Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Performing Islam through Indonesian popular music, 2002–2007
by Knauth, Dorcinda Celiena, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2010, 274; 3435559
Abstract (Summary)

A growing body of scholarship examines the diverse and new ways that popular music is used as a vehicle for Islamic discourse in contemporary Indonesian society. This dissertation compares three modern leaders who place their music within their own ideological context through non-musical discourse. K. H. Abdullah Gymnastiar (Aa Gym) is a preacher in Bandung whose music attempts to bring together Arabic traditions and optimistic practical advice; his piece “Jagalah Hati” shares in the theology of the Islamic philosopher Abu Hamid al-Ghazali and represents the “Managemen Qolbu” philosophies of his pesantren Daarut Tauhiid, a center for the nasyid musical style. Ahmad Dhani is a rock musician of the Jakarta band Dewa 19, who refashioned himself as a spiritual leader in order to oppose radicalIslam through Islamic rock music; his songs “Satu” and “Laskar Cinta” clearly reference the philosophies of the Indonesian Sufi saint Syekh Siti Jenar. Emha Ainun Nadjib (Cak Nun) is a writer in Yogyakarta who uses a modern revamping of traditional Javanese music in eclectic and philosophical community gatherings with his gamelan ensemble Kiai Kanjeng; their pieces “Gundul Pacul” and “Ilir-Ilir,” examples of Islamic fusion, are analyzed with reference to Cak Nun’s prose writings “Menyorong Rembulan dan Matahari Berkabut” and “Gundul Pacul, ‘Fooling Around,’ Cengengesan.” This dissertation also describes the work of other Islamic musicians in Indonesia, including Snada, Bimbo, Edcoustic, Ungu, Letto, Gigi, MQ Voice, and The New MQ Voice.

The three spiritual leaders use their music to fuel an Islamic revival in Indonesia that can be called Sufi. Their definitions of Sufism vary, but all are attempting to spur a discussion of Islam that is meaningful for Indonesians. By perrforming Islamic music, musicians teach their listeners about their own understandings of the religion and in effect are “performing Islam.” This dissertation explores the musicians’ theosophic associations, their ideas of how their music can be conceived of as both local and universal, and their roles as civic leaders.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Root, Deane L.
School: University of Pittsburgh
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 72/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Cultural anthropology, Music, Islamic Studies
Keywords: Indonesia, Islam, Popular music, Sufism
Publication Number: 3435559
ISBN: 978-1-124-34129-3
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