Indonesia boasts of having the third largest community of Facebook users in the world. In fact to many of its 40 million users, Facebook and the internet are one and the same.
But Facebook’s popularity notwithstanding, Twitter is starting to gain a following not only among the most technology savvy sector, but also within the religious community. And this is a most welcome development in the world’s biggest Muslim country.
The Jakarta Post reports that two moderate clerics are using Twitter to provide guidance to Muslims who want advice from religious authorities.
“Both are active and answer questions raised by their followers every day. The questions vary, ranging from serious matters such as politics, religion and economy, to private matters. The pair’s embrace of the digital domain has led some to call them the ‘Kyai Twitter’ or the Twitter clerics.”
More importantly, Twitter is being used to educate Indonesian Muslims about moderate Islam, countering efforts by hardliners who have tapped into new media to disseminate radical teachings, writes the director of the A. Wahid Hasyim Library at an Islamic boarding school in East Java, in an opinion piece published by the Jakarta Post.
“Rest assured, the presence of moderate clerics on the Internet has given new optimism for disseminating moderate teachings to Indonesian Muslims. In addition, preaching through social media might serve as an effective tool for deradicalization,” the article says.