maandag 17 maart 2014

As a tribute to Djohan Effendi, Open letter to MUI, 30 July 2005

In another blog  have written some impressions about his biography. Here in translation p. 234-5.

Open letter to the leadership of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia, MUI, Counsil of Muslim Clercs of Indonesia

by: Djohan Effendi, General chairman of the Indonesian Conference for Religion and Peace

Dear leaders of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia,

Please, allow me to address to you this open letter, in relation to the cruelties that were directed towards some Human Beings, creatures of God in our country, members of the Ahmadiyah Community of Indonesia. These acts of cruelty are, directly or indirectly, related to the fatwa of the MUI that defined their convictions as a deviating belief. I write this letter not in order to defend the opinions and belief of the Ahmadiyah Community in Indonesia, but to call for a defence of the freedom of conscience that by God is given to Human  Beings as his Caliphs or Caretakers on the earth.
I will not discuss or question the content of the said fatwa because the issue of deviation is a common fact in the life of religions anywhere and at all times. I understand fully that the said fatwa is based upon the feeling of responsibility of the Leadership of the MUI to warn the Muslim under their pastoral care in order to prevent that they they turn to the 'wrong road' by doctrines that they consider as deviating from the true doctrine.
Throug this letter I want to submit several questions related to the implications of this fatwa that has caused the rise of violent riots and the destruction of the goods of those who were considered as deviating.
Are those who are the object of this fatwa as deviating no longer allowed to live on this earth of the Lord? Were they not born according to the wish of our Lord? Further, does the Country or the administration have the authority to chase them away from the surface of this earth? Isn't it not true the Lord was never teaching us, that this earth only can be used by those who never were deviating from his commands?
Are they no longer allowed to recite the confession of faith, shahada, to perform the prayers and fast, pay the zakat, and other religious duties like the other Muslims perform, because they are no longer seen as Muslims? Must their houses of prayer be closed, their mosques closed, where they perform the common Friday prayers and have other prayers together, where they say the salat tahajjud?
Is it to them forbidden to recite the Qur'an and study the books of hadith, as they did until now?
If they follow the wrong doctrine, should we not consider it as their own responsibility? Is the responsibility of the ulama not restricted to the communication of this judgment and should they rather restrain from any violence or constraint?
I do truly hope that through this letter the leadership of MUI will not allow anybody to abuse this fatwa as an excuse for the use of violence towards members of the Jemaat Ahmadiyah Indonesia or consider them as no longer truly Human Beings who are loved by God. It this moment they are in the grip of fear, their lives and property are under attack. They are forced to pray in hidden places. It is even so that also the Government officials no longer consider them as people who have the constitutional right as citizens, because about them a fatwa has been issued that they adhere to a false doctrine.
I am convinced that we all still are able to hear the voice of our conscience.
Jakarta 30 July 2005.

Djohan Effendi

Last months I have given attention to several important personalities. I have accepted some duties for the great project CMR, Christian-Muslim Relation, a Bibliographical History. Five volumes or some 4000 pages have appeared for the period 600-1500. Now the 16th century is under preparation and I am writing entries on Erasmus and Michael Servet. I have written about them on my Dutch-language blog. Erasmus wrote many letters: some 3000 (over 30 years, 100 per year) have been printed and they can consulted also in translations. I like the mild and pragmatic tone of Erasmus. Although he can be sarcastic, somewhat cynic, he always has a view to middle of the road solutions: not a dogmatic, but a pragmatic irenic and pacifist attitude. Better no war against the Turcs, but first unity in Europe and if war is necessary the religious institutions must abstain (also the Vatican State, where Pope Juluis II was a true warrior!).
Servetus was a multi-talent like Erasmus, even more: good in medical science, geography, but a fanatic enemy of the doctrine of Trinity. I consider the doctrine not suited to be used in this century, but do not agree with his solutions and also not with his hard estimation of what happened in Nicea: it was manipulation of secular rulers, of religious leaders, but he should have known that real life is like that!

A few weeks ago I did some work on Frans Seda, but last weeks I also read more about Djohan Effendi. There is an 800 pages Festschrift, Merayakan Kebebasan Beragama, a nice volume with personal summaries of all suras of the Qur'an, but I found most interesting the biography Sang Pelintas Batas. Biografi Djohan Effendi written by Ahmad Gaus AF (with 12 extra personal contributions by friends). All in totalling some 2000 pages.
In the beginning there is the complaint by the author that only Greg Barton has given attention to DE as a thinker as to himself, at the same level as Nurcholis Madjid, Abdurrahman Wahid. For many others he is a facilitator, stimulator, editor, but not the thinker per se.
We can add some notes for this. First of all most Indonesian progressive thinkers were not authors of books, but rather of articles. They do not present a full system of ideas, but rather remarks, ideas. We should say, they write columns rather than text books. Djohan Effendi wrote many pieces, speeches for the president, and other high officials, but they were not presented under his own name and are never collected into his Opera Omnia. These texts show his realism: not only radical ideas, but proposals that were sometimes deleted, oppressed, but often also spoken and published as policy of the Indonesian government. 
He was a seeker: from PERSIS to Ahmadiyah, but never a prisoner or a full addict: he liked the liberal thinking of Ahmadi people, but did not like their blunt polemic writings and talking. He was member of HMI, but wanted to stay away from politics.
Most impressive is his sober lifestyle: he lived among high officials, but was simple with money, did not seek his own profit.
The nbiography is extremely interesting for anything related to  Departemen Agama and its institutions, like PHIN, PTAIN, the predecessors of IAIN and UIN, the Islamic State University.
A nice observation is about banning of spiritual movements like the Tarekat al-Junaidiyah in Amuntai: was declared as sesat or deviating, but not forbidden and there were no measures taken against its leaders and members, no houses burnt (p. 56).  Djohan was someone for small groups: the Limited group witrh Mukti Ali until the group of Kelompok Studi Proklamasi 51.
For the Proyek Kerukunan (stimulated after the failure of 1968) Djohan found it important that religious leaders should know each other, find a personal face behind a name and a function. But he was also happy with the place in the international field that was realized through the establishment of ICRP. He was often angry about MUI, although he studied Islamic Law at the PHI, but he want them as a mediator in conflicts and not as a single and supreme judge in the field of religion. Therefore he also wanted DIAN in Yogyakarta (together with Th Sumartana and Elga Sarapung) and MADIA in Jakarta.
Djohan loved Indonesia, but in small steps migrated to Australia: for a better education for his children, helped by the possibility to write his PhD Thesis in Deakin.
Djohan strongly protested against the restriction to five religions only. One of his best known speeches was about this theme: when he was elected as a Senior Researcher by the Ministry of Religion  in 1993 (page 329 and various other places). Confucianism in Indonesia must be thankful to his open mind and continuing struggle for recognition. As a tribute to him I will in another blog translate his reaction on the fatwa of MUI against the Ahmadiyah.

zondag 9 maart 2014

Ten Utopias for the Indonesia of Frans Seda, 1926-2009

Frans Seda was born in the late colonial period, where the ideology of the ethical policy was the dominant discourse among supporters of Dutch rule. It was based in some sense on a divine or historical mission of the Dutch people that they should educate or lead the Indonesian people towards a mature and strong position in the modern world. Not political or economic gain, but the development of the Indonesian people was the proclaimed goal of this last phase of more than three centuries of complicated and often unbalanced relations between the two societies. Education for the Outer Island, including Flores, was entrusted to the Christian Churches. Seda's father was a teacher within the Catholic Governmental system. Frans Seda himself was not a passive consumer: he took the top of the opportunities offered to him. He went as the first of his generation to Muntilan in Java, to join the the best secondary education available. Colonialism has a good side: nations do not live isolated, make profit not only through trade, but also through exchange of ideas. Of course, the system has also many dark sides and Frans Seda joined the fight against colonialism in the period 1945-1949.
That other ideology of the period was nationalism. In 1926, the year Frans Seda was born, Sukarno graduated as an engineer in Bandung and joined the nationalist movement. Nationalism is in our short exposure here the second ideology. It stated that a nation should not live under a stranger king but should have its own national elite to lead the nation. It is quite well known that many nations flourished under stranger kings. Even our Dutch society was lead by the Oranje family, coming from France and Germany rather than being truly Dutch in origin. The nationalist movement was not strong in Flores and Sukarno was between 1934 and 1938 in Ende, Flores, in exile but not in detention. Later Seda would for a short period embrace nationalism, but never in a narrow sense.

A third overall discourse about an ideal world was the Catholic ideal of the Kingdom of God as represented by the Catholic Mission in Flores, which was much more than only a religious and spiritual movement. It was more or less a pseudo-state, in the general formulation of the time 'a perfect society' in itself, that recognised another society, the secular state. But especially in Flores much of the new social state was ruled by the clergy and Catholic rules. The old villages had been removed to new establishments along the trans-Flores road that was built between 1910-1926. Dutch colonial officials were small in number and the foreign mission personnel was about ten times that of Dutch administrators. The colonial officials even showed some envy saying that 'the mission seems to have nearly unlimited resources´ (Steenbrink 2007:102).