Between Wefies and Riya’: Online Piety in Indonesia Today


The presenters examine popular forms of online piety in Indonesia. They are particularly concerned how Indonesian Muslims try to cope with the ambivalences that their social media practices inevitably generate. These practices range from taking wefies (selfies of a group of people) at religious events that are posted on social media platforms, participating in online Quran reading groups, various form of online da’wah (proselytization) to documenting one’s pilgrimages and meetings with Islamic figures online. Given the importance of visibility that these social media practices entail, the presentation has a special focus on the concept of riya’ (showing off one’s piety) reminding Muslims to avoid that behavior. Arguing that discussions about riya’ have experienced a kind of revival in today’s social media age, the presenters attempt to point out that online piety is inherently ambiguous eliciting a dynamic of discourses and practices that considerably informs the current field of Islam in Indonesia today.


Fatimah Husein teaches at the State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta. Her latest article entitled “The Revival of Riya’: Displaying Muslim Piety Online in Indonesia” has been submitted for a virtual issue of American Ethnologist.

Martin Slama is a researcher at the Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences. His latest publications include “A Subtle Economy of Time: Social Media and the Transformation of Indonesia’s Islamic Preacher” Economy (Economic Anthropology 4:1, 2017). 

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