Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Details

N. Hosen, 'Online Fatwa in Indonesia: From Fatwa Shopping to Googling a Kiai' in G. Fealy & S. White(ed), Expressing Islam: Religious Life and Politics in Indonesia (2008) 159-173.


In Indonesia, although individual Islamic scholars still issue fa twa, these are increasingly the province of the three major Islamic organisations: Muhammadiyah, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI). Through their fatwa, these three organisations have responded to the problems of Indonesian Muslims for over 70 years (Hooker 2003; Hosen 2003). A fa twa is a ruling on a point of Islamic law or dogma issued by an authorised religious scholar, that is, an ulama, kiai, imam, mufti or mujtahid,1 based on a question asked by an individual inquirer (mustafti), a judge (qadi) or a government authority or corporate entity. The fatwa issued in response to a question is often published or disseminated in some form to the wider Islamic community. In this way, a fatwa given to an individual questioner can be used to educate and inform a wider audience. However, as will be discussed below, Muhammadiyah, NU and MUI have been struggling to disseminate their fatwa to the mass of Indonesians. It is in this context that the internet offers a new tool for Islamic organisations to bring their ideas and opinions before a global audience.