Muslim schools are an important element of education in Indonesia. The school was in place long before Indonesia’s independence in 1945. Schools educate Indonesian Muslim children to understand and practice religion while promoting a sense of nationalism. Thanks to Muslim schools, Indonesian Muslims are recognized as being moderate. Recently, however, the moderate nature of Indonesian Islam is challenged by the spirit of conservative Islam. The question is how Muslim schools play their roles in the discourse of moderate versus conservative Muslims. This study identified five issues that are largely discussed among Indonesian Muslims: Islam and state, Muslims–non Muslims relations, non-mainstream Islam, gender, and media. Knowing that there is a strong relationship between society and education, i.e., religious education, it is important to see the relationship between schools and society including how the current conservative trend in Indonesian Islam is being taught at schools. This study explored how the curriculum of (Islamic) religious education potentially contributes toward the development of Indonesian conservative Muslims and how religious education teachers view sensitive issues concerning conservative Islam. To answer these questions, the analysis of religious education curricula and the interviewing of teachers serve as the primary methods of data collection. Four religious education teachers from different provinces of Indonesia were interviewed to reveal their opinions on various religion-related issues. This paper discusses how Islamic education in Indonesia has been designed to present moderate Islam but, at the same time, faces a number of challenges that try to turn religious education into conservative religious doctrines.
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