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The Governance of Islam in Two Secular Polities: Turkey’s Diyanet and Indonesia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs

Martin van Bruinessen

Abstract

Turkey’s particular form of secularism, laiklik, does not entail the separation of state and religion but the disestablishment of all independent religious authority and subjection of the religious sphere to state control. The chief instrument through which the state exerts its control, Diyanet, has grown into a vast bureaucracy, especially in the wake of the 1980 military coup. The only other Muslim-majority country that has a similar large bureaucratic apparatus for the administration of Islam is Indonesia, also a secular republic though of a different kind. In both countries, secular elites attempted to enlighten and modernise the ‘backward’ pious segments of their populations through policies of social engineering of religion. In doing so, they presided, wittingly or unwittingly, over the consolidation of Sunni orthodoxy and the imposition of conservative religious attitudes, at the expense of popular, radical, or progressive forms of Islamic religiosity. In both countries too, parts of the groups that were the chief targets of these social engineering policies have succeeded in wresting control of these bureaucratic apparatuses. The modalities of the process were different, however, and a comparison of these two cases may bring out the specifics of each more clearly.

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Secular republics with elaborate religious bureaucracies

1Turkey’s particular form of secularism, laiklik, does not entail the separation of state and religion but the disestablishment of all independent religious authority and subjection of the religious sphere to state control. The chief instrument through which the state exerts its control, Diyanet, has grown into a vast bureaucracy, especially in the wake of the 1980 military coup. The only other Muslim-majority country that has a similar large bureaucratic apparatus for the administration of Islam is Indonesia, also a secular republic though of a different kind. In both countries, secular elites attempted to enlighten and modernise the ‘backward’ pious segments of their populations through policies of social engineering of religion. In doing so, they presided, wittingly or unwittingly, over the consolidation of Sunni orthodoxy and the imposition of conservative religious attitudes, at the expense of popular, radical, or progressive forms of Islamic religiosity. In both countries too, parts of the groups that were the chief targets of these social engineering policies have succeeded in wresting control of these bureaucratic apparatuses. The modalities of the process were different, however, and a comparison of these two cases may bring out the specifics of each more clearly.

2Like Turkey, Indonesia has powerful and well-funded institutions for the governance of Islam, and a comparison may contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of state-society relations in both cases. It is striking that these two secular republics have established such huge bureaucracies for the administration of Islam, which are far larger and more pervasive than those in most states that define themselves as Muslim or Islamic and formally recognise Islamic law. The budgets of these religious establishments have kept increasing over time and are of comparable magnitude with those of the countries’ military establishments. Religion, this seems to suggest, is to both states a matter of national security. Their main institutions for the administration of Islam, the Directorate of Religious Affairs [Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı, usually abbreviated to Diyanet) in Turkey and the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) in Indonesia, not only have vast administrative bureaucracies but also administer standing armies of religious personnel: primarily mosque personnel [imam, hatip, vaiz] in the case of Turkey, and teaching personnel of state Islamic schools [madrasah] and universities in Indonesia.

  • 1 Figures provided by the Indonesian Ministry of Finance, Informasi APBN 2018, Jakarta: Direktorat Je (...)

3Indonesia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs ranks third among its most costly ministries, with a budget of IDR 62.2 trillion (EUR 3.85 billion), which is just below that of the national police force and more than half that of the Ministry of Defence. MORA receives a larger share of the total education budget than the Ministry of Education and Culture.1

Ministry/institution (Indonesia)

Budget allocated for 2018

Ministry of Defence

IDR 107.7 trillion [EUR 6.70 billion]

Police

IDR 95.0 trillion [EUR 5.90 billion]

Ministry of Religious Affairs

IDR 62.2 trillion [EUR 3.85 billion]

of which for education

IDR 52.7 trillion [EUR 3.25 billion]

Ministry of Education and Culture

IDR 40.1 trillion [EUR 2.50 billion]

Total education budget (region and centre)

IDR 444.1 trillion [EUR 27.55 billion]

4An exact comparison with Turkish figures is not possible, but the table below shows that Turkey also earmarks a considerable share of its budget for the administration of Islam. In Turkey, religious education, which accounts for a very large share of MORA’s budget in Indonesia, is not administered by Diyanet but by the Ministry of National Education in Turkey. For a valid comparison between both countries, the budget for Imam Hatip schools (where most future Diyanet staff are educated) should be added to that of Diyanet.2

Ministry/Institution (Turkey)

Budget allocated for 2018

Ministry of Defence

TRY 40.4 billion [EUR 8.6 billion]

Police

TRY 27.8 billion [EUR 6.0 billion]

National Intelligence Organisation (MİT)

TRY 2 billion [EUR 0.4 billion]

Ministry of National Education

TRY 92.5 billion [EUR 19.8 billion]

of which for Imam Hatip schools

TRY 6.4 billion [EUR 1.4 billion]

Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı

TRY 6.8 billion [EUR 1.5 billion]

5Turkey thus has allocated at least the equivalent of EUR 2.9 billion to the governance of Islam in 2018, and Indonesia EUR 3.85 billion. Considering that Indonesia’s Muslim population is almost three times that of Turkey, the level of Diyanet’s budget is even more remarkable.

  • 3 In the state budget, Religious Affairs receive around 10 per cent of the sum allocated for Recreati (...)
  • 4 Recently however, the Sisi administration has empowered the Ministry in an effort to bring all mosq (...)

6The involvement of these secular states in the religious life of their subjects goes well beyond security-related surveillance, and the amounts invested in the governance of Islam surpasses by a wide margin the corresponding spending by states of comparable size that have Islam and the Shariah enshrined in their constitutions. Egypt and Pakistan, where Islam is the religion of the state and the Shariah is accepted as the chief source of legislation, have rather modest religious establishments and none of the huge apparatus stretched across the entire country that we find in Turkey and Indonesia (Skovgaard-Petersen 1997; Nasr 2001). Pakistan does have a Ministry of Religious Affairs, but it is concerned with little more than the organisation of the hajj.3 The Council for Islamic Ideology and the Federal Shariat Court are influential but small institutions. In Egypt, the Azhar and the dar al-ifta’ (the state mufti’s office) define official Islamic views but have no implementing bureaucracies. The Ministry of Awqaf (Religious Endowments) administers the major mosques in major towns and cities but has none of the wide-ranging control of sermons that Turkey’s Diyanet has.4

7It might be argued that the current high level of expenditure on religious affairs in both countries reflects the retreat of their present governments from previous secularist policies. This is undeniably the case, but it is important to note that the expansion of the religious bureaucracies began in both cases in periods of authoritarian secularist government, in the context of the Cold War. In the case of Turkey, this period coincided roughly with the second half of the twentieth century, marked by military interventions from 1960 to 1997 that represented secularist ‘corrections’ of too liberal civilian policies. In the Indonesian case, this was the so-called New Order period (1965-1998), ushered in by mass killings of up to a million alleged communists and presided over by General Suharto. In both countries, the ruling governments perceived communism and the left in general as a major security threat and mobilised Muslims against the communist threat. At the same time, however, they were wary of any political claims in the name of Islam and feared Islam as a political force. This was why the existing institutions for the governance of Islam, which had hitherto been dormant, were empowered and turned into instruments of social engineering.

8Seen through this perspective, the existence of well-funded and ever-expanding religious bureaucracies in these two republics does not necessarily contradict their secular character. As will be argued below, it may be understood as an aspect of the particular varieties of secularism embraced by these countries – quite different from one another though as they may be – and their strategies to prevent religious groups or ideologies bringing society and the state under their control. Certain types of secular states may be in greater need of institutions to shape and discipline religious thought and action than states that conceive of themselves as religious. The conservative religious segments of the population that in Turkey and Indonesia were the primary targets of these institutions and policies have, however, with varying degrees of success, striven to gain control of these very institutions, to change their agendas and to turn them into instruments for re-Islamising the state.

Two types of secularism

9The republics of Turkey and Indonesia represent two varieties of secularism. Neither country recognises Islam formally as the state religion, although in practice it enjoys a special status in both. One cannot be a proper Turk without being a Muslim, whatever the Constitution says (‘every citizen of Turkey is a Turk’), and although Indonesia recognises six religions, Islam clearly dominates, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs is de facto the Ministry of Islam. In both republics there is a degree of separation of state and religion, but the modalities of the relations between state, society and religion are quite different.

10The Islamic resurgence that began in the 1970s and the increasing social and political activism visible in other religions have led to various attempts to revise the classical secularisation thesis (in which Casanova’s work stands out as a landmark) and a broader interest in the variety of patterns of secularity and secularism (or secularities and secularisms, as some would have it) (Casanova 1994; Calhoun, Juergensmeyer & Van Antwerpen 2011; Asad 2003). Secularisms emerged in the Western world as the result of quite different historical trajectories. At least three different types may be distinguished:

  • Separation of state and religion in order to protect religion from politics and to guarantee religious freedom. The United States of America, which considers the Pilgrims, who fled religious persecution in Europe, as its founders, represents the most radical example of this type of secularism. Religion is highly present in the public sphere, and all religions have great freedom to play public roles. The state does not identify itself with any specific religion, although public ceremonies are pervaded with prayers and references to God – something Robert Bellah termed ‘civil religion.’ (Bellah 1970)

    • 5 The political theorist Alfred Stepan distinguishes various degrees of separation and speaks of the (...)

    Separation of state and religion in order to protect the state and the political process from interference by religion. In its most radical form we find this type of secularism (laïcité, ‘laicism’) in France, where revolutionaries had to conquer political space from domination by the powerful Catholic Church. Religion is largely banned from the public sphere; conspicuous symbols of religious identity are not allowed in state schools and other public institutions. Less radical forms of separation exist in the United Kingdom and the Scandinavian countries, which have established churches, and in countries like Germany, where the state provides certain facilities to the church.5

  • Neutrality of the state towards religions (in the sense of equal distance towards all religions). This variety of secularism typically emerged in multi-religious societies with long histories of inter-religious conflict. India is the most prominent example (where secularism is under permanent threat from Hindu fundamentalists). The Netherlands, where Protestants and Catholics long fought each other, constitutes another case. Under the conditions of this type of secularism, rights and privileges available to (the adherents of) one religion, are also available to other religions. Indonesia is a typical representative of this type of secular regime.

11Turkey’s laiklik obviously resembles France’s laïcité but with the major twist that the protection of the state from religion goes well beyond separation to a pervasive effort by the state to define, shape and control religion. Turkey was the first country in the Muslim world to completely abolish the Shariah, including elements of family law that other modernising countries maintained, and to replace most traditional Islamic institutions with ones based on Western examples (Kuru & Stepan 2012). The major exception was the office of the shaykh al-islam and its late Ottoman successor, the Ministry of Shariah and Pious Endowments [Şeriat ve Evkaf Vekaleti], which was replaced by an institution that has no Western counterpart. Diyanet became the Republic’s major institution for the governance of religion. For its proper functioning and its social reproduction – especially when it gained importance after 1950 – it came to depend on the institutions for the education of religious personnel, the lycée-level Imam Hatip Schools, the Institutes of Higher Islamic Studies [Yüksek İslam Enstitüsü] and the Faculties of Theology [İlâhiyât Fakültesi].

  • 6 An excellent overview of the role of Advisers and Muslim policies during the last four decades of D (...)

12Indonesia is home to a dozen large ethnic groups and perhaps as many as two hundred smaller ones. Muslims constitute somewhat less than 90 per cent of the population; the remainder are Catholics, Protestants, Hindus or Buddhists, or adhere to Chinese religion. The religions are not evenly spread; the Western and central parts of the Archipelago are predominantly Muslim, but Hindus are the largest group in Bali and Christians in most parts of East Indonesia. During the late colonial period, Islamic activists tended to be wary of collaboration with the Dutch Indies authorities, who in turn were highly suspicious of their Muslim subjects. The small Bureau for Indigenous Affairs, headed by prominent Dutch scholars of Islam, exerted a fair degree of influence over the Government’s Muslim policies (there were no corresponding policies for other religions). An important function of the Bureau consisted of the surveillance of religious teachers and organisations and early warning of dangerous radical tendencies.6

  • 7 (Benda 1958) remains the best study of the period of Japanese occupation.

13The Japanese occupation (1942-45) effectively ended Dutch rule, though the Dutch were to attempt to restore their empire in the immediate post-war years. Perceiving the potential of Islam as an anti-colonial force, the Japanese made successful efforts to politicise Muslim leaders, providing them with political education and basic military training. Muslim groups and associations were mobilised as self-defence forces, and merged into an umbrella organisation, MIAI, that was to develop into the chief Muslim political party, Masyumi.7 In the struggle for independence (1945-49), Islam served as a unifying factor bringing many different ethnic groups together as a single nation, and Muslim groups trained by the Japanese played a large role in the actual fighting.

  • 8 This reference to the Shariah, known as the Jakarta Charter, was to be inserted into the Preamble t (...)

14Because of the dominant role of Muslims in the Independence struggle, Muslim nationalist leaders felt that independent Indonesia should be an Islamic state, or at least that Islam should be privileged as the dominant religion of the state. The state ideology Pancasila (‘Five Principles’), drawn up by secular nationalists, summed up moral values broadly shared by the country’s numerous cultural traditions, and does not refer to any specific religion but listed the belief in God as one of the five principles. Muslim nationalists wished to add a few words to this principle, entailing the obligation for Muslims to live in accordance with the Shariah.8 They were dissuaded from pressing this demand by their secular-minded peers, who argued that Christians might feel threatened by it, and East Indonesia might wish to secede from an Islam-dominated state.

  • 9 The formulation of Pancasila and its reference to God several times underwent revision. Belief in G (...)

15The secular-minded nationalists who carried the day explicitly referred to ‘the way of Turkey’ as the best way of accommodating state and religion. The secular order that they put in place was, however, very unlike Turkey’s laiklik. Religion in general, formulated as ‘Belief in God’ was endorsed as a core value, and was elevated as the first principle of Pancasila. No single religion should be a source of legislation, but all the major religions existing in Indonesia were given equal recognition and equal rights.9 It is for good reason that Alfred Stepan, in his survey of various secularisms, singled out Indonesia for its deliberate choice of religious pluralism, contrasting this with the lack of religious freedom and rejection of pluralism in Turkey (Stepan 2011; Künkler & Stepan 2013).

Institutions: Indonesia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs and Council of Ulama (MUI)

  • 10 On the early history of the Ministry, see (Steenbrink 1972; Boland 1971: 105-112).

16It was a secular-dominated government that in 1946, while the struggle for independence was still going on, established a Ministry of Religious Affairs as a gesture towards the committed Muslims. Its ministers and staff were drawn from Muslim organisations, but those in the top echelons had a Western-type education. The Ministry was, in an important sense, the successor to the Dutch and Japanese bureaus for the surveillance of Islam. The Ministry has small directorates for other religions too, whose directors and staff are adherents of those religions, but it was from the beginning very clearly the ministry for and of Muslims.10 In due time, the Ministry came to control religious education in state schools, the Islamic courts (which administer marriage, divorce, and inheritance matters), religious endowments [waqf], charity [zakat, sadaqa], and the hajj. In the first decades of its existence, the Ministry was the main vehicle of governance through which committed Muslims attempted to impose their view of Islamic norms on the 90 per cent of the population who were at least nominally Muslim. In the view of many Muslim activists, the Ministry should have the task of improving the quality of Indonesia’s Muslims and their religious practice. In the words of the last minister of the Sukarno period, Saifuddin Zuhri (1962-67), who supported the President’s nationalist and anti-imperialist policies, the Ministry had a major task in nation-building, for religion was a crucial element of that process (Muhaimin 1998).

  • 11 As observed by Clifford Geertz in the 1950s, ‘[o]ne of the most important informal functions of the (...)
  • 12 ‘In many places, the local offices of the Ministry are narrowly intertwined with local Muslim leade (...)

17The Ministry also had some importance as an employer: it was the only government department where people who had no modern school diplomas and only a religious education could find prestigious employment as civil servants.11 Competition between the major traditionalist and reformist associations for control of the Ministry, at the national and local levels, was often fierce. The most vocal criticism of the Ministry came not from secularists or minority groups but from committed Muslims who did not feel represented.12

18Under the authoritarian rule of Suharto (1965-98), the Ministry came to be used more consistently as the chief apparatus for the governance of Islam. Having physically destroyed the Communist Party and the left in general, Suharto and his generals were extremely wary of political Islam, the one remaining ideology with a potential mass appeal. Suharto was himself a nominal Muslim, an adherent of syncretistic mystical-magical beliefs; his generals were either Christians or nominal Muslims like him, and in the first decades of his rule there was a pervasive distrust of organised Islam.

19Suharto broke the control of the Muslim associations NU and Muhammadiyah over the Ministry. In 1971 he replaced the last NU-affiliated Minister by a Western-educated scholar of comparative religion, A. Mukti Ali, under whom the Ministry became an instrument of social engineering (Munhanif 1998). It was charged with the task of shaping the sort of Islam that was compatible with and supportive of the new regime’s development policies, and it received a rapidly increasing budget to carry out its mission. The Ministry presided over the expansion of ‘modern’ religious education, in the form of state madrasas with a 70 % general and 30 % religious curriculum, and state Islamic universities (IAIN: State Institutes of Islamic Studies) that were expected to produce a class of enlightened religious bureaucrats and scholars. From the 1980s onwards, the Ministry sent large numbers of graduates of these universities abroad for postgraduate studies, some to Middle Eastern countries but the brightest of them to universities in Europe, North America, Australia or Japan (where they mostly studied the humanities and social sciences of religion). Upon return, they were to fill the higher echelons of the religious bureaucracy or the teaching staff of the IAINs (Jabali & Jamhari 2003).

20In 1975, Suharto in addition established a national council of Islamic scholars, Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), which had as its explicit aim to provide religious legitimation to the government’s development policies (such as, for instance, the family planning program, which was quite controversial in Muslim circles). Members of the council were government-appointed and its composition reflected the spectrum of moderate mainstream Islam. The council became Indonesia’s main fatwa-issuing body and at times some coercion was applied to make sure the fatwas corresponded with the government’s needs (Bruinessen 1990, 1996; Ichwan 2006). The MUI has no monopoly of fatwa issuing; the large Muslim associations have their own bodies and procedures for answering religious questions, and even individual ulama may publish fatwas on issues of public concern. But the MUI’s opinions had the weight of government recognition. Not all of its fatwas have been in response to the government’s needs. The MUI has distinguished itself also by the zealous investigation and condemnation of heretical or ‘deviant’ sects and religious practices, and it has made efforts to persuade the government to take measures against such heresies.

21Through the Ministry of Religion and the Ulama Council, the New Order government positioned itself as neutral between (recognised) religions but interventionist in Muslim affairs: the state defined what constituted acceptable religion and became heavily invested in promoting religious orthodoxy.

22The Ministry has in each province, district and sub-district offices for religious affairs that conclude and register marriages (only for Muslims), supervise religious education and preaching, and provide zakat and hajj services. The religious courts were also administered (and the judges and other personnel salaried) by the Ministry until 2004, when new legislation placed them administratively and financially under the Supreme Court.

Institutions: Turkey’s Diyanet, Imam Hatip schools, Faculties of Theology

  • 13 Explained clearly, with a summary of the debates on this issue, in (Kara 1999: 221ff.). Kara publis (...)

23The Directory of Religious Affairs [Diyanet İşleri Reisliği, later Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı] was established in 1924, the year in which madrasas and Shariah courts were closed and the office of the shaykh al-islam abolished. Diyanet was to fill the vacuum left by these institutions and to provide enlightened guidance to and supervision of people’s religiosity. The old structure of provincial and district muftis remained in place and was brought under the new Directorate. The choice of ‘Diyanet’ rather than ‘Din’ for the name of the new institution was significant: diyanet refers to all matters of religion outside the judicial sphere.13 The Directorate’s tasks were defined as ‘purging religion of superstitious beliefs and practices’ and reconciling religion with the republican reforms and republican ideology (Kara 1999: 229-230).

24The prayer leaders and preachers [imam, hatip and vaiz] attached to the major mosques continued to receive salaries from the state – the administration shifted a few times between Diyanet and the Directorate of Pious Endowments and finally remained with the former. Diyanet had to supervise the content of the Friday sermon [hutbe] and other sermons [vaaz], ensuring these reflected an interpretation of Islam that was compatible with modernity. In practice it was the mufti who, besides his primary task of answering religious questions, had to keep a close watch over the hatip and vaiz, providing them with model sermons and keeping a record of the content of sermons in his district. A limited number of schools for the training of imams and hatips with the proper modern attitudes was established from 1924 onwards. An American who visited the first of these Imam Hatip Mektebi, in the late 1920s, was warmed by the spirit of religious reform he perceived: “The director ... had ... an enthusiastic belief in the possibilities of reforming Islam to become a vital and inspiring force in the life of the new Turkey.” (Henry E. Allen, quoted in Jäschke 1951: 122)

  • 14 This wish for an independent religious institution is associated with the name of Prof. Ali Fuad Ba (...)

25In spite of this enthusiasm, during the years of high Kemalism (roughly 1930-1950), Diyanet appears not to have been a very dynamic or influential and effective institution. The number of students at Imam Hatip schools, moreover, declined and the last of these schools closed during the 1930s. Things changed after the transition to a multi-party system and the accession to power of parties based on the conservative rural vote. As early as 1950, under the first DP government, there were efforts to give Diyanet more muscle, partly on the basis of draft legislation that had been prepared since the late 1930s (Ibid.: 88-110; Jäschke 1965; Gözaydın 2009: 16-37). Some of the advocates of a stronger Diyanet argued that, in the name of secularism, its ties with the state should be loosened, but those who considered the institution essentially as part of the state and potentially a useful means of control prevailed.14

  • 15 The major exception to these short tenures was the presidency of Tayyar Altıkulaç, a nationalist ap (...)

26It is perhaps a reflection of the changing perceptions of Diyanet’s significance as a political instrument that it became more frequently subjected to direct political intervention. Whereas the first three Diyanet presidents held their positions for life, most of the later appointees were removed before completion of their five-year term, some even within less than a year (Kara 1999: 233-238).15 There were also concerns about the dearth of well-trained Islamic scholars with the proper ‘progressive’ and ‘secularist’ mindset, and not wishing to leave that crucial need unattended, the state established a new type of school of intermediate level for the training of imams and hatips, from which a minority of graduates might continue to higher education in Islamic studies (Reed 1955, 1956, 1957; Jäschke 1977; Seufert 1999b).

27The Imam Hatip schools, whose numbers rapidly increased in the second half of the twentieth century, were a response to two distinct but potentially contradictory demands. On the one hand, Diyanet and the government at large needed mosque personnel with a progressive attitude and academic knowledge of the basics of Islam to replace the hoca who were still steeped in mystical-magical lore; furthermore, to maintain and raise the quality of its bureaucrats, Diyanet itself needed personnel with an appropriate higher education in Islamic studies. On the other hand, large segments of the population resented the closure of the madrasa and wanted a madrasa-type rather than a purely secular education for their children. Many students attending Imam Hatip schools never intended to become just prayer leaders in a mosque but had their eyes on other fields of professional activity while cultivating personal piety. From the 1970s onward, the admission of Imam Hatip graduates to higher education (and especially to police and military academies) became an issue of fierce contestation between secularists and Islamists.

  • 16 Diyanet’s fatwas have drawn little attention from scholars. The only study that I have seen was by (...)

28Besides formal education and sermons, the fatwa is another, more individualised and contextualised, form of religious guidance. The local-level mufti presumably answers religious questions orally, but for more serious or frequently asked questions there is a higher instance at the central level. That is Diyanet’s Supreme Council for Matters of Religion [Din İşleri Yüksek Kurulu], which answers questions from individuals and issues fatwas. The common form of question-and-answer has been by written correspondence. More recently, one could also request a fatwa by telephone, and even more recently this has been replaced by the e-fatwa, to be requested from the Council’s website.16

  • 17 In late 2017, the Turkish press reported on three recent Diyanet fatwas on matters that are less st (...)

29Some of Diyanet’s recent fatwas have drawn ridicule or angry comments in the press and in social media because they conflicted with the modern ‘enlightened’ values Diyanet was originally supposed to represent.17 Unlike Indonesia, the government of Turkey has, to my knowledge, not requested specific fatwas from Diyanet to legitimise specific policies. In the past decade and a half, it has been the prominent theology professor Hayrettin Karaman rather than the President of Diyanet who repeatedly voiced opinions providing religious legitimisation of decisions and actions taken by Erdoğan as Prime Minister and President.

  • 18 On pilgrimage to Eyüp and popular religious practices generally, and official efforts to reform the (...)

30Some of Diyanet’s fatwas are not issued in response to a concrete question but appear to be inspired by the desire to correct or reform existing religious beliefs and practices. That is the case of the do’s and don’ts of the Supreme Council’s website; it is even more clearly the case of the billboards with instructions put up at some of the shrines that are the foci of popular religious devotion. At the shrine of Eyüp for instance, the most popular place of pilgrimage in Istanbul, Diyanet’s district office (the müftülük) posted billboards stating explicitly what constitutes proper practice and what is forbidden. Grave visitation, the signs said, is sünnet, a praiseworthy tradition deriving from the Prophet; the visitor should greet the dead person in the grave and recite verses of the Qur’an for the benefit of his or her soul. Then followed a long list of ‘superstitious’ practices that ‘have no place in our religion’ and are harmful, such as lighting candles, placing wishing-stones on the grave or tying strips of cloth to the shrine or the trees in front, throwing money on the grave, wearing amulets, making vows with the sacrifice of a cock or turkey, etc.18

31All shrines had been closed in 1925, along with the ban of Sufi orders, in an attempt to abolish backward and superstitious practices once and for all. Right-of-centre governments reopened the shrines and allowed Sufi orders to resume some activities. The thrust of state intervention shifted from repression to reform. Although most of the founders of the Republic were hardly strictly orthodox and conscientiously practising Muslims, the state has consistently endorsed the Hanafi Sunni mainstream view against all varieties of popular religiosity, esoteric Sufism, Alevism and other forms of heterodoxy.

32This brings us to the role Diyanet and MORA have played in the struggle against superstition, heresy and deviant sects. This went in both cases well beyond the issuing of fatwas against superstitions and deviant practices.

The state as the champion of orthodoxy

  • 19 . Forty years later, Andrew Beatty replicated Geertz’ research and reported his findings with a dif (...)

33When Indonesia gained Independence, perhaps not more than half of its nominally Muslim population practised the canonical obligations more or less regularly. Spirit beliefs and magical-mystical practices were common, and a ritual that has no place in orthodox Islam, the slametan, a food offering and meal to propitiate spirits, constituted the main cohesive force of many local communities. The anthropologist Clifford Geertz famously described three distinct styles of religion that he encountered in East Java in the mid-1950s, which he called santri, abangan and priyayi. Geertz’s santri were the ‘orthodox’, scripturalist Muslims, of whom the rural mass was oriented towards the pesantren, traditional schools that teach classical Arabic texts on doctrine and prescriptions, whereas the urban population was more influenced by reformist doctrine and modern schools teaching overwhelmingly secular subjects. The abangan were syncretists, had little knowledge of scriptural Islam, viewed the world around them as teeming with spirits and other invisible forces besides the one God of Islam, and had the slametan as their chief ritual. The priyayi were the traditional aristocracy and held learned and sophisticated variants of abangan beliefs known as kepercayaan (‘beliefs’) or kebatinan (‘esotericism’), in which meditation and the metaphysical interpretation of wayang plays figured prominently.19 Geertz’s (1960) three patterns were not meant to denote distinct social groups (although his work has been received as if it did); he was aware that any single person might partake in each of these styles in certain contexts. Nonetheless, there were a large number of people who were primarily abangan.

  • 20 The most convincing attempt at an explanation is given in (Hefner 1987; 2011).

34Both Sukarno and Suharto personally adhered to abangan beliefs and practices, and Suharto’s generals, as said, were either abangan or Christian and were suspicious of santri. It is therefore surprising to find that by the end of the Suharto era, the abangan appeared to have virtually disappeared. Even Suharto himself had gradually shifted his position, had come to depend on santri spiritual advisers replacing his abangan teachers, and around 1990 had allied himself politically with former santri opponents. The disappearance of the abangan was not due to a single cause and the explanations that have been suggested are inevitably complex, but besides economic development, urbanisation and the spread of mass education, state policies were crucial in the process.20

35The mass killings that accompanied Suharto’s rise to power in 1965-66 targeted alleged communists, most of whom were abangan. The new regime embarked on a massive program of ideological indoctrination (‘pembinaan, building up) to turn the segments of the population whose loyalties were suspect into loyal and obedient subjects. The program was carried out jointly by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior, and it involved basic Islamic teaching. In all schools, religion became an obligatory subject taught two hours per week – and only the five recognised religions were taught. Efforts by the kebatinan movements to gain recognition as a sixth official religion (around which the abangan might conceivably gather) failed. They were not banned but redefined as ‘cultural traditions’ and excluded from mention in the religion curriculum (Stange 1986).

36Non-state actors also played a major part in the conversion of abangan to santri Islam. Muslim associations sent preachers and missionaries to districts known as abangan, and organised Muslim rituals (readings of devotional texts about the Prophet, collective recitation of litanies, etc.) to replace wayang and other less Islamic celebrations. These were probably more effective than the activities sponsored by MoRA.

37Around 1990 Suharto relinquished his last abangan allies, went on the hajj, embraced the emerging Muslim middle class, allowed the establishment of an organisation of Muslim academics, opened an Islamic bank, founded a pro-Islamic newspaper, and succeeded in turning reformist and even fundamentalist Muslims into his political allies (against Christians, abangan, and liberals). The 1990s were a period of increasing visibility of Islam in the public sphere. For ambitious social climbers, it was a wise choice to show oneself an observant Muslim, and this has remained the case ever since.

38Turkey has experienced a similar process of Islamisation of the public sphere and the rise of a well-to-do Muslim middle class with conservative tastes. A major difference between the two countries is, however, the survival in Turkey of Alevism, which has consolidated itself as an alternative version of Islam without formalised Shariah. Like the disappearance of the abangan in Indonesia, the transformation of Alevism from a dispersed rural phenomenon to a more cohesive urban and transnational religious movement was a complex process, influenced by many different factors. To a large extent, the modern Alevi movement emerged as a defensive reaction to the state’s efforts to impose a version of Hanafi Sunni Islam on all of society.

39Diyanet’s task was to rid Islam of two enemies of progress, hurafe (superstition) and irtica (‘reaction’, meaning all sorts of fundamentalism or Islamism). In the Cold War years, communism was defined as the number one national enemy, and Islam was to be promoted as the best antidote to communism. As in Indonesia during the early Suharto years, the elite might not be practising Muslims themselves but they believed it was better for the masses to be pious. A delicate balance had to be found and maintained between endorsing Islam and fighting Islamism. Special care was therefore given to the promotion of an ‘enlightened’ Islam compatible with the national ideology.

  • 21 For a critical overview of the ‘Ankara school’ of Islamic theology, see (Aktay 2005). It is worth n (...)

40The Suharto regime initially opted for a more liberal version than Turkey was to do. The chief Muslim legitimiser of the secular New Order, Nurcholish Madjid, studied in the US under Fazlur Rahman and was a staunch defender of religious pluralism; the Ministry sent promising graduates to study in the West and stimulated the humanities and social sciences-based study of Islam at the IAINs. In Turkey, the Faculty of Theology in Ankara followed a similar course and became the country’s main centre for hermeneutics of Islam, where in the 80s and 90s the influence of the prominent Muslim thinker Fazlur Rahman (as well as Hasan Hanafi and Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd) was strong.21 The state ultimately opted for a more conservative and nationalist ideology, the ‘Turkish-Islamic synthesis’, which was first formulated by right-wing intellectuals in the 1970s, and then adopted as the state ideology by the military regime after the 1980 coup d’état and made into an obligatory part of the school curriculum (Kaplan 2002; Copeaux 1999; Çetinsaya 1999).

41Diyanet was given an important role in the formulation and propagation of the Turkish-Islamic synthesis, which its longest-serving president, Tayyar Altıkulaç (in office from early 1978 to the end of 1986), carried out with apparent enthusiasm. Under his presidency, Diyanet was perhaps more active and more successful in implementing state policies than under his predecessors. This was the period of expansion into Western Europe, where many opponents of the regime had found a safe haven and had started organising. With its army of attachés for religion [din müşavirleri] in the consulates and embassies and imams in the Diyanet-controlled mosques, Diyanet began acting as the long arm of the Turkish regime in Europe. Most of the local mosque committees that did not belong to the Süleymancı or Milli Görüş networks (which had been the pioneers of organising Turkish Muslims in Western Europe) were brought directly under Diyanet, and the Directorate henceforth aggressively expanded its own network. There were frequent reports that the din müşavirleri were in fact intelligence officers and developed the mosques into a spying network.

  • 22 This included such men as the professors of Turkish-Islamic literature Ibrahim Agâh Çubukçu (1980; (...)

42The post-1980 offensive to impose the Turkish-Islamic version of orthodoxy through school education and mosque construction led to a strong reaction among Alevi communities and may be considered as the chief factor in the Alevi resurgence. Alevism was praised by sections of the Kemalist elite as a specifically Turkish version of Islam without Shariah and a useful ally against irtica, but de facto discrimination and suspicion of Alevis as potentially subversive continued for most of the Republican period. Diyanet officials had often expressed strong criticism of Alevism; its president Akseki had in 1949 been at the heart of a controversy when he wrote the foreword to a book arguing that Alevism was beyond the pale of Islam (Kara 2004: 200 n.33). Professors of theology had, in a missionary spirit, written books and articles arguing that ‘true’ Alevism was compatible with orthodox Islam but that unfortunately many Alevis’ beliefs and practices deviated from this ‘true’ Alevism.22

  • 23 The role of the diaspora in the Alevi resurgence is highlighted in (Sökefeld 2008).

43Although quantitative data are lacking, there are strong indications that large numbers of Alevis gradually adopted Sunni practices after migration to urban centres and attempted to hide their Alevi background, if only to get rid of the stigma of this identity. The post-1980 efforts by the state to speed up this process backfired, however. Religions lessons, which had been elective, became compulsory; the new textbooks produced by the Ministry of National Education were inspired by a conservative and nationalist Sunni spirit and contained passages that Alevis considered insulting. The state built mosques in villages where there was none (i.e., Alevi villages, in most cases) and appointed imams there, while refusing to recognise Alevi cemevi as places of worship. This overt assault on Alevi beliefs, practices and institutions provided the impulse for the Alevi resurgence of the 1990s (Vorhoff 1995).23

44Unlike Indonesia’s abangan and kebatinan, Turkey’s Alevis have not faded away and assimilated to a national Hanafi Sunni consensus but have to some extent become consolidated as an alternative, not state-supported version of Islam. One section of the broader Alevi movement, represented by the CEM Vakfı, has made efforts to gain official recognition and representation in Diyanet on an equal basis with Sunni Islam, but neither the secular government coalitions of the 1990s nor the AKP governments have shown any willingness to reconsider the exclusive endorsement of Sunni orthodoxy (Walton 2013).

Muslim civil society and the state

45Turkey and Indonesia differ considerably in the degree to which they allow independent organisation of society. Indonesia can boast the largest Muslim associations in the world, with tens of millions of members / followers, and had, in several periods of its history, large Muslim political parties. The traditionalist association Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) was in fact until 1973 also a political party; the largest reformist association, Muhammadiyah, constituted an important component of the other major Muslim party, Masyumi. In the elections of 1955, these parties received 18.5 and 21 percent of the vote. Masyumi was banned in 1960 because some of its leaders took part in an armed rebellion against the government. The NU remained firmly allied with Sukarno, along with the Communist party (!), under the revolutionary banner of NASAKOM (Nationalism, Religion, Communism). There had previously been competition between the NU and Muhammadiyah for control of the Ministry of Religious Affairs but since the late 1950s the Ministry had become a bastion of the NU.

46Suharto, who deposed his predecessor Sukarno after a series of upheavals in 1965-66, embarked upon a policy of depoliticisation of Islam, as well as of society in general. The political fervour and mobilisation of the Sukarno years gave way to coerced compliance with a program of economic development and military-led surveillance of society. MORA was ‘de-NU-ised’ and placed under non-political technocrat ministers. The top Masyumi leaders were not allowed back into politics and refashioned their organisation as a vehicle for religious predication [da`wa], the Indonesian Council for Islamic Predication (DDII). Less prominent former Masyumi leaders were allowed to establish a successor party, which however never gained much credibility and remained small.

47In 1973, all Muslim parties were obliged to merge into a single, closely monitored party under a compliant leadership. The Christian and nationalist parties had to merge into a second party, while a military-dominated corporatist body was made into the all-powerful government party, Golkar. A decade later, all associations and parties were forced to renounce all ideological foundations other than Pancasila; Muslim associations might define Islam as their belief and identity but not as the source of their political ideology (Bruinessen 1996; Ramage 1995). It was considered as one of the greatest successes of the Minister of Religious Affairs of those years, Munawir Syadzali, that he managed to persuade the NU and Muhammadiyah to accept those policies. The few organisations that did not comply were effectively marginalised. There was a principled Islamic opposition to Suharto’s authoritarian rule, most of it allied with the DDII, but it was under close surveillance and had insufficient popular support to make an impact.

48It was only in the post-Suharto period, after a period of transition from authoritarianism and consolidation of democratic rule, that the process of increasing state control of the religious sphere was reversed. Various actors in Muslim civil society (including some groups that can hardly be called civil) have been struggling to gain control of powers that previously were monopolised by the state – including the power to define what orthodoxy is. MORA became again an arena of contestation between rival Muslim associations, and various radical Islamic groups gained influence in the MUI, which loosened its ties with the state.

  • 24 A well-informed and insightful overview of the cemaat as they flourished around 1990 is given by(...)

49Turkey never had strong Muslim associations comparable to Indonesia’s Muhammadiyah and NU. The major forms of Muslim sociability are the formations known as cemaat (religious congregations), which lack a formal associational structure and have no overt form of membership but are structured by informal hierarchical relations of authority. Because of legal restrictions – Turkish law does not allow associations based on religious or ethnic identity – they are typically registered, if at all, as vakıf, foundations. This gives a small group of administrators control of the cemaat’s assets. Some of the cemaat have their origins in Sufi orders, which following the formal ban of all tarikat in 1925 did not entirely disappear but survived as loose networks of followers loyal to families of charismatic Sufi shaykhs. Others grew out of reading circles studying the works Said Nursi, Turkey’s most significant twentieth-century Muslim thinker, or emerged around particularly effective preachers such as Fethullah Gülen. In the multi-party period, cemaats could consolidate themselves to some extent through alliances of convenience with the major right-of-centre parties, in exchange for block votes in the elections. Public gatherings and other formal activities, however, remained proscribed and each military intervention was accompanied by a wave of repression of the cemaats. Since the mid-1980s, cemaats have become increasingly visible and have expanded their activities in the fields of publishing, education and economic enterprise.24

50Members of various cemaats used the leverage their alliance with political parties gave them to attempt to influence government policy on such issues as the expansion of Imam Hatip schools or to obtain influential positions within Diyanet. During the years 1950-1980, rivalry between the various cemaats for influence was, in fact, a major factor in the internal dynamics of Diyanet. The knowledgeable Ismail Kara gives a few interesting examples, which also indicate that some of these cemaats at times wielded considerable influence in the state apparatus: a Diyanet president (Erdem) was fired for refusing to publish an anti-Nurcu pamphlet written by his deputy, who himself belonged to a tarikat. Erdem responded with a pamphlet against the tarikat concerned, published in the name of Diyanet (Kara 1999: 235).

51The strongest of these cemaats, during the 1960s and 1970s, was probably the Süleymancı group, a conservative branch of the Naqshbandiyya tarikat that had a strong connection with the Justice Party. The Süleymancı established a wide-ranging network of Qur’an courses that was more successful than the courses organised under the auspices of Diyanet, presumably because conservative Muslims had little confidence in state-sponsored interpretations of Islam. The Süleymancı were also the first to establish mosques in Western Europe and thereby gained an influence well beyond their numbers in the Turkish diaspora (Gökalp 1990; Jonker 2002). Diyanet in those years only sent imams to Europe during Ramadan, the month of highest participation in collective worship, but was not very successful in imposing its authority. I remember cases of actual fights in mosques between the supporters of cemaat and Diyanet imams over who could lead the tarawih prayers; in one case even a firearm was drawn. Such events must have been among the reasons for the concerted effort to impose state authority on the Turkish diaspora through Diyanet (purged of cemaat members and under military control) after the 1980 military coup.

52Necmettin Erbakan’s National Salvation Party (MSP) and its various later incarnations were important vehicles through which conservative Muslim civil society managed to get a grip on government policies. The MSP took part in several government coalitions during the 1970s and gained a considerable influence in Diyanet during that decade (and lost it again in the course of the purges carried out in the wake of the 1980 coup). MSP activists also turned to Europe as an important arena of activity, establishing the Milli Görüş network of mosque communities, which soon overshadowed that of the Süleymancı in membership and public visibility.

53The Fethullah Gülen community, which by the end of the 1980s had become the most powerful and successful of the cemaats, differed from the others in a number of respects. It renounced public expressions of Islamic identity and ordered its followers to adopt a secularist habitus and prepare for, what Maoists once called, ‘the long march through the institutions.’ The Gülen movement has always been nationalist and remarkably pro-state; Gülen’s ideas, as expressed in his transcribed sermons, were not too different from the state-sponsored ideology of the ‘Turkish-Islamic synthesis.’ The Gülen movement did not patronise the Imam Hatip schools but established its own schools, which only provided secular education, and exam-prep courses [dershane] as channels for entering state institutions. It is not clear to what extent it infiltrated Diyanet; its priorities lay definitely with other organs of the state. In Europe, the Gülen movement did not establish its own mosques, as some of the other cemaats did; its followers commonly attended Friday prayer in Diyanet mosques, even while being wary of the Diyanet imams spying on them.

  • 25 In retrospect, this military intervention has been characterised as specifically targeting the Imam (...)
  • 26 This concerted effort to obtain higher education abroad was concentrated in Vienna, and the Imam-Ha (...)

54A quasi cemaat that became increasingly influential during the 1980s and 1990s consisted of the graduates and sympathisers of the Imam Hatip schools. The MSP and its successors, when taking part in government coalitions, made great efforts to empower the Imam Hatip community by expanding the number of schools and granting Imam Hatip graduates access to non-religious professional or academic colleges and universities (including police and military academies) (Rutz 1999; Akpınar 2007). An important part of the political struggle between secularists and Islamists in the 1990s concerned the careers to which an Imam Hatip diploma might give access. The ‘soft coup’ of 18 February 1997 dealt a severe blow to these ambitions with a series of measures that made it almost impossible for the graduates of Imam Hatip schools to compete with those of ordinary public schools and resulted in a dramatic drop of enrolment in the Imam Hatip schools.25 The ban of headscarves in public schools was moreover reinforced and implemented more consistently, making it harder for women from conservative families to continue education in Turkey. By that time, however, the Imam Hatip community was sufficiently affluent and well-organised to send hundreds of students, many of them headscarf-wearing females, abroad for the university education that was not accessible to them in Turkey (Çağlar 2013).26

55The emergence of a confident, religiously conservative Muslim middle class in Turkey is closely correlated with the educational successes of the Gülen and Imam Hatip communities. The spectacular rise and success of the AKP in the new millennium may serve as an illustration of the successful social mobility of the Imam Hatip community. Erdoğan himself and many co-founders of the party were graduates (and even former classmates) of the Istanbul Imam Hatip school.

The limits of control

56The history of the Imam Hatip schools shows that social engineering has its limits and may backfire. Designed to produce ‘enlightened’ religious functionaries and foster an understanding of Islam that was hostile to communism and socialism and compatible with the Kemalist Republican project, they became the Trojan horse through which previously marginalised, conservative religious groups could conquer parts of the state apparatus. The conditions that made this possible were those of the multiparty system and coalition governments that had to please major sections of the electorate. Military interventions served to slow down this process but failed to revert it. Moreover the decision of the post-1980 military regime to adopt the Turkish-Islamic synthesis as an ideological weapon against the left as well as against ‘radical’ Islam further empowered religious conservatives.

57Milli Görüş (along with its more radical splinter, Cemalettin Kaplan’s caliphate movement) was purged from Diyanet immediately after the coup and came to depend much on its organisation in Europe (where it became one of the targets of Diyanet attempts to weaken it during the 1980s and 1990s) (Seufert 1999a; Schiffauer 2010). It was primarily a political organisation but it built up a strong mosque network; its imams had Imam Hatip and Theology Faculty backgrounds. In Turkey, the Imam Hatip network incorporated a much broader spectrum of religious conservatives than just those affiliated with Milli Görüş and the legal pro-Islamic party of the day. Most cemaats, except perhaps the Gülen community, were represented among the Imam Hatip students and graduates.

58Inevitably, all mosque personnel as well as a large part of the bureaucratic staff of Diyanet were recruited from this network, for very few others were qualified. The Imam Hatip network and its strong roots in the previously marginalised conservative religious segment of the population constituted a major factor in the electoral success of the AKP in the new millennium. Co-operation with the Gülen movement allowed the AKP elite to gradually expand control over organs of the state, against considerable resistance from the secularist establishment. By 2010, the AKP government, which presumably had more sympathisers among the Diyanet personnel than any previous government, gained full control of the institution and gradually turned it into an instrument of AKP policies. The government embarked on the construction of numerous new mosques and Imam Hatip schools, raising Diyanet’s budget to unprecedented levels in the following years (Öztürk 2016).

59It is ironic that the instruments of governance through which the secular state elite intended to control, modernise and reform the pious conservative majority of the population were gradually taken over by organised groups of the latter and turned into instruments to gain control of and strengthen their grip on the state. Diyanet became one of the most reliable fortresses of the AKP government, not only through the political appointments of its Directors but also because many of its staff had the same background as the AKP leadership. The crucial historical moment at which the changed role of Diyanet became apparent was the night of the coup attempt of July 2016. Mosques all over the country, following Diyanet’s instructions, broadcast the call for people to come out onto the streets and oppose the military. Diyanet had become a vital tool in the mobilisation, rather than the governance, of the pious masses.

60Indonesia witnessed somewhat similar developments following the demise of the Suharto regime. The change began, in fact, a decade earlier when, due to the end of the Cold War, Suharto could no longer count on the unconditional support of the United States and sought to broaden his domestic support by accommodating former Islamist critics and allowing Islam a greater visibility in the public sphere. Strictly practising Muslims came to replace abangan and Christians as the dominant group in the military and the bureaucracy as well as in the government cabinets of the 1990s (Liddle 1996; Bruinessen 1996). Vocal Islamic groups gained an increasing influence on public discourse, and this trend was accelerated after the fall of the Suharto regime.

61The transition from autocratic rule that began in 1998 ushered in a period of unstable governments based on coalitions of a very broad range of political parties. Secular politicians, perceiving that they needed to win over Muslim constituencies, tended to make symbolic gestures serving the agenda of the most vocal (and not necessarily most representative) Muslim groups. The longest-serving president since Suharto, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2004-14), allowed conservative, bigoted and intolerant voices within the umma to gain discursive dominance and did little to protect minorities. Especially his second five-year term, when he made a particularly unfortunate choice of man to lead MORA, was a dark period for religious minorities and further empowered the more conservative segments of the umma as well as (non-violent) Islamic radicals (Bush 2015; Bruinessen 2013).

62The MUI, which had for most of the time been the obedient legitimiser of Suharto’s policies, re-invented itself as an independent civil society actor, though claiming a privileged position as the authoritative voice of Islam. Although continuing to receive a modest amount of support from the government, it found a more important source of financing in the lucrative business of halal labelling, for the food and cosmetics industries as well as for banks moving into Shariah-compliant forms of banking. It organised national congresses at which it co-opted new members. In other words, new staff and functionaries were no longer selected by the government, but neither did any representative body outside MUI itself have a say in this. The new members included predominantly men affiliated with conservative and radical movements, and largely excluded liberals and progressives. This composition was reflected in the fatwas that the MUI issued in the following years.

63The council positioned itself firmly on the conservative side of the spectrum and adopted a militant attitude towards everything it considered heterodox: mystical sects, the Ahmadiya minority and the Shi`a, liberal interpretations of Islam, secularism, and the very idea of religious pluralism. The MUI began to issue unsolicited advice to the government, and lobbied to have its fatwas – including anti-minority fatwas– adopted as the basis of legislation (Ichwan 2013; Crouch 2010). The MUI allowed itself to become a vehicle for Islamist groups that wanted to change the existing secular order. Thus it played a significant part in the recent actions to prevent the re-election of Jakarta’s Christian governor and to have him jailed for blasphemy, thereby indirectly also attacking the incumbent president, Joko Widodo (Scherpen 2017).

Conclusion

64Both Indonesia and Turkey have during the past two decades seen major political changes that appear to undermine the hitherto existing secular order. Indonesia’s secular-minded founding fathers had explicitly referred to Kemalist Turkey as a model for state-Islam relations to be emulated. Nowadays, it is Indonesia’s Islamists who look at Turkey as the model for wresting control of the state from the secular elite. In both countries, conservative religious segments of the population that had been marginalised if not oppressed by military-backed authoritarian secularist regimes during the Cold War period have gained a great amount of political leverage. Although these countries represent significantly different types of secularism, in both cases the institutions through which the secular elites attempted to ‘enlighten’ conservative Muslims and keep Islamist political contestation in check were transformed from within and became vehicles through which Islamists were empowered and began imposing their views on society at large.

65In Indonesia, the principle that the state should keep equal distance to all officially recognised religions formally remains in place, although the de facto influence of Islamic discourse on state policy has substantially increased. Each of the six recognised religions has its official body of representatives that acts as an interface with the government as well as with the other religious communities, and the government favours interreligious dialogue. Each of the religions is to some extent represented in the Ministry of Religious Affairs, although the main task of the Ministry has undoubtedly been the administration of Islam. Under Suharto, the Ministry adopted positions independent of the major Muslim associations and their demands, but in the post-Suharto period various factions of the Muslim umma have gained a foothold in the Ministry and made it a vehicle for partisan, often conservative, agendas.

66The changes in the Indonesian Council of Islamic Scholars, MUI, were more dramatic. The Council liberated itself from its role as passive legitimiser of authoritarian government policies and positioned itself as part government adviser part spokesman for the umma – and especially for the more conservative sections of the umma. The major Muslim associations have their representatives in the MUI, but also the more radical Islamist fringes. For the past fifteen years, the MUI has been at the forefront of a conservative backlash against progressive interpretations of Islam and tolerance of religious pluralism. In several cases it has acted in concert with violent vigilante groups intimidating religious minorities.

67Indonesia has a vibrant civil society and enjoys, since the fall of Suharto, a significant degree of freedom of expression. It was especially Islamist and conservative Muslim groups that were empowered in the period of post-authoritarian transition, however, and non-Muslims as well as Muslim minorities (such as the Ahmadiyah and the Shi`i minority) are in a much weaker position than before. Officially, the state continues the policy of equal distance to the recognised religions, but government has repeatedly failed to protect religious minority rights, if only out of fear of losing legitimacy in the eyes of the Muslim majority. Radical preachers speaking in the name of Islam have gained a dominant voice in the public sphere and impact on policy decisions at various levels of government. The state of the secular order is precarious.

68The developments in Turkey have been even more spectacular. After the 1980 coup, the military-backed government sought to promote a conservative religious-nationalistic doctrine, the Turkish-Islamic Synthesis, as a means of fighting socialism and communism as well as political Islam. Diyanet was given an important role in this project, and the number of mosques and imams under its control rapidly expanded. Diyanet was moreover tasked with the surveillance of the Turkish diaspora. Capable and reliable religious functionaries were needed, and the number of Imam Hatip schools expanded accordingly. These schools became popular among conservative Muslim families because of the (limited) religious part of the curriculum. Many graduates, however, had little desire to become mere prayer leaders and preachers; they sought to continue their education in various professional or academic institutions. The educational and professional mobility of the community of Imam Hatip graduates was closely correlated with the emergence of a successful, conservative Muslim business community, and both lay at the roots of the rise of the AKP.

69The AKP (and the Milli Görüş movement that preceded it) was, to a large extent, an emancipation movement of the conservative Muslim segments of the population that had been marginalised under Kemalism. The Imam Hatip schools played a part in the emancipation process. It appears that the old secularist elite have largely been replaced now by the counter-elite of Erdoğan and his circle with an assortment of pragmatic allies. Internationally, Erdoğan’s alignment with the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist causes more generally is undeniable, but in domestic politics he has largely refrained from an agenda of Islamisation. In fact, the change of guard has not seriously affected Turkey’s particular form of secularism, laiklik. It is true that the government endorses conservative values, discourages alcohol consumption, and looks kindly on female veiling. Structurally, however, little has changed. Religious thinkers, ulama and Sufi shaykhs have not been empowered, the Shariah is not accepted as a source of legislation, religious thought has no significant influence in the political process, the state retains its monopoly on religious education and outreach, and religious congregations [cemaats] are tightly controlled. All of this is quite unlike the situation in Indonesia. The budget of Diyanet has continued to increase and most of its personnel no doubt are close to the AKP in social background and social-religious convictions. However, this has not given the institution a greater influence in shaping policy and reconceptualising state-Islam relations. Diyanet remains an instrument of government policy and state interest, as it was before.

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Notes

1 Figures provided by the Indonesian Ministry of Finance, Informasi APBN 2018, Jakarta: Direktorat Jenderal Anggaran, 2017, https://www.kemenkeu.go.id/media/6886/informasi-apbn-2018.pdf.
Education is largely decentralised and financed by transfers from the central to regional governments, which do not show up in the budget of the education ministry. Only religious education is centrally administered, through MORA. Details of the education budget were released by the State Secretariat: ‘APBN 2018: Total Anggaran Pendidikan Rp 444,131 Triliun, Terbanyak di Kemenag Rp52,681 Triliun’, http://setkab.go.id/apbn-2018-total-anggaran-pendidikan-rp444131-triliun-terbanyak-di-kemenag-rp52681-triliun.

2 Data compiled from a variety of Turkish news sources: http://gazetekarinca.com/2017/11/mebin-2018-butcesi-belli-oldu-egitime-ayrilan-kaynagin-yuzde-35i-din-ogretimi-icin/; http://www.sozcu.com.tr/2017/ekonomi/diyanet-butceyi-alt-ust-ediyor-2063795/; http://www.mebpersonel.com/meb/meb-in-2018-butcesi-belli-oldu-h217297.html. The Imam-Hatip schools represent the largest

3 In the state budget, Religious Affairs receive around 10 per cent of the sum allocated for Recreation, Culture and Religion, while by far the largest share of RCR (c 70 per cent) goes to Broadcasting and Publishing. See http://www.finance.gov.pk/budget/Budget_in_Brief_2016_17.pdf.

4 Recently however, the Sisi administration has empowered the Ministry in an effort to bring all mosques and preachers under its control (Fahmi 2014).

5 The political theorist Alfred Stepan distinguishes various degrees of separation and speaks of the ‘separatist model’ as in the US and France, the ‘established religion’ model as in the UK, and the ‘positive accommodation’ model of Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. In addition he gives extensive discussion of the ‘respect all, positive cooperation, principled distance’ model that he finds in India, Senegal and Indonesia and which corresponds with our third type of neutrality of the state (Stepan 2011).

6 An excellent overview of the role of Advisers and Muslim policies during the last four decades of Dutch rule is to found in (Benda 1958: 9-31; 61-99).

7 (Benda 1958) remains the best study of the period of Japanese occupation.

8 This reference to the Shariah, known as the Jakarta Charter, was to be inserted into the Preamble to the Constitution. At several critical points in Indonesian history there have been attempts to revive the Jakarta Charter, but each time it was rejected by a clear parliamentarian majority (Boland 1971: passim; Mujiburrahman 2006: 105-133; Hosen 2005).

9 The formulation of Pancasila and its reference to God several times underwent revision. Belief in God was raised to the first principle and its formulation changed to make it more explicitly monotheistic – obliging Hindus and Buddhists to reformulate their own belief systems in those terms. For debates on Pancasila see (Bonneff, Cayrac-Blanchard and Labrousse 1980; Ramage 1995; Steenbrink 1998; Raillon 2011).

10 On the early history of the Ministry, see (Steenbrink 1972; Boland 1971: 105-112).

11 As observed by Clifford Geertz in the 1950s, ‘[o]ne of the most important informal functions of the ministry is (…) to provide jobs for deserving Moslems’ (Geertz 1960: 201).

12 ‘In many places, the local offices of the Ministry are narrowly intertwined with local Muslim leaders and associations. In those places, there appears to be a real integration. Where this is not the case, and especially where the Ministry is perceived as the bulwark of one specific association and political party, the Ministry is by many not accepted as representing Islam.’ (Steenbrink 1972: 181).

13 Explained clearly, with a summary of the debates on this issue, in (Kara 1999: 221ff.). Kara published an updated version of this rich article in Turkish as (Kara 2004).

14 This wish for an independent religious institution is associated with the name of Prof. Ali Fuad Başgil, who drafted concrete proposals that would have made Diyanet financially and morally independent from the state but which were shelved. See (Jäschke 1965: 181-184).

15 The major exception to these short tenures was the presidency of Tayyar Altıkulaç, a nationalist appointed as the head of Diyanet by Ecevit in 1977, who served the post-1980 military regime very well and lasted eight years until he retired at his own request.

16 Diyanet’s fatwas have drawn little attention from scholars. The only study that I have seen was by Jak den Exter, who in 1989 visited the Diyanet offices and could study the questions sent by migrants in Western Europe and the answers given by the Supreme Council (Exter 1990: 27-38). The Supreme Council has a website dedicated to its fatwas, https://kurul.diyanet.gov.tr/, which is organised by subject and very didactic in its format, like any FAQ page, abstracted from concrete individual questions. It is also possible to submit one’s own question to this page.

17 In late 2017, the Turkish press reported on three recent Diyanet fatwas on matters that are less strictly religious, concerning the permissibility of bitcoin (which was deemed ‘not appropriate at this point in time’), men dyeing their hair black (‘not appropriate’), and work in places that sell alcoholic beverages (‘not permissible’). See e.g. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-top-religious-body-issues-fatwa-on-hair-dye-123368. For an overview of the more controversial fatwas of the past decade, see ‘Son 10 yılda Diyanet’in tartışma yaratan fetva ve açıklamaları’, BBC-Türkçe, 3/1/2018, https://www.bbc.com/turkce/haberler-turkiye-42552621.

18 On pilgrimage to Eyüp and popular religious practices generally, and official efforts to reform them, see (Bruinessen 2008).

19 . Forty years later, Andrew Beatty replicated Geertz’ research and reported his findings with a different emphasis. He found that participants in the same slametan ritual held vastly different interpretations of the meaning of the ritual and their own intentions in participating (Beatty 1996; 1999).

20 The most convincing attempt at an explanation is given in (Hefner 1987; 2011).

21 For a critical overview of the ‘Ankara school’ of Islamic theology, see (Aktay 2005). It is worth noting that Turkey and Indonesia were the only countries in the Muslim world where these thinkers found a significant audience.

22 This included such men as the professors of Turkish-Islamic literature Ibrahim Agâh Çubukçu (1980; 1982) and Mahmud Esad Coşan (1990).

23 The role of the diaspora in the Alevi resurgence is highlighted in (Sökefeld 2008).

24 A well-informed and insightful overview of the cemaat as they flourished around 1990 is given by (Çakır 1991). The transformation of one particular branch of the Naqshbandi Sufi order, associated with the İskenderpaşa mosque in Istanbul, into a cemaat and vakıf is described by (Silverstein 2007). For an inside view of the same cemaat, by a prominent politician and entrepreneur, see (Özal 1999).

25 In retrospect, this military intervention has been characterised as specifically targeting the Imam-Hatip schools. The relevant measures are summed up in: Cemal Nar, ‘28 Şubat kararları ve İmam Hatipler’, online at: https://www.habervaktim.com/yazar/74917/28-subat-kararlari-ve-imam-hatipler.html.

26 This concerted effort to obtain higher education abroad was concentrated in Vienna, and the Imam-Hatip network there was said to be co-ordinated by Erdogan’s son Bilal.

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References

Electronic reference

Martin van Bruinessen, « The Governance of Islam in Two Secular Polities: Turkey’s Diyanet and Indonesia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs », European Journal of Turkish Studies [Online], 27 | 2018, Online since 10 January 2019, connection on 21 February 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/ejts/5964

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About the author

Martin van Bruinessen

Utrecht Universityen

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