zaterdag 26 november 2016

More Maarif

I have now finished reading the book Islam dalam Bingkai Keindonesiaan dan Kemanusiaan by Syafii Maarif (2009). It is so different from the other angry book of 2009, Ilusi Negara Islam which is mostly an attack on the 'infiltration of Salafism' in organization like Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah. As a remedy not the old receipe of Muhammadiyah 'cleansing the ummat from false and heretic doctrines' is mentioned, but rather civil purity. Syafii Maarif is someone who repeatedly states that about 85% of Indonesians are Muslims but it is not a fact of pride, but rather he confesses that all defects of the independent Indonesian Republic should be considered as a blame for the Muslim community: ineffectiveness, corruption, lack of democracy....
During further reading it has remained a kind of compilation of wise observations and wishes.
Qur'an 49:13  (about God who has created mankind different, male/female, various peoples and tribes) at least three times pp. 16, 69, 201. Wh should not dream about one dominant religion or state system. The Caliphate is denounced as a political system that never was perfect: out of the four first caliphs, three were killed: not really a peaceful start for Islam.
Maarif has much interest for Takdir Alisjabana (TAB) and the polemik kebudayaan, whether western modernity or Indonesian tradition should dominate our thinking.
In the chapter III on the present state of the Indonesian society (213-254) he discusses the problem of quality: according to United Nations standards for education Indonesia is only no 111 out of 175 countries. That is a low ranking (and he does not mention that NTT, the province with the highest percentage of  Christians also has nearly the lowest ranking for all of Indonesia!).
Some short remarkable  annotations:
p. 21: on 17 August 1945 the Piagam Jakarta was still included in the Constitution. Should it be still valid now? In general, however, we do not see a plea for application of shari'a rules. P. 28 has a somewhat cryptic note about the difficulty to discern between those who really have accepted the divine revaltion and those who do not
p. 27 Obama has uttered mild but clear criticism towards organized religion.
pp. 116-110 Is an unexpected positive description of the ideals of Tan Malaka: not only a Minangkabau scholar like maarif, but same idealism...
 Burhanuddin Harahap   (above) is praised for his perfect organization of the 1955 elections, a glorious event in the history of Indonesia. The outcome of the elections were a disaster: no agreement and the debates were frustarted by Sukarno who in 1959 proclaimed the authoritarian rule.
Page 185 is a strong argument against his old friend and colleague historian Deliar Noer, who joined a meeting of the Majelis Mujahidin  Indonesia. P. 190 has a very strong qualification for short-term president B.Y. Habibie as 'the second Hatta'. Next week I want read Maarif's  autobiography, to get a more complete picture of modern Muhammadiyah (between Amin Rais and Din Syamsuddin).

zaterdag 12 november 2016

Louis van de Vrande, chaplain for Dutch soldiers in 1945-1947. A war that not did become a Holy War.

In October I wrote already a blog about the recent Dutch debate on the dramatic, dirty and often neglected war crimes of the Dutch in Indonesia, 1945-1950. Next week, 17 November 2016,  a seminar at the Free University of Amsterdam will discuss the role of the churches in this last colonial war of the Dutch. I went to Sint Agatha to see the archives of the MSC priests, for Louis van de Vrande MSC (1901-1971). His diary was typewritten (about the year 2000 by Father Arie Vriens)  and available in the archives of the Dutch religious orders. After ordination in 1935 he went to the Philippines as a missionary, but returned to the Netherlands to seek candidates for the MSC religious order. When the diary begins, in Juky 1942 the Germans occupy the Netherlands. It is a story of cruel rule by arrogant Germans. Then, in mid-1944 the Allied Forces arrive (mostly Canadians and Polish troops). The Germans destroy bridges, costly machinery, the Allied Forces destroy many houses, many people were killed, terrible warfare like we now hear about the conquest of Mosul by the alliance against ISIS.
In  March 1945  Van de Vrande becomes army chaplain for Dutch troops, then still in France to fight against the Germans. In November he arrives in Malacca, in March 1946 in Batavia/Jakarta as army chaplain in the Dutch army.
In March-April 1946 he describes twice cruelties by the Ambonnese of the KNIL, the Dutch colonial  army.The first time it is about terrible beating during an interrogation. The second time several Indonesian soldiers are taken captive. One, a young boy of about 17 years, is relieved from his handcuffs and sent away. At a distance of some 8 meters he is killed by four Ambonnese soldiers who shoot in his back. Van de Vrande finds it a terrible act, something that should not happen in the army.  But he does not protest openly. Later in the diary we do not meet such descriptions: did they not happen, or was this man already accustomed to the crimes?
In the Government Report Excessennota of 1969 this event is mentioned and the army chaplain as witness, but not by his name.
In my talk on 17 November I will talk about several topics. First, about the fact that the war of independence was not about religion. Religion only played a very minor role here, it was between Dutch and Indonesians. I quote Mangunwijaya's Burung-burung Manyar as a sign of this minor role for religion. Second, some authors think that the colonial period did not change fundamentally Indonesia: just scratches on a rock? At least the presence of some 9% of Christians in Indonesia is an important aspect, a by-product of  the colonial relations and infrastructure. Of course, the whole process is more complicated, on the Dutch as well as on the Indonesian side. Third, the Catholics were divided as well  (like the Protestants): in Semarang and Yogyakarta Soegijapranata was as important as Kasimo on the Indonesian side, while Jesuits in Jakarta were often still dreaming of a continuation of some colonial influence.

dinsdag 8 november 2016

A partial wilayah of Ahok and NU/Muhammadiyah?

Since nearly amonth there a hot debate in Indonesia about Qur'an al-Maídah, 5:51. In translations it read: Take not the Jews and Christians for guardians and confidants (Ali Ünal). Awliya or wilayah is also translated as associates, partners. Ahok, the Chinese-Indoensian Christian who is governor of Jakarta, mentioned that some people use thise verse against the continuation of his position as governor after next elections in 2017. - The quote was also understood as if Ahok rejected the idea absolutely and so rejected the Qur'an. Some people want to take him to court for blasphemy or at least insult of the Qur'an.
While I was teaching in Indonesia, 1981-1988 I experienced quite often a liberal attitude for me. My farewell lecture had as title: Word of God or Toiletpaper? and could be sold in 3000 copies. Also a lecture with the title: Does God sleep caused no protest but some interest.
I had once a more heated debate about sura 17:1, where I quoted John Wansbrough who suggested that travelling by night was here not about the ascension of Muhammad to heaven, but about Moses/Musa leaving Egypt in the night through the Red Sea, because verse 17:2 is also about Moses. Anyway, maybe the situation is now more difficult. Definitely Ahok is a politician and I was just a foreign professor teaching in Jakarta and Yogyakarta.

The idea is also discussed by Farid Esack in his doctoral dissertation Qur'an, Liberation and Pluralism (esp. 180-193; published in 1997). Esack lived in South Africa (his homeland) during the last decades of apartheid. He joined the 'good whites' of the Protestant Church like Beyers Naudé in the protests against this racial oppression. Some South African Muslims said that he should not do this, quoting some verses like 5:51 (60:1+9; 3:28+118; 4:89, 139, 144). They suggested that he should join Ahmad Deedat, fierce and eloquent debater with Christians, defending Islamic doctrines. Esack wanted to create justice and stated that in quite a few verses of the Qur'an the Christians and Jews are also mentioned as believers, because believing is doing good, creating justice. And the believers should cooperate.
Some verses of the Qur'an indeed suggest that there are conflicts with (some) Christians and Jews, but this is not a general rule. Even in Al-Ma'idah 5:51 there is a difference between ba'dahum... and others. So, it is not one block against another, but there must be made a difference between the good and the bad ones.P. 181:  The text under discussion, Qur'an 5:51, like all those prohibiting Muslims from the wilayah of Others, is Medinan and reflects the religio-political tensions of that period. As I indicated in chapter 5, it is evident from the seemingly contradictory texts dealing with the religious Other that these reflect various stages in the Muslim-Other relationship.
In the reports about the protests against Ahok, Nahdlatul Ulama did not take part and also Muhammadiyah stayed away, not allowing its members to use Muhammadiyah symbols during the protests. But it will remain difficult. Sahiron Syamsuddin found it wise to use the word 'outsider' in the title of the translation of my book on Jesus in the Qur'an.  Outsider's view on the Qur'an are even more delicate than insiders debates.
Added on 12 November 2016: Henk Schulte Nordholt discussed this issue on Dutch Television. He added with some angry that Budi Yani, the man who shot the movie of Ahok talking about al-Ma'idah 51 was a former PhD student in at Leiden University but failed to finish or to do any writing and sho he was sent back to Indonesia.

maandag 7 november 2016

Muhammadiyah from TBC and 'Wahhabi' to attacks on Salafism

I am now busy with a close and detailed reading of the Masterpiece (according to Ayumardi Azra) of Syafii Maarif, his book Islam dalam Bingkai Keindonesiaan dan Kemanusiaan. It was published in 2009. The professor of history gives here a view on Islam from the perspective of Indonesian culture (history of Islamisation, fragments of Islamic history in Indonesia) and Human Rights (also related to the Indonesian statemphilosophy of Pancasila).
Syafii Maarif does not give a historical expose, rather an essay on various aspects of history. I wonder whether someone not familiar with the history of Indonesia will understand his arguments. But for insiders it is a wise, strong and fundamental book. My last great book on Muhammadiyah was the local study by Nakamura, The Crescent arises over the Banyan Tree (second edition of 2012). Mitsuo here mentions that the good old time of TBC, when Muhammadiyah could condemn in strong words the Takhayyul, Bid'ah, Churafat (superstitions, heresy, idolatry) is over and even in Kota Gede the Muhammadiyah Muslims are more open for present Indonesian culture. They do accept wayang stories, ketoprak theatre and modern movies. In the same way, Maarif here accepts a very broad definition of Indonesian Islam and does not repeat that we have to return to (only) Qur'an and Hadith.
Pp. 60-1 has a nice juxtaposition of Geertz (who understands true Islam as the hardcore santri variant, as separate from abangan or local Muslims), while Hodgson in his Venture of Islam has a broader vision on the changes in the world religion of Islam, also in Indonesia.
For the last century Maarif sees a growth of conversions to Christianity, but this has not weakened Islam. Just the opposite: there is an overall revival and growth of the major religions and besides a turn to Christianity there was over the last 100 years even a stronger growth of Islam.
On p. 329 Maarif quotes Wertheim writing about a 'pound of rice [to be given to] any child actually attending a Christian school'.  This is seen as the beginning of Rice Christians, already by order of Jan Pieterszoon Coen. (Indonesian Society in Transition, p. 201). Maarif blames me that I did write some four pages about Coen (in my Dutch Colonialism and Indonesian Islam) but did not mention this reward for a conversion. Instead, I have stressed the idea of Coen that it was impossible to convert Muslim to Christianity, especially in the Moluccas, and therefore he hoped that the VOC would send many native Dutch people to the Indies (what did not happen). I looked in the sources of Wertheim, but could not find the pound of rice. I will look further! And more will come out of reading this precious book.