Over the past three years, middle class Muslims in Indonesia have been increasingly attracted toward a wide range of new religious expressions, including even New Age.
That was one of the findings presented by Australian scholar Julia Day Howell (Griffith University, Brisbane) at the conference of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR) attended by RW, which took place April 10-12 at the University of Vilnius, Lithuania. In the context of changes following the end of the Suharto regime, political parties proliferated in Indonesia, including radical expressions of Islam. However, according to Howell, one can also notice a remarkable trend toward liberalism, which may in part derive from the increased educational level during the Suharto period — and an accompanying development of a more cosmopolitan orientation.
Researchers note an increasingly autonomous approach toward religiosity among sectors of Indonesian Muslims, resulting in open attitudes toward reiki, yoga classes and various spiritual movements active on a multireligious basis. There is especially a rising interest in experiential religiosity, which accounts for an interest among urbanites in Sufism, but also in the New Age market (from the Celestine Prophecy to Brahma Kumaris).
Generally speaking, the Indonesian Muslim community has become much more pluralist in its orientations.
— By Jean-François Mayer