Democracy Taught: The State Islamic University of Jakarta and its Civic Education Course during Reformasi (1998–2004)

  • Amanda tho Seeth (Author)


This article presents a qualitative content analysis of the instruction material used by the State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta for its mandatory civic education course, which was introduced in the year 2000/2001 in collaboration with US-based The Asia Foundation. Kicked off during the Indonesian democratisation process, the so-called Reformasi (1998–2004), the course aimed at socialising Muslim students into the values and norms of democracy, human and civil rights, and critical thinking. By focusing on the content of the chapter on “Democracy” in the course’s original and revised textbook, it is shown that the Islamic academics involved in the creation of the course acted as cosmopolitan brokers between Islamic, Indonesian and Western culture, but in the course of time shifted to promote democracy from an increasingly Islamic and Indonesian perspective, thereby engaging in a practice of localisation. However, the textbooks also featured several biases, inconsistencies and contradictions that mitigated their pedagogic quality and that are critically assessed in this article. Despite these shortcomings, it is argued that due to the course’s overall strong pro-democratic commitment and its strategic institutionalisation on campus, the State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta, with its academic milieu, must be understood as a pro-democratic actor whose political agency during as well as after Reformasi deserves more scholarly attention.


Indonesia, democratisation, Islamic universities, civic education, localisation