This study is a comparative historical analysis of two Indonesian Islamic groups: the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the Muhammadiyah. It finds that the NU was able to successfully change its theological positions due to the presence of a charismatic moral authority leader, the tolerant institutional culture within the organization, and the ability of the organization to ally with the Suharto regime, allowing the reform to be institutionalized with little intervention from the regime. On the other hand, theological reform within the Muhammadiyah was not successful due to the lack of a leader with moral authority status who could have led the reforms within the organization, as well as to the dominance of a revivalist institutional culture that does not tolerate any challenges to their interpretation of Islamic theology. The analysis makes theoretical contributions on the role of religious leadership within Islamic movements and the likelihood of Islamic groups to adopt liberal political norms such as democracy, religion-state separation, and tolerance toward religious minorities. It identifies the mechanisms in which theological change within Islamic group become possible.A full overview containing abstract and contents page can be found here. The author has also given a talk about the parallels between the development of progressive Islam in Indonesia and Turkey at the University of Chicago. To listen to this talk click here.
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