vrijdag 17 november 2017

Belief and faith: agama dan kepercayaan? A special decision of the Constitutional Court, november 2017

I found it often complicated to understand Wilfred Cantwell Smith in his debate about (personal) faith and (institutional) belief. In the Indonesian constitution two words also are debated until now. Article 29 states that there is 'freedom of religion and belief'. Perhaps they were meant as identical, because these solemn texts often have repetitions.
In the decades after 1945 there has been a growing consensus that agama or religion should be taken as a world religion, in fact restricted to five: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantis and Catholicism. Later Confucianism was added.
Kepercayaan or 'belief' was reserved for local spiritualities and aliran kepercayaan indicates most often the traditional or even modern Javanese 'new religions' or spiritualities. In the 1974 Law on marriage it is defined that marriage is only valid when celebrated/administered according to the religion of the couple. Civil marriage was until the 1980s still possible, but has gradually been banned. Also in other cases (like getting a passport, an identity card, a driver's licence; insurance for your car or motorcycle) one of the 5/6 religions should be mentioned.
In early November (6 or 7) the Constitutinl Court took a short but firm decision: Mahkamah Konstitusi memutuskan bahwa "negara harus menjamin setiap penghayat kepercayaan dapat mengisi kolom agama dalam Kartu Tanda Penduduk (KTP) dan Kartu Keluarga (KK)". Or: the constitutional court takes the decision that the state has to guarantee that members of a spiritual community are able to fill in the column of religion on their identity cards and in the marriage books.
Immediately the question arose whether this will also diminish the monopoly of the six big religions in the field of civil administration, give more freedom to individuals to abstain at all from any religion (or fill in: 'atheist')? What Ahmadiyyah people: should they be free to fill in that they are Ahmadiyyah, but also Muslim? We will see further developments perhaps.

vrijdag 10 november 2017

Buni Yani, Prabowo, and other complot theories

In November 2016 the Ahok Case started with a movie, places on the internet by a person, Buni Yani, who had deleted one word from a speech by the candidate for the governorship of Jjakarta. It suggested that the Koran lies (dibohongi) but Ahok wanted to say that political opponents lie if they say thatit is Muslims not allowed to vote for non-Muslim candidates or to be ruled by non-Muslims.
Buni Yani was at that time still on the website of Leiden University as a PhD candidate. In fact had had been accepted in 2010 as a PhD student in Leiden. His topic was the popular music in the Philippines, part of a great research project on modern culture in Southeast Asia. His MA waqs from Ohio University where he wrote a thesis on the differences in press reports of the 'Moluccan Wars', the violent clashes between  Muslims and Christians in the Moluccas. Also his native island of Lombok had experienced some effects of this great series of religious violence.
In late 2014 Buni Yuni returned to Indonesia with his family, where he accepted a small position at the Jakarta branch of the London School of Public Relations. Staff in Leiden considered his PhD traject as a failure and in November 2016 he was immediately removed from the Leiden website.
The Duch weekly magazine De Groene Amsterdammer asked journalist Lizzy van Leeuwen to do research about thisBuni Yani and the 2 November 2017 issue came with some stories about him.

Jeroen Krul made this drawing for the article of five pages (34-41, with some advertisements). It begins with the rich harvest for universities through the Indonesian programmes of the Dutch government, but also the money flowing from Indonesia. They are accepted with gratitude because they bring money for poor faculties in the humanities and social science. But the results are often not so spectacular. In the end there is the dilemma between: send back frustrated students or accept lower standards? Full professors are proud if they bring many students in the programms, but the jnior has problems with students who have a poor command of English and are not used to European academic traditions.
Another issue is the influence of salafi students in European universities. There is PPME: Persatuan Pemuda Islam si-Eropa. Besides there is PPI, Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia. In Leiden there was an effort by PKS students to take over leadership in PPI in the Netherlands (some 1500 in NL). Sujadi has written a dissertation of PPME: his dissertation 'is full with luaghing salafi ulama. In a statement attached to his dissertation he says that Indonesian salafism is not really noticed in the Netherlands'. In Melbourne, Japan and the UK the PKS-students could take over PPI leadership.
Related to the case of Buni Yani a professor of Wageningen University  (who have good relations with the Bogor Agricultural University, with a strong networl of salafi students) asked: 'why do we not receive any Christian student from Indonesia during the last decade?'
Journalist Lizzy van Leeuwen also was for some time in Indonesia, seeking information about Buni Yani (who only had a small position at the Jakarta institution and has been dismissed since the beginning of the affair). She gives much interest to the cooperation between PKS (now in a difficult position due to the 2014 corruption affair) and Gerindra of Prabowo.
Finally she also quotes Bart Barendregt, assistent professor in Leiden and responsible for the study of Buni Yani: 'He was not really interested in Islam here. He was in fact not an academic, but a journalist. He was a supporter of Jokowi, but probably lost his confidence in him. Buni had a strong feeling of justice, or perhaps it was rather some naive love of justice. He really loved his country and was not an man for machinations.'

donderdag 2 november 2017

Jan Toorop and 'Melati of Java': a painter and a writer and their Indonesian background

In the small but old town of Doesburg (in East Netherlands, member of the old Hanza Union), an exhibition is held on Jan Toorop (1858-1928). The scenery is beautiful: small but characteristic buildings in the Hanza tradition, like the town hall.
Toorop had a Dutch father and a partly Chinese mother from the island of Banka. He looked very Indonesian, at least to Dutch people. He was only eleven years old when he moved to the Netherlands ion 1969. It is debated how much he was influenced by Indonesia, wayang performances or other artistic traditions. The exhibition in Doesburg was advertised  as a way to see the Indonesian influences in the work of this artist who is also known as a prominent member of Art Nouveau or symbolic art around 1900. In fact we could not see much direct Indonesian influence.

Below we see here the advertisement of oil to be used in salades. Can we see here a remembrence of Javanese batik art? In 1905 Toorop (who was raised as a nominal Protestant), converted to Catholicism and the image of the Trinity above as one examples of this period in his career. He became immensely popular in the Catholic world of the Netherlands, but not much is seen of Indonesian influence.
This lady is Nicolina van Sloot, born in Semarang 1853 of pure Dutch parents. Her father was a teacher at a primary school. She followed a secndary school, probably at the Ursuline sisters in Batavia. The family moved to the Netherlands in 1871. Until her death in 1927 she wrote more than fifty novels, most of the under her penn-name Melati of Java. She never married and could live from her writings, because the romantic novels, many about the Dutch Indies were very popular. It was het trademark! She wrote even a novel about the historic person of Surapati, glorifying him as a noble fighter against colonialism. Recently a new biography has been published as a doctoral dissertation: she still has some fame in the Netherlands, but as far as I know none of her books were ever translated into Indonesian.

vrijdag 27 oktober 2017

New place of pilgrimage in Java: Sragen. Official blessing by (Muslim) District Officer, together with the archbishop

In the small town of Sragen the Catholic parish counted  7640 fathful in 2001 (Buku Petunjuk): a confident, but still small minority in the town between Solo and Surabaya. They have during the last few years built an extended memory of Mary's apparitions in Fatima.

The complex was blessed with an official inauguration by the district officer of Sragen withhis wife, and the archbishop of Semarang. They stand here side by side at this action. The short information given had as title: Bupati Sragen Resmikan Taman Doa Santa Maria Fatima Ngrawoh which means thet the Head of the district of Sragen officially opened the 'Garden of Prayer' Saint Mary of Fatima in the village of Pilangsari in the subdistrict of Ngrawoh, 22 October 2017.
Apparently, the Bupati,Dr. Haji Kusdinar Sukowati accepts this sacred place also as a public affair, close to the market place of the subdistrict. Inviting him means that also Catholic religion is not only a private affair, but a public business and it should not be without the highest government official in the region. Besides, it was said, that this also shows the general positive relations between the two major religions.

woensdag 25 oktober 2017

Award for Magnis Suseno: prominent philosopher

The highest award given to Franz Magnis Suseno was the Bintang Mahaputra Utama (Award for being an Excellent Son) by President Joko Widodo, 13 August 2015.
UCAN had on 24-10 a report  of the first award for 'outstanding philosopher' or Filsuf terkemuka, given by the faculty of philoophy of the Gadjah Mada University of Yogyakarta and it was given to Magnis Suseno for his 'intellectual support for social struggle'.
Born in May 1936 in Silesia (then East Germany, now in Poland), he has been in Indonesia since 1961 in Indonesia. Founder opf the Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta he has given comments on many social issues in Indonesia as a specialist in social ethics, taking Javanese culture and even mysticism as his intellectual partner. In my book on Dutch Colonialism and Indonesian Islami (first edition p. 147) I wrote 'Again and again Javanism is cited as the partner in dialogue, while Islam is not considered to be a proper or even possible candidate'.  In the second edition (2006) of this book the last chapter has been thoroughly re-written and this remark has been deleted.
Even liberal Indonesian Muslims now want to see Islam Nusantara as a strong concept: local formulations of Islamic wisdom rather than repeating an ethic based on shari'a rules and formulations. This has also been the strategy of Driyarkara himself who wanted to take Pancasila as the basis for social ethics. In the same line Magnis Suseno has formulated social strategies using not one particular religious tradition (also not his own Catholic doctrines), but more universal and some local and cultural background.

zaterdag 21 oktober 2017

Strong men, strong statements? Anies Baswedan and Eggi Sudjana

Donald Trump, Tayyib Erdogan, Vladimir Putin: as if the age of the strong leaders and their simple statements is back again! Two examples from indonesia last week. First: Anies Baswedan gave in speech at his inaugration as governor of Jakarta (after defeating Ahok as sequel to a campaign of slender and sectarian actions). He stated that  for centuries the pribumi or native/indigenous people of Indonesia/Jakarta was neglected and considered as second class. Now the power was given back to pribumi and they should be given the opportunity to make profit of it. Colonial times are over, power given back to the indigenous. Does this mean that only Malay and Muslim should have political power? Many reactions were given: from Chinese businessmen to social activists. Still, no precisions were given.
Anies Baswedan and his deputy governor were in white shirt at the inauguration: no western black suite, no Indonesian batik, the simple white shirt is now one of the innovations by President Jokowi.  (More of him is needed nowadays!)
Another strong statement was given by Eggi Sudjana, Muslim businessman, not so successful in politics (failure to run a governor in West and East Java). He stated that only Muslims are true followers of Pancasila with its definition of the Indonesian religious identity as 'belief in the One Supreme Deity'(Ketuhanan yang Maha Esa). Buddhist are even not sure about a personal God, Hindus in Bali have multiple deities and Christian follow the three of their Trinity. It was the beginning of court cases in Bali. Prominent Catholic priest Franz Magnis Suseno only reacted that Sudjana had made a stupid statement not knowing what he was talking about. Another court case, now by Sudjana against Magnis.
As if the tsunami season of court cases has started again!

zondag 15 oktober 2017

The Burda of the Prophet and the Kaftan of the Caliph

Worldwide, also in indonesia, one of the most popular stories of the prophet Muhammad is the Qasidatu'l Burda of Al-Busiri. Prof. Drewes once published a Malay translation from the 16th century, with a Dutch translation (1955). Burda means mantle and the word most often applies to the mantle of the Prophet. According to the tradition this mantle was given to a strong opponent of Muhammad. Ka'b ibn Zuhair, who finally surrendered and accepted Islam in front of Muhammad, while reciting a poem of submission to Allah and his Prophet. Thereupon Muhammad gave him his mantle as a petious gift, for this poem and his faith. After the death of Ka'b ibn Zuhair the mantle was bought by the Ummayad rulers, and finally during a period in poesession of the Abbasid Caliphs and finally in the palace of the Ottoman Caliphs. It is in the palace of Istanbul and yearly honured in the second half of Ramadan.
Al-Busiri, living in Egypt, where he died in 1295, once was very ill and dreamt that the Prophet visited him, touched his hand and gave him his mantle. the following morning al-Burisir was healthy again. At this moment al-Busiri already had planned to write a poem to praise Muhammad. After finishing this poem, at soon became famous, also through propaganda by the Mamluk Sultan Mali az-Zahir Baibar. Soon it was accepted that touching a manuscript of the poem would heal all kind of diseases.
Another mantle, a sacred robe, played an important role in a strange movie: Vatan, on the coup of 15 July 2016 in Turkey. The movie shows in the beginning a man, Turkish speaking Dave, who brings the sacred robe of Sultan Selim, Yavuz, to Fethullah Gülen, who just told that he last night has a dream where the Prophet Muhammad appeared. Dave is perhaps a CIA-man, in fact a conspirator against President Erdogan, tells Gülen 'You will wear the Kaftan of Sultan Yavuz in Istanbul soon'. This is the introduction to a conspiration where also George Soros is involved: the bad person is orchstrating the whole endeavour. Nearly 80% of the movie is filled  with fighting of brave Turkey citizens against an army that wants to take over the state. Soros is sometimes shown as waiting, calm, without a strong personality. Gülen flies to Istanbul but hears just before arrval that Erdogan is on the airport and that the coup has failed. Thereupon Gülen returns to America: without drama, without further explanation.
 This is the hand of Dave who promises that he will divide Turkey in parts, with a good share for Gülen and a big piece also for Soros. The text says: 'Long live chaos' because the chaotic fight should lead towards the annihilation of present Turkey. But it is a failure.
The real conspirator Dave,  goes swimming in the Miterranean, is picked out of the sea (first swimming like another James Bond, relaxed)  by an helicopter and later drowned. A strange movie, but apparently for Turkish citizens clear enough to strengthen their feeling that Fethullah Gülen is a bad guy who joined a complot against their president. May God forgive them.