donderdag 10 augustus 2017

A 'Fatwa' on/against Muslim Mysticism by L.W.C. van den Berg

I am still working on writings of Lodewijk van den Berg (1845-1927)  the first academic Dutch scholar who did field work about Islam in Indonesia and wrote quite many books and articles, still before Snouck Hurgronje (only 11 years younger) arrived in the field. Snouck did not like Van den Berg, wrote in a strong way against him, more or less as a 'charlatan' and therefore Van den Berg is not really well known in the academic world.
Van den Berg was in the Indies between 1869-1887, leaving the colony two years before Snouck arrived. He was legal advisor on things Arab and Islamic. He translated a major fiqh book and was a consultant for the way how to deal as the ruler of the country with Muslim citizens who enjoyed freedom of religion and were allowed to apply several sections of shari'a law.
Perhaps his best known work is the monography on the Arabs of Hadramaut and the migrants from that region to the Malay Archipelago (where they were business people, active in money lending, small trade and sometimes also in religious business).

Arab people usually do not like the mystical brotherhoods, tariqa, but the more pious Indonesians are fond of the societies.  In 1886 another Arab in Batavia, Sayyid Uthman published a panphlet against tariqa and it caused some debate. The Resident of Bandung even wanted to ban the pamphlet because it could cause unrest. After the advice of L.W. C. van den Berg, there was some kind of a religious decision or fatwa: 'We must agree that Sayyid Uthman attacks the brotherhoods in his pamphlet, but this council does not join the opinion that it is a writing that creates unrest and hatred. Just the opposite: this writing must be taken as a useful publication, because it forbids practices which are not in line with the Qur'an. Also many other scholars forbid these practices as dangerous'.  (Here quoted after my introduction to the translation of the Hadramaut book by Van den Berg in the series of INIS Publications.

woensdag 2 augustus 2017

More 'deviations' as selected by L.W.C.

L.W.C. van den Berg has a series of writings on 'deviations of Indonesian Muslims from standard Islamic Law'. One interesting piece is his article on the Muhammedan Rulers and their neglect of the good Muslim shari'a rules. See his ‘De Mohammedaansche vorsten in Nederlandsch-Indië’, BKI, Bijdragen tot de taal-, land-, en volkenkunde 53 (1901), 1-80.

According to Shari'a the ruler is a common human being but in Javanese culture he is superhuman. His clothes are considered as sacred and used as ammulet, he may do with his people what he want 'like a puppet player or dalang with his puppets'.  He wears yellow dress, not the green colour of true Muslims but yellow probably after the imperial traditions of China. Seven Sultans are of Arabic descent and they use Arab titles, but the Javanese have other names like panembahan, susuhunan. There is no line of inheritance in proper Muslim law, but most rulers in Indonesia  follow the lines of offspring. There are many female rulers in Indonesian Islamic states, most of all in South Celebes.
The ruler of Surakarta, Pakubuwana X
The  real Muslim ruler, according to shari'a and L.W.C. van den Berg, has absolute power: no patih or governor who have power of their own and even a line of succession. There is only shura, only advisors.  The pusaka or sword, clothes and other royal objects have magic power, which is also contradictory to Islam.
It is now really funny to read how severe Van den Berg is about 'his' Indonesian Muslims: as if he works and writes as a Majelis Ulama who condems many heretical deviations in the country. But Van den Berg was a good traditional Christian, member of parliament for conservative Christians later in Delft. His position as 'advisor in Arab and Muslim Affairs' made him somewhat schizophrenic!
To conclude a funny picture I found on the internet from the same period, but not related to the topic of today! But it is all about mixture of cultre: Buddhist, of course, western and Javanese dress a modern umbrella and the traditional yellow payung.

vrijdag 28 juli 2017

"Receptio in complexu": from the Codex Justinianus and Roman Law to Germany and Indonesia

I am still working on an entry on L.W.C. van den Berg for CMR, the Bibliographical History of Christian Muslim Relations. Yesterday I read an interesting reference to his best known theory: of Receptio in Complexu. This is the reception of the full content of Islamic Law at the moment of conversion to Islam. I was reading a second article on 'Deviations from Muslim Personal Law in Indonesia, esp. Java and Madura' with the title Nalezing, in BKI, Bijdragen tot de taal-, land-, en volkenkunde, 45 (1895), 291-314. Among other topics Van den Berg here gives the example of  the requirements for a valid marriage: a 'priest' (penghulu or naib) is traditionally requiredfor the validity, although orthodox and 'pure' Muslim Law only requires the two witnesses, the bridegroom and the wali or representatives of the bride.
Then Van den Berg turns to the more theoretical questions of the reception of Muslim Law in Indoensia. He gives two arguments. First is the shahada: the two lines of the confession of faith are both important: there is One God, Muhammad is his Prophet. The second line must be understood as acceptance of the full shari'a, at least in general theory. This is also shown in the image of the double sword of Muhammad in the Muharrar of Sinusi (not Sanusi, but Van den Berg writes Sinoesi).
Here Van den Berg sees the great difference between Islam and Christianity: the latter only defines the general rules of ethical conduct and leaves it to the local communities to define more precise rulings, while Islam is poor in the general rules of conduct and has much more detailed about human conduct. In a reation on his first article on family law (and its many deviations in Java and Madura) one esteemed colleague wrote: 'Is it not possbile to become a selective Muslim, accepting only some rulings of Islam, while neglecting other aspects?' One Mr. M.C. Piepers had written: 'men kan toch ook een godsdienst voor een deel aannemen’  [it is possible to accept a religion partly']. This is not possible for L.W.C. van den Berg because in this condition the second section of the shahada is neglected.
Then, on pages 310-312 twice the terminology of receptio in complexu is used (for the first time as I know). Van den Berg has taken it from a debate in Germany about the spread of Roman Law in the Middle Ages in Germany. He refers to a book in German byWindscheid, Lehrbuch des Pandektenrechts, dl I Par. 2; also to W. Modderman, De receptie van het Romeinsche Recht p. 14, 23, 47 en 53 en vv.  The book by Modderman is from 1874. 
Not all details of Roman Law were practised in mediaeval Europe, but still with the acceptance of Christianity also the 'Christian Law' or Roman Law was accepted in that time. It remains unclear to me how Van den Berg interprets his 'deviations': he does not like adat law because it is not precise and does not give certainty in society. And what about non-Muslim rulers who have authority over Muslims: should they apply adat law or Muslim Law? So far, the reception in complexu has become more a problem for me than it was before!

maandag 17 juli 2017

Jan Baptist van Doren: a soldier beating his sword into a pen

Jan Baptist jozef van Doren had a quite adventurous life. Born in Gent (now Belgium) in 1791, he experienced that his country became part of the France of Napoleon. In 1808 he became a member of the French revolutionary army which was beaten in 1813. He then joined the new army of the Dutch-Belgian union and fought against France/Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo, May 1815. He continued his career in the Dutch army, but applied in 1821 for the colonial section which gave a better view to a quick career. He obtained in the Indies the rank of major. He worked in the Indies between 1822 and 1840. In 1845 he took his leave from the army and lived from a good pension.He then started writing and published his first book in 1851: two volumes, somewhat more than 700 pages, neatly bound, with many drawings: Reis naar Nederkands Oost-Indië, of Land- en Zeetogten gedurende de twee eerste jaren mijn verblijfs op Java [The trip from Holland to Indonesia, including travelling on land and sea during the first two years of my stay in Java]. The first volume is an account of the trip to Batavia, with many digressions about Africa, the Canary Islands, and much information about the soldiers for the colonial army taken from West Africa, now Ghana.
I include here an illustration about crossing the equator. The Greek God of the sea, Neptunus, is sitting and wants to baptise new members of his conmgregation. Two soldiers are sitting, clothed as bears, in front of him.
The first part opf the book is difficult to read: there is no division in chapters, the author changes easily from his personal experiences to authors who write about history, he often repeats. But he has pleasant anecdotes.
In volume two it is the island of Java which is the subject, mostly the European and Eurasian people here. Below are some examples of the drawings in this volume: first of Prambanan (or Candi Kalasan), then of the dance of Alifuru people in the kraton or palace of Surakarta (pages 310, 390).

Van Doren was present at the surrender of Kiai Maja to the Dutch army on 14 November. He quotes a letter by Lieutenant Roeps, dated 16 Nov. 1828 which states that Maja had supported Dipanagara because he hoped that he would be the restorer of true Islam. But in fact, Dipanagara wanted basically to establish a reaqm and kraton for himself. Maja was a scholarly man, owned many Arab manuscripts and was much younger, only 35 at the time against the 43 of the prince. Maja had a deep hatred 'against all Christians', was very quick in movements and speech and a true agitator. I read also the section on this event in Peter Carey, The Power of Prophecy, 636-9: it has a much more complete and intense account of the differences between Maja and Dipanagara. They lived in exile at not great distance, but never met again, not for security reasons, but due to their different characters and ambitions. Carey has van Doren in his list of references but not in the index and I could not find him in any footnote.
After the great book on his first two years, Van Doren wrote more than twenty, mostly much shorter books. In ons he claimed that is was not necessary to convert the Javanese: they had already the belief in the same One God as the Christians. Moreover: Christianity among the Europeans in Java was so thin and bad (no regular sexual life) that the Dutch better should refrain from attempts for conversion. See his Het voor en tegen van den uitbreiding des evangelies onder de javanen (1852, 20 pages only). In 1862 he published a booklet about the haji as the cause of the troubles in Banjarmasin and blamed Governor General Duymaer van Twist for allowing too much liberal freedom of religion.

vrijdag 7 juli 2017

Ahmad Baso and his review of colonial management of Islamic Law: between (wrong) observation and intervention

Since Edward Said it is quite common to write in a critical way about colonial views of Asia and African, especially Muslim societies. hmad Baso joins here Husnul Aqib Suminto and Michael Laffan, who wrote about colonial management of Islam. He often also discusses my book on Dutch Colonialism and Indonesian Islam, 1596-1942. But he does not write history for the sake of history, he wants to formulate a fresh view on 'Islamic Law', as it was under Dutch colonial administration and as he wants to see it himself now.
Below is Ahmad Baso as I took the picture at the NU, Cabang Belanda Conference on Islam Nusantara in March this year, Amsterdam. The book has the subtitle Perselingkuhan Agama, Kolonialisme, dan Liberalisme. [Post-Colonial Islam: the Fraudulous Abusa of Religion in the colonial and the liberal period].  I am not absolutely sure abouth the title, as there are also quite many passages that can be interpreted or must be debated. The book was published by Mizan , Bandung, in 2005.
I give here a personal interpretation from two sections First is in chapter five about "polisi" Kolonial, which is, I suppose, not about colonial police, but colonial policy. Lodewijk "LWC" van den Berg is quoted as someone who invented or reestanlished the terminology of receptio in complexu: Indonesian people accepted (receptio) Islam and so they also embraced the full package or shari'a rules (see p. 296). This was against the ideas of his successor Snouck Hurgronje who separated adat from the practice of shari'a.  Snouck also did not like to talk about Islamic Law, but used the word plichtenleer, 'the collection of cultural prescripts'.  In this field Ahmad Baso joins the interpretation of Snouck: Islam is not a legal system, comparable to modern law. It is more spiritual, and flexible rather than the modern system of law where not easily change can be introduced.
Whether LWC van den Berg really promoted a full receptio in complexu can be debated. He knew that only marriage and divorce, besides inhertiance were ruled as such in the Indonesia of the 19th century (and perhaps: only Java and Madura, because in Minangkabau and even in Aceh there were interferences of matrilineal practices in marriage law).
Anyway: Ahmad Baso behaves like a pupil of Snouck Hurgronje and puts much of shari'a  or Islamic Law under the more flexible rule of adat.
Pages 325-332 are difficult to read for me, but are probably basic for Baso's argument that there is not such a thing as a fixed 'Islamic Law' but rather a much more flexible cultural institution. Most important is the debate about marriage, before and after 1974 when the new law was promulgated. The whol debate started with a controverse: whether there should be secular or Muslim Law in this field. But what came out of it is a mistifikasi dan sakralisasi, menjadi 'Hukum Tuhan'. It turned into a mystification and a sacralisation: a Divine Law (page 326).
This debate puts the question again± in what fields does religions have authority, and how far can they give directives= In our European society we see hot debates now about marriage also for homosexuals± things remain changing in matters that are also claimed by specialists in Islamic Directives  (Shari´a'. ).

donderdag 6 juli 2017

Bishop of Ruteng, Hubert Leteng known as anti-mining (of manganese) but also accused of fraud and womanizing

Hubertus Lenteng, born in 1959 , has made a good career in the Catholic Church of Flores. He studied at a university in Rome, where he received a Ph.D. Then he was  nominated rector of the diocesan students in Riteparet, near Maumere, united with the SVD seminary of Ledalero. In 2009 he became bishop of Ruteng in Manggarai. At the age of 58 something of the end of anecclesiastical career, but also the challenge of a public position.
In 2014 Leteng became known as the bishop who protested against the mining of manganese (Mn), important for the batteries in our headphones. The mining procedures cause much pollution in the environment and many people who lived near the mining area in Rutang became sick. In October Bishop Lenteng joined the protesters against the ming as it was at the time. He even said mass close to the mining area as a kind of civil protest against the easy procedures to delve the mineral.
Here we see bishop Hubertus Leteng walking ceremoniously in full dress as a bishop in the mining area close to Ruteng, probably one of the highest capitals of a district in Indonesia.
However, not all believers, including quite a few clergy, agree with their bishop. In 2014 an unnamed priest who sought dispensation from the celibacy and wanted to leave the priesthood, issued an accusation against his bishop (who anyway cooperated in his file for dispensation, to be granted by the Vatican). This (ex-) priest stated that the bishop had a love affair with a lady who is not further mentioned.
In June this year there was a continuation of this affair: not less then 70 priests protested against their bishop who according to them had taken some US$ 130.000 from the financial office of the diocese as well as a loan from the national Catholic office in Jakarta. They state that this was to finance his love affair. The bishop did not deny the loans, but declared that he had taken the money to provide a fellowship for a poor student from Manggarai who wanted to continue his training to become a pilote in the United States. Quite astonishing: the 70 priests have for this period suspended their priestly functions, until the bishop will resign from his office.
The apostolic nuncio in Jakarta, Antonio Guide Filipazzi, as well as the ambassador of Indonesia to the Vatican is involved in this affair. It is sometimes difficult to believe in the One, Pure (sanctam) and universal Church!

dinsdag 4 juli 2017

Five close companions for SBY in religious affairs

There are quite many recent publications on the process of radicalisation of Indonesian Muslims.  Andrée Feillard & Rémy Madinier published in 2006 a French version of their book La fin de l'innocence? followed in 2011 by an English translation. Martien van Bruinessen has already since 2002 published on the 'roots of radical Islam', stressing more continuity than other authors do. Between 2008 and 2014 Van Bruinessen wrote several articles explaining the conservative turn in Indonesian Islam. Also here the radical movements from the 1950s on are mentioned, besides newer developments.
The InternationaL Crisis Group has given much attention to Arab sources for Salafi movements in Indonesia. The latest book of  Edward Aspinall and others (eds), The Yudhoyono Presidency: Indonesia's Decade of  Stability and Stagnation (Singapore, ISEAS, 2015) has a hard chapter on SBY, alias Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, president between 2004 and 2014 as someone who supported conservative, hardline Muslims and allowed the rights of religious minorities to be neglected or even openly denied. Robin Bush has an interesting article here (239-257) where he also mentions three groups: FPI, MUI and FUI, besides five persons.
The first of these is SDA or Suryadharma Ali, minister of religion. He was a man with many inflammatory, anti-minority and even often anti-state-policy remarks with regard to Ahmadiyah, Shi'a and church closures. Above left SDA and right SBY at the moment in early 2014 when SDA had to say goodbye to the president because he had to enter jail for corruption. SDA was chair of the Muslim Party PPP and supported as such the President. It was said that his strong anti-Ahmadiyah statements (strengthened by SBY!) were inspired by the Saudi wishes.
The second was the Minister of Home Affairs Gamawan Fauzi who said in October 2013 that the FPI was not a danger for democracy, but instead a 'national asset' and that local and national leaders should work with the group. He was the man who called that the camat or subdistric head of Lenteng Agung, Susan Zulkfli, should be replaced following protests of people who did not want to have a Christian lady in this leading position.
No 3 is here Ma'ruf Amin, NU leader and since 2007 member of the presidential Advisory Council. He was one of the chairpersons of the MUI and ketua or principal of the Fatwa Commission since 2000. He was the bad ghost behind the  eleven Fatwa of 2005 against secularism, pluralism and Ahmadiyah. Between 2015-2020 Amin is general chairman of the National Council of Muslim Clerics, MUI, as well as Rais Am or spiritual authority of NU.
No 4 is here Lieutenant General Sudi  Silalahi, secretary of state under Yudhoyono and in the early 2000s one of the generals who allowed 'jihadists' to be active in Ambon. He was in the 2009 campaign the driving force behind  the Majelis Dhikr, a traveling 'religious study group' seeking votes for SBY.
No 5 was Timur Pradopo, chief of police who kept his men idle and inactive in the demonstrations against religious minorities. He stated the 'FPI should ne embraced and empowered as they contribute to national security'.
The horrifying legacy of SBY is not yet thrown away by a sometimes also quite timid Jokowi.

zaterdag 24 juni 2017

Sultan 'Ibrahim/Ahok' in a period of ascetic practice: a Raja-Pandita in the prison of Depok?

Russell Jones published in 1983 a short Malay text, in Jawi script (Malay with Arab characters), together with transcription and English translation about a Muslim version of the story of Siddharta Gautama, the Buddha. A king (of Irak) left his richness and royal position to become a religious mendicant, living in Mecca. His son Muhammad Tahir hears from his mother later that his father has gone. He finds him in Mecca, learns from him and returns to the city of Irak as a mendicant (seorang fakir). The wazir who ruled the country in the name of Sultan Ibrahim recognizes him as a princely son and gves him many goods, the possession of his father. Tahir travels to Kufah and find his mother and gives her rich gifts from the wazir and stayed with her. Every year the wazir sends goods to Muhammad Tahir, who does not claim a political position, but continuous to live as an ascetic man.
This text came into my mind when I followed the story of the Ahok trial last months. The public prosecutor asked six months suspended detention for his comments on Qur'anic verses. On 9 May Ahok was sentenced to two years prison: heavier than was asked. Initially both parties appealed against the verdict, both by Ahok (in a moving letter, 21 May, read by his wife Veronica under tears) and also by the public prosecutor. From the side of Ahok, he did not blame any person or group in particular but stated that the whole process went into the wrong direction for all parties:
The city of Jakarta has suffered much loss because of the traffic jams and economic problems. I do not like that my struggle will continue and cause problems for the town. ... Let us all show that we believe that God is ruling this world and decides about the  direction of history for all people. We all want to show that we are people who believe in the One Allmighty God, we want to love all people, the whole of humanity and we want to confirm truth and justice for all people.
Tuhan does not sleep [in Javanese, not Indonesian: Gusti ora sare].
Psalm 131 verse 3: Put your hope in the Lord now and always [written in English]
According to my faith I say: [again in English] The Lord will work out his plans for my life , Psalm 138, 8a.
Signed as Ahok BTP [Basuki Tjahaja Purnama]
I took the text from

Ahok has asked for a laptop, and will spend his time writing, reading the Bible and refresh his Mandarin. In 2008 he has published a book Merubah Indonesia on the way how to change Indonesia, while giving more attention to the poor. I hope the borrow it next week from the library in Leiden University and to read it. I wish our ruler turned into hermit a good spirit and result for his personal physical and mental health and Indonesian society as a whole!
In the story of Sultan Ibrahim the ladies are always waiting, but do not join the spiritual exercises or trips. What about Veronica?
There is an old term in Javanese: the status of a Raja-Pandita, a Priest-King as was the case until 1625 in Giri and also in Ceribon (Syarif Hidayatullah). It is too much to label Ahok as a Raja Pandita, but it is nice to remember the word.

donderdag 22 juni 2017

Dutch Colonialism revised and revived

From 1970 until 1988 I was busy with and in Indonesia: research for the PhD on pesantren and teaching in Jakarta and Yogyakarta. After returning to the Netherlands I wrote a first book for the Dutch market with the title De Islam bekeken door Koloniale Nederlanders. ('Islam in the eyes of Dutch Colonials')
Islam was a new issue in Dutch society and I wrote from my experience of Indonesian studies.  The book was published in 1991. An English translation followed in 1993 and an Indonesian one in 1995 thanks to the translator Drs (now professor) Suryan A. Jamrah.
The Indonesian translation was published by Mizan and sold quite well. 4000 copies. But there was no reprint. I was told that the Arab connections of this publisher were not happy with the account of the warm cooperation of Sayyid Uthman with the colonial government.
The English edition was reprinted in 2006 with a new concluding chapter about the last 50/70 years. Times are changing quickly. Now again the translation by Suryan Jamrah has been published with a new concluding chapter and prefaces by Azyumardi Azra and Mujiburrahman. The latter wrote a nice poem for me here:
Steenbrink bukan sarjana menara gading; 
Masalah antar agama dia turut berunding; 
Di Belanda dan Indonesia dia pontang panting; 
Didukung isterinya yang selalu menggandeng. 
In English translation it can be read as:
Steenbrink is not a scholar of the ivory tower
he is always concerned with interreligious things
active in Indonesia and the Netherlands
supported by his loving wife
Thank you, Suryan Jamrah, Mujib and Azyumardi, as well as Farid Wajdi of Gading Publishers for this edition. Mujib wrote me that he considers it the proper gift for the end of Ramadan this year. To all readers: Mohon maaf lahir batin: I ask for all the mistakes made in this book and elsewhere in my life! May it contribute to peace and understanding.

Shariatism as another bad ideology, preaching a truncated Islam, now also in Indonesia

The Moroccans and Turks are the largest Muslim groups in the Netherlands. Observers note that they did not bring a 'full and rich Islam' to our country. Among the Moroccans, they have left the rich history of maraboutism, holy men, healers, a history of pilgrimage and holy graves. They only took a number of imams to our country, people who control the mosque, preach the right observations for prayers, for halal food, proper dress. And civil and political support for the King!  If people say that migrant Muslims have become more devout Muslims than in their country of origin, they mean: the formal rules are better tought and kept by many. Why? Because the alternative, especially for women, the marabout as a personal advisor and a key figure in popular religion is not present. It is a truncated Islam that has arrived in the 500 mosques in our country!
The same can be said  about Turkish Islam, with some variations. When the caliphate was abolished in 1923 also the Muslim brotherhoods were banned. Not only the azan should be said in Turkish, but the graves of saints were no longer sacred places. In Konya there is a museum, where you have to buy a ticket to see the grave of Maulana Jamaluddin Rumi, where it is not allowed to kiss the grave or to offer a letter with prayers and vows to this grave. Diyanet is the equivalent of the Ministry of Religion in Indonesia. It is used to look after the proper rituals in the mosques and at marriages, burials, circumcisions.. It is preaching a 'moderate' style of Islam, which is also a 'tamed' Islam with no straight or direct interference in politics, but it has served to bow for politicians who wanted to condem and even ban Shi'a and Ahmadi Islam. Elsewhere I have written about the verdict against Fethullah Gülen by Diyanet (as if he is no longer a Muslim, because in meetings of interreligiosu dialogue 'he skipped the prophethood of Muhammad').
Leiden University Press has recently (2016) published an angry book: Kees van Dijk, & Nico Kaptein (eds), Islam, Politics and Change. The Indonesian Experience after the fall of Suharto. It has in part the story of PKS as the most popular Muslim party for some time. Even some Leiden scholars (like Henk Schulte Nordholt) considered it as a promising initiative. But it has now proven that it is as vulnerable for corruption as other parties. So, for the sake of a relevant and healthy Islam, it should abstain from politics!
For me the most interesting contributions  in this book were by Moch. Nur Ichwan (MNI) and Reza Idria on the disastrous introduction of some aspects of sharia in the province of Aceh. MNI studies a non-Sharia oriented sufi group around Syeikh Amran Waly. In 17th century there was a period when Sufism was 'state Islam' when sharia Islam was marginalised. Now we see the opposite, but he pleads for a good balance at least. P. 229 quotes Teungku Zamhuri as saying that 'implementation of sharia as it is today will not bring people closer to God. For him, God should be approached by dhikr and good deed to others.' .. 'The sharia euphoria has neglected the inner dimension of Islam and marginalised sufi groups' (234)  in these circles 'There was a feeling of being oppressed by the sharia ulama and the government with its 'simplistic' policies, as they saw it, of Islamisation taking the form of formal Shariatization. The implementation of sharia in Aceh was dismissed as trivial and artifical, because the qanuns and official sharia discourse neglected the richness of the esoteric dimensions of Islam.' (243)
Quite funny is the debate about dress for women: Alyasa Abubakar (one of the first architects of sharia implementation in Aceh, now at a distance quite critical) considered the regulation unnecssary, pointing out that trousers are the traditional attire of Acehnese women.  (244) And it may be added: it also can be modernised in a nice way!

woensdag 21 juni 2017

Idul Fitr AH 1438 Happy End of Ramadan!

Dear readers,  friends,:this is written in the last week of Ramadan 1438: a difficult week for Dutch Muslims because weather is very hot and the days start very early (04:00), and iftar is only at about ten in the evening. And this at 30 Celsius during daytime!
But there is much more. Themedia continuously report about attacks in London, Brussels, with a limited number of victims, while in Syria and Irak, not to speak about Somalia, casualties run into the hundred. Recently I had some idea about how al-Ghazzali must have felt amidst the attacks of Sassanid terrorists, who caused him to flee from Baghdad and seek security in a calm desert place.
The most painful messages are about the fraternal problems between Muslims: Turkish Muslims in our country are divided between followers of Erdogan and his Diyanet who call Fethullah Gülen a terrorist and instigator of the failed coup of 15 July 2016. Gülen followers now no longer use his name. Their website with the name Hizmet or 'service' has been stopped, and what is left of the Zaman New Agency has now been given another name as well.
Nevertheless, we all ask forgiveness for the mistakes we have made and pray that the near future may be better.
Our son Floris saught a long holiday, three month adventure, with his wife Inge and the son Doemer (5 years) and daughter Mette (2 1/2). Not to any southern country, but here they are crossing the polar circle: cold, but empty places and quiet! Enjoy freedom and peace!

donderdag 1 juni 2017

A criminal or a victim? Pius Rasi Wangge of Flores.

The latest issue of BKI, the journal of Indonesian and Caribbean Studies (in full Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde uitgegeven door het Koninklijk Instituut..) has an interesting article by Steve Farram ( 2017, vol 173:23-52) on the reasons why West or Indonesian Timor was integrated in an independent Indonesia in the period 1945-1950, while Portuguese Timor received support from Australia and first of all from the USA to retain it status as a colony. The major reason was that the USA wanted to use the harbour of the Azores Islands during Worldwar II and made the promise not to disturb the colonial relations of Portugal in Africa and Asia. Anyway: Portugal lost the colonies after 1975!
Part of the article is also about the court cases against two Indonesian for 'war crimes' during the Japanese period, 1942-5. One of these was about Pius Rasi Wangge. He was the son of a village head in Central Flores. Born about 1890 he was  in 1909 the guide to the first Catholic missionary visiting the  region from Sikka. In 1914 he was nominated in the new position of raja for a region of five villages, a colonal creation, also to curb the influence of Islam. This duty expanded to the great territory of Lio where he was raja with some 50 kapitan under him. The Dutch officials found him efficient but also somewhat irregular with taxes and talked about 'extortion'. A native raja is different from a colonial official. This 'irregularity' became so serious that in the late 1930s he was condemned by the Resident of Kupang and expelled to that town for ten years. He was also accused of some killings and practices that now would be called corruption.
It is clear that he prevented the growth of Islam in his region and made Lio a truly 'Catholic' territory, although his methods were not always applauded.

I could not find pictures for Raja Pius and so above is a picture of Don Lorenzo of Larantuka (who died in exile in Yogyakarta and Raja Don Thomas of Sikka, the last to bear this dignity until he died in 1954.
While reading the life story of Raja Pius again (most of it is in the second volume of Catholics in Indonesia, 107-9), I wondered whether it was a wise and just verdict: was he only the subect of death sentence only for his support to the Japanese  since 1942 (after he was condemned by the Dutch to a simple exile in 1941): was he really a criminal or was it is 1946-7 also a frustrated Dutch government anxious to get its colonial power back and made Raja Pius a victim of the last colonial war? I must look to the documents in the National Archives in the Hague.

vrijdag 26 mei 2017

Adat Law between lawyers and social activists

Prof. Cornelis van Vollenhoven became in 1901 the first professor in Adat Law at Leiden University. It was a move towards more respect for the culture and style of indigenous society. In 1917 Van Vollenhoven started together with Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje the Adatrechtstichting, a Foundation for the promotion of adat law (besides European Law and Islamic Law or shari'a). The Institute now under director Jan Michiel Otto organised a three day seminar in Leiden. I attended the opening session on 22 May. Apparently adat law is no loger directed against European influence, but is now in defence for IP or Indigenous People. The big organization is AMAN: Asosiasi Masyarakat Aman Nusantara.
From Indonesia I saw some lecturers in Adat Law, both from general and Islamic universities, besides activists of Aman and related organizations. After 1998 and the movement towards decentralization there is better understanding for them, but it remains an uphill struggle, especially in order to fight the great plantations who received so many adat lands. How to get these back?

Adat Law is still part of the law faculty in Leiden and on the picture above we see Jan Michiel Otto, embassador Puja (from Bali: for him Adat is the rich culture of Bali, based in Hindu traditions), dean of Leiden law faculty (name forgotten) and senior assistent to Jan Michiel Otto, Adriaan Bedner.
Picture below is Sandra Moniaga, human rights activist, fighting for land to be given back to local adat copmmunities. It appears to be a difficult problem, because poor farkers have to fight rich conglomerates and business people, often connected with local administration. And the law are complicated.
There was much debate about pro and contra the formulation for a new law in village administration.
In 1969-1970 I followd a course on adat law in Nijmegen. Prof. moh. Koesnoe was a visiting professor at the time. He abused adat law to defend the procedure of mushawarah as the 'best and traditional' way of making decisions. Not one man one vote, but seeking harmony (which in fact meant a total submission to the central government of Soeharto).
For Snouck Hurgronje it was also local Indonesian rules against shari'a rules from Arabia.
There are many faces in Hukum Adat

Jaspert Slob, born 18 January 1945, died 16 May 2017

Jaspert Slob was born in Hardinxveld-Giessendam, a section of the Dutch 'bible-belt' where quite many orthodox Protestant live and foster their churches.
Jaspert was a clever boy, son fo a farmer, who went in Gorcum to HBS, the secondary school for people who want to do technical or business studies. Jaspert was excellent in chemistry, but after secondary school he decided that he wanted to study theology. During two years he had to study Greek and Hebrew (as well as some latin), before he entered the theological faculty of Utrecht University, considered at that time the most orthodox in the country.
In 1976 he was sent by the missionary organization of his church as a lecturer to the Theological School in Tomohon, where he taught until 1982. Jaspert fell in love with the country and culture of Indonesia and until the end of his life he remained a true follower of anything that was happening in Indonesia.
For some time he became secretary of relations with Christians in Asia, but his finest hours were always when an Indonesian delegation visited Oegstgeest or (later) Utrecht. He liked also field trips to Indonesia to give a good warming up to the mutual relations.
One of his duties was also to make contact with Indonesian student in the Netherlands and one of these was Th. Sumartana. The idea of a dialogue between the religions was heartly welcomed by Jaspert who was no longer a staunch and obsolete orthodox Calvinist any longer. I found a paper by him where he considered what had been done by the mission to Sadrach as a big mistake, while he also praised the openness of Kartini. These two were his great heroes.
From the beginning (was it 1988?) he supported DIAN/Interfidei in Yogyakarta. This reminded me about the problems Ben Boland had experienced around 1970 when he completed his doctoral dissertation on contemporary Islam in Indonesia (1945-1970) where Prof. Mukti Ali featured as the great hero of dialogue. Boland was considered too pro-Islam and as an enemy of the Protestant missionaries.  Boland hoped that there would be a less aggressive message by the Christians in Indonesia and more openness for the many nice aspects of Islam. Only 15 years later Jaspert Slob could be instrumental in the new turn.
Until one year before he died (after a long process of heart problems and pneumonic cancer) he sent weekly excerpts from Indonesian newspapers on current affairs.
Probably the most beautiful period in his life was the period of more than five years when he was with his wife Josien Folbert in Salatiga supporting the Percik activities of Pradjarto.
Jaspert and Josien had two (adopted, Indonesian) children: Anne en Marteun. They enjoyed five grandchildren who decorated the coffin with joyful drawings. He now 'lives in another light'or, following the text of Rumi quoted in the service:God has spread his light over all souls. Happy are those who open their robe to receive this light. They do not see anything else than God. Without this robe of love we cannot live a full life.'

A New Princess of China "Puteri Cina': Veronica Tan

The Puteri Cina or Chinese Princess is a personality known in Javanese history as the spouse of a Javanese ruler. Honoured, but sometimes also discriminated.   According to the Chronicle of Java the 16th century ruler of Majapahit, King Brawijaya V, had a Chinese princess as a junior wife and mother of their son Raden Patah (Fatah). She was later given to the king’s son, Arya Damar in Palembang, to appease the jealousy of the queen consort, and with him she had a second son, Raden Kusen (Husen).   These two historical figures played a role in the great changes that came in Java with the waning of the Hindu-Javanese kingdoms and the advent of the first Islamic rulers. The Chinese princess reflects on the events of her time, and their impact on her family, then in the person of the Putri Cina she travels through time, observing the tragic vulnerabilty of her people in times of social disorder, right up to events in the very recent past.
The Jesuit priest Sindhunata was until 1998 mostly known for his writings that mix  Catholic and javanese ideas and symbols. Only after the events which surrounded the fall of President Soeharto and caused the death of some 1000 Chinese-indonesian citizens of Jakarta he turned more to his partly Chinese roots and wrote a novel Putri Cina, where the story of Chinese in Indonesia is put in a romantic garb, accompanied with philosophical thinking about René Girard and his theory of the need of a scapegoat in society.
The novel of 2007 was translated by Dr. Simon Rae of Dunedin, New Zealand and his daughter Catherine and published in 2015. It is sold for Rp 110.000 in Indonesia and for US$ 31.75 abroad: these differences remain!
I had to think about the Chinese Princess again when reading the story of the Ahok trial and condemnation. The latest step in this tragic history is that Ahok initially wanted to  appeal for the verdict of two years of prison, but now says that he has accepted thedecision of the court. What should we think of it. Simon Rae, the translator of the Chinese Princess wrote me: "
I think Ahok's move shows both a generous spirit and a careful calculation.  He is saying 'I do not want to cause more dissention' but also 'I do not trust the judiciary to deal with my case on its merits'.  He is denying FPI any further opportunity to demonstrate against him and he will have earned some sympathy and respect, internationally and at home.  But it is all moving in an ominous direction. How much influence and power do these popular extra-constitutional groups (premen, FPI etc) have over police, courts..."
Above we see Veronica Tan, wife of Ahok, showing the letter written van Ahok in prison. There are youtube movies showing her in tears, reading this letter.
Is Ahok making himself a martyr/scapegoat?

dinsdag 9 mei 2017

Ahok in prison! Hizbut Tahrir banned

Yesterday, 9 May 2017, Ahok has been put in prison for his debate about Qur'an 5:51, according to him abused by politicians who claim that Muslims should not vote for non-Muslim leaders, presidents, governors: Oh, you believers, do no take the Jews and Christians as your wali (friend, helper, leader). The central word was dibohongi: politicians had according to him been lying about the true meaning of this verse. What is the original meaning in its historic context? Is it the attack on Medina by unbelieving Arabs from Mecca, who led a siege on the town and is Muhammad here warned that he should not ask Jews and Christians to join him in the defence?
The debate went its own way and many participants in the debate had their own dyamics. What was the reason why one Buni Yani (a Ph.D. candidate in Leiden University; see his blog, no additions after 24 June 2014).
SBY had his motivations to support the case against Ahok, because he wanted to stimulate his son.
The MUI saw a possibility to gain extra power in society. FPUI and Habib Rizieq Syihab made the biggest investment in this affair. A friend wrote me that Amin Rais had threatened to Jokowi that 'he could forget a second term as national president in 2019 if Ahok would escape prison'. The Prosecutor had only asked for a suspended one-year imprisonment with a probation time of two years. What will happen now, when people want to make his prison a place of pilgrimage?
Ahok is clearly angry now!
On the previous day 'good old', 8 May,  Minister Wiranto has made the Hizbut Tahrir a forbidden organization. Under SBY Hizbut Tahrir xcould flourish and even received a seat inm the MUI, Majelis Ulama Indonesia. It could be quite active and push for more and more hard measures against pluralism, Ahmadiyyah. Although they want a caliphate and in fact do not recognise an Indonesian government, they push for more Islam in local politics. It still must become clear what the impact of the ban on Hizbut Tahrir will be. Will FPI also have to diminish its activities?
PDI-P the old nationalist party of Megawati immediately denounced the verdict and suggested the the judges had bowed for political pressure.
Dutch journalist Michel Maas was not optimistic about the possibility to ban Muslim activists from streets and politics.

The new Max Havelaar: Alfred Birney

Yesterday Alfred Birney was announced as the winner of the most prestigious literary prize in the Netherlands: AKO Literature Award. It was for his book Tolk van Java (Translator of Java). The book is about his father Adolf Nolan, born in 1935 in Surabaya from a truly colonial mixed family: father half Scottish/Dutch, mother Chinese/Javanese. He was a cruel fighter against Japanese in the period 1943-5 and then vowed to defend the Dutch Queen and administration (kneeling before an image of Queen Wilhelmina, in fact a vague unknown personage to him) in the period 1945-1949. Then he came as a broken personality to the Netherlands where he had a poor career in many jobs, dying at the age of 80 in 2005, in self-chosen exile in Spain.
His son Alfred Birney was born in 1952, experienced the impossible marriage of his cruel father to a weak Dutch lady, was partly educated in an orphanage, never had a good home for himself nor for his brothers and sisters, but developed first as a musician (playing guitar in the kroncong style of entertainment) and then becoming a writer. He published in 1998 a colonial literary history, Oost-Indische Inkt, but now his masterpiece, which was compared to the other great criticism of colonialism, Max Havelaar.

 Max Havelaar  (first published in 1860) is a severe criticism of colonialism, but besides many feudal Indonesians and lazy and corrupt Dutch officials, the hero of the book is the enlightened Dutch official/administrator who knows the ideal solution for the situation.
Tolk van Java is so different: it has only the dark side of the tropical paradise. Not the lyric, the romantic glorification of the tropical country, but the brutality of a divided country where racial prejudices and boundaries are strong, where violence continues and the value of an individual outside the privileged classes means very little. Adolf Nolan driven by some irrational sympathy for the Dutch Queen joins the Dutch army after its return to Surabaya in late 1945 and becomes an interrogator of Indonesian Nationalist soldiers and activists. The book is full with brutal killings, torture, also onthe Indonesian side. No romantic of a heroic war of independence. Finally there was much frustration on the Dutch side, but also many leaders on the Indonesian side who sought profit for their own sake.
There is a renewed interest for the dark side of the period 1945-1949 with more money for research, the publication of the great book by Rémy Limpach about the 'burning villages of General Spoor' (De brandende kampongs van Generaal Spoor) 870 pages.