PT. IPTN and  PT. PINDAD both in Bandung and PT. PAL in Surabaya]. The military also sees Habibie’s rising influence with Soeharto as having come at the expense of its own influence. Lastly, Habibie’s attempt to carve out a bigger role for himself within Golkar alienated some of the ruling party’s civilian and longer serving leaders” (Schwarz 1994 : 95).

[4] Not only has the progress of Islamisation taken place in the middle class and government context, it is also visible at the countryside level and even in the most unexpected places. “Stephen C. Headley’s study on the ruwatan tradition of exorcism in the Solo region of Central Java (forthcoming), for example, shows that this non-Islamic cult has declined drastically in recent years in the face of the Islamic advance. Paul Stange’s studies of contemporary Javanist mysticism imply similar conclusions. In the mid-1980s he wrote that “even though Islam may be politically on the defensive, in the religious sphere it has been gaining ground . . . Islamic discourse, I would argue, increasingly defines the context of Javanese mysticism’ (1986, 79-80)” (Hefner 1997a: 118, footnote no. 16).

[5] I refer to when Soeharto was pressed to step down by the student’s stormy  protests, and no one from ICMI, the organization that was viewed as having been co-opted by Soeharto, supported his remaining in power. Nurcholish Madjid, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, and Ali Yafie –along with Abdurrahman Wahid, Emha Ainun Nadjib and others– are ICMI men who came to Soeharto, demanded him to resign and discussed the best way for Soeharto step down.

[6] The New Order socialized two categories of extreme movements: “left-extreme,” associated to the movement of PKI, and “right-extreme,” associated to religious movement that in practice has always been adressed to Islam.