Alexandria Digital Research Library

When Muslims are not Muslims: The Ahmadiyya Community and the Discourse on Heresy in Indonesia

Burhani, Ahmad Najib
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Religious Studies
Degree Supervisor:
Juan E. Campo
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Asian Studies, Islamic Studies, Religion, General, and Pacific Rim Studies
Homo sacer
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013

The concepts of orthodoxy and heresy mostly refer to the politics of domination between competing groups to determine which one shall be considered the bearer of the 'correct' beliefs. The winning party would claim its teachings orthodox, while the losing party would be condemned as heretics. The concept of orthodoxy-heresy, therefore, does not imply whether a certain belief system is true or false. The orthodoxy-heresy nexus is a common phenomenon in any society and embedded in the history of all religions. The problem is whether or not a certain society allows a place for 'heretical' belief system. If they do not accept it, this raises significant questions: What is the limit of orthodoxy where dissent can still be tolerated? How are those who have dissenting belief systems treated? What is the stance of state power in this theological issue, staying neutral or taking sides with a certain belief system?

To answer these questions, this thesis studies the Ahmadiyya community, often considered the most influential heretical group in Islam, and employs an in-depth qualitative case study. To give various perspectives on their plight, this thesis has focused on three locations: Cikeusik, Manis Lor, and Asrama Transito. Data for this study were collected through multiple sources. They include personal observations; archival records; interviews; audiovisual material; literature written by prominent figures of the Ahmadiyya; documents from both the Ahmadiyya and its opponents; fatwas from certain Muslim organizations; government decrees; and reports from human rights organizations. Together, the data allow for a detailed description of the distinctive beliefs of the Ahmadiyya, the development of this community, the various types of opposition to this community, the matrix of the persecution, and the response of the Ahmadiyya to persecution.

The results of this research show that the alliance between religious authority and certain state power has often become an underlying factor behind the persecution of 'heretical' groups. The religious authority, for instance, issues a fatwas that gives an ideological justification for opposing---or further, persecuting---allegedly heretical groups. The state bans religious groups deemed heretical or prohibits the public airing of certain teachings deemed heterodox and allows for the persecution of those groups, for instance, when the state indirectly shares its sovereignty with vigilante groups that appoint themselves as religious police and enforcers of the fatwa..

Physical Description:
1 online resource (468 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Ahmad Burhani
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