vrijdag 2 december 2016


For the great research project CMR, Christian-Muslim Relations, a Bibliographical Survey, I am now reading sections of 5100 pages of Francis Valentijn's Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indien. I look especially for his vision on Muslim-Christian Relations, of course. The eight volumes tell us much about Asia, concentrating first on tyhe Moluccas, (Ternate, Tidore, Ambon), Javanese history and also further countries of Asia. Because Valentijn was a Protestant (Calvinist, Reormed) minister he gives much information about his own church, but deals also in length with other topics.
The first to be said is about the title page with the image of Valtijn himself, three ladies and three men.
The left above is the Church of the East (in fact of Ambon and batavia): she is a shining light for others. The lady with one bare breast is the Greek goddes Pallas Athena, in the Latin world known as Minerva. She is a goddess of war (therefore the helmet) but also of science. A strange combination! Right on top a lady has disappeared, Thalia, the goddess for festivals and theatres. She is a daighter of Zeus/Jupiter.
The man right, with the turban, is the representative of the Jewish religion.
Below left, in the back, there a Chinese man, representative for Mandarins, Confucians religion. With the curly hair we see a Moor or Muslim, but from East Indonesia. He is looking in a book where we can read the words Al-Kitab which stands for the Bible (not the Qur'an here) and apparently a Muslim who is interested in Christianity (a rare occasion and not really supported by the content of the book by Valentijn).
One interesting thing in the first volume is a letter in Malay, written in Arab script by Valentijn's daughter Cornelia.  It is originally written by the Sultan of Bacan, who hopes that a precious diamand will be sent to him from Hitu on the island of Ambon.
Here is the text (with small alterations taken from Valentijn, Volume 1, Section on the Moluccas, page 121):

Kalām al-sidq  qaul al-haqq
Salaam afdalul doa akmaal yang terbit dari pada Mahabet ul coloeb, iya itu Anacdah padoeka siri Sulthan Makadeddin, Raja Bacan yang menyampaikan tsahhief ul ikhlas, akan menyatakan hormat al aziz serta dengan tabea banyak-banyak kepada ayahanda Heer Gouwernedur Adriaan van der Stel yang memerintahkan dalam negeri Ambon, memegang kuasa Kompeni, hingga dari sekalian dalam India, sebab cahaya akalaan budiman lagi bijaksanaan melakukan pada segala pekerjaannya. Syahdan mengasih segala orang kesukaran dan kedagangan, lagi mengetahui segala bangsa qarib dan ba’id dan terlebih pula yang menganugerahkan Akkah subhanahu wa ta’ala salamat sempurna usia umur kabesaran dan yang ketinggian, selama-lamnya. Amin Ya, rabb al ‘alamin.
Kemudian daripada itu tiada ada barang sesuatu, hanya anakdah bilang tatkala kaicil Mangsur dan kaicil Duba Duba itusudah memberitahu kepada ayahanda daripada bat uiwak itu. Maka itu anakda minta tolong sedikit kepada anakda, memanggil mana orang yang menaruh batu itu namanya tubang besi, baiklah iya membawa kepada Ayahanda Heer Gouwernadoor, maka ayahanda mengambil batu itu, memberi kepada budak anak Syahbandar yang bernama Abdur-Rahman itu karena batu itu dengan janjinya, jikalau Ayahanda tiada mengerti janji itu baiklah panggil Latuwani karena anakda sudah memberi tahu kepada Latuwani itu tempat.
Tiada ada cenderamata barang sesuatu seperti patut, hanya dua ekor burung Papua.
Demikianlah kami tamatkan surat ini dari istananya Raja Bacan, daripada selikur hari bulan Syawwal tahun seribu dan seratus dua puluh satu.

Another picture here is about the queen or sulthana of Ternate who ruled after her husband Bayanuallh had died in 1522. In fact the drawing looks somewhat like a European court scene!  But the queen is not sitting on a chair or throne, but on the ground, the courtiers wear turbans. Valentijn also tells us that Bayanullah wanted to kill all Portuguese in his realm (they were just arriving at the time).

zaterdag 26 november 2016

More Maarif

I have now finished reading the book Islam dalam Bingkai Keindonesiaan dan Kemanusiaan by Syafii Maarif (2009). It is so different from the other angry book of 2009, Ilusi Negara Islam which is mostly an attack on the 'infiltration of Sakafism' in organization like Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah.
During further reading it has remained a kind of compilation of wise observations and wishes.
Qur'an 49:13  (about God who has created mankind different, male/female, various peoples and tribes) at least three times pp. 16, 69, 201. Wh should not dream about one dominant religion or state system. The Caliphate is denounced as a political system that never was perfect: out of the four first caliphs, three were killed: not really a peaceful start for Islam.
Maarif has much interest for Takdir Alisjabana (TAB) and the polemik kebudayaan, whether western modernity or Indonesian tradition should dominate our thinking.
In the chapter III on the present state of the Indonesian society (213-254) he discusses the problem of quality: according to United Nations standards for education Indonesia is only no 111 out of 175 countries. That is a low ranking (and he does not mention that NTT, the province with the highest percentage of  Christians also has nearly the lowest ranking for all of Indonesia!).
Some short remarkable  annotations:
p. 21: on 17 August 1945 the Piagam Jakarta was still included in the Constitution. Should it be still valid now? In general, however, we do not see a plea for application of shari'a rules. P. 28 has a somewhat cryptic note about the difficulty to discern between those who really have accepted the divine revaltion and those who do not
p. 27 Obama has uttered mild but clear criticism towards organized religion.
pp. 116-110 Is an unexpected positive description of the ideals of Tan Malaka: not only a Minangkabau scholar like maarif, but same idealism...
 Burhanuddin Harahap   (above) is praised for his perfect organization of the 1955 elections, a glorious event in the history of Indonesia. The outcome of the elections were a disaster: no agreement and the debates were frustarted by Sukarno who in 1959 proclaimed the authoritarian rule.
Page 185 is a strong argument against his old friend and colleague historian Deliar Noer, who joined a meeting of the Majelis Mujahidin  Indonesia. P. 190 has a very strong qualification for short-term president B.Y. Habibie as 'the second Hatta'. Next week I want read Maarif's  autobiography, to get a more complete picture of modern Muhammadiyah (between Amin Rais and Din Syamsuddin).

zaterdag 12 november 2016

Louis van de Vrande, chaplain for Dutch soldiers in 1945-1947. A war that not did become a Holy War.

In October I wrote already a blog about the recent Dutch debate on the dramatic, dirty and often neglected war crimes of the Dutch in Indonesia, 1945-1950. Next week, 17 November 2016,  a seminar at the Free University of Amsterdam will discuss the role of the churches in this last colonial war of the Dutch. I went to Sint Agatha to see the archives of the MSC priests, for Louis van de Vrande MSC (1901-1971). His diary was typewritten (about the year 2000 by Father Arie Vriens)  and available in the archives of the Dutch religious orders. After ordination in 1935 he went to the Philippines as a missionary, but returned to the Netherlands to seek candidates for the MSC religious order. When the diary begins, in Juky 1942 the Germans occupy the Netherlands. It is a story of cruel rule by arrogant Germans. Then, in mid-1944 the Allied Forces arrive (mostly Canadians and Polish troops). The Germans destroy bridges, costly machinery, the Allied Forces destroy many houses, many people were killed, terrible warfare like we now hear about the conquest of Mosul by the alliance against ISIS.
In  March 1945  Van de Vrande becomes army chaplain for Dutch troops, then still in France to fight against the Germans. In November he arrives in Malacca, in March 1946 in Batavia/Jakarta as army chaplain in the Dutch army.
In March-April 1946 he describes twice cruelties by the Ambonnese of the KNIL, the Dutch colonial  army.The first time it is about terrible beating during an interrogation. The second time several Indonesian soldiers are taken captive. One, a young boy of about 17 years, is relieved from his handcuffs and sent away. At a distance of some 8 meters he is killed by four Ambonnese soldiers who shoot in his back. Van de Vrande finds it a terrible act, something that should not happen in the army.  But he does not protest openly. Later in the diary we do not meet such descriptions: did they not happen, or was this man already accustomed to the crimes?
In the Government Report Excessennota of 1969 this event is mentioned and the army chaplain as witness, but not by his name.
In my talk on 17 November I will talk about several topics. First, about the fact that the war of independence was not about religion. Religion only played a very minor role here, it was between Dutch and Indonesians. I quote Mangunwijaya's Burung-burung Manyar as a sign of this minor role for religion. Second, some authors think that the colonial period did not change fundamentally Indonesia: just scratches on a rock? At least the presence of some 9% of Christians in Indonesia is an important aspect, a by-product of  the colonial relations and infrastructure. Of course, the whole process is more complicated, on the Dutch as well as on the Indonesian side. Third, the Catholics were divided as well  (like the Protestants): in Semarang and Yogyakarta Soegijapranata was as important as Kasimo on the Indonesian side, while Jesuits in Jakarta were often still dreaming of a continuation of some colonial influence.

dinsdag 8 november 2016

A partial wilayah of Ahok and NU/Muhammadiyah?

Since nearly amonth there a hot debate in Indonesia about Qur'an al-Maídah, 5:51. In translations it read: Take not the Jews and Christians for guardians and confidants (Ali Ünal). Awliya or wilayah is also translated as associates, partners. Ahok, the Chinese-Indoensian Christian who is governor of Jakarta, mentioned that some people use thise verse against the continuation of his position as governor after next elections in 2017. - The quote was also understood as if Ahok rejected the idea absolutely and so rejected the Qur'an. Some people want to take him to court for blasphemy or at least insult of the Qur'an.
While I was teaching in Indonesia, 1981-1988 I experienced quite often a liberal attitude for me. My farewell lecture had as title: Word of God or Toiletpaper? and could be sold in 3000 copies. Also a lecture with the title: Does God sleep caused no protest but some interest.
I had once a more heated debate about sura 17:1, where I quoted John Wansbrough who suggested that travelling by night was here not about the ascension of Muhammad to heaven, but about Moses/Musa leaving Egypt in the night through the Red Sea, because verse 17:2 is also about Moses. Anyway, maybe the situation is now more difficult. Definitely Ahok is a politician and I was just a foreign professor teaching in Jakarta and Yogyakarta.

The idea is also discussed by Farid Esack in his doctoral dissertation Qur'an, Liberation and Pluralism (esp. 180-193; published in 1997). Esack lived in South Africa (his homeland) during the last decades of apartheid. He joined the 'good whites' of the Protestant Church like Beyers Naudé in the protests against this racial oppression. Some South African Muslims said that he should not do this, quoting some verses like 5:51 (60:1+9; 3:28+118; 4:89, 139, 144). They suggested that he should join Ahmad Deedat, fierce and eloquent debater with Christians, defending Islamic doctrines. Esack wanted to create justice and stated that in quite a few verses of the Qur'an the Christians and Jews are also mentioned as believers, because believing is doing good, creating justice. And the believers should cooperate.
Some verses of the Qur'an indeed suggest that there are conflicts with (some) Christians and Jews, but this is not a general rule. Even in Al-Ma'idah 5:51 there is a difference between ba'dahum... and others. So, it is not one block against another, but there must be made a difference between the good and the bad ones.P. 181:  The text under discussion, Qur'an 5:51, like all those prohibiting Muslims from the wilayah of Others, is Medinan and reflects the religio-political tensions of that period. As I indicated in chapter 5, it is evident from the seemingly contradictory texts dealing with the religious Other that these reflect various stages in the Muslim-Other relationship.
In the reports about the protests against Ahok, Nahdlatul Ulama did not take part and also Muhammadiyah stayed away, not allowing its members to use Muhammadiyah symbols during the protests. But it will remain difficult. Sahiron Syamsuddin found it wise to use the word 'outsider' in the title of the translation of my book on Jesus in the Qur'an.  Outsider's view on the Qur'an are even more delicate than insiders debates.
Added on 12 November 2016: Henk Schulte Nordholt discussed this issue on Dutch Television. He added with some angry that Budi Yani, the man who shot the movie of Ahok talking about al-Ma'idah 51 was a former PhD student in at Leiden University but failed to finish or to do any writing and sho he was sent back to Indonesia.

maandag 7 november 2016

Muhammadiyah from TBC and 'Wahhabi' to attacks on Salafism

I am now busy with a close and detailed reading of the Masterpiece (according to Ayumardi Azra) of Syafii Maarif, his book Islam dalam Bingkai Keindonesiaan dan Kemanusiaan. It was published in 2009. The professor of history gives here a view on Islam from the perspective of Indonesian culture (history of Islamisation, fragments of Islamic history in Indonesia) and Human Rights (also related to the Indonesian statemphilosophy of Pancasila).
Syafii Maarif does not give a historical expose, rather an essay on various aspects of history. I wonder whether someone not familiar with the history of Indonesia will understand his arguments. But for insiders it is a wise, strong and fundamental book. My last great book on Muhammadiyah was the local study by Nakamura, The Crescent arises over the Banyan Tree (second edition of 2012). Mitsuo here mentions that the good old time of TBC, when Muhammadiyah could condemn in strong words the Takhayyul, Bid'ah, Churafat (superstitions, heresy, idolatry) is over and even in Kota Gede the Muhammadiyah Muslims are more open for present Indonesian culture. They do accept wayang stories, ketoprak theatre and modern movies. In the same way, Maarif here accepts a very broad definition of Indonesian Islam and does not repeat that we have to return to (only) Qur'an and Hadith.
Pp. 60-1 has a nice juxtaposition of Geertz (who understands true Islam as the hardcore santri variant, as separate from abangan or local Muslims), while Hodgson in his Venture of Islam has a broader vision on the changes in the world religion of Islam, also in Indonesia.
For the last century Maarif sees a growth of conversions to Christianity, but this has not weakened Islam. Just the opposite: there is an overall revival and growth of the major religions and besides a turn to Christianity there was over the last 100 years even a stronger growth of Islam.
On p. 329 Maarif quotes Wertheim writing about a 'pound of rice [to be given to] any child actually attending a Christian school'.  This is seen as the beginning of Rice Christians, already by order of Jan Pieterszoon Coen. (Indonesian Society in Transition, p. 201). Maarif blames me that I did write some four pages about Coen (in my Dutch Colonialism and Indonesian Islam) but did not mention this reward for a conversion. Instead, I have stressed the idea of Coen that it was impossible to convert Muslim to Christianity, especially in the Moluccas, and therefore he hoped that the VOC would send many native Dutch people to the Indies (what did not happen). I looked in the sources of Wertheim, but could not find the pound of rice. I will look further! And more will come out of reading this precious book.

vrijdag 28 oktober 2016

Shame to you: Dutch army in Indonesia!

Many Indonesian and Dutch people still remember the 'Pronk Affair' of 1992 when Dutch Minister for International Cooperation and IGGI chair Jan Pronk uttered severe criticism to the Soeharto Government for its cruel oppression of freedom fighters and demonstrations for human rights in East Timor. More recently there is the action related to the finding and recognition of truth of the violence of the period 1965-1967 related to the beginning of the Soeharto regime after the bloody coup of 30 September 1965.
Now, however, the Dutch army itself is under attack because of increasing publications and debates about the cruelties, war crimes committed by many members of the Dutch army in the period 1946-1949 in Indopnesia. In 1969 a list of these crimes were already listed as 'excessen' to be understood as incidental transgressions of the use of violence. Two books have recvently been puiblished on this theme. One is by KITLV Director Gert Oost-Inhdië with a summary of 659 private documents (reorts, diaries, letters, published books) of former soldiers. They add many more war crimes to the list of more than one hundred cases of the 1969 report.
All kind of reactions are now coming. One is a congference, 16 november 2016 to be held in Amsterdam, Free University, under the title: The Churches and the War in Indonesia, 1945-1950. Various speakers will talk about the role of churches in this cruel process that ended colonial rule in Indonesia (with the exception of Papua).
I will give an overview of the Catholic history. There are two general considerations to be made: one if that the end of colonial rule did not so much affect directly religious relations. Dutch missionaries experienced problems, but in general they could continue their work, different from business people.
It is also interesting to see that the religious sentiments did not play an important role: it was not a fight between Muslims and Christians but between Indonesians and Duch.
UCAN, the site of information about Christians in Asia, yesterday had a report about the 'Javanese martyr', the priest Richardus Sandjaja, killed on 20 December 1948 by members of a militia which was probably Islamic of character. But in the description it was only said that they blamed him 'for cooperation with the Dutch'.

The picture above shows some people praying at the grave. It is believed that praying here may help women who want to become pregnant. There are also stories of people who saw their cancer stopped after praying at this grave in Muntilan. The Dutch who were killed at this and one other event during the perior of colonial war (one 20 December 1948,  and nine victims in Magelang on 1 November 1945. They are not officially recognised as 'martyrs' by the Catholic Church, because the process for this has been stopped.
Postscript on 3 December 2016: Yesterday the Dutch government took the decision to finance a great project for historical research about the war crimes. The project will take 6 years: the last victims will be dead probably at the end of that period. but some things put on paper properly!

vrijdag 21 oktober 2016

Ahok, Sura 5 Al Maidah: 51 and the Sultan of Banten

Al Islam ya'lu la yu'la alaihi: 'Islam is the greatest and will not accept superiority of a non-Muslim person' is some kind of Qaidah Fiqh, a basic idea in Islamic thinking. It can be explained in very different ways. One is, that God has created human beings different: men and women, various nations and tribes (Qur'an: 49:13) and also of different religions and denominations: so, faqtabiqu bi'l khairat, we have to struggle to be the best. There is also a more restricted explanation, that Muslims should be ruled by Muslims only, not by other people.
A tricky verse of the Qur'an (5:51) forbids the Believers to take Jews and Christians as 'partners, friends, awliya' 'He among you who taketh them for friends is one of them.'
This is extended in many ways: if you are dressed like them, 'you are one of them', ... if you join their festivals, like the yaum al hubb or Valentine's Day: you are one of them. This was a fatwa that I used at the University College, to explain the structure and logic of a fatwa and how it is used to solve modern questions.
On 27 September 2016 the Chinese Christian Ahok, governor of  Jakarta visited the islands in the bay of Jakarta, Pulau Seribu and quoted this verse, because the population of the islands is strongly Muslim and Ahok has been educated in a state school where Islam was thoroughly instructed. The verse 5:51 can be explained in various ways too. Ahok wanted to state that he is a friend for Muslims, who also gave good subsidies and donations to Muslim schools, madrasah. There are new elections for local officials in 2017 coming and popularity is important and religion is again an issue. Ahok took the wrong verse or Muslims took different interpretations and Ahok was corrected and criticised by the local Muslim Council. He apologised at various occasions.
But one day later (22 October 2016) the Jakarta Post mentioned that a number of NU activists praised Ahok (Basuki Tjahaja) for his concern to understand and deal with Muslims.
Another recent case of Musim sensitivity for non-Muslim officials is the nomination of the head of police in Banten, Listyo Sigit Prabowo, a Catholic. This nomination is contested by several Muslim groups, including the leadership of MUI-Banten, the Indonesian Muslim Council, Banten chapter.  They stated that traditionally Banten has been a Muslim sultanate (although not surviving until today like the much more liberal Yogyakarta). So, this Banten identity should request that the local government shoulod be dominated by Muslims only.
5 October 2016 was the great day for the inauguration this Listyo Sigit Prabowo in Banten as the head of police (it is also the Day of the Indonesian Army).