Islamic Mass Organizations (Ormas) in Indonesia has a unique characteristic that makes it different from other countries. Islamic Organizations in Indonesia are unique to certain ethnicity, geographic locations, and political connections. In fact, Islamic organizations in Indonesia plays an important part in national development. This notion was stated by Kevin W. Fogg, PhD, a researcher from Oxford University during his time as a panelist for a Stadium Generale themed “Education as the Cornerstone of Mass Islamic Movements in Indonesia: History, Comparisons, and Consequences”. This event was hosted by the Islamic Educational Psychology Doctorate program of UMY on Monday (16/9) in the Graduate Director Courtroom of UMY’s Kasman Singodimejo building.
According to Kevin, there are four factors that cause the unique characteristics of Islamic organizations in Indonesia. First, Islamic organizations in Indonesia are large, comprehensive, and influential in organizational contexts. This can be seen from the contributions of the two largest Islamic organizations, namely Muhammadiyah and Nahdhatul Ulama, has given to education and health. “Personally, I feel Muhammadiyah is more comprehensive than the other Indonesian Islamic organizations. It could fund many social movements needed by the public, from birth till burial,” he stated.
The second factor is their modern form. Kevin explained that “modern” is in an organizational context. Muhammadiyah is made of people from the highest central command to the lowest district commands, with a leadership based on a formal electoral process. Several Islamic organizations in Indonesia are still traditionalists when it comes to elections with organizations like Jamiatul Khairat, NU, and Nahdhatul Wathan choosing their leadership through ancestry. “200 years ago, what organization has a formal structural position like you have in Indonesia currently? the Gulen Organization in Turkey are considered modern because they have media, educational bodies, and so on and so forth, but their leadership is centered around one elder. Muhammadiyah already has a rational system of leadership which I consider very modern,” he stated.
The third factor is an external factor. Islamic organizations in Indonesia tend to separate themselves from the government. Even though they follow the laws set by the government, they have a degree of freedom in their activities. Islamic organizations in other countries are bound by governmental restrictions and do not have as much freedom in their ideas. “Organizations in Malaysia, Brunei, Kuwait, Oman, Iran, Qatar, and Saudi very much depends on their government in funding, which makes them rather restricted. The government sponsors their every activity such as education and mosque building,” Kevin stated.
The last factor is that Islamic Organizations in Indonesia are neutral to the government. He thinks that Islamic Organizations in Indonesia can support the nation’s ideologies and collaborate with the government in national development.