Reinforcing Charisma in the Bureaucratisation of Indonesian Islamic Organisations

Kevin W. Fogg


Many studies of Islam in Indonesia have focused on the mass Islamic organisations that form the backbone of civil society and Indonesian religious life. However, studies of these organisations have not appreciated the central place of charisma amid their bureaucratic features. This article looks at the case of Alkhairaat, a mass Islamic organisation headquartered in Central Sulawesi but spread throughout eastern Indonesia, as a bureaucracy built to reinforce and perpetuate the charisma of its founder, Sayyid Idrus bin Salim al-Jufri. The case of Alkhairaat demonstrates how mass Islamic organisations in Indonesia bureaucratise Islam but also, in doing this, defy the broader trend of legalisation. Instead, the on-going veneration of the founder’s charisma helps to make sense of the continuing attention to supernatural occurrences among traditionalist Indonesian Muslims and the power of organisational leaders over their followers.

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