Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University Yogyakarta, Indonesia
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This paper explains the dynamics of the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) during and after “the 212 Action”, a mass movement in 2016 against alleged religious defamation of religion by the then governor of Jakarta Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama. While MUI’s political alliance with Islamist movements has received a great deal of attention, scholars have overlooked the limitations of that alliance. MUI and Islamists agree on the issue of “shari‘a in the state”, but they differ in their understanding of its nature, degree, and scope, and the content of the shari’a that is to be implemented. More broadly, this paper argues that although Islamist actors and networks have temporarily brought MUI closer to supporting their agenda, MUI remains opposed to the creation of an Islamic state and khilafah. The moderate Muslim representatives in MUI, and MUI’s dependence on the government, prevent it from being a true opponent of the government as well as the national ideology of pancasila. In other words, MUI may be critical of the Indonesian state, but is not a revolutionary organization. Moreover, MUI is cautious about joining mass action organized by Islamist movements due to their different religio-political views, apart from the fact that Islamist movements would not always need MUI’s legitimacy on the one hand, and that Muslims would not always be easily mobilized on the other.