Sunday, July 14, 2024

Is Islam Nusantara the way forward for Indian Muslims?

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Research suggests that the Global Muslim Population will be 29.7% by 2050. While the Christian population will remain stable at 31.4%; Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism will also not experience any significant change in the proportion in the next 40 years. Thus, there is no disputing the fact that Islamic followers will rise in India as well.

Currently, many Islamic nations suffer political strife and civil wars as the aftershocks of ‘The Arab Spring’. However, Indonesia shines as a model Muslim-majority country that accepts the concept of pluralism. The Indonesian version of Islam shows that Islam and democracy are compatible. It also highlights the way Islam can be incorporated within a modern country with diverse religious belief systems.

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How is Islam Nusantara Different from the Arab’s Version?

Islam Nusantara: Indonesia's counter to radical Islamic ideology of ISIS
PC Awaz the Voice

The Middle-east nations and Islam are inseparably linked with each other in today’s context. Thus, the Arab version of Islam tends to be the way the world views this religion. Consequently, the orthodox – dark age – extremist theology of Islam takes precedence over Indonesia’s secular version of Islam. The rejection of others’ religious identity and freedom is the common theme of radical Islamic ideology. Islamic state above national pride and cultural suppression are the common goals of radical Islamists.

Contrarily, Indonesia with an 87.2 percent Muslim population does not recognize Islam as its national religion. It approaches Islamic philosophy with an open mind and heart. It rejects extremist goals and accepts local belief systems into its arms

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What is Islam Nusantara?

Kumpulan Berita Seputar Islam-nusantara


In 2015 the Islamic scholars of Nahdlatul Ulama developed and declared an alternative vision of Islam in Indonesia called the Nusantara Islam. At the time, Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defender Front) and Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia viewed Islam and nationalism as contradictory values in Indonesia. They wanted to turn Indonesia into an Islamic state due to its large Muslim population. However, the Indonesian government stopped their nefarious ideology in its tracks. It adopted Islam Nusantara to derail the rising popularity of ISIS ideology in the nation. The government made Islam Nusantara the official religious discourse of Indonesia.

The Nahdlatul Ulama model promotes national consciousness as a religious theme. Its interpretation of Islam resonates with acceptance and tolerance.

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This modern view of Islam was readily incorporated into the social fabric of Indonesia. Thereafter, Muslim nations and other countries use it as the model system to structure religious dialogues. Lately, nations that face ethnic conflicts, riots, and religious tensions are asking their Muslim leaders to adopt similar visions to balance the religious needs of the hour. 

Nusantara Islam or Archipelagic Islam promotes the moderate values of Islam. It opposes the violent agenda of ISIS and its resonant caliphates. The word ‘Nusantara’ is used as a name for the territory of the Indonesian. Thus, Nusantara Islam is an Islam that grows, develops, and lives within the Indonesian archipelago. It is a direct result of the interpretations of the Quran and the Hadiths with the local culture and belief systems. 

Feature of Islam Nusantara

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  1. Pluralism and Tolerance: Islam Nusantara promotes religious pluralism, inclusivity, and respect for diversity. It recognizes and embraces the cultural and religious diversity of Indonesian society. It promotes peaceful coexistence among the different religious communities in the country.
  2. Moderate and Balanced Approach: Islam Nusantara emphasizes a moderate and balanced approach to religious practice and interpretation. It actively rejects extremism and radicalism. It upholds the principles of compassion, justice, and social harmony.
  3. Local Cultural Integration: Islam Nusantara acknowledges the integration of Islamic teachings with local cultural traditions, customs, and practices. It recognizes the importance of preserving and appreciating local cultural heritage while adhering to the core principles of Islam.
  4. Sufi Influence: Sufism plays a significant role in Islam Nusantara. This version of Islam emphasizes spirituality, inner purification, and a personal relationship with God. Sufi practices such as zikr (remembrance of God), meditation, and seeking spiritual guidance from a teacher (sheik) are embraced as means of spiritual growth.
  5. Indigenous Wisdom and Values: Islam Nusantara draws upon the indigenous wisdom of the Indonesian people. It incorporates elements of traditional beliefs, customs, and rituals into Islamic practices. It values local wisdom, promotes environmental stewardship, and advocates for social justice and community welfare.
  6. Nationalism: This version of Islam promotes nationalism as a part of the Islamic faith. It propagates the idea that homeland and history are interlinked, and that homeland is linked with national pride.

Will this Model reduce India’s increasing Religious Extremism?

India is a boiling hotspot for religious extremism. Brainwashed youths follow the Islamic radical ideology to havoc terror and violence within the nation. The various versions of Jihad are destroying the integrity and strength of the country. It is also helping foreign forces to widen the religious tolerance gap and exploit it for their political gains. 

India is at the peak of its strength for the first time in the last 200 years. The Indian government wants to make India the leader of all developed nations. The program by the central government has been pushing for progress and unity. However, the radicalized sects are pushing back against this progress. Their demand for Sharia and Islamic Supremacy is running the foundations of the country. Their minority-appeasement tactics are destroying the social fabric of the nation.

India’s Muslim population will increase in the coming years. Thus, accepting a version similar to Islam Nusantara may avoid future conflicts between the major religions in India in the future. The leading Islamic leaders must acknowledge the influence of radicals on the religions. They must also acknowledge the need to promote tolerant versions of Islamic practices to live in harmony with India’s tolerant Hindus.

Probable Benefits of Islam Nusantara for India

Indian Muslimness holds, but important lessons must be learned from battle for soul of Islam in Indonesia-World News , Firstpost
PC Firstpost

While the acceptance and popularity of a tolerant version and vision of Islamic interpretations is a far-away concept. There may be a lot of benefits involved for all parties if such a version is accepted by Indian Muslims.

  1. Embracing Diversity: Such a version will encourage Indian Muslims to recognize and respect the diversity of cultures and religions. It will help them appreciate the rich cultural tapestry of India. It will foster a sense of inclusivity and acceptance towards people of different faiths. This may lead to peaceful coexistence and interfaith harmony in Indian society.
  2. Countering Extremism: By promoting a moderate and balanced approach to Islam, India will have a counter-narrative to extremist ideologies. A version of Islam that emphasizes the rejection of violence, extremism, and radicalism will make great headways for lasting peace in the country. 
  3. Cultural Integration: A version like Islam Nusantara will encourage the integration of Islamic teachings with local cultural traditions. This can help Indian Muslims to maintain their religious identity while embracing their Indian heritage and cultural practices. 
  4. Social Harmony: A version of Islam that promotes social harmony and the values of nationalism shall lead to the progress of the nation. It will help all communities of India to unite under one umbrella. Values that align with the principles of a democratic and secular society, emphasizing equality, inclusivity, and the well-being of all individuals shall be acceptable nationwide.
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