zaterdag 6 januari 2018

Paderi: contradictory Dutch positions.

For the CMR project on the bibliographical history of Christian-Muslim Relations, I now write an entry on Dutch accounts of the Paderi. There is a great difference between seemingly positive and harsh negative opinions, between doves and hawks. Ridder de Stuers was Resident of Padang between late 1824 and 1829. He had no troops, because they were all needed for the Java War against Dipanegara. He left the Paderi in the highlands and signed on 25 October 1825 a treaty with them, leaving them their own business and belief. He complained about the behaviour of Malay people in Minangkabau: 'While discussing with common Malay people nobody listens to other people, but they talk in an undisciplined way, while the Padri give the word to their oldest and senior priests' (From his two-volume book on the Minangkabau,Vol I:104) He also wrote that you could easily see who were Paderi and who not: the common Malay had black teeth from sirih chewing and tobacco smoking, while the Paderi usually had healthy teeth. 'They did not consider themselves as Lords of the land, but only as religious preachers.'
Lieutenant Boelhouwer, who stayed in the West Coast of Sumatra between 1831-4 also wrote quite positive about the Paderi: Schoon was het te zien, die sterk gespierde Padries.. de ingetogen Padrie welke zijne driften volgens zijne godsdienstleer nimmer botviert, schijnt een reus tegen den Maleijer, welke door zijn opiumrooken een beklagenswaardig voorwerp oplevert. [It was nice to see these healthy and strongly muscled Padri. They show discipline and control their passions because of their religious conviction. They appear like giants compared to Malay people who smoke opium and have a destitute figure.' Quote from his personal observations in Westr Sumatra, page 100, see also page 40 about the 'lazy Malay' who is addicted to cockfighting and smoking opium] . 

A very curious text is found in a lengthy proposal of the Batavia administration seeking peace in Minangkabau. It has in its openng the following text: Reeds sedert twee eeuwen is de Edele Compagnie met u in handelsbetrekkingen op deze kust geweest, en omdat de Mohammedanen en Christenen geene vijanden zijn, zooals sommigen onder u, om u te misleiden, geleerd hebben, daar wij en gijlieden belijden dat er maar één God is, dien wij moeten dienen en aanbidden, en die ons, zoo wel als ulieden, heeft geboden om de menschen lief te hebben en geen kwaad over anderen te brengen. Die hiertegen zondigt, die zal God straffen, hetzij hij Christen of Mohammedaan is, zoo als God zal zegenen die zijne geboden onderhouden…  [Since two centuries the Honorable Company or VOC has been trading with you in this region. The  Muslims and the Christians are not enemies, like some among you notwithstanding are teaching in a misleading way, and we and you confess that there is only One God whom we must serve and honour and who has taught us, including you, to love all people and not to do harm to other people. All people who sin aginst this doctrines will be punished by God, Muslims as well as Christian, like God also will bless all those who obey his commands..]  This is a quite theological start of a proposal for a political peace treaty! [De Stuers Vol II:9]
 In fact the Paderi consented in the presence of the Dutch on the coast, in Padang and others towns, but if they were not willing to spread the Paderi style of religion, the 'Company' should not interfere and not open fortifications in their region. De Stuers comments with some understanding on this wish: ‘Hoe kan er een gouvernement bestaan dat zich niet met het belangrijkste, het geloof, bezig houdt?’Or; Any government should also take account of the most important aspect of life: which is faith!

But there are also hawks who only have an open eye for the cruelties of the Paderi. It begins with the Muslim dress code: white robes, a turban and (when possible) a beard for men; white or blue long dress for women and heads covered with giant hats, veil attached to this. In the Muslim-against-Muslim jihad, violence was used when the Paderi saw evil things like the use of tobacco, opium, sirih, cockfighting. The festival places for cock-fighting were burnt down and even whole villages of people who did not obey the Paderi rulings.  The hardline Dutch who wanted to take control of the mountainous inland region found a good excuse in the request for support against the Paderi by Malay/Minangkabau people. In my description the major leader of this 'war party' on the Dutch side is General A.V. Michiels,  who became the resident in 1837 and concluded the fighting and was the designer of the economic and political policy since the 1840s. He wrote pamplets against De Stuers, like the latter wrote later also a two-volume book against Michiels (who died in action in Bali in 1849).

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