vrijdag 26 mei 2017

Adat Law between lawyers and social activists

Prof. Cornelis van Vollenhoven became in 1901 the first professor in Adat Law at Leiden University. It was a move towards more respect for the culture and style of indigenous society. In 1917 Van Vollenhoven started together with Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje the Adatrechtstichting, a Foundation for the promotion of adat law (besides European Law and Islamic Law or shari'a). The Institute now under director Jan Michiel Otto organised a three day seminar in Leiden. I attended the opening session on 22 May. Apparently adat law is no loger directed against European influence, but is now in defence for IP or Indigenous People. The big organization is AMAN: Asosiasi Masyarakat Aman Nusantara.
From Indonesia I saw some lecturers in Adat Law, both from general and Islamic universities, besides activists of Aman and related organizations. After 1998 and the movement towards decentralization there is better understanding for them, but it remains an uphill struggle, especially in order to fight the great plantations who received so many adat lands. How to get these back?

Adat Law is still part of the law faculty in Leiden and on the picture above we see Jan Michiel Otto, embassador Puja (from Bali: for him Adat is the rich culture of Bali, based in Hindu traditions), dean of Leiden law faculty (name forgotten) and senior assistent to Jan Michiel Otto, Adriaan Bedner.
Picture below is Sandra Moniaga, human rights activist, fighting for land to be given back to local adat copmmunities. It appears to be a difficult problem, because poor farkers have to fight rich conglomerates and business people, often connected with local administration. And the law are complicated.
There was much debate about pro and contra the formulation for a new law in village administration.
In 1969-1970 I followd a course on adat law in Nijmegen. Prof. moh. Koesnoe was a visiting professor at the time. He abused adat law to defend the procedure of mushawarah as the 'best and traditional' way of making decisions. Not one man one vote, but seeking harmony (which in fact meant a total submission to the central government of Soeharto).
For Snouck Hurgronje it was also local Indonesian rules against shari'a rules from Arabia.
There are many faces in Hukum Adat

Jaspert Slob, born 18 January 1945, died 16 May 2017

Jaspert Slob was born in Hardinxveld-Giessendam, a section of the Dutch 'bible-belt' where quite many orthodox Protestant live and foster their churches.
Jaspert was a clever boy, son fo a farmer, who went in Gorcum to HBS, the secondary school for people who want to do technical or business studies. Jaspert was excellent in chemistry, but after secondary school he decided that he wanted to study theology. During two years he had to study Greek and Hebrew (as well as some latin), before he entered the theological faculty of Utrecht University, considered at that time the most orthodox in the country.
In 1976 he was sent by the missionary organization of his church as a lecturer to the Theological School in Tomohon, where he taught until 1982. Jaspert fell in love with the country and culture of Indonesia and until the end of his life he remained a true follower of anything that was happening in Indonesia.
For some time he became secretary of relations with Christians in Asia, but his finest hours were always when an Indonesian delegation visited Oegstgeest or (later) Utrecht. He liked also field trips to Indonesia to give a good warming up to the mutual relations.
One of his duties was also to make contact with Indonesian student in the Netherlands and one of these was Th. Sumartana. The idea of a dialogue between the religions was heartly welcomed by Jaspert who was no longer a staunch and obsolete orthodox Calvinist any longer. I found a paper by him where he considered what had been done by the mission to Sadrach as a big mistake, while he also praised the openness of Kartini. These two were his great heroes.
From the beginning (was it 1988?) he supported DIAN/Interfidei in Yogyakarta. This reminded me about the problems Ben Boland had experienced around 1970 when he completed his doctoral dissertation on contemporary Islam in Indonesia (1945-1970) where Prof. Mukti Ali featured as the great hero of dialogue. Boland was considered too pro-Islam and as an enemy of the Protestant missionaries.  Boland hoped that there would be a less aggressive message by the Christians in Indonesia and more openness for the many nice aspects of Islam. Only 15 years later Jaspert Slob could be instrumental in the new turn.
Until one year before he died (after a long process of heart problems and pneumonic cancer) he sent weekly excerpts from Indonesian newspapers on current affairs.
Probably the most beautiful period in his life was the period of more than five years when he was with his wife Josien Folbert in Salatiga supporting the Percik activities of Pradjarto.
Jaspert and Josien had two (adopted, Indonesian) children: Anne en Marteun. They enjoyed five grandchildren who decorated the coffin with joyful drawings. He now 'lives in another light'or, following the text of Rumi quoted in the service:God has spread his light over all souls. Happy are those who open their robe to receive this light. They do not see anything else than God. Without this robe of love we cannot live a full life.'

A New Princess of China "Puteri Cina': Veronica Tan

The Puteri Cina or Chinese Princess is a personality known in Javanese history as the spouse of a Javanese ruler. Honoured, but sometimes also discriminated.   According to the Chronicle of Java the 16th century ruler of Majapahit, King Brawijaya V, had a Chinese princess as a junior wife and mother of their son Raden Patah (Fatah). She was later given to the king’s son, Arya Damar in Palembang, to appease the jealousy of the queen consort, and with him she had a second son, Raden Kusen (Husen).   These two historical figures played a role in the great changes that came in Java with the waning of the Hindu-Javanese kingdoms and the advent of the first Islamic rulers. The Chinese princess reflects on the events of her time, and their impact on her family, then in the person of the Putri Cina she travels through time, observing the tragic vulnerabilty of her people in times of social disorder, right up to events in the very recent past.
The Jesuit priest Sindhunata was until 1998 mostly known for his writings that mix  Catholic and javanese ideas and symbols. Only after the events which surrounded the fall of President Soeharto and caused the death of some 1000 Chinese-indonesian citizens of Jakarta he turned more to his partly Chinese roots and wrote a novel Putri Cina, where the story of Chinese in Indonesia is put in a romantic garb, accompanied with philosophical thinking about René Girard and his theory of the need of a scapegoat in society.
The novel of 2007 was translated by Dr. Simon Rae of Dunedin, New Zealand and his daughter Catherine and published in 2015. It is sold for Rp 110.000 in Indonesia and for US$ 31.75 abroad: these differences remain!
I had to think about the Chinese Princess again when reading the story of the Ahok trial and condemnation. The latest step in this tragic history is that Ahok initially wanted to  appeal for the verdict of two years of prison, but now says that he has accepted thedecision of the court. What should we think of it. Simon Rae, the translator of the Chinese Princess wrote me: "
I think Ahok's move shows both a generous spirit and a careful calculation.  He is saying 'I do not want to cause more dissention' but also 'I do not trust the judiciary to deal with my case on its merits'.  He is denying FPI any further opportunity to demonstrate against him and he will have earned some sympathy and respect, internationally and at home.  But it is all moving in an ominous direction. How much influence and power do these popular extra-constitutional groups (premen, FPI etc) have over police, courts..."
Above we see Veronica Tan, wife of Ahok, showing the letter written van Ahok in prison. There are youtube movies showing her in tears, reading this letter.
Is Ahok making himself a martyr/scapegoat?

dinsdag 9 mei 2017

Ahok in prison! Hizbut Tahrir banned

Yesterday, 9 May 2017, Ahok has been put in prison for his debate about Qur'an 5:51, according to him abused by politicians who claim that Muslims should not vote for non-Muslim leaders, presidents, governors: Oh, you believers, do no take the Jews and Christians as your wali (friend, helper, leader). The central word was dibohongi: politicians had according to him been lying about the true meaning of this verse. What is the original meaning in its historic context? Is it the attack on Medina by unbelieving Arabs from Mecca, who led a siege on the town and is Muhammad here warned that he should not ask Jews and Christians to join him in the defence?
The debate went its own way and many participants in the debate had their own dyamics. What was the reason why one Buni Yani (a Ph.D. candidate in Leiden University; see his blog http://buniyani.blogspot.nl/, no additions after 24 June 2014).
SBY had his motivations to support the case against Ahok, because he wanted to stimulate his son.
The MUI saw a possibility to gain extra power in society. FPUI and Habib Rizieq Syihab made the biggest investment in this affair. A friend wrote me that Amin Rais had threatened to Jokowi that 'he could forget a second term as national president in 2019 if Ahok would escape prison'. The Prosecutor had only asked for a suspended one-year imprisonment with a probation time of two years. What will happen now, when people want to make his prison a place of pilgrimage?
Ahok is clearly angry now!
On the previous day 'good old', 8 May,  Minister Wiranto has made the Hizbut Tahrir a forbidden organization. Under SBY Hizbut Tahrir xcould flourish and even received a seat inm the MUI, Majelis Ulama Indonesia. It could be quite active and push for more and more hard measures against pluralism, Ahmadiyyah. Although they want a caliphate and in fact do not recognise an Indonesian government, they push for more Islam in local politics. It still must become clear what the impact of the ban on Hizbut Tahrir will be. Will FPI also have to diminish its activities?
PDI-P the old nationalist party of Megawati immediately denounced the verdict and suggested the the judges had bowed for political pressure.
Dutch journalist Michel Maas was not optimistic about the possibility to ban Muslim activists from streets and politics.

The new Max Havelaar: Alfred Birney

Yesterday Alfred Birney was announced as the winner of the most prestigious literary prize in the Netherlands: AKO Literature Award. It was for his book Tolk van Java (Translator of Java). The book is about his father Adolf Nolan, born in 1935 in Surabaya from a truly colonial mixed family: father half Scottish/Dutch, mother Chinese/Javanese. He was a cruel fighter against Japanese in the period 1943-5 and then vowed to defend the Dutch Queen and administration (kneeling before an image of Queen Wilhelmina, in fact a vague unknown personage to him) in the period 1945-1949. Then he came as a broken personality to the Netherlands where he had a poor career in many jobs, dying at the age of 80 in 2005, in self-chosen exile in Spain.
His son Alfred Birney was born in 1952, experienced the impossible marriage of his cruel father to a weak Dutch lady, was partly educated in an orphanage, never had a good home for himself nor for his brothers and sisters, but developed first as a musician (playing guitar in the kroncong style of entertainment) and then becoming a writer. He published in 1998 a colonial literary history, Oost-Indische Inkt, but now his masterpiece, which was compared to the other great criticism of colonialism, Max Havelaar.

 Max Havelaar  (first published in 1860) is a severe criticism of colonialism, but besides many feudal Indonesians and lazy and corrupt Dutch officials, the hero of the book is the enlightened Dutch official/administrator who knows the ideal solution for the situation.
Tolk van Java is so different: it has only the dark side of the tropical paradise. Not the lyric, the romantic glorification of the tropical country, but the brutality of a divided country where racial prejudices and boundaries are strong, where violence continues and the value of an individual outside the privileged classes means very little. Adolf Nolan driven by some irrational sympathy for the Dutch Queen joins the Dutch army after its return to Surabaya in late 1945 and becomes an interrogator of Indonesian Nationalist soldiers and activists. The book is full with brutal killings, torture, also onthe Indonesian side. No romantic of a heroic war of independence. Finally there was much frustration on the Dutch side, but also many leaders on the Indonesian side who sought profit for their own sake.
There is a renewed interest for the dark side of the period 1945-1949 with more money for research, the publication of the great book by Rémy Limpach about the 'burning villages of General Spoor' (De brandende kampongs van Generaal Spoor) 870 pages.

zaterdag 8 april 2017

Three mediators for a modern and moderate Indonesian Islam in Leiden

Three prominent Indonesians, Alwi Syihab, Azyumardi Azra and Amin Abdullah are making a 6 week trip to Europe and America. They want to promote the position of Islam in the Muslim world as  a place of reason and safety. Although they also experience some problems in their own homeland, they want discuss further steps in favour of religious harmony, adjustment to the modern world.
They made their first visits to Berlin and London and arrived on Amsterdam airport in the early morning of Friday 7 April 2017. They went immediately to the meeting in the former observatory for atsronomy of Leiden university. Still quite tired!

Left is here Azyumardi Azra from Jakarta, right Amin Abdullah from Yogyakarta. Listening. Apparently it is not all exciting during such a long trip. Only looking more lively when speeking. 
The whole mission was initiated by Jakob Tobing and Matius Ho of the Leimena Foundation after the Protestant Vice-Prime Minister of Indonesia in the first decade of the independent republic. Financiel and moral support comes from an American conservative Christian organization, Fieldstead and Company, here represented by Steven Ferguson. There was one intriguing question: Why are the radical Muslims so attractive for youngsters?  One answer was: because they have much money (from the Gulf States and Saudi supporters). But the opposite answer was here present as well: a war or at least a competition to find supporters between radical and moderate Muslims is als the one between Arabian and Western supporters and funders!
There are in Indonesia thousands pesantren  or Islamic boardings schools (a number of 30,000 was given) against only some 30 truly salafi pesantren. There are some 4,000 Indonesian students in al-Azhar, Cairo, an institution where besides some Wahhabi, also quite many liberal Muslims are teaching. In Arabia less than 1000 Indonesian follow academic education. An not all of them turned into Wahhabi activists!
Attractive for Salafi Muslims is the description of the problems. Alwi Syihab formulated it as: 'You Muslims, you are not master of your own country! Islamic values are not guaranteed here!' But Azyumardi Azra reacted: 'Among Salafi Muslims there is also a battle about the definition of what is true Islam.'
It  was quite curious that Jakob Tobing, a Christian politician, was the initator here (above right). Above, left, we see the senior politician and  a prominent member of the Nahdlatul Ulama Islamic organization. Alwi has a strong talk about the past of Islam in Indonesia. It was introduced since the 1`2th century without any violence. This was done by Sufi traders with soft persuasion. They made the Hindus to believing Muslims. This is so different from what is happening today when angry Arab teachers turn the believers into unbelievers. This is a quite complex statement: Indonesian Muslim are labelled as unbelievers by a movement called takfir: people who label all who do not accept Islam as they do it themselves, should be called unbelievers. In this way from a majority Muslim country a battlefield for true Islam has been created! Henk Schulte Nordholt wisely concluded that here in Leiden we were 'among the believers!'  I quoted (again) the remark of Mangunwijaya that 'Indonesia has too much religion'.  Too many people claim that religion is so important and that everything, all problems, must be solved by more religion. So many countries with low participation in the great religions have a good welfare system for the poor, the old and the sick.
Azyumardi blamed corruption as one of the causes: Indonesian economy is stagnant and there is lack of credibility in politicians. Salafi preachers claim that religion will be the solution, but they can never give real evidence for this.
The only woman in the group here was Naima Ajouaau of Not my Religion!, a group and a website against radical Islam in the Netherlands. But she had to give in that her group of activists wanted to give secular education and teaching of the Dutch language to migrant women who in fact wanted knowledge of Arabic and Qur'an reading as well as cheap (salafi) books rather than secular knowledge and liberal Islam.
A new term was launched (at least new for me): Wasatia Islam means Islam of the middle of the road, after the verse of sura 2:143 that the Muslim community should be a group of the middle. It is in the section of the change of Qiblat from Jerusalem to Mecca where Madina is the middle. But it is now also used between secular society and full shari'a state, in fact the Pancasila State.
I repeated the suggestion that moderate Islam has a connotation of tame, not really convinced and enthusiast system of belief. Islam Nusantara may add some nationalist fervor to the Indonesian Muslims. Anyway they do often not really like the Arabs!
A photo was made at a moment when quite a few had already take leave and a select group was preparing for the nice lunch we had and where talks were continued in an informal way. Perhaps some secuilar opponents of Islam should have been invited as well as radical Muslims: it is one step again in the quest for a modern and adjusted Islam for the whole world!

donderdag 30 maart 2017

The debate about Islam Nusantara, 3: a concluding dinner and a poem

The second day, 28 March 2017 was for internal affairs within the Nahdlatul Ulama organization. 29 March there was a great dinner for some 150 people at the Indonesian Embassy in The Hague. There was nice food, many speeches and also quite many performances of Muslim 'entertainment'. It was the kind of what we called the Friday morning 'desert sound' on the radio with sons, lyrics in mixef Indonesian and arabic.


For the presentation of Islam Nusantara there was a group of some 14 former stewardesses of Garuda Airlines. They had come especially for this three-day event from Jakarta. Above, in red is their presentation at the conference of 27 March at the Free University. Below the colourful dress worn at the closing dinner of 29th. All hymns and lyrics sung by heart with modest dancing.


The ladies in black above are a group of salawat-singers of NU circles in the Netherlands. The youngsters below performed a very dynamic way of pious local dances. Great entertainment, between the numerous speeches as part of a good Indonesian festive event.
I had written a poem to celebrate Islam nusantara and could read it here as well.


Sifat duapuluh seorang Muslim Nusantara atau
Kebanggaan Ganda

Tentu saja dia bisa berenang
antara sini dan sana, datang dan pulang
dia tetap dalam air merasa senang
dari pulau ke pulau Tuhanlah dia memandang

Baginya samudra adalah Tuhannya
pulau-pulau hanya stasiun atau maqamnya
Hamzah Fansuri nakhodanya
Sunan Giri tetap gurunya

Baginya Belanda tidak lagi musuh
banyak cari negara ini sebagai tempat teduh
restorannya menyediakan nasi lezat, piring penuh
tanah Arab dianggapnya kering dan keruh

Mukhalaf lil hawadith, berbeda dari yang baru
dia juga tidak takut kemodernan, tak terharu
hal yang baru tidak jadi dia menyeru
malah penyesuaian, pembaharuan itu perlu!

Ahmad Baso adalah laksmana pikiran
dialah yang memimpin pasukan
memberikan ceramah berapi, nulis laporan
Habib dan ustaz takut dia punya ajakan.

NU tidak hanya makna Nahdat al-'ulama
tetapi juga bangkit semangat Nusantara
tidak perlu lagi fatwa jihad lawan Belanda
Tebuireng, waratsatul Majapahit, menjadi tanda kebanggaan ganda.

Karel Steenbrink, Den Haag 29 Maret 2017