Islam and Democracy in Indonesia

Tolerance without Liberalism

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Jeremy Menchik
Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics
  • Cambridge, England: 
    Cambridge University Press
    , January
     224 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Indonesia's Islamic organizations sustain the country's thriving civil society, democracy, and reputation for tolerance amid diversity. Yet scholars poorly understand how these organizations envision the accommodation of religious difference. What does tolerance mean to the world's largest Islamic organizations? What are the implications for democracy in Indonesia and the broader Muslim world? Jeremy Menchik argues that answering these questions requires decoupling tolerance from liberalism and investigating the historical and political conditions that engender democratic values. Drawing on archival documents, ethnographic observation, comparative political theory, and an original survey, Islam and Democracy in Indonesia demonstrates that Indonesia's Muslim leaders favor a democracy in which individual rights and group-differentiated rights converge within a system of legal pluralism, a vision at odds with American-style secular government but common in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

• Challenges the assumption that liberal modes of tolerance are necessary for making democracy work

• Instead of asking whether Islam is compatible with democracy, it investigates the more important question: what kind of democracy do Muslims want?

• Draws on twenty-four months of field research in Indonesia, including archival research, ethnographic observation and an original survey

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Jeremy Menchik is assistant professor of international relations at Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University.


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