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Redrawing Lines of Religious Authority in Lombok, Indonesia

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Indonesia’s democratic reform and decentralization after the fall of authoritarian President Soeharto has brought both painful transformations and the potential of new beginnings. This is also the case for the island of Lombok where political changes have affected not only obvious political players, but also local Muslim religious leaders (Tuan Guru). These religious leaders wield a high level of socio-political and religious authority. Their significant social standing is largely due to the central role of Islam across Lombok which not only relates to people’s spiritual lives, but is also identified in long established local forms of governance that are focused upon Tuan Guru and their organizations. This article will seek to understand how to delineate their religious authority and conceptualize its application in these fast changing circumstances. In doing so I argue that the complex and unstable times that have occurred alongside the transition to democracy are transforming the potent authority of Tuan Guru.

Affiliations: 1: National University of Singapore


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