Conservative Inclusivity and Hierarchical Diversity

Chinese dakwah and the Paradoxes of Indonesian Religious Pluralism

Wai Weng Hew


By discussing Chinese Muslim dakwah (proselytisation) activities, as well as examining how Chinese Muslims engage with broader Islamic practices, gain support from various Muslim organisations and interact with various Muslim individuals, this paper examines the possibilities, limitations, and challenges of religious pluralism in Indonesia today. Generally speaking, Chinese Muslims’ dakwah activities reflect the broader trend of religious discourses among Indonesian Muslims—a support for inclusivity and diversity, yet at the same time, an increasing “conservative turn;” and the notion of diversity has been redefined according to a rigid interpretation of Islamic teachings. I propose to understand such dynamics as forms of conservative inclusivity and hierarchical diversity. The challenge of religious pluralism in Indonesia today is less about the rejection of diversity among conservative Muslims, but more about the appropriation of the meaning of diversity and the scale of inclusivity.