As the world’s largest Muslim country with a population of 255 million, Indonesia’s commitment to Islam’s position as an institution of civil society and to the cause of a pluralist democracy is one of the country’s most important achievements. Described in the Qur’an as ‘Middle Path’ Islam, the Wasatiyah movement was launched in more recent times with the backing of two of the oldest and largest Muslim organizations, the Muhammadiyah, founded in 1912 with a current estimated membership of 29 million, and the Nahdhatul Ulama, founded in 1926 with a membership now estimated at 93 million.
Indonesia adopted the five principles of Pancasila as the basis of its national constitution, and those principles are: adherence to a faith tradition; working toward just and civilized humanism; upholding the unity of Indonesia; commitment to democracy, and promoting social justice for all. Accordingly, religious freedom and the cause of democratic pluralism foster the ideals of Pancasila by deepening Pancasila’s roots in civil society. Wasatiyah as Middle Path Islam has a moderating influence on the country’s political culture and offers a barrier against the resurgence of religious radicalism. On those grounds Wasatiyah is a force for democratic stability and tolerance.