This thesis discusses practices, interfaces, implications, and factors affecting Islamic peacebuilding initiatives in Ambon, Maluku-Indonesia. The thesis asks questions, such as who are the Muslim peacebuilders in Ambon? How does the idea of Islamic peacebuilding be carried on the ground? And what are the factors that determine the success or failure of Islamic peacebuilding initiatives? Islamic peacebuilding work has a crucial role in restoring peace and stability in Ambon after an interreligious conflict between Muslim and Christian communities that claimed more than 10,000 lives in 1999-2002. Ever since the conflict officially ended with the Malino II peace accord in February 2002, the roles of Christian and Muslim peace activists cannot be separated from the post-conflict social healing process in Ambon.
Islamic peacebuilding is chosen as a unit of analysis because of two reasons. First, there is a lack of discussion on Islamic peacebuilding practices, particularly those from non-Arab regions of the world, such as Southeast Asia. Second, in the context of interreligious conflict in Ambon, a plenty of attentions have been given to the causes and dynamics of the conflict, while only few analyses directed to the peace process in post-conflict setting. Emic approach from the ethnographic methodology is employed to provide a thick description of Islamic peacebuilding practices from the perspectives of Muslim peace activists. In-depth interviews were conducted as a means to elicit personal accounts on Islamic peacebuilding practice.
The concept of interreligious conflict provided by Christopher Duncan’s Violence and Vengeance: Religious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia (2013) will serve as the main theoretical framework in this thesis, accompanied with Stanley Cohen’s concept of implicatory denial (2001), and John Paul Lederach’s concept of critical yeast (2005). Duncan?s theory will set the ground for classifying the conflict in Ambon as an interreligious one. Cohen’s will frame the community’s denial as a reaction to sustain their narrative about what it means to be Ambonese. While Lederach’s concept of critical yeast is important to analyze the role of individuals who become important nodes of peace activism among the Muslim community.
The thesis centers around three major findings that I gathered during a two-month fieldwork in Ambon. First, hesitation among Muslim and Christian communities to relate to each other on the basis of religions which prompted Muslim peace activists to use traditional culture as a medium to introduce peaceful messages derived from Islamic teachings. The practice of Islamic peacebuilding through cultural medium is the second finding of the fieldwork. The third finding is concerned with the development of interreligious discourse among Muslim community in Ambon that is limited to some elite circles, such as scholars and peace activists. My argument is that, to achieve a deeper level of interreligious dialogue between Muslim and Christian communities in Ambon, the discourse of interreligious dialogue in Muslim community must be expanded to include the grass-root level of participation. This is important because the sustainability of peace depends on the totality of participation that the community can provide to alleviate violence.