Indonesia’s highest council of Muslim scholars is gaining more influence and presence across the country. “Our job is to communicate to the government the aspirations of Muslim people in Indonesia,” Maruf Amin, Deputy Chairman of Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), reportedly said on October 7. The MUI has established itself as an assertive force that made inroads in the different aspects of life across the South Asian nation in recent years. In the latest sign of its growing prominence, the umbrella Muslim organisation has recently moved its headquarters from the basement of a major Jakarta mosque into a posh office tower in the heart of the capital. It has also built a massive network of some 150 satellite offices across the country. The growing presence of the MUI is partly a result of the expanding government fund and support in recent years. Besides government financing, the council has recently tapped into the lucrative Islamic banking industry to fund its new expansions. The MUI acts as one of several organisations supervising an increasing number of Islamic banks in Indonesia. It is also the sole authority to license halal food and medicine. It is currently an umbrella group that represents the views of more than 60 established Muslim organisations in the overwhelmingly Muslim country. In addition to advising the government on religious issues, the MUI distributes fatwas, advising Muslims on how to practise their faith. Although its opinions are not legally binding, the government seriously considers them when making decisions or drafting legislation.