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A “Maverick Salafi Political Jihadist” in a Turbulent Period: A Biographical Study of Dr Fauzi

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A biographical study through the lens of Mills’ sociological imagination and Erikson’s identity crisis provides a unique understanding of Dr Fauzi AR, a dedicated Islamist. Fauzi grew up in a devout Muslim family in Kauman, Yogyakarta, the heartland of the modernist Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah. He was educated in Muhammadiyah schools and eventually became a qualified medical doctor. He was politically active in the Islamic United Development Party and joined Laskar Jihad, a Salafi-Wahabi paramilitary group, during the inter-religious conflict in Maluku in 2000. This article argues that the political turbulence during the democratic transition in 1998–1999 led Fauzi to have an identity crisis, which spurred his desire to participate in jihad (holy war). Afterwards, Fauzi became a reformed “maverick post-jihadist,” in that he was unpredictable yet competent. He was unorthodox in his methods, remaining active in mainstream political Islam through the United Development Party while also engaging in physical jihad, which is contradictory because participation in partisan politics is forbidden by the Salafi doctrine. He also remained a heavy smoker although smoking is forbidden by Salafi religious decree. He further defied Salafism by supporting his wife in an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the national parliament as a member of the secular-nationalist party Gerindra in the 2009 election. This case study of Fauzi AR reflects the complex and multifaceted nature of political Islam and Islamic movements in the post-Soeharto era, including those who resorted to extremism and violence to achieve greater Islamisation of society.

Keywords:  democratic transition; Indonesia; jihad; political Islam; Salafi



© Muhammad Najib Azca. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.