Will Indonesia’s young clerics accept Jokowi’s moderate Indonesian Islam

Photo: Joko Widodo official Facebook page

Will moderate Islamic values stand against the onslaught of young radical clerics?


The Islam Nusantara theology of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Indonesian Islamic organisation faces opposition from supporters of conservative Islam. The main reason for the growing opposition is the increased number of younger Muslim clerics, who commit themselves to eliminating Western liberal influences from NU.

Younger Muslim clerks calling for a universal Islam

The younger clerics argue for a universal Islam, where President Jokowi’s administration does not have the authority to deviate from. In other words, there is no reason to maintain a more “practical” view of Islam to accommodate the global context.

The NU advocates for the coexistence of Indonesian Muslim’s Islamic identities and their roles as Indonesian citizens. Arguably, one could be a devout Muslim and an outstanding hustler in the business sector. The young clerics prefer that a devotee prioritises Islam over everything else.

NU has been the symbol of moderate Islam in Indonesia

The NU was established to champion moderate Islam during a testing period of time, where more and more younger Muslims worldwide aligned their views to the self-proclaimed Islamic State. To spread moderate Islam, NU and the State Islamic Universities sponsored workers through Indonesia. Despite these efforts, opposition against moderate Islam is strong.

Said Aqil Siradj, NU general chairman argued that NU’s Islam Nusantara can promote tolerance and peace in Muslim societies currently suffering from violent conflicts, such as Iraq, Libya, and Syria. It can also show how Islamic values can be made compatible with secularist values, such as democracy and nationalism.