For the Love of Ahl al-Bayt: Negotiating Shiʿism in Indonesia Restricted; Files Only

Muwahidah, Siti Sarah (Spring 2020)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/j9602186x?locale=en
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Abstract

The sectarian conflicts in the Middle East have heightened Sunni-Shiʿa sectarian tensions in the broader Islamic world. This dissertation examines the dynamic of Sunni-Shiʿa sectarianization in Indonesia. Unlike other studies that have been rooted in an assumption of fixed-normative notions of Sunnism and Shiʿism, it looks beyond the perceived doctrines, orthodoxies, and boundaries that are ordinarily understood to delineate Sunni and Shiʿa identity. This work is based on a combination of library research and multi-site fieldwork in Indonesia in 2015 and 2018. Over one hundred interviews were conducted with Muslim interlocutors from diverse backgrounds across Indonesia on subjects pertaining to their understanding of Sunni and Shiʿa identity, narratives, and boundaries.

Using the theoretical framework of sectarianization, which views Shiʿism and Shiʿa identity as mutable, this study offers a thick description of the multifaceted and ever-changing understanding of Shiʿism in Indonesia. It explores how Indonesian Muslims experience and express sectarian sentiments, as well as how sectarian discourse has traveled globally and been internalized locally. It demonstrates that local, national, and transnational political changes have influenced Islamic discursive practices in Indonesia, including the ways Indonesian Muslims discuss and construe Shiʿism.

The rise of Sunni-Shiʿa sectarianization in Indonesia is evident in the increasing articulation of sectarian consciousness among lay Muslims, the growth of anti-Shiʿa propaganda, and the consolidation and mobilization of anti-Shiʿa Sunni groups. By employing the narrative identity approach of Walter Fisher, Margaret Somers, and Gloria Gibson, this dissertation analyzes how Indonesian Muslims acquire, maintain, and negotiate their sectarian affiliations by “emplotting” themselves in historical, theological, cultural, and political narratives. It argues that the sectarianization process affects the way Indonesian Muslims read and interpret the historical narratives concerning Shiʿism, the way they signify and perform personal and cultural sectarian identifications, and the way authorities formulate and deploy public policies. This study sought to enrich the growing scholarship of sectarianization that, in general, has been focused on the Middle East and South Asian regions.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction....................................................................................................................... 1

I.              Problems............................................................................................................ 1

II.            Important Terms of Analysis............................................................................. 5

a.    Sectarianization........................................................................................... 5

b.    Identity and Social Recognition.................................................................. 7

c.    Narrative, Identity, and Community......................................................... 11

d.    The Boundaries of Identity........................................................................ 13

e.    Peacebuilding............................................................................................ 17

III.          Data Collection................................................................................................ 18

IV.         Oral History and Traditional Manuscripts...................................................... 20

V.           Chapter Summaries......................................................................................... 24

Chapter 1. Negotiating History: Fragmented Narratives and

Ever-Disputed Sectarian Identities............................................................ 29

I.              Problems in Identifying Shiʿa Elements.......................................................... 30

II.            Historizing the Islamization of South East Asia............................................. 34

a.    When did Islam come to Indonesia?......................................................... 34

b.    What was the route of Islamic transmission to Indonesia?....................... 39

III.          The Beginning of Shiʿism in South East Asia................................................. 45

a.    The ʿAlid Arrival: Shiʿism of Peureulak and Jeumpa Kingdoms............. 47

b.    The Kingdom of Pasai and Ismaili Influence in Aceh.............................. 53

c.    Hamka vs. the Parlindungan Polemic on the

Shiʿism of Western Sumatra..................................................................... 61

d.    Shiʿis among Wali Sanga and the Islamization of Nusantara................... 65

e.    Shiʿis in Cham and Thailand..................................................................... 73

f.     The Shiʿa Element in Malay literature...................................................... 78

IV.         Conclusion....................................................................................................... 81

Chapter 2. Negotiating Religious Identity:

Sunni and Shiʿa Sectarianization in Indonesia......................................... 88

I.              Dichotomy and Polarization in Indonesian Muslim Society........................... 91

II.            Sunni-Shiʿa Sectarianization in Indonesia...................................................... 94

a.    The Creation of Moral Panic................................................................... 105

III.          Narratives, Identity, and Sectarianization..................................................... 109

a.    Rejection of Sectarian Boundaries.......................................................... 111

b.    Transcending Sectarian Boundaries........................................................ 114

c.    Sectarian Allegiances and Geopolitical Narratives................................. 124

IV.         Sectarian Ambiguity among the Southeast Asian Arab Diaspora................. 130

a.    The Cikoang ʿAlid Community: Shiʿa in Theosophy

and Sunni in Jurisprudence...................................................................... 137

b.    Contentions among the Hadrami Diaspora

Since the Iranian Revolution................................................................... 144

V.           The Question of Taqiyya............................................................................... 149

VI.         Conclusion..................................................................................................... 156

Chapter 3. Negotiating Culture:

The Infallibles, The Just Ruler, and The Tabut...................................... 163

I.              The Infallibles and The Just Messiah............................................................ 167

a.    The Intercessory Powers of The Infallibles............................................. 167

b.    The Awaited Messiah: Mahdism and

The Javanese Just Ruler (Ratu Adil)....................................................... 176

II.            Conversion to Shiʿism in North Molucca..................................................... 188

III.          Reinventing Ashura....................................................................................... 205

IV.         Conclusion..................................................................................................... 227

Chapter 4. Negotiating Rights:

Sectarianization and Its Discontents........................................................ 233

I.              The Anti-Shiʿa Movements:

From Tactics to Hegemonic Strategy............................................................ 235

a.    The Case of Az-Zikra: Capitalizing on a Sectarianized Incident............ 236

b.    The Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) and

Sectarian Identity Entrepreneurs............................................................. 241

c.    Exclusionary Rhetoric: Sectarianizing Fear and Disgust........................ 250

d.    Framing Unofficial Opinions as Official Statements.............................. 253

e.    The Consolidation of Sectarian Identity Entrepreneurs.......................... 258

II.            The Shiʿi Community’s Tactical Response:

Inculcating Non-sectarian Attitudes.............................................................. 274

a.    The Muthahhari Community’s Right to Reply....................................... 276

b.    Muthahhari High School: Contesting Sectarian Worldviews................. 284

c.    Everyday Peacebuilding in a Multi-sectarian Neighborhood:

Between Pride and Anxiety..................................................................... 291

d.    Sustaining A Sectarian-Inclusive Neighborhood.................................... 297

III.          Conclusion: Contested Spaces of Negotiation.............................................. 303

Conclusion...................................................................................................................... 313

I.              History........................................................................................................... 314

II.            Identity........................................................................................................... 317

III.          Culture........................................................................................................... 321

IV.         Sectarian Ambiguity...................................................................................... 323

V.           Identity Boundaries....................................................................................... 328

VI.         Orthodoxy...................................................................................................... 333

VII.       The Indonesian Government’s Policies and Attitudes.................................. 338

Bibliography.................................................................................................................. 344

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