Prophetic Cosmopolitanism: Islam, Pop Psychology, and Civic Virtue in Indonesia



In contemporary Indonesia, a new generation of Muslim pop preachers and self-help gurus tap into, and trade on, the symbolic and economic capital of Islam, science, and media technologies. Through television sermons and elaborate Power Point presentations, these pop preachers and self-help gurus summon the Prophet Muhammad's life and teachings in ways that resonate with the civic concerns, consumerist desires, and aspirational piety of the Muslim middle classes. These sermons and seminars often portray the Prophet Muhammad as the ultimate measure of what it means to be cosmopolitan. In this article I explore “prophetic cosmopolitanism” as a vernacular Muslim cosmopolitanism, but one which is not isolated from, or necessarily prior to, Western liberal-secular ideas about civic virtue. I argue instead that prophetic cosmopolitanism is both informed by, and offered as an alternative to, global discourses about psychology and self, citizen and believer, nation and umma.