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Edited by Andrew T.H. Tan
Chapter 4: Militant Java-based Islamist Movements
Greg Fealy Islam in Java has commonly been seen as peaceful, tolerant and benign. Numerous scholars have commented approvingly of its tradition of blending of Islamic elements with pre-existing Hindu, Buddhist and autochthonous beliefs and practices. Many have also written that the main cultures on the island emphasize smooth personal interactions and the avoidance of conﬂict, leading to the conclusion that Java’s Islamic community is not disposed to violent jihad. While this favourable characterization is true for a large majority of Java’s Muslims, it does not capture the breadth of Islamic ideologies and behaviour on the island, either historically or contemporaneously. Indeed, this benign view has masked two important aspects of Java’s Islam community: ﬁrst, that syncretistic and heterodox Islam can also be militant; and second, that there is a long history of fundamentalist, exclusivist and intolerant behaviour among a small minority of the island’s Muslims. These elements have been manifest in various insurgent and terrorist campaigns undertaken by militant Islamic groups on Java. Thus, as with so many aspects of Java, its Islamic culture is far more complex than the generalizations suggest. A number of examples will serve to illustrate this point. The Darul Islam (DI) movement has been active on Java for more than half a century. It is religiously heterodox, combining Islamic elements with local folk beliefs, and also has a strong mystical inclination. During the 1950s and early 1960s, DI members rebelled against the central Indonesian government and fought with great commitment and sacriﬁce...
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