Assalamualaikum versus Sampurasun

Yanwar Pribadi (IAIN Sultan Maulana Hasanuddin)


This paper examines recent developments of the relationships between Islam and local culture in Indonesia. Specifically, it focuses on the dispute between Islamic Defenders Front’s (FPI) leader, Habib Rizieq and the regent of Purwakarta, Dedi Mulyadi together with the West Java Siliwangi Youth Wing (AMS). The dispute was triggered by Rizieq’s sermon allegedly insulting Sundanese culture over a traditional Sundanese greeting (sampurasun/please pardon me) and altering it into ‘campur racun’ (mixed poison). AMS felt that the sermon insulted Sundanese people and demanded that Rizieq must apologize to the Sundanese. The dispute then developed into wider issues such as demoralization, acts of polytheism, and infidelity promoted by Mulyadi in Purwakarta. This paper seeks to answer the following questions: What is the dispute all about? What factors guide the interaction between Islam and local culture? How have notions of Islamic symbols and cultural pride been used in order to convey disagreement messages in the dispute? To what extent has the dispute turned into a struggle over cultural hegemony? To what extent has the dispute affected the development and dynamics of Indonesia’s fledgling democracy in the post-New Order period? This paper argues that the rise of more overt expressions of Islamic piety and cultural resilience after the 1998 political reformation have shaped and characterized identity politics of certain groups of influential people’s leaders.