Post-Islamism: A Response to Islamism

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Social change is not only manifested in the modern world’s technological advancements but also in the dynamics of religious movements. An example of this is the emergence of the Post-Islamism era, representing an adaptation of Islamic movements from the previously dominant ideology of Islamism.

Unlike Islamism, which tends to interpret and apply Islamic teachings rigidly, Post-Islamism offers a more moderate and flexible approach. This movement aims to integrate Islamic values with modern realities, including concepts of democracy, human rights, and pluralism.


Post-Islamism does not entirely reject modernity or Western values but seeks a middle ground between adherence to Islamic teachings and adaptation to contemporary developments. While it maintains Islam as its ideological foundation, Post-Islamism is more open to diverse interpretations and does not impose the strict application of Sharia law within the state’s framework. Therefore, Post-Islamism can be seen as an intellectual evolution that attempts to bridge the gap between Islamic values and modern demands.

The term “Post-Islamism” was first introduced by Asef Bayat, a professor at the University of Illinois and head of Modern Middle Eastern Studies at Leiden University. Bayat argues that Post-Islamism presents a new conception of society and governance, expressed through new perspectives in public spaces, youth culture, student politics, and, most importantly, religious thought. Essentially, Post-Islamism is a metamorphosis of Islamism. To understand Post-Islamism, we must first examine its relationship with Islamism.

Islamism can be defined as an ideology and movement aiming to establish an Islamic order. This is manifested in the form of an Islamic state that enforces Sharia law and implements moral rules based on Islamic values within society. It is crucial to distinguish between Islam as a religion and Islamism as an ideology and movement.

Islamist movements can be categorized into three types. The first is reformist movements, which aim to reform existing orders. Examples include the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Islamic parties in various countries, including Indonesia, and Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was banned in Indonesia in 2017.

The second type is revolutionary or militant Islamism. This includes organizations like Jemaah Islamiyah, known in Indonesia as Laskar Jihad. They propagate violence and often interpret jihad narrowly as warfare.

The third type is social movements that are non-political or apolitical, often referred to as fundamentalist. These movements do not promote violence but emphasize foundational religious teachings. They focus on the fundamentals of faith or creed, advocating a return to the pure teachings of the Quran and Hadith. These apolitical movements are also known as puritan movements, such as the Salafi movement and the Tablighi Jamaat, which are transnational movements spreading across various countries.

Islamic movements in Indonesia are influenced by at least three forms of Islamism from the Middle East: Wahhabi Salafism, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hizb ut-Tahrir. This influence shapes the character of their adherents, who tend to be conservative, fanatical, sectarian, exclusive, supremacist, and anti-democratic.

While often described as utopian, the ideology of Islamism attracts followers because it offers solutions to contemporary problems. However, Islamism is currently evolving, with its movements adapting to supportive contexts. This evolution has led to the emergence of Post-Islamism, which is useful for analyzing contemporary Islamic movements in Indonesia.

This theory is beneficial for analyzing Indonesia’s case, although some adjustments are necessary considering the Islamic political system in Indonesia is not as intense as in Egypt or Iran.

Post-Islamism represents a fundamental shift in the attitudes and strategies of Islamists in pursuing their mission. It is a new idea emerging after Islamism. Although it can be considered a transformation of Islamism, there are significant differences between the two. One is Post-Islamism’s more reflective approach to religiosity, contrasting with Islamism’s more radical religious tone.

Post-Islamism can be understood in two dimensions: as a condition and as a project. As a condition, Post-Islamism is more static, depicting the socio-political state of a society where Islamism is no longer relevant. This necessitates changes or adjustments to the reality of a society that may no longer fully accept Islamic values.

As a project, Post-Islamism is dynamic and active, involving continuous efforts to develop concepts and strategies for transmitting Post-Islamism in social, political, and intellectual realms.

While Islamism tends to impose a singular religious duty officially recognized by certain states, Post-Islamism seeks to integrate Islam with individual choices, democratic freedoms, and modernity to achieve an alternative modernity. This means they do not abandon Islamic values but adapt them to the advancements of the times without falling into pure Western or European secularism.

Post-Islamism is characterized by an attitude that is neither anti-Islam nor secular, free from rigidity, and challenging the monopoly of religious truth. If Islamism emphasizes religion and responsibility, Post-Islamism emphasizes liberating religiosity and championing human rights.

It is essential to note that Post-Islamism arises not because of Islamism’s failure but as a form of adaptation. Asef Bayat does not view Islamism as a failed ideology but as one that is less suitable for implementation and needs to be transformed and replaced with something new.

In conclusion, Post-Islamism represents a transformation and a counter to the rigidity of Islamism, requiring change to ensure that the mission of Islam remains acceptable and relevant in contemporary society.


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