Islamic Cosmopolitics, Human Rights and
Anti-Violence Strategies in Indonesia
Indonesia, the nation with the world's largest Islamic population, has been undergoing a process of continuous conversion since the thirteenth century. Like most of the Muslim world, Indonesian Muslims have engaged with the global Islamic renewal following the Iranian revolution. Since the authoritarian, centralising ruler Suharto was forced to resign in 1998, Indonesia designates itself as in a period of Reform (Reformasi) where competing visions for the form of the state and its fundamental values are in contestation. Political Islam, with philosophical (and sometimes organisational and financial) links to the Middle East — for example, the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots — and a movement for gender equity, are important fractions in this emergent political flux.
The influence of reform traditions arising in the Middle East is not something new in Indonesia: Islamic modernism developed through the embrace of the ideas of Muhamad Abduh in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.1 Like earlier waves of Islam, the influences were expressed in a variety of organisational forms and through local debates and contestations. By the third decade of the twentieth century, Indonesian Islam had a political face, firmly harnessed to the anti-colonial and increasingly nationalist movement, and both the 'traditionalist' and 'modernist' strands of Indonesian Islam gave rise to political parties which competed in the free elections of the 1950s, in the new republic (Feith 1962).
Islamism is popularly associated with quintessentially communitarian politics, valorising the collective identity of the ummah over non-believers. However, for significant sectors of the contemporary Indonesian Islamic community, Islam is associated with cosmopolitan values, here understood as a commitment to 'the human' as 'a complex singularity over and above proximal categorisations and identifications of nation, ethnicity, class, religion, gender, locale and so on' (Rapport 2006: 23), a commitment to 'planetary conviviality' (Mignolo 2000:721) which in Indonesia is expressed in a commitment to 'pluralism'.2 In contemporary