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Arie Setyaningrum Pamungkas (Alumna BGSMCS)

The Dakwah Media in Post Suharto Indonesia:From Politics of Identity to Popular Culture (the case of Ummi)

The most apparent form of Islamism as a result of the reform era (post Suharto regime) in Indonesia is the increasing popularity of Islamic media, especially Islamic magazines which emphasize the importance of ‘dakwah’.  As the media in Indonesia play significant roles in shaping national identity, they are designated for articulating ideological baselines. The Islamic media at this point become central to articulate desirable visions particularly to promote political interests.

The growth of media in the Post Soeharto era has been the result of press freedom established by president B.J Habibie in 1999. Freed from the past constraints of state censorship and propaganda, all segments of the media community including Islamic media have moved rapidly towards diversity and plurality. With regard to the diversity of Islamic media, the term of ‘the dakwah media’ hence is not only about labeling ‘Islam’ but also on ‘constructing’ dakwah. Dakwah itself literarily means ‘proselytization of Islam’, ‘issuing a summons’ or ‘making an invitation’. Despite the fact that there was a rapid growth of Islamic media born in the early reform era and some Islamic media especially those promoting Islamism have gained popularity, only few of them survived. Ummi is one of the examples of the survival ‘dakwah media’ that have experienced different political circumstances from the demise of Suharto period in the late 1990s until now after ten years of Reformasi (reform era).

With regard to the Islamic media tendency of popularizing Islamism in recent Indonesia, my PhD project hence aims to provide a brief analysis of the shift of the dakwah media which used to be political vehicles of establishing constituencies especially for the ‘tarbiyah movement’ in the Suharto era to the current tendency of popularizing Islamism as a new life style. The tarbiyah movement in Indonesia is a social and political movement among Indonesian Muslim students especially activists in the Suharto period. The word tarbiyah itself is taken from Arabic which literary means ‘education’. The dakwah method introduced by the tarbiyah movement refers to the ‘tarbiyah method’ of Ikhwanul Muslimin. This method employs informal mentoring activities where religious lessons are taken within a circle of a group called ‘halaqoh’ in attempt to prepare youth Muslim to the call for ‘ka’afah Islam’ (total Islam). The appearance of the dakwah media such as Ummi in this case has helped to disseminate the ikhwani thoughts among the adherents of the tarbiyah movement.

First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Vincent Houben

Second Supervisor: PD Dr. Dietrich Reetz