maandag 17 juli 2017

Jan Baptist van Doren: a soldier beating his sword into a pen

Jan Baptist jozef van Doren had a quite adventurous life. Born in Gent (now Belgium) in 1791, he experienced that his country became part of the France of Napoleon. In 1808 he became a member of the French revolutionary army which was beaten in 1813. He then joined the new army of the Dutch-Belgian union and fought against France/Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo, May 1815. He continued his career in the Dutch army, but applied in 1821 for the colonial section which gave a better view to a quick career. He obtained in the Indies the rank of major. He worked in the Indies between 1822 and 1840. In 1845 he took his leave from the army and lived from a good pension.He then started writing and published his first book in 1851: two volumes, somewhat more than 700 pages, neatly bound, with many drawings: Reis naar Nederkands Oost-Indië, of Land- en Zeetogten gedurende de twee eerste jaren mijn verblijfs op Java [The trip from Holland to Indonesia, including travelling on land and sea during the first two years of my stay in Java]. The first volume is an account of the trip to Batavia, with many digressions about Africa, the Canary Islands, and much information about the soldiers for the colonial army taken from West Africa, now Ghana.
I include here an illustration about crossing the equator. The Greek God of the sea, Neptunus, is sitting and wants to baptise new members of his conmgregation. Two soldiers are sitting, clothed as bears, in front of him.
The first part opf the book is difficult to read: there is no division in chapters, the author changes easily from his personal experiences to authors who write about history, he often repeats. But he has pleasant anecdotes.
In volume two it is the island of Java which is the subject, mostly the European and Eurasian people here. Below are some examples of the drawings in this volume: first of Prambanan (or Candi Kalasan), then of the dance of Alifuru people in the kraton or palace of Surakarta (pages 310, 390).


Van Doren was present at the surrender of Kiai Maja to the Dutch army on 14 November. He quotes a letter by Lieutenant Roeps, dated 16 Nov. 1828 which states that Maja had supported Dipanagara because he hoped that he would be the restorer of true Islam. But in fact, Dipanagara wanted basically to establish a reaqm and kraton for himself. Maja was a scholarly man, owned many Arab manuscripts and was much younger, only 35 at the time against the 43 of the prince. Maja had a deep hatred 'against all Christians', was very quick in movements and speech and a true agitator. I read also the section on this event in Peter Carey, The Power of Prophecy, 636-9: it has a much more complete and intense account of the differences between Maja and Dipanagara. They lived in exile at not great distance, but never met again, not for security reasons, but due to their different characters and ambitions. Carey has van Doren in his list of references but not in the index and I could not find him in any footnote.
After the great book on his first two years, Van Doren wrote more than twenty, mostly much shorter books. In ons he claimed that is was not necessary to convert the Javanese: they had already the belief in the same One God as the Christians. Moreover: Christianity among the Europeans in Java was so thin and bad (no regular sexual life) that the Dutch better should refrain from attempts for conversion. See his Het voor en tegen van den uitbreiding des evangelies onder de javanen (1852, 20 pages only). In 1862 he published a booklet about the haji as the cause of the troubles in Banjarmasin and blamed Governor General Duymaer van Twist for allowing too much liberal freedom of religion.

vrijdag 7 juli 2017

Ahmad Baso and his review of colonial management of Islamic Law: between (wrong) observation and intervention

Since Edward Said it is quite common to write in a critical way about colonial views of Asia and African, especially Muslim societies. hmad Baso joins here Husnul Aqib Suminto and Michael Laffan, who wrote about colonial management of Islam. He often also discusses my book on Dutch Colonialism and Indonesian Islam, 1596-1942. But he does not write history for the sake of history, he wants to formulate a fresh view on 'Islamic Law', as it was under Dutch colonial administration and as he wants to see it himself now.
Below is Ahmad Baso as I took the picture at the NU, Cabang Belanda Conference on Islam Nusantara in March this year, Amsterdam. The book has the subtitle Perselingkuhan Agama, Kolonialisme, dan Liberalisme. [Post-Colonial Islam: the Fraudulous Abusa of Religion in the colonial and the liberal period].  I am not absolutely sure abouth the title, as there are also quite many passages that can be interpreted or must be debated. The book was published by Mizan , Bandung, in 2005.
I give here a personal interpretation from two sections First is in chapter five about "polisi" Kolonial, which is, I suppose, not about colonial police, but colonial policy. Lodewijk "LWC" van den Berg is quoted as someone who invented or reestanlished the terminology of receptio in complexu: Indonesian people accepted (receptio) Islam and so they also embraced the full package or shari'a rules (see p. 296). This was against the ideas of his successor Snouck Hurgronje who separated adat from the practice of shari'a.  Snouck also did not like to talk about Islamic Law, but used the word plichtenleer, 'the collection of cultural prescripts'.  In this field Ahmad Baso joins the interpretation of Snouck: Islam is not a legal system, comparable to modern law. It is more spiritual, and flexible rather than the modern system of law where not easily change can be introduced.
Whether LWC van den Berg really promoted a full receptio in complexu can be debated. He knew that only marriage and divorce, besides inhertiance were ruled as such in the Indonesia of the 19th century (and perhaps: only Java and Madura, because in Minangkabau and even in Aceh there were interferences of matrilineal practices in marriage law).
Anyway: Ahmad Baso behaves like a pupil of Snouck Hurgronje and puts much of shari'a  or Islamic Law under the more flexible rule of adat.
Pages 325-332 are difficult to read for me, but are probably basic for Baso's argument that there is not such a thing as a fixed 'Islamic Law' but rather a much more flexible cultural institution. Most important is the debate about marriage, before and after 1974 when the new law was promulgated. The whol debate started with a controverse: whether there should be secular or Muslim Law in this field. But what came out of it is a mistifikasi dan sakralisasi, menjadi 'Hukum Tuhan'. It turned into a mystification and a sacralisation: a Divine Law (page 326).
This debate puts the question again± in what fields does religions have authority, and how far can they give directives= In our European society we see hot debates now about marriage also for homosexuals± things remain changing in matters that are also claimed by specialists in Islamic Directives  (Shari´a'. ).



donderdag 6 juli 2017

Bishop of Ruteng, Hubert Leteng known as anti-mining (of manganese) but also accused of fraud and womanizing

Hubertus Lenteng, born in 1959 , has made a good career in the Catholic Church of Flores. He studied at a university in Rome, where he received a Ph.D. Then he was  nominated rector of the diocesan students in Riteparet, near Maumere, united with the SVD seminary of Ledalero. In 2009 he became bishop of Ruteng in Manggarai. At the age of 58 something of the end of anecclesiastical career, but also the challenge of a public position.
In 2014 Leteng became known as the bishop who protested against the mining of manganese (Mn), important for the batteries in our headphones. The mining procedures cause much pollution in the environment and many people who lived near the mining area in Rutang became sick. In October Bishop Lenteng joined the protesters against the ming as it was at the time. He even said mass close to the mining area as a kind of civil protest against the easy procedures to delve the mineral.
Here we see bishop Hubertus Leteng walking ceremoniously in full dress as a bishop in the mining area close to Ruteng, probably one of the highest capitals of a district in Indonesia.
However, not all believers, including quite a few clergy, agree with their bishop. In 2014 an unnamed priest who sought dispensation from the celibacy and wanted to leave the priesthood, issued an accusation against his bishop (who anyway cooperated in his file for dispensation, to be granted by the Vatican). This (ex-) priest stated that the bishop had a love affair with a lady who is not further mentioned.
In June this year there was a continuation of this affair: not less then 70 priests protested against their bishop who according to them had taken some US$ 130.000 from the financial office of the diocese as well as a loan from the national Catholic office in Jakarta. They state that this was to finance his love affair. The bishop did not deny the loans, but declared that he had taken the money to provide a fellowship for a poor student from Manggarai who wanted to continue his training to become a pilote in the United States. Quite astonishing: the 70 priests have for this period suspended their priestly functions, until the bishop will resign from his office.
The apostolic nuncio in Jakarta, Antonio Guide Filipazzi, as well as the ambassador of Indonesia to the Vatican is involved in this affair. It is sometimes difficult to believe in the One, Pure (sanctam) and universal Church!

dinsdag 4 juli 2017

Five close companions for SBY in religious affairs

There are quite many recent publications on the process of radicalisation of Indonesian Muslims.  Andrée Feillard & Rémy Madinier published in 2006 a French version of their book La fin de l'innocence? followed in 2011 by an English translation. Martien van Bruinessen has already since 2002 published on the 'roots of radical Islam', stressing more continuity than other authors do. Between 2008 and 2014 Van Bruinessen wrote several articles explaining the conservative turn in Indonesian Islam. Also here the radical movements from the 1950s on are mentioned, besides newer developments.
The InternationaL Crisis Group has given much attention to Arab sources for Salafi movements in Indonesia. The latest book of  Edward Aspinall and others (eds), The Yudhoyono Presidency: Indonesia's Decade of  Stability and Stagnation (Singapore, ISEAS, 2015) has a hard chapter on SBY, alias Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, president between 2004 and 2014 as someone who supported conservative, hardline Muslims and allowed the rights of religious minorities to be neglected or even openly denied. Robin Bush has an interesting article here (239-257) where he also mentions three groups: FPI, MUI and FUI, besides five persons.
The first of these is SDA or Suryadharma Ali, minister of religion. He was a man with many inflammatory, anti-minority and even often anti-state-policy remarks with regard to Ahmadiyah, Shi'a and church closures. Above left SDA and right SBY at the moment in early 2014 when SDA had to say goodbye to the president because he had to enter jail for corruption. SDA was chair of the Muslim Party PPP and supported as such the President. It was said that his strong anti-Ahmadiyah statements (strengthened by SBY!) were inspired by the Saudi wishes.
The second was the Minister of Home Affairs Gamawan Fauzi who said in October 2013 that the FPI was not a danger for democracy, but instead a 'national asset' and that local and national leaders should work with the group. He was the man who called that the camat or subdistric head of Lenteng Agung, Susan Zulkfli, should be replaced following protests of people who did not want to have a Christian lady in this leading position.
No 3 is here Ma'ruf Amin, NU leader and since 2007 member of the presidential Advisory Council. He was one of the chairpersons of the MUI and ketua or principal of the Fatwa Commission since 2000. He was the bad ghost behind the  eleven Fatwa of 2005 against secularism, pluralism and Ahmadiyah. Between 2015-2020 Amin is general chairman of the National Council of Muslim Clerics, MUI, as well as Rais Am or spiritual authority of NU.
No 4 is here Lieutenant General Sudi  Silalahi, secretary of state under Yudhoyono and in the early 2000s one of the generals who allowed 'jihadists' to be active in Ambon. He was in the 2009 campaign the driving force behind  the Majelis Dhikr, a traveling 'religious study group' seeking votes for SBY.
No 5 was Timur Pradopo, chief of police who kept his men idle and inactive in the demonstrations against religious minorities. He stated the 'FPI should ne embraced and empowered as they contribute to national security'.
The horrifying legacy of SBY is not yet thrown away by a sometimes also quite timid Jokowi.

zaterdag 24 juni 2017

Sultan 'Ibrahim/Ahok' in a period of ascetic practice: a Raja-Pandita in the prison of Depok?

Russell Jones published in 1983 a short Malay text, in Jawi script (Malay with Arab characters), together with transcription and English translation about a Muslim version of the story of Siddharta Gautama, the Buddha. A king (of Irak) left his richness and royal position to become a religious mendicant, living in Mecca. His son Muhammad Tahir hears from his mother later that his father has gone. He finds him in Mecca, learns from him and returns to the city of Irak as a mendicant (seorang fakir). The wazir who ruled the country in the name of Sultan Ibrahim recognizes him as a princely son and gves him many goods, the possession of his father. Tahir travels to Kufah and find his mother and gives her rich gifts from the wazir and stayed with her. Every year the wazir sends goods to Muhammad Tahir, who does not claim a political position, but continuous to live as an ascetic man.
This text came into my mind when I followed the story of the Ahok trial last months. The public prosecutor asked six months suspended detention for his comments on Qur'anic verses. On 9 May Ahok was sentenced to two years prison: heavier than was asked. Initially both parties appealed against the verdict, both by Ahok (in a moving letter, 21 May, read by his wife Veronica under tears) and also by the public prosecutor. From the side of Ahok, he did not blame any person or group in particular but stated that the whole process went into the wrong direction for all parties:
The city of Jakarta has suffered much loss because of the traffic jams and economic problems. I do not like that my struggle will continue and cause problems for the town. ... Let us all show that we believe that God is ruling this world and decides about the  direction of history for all people. We all want to show that we are people who believe in the One Allmighty God, we want to love all people, the whole of humanity and we want to confirm truth and justice for all people.
Tuhan does not sleep [in Javanese, not Indonesian: Gusti ora sare].
Psalm 131 verse 3: Put your hope in the Lord now and always [written in English]
According to my faith I say: [again in English] The Lord will work out his plans for my life , Psalm 138, 8a.
Signed as Ahok BTP [Basuki Tjahaja Purnama]
I took the text from
https://news.detik.com/berita/d-3509010/ini-isi-surat-yang-ditulis-ahok-di-tahanan


Ahok has asked for a laptop, and will spend his time writing, reading the Bible and refresh his Mandarin. In 2008 he has published a book Merubah Indonesia on the way how to change Indonesia, while giving more attention to the poor. I hope the borrow it next week from the library in Leiden University and to read it. I wish our ruler turned into hermit a good spirit and result for his personal physical and mental health and Indonesian society as a whole!
In the story of Sultan Ibrahim the ladies are always waiting, but do not join the spiritual exercises or trips. What about Veronica?
There is an old term in Javanese: the status of a Raja-Pandita, a Priest-King as was the case until 1625 in Giri and also in Ceribon (Syarif Hidayatullah). It is too much to label Ahok as a Raja Pandita, but it is nice to remember the word.

donderdag 22 juni 2017

Dutch Colonialism revised and revived

From 1970 until 1988 I was busy with and in Indonesia: research for the PhD on pesantren and teaching in Jakarta and Yogyakarta. After returning to the Netherlands I wrote a first book for the Dutch market with the title De Islam bekeken door Koloniale Nederlanders. ('Islam in the eyes of Dutch Colonials')
Islam was a new issue in Dutch society and I wrote from my experience of Indonesian studies.  The book was published in 1991. An English translation followed in 1993 and an Indonesian one in 1995 thanks to the translator Drs (now professor) Suryan A. Jamrah.
The Indonesian translation was published by Mizan and sold quite well. 4000 copies. But there was no reprint. I was told that the Arab connections of this publisher were not happy with the account of the warm cooperation of Sayyid Uthman with the colonial government.
The English edition was reprinted in 2006 with a new concluding chapter about the last 50/70 years. Times are changing quickly. Now again the translation by Suryan Jamrah has been published with a new concluding chapter and prefaces by Azyumardi Azra and Mujiburrahman. The latter wrote a nice poem for me here:
Steenbrink bukan sarjana menara gading; 
Masalah antar agama dia turut berunding; 
Di Belanda dan Indonesia dia pontang panting; 
Didukung isterinya yang selalu menggandeng. 
In English translation it can be read as:
Steenbrink is not a scholar of the ivory tower
he is always concerned with interreligious things
active in Indonesia and the Netherlands
supported by his loving wife
Thank you, Suryan Jamrah, Mujib and Azyumardi, as well as Farid Wajdi of Gading Publishers for this edition. Mujib wrote me that he considers it the proper gift for the end of Ramadan this year. To all readers: Mohon maaf lahir batin: I ask for all the mistakes made in this book and elsewhere in my life! May it contribute to peace and understanding.

Shariatism as another bad ideology, preaching a truncated Islam, now also in Indonesia

The Moroccans and Turks are the largest Muslim groups in the Netherlands. Observers note that they did not bring a 'full and rich Islam' to our country. Among the Moroccans, they have left the rich history of maraboutism, holy men, healers, a history of pilgrimage and holy graves. They only took a number of imams to our country, people who control the mosque, preach the right observations for prayers, for halal food, proper dress. And civil and political support for the King!  If people say that migrant Muslims have become more devout Muslims than in their country of origin, they mean: the formal rules are better tought and kept by many. Why? Because the alternative, especially for women, the marabout as a personal advisor and a key figure in popular religion is not present. It is a truncated Islam that has arrived in the 500 mosques in our country!
The same can be said  about Turkish Islam, with some variations. When the caliphate was abolished in 1923 also the Muslim brotherhoods were banned. Not only the azan should be said in Turkish, but the graves of saints were no longer sacred places. In Konya there is a museum, where you have to buy a ticket to see the grave of Maulana Jamaluddin Rumi, where it is not allowed to kiss the grave or to offer a letter with prayers and vows to this grave. Diyanet is the equivalent of the Ministry of Religion in Indonesia. It is used to look after the proper rituals in the mosques and at marriages, burials, circumcisions.. It is preaching a 'moderate' style of Islam, which is also a 'tamed' Islam with no straight or direct interference in politics, but it has served to bow for politicians who wanted to condem and even ban Shi'a and Ahmadi Islam. Elsewhere I have written about the verdict against Fethullah Gülen by Diyanet (as if he is no longer a Muslim, because in meetings of interreligiosu dialogue 'he skipped the prophethood of Muhammad').
Leiden University Press has recently (2016) published an angry book: Kees van Dijk, & Nico Kaptein (eds), Islam, Politics and Change. The Indonesian Experience after the fall of Suharto. It has in part the story of PKS as the most popular Muslim party for some time. Even some Leiden scholars (like Henk Schulte Nordholt) considered it as a promising initiative. But it has now proven that it is as vulnerable for corruption as other parties. So, for the sake of a relevant and healthy Islam, it should abstain from politics!
For me the most interesting contributions  in this book were by Moch. Nur Ichwan (MNI) and Reza Idria on the disastrous introduction of some aspects of sharia in the province of Aceh. MNI studies a non-Sharia oriented sufi group around Syeikh Amran Waly. In 17th century there was a period when Sufism was 'state Islam' when sharia Islam was marginalised. Now we see the opposite, but he pleads for a good balance at least. P. 229 quotes Teungku Zamhuri as saying that 'implementation of sharia as it is today will not bring people closer to God. For him, God should be approached by dhikr and good deed to others.' .. 'The sharia euphoria has neglected the inner dimension of Islam and marginalised sufi groups' (234)  in these circles 'There was a feeling of being oppressed by the sharia ulama and the government with its 'simplistic' policies, as they saw it, of Islamisation taking the form of formal Shariatization. The implementation of sharia in Aceh was dismissed as trivial and artifical, because the qanuns and official sharia discourse neglected the richness of the esoteric dimensions of Islam.' (243)
Quite funny is the debate about dress for women: Alyasa Abubakar (one of the first architects of sharia implementation in Aceh, now at a distance quite critical) considered the regulation unnecssary, pointing out that trousers are the traditional attire of Acehnese women.  (244) And it may be added: it also can be modernised in a nice way!