Being ‘Born Again’: Muslim Youth and The Growth of Urban and Virtual Piety

Being ‘Born Again’: Muslim Youth and The Growth of Urban and Virtual Piety


The Indonesian da’wa (Islamic proselytising) scene is increasingly experiencing transformation. During the advent of Islam in the archipelago, promoters of Islam used cultural elements as their instruments of da’wa. Today, advances in technology, including the presence of the internet and social media platforms, has led to the growth of “networked religion”. Some Islamic practices have profoundly “migrated” into cyberspace, such as YouTube sheikhs, virtual pilgrimages, the abundant presence of religious online communities and online rituals in which believers attend virtual prayers as avatars. This paper will extend on scholarly discussion regarding online migration of religious practices. Drawing on intermittent offline research predominantly conducted in Jakarta and online research from 2014 to the present, this paper focuses on a poorly-understood specific type of da’wa introduced by tech-savvy Muslim youth: the da’wa lifestyle, not da’wa ta’lim (da’wa focused mainly on the transmission of Islamic knowledge). It focuses on analysing the drives and actors behind the thriving da’wa lifestyle. It seeks to critically examine the dialectics of advanced technology, Islamic piety and popular culture. This paper also questions what digitally-mediated practices of Islam and online sacred sanctuaries tell us about Islam in contemporary Indonesia. It argues that the use of varied social media platforms for the sake of da’wa has rejuvenated the Indonesian da’wa scene. The presence of new tech-savvy da’wa idols prominent within the youth segment has sketched a new dynamic within the Indonesian da’wa scene; a contestation of popularity among those concerned with the production of social capital. Indonesia is witnessing an online “piety turn” that demonstrates a greater nuance for understanding ways of “being Muslim”, especially for young tech-savvy Indonesian Muslims.


Dr Eva Nisa is a senior lecturer in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. She is also Adjunct Research Fellow in the School of Social and Cultural Studies, Victoria University of Wellington and Honorary Research Associate, the Faculty of Graduate Research, Victoria University of Wellington. She was formerly a lecturer in Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, and completed two post-doctoral projects at the Universität Hamburg (Germany) and Universiteit van Amsterdam (the Netherlands). Her research interests include Islam and Muslim societies, gender relations, political Islam, the anthropology of Islam, Islamic economy and philanthropy, religion and media (social media), Islamic thought, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic family law, refugees and migration, and religion and popular culture.


Date & time

Wed 23 Oct 2019, 9.30–11am


Marie Reay Teaching Centre, Kambri/Room 3.03, Building 155


Eva Nisa, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Event series


Fouzieyha Towghi


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