PKS From Political party to Socio-Religious Movement?

Monday, February 2nd, 2009, 00:00 WIB

PKS From Political party to Socio-Religious Movement?

Date: Wednesday, 4 February 2008
Time: 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm (free lunch)
Venue: Room 306, UGM Graduate School , Teknika Utara Pogung YKT
Speaker: Mark Woodward

PKS is arguably the most successful and influential of the Islamic political parties to have emerged in Indonesia since the democratic transition of 1998. The party is well organized, very well financed and extremely media savy. Since its birth a decade ago it has grown from a small, but exceeding dedicated group of campus activists to become a major and seemingly permanent force in Indonesian politics at national, provincial and local levels. Theologically PKS shares much with what can be termed the religious revivalist wing of Muhammadiyah. Ideologically and in terms of its organizational principles and social location, it shares more with the accomodationist wing of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

The great strength of PKS is its sophisticated understanding of the natural of the electoral process and the centrality of symbolic, as opposed to substantive issues in voter choice processes. It's weakness is that, here to fore, it has not had a œreligious base like those of its older, and not explicitly political, rivals Muhammadiyah and NU. There are signs that this has begun to change as PKS has adopted locally and nationally defined cultural strategies. Over the last six months PKS has attempted to appropriate, or “put its stamp on important Muslim holy days including Ramadan, Lebaran and Id al-Adha. It has attempted to associate itself with major historical figures including Kyai Ahmad Dahlan, Kyai Hasyim Ashari, and Sultan Hamengkubuwana IX.

It has also attempted to gain control of schools, health care centers and other social service agencies established by other Muslim organizations, especially Muhammadiyah. . In some areas, It has also established an independent fatwa council and entered into entire non political religious debates including that concerning the proper method for determining the dates of the beginning and end of Ramdan.

All of this indicates that PKS is attempting to define itself as a religious organization as well as a religiously based political party. If successful, this effort, combined with the party's highly efficient Dakwah strategies and its emphasis on “religiously under served middle class urban populations would significantly enhance its influence at local and national level.
Establish Muslim organizations, especially Muhammadiyah, have found it difficult to respond. Since it was established at the apex of colonialism Muhammadiyah has defined itself as a social and religious organization and is not nearly as adept at public relations and the manipulation of symbols at PKS. It has, in recent decades, also renounced Takfiri rhetoric or the practice of denouncing opponents as non-Muslims, depriving itself of a potentially potent weapon in this war of words and ideas. It has grown increasingly inward looking, appealing primarily to its œnatural base Despite enormous difference in actual accomplishments, PKS presents itself as a more modern, dynamic and professional movement.

The long term implications of these developments remain to be seen. What is clear is that PKS has œreframed Muslim discourse for a significant segment of the Indonesian population. It has redefined itself as a mainstream player and shed its image as an extremist or fringe group.

About the speaker:
Mark Woodward is associate professor of religions in Southeast Asia . He has taught at Illinois Wesleyan University and Bowdoin College , and in 2007 was Visiting Proessor of Religious Studies at the Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta , Indonesia . He has received grants from Fulbright Hays, the Social Science Research Council, the US Department of State, and from the Indonesian Ministry of Religion. He has conducted extensive ethnographic and historical research in Indonesia , Burma and Singapore .

The forum is free of charge and on a first-come-first basis.

Contact person:
Maufur ipung (ICRS): maufur_nd@yahoo. com
Mustaghfiroh Rahayu (CRCS): mth.rahayu@gmail. com
Academic Officer, ICRS-Yogya
UGM Graduate School, Third Floor
Jln. Teknika Utara Pogung Yogyakarta 55281 Indonesia
maufur_nd@yahoo. com or id