Jaringan Islam Liberal
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Jaringan Islam Liberal (JIL) or the Liberal Islam Network is a loose forum for discussing and disseminating the concept of Islamic liberalism in Indonesia. One reason for its establishment is to counter the growing influence and activism of militant and radical Islam in Indonesia. The "official" description of JIL is "a community which is studying and bringing forth a discourse on Islamic vision that is tolerant, open and supportive for the strengthening of Indonesian democratization."
It was started from several meetings and discussions among young Muslim intellectuals in ISAI (Institut Studi Arus Informasi/Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information), Jakarta, and then extended through discussion using a mailing list, email@example.com in early 2001. The founders held the first discussion on February 21, 2001, in Teater Utan Kayu, Jakarta, on Akar-Akar Liberalisme Islam: Pengalaman Timur Tengah (The Roots of Islamic Liberalism: The Middle East Experience), presented by a young progressive scholar, Luthfi Assyaukanie. That meeting was followed by other discussions, either in the form of face-to-face meetings or through the mailing list.
Since mid-2001, the "official" name of Jaringan Islam Liberal has been used on their website, , which displays their activities, articles, discussions, and relevant sources for the dissemination of liberal Islam. Their place of meeting and secretariat is in Teater Utan Kayu, Jakarta, a complex owned by Goenawan Mohamad, a leading journalist and author, and used for arts performances and by non-governmental organizations. By now, the network is led by liberal young thinker, Ulil Abshar Abdalla, who is also the director of ICRP - Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace.
For the proponents of JIL, using liberal Islam in the name of their forum is intended to make a clear point. Liberal Islam represents an Islam that emphasizes individual freedom in accordance with the Mu'tazila doctrine of human freedom and liberation of socio-political structure from oppressive and undemocratic domination. The adjective "liberal" for the activists in JIL has two meanings: "being liberal" and "liberating." Islam has always many different interpretations, so liberal Islam is another variant of Islam and an alternative to literal Islam, Islamic fundamentalism, radical Islam, and many others.
Since its inception, JIL has conducted many regular activities concerning public education. With the assistance from funding agencies such as The Asia Foundation, JIL is able to voice liberal, tolerant aspirations and interpretations of Islam in Indonesia. Activities and programs of JIL include:
- Syndication of liberal Islam writers. This is the most important program undertaken by JIL. This program is intended to collect writings from authors who defend pluralism and inclusivism and disseminate them to local mass media which have difficulties in finding good writings and writers on those issues. This syndication provides selected articles, interviews, and sources every week for local newspapers.
- Talk-shows in the news office of Radio 68H, Jakarta. The talk-show, which interviews those who promote pluralism and an inclusive understanding of religion, is broadcast through 40 radio stations in the Namlapanha radio network across Indonesia. This program is the most effective effort to disseminate liberal Islam.
- Publication of books on liberal thoughts in religion.
- Publication of booklets or leaflets which contain a short article, interview, or abstract from books on controversial issues in religion.
- Publication of the JIL website, http://www.islamlib.com, which displays information and relevant writings on liberal Islam.
- Public service advertisements on television which contain messages for religious toleration and peaceful co-existence among different religious followers and pluralism in Islam.
- Discussion of Islam. With cooperation from other institutions, JIL arranges discussions on Islam with distinguished speakers from all over the world.
- Road-show doctrinate the idea of liberal Islam which are held on campuses in Indonesia with the cooperation of student organizations.