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Religious Expression in Indonesia – A Sociological Study of Ahmadiyya Movement

13 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2010  

Mohamad Atqa

Center of Multifaith, State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta


The study attempts to investigate the various issues related to the phenomenon of religious expression in contemporary Indonesian society with particular focus on the study of the Ahmadiyya movement and its impact on the society. Ahmadiyya movement is considered against Islamic beliefs especially due to its teaching that its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is a Prophet and the Tadzkirah is a holy book next to the Qur’ān. The study discusses complex interplay between Indonesian ‘Ulamā Council (MUI) with its fatwā on the prohibition of Ahmadiyya sect, its proponent, the Radical Conservative Islamist group (RCI) and its opponent the Liberal Islamist group (LIG). RCI groups have pushed for imposition of Sharī’ah to solve Indonesia’s multi-dimensional problems. On the other hand, liberal Islamic groups are promoting a liberal-inclusive approach to Islam in society. This situation has put the government in a dilemma as to the most appropriate move to take in dealing with the matter. Moreover, soon after the issuance of the fatwā, a series of attacks on the compounds, buildings and properties of Ahmadiyya centres have taken place. The attacks seemed to suggest to the ordinary people that the fatwā is crucial and timely and they are responsible to implement it. In this context, it is pertinent to investigate in greater detail the central issue in question i.e. the teaching of Ahmadiyya itself, how do its followers understand Islam, how was the “meaning” of Islam developed by the Ahmadiyya founder and his disciples and what are the local socio-cultural factors that might have further influenced their understanding and practice of Islam. In addition, the study also looks at how such an understanding is seen by the above ‘authorities’ and ‘powers’ within the context of Indonesian socio-cultural milieu as well as the implications of such religious understanding and practice on people. This study adopts a qualitative research approach involving both fieldwork and library research. For the former, it uses mainly interview and participant observation as tools for generating primary data from the research site. The study revealed that there are several factors that seem to have influenced the respondents’ decision to join the movement and their understanding of Islam. Among all factors, one element appears to be the most outstanding, that is, some respondents came from families with religious Islamic background and orientation. Their meaning of Islam also seems to be influenced mainly by their own experiences. It is found that there are similar patterns of experience among the respondents which have shaped their meaning of Islam. The study ends with some suggestions and recommendations in its concluding chapter.

Keywords: Ahmadiyya, Religious expression, Islam

Suggested Citation

Atqa, Mohamad, Religious Expression in Indonesia – A Sociological Study of Ahmadiyya Movement. OIDA International Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol. 1, No. 6, pp. 19-31, 2010. Available at SSRN:

Mohamad Atqa (Contact Author)

Center of Multifaith, State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta ( email )

Jalan Ir Haji Juanda
Jakarta, 15412

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