School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS)

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Our next Seminar....

25 May 2015
Showcasing Postgraduate Research on Contemporary Islamic Challenges in Indonesia at UNSW Canberra
Seminar Venue: 29-106 (Hass Seminar room, entrance from Bldg 28 front)
Time: 12:10 - 13:30
Chair: Dr Minako Sakai (HASS)


This seminar will consist of short presentations by current HDR students undertaking research exploring the role of Islam in contemporary Indonesia at HASS. The topics range from the role of Islam in the Indonesian Defence Policy, Islamic devotional activities for small business development, socially engaged Islamic boarding schools for economic development, and causes of Islamic terrorism. Speakers (Michael Gan, Najib Kailani, M.Falik Isbah, Hsu-Lynn Lee will present short presentations to demonstrate work-in-progress.

All Welcome.

The Trainer-cum-Preacher: Islamic Management Trainings in Indonesia

Najib Kailani, PhD Scholar, Southeast Asian Social Inquiry, HASS, UNSW Canberra

The recent studies about contemporary Indonesian Islam have drawn attention to some Muslim figures that pioneer Islamic management trainings targeting Indonesian Muslim middle class (Hoesterey 2009, 2012, Rudnyckyj, 2010, Howell, 2013). They have discovered that the majority of Indonesian Muslim trainers have also performed as ustadz (Muslim cleric) or trainer-cum-preacher. Howell’s study on Abdullah Gymnastiar and Ary Ginanjar has revealed a blurred role of preacher and trainer. She argues that the blurred role is a result of the intersection between Islamic popular culture and popular religion facilitated by new media. Meanwhile, Hoesterey argues that co-existing register trainer-cum-preacher points out the evidence that the figure of the trainer hovers between psychologist and religious teacher. In order to extend the scope of the existing discussions, this article aims to provide historical narratives of Islamic management trainings and their advocators to reflect a comprehensive picture on the recent phenomenon. This article argues that the idea of trainer-cum-preacher is not a contemporary phenomenon or simply not as a result of the intersections of religion and pop culture. Rather this article highlights the contributions made by two prominent Muslim figures (Imaduddin Abdulrahim and Toto Tasmara) who had deliberately merged management theory with Islam in their training programs during the late 1990s. Imaduddin was a charismatic preacher of the Salman mosque trainings during the 1970s in Bandung and went to the USA to do a PhD in business and HR management. After his return to Indonesia from overseas study in 1980s, he moved into management consultancy and regularly delivered management trainings in Indonesia and Malaysia. His initiative was followed by his Salman mosque student Toto Tasmara, who is also a well-known preacher as well as a business trainer.

Pesantren-Community Engagement in Indonesia: A Comparison between a Major and Minor Pesantren

M. Falikul Isbah, PhD Scholar, Southeast Asian Social Inquiry, HASS, UNSW Canberra

In this forum, I will discuss the current pesantren-community engagement by comparing between a major pesantren with a national scale of fame and a minor pesantren with only a village scale of influence. The former is best represented by Pesantren Tebuireng in Jombang East Java which have widely been known for its great reputation in producing high caliber ulama and the legendary role of it leaders in the largest Muslim association Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), while the former is represented by Pesantren Al Ittifaq in Bandung, West Java which has only recently been heard of its success in agribusiness project. I will limit my discussion here to three questions: in what way have these two pesantrens engaged with their neighboring communities? what are the reasons and contexts leading them to take particular ways of engagement, and to what extent do their engagement give impact to the local community? Case studies will cover two institutions. Pesantren Tebuireng has started to operate a charity organization called LSPT (Lembaga Sosial Pondok Tebuireng) since 2007 as its arm to reach the locals. Pesantren Al Ittifaq has shown a growing and sustainable community-based agribusiness over the last two decades. I argue that those two pesantrens have tried to find the most possible way to engage with their communities by identifying both the available resources and the needs of the communities. In the case of Tebuireng, the impact in the community is its improved reputation among the neighboring community and the increasing enrolment of local children in its schools, while in the Al Ittifaq case, the greater support and participation of the locals into its economy and Islamic propagation agenda has been achieved.

Islam and Indonesian National Security Policy

Michael Gan, PhD Candidate, HASS, UNSW Canberra

Recent events across the globe have drawn much Western interest on the impact of Islam on national security. Australia’s focus on the subject has been heavily influenced by operations far from our shores in Iraq and Afghanistan, or within our own borders in counterterrorism programs. Less effort appears to be focussed on the study of the impact of Islam on national security in Indonesia – the world’s most populous Islamic country, Australia’s nearest neighbour, and a nation of growing economic and strategic weight.

While Islam’s impact on Indonesian social policy is widespread and highly visible, the influence of the religion on national security policy is far less obvious, but of greater consequence to Australia. Islam interacts with many other factors, both cultural and non-cultural, to define how Indonesia perceives security, internal and external threats, and the actions of other countries both regionally and globally.

This research paper will briefly examine how Islam interacts with other factors to formulate Indonesian national security policy, discussing three key areas: the impact of Islamic separatist movements, the Indonesian response to radical Islamic terrorism, and instances where Islamic groups and perceptions have influenced foreign policy decisions, such as in Indonesia’s response to sanctions to Iran in 2007-8. This paper will argue that despite the large Muslim population in Indonesia, Islam has not had a significant influence on Indonesian national security policy thus far, particularly when compared to the impact the religion has had on social issues.

The paper will contend that this is due to Indonesia’s unique Islamic identity and religious pluralism, as well as the attitudes of previous governments towards political Islam. While Islam has not been the primary factor in shaping national security policy in the past (Rizal Sukma (2003) describes it as a ‘control mechanism’) the paper will suggest that the impact of Islam will increase as the country moves further away from the Suharto era.

The Makings of Terrorism in Indonesia

Hsu-Lynn Lee, Master of Arts in Strategy and Management at UNSW Canberra

This research paper provides a consolidation of academic research and writings about the determinants of Islamic terrorism in an Indonesian context. Indonesia is the largest Muslim majority nation in the world and it is also the location of the 2002 Bali bombing, the largest Islamic terrorist attack in the history of Southeast Asia and the first to explicitly target foreigners on a mass scale. The purpose of this research paper is to provide a clear and current picture, in the contemporary Indonesian context, of environmental factors resulting in a shift in ideology and modus operandi to what is now regarded as Islamic terrorism. This paper draws on a range of academic research spanning from the Soeharto period and through Indonesia’s transition into democracy to the current day. In terms of internal influences, terrorists have exploited religious violence to further their goals through radicalisation, recruitment and militant training. The Indonesian military in its infamous Opsus operation has unintentionally had a hand in reuniting and mobilising terrorist networks into action. Further, analysis into Indonesia’s political landscape reveals empowerment – or the lack thereof – as a motivation for terrorist action. Islamic education, in the form of pesantren and pengajian have radicalised Indonesian Muslims and, more significantly, brought together networks of extremists, as demonstrated in the case of the al-Mukmin pesantren with Jemaah Islamiyah and the pengajian of terrorist ideologue Aman Abdurrahman. In terms of external influences, conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria have aided and abetted Islamic terrorism in Indonesia, equipping Indonesian radical Islamists through the spread of extremist ideologies and through the provision of capability and credibility. The advent of social media has enhanced the galvanising effect of external events, with radical Islamist messages and ideologies radicalising individuals and fostering relationships between radical Islamists online. The findings of this research project can guide and inform counterterrorism and deradicalisation efforts in Indonesia.

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UNSW ADFA Asia Pacific Seminar Series

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