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Establishing Social Justice Through Financial Inclusivity: Islamic Propagation by Islamic Savings and Credit Cooperatives in Indonesia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 June 2014


Islamic finance has been growing significantly across the globe. In Southeast Asia, interest in Islamic finance and its growth is significant in Malaysia. Compared with Malaysia, in Indonesia, however, the largest Muslim population country where an Islamic resurgence has been widely taking place, the growth of Islamic banks remains slower and on a smaller scale. Furthermore, recent research shows that Islamic piety does not systematically translate into the use of Islamic banks among middle-class Indonesians. Against these findings, this article highlights a relatively understudied Islamic finance institution, Islamic Savings and Credit Cooperatives, in Indonesia commonly known as Baitul Maal wat Tamwil (BMT). The BMT sector is separate from the banking sector and as such has received little scholarly attention as part of Islamic finance in Indonesia. The number of the BMTs in Indonesia has increased significantly since the 1990s and they are grass-roots Islamic financial institutions offering financial services to relatively small-scale traders in urban areas. Based on data from anthropological research in Central Java, this article argues that Islamic propagation is an important element among the BMT founders and workers. They perceive their economic activities as Islamic propagation by deeds (dakwah bil hal) to achieve social justice.

Copyright © Institute of East Asian Studies, Sogang University 2014 

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