The major concern of this chapter is to discern the distinct nature of ‘Indonesian Islam’ by sketching the similarities and differences between Islamic social activism in Indonesia and that in other parts of the Muslim world. In order to do so, we will examine the humanitarian and relief activism organised by Muslim non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which is increasingly characterised as ‘social Islam’ in the Indonesian nation-state. This new development in the social, economic and political spheres, both regionally and internationally, provides us with an opportunity to look further at the dynamic relationships between faith, the state, the market and civil society, as well as at the widespread engagement of Muslim civil society organisations, at the discursive and practical levels, with humanitarian affairs. We note that the visibility of Islam in the public sphere in post-Suharto Indonesia has gradually become more pervasive, and the growth of Muslim NGOs and social institutions whose work focuses on social welfare, education, economic enterprises, charity activism and humanitarian assistance, with their distinctive religious symbols and values, has also considerably restructured the pattern of Islamic activism.
Further reading see: Hilman Latief, “Islam and Humanitarian Affairs: the Middle Class and New Patterns of Social Activism,” in Kees van Dijk and Jajat Burhanuddin (eds.), Islam in Indonesia: Contrasting Images and Interpretations (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press-ICAS, 2012), 173-194.