Islam and Philanthropy in Indonesian History

This fellowship at IIAS is spent for library and archival research which is a substantial part of an-ongoing Ph.D study on Mobilizing Community Resources through Religion for Social and Political Changes: Islam and Philanthropy in Indonesian History. This study argues that religion had been a significant tool for mobilizing community resources for changes in Indonesia. This research will study how the practice of philanthropy in Indonesian Muslims has evolved, paying close attention to changes and continuities of philanthropy activities within Islamic institutions. The study will also focus on the social and political impacts of the act of charitable and philanthropic giving.

The study is developed within the framework of several arguments. First, philanthropic practices have contributed the development of civil society either in rural and urban communities. Philanthropy is used by both civil society (Muslim communities) for social and political changes, and by states for their political purposes. Second, local community resources are the main funding for Islamic institutions. Third, Muhammadiyah organization is agent of changes of Islamic philanthropic practices in Indonesia. It has transformed the individual giving to institutional giving for social change purposes. Fourth, despite the transformation of philanthropic practices the majority of philanthropic practices including its organizations are not well managed. The traditional charities are still being practiced due to theological and legal understandings, and the socio-political conditions. Fifth, the development of Islamic philanthropy in Indonesia does not only relate with welfare and modernization, but is strongly attached to ideological and legal concepts, as well as political condition.

The study will take five Islamic institutions that have been established during the Dutch Colonial Period and the New Order period (1900-1998) as case studies. However, due to archival and documentary limitations of studying institutions outside Java island, the case studies will be limited to institutions established in Java. In fact, Java has been the center of development and social movements during the Colonial period until now. The institutions are selected on the basis of five considerations, namely, religious mainstream (Traditionalist, Modernist, and Scripturalist), type of organization (Non-state and state-based institution), location (Urban and rural), period (Dutch colonial period, Old Order, New Order), and data and access availability. The selected institutions are Bazis DKI Jakarta, Pondok Pesantren An-Nawawi Purworedjo, Banyumas district mosque, Bapelurzam Muhammadiyah, and Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia.

This library and archival research has been possible with the financial support from the Ford Foundation Jakarta.