Lecture: "Faith, Moral Authority, and Politics: The Making of Progressive Islam in Indonesia"


Location: C103 Hesburgh Center


Alexander R. Arifianto

Kroc Institute Visiting Research Fellow

Several of the world's Islamic organizations, including in Indonesia, have experienced major changes in their theological frames and political identities. They have moved away from a fundamentalist or revivalist political theology to one that embraces a “progressive” Islamic theology that supports democracy, human rights, and religious tolerance and is based on classical Islamic thought and Western political philosophy.

What are the factors that lead these groups to pursue these theological changes? Who are the actors who promoted these changes and what cultural and institutional factors help to explain them?

Using constructivist international relations theory, Arifianto will argue that Islamic groups are able to change their theological frames and political identities if the changes are promoted by charismatic religious leaders with "moral authority" status, who use both ideational and instrumental strategies to reconstruct the theological frames of their organizations. Other influential variables that affect the likelihood of a theological change within Islamic groups are the institutional culture of the organization, the lack of a strong theological opposition within the group, and the relationship between the Islamic group and the state