Piety Projects: Islamic Schools for Indonesia's Urban Middle Class

Karen Bryner

Piety Projects: Islamic Schools for Indonesia's Urban Middle Class
Bryner, Karen
Thesis Advisor(s):
Bartlett, Lesley
Ph.D., Teachers College
International and Transcultural Studies
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This dissertation examines two educational piety projects competing for control over popular conceptualizations of piety and what it means to be a good Muslim, as presented by Al Azhar 31 Islamic Primary School and Luqman al Hakim Integrated Islamic Primary School in Jogjakarta, Indonesia. Al Azhar 31 promotes an Indonesian Islam, pluralistic and inclusive of multi-tradition approaches to Islam that is flexible in regards to acceptable forms of worship. Luqman al Hakim SIT promotes a transnational Islam, inspired by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and linked to the Indonesian Islamic political party, Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejatera, PKS). The school's purificationist approach pushes for the removal of local customs and traditions from mainstream Islam and promotes exacting observance of standardized practices. These two schools' disparate approaches to Islam are emblematic of the larger polarizing trends in approaching Islam in Indonesia today. This dissertation has particular significance for understanding the intersection of Islamic movements, Islamic education, and the religious middle class. Based on 15 months of ethnographic research, this dissertation demonstrates how schooling can be a tool for shaping socio-religious and political climates of a community and country. It adds to the growing literature on the educational spaces developing alongside Islamic piety movements throughout the Muslim world. Additionally, this dissertation provides a rare example of the influence on Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood ideologies on education, rather than politics. It also illustrates how the schools' disparate approaches to Islam shape distinct religious subjectivities within their students. The documentation of the innovation of the extended-day Islamic school model and integrated Islam ideology employed by both schools adds to the rich history of Indonesia's Islamic schooling traditions. Finally, this dissertation demonstrates how middle class parents' classed aspirations and anxieties regarding education, wealth, morality, and corruption coalesce to create ready consumers for a particular type of Islamic school: one that provides a longer school day, strong academics, and a robust religious curriculum focused on Islamic morals and values.
Religious education
Islamic civilization
Islam--Customs and practices
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Suggested Citation:
Karen Bryner, , Piety Projects: Islamic Schools for Indonesia's Urban Middle Class, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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