Gender and Power in Indonesian Islam

Leaders, feminists, Sufis and pesantren selves

Edited by Bianca J. Smith, Mark Woodward

© 2014 – Routledge

208 pages

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415643580
pub: 2013-08-21
US Dollars$160.00

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About the Book

The traditional Islamic boarding schools known as pesantren are crucial centres of Muslim learning and culture within Indonesia, but their cultural significance has been underexplored. This book is the first to explore understandings of gender and Islam in pesantren and Sufi orders in Indonesia. By considering these distinct but related Muslim gender cultures in Java, Lombok and Aceh, the book examines the broader function of pesantren as a force for both redefining existing modes of Muslim subjectivity and cultivating new ones. It demonstrates how, as Muslim women rise to positions of power and authority in this patriarchal domain, they challenge and negotiate "normative" Muslim patriarchy while establishing their own Muslim "authenticity." The book goes on to question the comparison of Indonesian Islam with the Arab Middle East, challenging the adoption of expatriate and diasporic Middle Eastern Muslim feminist discourses and secular western feminist analyses in Indonesian contexts. Based on extensive fieldwork, the book explores configurations of female leadership, power, feminisms and sexuality to reveal multiple Muslim selves in pesantren and Sufi orders, not only as centres of learning, but also as social spaces in which the interplay of gender, politics, status, power and piety shape the course of life.

Table of Contents

Introduction: De-colonizing Islam and Muslim feminism Bianca J. Smith and Mark Woodward Part 1:Female Leadership and Muslim Agency 1. Between Sufi and Salafi Subjects: Contested female leadership, spiritual power and gender matters in Lombok Bianca J. Smith and Saipul Hamdi 2. Leadership and Authority: Women leading dayah in Aceh Asna Husin 3. Gender in Contemporary Acehnese Dayah: Moving beyond docile agency? Eka Srimulyani Part 2: Female Spiritual Authority in Sufi Orders and Mystical Groups 4. When Wahyu Comes through Women: Female spiritual authority and divine revelation in mystical groups and pesantren-Sufi orders Bianca J. Smith 5. Reframing the Gendered Dimension of Islamic Spirituality: Silsilah and the ‘problem’ of female leadership in tarekat Asfa Widiyanto Part 3: Muslim Feminisms: Islamic and Islamist orientations 6. Interpreting and Enacting Islamic Feminism in Pesantren Al-Muayyad Windan Saipul Hamdi 7. Women’s Negotiation of Status and Space in a Muslim Fundamentalist Movement Inayah Rohmaniyah Part 4: Sexuality, Shari’ah and Power 8. The Tawdry Tale of ‘Syech’ Puji and Lutfiana: Child marriage and polygamy on the boundary of the pesantren world Mark Woodward and Inayah Rohmanyiah 9. Constructing Sexuality in a Panopticon Pesantren Mustaghrioh Rahayu

About the Editors

Bianca J. Smith is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei and an Honorary Fellow at the Asia Institute, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Mark Woodward is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Arizona State University, USA.

About the Series

ASAA Women in Asia Series

The primary aim of this important series is to publish original, high quality work on all aspects of women in Asia. Submissions are welcomed from prospective authors, both new and established scholars, working in any appropriate discipline, and should in the first instance be sent to the series editor. Email:

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General