Muhammadiyah, established in 1912, is the second largest Islamic organisation in Indonesia. The challenge it now faces as a ‘modernist’ Muslim organisation is to use modern Islamic legal reasoning (ijtihãd) as an instrument for the regulation and reconstruction of Indonesian society. This article examines the attempt by Muhammadiyah to apply the revelation sent down 15 centuries ago to the problems of a modern nation state by looking critically at Muhammadiyah’s method of handing down fatãwã. The principal method used by Muhammadiyah is generally that used by the ‘ulamã for centuries. The article argues that a new method of analysing the Qur`ãn and the Èadîê is needed, one that uses a contextual approach to legal language and interpretation.
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