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The significant role of religious group’s response to natural disaster in Indonesia: the case of Santri Tanggap Bencana (Santana)

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Keywords: Religious group, Santana, Religious meaning, Natural disaster

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Abstract:

Natural disasters, which occur regularly in Indonesia, have inspired many volunteer groups to emerge from different groups of society, including religious group. This paper focuses on the experiences of the religious volunteer group called Santana (Islamic student’s response to disaster) in East Java region. The group is part of Islamic education institution (pesantren) that emphasizes religious aspects and attempts to realize religious values in everyday life. The group gives religious meaning to the experience of disaster and the efforts to help disaster victims. The aim of this study is to describe Santana’s response to natural disaster as not only a natural but also a cultural phenomenon. This study reveals a large number of religious symbols referring to disaster as natural and theological phenomena. Referring to the religious text, disaster victims are categorized by Santana as weak people (mustad’afin). It has inspired this group to engage in their social activism. Their commitment to the religious tenets involves not only giving material aid but also promoting spiritual empowerment. This gives insight into the dynamic of how religious groups manifest their religious values by providing both material and spiritual aid.

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