zaterdag 7 maart 2015

Jacob van Neck and abangan

I am now quite busi with CMR, Christian-Muslim Relation, a Bibliographical History. Six volumes have been published an now I am writing for volume 8: the first to be published in the 17th century. One of the great figures is Jacob van Neck who went twice to the East Indies, was the first to make great profit, return quickly and write in a quite modest and peaceful way about Muslim-Christian relations, at least positive observations of what he (and other, because part of his writings is based upon the observation of others) really saw in the East.
Part of my entry on Van Neck is about the contrast between Muslim doctrines, or the written accounts of Muslim, and the concrete or practical observations. While the written doctrines often are rejected as heresy, nonsensical phantasy or simple false doctrines, the first men who came to the Indies were really surprised to see the simple Muslim ceremonies, people praying, burying their dead people, more or less in the same way as Christians would do it. In the concrete encounters it is honest observation and even sometimes admiration. I write then that 'One may even speculate whether the later theory that these Indonesians were not truly Muslims, has its origin in the factual and somewhat romantic image by the first visitors to these territories' The Indonesians are not Arabs and anything positive in Islam is then qualified as non-Arab and non-Muslim.
People in Amsterdam were happy with the return of the rich fleet of Van Neck. Below a painting celebrating his return.

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