COMBATING the Western influence in the Indonesian community, several Islamic business networks are promoting Islamic products in a campaign to preserve the Islamic values in the Muslim-majority nation.
“I think Indonesia has become too Western,” Risti Rahmadi, a member of Hijabers Community, told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Sunday, November 9.
“Younger Indonesians spend most of their time hanging out at malls, and they forget to pray.”
The 37-year-old Muslim woman, Rahmadi, believes that the only way to lure the new segments to the thriving Muslim market is through fighting western consumerism.
Being a member of the Hijaber, an Islamic all-women business network, Rahmadi has noticed an increase in the demand for Islamic products including events that are hosted by Islamic groups.
A once stylish girl who used in her 20s to save up for the latest Guess cloths and Revlon make-up, Rahmadi now dresses modestly as a proud Indonesian Muslim who dons the hijab and uses a mobile app to remind her of prayer times.
Wearing headscarves was often associated with an unfashionable life.
This has all changed nowadays.
In modern Indonesia, hijab turned to be a fashion item, as YouTube viewers can find thousands of Indonesian women offering tutorials on how to fashionably wear hijabs.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations. Islamic fashion is part of a growing appetite for Shari`ah-related industries and assets, ranging from finance to halal food.
Modesty and religion are the cornerstones behind the fast-growing Islamic fashion industry, which is making a mark on runways from Indonesia and Dubai to Monte Carlo.
The booming Islamic market has apparently succeeded in Indonesia by offering several services like hosting live shows for celebrity preachers and Qur’an text-message services.
Besides the surging demand for Islamic services, a demand for cloths and jewelry with an Islamic twist has been high during the past few years in Indonesia.
Reny Feby, a jeweler from Jakarta, has joined Hijabers 3,000-member team to combat the Western influence through her designs which prices ranges from $500 (385-euro) for brooches to $50,000 for diamond rings.
“Fifteen years ago, no one wanted to buy my jewelry because it was seen as too Muslim, and I used ‘proudly made in Indonesia’ as my tagline,” said Feby, 42, wearing orange beads and an electric-blue headscarf.
“But now Indonesians are proud to buy local and Islamic fashions, and the elite who buy my pieces use them as status symbols.”
Like many business owners, Feby believes that the reason behind the increasing demand for Islamic products is the “fast expansion of the middle class” during the recent years in the Southeast Asian country, with an economic growth of more than 6% annually.
According to the World Bank, the annual per capita income (GDP) has steadily increased from $890 in 2003 to about $3,000 in 2011.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim state with Muslims making up around 85 percent of its 237-million population.
Christians, both Protestants and Catholics, make up nearly 12 percent of the country’s population.
The booming global halal industry is expected to grow from about $1 trillion in 2012 into a $1.6 trillion industry by 2018, according to DinarStandard, a research firm specializing in Muslim markets.
Locally, Indonesian Muslims are literally “consuming their Muslim faith in a very tangible way”, according to experts.
“A lot of the pious Muslims in the middle class want to show to the people around them they’re living pious lifestyles — through their clothes, schools, the shopping they do and the books they read,” Greg Fealy, an Indonesia expert at Australian National University in Canberra, said.
OnIslam & News Agencies
Sun, 9 November 2014