London Central Mosque Trust & The Islamic Cultural Centre


28 May 2023
Islam, Democracy and Modernity In Indonesia
9th Mar 2011

Islam, Democracy and Modernity In Indonesia

Dr. Mozammel Haque
Media Advisor
Islamic Cultural Centre, London

Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in the world. Around 85% of its 230 million populations are Muslims. Indonesia is also the largest economy in South East Asia. It has been widely seen as a remarkable model of democracy with its fourth largest population in the world. Its three consecutive free and fair direct presidential elections is a clear proof of that achievement. Its economy has also been deemed as showing a fast growth with many analysts considering Indonesia as one of the emerging economy powers.

An International Seminar on Indonesia’s Future Political Landscape was held at Inmarsat Conference Centre, London on 19th January. There were mainly two sessions: First on Political Islam in Muslim Countries and the West and the second session was on Challenges Facing Indonesian Political Parties. The Seminar was addressed by Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham, Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Mr. Lutfhi Hasan Ishaaq, the President of the Prosperous and Justice Party of Indonesia and Mr. Anis Matta, Deputy Speaker of the Indonesian Parliament and other Members of the Indonesian Parliament as well as other important political party figures.. ,

The international seminar was started with the issues which were addressed were: how do the people in the West and Muslim countries perceive political Islam? Is political Islam really a threat to democracy and the West? What are the achievements and contributions of political Islam to the societies in the West and in the Muslim countries?

Interview with the Deputy Speaker Of Indonesian Parliament
Before I start reporting on the one-day conference, I had the opportunity to meet and interview Mr. Anis Matta, the Deputy Speaker of the Indonesian Parliament.

The last General Election of the Indonesian Parliament was held in 2009; 38 political parties participated in the 2009 General elections of the Indonesia Parliament and 9 political parties came out largest parties and formed the government. The Prosperous Justice party (PKS) is the number 4 in that list of winning parties. The Prosperous Justice Party has 57 members in the Indonesian Parliament of 570 members. There are five speakers in the Board of Speakers.

Mr. Anis Matta, deputy speaker said, “There are five speakers. As PKS is number four among the winning party of nine, so it has one speaker. There are eleven commissions in the Parliament. We separate the duties and responsibilities of the Board into four and each one of them is in charge of political, another in charge of economy, another in charge of social and another in charge of Finance & Budget.” Mr. Anis Matta is deputy speaker in charge of Finance & Budget.

“Megawati’s party, PDI, is now number three. They are declining now. The Golkar Party is number two but also declining. In the first elections, the Megawati party got 34%, but in the next elections 19% and in the last elections they got 14%. The Golkar Party in the first elections got 25%, in the second elections they got 20%, and in the last elections they got 14%,”mentioned Mr. Matta.

Mr. Matta has specialised in Shari’ah from the Saudi University. He has Bachelor degree in Shari’ah from the Indonesian branch of the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1992. He also completed Defence National Course. He was teaching Islamic Economics in the University of Indonesia before joining politics. He joined political party, say the Prosperous Justice Party in 1998.

Ambassador of Indonesia, Yuri Thamrin
While delivering his Opening Remarks, the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Kingdom and Ireland, Mr. Yuri Thamrin, said, “Today, Indonesia is a living proof that democracy can develop robustly in a Muslim majority country. Indonesia is a country where Islam, democracy and modernity could go hand in hand harmoniously.”

“First, the basic assumptions of those who argue that Islam and democracy are incompatible are not accurate. The progressive trajectory of democracy in the Islamic world is more influenced not by culture but more by structural and instrumentalist factors such as modernisation, industrialisation, urbanisation, education and literacy, globalisation and elite orientation,” the Ambassador mentioned.

The Indonesian Ambassador Thamrin also mentioned, “I believe that the Qur’an, the Muslim’s Holy Book, does contain basic values and principles such as justice (‘Adl), consultation (Shoura), equality (Musawah), consensus (Ijma), freedom (Al- Hurriya) and dissent in opinion (Ikhtilaf). In my view, those basic values and principles could only live well in a representative form of government and could never prosper in an authoritarian regime. How could we expect that justice will be brought about to its fullest under a tyranny? Obviously no justice would ever be possible unless we have a participatory and representative government.”

While quoting from the World Value Survey, The Ambassador mentioned, “According to World Value Survey carried out in 2008, of all 1.2 billion Moslems the world-over and including 260 million Moslems in Middle East, it turns out that the majority of citizens believe in democracy and its compatibility to Islam. The survey argues that the desire for democracy in some parts of the Moslem world has not progressed as it should, not because of culture, but more of the repressive nature of the existing political system.”

Ambassador Thamrin said, Indonesia has established itself as a democracy, so the part of Indonesia’s identity is now about democracy and moderate Islam. “From this identity, Indonesia has actively projected democratic values in its international relations such as in ASEAN as well as by taking important initiatives such as the first ever dialogue on democracy among countries in Asia known as the Bali Democracy Forum that has continued every year since December 2008.”

Mr. Jazuli Juwaini, head of PKS-
The Prosperous Justice Party of Indonesia
The keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Jazuli Juwaini, M.P. the Head of the Central Executive Board of PKS – The Prosperous Justice Party of Indonesia. In his keynote speech, Mr. Juwaini first mentioned, “Islam is the religion of peace and the mercy for the universe and it is not merely about rituals, but a comprehensive way of life: ‘Aqidah (creed), ‘Ibadah (worship), ‘akhlaq (moral), education, social and culture, law and justice, economy, politics etc. Such a comprehensive view of Islam has been widely regarded as political Islam. This topic has been a very interesting discourse since the end of the cold war, and especially when the war on terror started and led by the US in 2001 as the response to terrorist attack on the twin towers in Manhattan, New York on September the 11th 2001.”

Referring to the political Islam, Mr. Juwaini mentioned, “The implementation of Islam as a political power dated back to the early era of Islam when Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, and his companions established the Medina Society. At that time, the city of Medina was a sovereign territory governed by a gentlemen agreement between various tribes and bounded the whole population of Medina. Since then, the history has witness the rise and fall of Islamic power until the early 20th century. We surely cannot deny that for centuries Islam has enlightened and positively contributed to the advancement of many parts of the world, including the Europe.”

Mr. Juwaini said, “Our party members and functionaries consist not only Muslims from one specific school of thought, but also from other religious and diverse backgrounds. This is because for us, the most important thing to consider is one’s commitment, integrity, capacity and contribution for the good and welfare of the nation,” mentioned Mr. Juwaini.

Mr. Juwaini also said, “PKS realises the importance of making and maintaining relations and cooperation with all nations around the world, for the Qur’an teaches that men and women are created into tribes and nations so that they may get to know each other. Furthermore, most of the members of PKS are young generation and educated and open-minded people. Some of them received their higher education from UK, USA, European, Arab, China, and Japanese universities.”

Picture: Dr. Haque with Mr. Anis Matta, Deputy Speaker of the Indonesian Parliament



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