Islamic identity online: the discourse of ummat and jihad in online news services in Indonesia

Taufiqur Rahman

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

This thesis aims to answer the question of how Islamic online news services in Indonesia interpret the concept of ummat and jihad and whether their interpretations reflect a more convivial construction of contemporary Islamic identity in Indonesia. The concept of ummat and jihad are chosen in this research because both concepts are essential in the construction of Islamic identity. This thesis demonstrates the dynamic use of the internet by Islamic online news services in Indonesia to articulate different imaginations of ummat as the ideal form of Muslim community and different interpretations of jihad as one of the core missions of Islam. Three Islamic online news services analysed in this research, namely Republika Online, Arrahmah and Voice of Al- Islam (Voa-Islam) have utilised the participatory tools available on the internet to construct their distinct identities based on different interpretations of the concept of ummat and jihad.

The thesis argues that the editorial position of Republika Online reflects the difficulties of defining mainstream Muslim identity in Indonesia by preserving the old ‘legitimising identity’ developed during Suharto’s authoritarian regime and contextualising this old identity with the new wave of ‘reformation’ during the democratic transition after the collapse of Suharto’s regime. In contrast, despite some differences in their editorial position, Arrahmah and Voa-Islam show the use of the internet in the articulation of global jihad as a transnational ‘resistance identity’ in response to the perceived global conspiracy against Islam. This ‘resistance identity’ could not be expressed freely during the Suharto’s regime but then increasingly occupies the newly developed democratic Indonesian public sphere.

The utilisation of many current participatory features by these online news services facilitates new influences in the formation of new imagined communities. The participatory culture encouraged by such sites has facilitated a more interactive connection between the readers and the publishers and created a notion of social connection between the readers especially by the easier possibility of the readers in contributing to the publication. However, the operation of personalisation has posed the issue of the ‘filter bubble effect’ which filters information within the limited networks of the readers of particular online news services.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016

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