Humor, Piety, and Masculinity: The Role of Digital Platforms in Aiding “Conversations” Between Islamic Preachers and Waria in Indonesia

Author(s) Amirah Fadhlina
Contact Amirah Fadhlina, Boston University, 253 Walden Street #404, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. E-mail:
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 15, Iss. 1, 2021, pp. 59-84
Published June 30, 2021
Type Article
Abstract This article explores the influence of digital platforms in opening up ways for Islamic preachers in Indonesia to conduct dakwah and connect with their Muslim audience using distinct affective mechanisms, such as localized humor, pious activism, and display of Islamic knowledge–authority. Since 2016, influenced by online preachers who have earned a loyal following through YouTube, there has been a spike in national interest toward the Islamic discourse of immorality associated with the globalized LGBTQ liberation movement. In this article, I will investigate the role of digital dakwah in perpetuating a moral discourse against gender nonconforming expressions and reinforcing the popular discourse of embodying daily Islamic piety to preserve the morality of the Indonesian nation. I am specifically interested in examining the digital presence of Ustadz Abdul Somad and Ustadz Felix Siauw, two prominent Indonesian Islamic preachers, and their particular “interactions” and views toward waria communities in Indonesia. Using evidence from YouTube, I distinguish and illuminate three affective mechanisms used by Islamic preachers and waria to engage in the broader discourse of LGBTQ rights and gender nonconformity in Indonesia: carpool dakwah, humor, and religious authority.
Keywords Waria, Religious Activism, Indonesian Islam, Digital Dakwah, Gender Nonconformity