Indonesian and Islamic IR

Indonesia’s Worldview

1. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country and demographically the largest democracy in the Islamic world, thereby allowing it scope to conceive of itself as a leader among Islamic nations. This role has generally been one of mediation, or principled neutrality, that is intended to provide stability and moderation, and to avoid extremism.
2. Since independence, Indonesia has also aspired to a major role in the Non-Aligned Movement and over time this role has shifted from the radicalism of the Sukarno era to the developmental orientation of the Suharto era and a significant emphasis on democracy, anti-militarism and Islam during the reformasi era. ASEAN presents yet another forum within which Indonesia regards itself as the key player and stabilizing force.
3. Indigenous sources for Indonesian IR theory are Javanese political culture, Seberang political culture, Islamic influence, and political behavior of political leaders. Javanese culture incorporates three aspects: power is closely associated with “concentration” and “oneness”, the search for harmony, and pamrih, which is a sign that the power of the ruler is weakening and that a change of power is imminent. Seberang political cultures generally promote a greater sense of individuality and exclusiveness; recognizing the differences while maintaining each individual’s position or suggesting a competition between the different ideas; Islamic influence has shaped to certain extent the indigenous values but some political leadership behavior remains stick to Javanese culture of inclusiveness and harmony.

(Source: Leonard C. Sebastian and Irman G. Lanti (2010). “Perceiving Indonesian approaches to international relations theory”, in Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan (eds. pp.148-173) Non-Western International Relations Theory. London & New York: Routledge.)

Islamic Views on IR

The alternatives are based built on the power of ideas such faith, justice and striving towards the “good life” of religious morality, as opposed to the pursuit of material interests and power per se.

1. The primary foundation for the classical understating of IR in Islam is based on the original sources of the Qur’ran, the Hadith (Saying of the Prophet), the Sunnah (the conduct of the Prophet) or ijtihad (interpretation).
2. A second debate results from the encounters with the West. Both rationalization of Islam as a modernist project, or the fundamentalist reaction to modernism, we shall argue, are two sides of the same coin for they are defensive and reactionary mechanisms, which by themselves acknowledge and reaffirm Western hegemony.
3. A third recreation/reconciliation attempt is presented around the Islamization of knowledge movement as the reconceptualization of social sciences, and international relations by extension.

(Source: Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh (2010). “International relations theory and the Islamic worldview”, in Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan (eds. Pp.26-50) Non-Western International Relations Theory. London & New York: Routledge 174-196)

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