dinsdag 28 januari 2014

Suhadi and the Abangan of Surakarta

The second doctoral dissertation this week was today, 28 January, in Nijmegen. (Cholil) Suhadi gave his dissertation the long title: I Com from a Pancasila Family. A Discursive Study on Muslim-Christian Identity Transformation in Indonesian Post-Reformasi Era.
He put 24 groups of Muslims, Christian, or mixed together to talk about each other and so to define perception of the other. He is more positive than Mujiburrahman who concluded Feeling threatened. There is more nuance in his work, but all anonymously, not historical like Mujib did.
Nijmegen has not the great quantity of paintings of former professors, but overall the setting and procedures are similar in both universities.
I quote below from my notes and questions for Suhadi:

Dear Suhadi, Dear/geachte promovendus. Your dissertation shows a fresh approach to an issue that has been often studied during the last two decades, Muslim-Christian relations especially mutual perceptions. The dogmatic positions of some religious parties as well as the political decisions by local and national leaders have been described, besides a number of local conflicts. A nice book on this theme by Mujiburrahman has the title Feeling threatened. (Utrecht dissertation 2006). Mujiburrahman described how many Muslims express the danger of Kristenisasi by Christian missionaries. But also how Christians are afraid that they will have no longer freedom of religion. Feeling threatened.

Your study gives a deeper insight and more nuances. I summarize as if you say: the others are indeed dangerous, but quite a few of them are good guys, reasonable and tolerant. One keyword used by your respondents is here abangan. (see page 217, where you talk about the ‘conversion’ of Merle Ricklefs). In 2010 Bob Heffner, well known to you, wrote an article with the title: ‘Where have all the abangan gone?’ Apparently he saw only hardliners, besides quite strict Muslims, but no longer the many abangan. My question to you is: could you defend to Bob Heffner that there are not only still many abangan among the Muslims of Solo, but even quite many among the Christians?

In the title you refer to a Pancasila family: after 1998 it seemed as if the strict power of Pancasila had gone: Muslim and Christian parties returned, Pancasila was no longer important as an asas tunggal or an important requirement for organizations. During the Orde Baru of Soeharto there was much bombastic and irrelevant Pancasila rhetoric, as you state on page 207-8. Could you elaborate more detailed about the weak and the strong sides of Pancasila. How is this positive idea of Pancasila to be reconciled with modern Indonesian reality that in 10% of all kabupaten of districts perda sharia are accepted?
 Promotors here were Frans Wijsen from Nijmegen and Dr. Wening Udasmoro from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, where Suhadi is also teaching at the CRCS, Centre for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies.
Suhadi took all his material from a description of Surakarta: with 23% Christians rather strong in Christianity, but still a minority. However, in all other towns of Java the number of Christians is much smaller. He did not really go deep into the historical causes for the special case of Solo. The book is much better than the ceremony of the defence: a quite strange ceremony where in 45 minutes seven professors put difficult questions, often quite theoretical with heavy technical terminology to a candidate they often did not ever meet before.
Anyhow, it is a nice book about real people, how they live together, how they differ in their attitudes. Selamat pulang ke Yogyakarta! And isn't he a nice guy?

Din Wahid and Salafi Pesantren

It is time again to write something as a first piece for this year. 27 January 2014 we had the celebration of the doctoral dissertation of Din Wahid in Utrecht: Nurturing the Salafi Manhaj: a study of Salafi Pesantrens in Contemporary Indonesia.
Din is born in 1968, did his  secondary education in Gontor, taught for two years as kerja bakti. His BA is from Jakarta, UIN Syarif Hidayatullah. His MA in Leiden and now he returned for an Utrecht PhD to the Salafi Pesantrens. There are some 50 Salafi pesantrens amongst 5-6,000 (or even 45,000: Pesantren plus madrasah) in Indonesia. So, not more than 1% or even less. But anything salafi is now hot, impressive and important.
They are serious, teach good Arabic, often receive much money from Arab countries, and are all different. That is the rule for pesantren in general and especially also for salafi ones. They are in doctrine close to Persis and Muhammadiyah (groups that were labelled Wahhabi in the 1920s and 1930s), and some distinguishing markes are the shorter trousers, beard, seclusion from infidels. The first chapters gave a nice systematic introduction into what salafism really is, but the other chapters again showed a good diversity. They look quite innocent and the panic of the 2009 book Ilusi Negara Islam is not found in this book.
It is harvest time for Martin van Bruinessen who had a few weeks ago another dissertation, by Zoltan Pall, on Lebanese Salafism and now this good one. Nice work, fieldwork under sometimes difficult circumstances, because Salafi Muslims are not really keen on outsiders.
Bob Heffner came for the examination from Boston. Din Wahid from Jakarta; it is a short ceremony, not a real examination because the result is already defined. A dissertation looks like a book,but it is not really a book, the title is too long, it will be difficult to be sold in the market, although Salafism is popular, but the style, even of this well dissertation, still is too close to what other people also want in this book: a good deal of general theory and no entertaining stories, let alone, a broad narrative. But I likes some of the anecdotes and especially the way the differences between the soul mates are pictured.
I wrote a short poem for him, as usual: 

Din Wahid sekarang sudah Doktor fi Dīn
Berulang-ulang pergi ke negeri dingin
Isteri dan anak memberikan izin
Asal dia tetap minal mu’minin

Lahir di pantai Indramayu
Waktu remaja pergi ke daerah Madiun
Belajar terus, menolak tawaran puteri ayu
Semangat mengajar tak pernah  layu.

Habis belajar di Gontor, pindah ke metropolis
Di pinggiran Jakarta di Uin menjadi usulis
Ya, usuluddin untuk jabatan dalam negeri kurang praktis
Tetapi cocok untuk belajar ke luar negeri, Leiden semacam INIS.

Pandai meneliti si Din Wahid dengan bahasa Arabnya
Kalau ke salafi, ya, cocok ucapan dan lidahnya
Kalau di Leiden dan Utrecht pakai Inggrisnya
Untuk setiap lingkungan ada bahasanya

Badan tetap kecil, rambutnya sudah hilang,
Senyum selalu lebar dan menunjuk sikap senang
Juga kalau di Jakarta dalam taksi, macet tidak bosan
Karena ke isteri dan anak akan pulang.