vrijdag 13 november 2015

The Spirit(s) of Rijksmuseum, visited by Ayu Utami

On 10 November 2015 there was a book launching in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. With Paule, I attended it in the evening after the promotion of Dr. Sunarwoto.
Rijksmuseum more and more has a function between a presentation of art and a focus on Dutch history. The book was Gepeperd Verleden. 'A peppered/seasoned past: Indonesia and the Netherlands since 1595, written by Harm Stevens in a series of the museum that will illustrate the foreign history of the Netherlands. Ayu Utami translated the title also as Lada Pahit with a link to Majapahit after the name of the last Hindu Kingdom in Java, 15th century.
The launching started with summaries of the book. It was followed by an impressive Javanese/Dutch dancer who took the personality of the wife of Dutch deserter, pro-Indonesian fighter Poncke Princen. When the Dutch army attacked the village where he lived, she tried to defend him, and died.
Harm Stevens already had made references to good old spirits in the museum. Such as an Acehnese shield used by a fighter who had killed a Dutch officer before he died himself. The original tongkat or walking stick of Diponegoro: the authenticity of these materials evoke the spirit of their former owners.
The major talk was given by Ayu Utami who wanted to give a spiritual vision of a museum ('although spiritualism can be boring and often making love is more fun').
She began with the day: 10 November is hari pahlawan or heroes' day because of those who died in the British attack on Surabaya, 10 November 1945, the first battle in the war or independence. At one moment she glorified this history, but she also criticized the very simple image given about this period by nationalist propaganda. That is a too much lineair, one-sided view of history.
As to the museum, she wanted to correct the colonial history as a history of greed. Colonials were also artists and scholars. She likes the National Museum of Jakarta, built by a learned society established in the 18th century. And the Bogor biological museum where her aunt had been bibliothecary for a long time. Colonialism is also some thing of the age of reason. Trying to give a spiritual meaning of a museum, she also felt that spirituality is not exciting.
There were drinks in one of these large places, created by buildong something new against the walls of the old museum. There was in the exhibition about Asian Glory and Richness brought to Europe, an exhibition of precious things bought or created in the East.

Above is the return of four ships from the Indies in 1598:Mauritius, Holland, Overijssel, Vrieslant. On the whole the exhibition paid much attention to the rich and mighty, not to the victims, the poor. It did not make a politicial or social statement, but still created the effect of a successful and legitimate undertaking.

Sunarwoto and dakwah through radio FM

Sunarwoto was born 5 August 1975 in Demak. His father was a kyahi and religious authority in the region. Later Sunarwoto moved to Solo, where about 25% is Christian and where so many different Muslim groups ask for attention and support: from tarekat and mystical teaching to the social message of Muhammadiyah and the hardline people of FPI, Pesantren Ngruki. Among these are some twelve Salafi groups that have radio broadcasting. About this Dakwah Radio he wrote his diseertation. First Sunarwoto came to Leiden for his MA in the NISIS, Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies. For his PhD he came to Tilburg where he worked with Prf. Herman Beck and Prof. Jan Blommaert. The title of the dissertation is Contesting Religious Authority. A study on RDakwah Radio in Surakarta, Indonesia.
The dissertation gives a general view of the various organization of Radio Dakwah, often embedded in broader organizations. The last two chapters are on charismatic preacher Ahmad Sukino and his Majlis Tafsir Al-Quran and the Jihad pagi programme, from Pengajian Ahad Pagi: the largest meeting of the week on Sunday Morning (!). Much attention is here given to a much debated fatwa on the eating of dog-meat: not really or clearly forbidden, so it is allowed.
My own question was formulated as follows:

In your First chapter you give a nice image of religious authority in your youth in Demak: everything is clear. Common people accept the local religious authority.
But in Solo the situation is different. At one moment I wrote in the margin: who is seeking whom?  Is religious authority seeking clients? Are common people seeking advice.
A key word here is (page 38, many other places as well) the word member. I know that in the world of Muslim brotherhoods people can become a follower of a teacher by mengucapkan bai’at, by taking a vow to the teacher. In the Pentecostal Church Keluarga Allah in Solo there are member cars, kartu anggauta, for Javanese and other members who can buy cheaper, a reduction of 20%, at member-Chinese shopkeepers.
When are you a member in an organization of Radio Dakwah? What makes the difference between an incidental listener and a member? Is it something extra besides Radio: attending the pengajian hari minggu? With the somewhat strange name of jihad pagi, Pengajian Ahad pagi: the religious gathering on Sunday morning? (Page 208).
The 'conservative' turn in Indonesian Islam perhaps resembles the 'conservative turn' with the Catholics who are since the Orde Baru not active in politics, in trade unions, have less primary and secondary schools and see many of their flock active in the charismatic movement. Will this be the future of religion in Indonesia?  There were, of course, many salafi people discussed in this dissertation, but nearly all of them were of the more pietistic side.

maandag 9 november 2015

The ecumenical Muslims of Michael Laffan

Since the later 1990s there were two Gregs: Greg Barton and Greg Fealy. Both wrote on Abdurrahman Wahid, Nahdlatul ulama. Greg Barton has become the Gülen professor in Melbourne (or -also- the Herb Feith professor for Indonesia?). Since the 2000s there are two Michaels as well: Michael Feener in Singapore on shari'a and developments in modern Indonesian Islam. Michael Laffan more on the colonial period.
In the period 2000-2014 I spent most of my time on Christianity in Indonesian, besides three works on Qur'an interpretation, and some time also on Fethullah Gülen.
I had already once bought the book by Michael Laffan , The makings of Indonesian Islam. Orientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past (Princeton University Press, 2011). It is a strange book with beautiful illustrations, precise work in libraries and manuscript collection, but not a true history of sufism in Indonesia, nor of orientalism, but a collection of loose sketches. These are often interesting, without a great idea behind it.
This is the image on the front page of Laffan 2011: one Haji Baok, a drawing sent to Snouck Hurgronje (page 25). It is a scholar with a book (?), also a warrior. Unfortunately the book does not explain much about the drawing further.
Now I have also read (section) of an earlier book by Michael Laffan, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia. The umma below the winds (Routledge, 2003). It is fascinating reading, often into much detail about smaller events. It has two theories that may arouse discussion because they are quite strongly worded. One is about orientalists, more specifically about Snouck Hurgronje. Chapter 4 has the title of "Colonizing Islam and the Western-oriented project of Indies nationhood".  How far was Snouckl Hurgronje effective in the development of Indonesian Islam: was he only an observer or also an effective player in the field? How serious should we take ideas like association and emancipation?
This picture of Snouck (standing right) was still new to me (page 56). Sitting in the middle row are from left to right: unknown, J.L. Brandes, J.A. Kruijt (consul), P.N. van der Chijs (with pipe, shipping company), unknown.
Another strong theory is about the creation of a Southeast Asian Muslim Ecumenism, first beginning among the community of students in Mecca, later from Cairo. In my meory it were first conflicts: between reformist and traditionalists, kaum tua, kaum muda originating abroad. But Laffan does not like the conflicts: even between orientalists and Muslims he sees not only contacts but even coalitions and so also between the various Muslims.

Above Aboe Bakar Djajadiningrat, the great assistant of Snouck in Mecca and below on the right side Hasan Moestapa and left an Acehnese.

Jerome Xavier and his artists

For the CMR project I corresponded with several colleagues about the Dutch orientalist and theologian Ludovicus de Dieu. He translated two Persian books by the Jesuit Jerome Xavier (on the Life of Christ and Life of Peter). The translation and somewhat nasty commentary by De Dieu were put on the Index (Librorum Prohibitorum: list of forbidden books) by the Catholic Church in 1661. A wonderful book in this tradition is Perdo Moura Carvalhop and Wheeler Thackston, Mir'at al quds (Mirrors of Holiness): A Commentary on Father Jerome Xavier's Text and the Miniatures of Cleveland Museum of Art, Leiden: Brill, 2012.
It has the Persian text, English translation and some commentary, besides a series of 27 Mughal miniatures in the manuscript that is now in Cleveland. As to the commentary: at one place an adjustment to his Muslim public is made by Jerome Xavier. In his discussion of ethical codes, he talks about adultery, swearing, but Xavier omits Jesus' attitude towards divorce (page 38).
The Franciscan Friar Arnulf Camps would have been astonished to see himself labelled a Jesuit on page 13.
These are the three Magi, following the star. Are these hats typical for westerners? The trees and the rocks resemble clearly a Mughal style.

Above the preaching of John the Baptist. He is wearing a coat of camel hair but he is not thin or really as the prophet of the desert. 'the painter .. probably thought that he should portrayed with dignity and not emaciated and humbly dressed'. He is preaching to people of  all sorts. In fact he is pictured in his house and not far from a city. One of the paintings (quite small, Angales bringing food to Jesus in the desert) has a personal signature, one Muhammad Sharif. Maybe the others are also all made by Muslims.
Below we see John the Baptist teaching (looking like a Jesuit, in black, including the hat) while he recognizes Jesus (standing utmost right, with the dove on his head, a rosary with the cross in his hand). The scene is not on the shores of the river Jordan, but within a typically Mughal courtyard. Wonderful book!

zondag 8 november 2015

Mujiburrahman (three war zones for Muslims in Indonesia) and Ardiansyah (between formal Islamic law and adat)

Mujiburrahman ('Al Banjari',  from Banjarmasin) is for 2 months in Leiden. He will to do research (or rather 'writing') on the 2006 regulations about the building of places of worship. Thanks to Atho Mudzhar he has many documents about the period previous to the official regulation. Notes and comments by religious leaders and politicians about this joint ministerial decree.
This is a quite formal photograph. I was dressed that way because our beighbour, politican Willem Aantjes had been buried the day Mujiburrahman came to our house.
Mujib reminded me that I did not yet read the article he had written in the Festschrift for Amin Abdullah. So, last week I took time to read the lucid article Akar-akar Konflik antar Umat Islam Indonesia. Mujib is eminent in designing the general outline of social classifications, without going too much in details, exceptions and other possibilities. From early 20th century Islam he sees three areas where conflicts rise between various Muslim groups. 1. Those who want to give priority to an Indonesian rather than to an Islamic identity; 2. Internal conflicts between Muslim as muda-tua or Reformist versus more lenient position towards practices that have become quite common among many Muslims in Indonesia; 3. the Cultural debate: traditional Indonesian or modern Western society?
The third issue is not always drawn into the religious debate, but Mujib does it in an eloquent and convincing way: Takdir Alisjahbana versus Ki Hajar Dewantara, until the Strategi Kebudayaan by Ali Murtopo (and Pranarka, CSIS) versus Prof. Rasjidi.

Nearly at the same time I received a message from Ardiansyah, Acahnese Ph.D candidate in Leiden who brought a gift from Alyasa Abubakar. Ardiansyah studies the application of adat in Aceh, because not only shari'a  is an exception in that region, but in fact also adat or customary regulations now can be applied in this region, although it is not really known and not so much studied. The debate is about the Islamic shari'a law while the interest (also in colonial times) is less for adat.
Alyasa Abubakar stayed in 1987-8 one year in our house in Yogyakarta as a Ph.D. Student. At that time he gave a traditional embroidery of the Baiturrahman mosque of Banda Aceh. Now I received a decorative piece of work from Gayo land. Is this a sign that the general emphasis will shift from shari'a to adat? In the bedroom for our grandchildren they hang side by side.

Zarkowi Soejoeti, an honest, optimistic, efficient and devoted official of the Ministry of Religion

Earlier this year (August 2015) I wrote about Judi Suyuti. This brought me to borrow the book written by his father, Menapak Jalan Berliku. Sebuah Otobiografi, Jakarta, DPP GUPPI, Pustaka Ummat, 2010, 393 pages.
Born in 1934 as number 7 out of eleven children of the chief penghulu in Bantul, Zarkowi went to the Dutch-language primary school. 1940-2 was a good time.The Japanese time is remembered as poverty, no school no food. Soon after independence on 17 August 1945 his father died, but left some houses and ricefields. Notwithstanding a bad period for primary education, Zarkowi learned enough to attend SGHA, a school for religious judges and also entered some style of training in the army in the early 1960s. From pupil he soon became a teacher, thanks to his good knowledge of Arabic.
It is not a very personal book: Zarkowi writes more about people and events in his environment than about his personal things.
In 1963 he joined a protest against the bad policy for the (beginning) academic institute, IAIN, dominated by Nahdlatul Ulama party politics and not really focused on good quality. This meant for him as punishment a transfer to Banten. But Zarkowi made the best of it, was close to public administration and the army.
In 1974 he was at the central offica of the Departemen Agama, the Ministry of Religion and played his part in the struggle between the Ministry of Justice that wanted a secular law of marriage and the Muslim politicians who wanted a religious imprint on this aspect of social life. And they won! Partly thanks to Zarkowi (175-178). He was also active in the place of Islamic education, the specific madrasah education as well as religious education .

Some Dutch scholars enter the book. In 1969 he was for a 5-months programme in the Netherlands (located in the Volkshogeschool Bergen aan Zee) and here he met Nico Schulte Nordholt (149-152). Pages 262-3 are about the hajj ticket given to Johan Meuleman, lecturer at the IAIN of Ciputat/Jakarta in 1993.
For several periods he was active in the IAIN of Semarang, but more periods even he was active in the Ministry of Religion. Page 278 tells about problems in the Protestant Batak Churchm, HKBP and the Buddhist organization Walubi. The problems here were also discussed in the ministry by the Muslim at the top.
In 1997-1999 he was ambassador in Riyad, Arabia: many problems with the hajj pilgrimage and with Indonesian migrant (temporary!) workers  in that rich country. From 1999-2001 he had the same function in Damascus. Page 355 had a nice anecdote about a talk of the Syrian Orthodox Bishop of Jerusalem giving a talk in Damascus and pronouncing Allahu akbar in exactly the same way the Muslim do. Different from Indonesian Christian who do not give a strong double -ll-  to Allah, by a weak Alah, quite different from the pronouncement of Muslims. When I talked Indonesian with Christians in Indonesia, they laughed at my 'Muslim accent' in the common words for Christians and Muslims.
It is a book without much spicy revelations about people, only the record of what a happy man in the autumn of his life wanted to communicate. Ya, panjang umurnya Pak Zarkowi!

zaterdag 24 oktober 2015


Since about two years I am involved in the publication of a series of books CMR, Christian-Muslim Relations, a Bibliographical History. Recently I finished an entry on Johannes Coccejus, a brilliant boy and later an inventive and mature theologian. Below I copy my description of him and his work.

Coccejus was born in Bremen as Johann Cock (from the German town of Coch or Goch). He studied languages, philosophy and theology in Bremen and after 1626 in Franeker. He became in 1630 professor at the Gymnasium Illustre in Bremen where he taught ‘sacred philology’ concentrating on Greek and Hebrew. In 1650 he moved to Leiden. As an orthodox Reformed or Calvinist theologian he also wanted to stay in touch with humanist trends in church and society. He showed often more interest in biblical studies than in strict Calvinist orthodoxy. He is best known for his divergent opinion in the observation of the Sabbath. According to him the rest of Sabbath was a strict command for the adherents of the Jewish religion, but in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ the observation of Sabbath was no longer so important. His interpretation of Scripture is sometimes characterised as ‘baroque, inconsistent’. Besides the puritan Voetius, the dominant professor in Utrecht University, he became the most outstanding theologian of Leiden University in the 17th century.
In Utrecht University Library I went to the section Special Collections and I found the most important text Coccejus wrote about Islam. Below my findings.

As a student  of 22 years in Bremen, Coccejus held a lecture on the religion of the Turcs in Greek, partly as a linguistic exercise. This text (in print 11 pages) is written as an admonition for the reformation of church and state of his time. The origin and enormous progress of Islam in his time was a great challenge for the Christian peoples. From secondary sources a life of Muhammad and the content of the Qur’an is given. Coccejus considered Islam as a mutatio religionis, a radical transformation of the true religion. Muhammad knew the real truth of God’s revelation but he has been seduced by the Satan (‘the clear enemy of the whole human race as he is rightly called in the Qur’an’). So Muhammad and his followers have become renegades (apostatae). Muslims must be counted among the heretics. The divinity of Christ was the great issue in the debate with the Jews, and later with the followers of Paul of Samosata, the Arians, the Sabellians and later again the Muslims. He considers Islam as the great outer enemy of Christianity, where the Roman Catholic church is the great inner enemy. In his later theology Coccejus developed an interpretation of the history of Christianity in seven periods. The last is that of the conversion of the Turcs to Christianity (already predicted in the Scripture). The Roman Catholic Church, an instrument of the Anti-Christ will be destroyed with the  help of the Turcs. As a sign of the soon return of Christ, Jews and Muslims will together celebrate the feast of Soekot/Tabernacles in Jerusalem. In this way Coccejus gave Islam a clear place in his eschatological vision. In the earlier Oratio this is not so outspoken. Especially in later exegetical treatises Coccejus applied texts of the Hebrew Bible to contemporary Islam. Isaias 45:14 about ‘the tall Sabeans .. will bow down before you’ refers to the great power of the Ottoman empire, but also predicts their coming conversion. The four wings of the beast of Daniel 7:6 refer to the four realms of the Roman Empire which were conquered by the Muslims: Syria, Africa, Asia and Greece. The ‘kings from the East’ of Rev. 16:12 were by him seen as the preparation for the end of time, when the ‘Turcs will come to the West again and all efforts will be made to preach the Gospel to them, so that they may convert.’ The peace of Westphalia (1648) was a beginning for this process and so the end of the world was expected in 1667 with the final triumph of the Reformed Church in a common service to God.