Menchik Article Explores Fatwas and Impact in Indonesian Politics

Jeremy Menchik, Associate Professor of International Relations at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, published an article in Project MUSE’s Indonesia journal on fatwas – a formal ruling or interpretation on a point of Islamic law given by a qualified legal scholar known as a mufti – and their impact in the politics of Indonesia. 

In his article, titled “The Politics of the Fatwa: Islamic Legal Authority in Modern Indonesia,” Menchik argues that in light of the changing nature of Indonesia’s Council of Ulama (Majelis Ulama Indonesia, MUI) power and the concomitantly changing authority of its fatwas, contemporary fatwas contain no innate authority, nor do they have any inherent effects. As he states in the paper’s excerpt, “To understand MUI’s growing power, it is necessary to look beyond these traditional modes of Islamic legal authority to modern organizational forms and their attendant strategies for exerting social control. In the modern age, Islamic legal authority reflects the dominant logic of political authority in society.”

The full article can be read on Project MUSE’s website.

Jeremy Menchik is an Associate Professor in the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University and a faculty affiliate in Political Science and Religious Studies. His first book, Islam and Democracy in Indonesia: Tolerance without Liberalism (Cambridge University Press, 2016) explains the meaning of tolerance to the world’s largest Islamic organizations and was the co-winner of the 2017 International Studies Association award for the best book on religion and international relations. His work has appeared in the academic journals Comparative Studies in Society and HistoryComparative PoliticsInternational Studies ReviewPolitics and ReligionAsian Studies Review and South East Asia Research as well as in The New York TimesThe New York Review of BooksThe Washington PostChristian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. His recent research focuses on social movements, the politics of modern religious authority, and the origins of the missionary impulse. Read more about Professor Menchik on his faculty profile.