donderdag 10 augustus 2017

A 'Fatwa' on/against Muslim Mysticism by L.W.C. van den Berg

I am still working on writings of Lodewijk van den Berg (1845-1927)  the first academic Dutch scholar who did field work about Islam in Indonesia and wrote quite many books and articles, still before Snouck Hurgronje (only 11 years younger) arrived in the field. Snouck did not like Van den Berg, wrote in a strong way against him, more or less as a 'charlatan' and therefore Van den Berg is not really well known in the academic world.
Van den Berg was in the Indies between 1869-1887, leaving the colony two years before Snouck arrived. He was legal advisor on things Arab and Islamic. He translated a major fiqh book and was a consultant for the way how to deal as the ruler of the country with Muslim citizens who enjoyed freedom of religion and were allowed to apply several sections of shari'a law.
Perhaps his best known work is the monography on the Arabs of Hadramaut and the migrants from that region to the Malay Archipelago (where they were business people, active in money lending, small trade and sometimes also in religious business).

Arab people usually do not like the mystical brotherhoods, tariqa, but the more pious Indonesians are fond of the societies.  In 1886 another Arab in Batavia, Sayyid Uthman published a panphlet against tariqa and it caused some debate. The Resident of Bandung even wanted to ban the pamphlet because it could cause unrest. After the advice of L.W. C. van den Berg, there was some kind of a religious decision or fatwa: 'We must agree that Sayyid Uthman attacks the brotherhoods in his pamphlet, but this council does not join the opinion that it is a writing that creates unrest and hatred. Just the opposite: this writing must be taken as a useful publication, because it forbids practices which are not in line with the Qur'an. Also many other scholars forbid these practices as dangerous'.  (Here quoted after my introduction to the translation of the Hadramaut book by Van den Berg in the series of INIS Publications.

woensdag 2 augustus 2017

More 'deviations' as selected by L.W.C.

L.W.C. van den Berg has a series of writings on 'deviations of Indonesian Muslims from standard Islamic Law'. One interesting piece is his article on the Muhammedan Rulers and their neglect of the good Muslim shari'a rules. See his ‘De Mohammedaansche vorsten in Nederlandsch-Indië’, BKI, Bijdragen tot de taal-, land-, en volkenkunde 53 (1901), 1-80.

According to Shari'a the ruler is a common human being but in Javanese culture he is superhuman. His clothes are considered as sacred and used as ammulet, he may do with his people what he want 'like a puppet player or dalang with his puppets'.  He wears yellow dress, not the green colour of true Muslims but yellow probably after the imperial traditions of China. Seven Sultans are of Arabic descent and they use Arab titles, but the Javanese have other names like panembahan, susuhunan. There is no line of inheritance in proper Muslim law, but most rulers in Indonesia  follow the lines of offspring. There are many female rulers in Indonesian Islamic states, most of all in South Celebes.
The ruler of Surakarta, Pakubuwana X
The  real Muslim ruler, according to shari'a and L.W.C. van den Berg, has absolute power: no patih or governor who have power of their own and even a line of succession. There is only shura, only advisors.  The pusaka or sword, clothes and other royal objects have magic power, which is also contradictory to Islam.
It is now really funny to read how severe Van den Berg is about 'his' Indonesian Muslims: as if he works and writes as a Majelis Ulama who condems many heretical deviations in the country. But Van den Berg was a good traditional Christian, member of parliament for conservative Christians later in Delft. His position as 'advisor in Arab and Muslim Affairs' made him somewhat schizophrenic!
To conclude a funny picture I found on the internet from the same period, but not related to the topic of today! But it is all about mixture of cultre: Buddhist, of course, western and Javanese dress a modern umbrella and the traditional yellow payung.

vrijdag 28 juli 2017

"Receptio in complexu": from the Codex Justinianus and Roman Law to Germany and Indonesia

I am still working on an entry on L.W.C. van den Berg for CMR, the Bibliographical History of Christian Muslim Relations. Yesterday I read an interesting reference to his best known theory: of Receptio in Complexu. This is the reception of the full content of Islamic Law at the moment of conversion to Islam. I was reading a second article on 'Deviations from Muslim Personal Law in Indonesia, esp. Java and Madura' with the title Nalezing, in BKI, Bijdragen tot de taal-, land-, en volkenkunde, 45 (1895), 291-314. Among other topics Van den Berg here gives the example of  the requirements for a valid marriage: a 'priest' (penghulu or naib) is traditionally requiredfor the validity, although orthodox and 'pure' Muslim Law only requires the two witnesses, the bridegroom and the wali or representatives of the bride.
Then Van den Berg turns to the more theoretical questions of the reception of Muslim Law in Indoensia. He gives two arguments. First is the shahada: the two lines of the confession of faith are both important: there is One God, Muhammad is his Prophet. The second line must be understood as acceptance of the full shari'a, at least in general theory. This is also shown in the image of the double sword of Muhammad in the Muharrar of Sinusi (not Sanusi, but Van den Berg writes Sinoesi).
Here Van den Berg sees the great difference between Islam and Christianity: the latter only defines the general rules of ethical conduct and leaves it to the local communities to define more precise rulings, while Islam is poor in the general rules of conduct and has much more detailed about human conduct. In a reation on his first article on family law (and its many deviations in Java and Madura) one esteemed colleague wrote: 'Is it not possbile to become a selective Muslim, accepting only some rulings of Islam, while neglecting other aspects?' One Mr. M.C. Piepers had written: 'men kan toch ook een godsdienst voor een deel aannemen’  [it is possible to accept a religion partly']. This is not possible for L.W.C. van den Berg because in this condition the second section of the shahada is neglected.
Then, on pages 310-312 twice the terminology of receptio in complexu is used (for the first time as I know). Van den Berg has taken it from a debate in Germany about the spread of Roman Law in the Middle Ages in Germany. He refers to a book in German byWindscheid, Lehrbuch des Pandektenrechts, dl I Par. 2; also to W. Modderman, De receptie van het Romeinsche Recht p. 14, 23, 47 en 53 en vv.  The book by Modderman is from 1874. 
Not all details of Roman Law were practised in mediaeval Europe, but still with the acceptance of Christianity also the 'Christian Law' or Roman Law was accepted in that time. It remains unclear to me how Van den Berg interprets his 'deviations': he does not like adat law because it is not precise and does not give certainty in society. And what about non-Muslim rulers who have authority over Muslims: should they apply adat law or Muslim Law? So far, the reception in complexu has become more a problem for me than it was before!

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.