Recreational Fundamentalism: Hijrah counterculture and the Islamisation of middle-class lay-Muslims in Jakarta

Event details

PSC Seminar

Date & time

Tuesday 02 April 2019


PSC Reading Room 4.27, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Ray Yen


Maxine McArthur

Hijrah is a lifestyle-oriented trend of middle-class lay-Muslims pursuing self-improvement through Islam. In recent years, the hijrah phenomenon broke into the mainstream as an increasing number of celebrities publicised their journey of religious awakening through social media. What started as an innocuous, if not highly commercialised, lifestyle trend raised eye-brows when more and more people began to adopt sartorial styles associated with Islamic fundamentalism. This perceived connection between hijrah and the mainstreaming of fundamentalism is particularly potent in a climate of polarisation due to the Islam Defence Action (Aksi Bela Islam), in which many hijrah preachers and celebrities threw their weight behind a movement considered by many as intolerant and sectarian. Why do modern and cosmopolitan middle-class youths on hijrah become involved with what appears to be Islamic fundamentalism? This study examines this phenomenon and argues that, due to the growing polarisation in the society, many young people during their journey of religious awakening came to see hijrah as a counterculture movement and began to experiment with an Islamic subjectivity that I call “recreational fundamentalism.” Such a dynamic illuminates the mainstreaming of Islamic fundamentalism in contemporary Indonesia.

About the Speaker
Ray Yen is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political and Social Change, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, ANU.

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