DEFENDING ISLAMIC TRADITION: Theological Responses of the Hadrami Majlis Taklim Groups toward the Salafi-Wahabi Preaching Movement in Contemporary Indonesia

Arif Zamhari


This article discusses majlis taklim as an informal religious learning group in urban area led by Hadrami descents in Indonesia that functions not only in preaching Islam but also in defending their Islamic traditions and practices toward the criticism of Salafi movement in Indonesia. The data presented here is based on in-depth interview with members and leaders of the group and participant observation. This article argues that Islamic traditions in Indonesia are about knowledge, worldview, values, and mode of behavior for Indonesian Muslims, where the Scripture and the spirit of Scripture is the ultimate reference. In this study, we show how Islamic traditions in Indonesia have been carefully maintained, developed, and transmitted through generations. Despite the strong criticism of Salafi group in urban areas, Islamic traditions have been preserved and disseminated through the majlis taklim groups, including by the Indonesian Hadrami individuals. This study is aimed to look at how Hadrami majlis taklim in the urban area maintains, develops and transmits Islamic tradition to the Muslim community and give theological response to the Salafi group’s attack to their practices. The effort of Hadrami majlis taklim has contributed to the maintaining of religious tolerance in contemporary Indonesia.


Hadrami; majlis taklim; Islamic Tradition; Salafi-Wahabi Movement

Full Text:



Abidin, Muhammad Zainal, and Yulia Hafizah. “Conflict and Integration in The Salafi-Wahabi Purification Movement in South Kalimantan.†Wawasan: Jurnal Ilmiah Agama dan Sosial Budaya 4, no. 2 (2019): 191–201.

Abidin, Zaenal. “Majlis Ta’lim (Islamic Forum) And Harmonizing Inter Faith Communication.†Interdisciplinary Journal of Communication 4, no. 1 (2019): 115.

Adriansyah. Majelis Rasulullah Religiusitas Perkotaan Dan Moderasi Dakwah. Jakarta: Nusa Litera Inspirasi, 2017.

Akmaliah, Wahyudi. “The Demise of Moderate Islam: New Media, Contestation, and Reclaiming Religious Authorities.†Indonesian Journal of Islam and Muslim Societies 10, no. 1 (2020): 1–24.

Almusawa, Mundzir. Kenali Akidahmu. Majelis Rasulullah saw, n.d.

———. Kenali Akidahmu 2. Majlis Rasulullah saw, 2009.

Arifianto, Alexander R. “Rising Islamism and the Struggle for Islamic Authority in Post- Reformasi Indonesia.†TRaNS: Trans -Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia 8, no. 1 (2020): 37–50.

Badi, Jamal Ahmed. “Sharh Arba’een Al-Nawawi, Commentary of Fourty Hadiths of An-Nawawi.†Kulliyah of ICT IIUM. Last modified 2002. Accessed June 12, 2018.

Basyir, Kunawi. “The ‘Acculturative Islam’ As A Type Of Home-Grown Islamic Tradition: Religion And Local Culture In Bali.†Journal of Indonesian Islam 13, no. 2 (2019): 326.

Belarminus, Robertus. “Anis Anggap Dukungan Dari Majlis Taklim Amanah.†, Oktober 2016.

Dewi, Oki Setiana. “Pengajian Selebritas Hijrah Kelas Menengah Muslim (2000-2019: Respon Atas Dakwah Salafi and Jama’ah Tabligh.†Sekolah Pascasarjana UIN Syarif Hidayatullah, 2020.

———. “Pengajian Selebritas Hijrah Kelas Menengah Muslim (2000-2019): Respons Atas Dakwah Salafi Dan Jamaah Tabligh.†Sekolah Pascasarjana UIN Syarif Hidayatullah, 2020.

Fox, James J. “Interpreting the Historical Significance of Tombs and Chronicles in Contemporary Java.†In The Potent Dead. Ancestors, Saints and Heores in Contemporary Indonesia, edited by Loir-Henry Chambert and Reid Anthony, 160–172. Hawai: Allen and Unwin, 2002.

Hasan, Noorhaidi. “The Failure of the Wahhabi Campaign: Transnational Islam and the Salafi Madrasa in Post-9/11 Indonesia.†South East Asia Research 18, no. 4 (2010): 675–705.

Hasanah, Umdatul. “Majelis Taklim and the Shifting of Religious Public Role in Urban Areas†(2019): 21.

Hidayatullah, Muhammad Syarif. “Islamic Economics And Partial–Total Religiosity: A Case Study of Majlis Taklim in Banjarmasin.†Islamuna: Jurnal Studi Islam 7, no. 1 (2020): 36–55.

Iqbal, Asep Muhamad. “Cyber-Activism and the Islamic Salafi Movement in Indonesia.†Murdoch University, 2017.

Jahroni, Jajang. “Saudi Arabia Charity and the Institutionalization of Indonesian Salafism.†Al-Jami’ah: Journal of Islamic Studies 58, no. 1 (2020): 35–62.

Lauzière, Henri. The Making of Salafism: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century. Religion, culture, and public life. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.

Marzuki, Ahmad, Mohamad Zaidin Mohamad, and Rohaizan Baru. “Role of Majelis Taklim and Adaptation Muslim Minority with Tengger Local Culture.†International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences 8, no. 10 (2018): Pages 245-253.

Miichi, Ken. “Urban Sufi and Politics in Contemporary Indonesia: The Role of Dhikr Associations in the Anti-‘Ahok’ Rallies.†South East Asia Research 27, no. 3 (2019): 225–237.

———. “Urban Sufi and Politics in Contemporary Indonesia: The Role of Dhikr Associations in the Anti-‘Ahok’ Rallies.†South East Asia Research 27, no. 3 (2019): 225–237.

Muhaimin, AG. The Islamic Traditions of Cirebon: Ibadat And Adat Among Javanese Muslims. 1st ed. Canberra: ANU Press, 2006.

Nasr, Sayed Hosen. Islamic Life and Thought. Boston: Geroge Allen & Unwin, 1981.

Rijal, Syamsul. “Following Arab Saints: Urban Muslim Youth and Traditional Piety in Indonesia.†Indonesia and the Malay World 48, no. 141 (2020): 145–168.

Rubaidi. “The New Pseudo-Sufi Order Of The Majelis Shalawat Among Urban Muslims In East Java.†Journal of Indonesian Islam 14, no. 2 (2020): 431.

Safei, Agus Ahmad. “Development of Islamic Society Based on Majlis Taklim: A Study of the Shifting Role of the Majlis Taklim in West Java.†American Journal of Applied Sciences 13, no. 9 (2016): 947–952.

Sunesti, Yuyun, and Noorhaidi Hasan. “Young Salafi-Niqabi and Hijrah: Agency and Identity Negotiation.†Indonesian Journal of Islam and Muslim Societies 8, no. 2 (n.d.): 26.

Tempo. “Anies to Revamp Religious Activities Banned By Ahok.†Tempo. Last modified 2018. Accessed June 16, 2020. accessed 22/5/2018.

Wahid, Din. “A Study of Salafi Pesantren in Contemporary Indonesia†15, no. 2 (2014): 10.

Watson, C.W. “A Popular Indonesian Preacher: The Significance Of Aa Gymnastiar.†Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 11, no. 4 (2005): 773–792.

Winn, Philip. “Women’s Majelis Taklim and Gendered Religious Practice in Northern Ambon.†Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, no. 30 (2012).

Winn Phillip. “Women’s Majelis Taklim and Gendered Religious Practice in Northern Ambon.†Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific. Last modified 2012. Accessed June 12, 2018.

Woodward, Mark, Inayah Rohmaniyah, Ali Amin, Samsul Ma’arif, Diana Murtaugh Coleman, and Muhammad Sani Umar. “Ordering What Is Right, Forbidding What Is Wrong: Two Faces of Hadhrami Dakwah in Contemporary Indonesia.†RIMA: Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs 46, no. 2 (2012): 105–46.

Zamhari, Arif. “Socio-Structural Innovations In Indonesia’s Urban Sufism:The Case Study of the Majelis Dzikir and Shalawat Nurul Mustafa.†Journal of Indonesian Islam 07, no. 01 (2013): 96–118.

Zamhari, Arif, and Imam Mustofa. “The Popular Da’wah Movement In Urban Communities: The Role Of Hadrami Scholars’ Da’wah In Response To Religious Radicalism In Indonesia.†Akademika : Jurnal Pemikiran Islam 25, no. 1 (2020): 185.

DOI: 10.15642/JIIS.2022.16.1.75-102


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Indexed by:


Creative Commons License

View My Stats

Journal of Indonesian Islam (ISSN 1978-6301 and E-ISSN 2355-6994) is published by the Postgraduate Program (PPs) and the Institute for the Study of Religion and Society (LSAS), State Islamic University (UIN) of Sunan Ampel Surabaya.

Journal of Indonesian Islam by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Copyright ©2020 State Islamic University (UIN) of Sunan Ampel Surabaya. Powered by Public Knowledge Project OJS.