zondag 15 oktober 2017

The Burda of the Prophet and the Kaftan of the Caliph

Worldwide, also in indonesia, one of the most popular stories of the prophet Muhammad is the Qasidatu'l Burda of Al-Busiri. Prof. Drewes once published a Malay translation from the 16th century, with a Dutch translation (1955). Burda means mantle and the word most often applies to the mantle of the Prophet. According to the tradition this mantle was given to a strong opponent of Muhammad. Ka'b ibn Zuhair, who finally surrendered and accepted Islam in front of Muhammad, while reciting a poem of submission to Allah and his Prophet. Thereupon Muhammad gave him his mantle as a petious gift, for this poem and his faith. After the death of Ka'b ibn Zuhair the mantle was bought by the Ummayad rulers, and finally during a period in poesession of the Abbasid Caliphs and finally in the palace of the Ottoman Caliphs. It is in the palace of Istanbul and yearly honured in the second half of Ramadan.
Al-Busiri, living in Egypt, where he died in 1295, once was very ill and dreamt that the Prophet visited him, touched his hand and gave him his mantle. the following morning al-Burisir was healthy again. At this moment al-Busiri already had planned to write a poem to praise Muhammad. After finishing this poem, at soon became famous, also through propaganda by the Mamluk Sultan Mali az-Zahir Baibar. Soon it was accepted that touching a manuscript of the poem would heal all kind of diseases.
Another mantle, a sacred robe, played an important role in a strange movie: Vatan, on the coup of 15 July 2016 in Turkey. The movie shows in the beginning a man who brings the sacred robe of Sultan Selim, Yavuz, to Fethullah Gülen, who just told that he last night has a dream where the Prophet Muhammad appeared. The man, in fact a conspirator against President erdogan, tells G'ülen 'You will wear the Kaftan of Sultan Yavuz in Istanbul soon'. This is the introduction to a conspiration where also George Soros is involved: the bad person is orchstrating the whole endeavour. Nearly 80% of the movie is filled  with fighting of brave Turkey citizens against an army that wants to take over the state. Soros is sometimes shown as waiting, calm, without a strong personality. Gülen flies to Istanbul but hears just before arrval that Erdogan is on the airport and that the coup has failed. Thereupon Gülen returns to America: without drama, without further explanation.
The real conspirator goes swimming in the Miterranean, is picked out of the sea (first swimming like another James Bond, relaxed)  by an helicopter and later drowned. A strange movie, but apparently for Turkish citizens clear enough to strengthen their feeling that Feth"ullah Gülen is a bad guy who joined a complot against their president. May God forgive them.

maandag 9 oktober 2017

Iswanto Hartono fights against Dutch Colonialism and finds a way to annihilate JP Coen

Europalia is a programme of the European Union to pay attention to 'the other' (alium), in case another big coutry. For 2017 the EU has planned a programme on Indonesian culture, society and history. There is a big exhibition in Brussels, encounters in many places in Frans, Belgium and the Netherlands with intellectuals and artists. Ayu Utami will also come, next November.
For Amsterdam there is an exhibition by the artist Iswanto Hartono.
The Oude Kerk or Old Church in Amsterdam was built for mediaeval Catholic liturgy: a central hall or choir for the clergy (seven times per day prayers were said) and a nave for the common lay people. Some chapels, for societies of workers (guild) and for rich families to bury their beloved. A chapel of Mary. But after reformation the church was only used for Sunday service and now this giant building is only used for some 100 churchgoers  on Sunday morning. They use only a small part of the nave, from 10:30 tot 13:00. Outside these hours tourists may look at the building, there are some concerts (Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck played the organ outside the service: it was in early Calvinism not allowed to use the organ!), and exhibitions. For Europalia 2017 Iswanto Hartono made some works of art, in critical memory of Dutch colonialism.

He brought an image of the great Governor General Jan Pieterszoon Coen: the lower part is plaster, the upper section is wax with the idea that it burns like a candle and after the six weeks of the exhibition the wax has disappeared and so the (bad) memory of Coen disappears day after day. We were only three days after the opening of the exhibition, but the image was unpacked, the wick of the candle had burnt for some time and now the inner side of the head was empty, but the outside soemwhat damaged but still standing.
Coen stand here in a side chapel, in the back of the church (West-side). On the northern side in some chapels Hartono had made images of the murder of the population of the Banda Islands, some 2000 people. The great castel, Benteng Belgica stand also with burning candels, waiting to be destroyed.

In the centre we see the great castle of Banda of wax waiting to disappear, while in the back the church of Batavia is shown: is this the Emmanuel Church? Top and below are images of animals that were shot by the Dutch who loved the hunt and finally killed all wild animals in the Banda islands, while the original population only had killed the animals in so far as they needed meat for eating.
Spice harvesters are depicted here with the horns of deer.
Colonialism is ere never seen as an encounter of different nations and cultures, not as an opportunity for international trade and promotion of some agriculture, but quite simply and only as oppression and exploitation. Or should we consider the image of the Batavia Church as something different from the rest: probably not, because it is also temporary, made of wax.

For Hartono the personality of Coen is equal to corruption, to the oppression of the Chinese, to Soeharto's New Order. Does he work in the line of Mangunwijaya, who wrote a book  on early colonialism under the title Ikan-ikan Hiu, Ido, Homa [Sharks, tuna and sprat, after the big fishes who eat the smaller ones, who again live from the smallest]. The novel depicts the period of Western expansion in the beginning of the seventeenth century, when the Dutch tried to take over the Portuguese spice trade in the Moluccan archipelago. Both parties had to win the support of the Muslim Sultanates of Ternate and Tidore. In this novel the arrival of the colonizing powers is not depicted as a conflict between West and East or between Christians and Muslims, but as just another stage in the history of the rich and powerful who manipulate and exploit the poor. Sharks eat the tuna fish or middle class and they eat the sprat.

donderdag 28 september 2017

The rupture between Fethullah Gülen and Tayyip Erdogan: in 2010?

Prof. Simon Robinson is an Anglican priest, professor of spirituality and ethics in Leeds. He teaches mostly in business schools about management, leadership and qualities or even virtues like sincerity, responsibility, transparancy, and fight against corruption. He was in Amsterdam at the invitation of Dutch Gülen people to present his new book:The Spirituality of Responsibility: Fethullah Gülen and Islamic Thought. At some moment I had the impression that he is close the the Indonesian/Dutch Jesuit priest Paul de Blot de Chauvigny who also teaches ´business spirituality´ at a business school (in his case Nyeveldt Unjiversity).
Robinson's key concept are Responsibility, integrity, truthfullness (when seeking in the Aristotelian code of ethicsal conduct for the right virtue). He is more in dialogue with Aristotle, and Ricoeur than with Gülen, but applies his theoretical tools also to an interpretation of this Muslim scholar.
Gülen had summoned his followers to vote in favour for the Turkish Constitutional Referendum of 12 September 2010 (exactly 30 years after the coup of 1980 which resulted in a very undemocratic constitution). This support was given notwithstanding Gülen's disapproval of the way (other) Turkish humanitarian organizations had tried to bring aid to Gaza. Thieir six ships with more than 600 people supporting the action was attacked by the Gaza flotilla raid on 31 May 2010, causing nine people dead. The dispproval by Gülen of this Turkish action was, that it was against the strategy and rulings of the Israeli government. Robinson's conclusion: Gülen does not want to shock any government also not the present Israeli government.
Although Robinson is already since about ten years an active person in contacts with Gülen people, attends conferences, and now writes a book on him, I found it not a strong thesis. I still see the Gezi Park protests rather as the beginning of the estrangement between the two figures.

Above Simon Robinson and below Shanti, who was the leader of discussion during this evening. Shanti is of Surinam/Indian (Hindustani) origin. Platform INS likes also the have paid staff on non-Turkish origin. Their major goal is the promotion of a harmonious soecity with the slogan: kuns van het samenleven, or 'The Art of Living Together'.
We had a major discussant from Baltimore, Prof. William (Pim) Valkenberg who has published 'his book' on Gülen in 2015: Renewing Islam by Service, it has more precise historical and theological methodology.

 In the discussion some 50 people were present, a good mixture of Turkish and Dutch origins. In the business school terminology the idea of 'leadership' is quite important. There were many references to Shakespeare and British/Danish kings (Hamlet, William V), but I wanted also to know how it is with individual choices, while Fethullah Gülen in his four-volume book on Sufism again and again stresses that for the spiritual path the student should decide about a teacher and be obedient to this person. How is this in the Gülen Movement? Who was the teacher of Gülen himself?

donderdag 31 augustus 2017

Mutaqabilin: face to face!

I am in correspondance with Jyoti Sahi in Bangalore about Massignon, the significance of Abraham in interreligious contacts, not only between Muslim, Jews and Christians, but also related to Hindus. Jyoti quoted Massignon that satya the truth-word of Gandhi can be compared to al-haq in the Arab mysticism.
We turned to another word of Massignon muttaqâbilîn, sitting face-to-face, in contrast to 'seeing through a mirror'.
Muttaqâbilîn is four times in the Qur'an. It is always in an idyllic situation: paradise, holiday or sometimes like it, people sitting face to face, having meals and conversation, sitting with nicely and richly covered pillows, talking, exchanging ideas.
It is quite different from the sometimes rather boring idea of heaven which looked in moy youth more like a permanent adoration of the host, the visio beata, looking at God. But not the lively exchange of the four verses:
15:47 [talks about an event in a Garden, water springs. We are invited to be there in peace, perfectly secure] We [God] strip away whatevern there is in their bosoms of rancor and jealousy. As people face to faceon couches raised.
What strikes me here is that initially it is not yet perfect: some remnants of conflicts must be removed.
37:44 Sitting on thrones, face to face
44:52-3  Amidst gardens and springs. Dressed in fine silk and sil brocade, seated face to face.
56:16 [Sitting on lined thrones], reclining upon them, facing one another.

As a boy I found the image of heaven, eternel, just looking to the Allmighty, not really attractive. Is that the promise? For this world or/and the hereafter? This image looks definitely more attractive, loving and peaceful!

maandag 28 augustus 2017


Chrstian Lange, Professor of Islam at Utrecht University recently wrote a general article on the status of Islamic Studies in the broader field of religious studies (in NTT, Journal for Theology and the Study of Religion). Lange resented that in the tradition of 'comparative religion' Muslim rituals and practices are generally overlooked. Mircea Eliade, Joachim Wach, barely mention Islam at all. Is the classical tradition of Islam too much to linguistic studies, to the standards texts, to the 'dry monotheism' sometimes connected to Islam?
There is also the other tradition in Islamic Studies, sometimes called Popsipedso: not the normative Islam of shari'a and fiqh, but political science, psychology, pedagogy and sociology, the actual practices of Muslims rather than old writings, philology and history.
Christian Lange does not make a choice between these two possibilities, although his training and many projects are concentrated more on classical texts than on modern practices. Instead, he puts the more important question  of the character of Islam as a religion. For this purpose he refers to the book by Dhahab Ahmad, What is Islam?The Importance of Being islamic (Princeton 2016).  the definition of religion varies from religion to  region and also from time to time. Protestant Christianity has the most narrow definition of a religion, whil in India the term of Hinduism was never properly defined by 'Hindus' but was a 19th century Western invention. There is not an unambigous normative definition of what proper Islam is: 'the notions of ambiguity and contradictoriness as constitutive for Islam (as also for other religion).
Already in the 1980s there was a serious debates among Muslim scholars in Indopnesia about the 'notmative' and real' Islam. Some of my students in this period asked me also why orientalists have so much interest in aliran sempalan or deviations, heresies, strange figures. I wanted to publish my book on 19t5h century Islam in Indonesia under the title: Paderi, penghulu dan penjual jimat. It was forbidden by my Jakarta publisher Bulan Bintang, on suggestion by Professor Rasjidi: th penjual jimat or amulet sellers are not part of 'proper Islam'.
It is quite interesting to see how the Leiden collection of Arabic manuscripts was bought in the 17th century by Levinus Warner in Aleppo, Damascus, Smyrna and Istanbul: not only the 'theological manuscripts', but also biology, history, geography were important for the beginning Leiden University!

vrijdag 25 augustus 2017

Sexual liberty? Margareth Mead on Samoa and LWC van den Berg on Aceh and Serpong

In 1928 the young anthropologist Margareth Mead defended her PhD dissertation on Growing up in Samoa, telling about free sexual relations before marriage among Samoa youngsters. This was still in the time of Victorian restrictions in Western countries. The book tells about lack of inhibition, absence of guilt related to sex. Only in 1983 it was proven that Margareth Mead was absolutely wrong in her belief of strong and spicy stories by Samoa youngsters and that the island, like all human cultures knows rules about sexual behaviour, also in that period and that they were generally followed by the younger generation.
I remembered this case while reading the article of 1883 written by colonial consultant on Islamic Affairs, Lodewijk (L.W.C.) van den Berg, writing on the Naqshbandi sessions in Aceh (and elsewhere in the archipelago). Van den Berg describes first a session he attended himself in 1881 in Lambaru, in 'Great Aceh', capital of 22 mukim, where the Dutch official, controleur, had invited a group of people to sing zikr accompanied by two young boys who from time to time as sedati were performing dances amidst a larger group of chanting men who sung sections from the Qur'an and short lines like la ilaha illah Allah, while vehemently moving with the upper parts of their body. Van den Berg made comparisons to Javanese dancers, women, who performed the dances 'more elegant' than their Acehnese male counterparts. Van den Berg describes it as partly religious in content, but partly entertainment. He does not elaborate the idea that religion can be entertaining at the same time! In fact, many religious talks by  Javanese popular preachers contain jokes, popular songs and in this way preachers can entertain large audiences for two hours or even longer. Pak A.R. Fachruddin, the Muhammadiyah leader, was famous in this double role. Even the Dutch born Jesuit priest Tom Jacobs was known for his entertaining sections during sermons in the church of Kota Baru, Yogyakarta.

The session, described by Van den Berg, started at 19.00 and at 23.00 the controleur (who had given drinks, lemonade, during the hefty performance) ordered that it shoud stop 'because they can go on chanting and dancing until sunrise'.
Van den Berg suggest that the sedati boys offer sexual services, but this is not elaborated in his article in the Journal of the Batavia Society of Science and Arts (TBG). He mentions also that respected religious leaders are outspoken opponents of this popular religious practice.
At the end of his article he moves to Serpong, near Batavia, where he heard from an esteemed landlord that the sessions of the Naqshbandi brotherhood are also held in his region with a mixed group of men and women in a mosque and here the lights are put off during the zikir, with people sitting not in rows but in a square formation 'while all touching the pudenda (kemaluan, sexual parts) of their neighbour'. Van den Berg asserts that the standing of his informant assured him that this was the truth. He added that we find here 'how the Polynesian phallus-cult continues appearing in the midst of Muslim practices. You may chase nature away with a pitch-fork, but it will always return!' [hoe de Polynesische phallus-dienst telkens tusschen de vormen van den Islām voor den dag komt. Naturam furca expellas, tamen usque recurret.]
Van den Berg is an early supporter of Islam Nusantara, of a local appearance of Islam, but he always likes to give foreign labels to local traditions: either Chinese, Hindu or even Polynesian. Or is this originating from a naive or even a dirty mind of a landlord without personal connections to the Muslim practice?
Martin Van Bruinessen, Tarekat Naqsyabandiyah di Indonesia, Bandung, Mizan: 1992,32-3 has already some comments on this remarks by Lodewijk van den berg

dinsdag 22 augustus 2017

Prof. Dr. Yunan Yusuf and family in Utrecht

Yunan Yusuf was among the first group of students at the Islamic Academy IAIN Syarif Hidayatullah (now UIN, Islamic State University) in Jakarta, 1982-3. He studied the Dutch language with my wife and followed the course I gave that year in the sources for the history of Indonesian Islam, especially 19th century (I have now plans to rewrite the book in English. It was my first book written in Indonesian: the original title I gave was Paderi, Penghulu dan Penjual Jimat: Muslims in 19th century Indonesia, but the publisher did not like the amulet sellers and the book received the rather dull title Beberapa Aspek Islam di Indonesia, abad ke-19. It was mostly advisor Prof Rasjidi of Bulan Bintang Publishers who rejected the inclusion of the popular religion in Islam).
Notwithstanding his study of Dutch, Yunan Yusuf did not make it to Leiden and the Netherlands. He received his Ph.D. in Jakarta on a dissertation about the Qur'an interpretation by Hamka.
Three children of Yunan Yusuf study abroad. One in Australia, two in Germany. Therefore he managed to be accepted as a researcher in Berlin for three months, on the impact of Indonesian Muslim in Germany on the dakwa in Germany. But he came also to Utrecht.

So the Keluarga Besar Yunan Yusuf (now at the age of 69) is here standing in our garden after dinner and in between talks about the development of Islamic Studies in the last 40 years. Yunan's youngest daughter studies in Mainz, MA in international economic affairs (most right). his son, left, studies in technology in Berlin, for a PhD degree. It was already predicted by Ben Boland and Mukti Ali in the late 1960s and early 1970s: pesantren leaders send their children to the IAIN, the State Academies of Islamic Studies. The professors of IAIN send their children to secular universities abroad.

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. Ahmad 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.
Above 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 Abuse 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 reestablished 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 whole 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 Ritapiret, 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 an ecclesiastical 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 mine 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!
Later reports (some information added on 14LOctober 2017): the rumours about affair of the lady were spread already several years ago, but now the financial issue came also part of the debate about the bishop.  Now the Vatican started action and in early October there was a report that the bishop 'esigned and the Vatican has accepted his resignation.' This is not the final information about this affair. Three predecessors of bishop Leteng also experienced many problems in their diocese, where the Catholic church experiences influence from clans and political pressure groups. The last Dutch bishop of the diocese (Willem van Bekkum) resigned in 1972: people complained that he loved to give talks and speeches worldwide and to stay outside of his diocese, preaching inculturation and adjustmant to local conditions.

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.