Muslim Women in Contemporary Indonesia: Online Conflicting Narratives behind the Women Ulama Congress

Eva F. Nisa*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)


    Recently, Indonesian Muslim women successfully convened the world’s first congress of women Muslim scholars (KUPI). This is only one segment of the story of Indonesian Muslim women. There are many narratives regarding Indonesian Muslim women and their diverse agenda. This article focuses on what has been brought by KUPI into a broader discussion of Islam in Indonesia. Drawing on intermittent offline research predominantly conducted in Jakarta and online research from 2017 to 2018, this article argues that KUPI, with its symbolic preferences, has strengthened the voices of civil Islam in Indonesia. KUPI has productively generated global attention due to its progressive emphasis that women can be ulama. However, there are other women’s voices of Islam and gender that are robust, particularly due to their rigorous use of information and communication technology. At the same time, this might be seen as promoting conservatism. Within the local context, this ideological position that is contrary to KUPI has gained more traction. Additionally, this article argues that progressive and conservative Indonesian Muslim women feature not only in the democratic pluralism of religious expression in the Indonesian offline and online spheres but also in the ongoing intricate interplay between Islam, civil society and gender equality.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)434-454
    Number of pages21
    JournalAsian Studies Review
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2019


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