Ambivalence, Virtual Piety, and Rebranding: Social Media Uses among Tablighi Jama’at in Indonesia

Author(s) Wahyu Kuncoro
Contact Wahyu Kuncoro, University of Zurich, Andreasstrasse 15, 8050 Zürich, Switzerland. E-mail:
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 15, Iss. 1, 2021, pp. 206-230
Published June 30, 2021
Type Article
Abstract Advanced smartphone technology and easy access to the Internet have contributed to the embeddedness of social media in the daily lives of many Indonesians. However, among conservative Muslims, social media are regarded as potentially harmful, and their use is largely discouraged. The article discusses the ambivalence that characterizes social media usage within the Tablighi Jama’at, an Islamic reformist movement known for its missionary activities. Many Tablighis believe that social media potentially imperils their faith as it provides access to a wide range of non-Islamic content, a perspective that has led to restrictions on smartphone use and Internet access. Yet, as this article highlights, several social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, are widely used among Indonesian Tablighis as they consider these platforms as a means to improve the efficacy of their face-to-face preaching and to display their pious practices as well as their personal transformations to a more pious self. In addition, their virtual piety goes hand in hand with attempts to rebrand their movement by countering negative stereotypes and by trying to position themselves as legitimate Islamic player in Indonesia.
Keywords social media, Indonesia, Tablighi Jama’at, Piety