dinsdag 31 juli 2018

The variety of topics in the research of Media Zainul Bahri

Media Zainul Bahri is a lecturer at the UIN, Islamic State University of Jakarta. Quite different from many young scholars he has known a great switch in his topics. In 2010 he defended his doctoral dissertation in Jakarta: on the Islamic Mysticism of Ibn 'Arabi, Jalaluddin Rumi and al-Jili: three universal esoteric masters of the later middle ages (in Western chronology, in fact: in the high period of Muslim mystical writers.
In 2013 he was for a short period in the Netherlands, because of a two-year post-doctoral  research in Cologne on the small presence of theosophy in Indonesia, 1901-1940. In the publication of this book he was praised by Prof. Edwin Wieringa, he put this book on the leven of the German Habilitation, r somce kind of second dissertation, necessary for a position as full professor.
Theosophy was not really important in the history of Indonesia. Helena Blavatsjky visited twice Indonesia: in the 1850s and again in 1862 and was impressed by the shrines of Mendut and Borobudur. After 1900 a small movement started, mostly in Pekalongan and Semarang, later also to Yogyakarta, Surakarta and Surabaya. A variety of members is mentioned, from the father of Soekarno to Haji Agus Salim. After 1914 a small series of Arjuna schools were opened. It was an open movement, more even than Budi Utomo, because European and Indonesian members were here in equal position (Ricklefs: one of the few movements which brought elite Javanese, Indo-Europeans and Dutchmen together).
In his book Wajah Studi Agama-agama dari Era Teosofi Indonesia (1901-1940) hingga Masa Reformasi goes further: the beginning of the comparative study of religion, with Mukti Ali as the most important scholar, but also Johan Effendi, Nurcholish Madjid, Jalaluddin Rakhmat and even the open-minded Abdurrahman Wahid as promotors of the comparative study of religion.

 This summer season Media again came to Cologne, now for a three months research. Again he visited Utrecht and a picture was taken in the same place as in 2013 (above). Then the Diyanet Mosque or Ulu Camii was not yet finished, now its restaurant on the ground floor is open, as well as the upper three floors of the mosqu. This mosque is on a prominent square, close to thelarge railway station of Utrecht.
Media was now invited for three month on Cologne on the base of a finding of documents in the Sono Budaya building of Yogyakarta. He found documents in fine Javanese script, with texts of bi-monthly lectures on religion in the mid-1930s and apparently in Javanese. Dr. Johan Herman Bavinck
had given a lecture on the Jewish religion. He not only gave a description of the Jewish idea of Messiah/Mahdi, but also wanted to correct the Jews. They are still expecting the 'Mahdi' but in fact this figure has arrived in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. So, Bavinck not only was a pure academic scholar, but also an apologetic defender of Christianity. In the Protestant terminology of that period, he was 'elenchtic'. Now Media Zainul Bahri is studying more writings of this Protestant scholar to determine this style of mixture of science of religion and missionary apologetic.
The major writing in this field is J.H. Bavinck, Christus en de Mystiek van het Oosten, (Kampen 1934), where pages 74-105 are about 'De Islam en zijn doorwerking op Java', or 'Islam and its development in Java'.  It is a quite disappointing study: it only quotes two other scholar-missionaries (Hendrik Kraemer and Barend Schuurman), besides Mangkunegara VII about wayang (article in the journal Djawa). Islamic Mysticism in java is a mixture of pantheism and some more strict Muslim orthodoxy. For this moment we must wait how they will develop further and in this period 'follow the command that we should try to bring them to (Jesus), the only one who is the Way, Life and Truth.' According to Media Zainul Bahri in this way Bavinck show a mix of science of religion and missionary zeal. Interesting to hear just a calm analysis from a young Muslim scholar from Jakarta. And enjoy a lunch together in the new Turkish mosque of Utrecht.

maandag 30 juli 2018

Blaming the indonesian army for more than 500.000 people killed

I started fieldwork on pesantren, the Muslim boarding schools, in March 1970. During one year of field work, I often talked about being Dutch, of the colonizing nation until the 1940s (although I myself was born in 1942). I never asked about the more recent dramatic period of Indonesia in 1965-6 when probably more than half a million people were killed, suspected or accused or being sympatetic to Communism. Also in the period 1981-8 when teaching at the Islamic Universities of Jakarta and Yogyakarta this dark period seldom was touched upon. Of course, nearly daily there was mention of people who could not become government official, would not be accepted as student of state universities, because in some way related to those terlibat G30S/PKI. Only in 1996 I asked Abdurrahman, in 1986 the translator of my dissertation and for long a close colleague, about his experience in that period. He was a member of the Muslim student organization HMI and they were during a period of several months brought by military trucks to villages. With some 30 students they had to ask in villages who had become member of organizations affiliated to the Communist Party. In the early evening these people would be arrested and during the night executed, killed. The military men urged the students also to be active in the killing. Abdurrahman (no family name, only after his PhD he sometimes used the additional Widyakusuma or 'flower of kownledge') did not join himself  the killing. Some of his fellow students did and they still suffered from nightmare, because of these terrible experiences.
 Only in the 1990s more and more was published about this ferocious time of massacre. A major book was published recently by Geoffrey Robinson as a monument for the probably more than 500.000 victims. In a book of 429 pages many aspects are described: the early history of Indonesian democracy, the growing tensions in the early 1960s, economic decline, the deadlock in parliament and Sukarno as the revolutionary dictator, balancing between various parties. There was an alleged coup of 30 September 1965, when six generals, the absolute top of the army, were killed, probably by accident, and probably in an effort to prevent a coup by generals of the army. Also in this book not all questions about this coup of Untung are answered. What should be prevented, however, happened, albeit slowly; Suharto took over the absolute power step by step and the army orchestrated the annihilation of the Communist Party and whatever was connected with it. It was not a master-plan, it happened step by step, not in all regions identical: first in Aceh, very little in West Java (because the local military commander 'did not like the killings', most brutally in Central and East Java and Bali, between October 1965 until January 1966. In Flores only in April 1966. Many people have given a major role to unrest under the population as if it was a movement from below. Some even blaim the USA and the UK for the anti/Communist actions. But in many pages and clear series of stories and arguments, Robinson again and again puts the blame for all this exclusively to the army. It was not a massacre with religious motivation or based on racial prejudice, but a political process of cleansing region after region the whole nation. Not something like the genocide of the Jews in Europe, but something like what happened in Cambodia.
He questions also the legal responsibility. Will there ever be truth and justice? After 1998 some initiatives have started to initiate a process of restoring the human rights of the victims. In April 2016 a national symposium was organized: Discussing the 1965 Tragedy. In November 2015, IPT, the International People's Tribunal came together in The Hague and some more initiatives were taken. The two movies by Joshua Oppenheimer are well known. But still much need to be done to bring more facts to the world and started a process of healing.
P. 382, note 28 mentions Magnis Suseno, 'a Jesuit scholar who was part of an ardent anticommunist youth group in Java in the 1960s, but now he has advocated a process of reconciliation'. Father Joop Beek is only mentioned in passing, with a new reference to Santamaria: 'Kamerad dalam Keyakinan: Pater Joop Beek SJ dan Jaringan BA Santamaria di Asia Tenggara',  (Harian Indoprogress, 29 September 1016. 1965 is not yet past only.

maandag 23 juli 2018

Female fighters and women warriors in Indonesia

The colonial Van Heutz Square in Batavia was renamed Taman Cut Mutiah in Jakarta after 1949: a move from the Dutch colonial general to the female fighter of Aceh in the early 20th century. Cut Mutiah is not the only female fighter in Indonesian history. Already from the 16th century rulers of Java female fighters were known to the outside world.
Recently this has lead to a sad development in Surabaya. Women who supported the ideas of IS, the Islamic State (in Syria and Iraq, but also for Indonesia), were no longer happy with their role as wife and mother. On 13 May they were active in the attacks on three churches in Surabaya, carried out by a family: husband, wife and two children. In total two women committed suicide bombing, where also children were involved, because on Monday 14 May a police office was attacked in the same way. The munition they used is described in an ISIS handbook as umm al-shaitan or 'Mother of Satan'.
Lizzy van Leeuwen wrote an interesting article in the Dutch weekly De groene Amsterdammer (12.7.2018) on this new development. She also mentioned the great role given in the army reports about the killing of the six generals 30 September 1965 at Lubang Buaya, where it has been mentioned that Gerwani women were ancing naked, as has been invented to incriminate the leaders of the alleged coup.
Van Leeuwen also mentions developments in Indonesian politics where according to her information (much from hear-say, just rumours and gossip so often circulating in Jakarta) 'my old friends, former opponents of Soeharto and the New Order, feminists, now turn to Gerindra and Prabowo, seeking nice jobs.'
She mentions Nursyahbani Katjasungkana (now 'hoping for a position as judge in the Constitutional Court after the election victory of Prabowo'), Edriana Noerdin, director of the Women Research Institute in Jakarta and also Lies Marcoes. The latter was in 1981-3 one of my first students at the IAIN of Jakarta. Lies has since long been working for the Asia Foundation and is one of the most prominent Muslim feminists of the country.
In November 2014 Lies Marcoes was one of the organizers of a seminar in Yogyakarta, a 'Tribute to Martien van Bruinessen and Karel Steenbrink'
I wrote  to Lies for a reaction and she answered immediately that this is the usual gossip of Indonesia. She is since long close to Bianti, sister of Prabowo and a feminist in her own right. Bianti is the leader of Perempuan Indonesia Raya (PIRA), connected to Gerindra 'like Aisyiah to Muhammadiyah'. For training of PIRA members Lies was last year asked to give a talk about gender and poverty. Nursyahbani, Sita Kayam and others were also invited. They are not members of Gerindra. For Lies it is important that people like these have an opportunity to communicate their ideas also to PIRA and Gerindra members. But this does not mean that they now are working under the umbrella of Gerindra. Lizzy van Leeuwen never directly contacted Lies on this issue. Lies has since long good relations with Bianti, but that is not related to recent political developments and she was never urged to become a Gerindra member.
It is not easy to be an 'independent thinker' or activist in Indonesia, definitely not in a year preceding presidential elections!

donderdag 12 juli 2018

An Indonesian General in Rome

On 4 July 2018 the Indonesian priest Paul Budi Kleden was elected to become the next General Superior of the SVD, the Societas Verbi Divini (Society of the Divine Word), with his office in Rome. It is the second non-European general superior (after someone from the Philippines) in this original German-European order. The SVD entered Indonesia in 1913 with a first mission post in Timor (Atambua region), but due to World War I only spread broader after 1919.
Now 100 years later the Indonesian branches of the SVD are worldwide the largest for this order. Of the somewhat more than 6000 male members, over 800 are Indonesians.Consequently an Indonesian has now been chosen as their international leader.
The Kleden Clan has its base in Waibalun, a district of Larantuka, East Flores. Perhaps best known is Ignas Kleden (b 1948) who studied social science in Munich, worked with LP3ES, founded in Jakarta the research and lobbying CEIA, Centre for East Indonesian Studies or the Go-East centre.
There is a younger member of the clan, Paul Budi Kleden, born in 1965. He also studied in Germany, Freiburg, 1996-2000, and became a social activist, but also seminary professor. He was already living in Rome since 2012 as a member of the international council of the SVD order, after some academic and leading positions in his home country. The UCAN bulletin (indonesia@ucanews.com) on Asian Christianity quoted a large number of fellow priests who were proud and confident about this election.

woensdag 4 juli 2018

Kakatua or cockatoo as a bird of peace

East Indonesia has since long been known for its exotic birds. Around 1900 the feathers of the birds of paradise were very popular worldwide. Hunters came to Papua to chase the birds. They brought the venereal diseases in the Merauke district. This was nearly the cause of the extinction of the Marind tribe and a great stimulus for the spread of the Catholic mission and its strict moral teaching. I described this in the second volume of my Catholics in Indonesia, 1808-1942.
The cockatoo (or kakak tua in Malay/Indonesian) is less colourful than the paradise bird, but since many centuries also known as an attractive bird, used as a gift donated by rulers to other rulers. Recently an early 13th century manuscript has been discovered in the Vatican archives, showing a cockatoo that was donated by the Egyptian Ayyubid Sultan Al-Malik Muhammad al-Kamil (ruled 1218-1238) to Frederic II of Sicily (1194-1250), who also was the emperor of the Sacred Roman Empire of Central Europe. Frederic II was an open minded ruler with many Muslims in his own island of Sicily. Already in 1217 he had began a correspondence with Al-Malik al-Kamil on many subjects. Exotic animals were among the things he loved. In his palace he had some kind of a zoo with a cheeta, an elephant, a giraffe, and apparently as a gift from Egypt also a cockatoo. This animal was donated to him by his Egyptian friend and colleague.

The Australian scholar Heather Dalton has with some colleagues published an article in the journal Parergon, and described the text. She concludes that there must have been an economic and cultural exchange between the major empires of the world (China, India, the Arab world, Europe) where also East Indonesia and perhaps even Australia was involved.
The lover of animals, Saint Francis of Assisi visited the Ayyubid court in 1219, exactly at the time of this connection between Frederic II and the Sultan while the 4th crusade was still going on: they lived in a strange world, with people preaching war between religions and lovers of peace, like in our time!