Both in scholarly works and in popular discourse, many people argue that Islam in Indonesia is inclusive and tolerant, unlike that of, say, Pakistan or Afghanistan.
A combination of the strong mystical dimension of Islam in Indonesia and its peaceful penetration in the early period are among the most cited explanations to justify the argument.
Theodor Friend (2011), for instance, divides the modern Muslim world into five different “cultures” where Indonesia represents the smiling face of Islam in contrast to the angry radical and literalist Saudi Wahabis. Amid the rise of global Islamic radicalism, therefore, Indonesian Islam is just the right answer. Many Indonesian Muslims would proudly agree.
This kind of perspective, however, has a fundamental problem.
Is Indonesian Islam better? In what way? If it is tolerant and inclusive because of its strong Suf...