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Jakarta Post

Preachers and conservatism in RI

  • Al Makin

Yogyakarta   /   Fri, July 15 2011   /  08:00 am

The career of the late Zainuddin MZ, known as a preacher to a million followers, tells us about another side of Indonesian Muslims’ religiosity.

Indonesians are fond of religious preachers. Religion, and religious piety, has dominated the public for a long time. Religion is a vital element to control Indonesian politics.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, Indonesia witnessed several religious preachers who came and went. Good fortune sided with those who entertained the public with religious jargon and terms. These preachers mixed the ingredients of religious advice and humor, which were easily understood by Indonesians.

From the 1980s to the early 1990s, Zainuddin was a rising star. His speeches were broadcast on radio and TV, and were recorded in cassettes and CDs, which are still widely sold. Nobody could mistake Zainuddin’s voice — the ways in which he greeted th...