Treading the Path of the Sharia: Indonesian Feminism at the Crossroads of Western Modernity and Islamism

Manneke Budiman
| Abstract views: 112 | views: 258


The downfall of Suhartos New Order in 1998 has opened up a new era of political freedom and participation for activists and for groups that try to promote emancipatory agendas as well as for political Islamists keen on introducing tougher conservative, religious measures to society. Womens activism and participation in different sectors has flourished, and their voices have had much stronger echoes in the political dynamics of the country. However, the new era has also given rise to Islamic radicalism that is also hostile to feminist causes and perceives feminism as part of the Western hegemonic project. In such a slippery political terrain, womens movements in Indonesia have to remake the image of feminism in Indonesian terms so that it cannot be dismissed as an ideology imported from the West and, simultaneously, they must develop a home-grown counter-discourse against the mainstream interpretation of sacred texts by using the same sources of knowledge that the Islamists employ. To what extent women activists have succeeded or failed in their struggles to free Indonesian Muslim women from the shackles of the male-dominated reading of Islamic dogma, and what the future trajectories of their struggles might be, are the primary concerns of this essay.

Full Text:



A'la, Abdul (2007). Interview in Swara Rahima. No. 21.VII: 1316.

Arkoun, Muhammed (2006). 'Present-Day Islam between Tradition and Globalization', in Mehran Kamrava (ed.). The New Voices of Islam: Rethinking Politics and Modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 2963.

Assyaukanie, Luthfie (2004). 'Democracy and the Islamic State: Muslim Arguments for Political Change in Indonesia'. The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies. 20: 3246.

Barlas, Asma (2002). 'Believing Women' in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Budianta, Melani (2003). 'The Blessed Tragedy: the Making of Women's Activism during the Reformasi Years', in Ariel Heryanto and Sumit Mandal (eds). Challenging Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia: Comparing Indonesia and Malaysia. London & New York: Routledge Curzon, pp. 14577.

Candraningrum, Dewi (2007). 'The Quest for Islamic Identity: Helvy Tiana Rosa's Call for Universal Brotherhood (Ummah) and the Return to Total Islam (Kaffah)'. Orientierungen: Zietschrift zur Kultur Asiens Vol. 2. No. 27: 10127.

Geaves, Ron (2005). Aspects of Islam. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

Kamrava, Mehran (2006). 'Introduction: Reformist Islam in Comparative Perspective', Modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 127.

Kodir, Faqihuddin Abdul (2007). 'Memilih yang Prinsip, Bukan yang Partial [Choosing the Principal, Not the Partial]'. Swara Rahima. Vol VII. No. 21: 2132.

Madjid, Nurcholish (1999). 'Akar Islam, Beberapa Segi Budaya Indonesia dan Kemungkinan Pengembangannya bagi Masa Depan Bangsa [The Root of Islam, Some Indonesian Cultural Aspects and Their Possible Development for the Future of the Nation]', in Agus Sardjono (ed). Pembebasan Budaya- Budaya Kita [Liberation of Our Cultures]. Jakarta: Gramedia & Taman Ismail Marzuki, pp. 297307.

Mulia, Siti Musdah (2007a). 'The Role of Islamic Tradition in Community Development'. International Conference on Transforming Development. Kenniscentrum Religie en Ontwikkeling, Soesterberg, Netherlands, October 1517.

Noerdin, Edriana (2002). 'Customary Institutions, Syariah Law and the Marginalization of Indonesian Women', in Kathryn Robinson and Sharon Bessell (eds). Women in Indonesia: Gender, Equity and Development. Singapore: Institute of Asian Studies, pp. 17986.

Yuval-Davis, Nira (1997). Gender and Nation. London: Sage.

Website Al-Jawi, M. Siddiq (2005). 'Menghancurkan Agenda Global Barat: Feminisme [Destroying Western Global Agenda: Feminism]'. Khilafah, October 13. www. Accessed 1 April 2008.

Amirudin, Mariana (2006). 'RUU APP dan Gerakan Perempuan [Anti-Pornography Bill and Women's Movement]'. Jurnal Perempuan, 21 March. www. Accessed 7 December 2007.

'Asian Analysis'. ASEAN Focus Group and the Australian National University. www. Accessed 9 April 2008. Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim Indonesia. . accessed 10 April 2008.

Ma'ruf, Farid (2007). 'Perjuangan Muslimah di Persimpangan: Antara Liberalisme dan Islam [Muslim Women's Struggle at a Crossroad: Between Liberalism and Islam]'. Baitijannati, 2 February. Accessed 1 April 2008.

Mulia, Siti Musda (2003). Interview with Ulil Abshar-Abdalla. Jaringan Islam Liberal, 1 September. Accessed 1 April 2008.

--------. (2005). Interview in Sinar Harapan, 2 March. Accessed 1 April 2008.

--------. (2007b). 'Pembaruan Kompilasi Hukum Islam [Reforming the Islamic Law Compilation]'. Pusat Studi Islam dan Kenegaraan Universitas Paramadina. Accessed 1 April 2008.

Pradana, Boy ZTF (2007). 'Pembaruan Islam dan Mitos Pembaratan [Islamic Reform and the Myth of Westernization]'. Jaringan Islam Liberal, 23 April. http:// Accessed 1 April 2008.

The Independent Media Center Jakarta. Accessed 6 December 2007.

Zarkasyi, Hamid Fahmy (2007). 'Menyoal Pembaruan Islam [Problematising Islamic Reform]'. Center for Moderate Islam Indonesia, 2 January. Accessed 1 April 2008.

Copyright (c) 2008 Journal of Indonesian Social Sciences and Humanities


  • There are currently no refbacks.