Universitas Indonesia Conferences, 7th International Symposium of Journal Antropologi Indonesia

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On Being Shi’a in Indonesia: The Study of Ahlul Bait Indonesia (ABI) and Its Minority Status
Muhammad Adlin Sila

Building: Soegondo Building
Room: 709
Date: 2019-07-24 03:00 PM – 04:30 PM
Last modified: 2019-06-21


The paper examines the strategies of a Shi’a-affiliated Islamic organisation, namely Ahlul Bait Indonesia (ABI), in a soft campaign of portraying the good side of Shi’a to the followers of mainstream Muslims by ways of proclaiming their alliance rather than contention with the tradition of Ahlul Sunnah Wal Jama’ah, abbreviated as Aswaja, a tradition associated with Sunni Muslims in Indonesia. Basing on a case study of Ahlul Bait Indonesia (ABI) situated in Jakarta, I found that elite members of this organisation chose not to use ‘Shi’a’ as a tagline for their organisation’s logo. This choice was partly, in my opinion, in fear of triggering protest from mainstream Sunni Muslims and in support of the government regulation on religious tolerance for not showing publicly their identity. Theoretically, this is called taqiyyah (taqīyah, meaning ‘fear’), an Islamic term that refers to the practice of denial of religion in the face of persecution. Another word for the term is kitmān (meaning ‘acting cover-up, denying’), which has a more specific meaning denial by silent means. According to Shi’a doctrine, taqiyyah is permitted in dangerous situations that threaten life or property. This practice was traditionally carried out in Shi’a Islam when its followers were allowed to hide their beliefs while under persecution or pressure. The paper argues that this practice is actually also permissible in Sunni Islam in certain provisions and was originally practised by several Companions of the Prophet. Yet, later this practice became important for Shi’a Islam because of its followers’ experiences as a persecuted religious minority.

Keywords: Ahlul Bait Indonesia (ABI), Shi’a, Minority, Islam, Indonesia