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Islam's Popularity: The Case of Indonesia

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In the parts of the world where it is dominant, Islam is not seen as a peripheral, let alone dying, institution. In Indonesia, where my data is from, it is claimed that "Islam as a religion is in the ascendant." Many mosques are being built, religious radio programs have a large audience, and Islam is penetrating public schools and government (Awanohara, 1985). The power and popularity of the Muslim faith is ' difficult for Westerners to understand because of the intellectual dominance of the modernization-secularization thesis. According to this perspective, as countries become more modern, religion becomes less important. This simplistic view is, of course, being challenged even in the West, yet for most of this century it was the dominant framework for the scientific study of religion in the modern world. The popularity of Islam is not only fascinating in its own right, but also a challenge to the seculari- zation thesis. Is this perspective to be discarded? What ideas must enlarge, or replace, this orientation to explain the reality of Islam? These questions are the focus of this paper.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Ball State University


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