Nurcholish Madjid is one of the Indonesian moslem leaders who has a very pluralistic and tolerance view on Islam and democracy in Indonesia. There are three kinds of major Nurcholish Madjid’s thought on Islam and Democracy; nationalism, pluralism and Islamism. Indeed, Nurcholish Madjid has tried to elaborate these into an eclectic ideas but his view on Islam and Democracy has not widely accepted yet in Indonesia.

There were a long debate from 1970 to 1990 in the academic world especially for academician who focused on democracy and Islamic studies about democracy in Islam and is there a connection between Islam and the idea of Democracy.

Currently, there are two main debate ideas on Islam and Democracy, first group, there is a democracy in Islam and second, Islam and democracy is a different idea while second group, believing that there is no democracy in Islam furthermore democracy is the western view on society which is based on the liberal perspective while Islam is a religion but in Islam there are many ideas about how to regulate and share the power fairly.

As a leading academician Nurcholish Madjid has tried to elaborate this two different perspective, His idea is simple, Nurcholish Madjid believed that there is bridge ideas between Islam and Democracy. In Islam, there are many democratic values so that he conclude that Islam is the religion which suitable with the idea of democracy.

Nurcholish Madjid’s career as public intellectual started when he appointed as the leader of Islamic association of university student (HMI) in 1963, at that time HMI played significant role in the context of regime changing. As we know that in 1966 in Indonesia, there were a revolution which was overthrown Soekarno (the First President).

As the leader of the biggest Indonesian moslem student organization in 1963-1966, Nurcholish Madjid often to speak controversy in theme of Islam, Pluralism and Democracy. After returning and completing his PhD from University of Chicago then he taught at the IAIN (Islamic State University) Syarif Hidayatullah in Jakarta then he established the discussion group which is known as Paramadina.

Since 1970-2000 Nurcholish Madjid produced many books including his magnum opus book “Islam, Doctrine and Civilization” which has been using by some Islamic student organization as a guide book for understanding tolerance of Islam.

Then in 1986, Paramadina established a university which is known as Paramadina University. From 1998-2005, Nurcholish madjid was appointed as the Rector. Currently, Paramadina University is famously known as the center of pluralism and democracy studies in Indonesia. As the activist also scientist, Nurcholish Madjid showed his ability to influence the people In 1998, Nurcholish Madjid was appointed by reformation leader to met Soeharto requesting Soeharto stepped down his power.


Originally democracy comes from liberal ideology approach, it indicates that if it is implemented in the eastern countries such as Indonesia which is dominantly influenced by asian values democracy absolutely must be adapted to the local values.
There are three important themes in this article which related to secularism, pluralism and democracy in Indonesia. In the context of Islam and Pluralism, Nurcholish has argued that Islam should be commonly understood By promoting inclusivism, integralism and respect of human rights. Furthermore, in the perspective of Nurcholish Madjid, democracy is not a static values but a dynamic values furthermore it means that Democracy is a process, indeed in democracy has a good value in term of regulating the community and sharing the power but democracy is not a perfect system.

As the prominent of social and political scientist Indonesia, Nurcholish Madjid has tried to create own Indonesian democracy system by adopting and mixing liberal and asian values into new form of democracy. Indeed, the Indonesian Democracy in the perspective of Nurcholish Madjid has been not implemented yet but some political scientists argue that it could be implemented in the Indonesian political system because basically the idea of Nurcholish Madjid’s democracy is originally adopted the principles of togetherness (Musyawarah) and tolerance.

However, basically the liberal democracy strongly involved of majority rules, in contrast, Indonesian values have not recognize it as the meaning of democracy. For Indonesian togetherness principle as the basic concept of Indonesian democracy.
In many conferences and seminars, Nurcholish Nadjid has argued that it was important to deal with the more practical value of democracy, indeed, many political scientist has trapped in the uncertainty how to make democracy easier to be implemented in one country. Nurcholish Madjid also believed that why democracy in Indonesia could had not ideally and fully implemented in term of Indonesian Political system, it is because of the democracy in Indonesia is fully adopted from the American Democracy which basically these two countries have different social and political culture background.

Furthermore, Riot, intolerant and religious-race conflict are often to be occurred in Indonesia, it proves that there are many obstacles face the transition of democracy In Indonesia. Moreover, in the local politics, the implementation of power decentralization such as direct election for local have not yet provide the things that can make people wealthier than before

In the view of Nurcholish Madjid, The failure of political transition in Indonesia must be addressed seriously if it is not overcome for next 20 years after political reformation it could be Indonesia returns to be undemocratic. According that problems, Nurcholish Madjid has offered more applicative democracy which based on the Indonesia values. In the view of Nurcholish Madjid, Musyawarah is the basic principle of Indonesian Democracy which was generated and applied from Prophet of Muhammad over than 15 centuries ago.

In addition, The western values of democracy which pretends to apply majority principles often to ignore the minority in the election Indeed at the present, no one Islamic countries have been implementing musyawarah in their political system rather than election. In the musywarah system there are both minority and majority recognized by the power indeed musyawarah is more to apply deliberation and discussion process. Currently, for many democratic countries in the world, election is best democracy system which is using the popular vote to decide who rules the power.

Nurcholish Madjid has offered to the public there is seven principle of nature Indonesian democracy: pluralism principles, good way for good purpose principles, fulfillment of economic life principles, freedom of conscience principles, musyawarah (deliberation and discussion ) Principles, Fair Agreement Principles and the need of democracy education principles.

In 2006, Nurcholish Madjid passed away after a prolonged and painful illness but his idea on tolerance, Islam and democracy has been giving a new perspective and contributing widely to more tolerance society in Indonesia.


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