dinsdag 3 maart 2015

Indonesian Islam is 'colourful and relaxed', fit for export according to Azyumardi Azra

During the last few years I have given several times a course of eight lectures on international Islam. These courses start with the three central countries of early Islam: Arabia, Persia, Turkey. They are followed by convert after 1000CE: Indian subcontinent, Indonesia, African Muslims. No 7 is the modern Islam in the West and last session for conclusions. For each Muslim culture modern novels were discussed besides the historical and cultural data. Always the conclusion was that the Muslim world is very diverse.
This is also a main theme in an interview in the daily TROUW of 2 March 2015. Reporter Wouter van Cleef (living in Japan) had a talk with Azyumardi Azra of the Jakarta Syarif hidayatullah UIN (Universitas Islam Negeri). The title was: Exporteer de kleurrijke en relaxte islam van Indonesië. This reminded me of an observation by G. Drewes in 1955 (in a book on the Muslim Word by Grünebaum): they were always good followers, they never have taken the lead.  In Mecca, in Damascus, in Cairo they were industrious students, but not leading reformers.
Here Azyumardi expresses the need for a Muslim Enlightenment that could and should start from the moderate and modern Indonesian style of Islam. Important is that the two great organizations (Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama) may count on some 150 million members or sympathizers. Moreover there is a strong sufi interest and concern among Indonesian Muslims. Arab traditions like wahabi Islam are too 'dry' for Indonesians.
In the period of Yudhoyono some politicans sought support from radical islamists, sectarian groups and therefore under his presidency these radical groups could begin violence and not much action was taken against this. Indonesians have tried to propagate their model in a modest way to other countries, but they have not continued these actions. Another problem is that Indonesians have a big market where they can use Indonesian and they do not often publish articles or books in Arabic or in English. Good to read this in a Dutch newspaper!
Also in the Netherlands the Indonesian Muslims are modest. Indeed, they are a minority among larger groups of Turkish and Moroccan Muslims. But quite a few hardline preachers from Syria and Egypt have a following among various nations, while the Indonesian Muslims mostly only seek a following among themselves. A nice exception of Ahmed Pattisahusiwa as Sufi shaykh of Indonesian/Moluccan offspring who preaches the Haqqani-Naqshbandi variant of sufism according to Shaykh Nazim al-Qubrusi (from Cyprus). My students loved to go there to see the darwishes dwirling!
A nice observation is the trouble in the Middle East about cartoons like those of Charlie Hebdo. They have little experience with secular people in their society and do no know how to react.

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