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The Rise of Muslim Pop Culture in Indonesia

Indonesia is often overlooked or misrepresented in media discourses about Islam. Islam has been the dominant religion in Indonesia for centuries, but during the three decades of Mr. Suharto’s rule the government tried to contain Islamic movements. After the fall of Suharto, Indonesia has evolved into a democracy. With increased political rights has come an increased ability to study and express religious faith in a country with the world’s largest Muslim population.

Muslim Pop Culture

At a time when Islam in the western popular imagination and media is associated with terrorism and fundamentalism, Islam in Indonesia is not merely a religion. In the last decade, Islam has transformed into a popular brand for media, cultural and commercial products such as music, soap opera TV programmes, food, clothing, lifestyle, books, novels, movies, etc.

Sermon-filled TV soap operas, veil-wearing rock stars, trendy Muslim magazines, and films featuring burqa-wearers as main characters saturate the mediascape of contemporary Indonesia today. Muslim ringtones for cell phones are heard everywhere. Some Muslim preachers have reached the status of celebrities. Islam, for Indonesian Muslim young people, has become friendly, trendy and inspirational.

Sharia Tourism

While there are no official figures for “sharia” tourism in Indonesia, the sector is experiencing strong growth internationally. Currently, Lombok is promoting itself as ‘Muslim-friendly’ tourism destination. Hotels in Lombok are also promoting themselves as Islamic, with nine so far having gained coveted sharia certification.

Noor Hotel in Bandung, since its opening on February 2015, has established its signature brand as the finest classy Islamic hotel in Bandung. According to online media dream.co.id, it has attracted smartphone owners and heavy users of social media – specially Instagram – for its beautiful interior with Islamic details for their pictures setting.


Muslim Fashion

In Indonesia, according to the estimates by Asean Confidential, a Financial Times research service, about 10 per cent of the female population wears the hijab. The way they dress as Muslims is dynamic. The growing statistic of hijab wearers had opened opportunities in sharia fashion market. Islamic fashion is becoming a trend and the first Islamic fashion show took place in Jakarta in 2006. These communities gave birth to many Muslim fashion shows, Muslim fashion bloggers, Muslim-fashion instagram celebrities, websites, online shopping sites, best selling books, magazines, and everything that allows the hijab communities gaining Muslim fashion style references. This phenomenon had led many young entrepreneurs interested to invest in Muslim fashion. Some of Indonesia’s top designers see the needs of hijab-wearing Muslim women to dress fashionably. Indonesia’s International Islamic Fashion Fair had helped Indonesia to strengthen its position as Muslim fashion center in the world. Indonesia has set its goal to be the global leader in the Muslim fashion industry by 2020 that is worth nearly $100 billion by some estimates. Muslim consumers worldwide spent about $266 billion on clothing in 2013, the latest year for which data is available, according to the State of the Global Islamic Economy 2014-2015 report commissioned by Thomson Reuters and Dinar Standard. They are expected to spend about $484 billion by 2019, Reuters estimates.

High end brands such as DKNY launched its Ramadhan Collection that is sold exclusively in the Middle East. Karl Lagerfeld also carry Chanel collection 2015 cruise collection for display in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana has launched their first ever collection of abayas and hijabs in January 2016 as they seek to cater for the growing demand for Muslim fashion. It’s only a matter of time before they launch their collection in Indonesia.

Islam and Popular Culture in Indonesia and Malaysia, edited by Andrew N. Weintraub
Picture: Dolce&Gabana Collection and Noor Hotel Bandung

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