Siti Alfijah

2022 IVLP Impact Award Project: Strengthening the Role of Muslim Women’s Sermon Groups (Majelis Ta’lim) to Promote a Culture of Tolerance and Peace in CommunitiesIndonesia

Siti Alfijah is a women’s activist and female cleric who is currently active in RAHIMA, an Indonesian Association that focuses on upholding women's rights from an Islamic perspective. As a movement, RAHIMA works with various moderate Islamic organizations and communities in various regions of Indonesia. Ms. Alfijah is also active as a regular lecturer at several Majelis Ta'lim (Women’s Islamic Sermon Groups) in Central Java, which promote, disseminate and strengthen the values of tolerance and peace in the community, especially among women. She is also an executive member of the Srikandi MATAN, an Islamic student brotherhood organization, founded by a moderate Islamic cleric Maulana Habib Muhammad Luthfi, which focuses on spreading a positive narrative to combat the movement of intolerance, radicalism and terrorism in Indonesia.

IVLP Impact Award Project: Strengthening the Role of Muslim Women’s Sermon Groups (Majelis Ta’lim) to Promote a Culture of Tolerance and Peace in Communities

This project aims to strengthen the role of Majelis Ta’lim in promoting, spreading and strengthening tolerance and peace. These groups are usually established at the hamlet or village level and are a strategic space for women to share ideas, disseminate information and strengthen relationships.

The main project activities included: assessment visits to 11 Majelis Ta’lim, Training of Trainers in promoting tolerance and peace, dialogues for participants to engage with each other's differences and follow-up visits. The objective of the project was to increase the capacity of Majelis Ta’lim members to spread the values of tolerance and peace and to encourage active involvement in community decision-making.

Tolerance is urgently needed amid the rise of conservatism and a single truth claim in religion, which often lead to extremism and violence. Generally, the issue of religious harmony is dominated by government institutions that still do not give enough space to women, well-established non-governmental organizations or activists with formal education. The participation of women at the grassroots level in building a culture of tolerance and peace is minimal.

Strengthening the role of informal women's groups is necessary to create a peaceful, open and tolerant society. In this context, women's sermon groups that are widely spread in hamlets or villages are strategic campaign agents that can spread the values of tolerance and peace. The main strength of this project was its support for groups that already exist in the community, which amplified the project's impact and helped to foster interfaith connections.

"We are grateful for getting valuable lessons and information about tolerance and peace so that it is easier for us to provide answers to anyone who asks about these matters." - Women's Sermon Group Leader

IVLP Exchange Experience

Siti was a participant in the IVLP Project Empowering Muslim Women as Peacemakers and Agents of Change, organized by the U.S. Department of State and American Councils for International Education.

U.S. Communities Visited Virtually

Phoenix, AZ; Washington, DC; Pensacola, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Albany, NY; Burlington, VT

Country: Indonesia

Click here to go back to the IVLP Impact Awards Main Page