A popular Indonesian preacher: The significance of AA Gymnastiar

Watson, Bill (2005) A popular Indonesian preacher: The significance of AA Gymnastiar. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 11 (4). pp. 773-792. ISSN 1359-0987. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Aa Gymnastiar (Gym) is a popular Indonesian Muslim preacher who seems to be now at the pinnacle of his fame. He regularly gives advice to the head of state and to ministers and yet at the same time his approach to Islam appeals to all sections of the national Muslim community. His is a familiar face in newspaper columns and above all on television screens; Aa Gym has a masterful command of the media. This article describes and accounts for his popularity and discusses it in terms of continuity and change in the rise and decline of Muslim celebrities in Indonesia. It points out the difference between Gym and some obvious forerunners such as the scholar Hamka, and stresses that the nature of Gym's appeal is new in as much as he does not come from within the circle of traditional families of Muslim ulama. He seems to draw his information as much from secular sources of self-help manuals as from books of Sufi wisdom. Although very popular and influential among the general circle of believers, he is regarded with some suspicion by those who criticize his sufistic leanings and lack of an orthodox Muslim education. The article concludes by arguing that Gym and his approach to the implementation of Muslim precepts is more representative of the nature of Islam in Indonesia today than the activities of terrorists.

Item Type: Article
Additional information: ISI Document Delivery No.: 987TU Times Cited: 1 Cited Reference Count: 36
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Nicola Kerry-Yoxall
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2007 18:02
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 12:59
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/180 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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