Ulama, the state, & war: community Islamic leaders in the Aceh conflict

Barter, Shane Joshua
April 2011
Contemporary Islam;Apr2011, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p19
Academic Journal
In recent years, much has been said of the relationship between the headmasters of Islamic boarding schools ( ulama), the state, and war. Hoping to clarify how ulama behave in times of war and why they react as they do, I look to the recent secessionist conflict in Aceh, Indonesia. Based on extensive village fieldwork, I find that in response to the conflict, Aceh's ulama were divided; some supported the rebels, some supported the state, and some remained neutral. These positions were largely predicted by combatant control, a pragmatic response to conflict dynamics. Sub-regional comparisons, temporal comparisons, and interviews suggest that while many ulama sided with power, they also sided against human rights abuses, a concern for social justice which may be rooted in religious sentiment after all.


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