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The Fate of Muslim Nationalism in Independent Indonesia

Kevin William Fogg


This dissertation traces the fate of groups in Indonesia who sought to make their country

an Islamic state by transforming politics and society. Although these groups played a critical

role in winning Indonesia's independence during the Indonesian Revolution (1945-1949),

divisions between political leaders, theological leaders, and the grassroots split the movement,

and by 1960 these divisions caused the failure of Islam as a political movement for an Islamic


During revolution, Dutch-educated political leaders took the leadership of the Islamic

movement through appointments in the Socialist-led cabinets. These political leaders brought

their Western norms to the struggle to establish an Islamic state. Theological leaders, prominent

for their roles in Islamic education and mass organizations, also sought to establish an Islamic

state, but they were less involved in Indonesia's modern governance. Across Indonesia, pious

Muslims disconnected from the national leadership of the Islamic movement also contributed to

the revolution. At this grassroots level, the Indonesian Revolution was experienced as an Islamic

fight for independence. The diversity of Muslim experiences in the revolution, including many

heterodox practices, demonstrated the distance between the syncretic Islamic grassroots and the

new leadership of the Islamic movement nationally.

After Indonesia's independence was recognized in late 1949, Islamic political parties and

mass organizations sought to shape the state and nation to make them more Islamic. They were

hindered in this by tensions between the political and theological leaders in the Islamic bloc,

tensions that climaxed in the 1952 departure of Nahdlatul Ulama from the major Islamic party
Masjumi. The Islamic movement experienced many successes after independence, such as the

expansion of Islamic organizations and education, but national trends such as the standardization

of language limited the influence of Islamic ideas and activists.

Things came to a head in the national elections of 1955, when the political leaders,

theological leaders, and Islamic grassroots not only battled political parties opposed to Islam but

also battled each other. Facing the elections, political interests proved to be paramount over

existing social and cultural interests in the Indonesian Islamic movement. Although they

expected an unambiguous victory, Islamic parties won only 45% of the seats in the resulting

parliament and Constituent Assembly, severely restricting their ability to implement their vision

of an Islamic state.

After this defeat, the strain between the Islamic political elite and the Islamic grassroots

and theological leaders became too great. Islamic political leaders were pushed into increasing

irrelevance, failing to pass legislation, failing in the constitutional assembly, and committing

half-heartedly to the PRRI rebellion of 1958-61. As a result, the debilitated Masjumi party was

dissolved. Islamic mass organizations freed themselves from political parties and embraced the

Sukarno regime. The Islamic movement as a bloc struggling for Indonesia to become an Islamic

state fell apart.

The Fate of Muslim Nationalism in Independent Indonesia

A Dissertation
Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School
Yale University
in Candidacy for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy

Kevin William Fogg

Dissertation Director: Benedict F. Kiernan

December 2012
UMI Number: 3535314

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Table of Contents
Acknowledgements viii

A Word on Indonesian Spelling xii

A Word on Indonesian Names xiii

Introduction 1

Muslims in the Historiography of Independent Indonesia 2

Muslims in the Historiography of the Indonesian Revolution (1945-49) 2

Muslims in the Historiography of the 1950s 8

Muslims in Indonesia before Independence 15

Divisions within Indonesian Islam: Pious and Nominal Muslims 23

Divisions within Indonesian Islam: Traditionalist and Reformist Muslims 28

Three Trends within Indonesian Islam in the Early 20th Century 32

Toward Organizations 32

Toward Orthodoxy 36

Toward Politics 38

Japanese Occupation 48

Outline of the Dissertation 57

Methodology 60

Chapter 1: Politics during the Revolution 65

Proclaiming Independence and the Start of the Jakarta charter Controversy 67

Islamic Politics in the New State 75

Founding of Masjumi as a Political Party 83

Masjumi Leadership 89

Masjumi's Platform 98

Masjumi's Auxiliaries 104

Masjumi's Expansion 108

Formation of the Ministry of Religion 110

Persatuan Perjuangan and Linggarjati as Testing Grounds 114

Persatuan Perjuangan 114

Linggarjati Agreement and the Expansion of the KNIP 117

Other Islamic Parties Emerge 125

Founding of Perti as a Rival Party 125

Sermi as a Counterexample: Regional Political Islam 131

Exit of PSII and the First Fracture of Masjumi 133

Islamic Law Becoming National Law 144

Marriage 145

Alms 149

Conclusion 152

Chapter 2: An Islamic Revolution at the Grassroots Level 154

Archetypes of Islamic Rebellion in the Indonesian Revolution 156

The Ideology of the Struggle 159

The Reason for the Fight 159

Fatwas for Religious Fighting 161

The Role of Ulama in the Revolution 170

Fighting for Religion on the Ground 178

Islamic Mass Organizations in the Revolution 180

Sabilillah and Hizbullah 182

Case Studies 189

Amulets 189

Revolution in West Sumatra 194

Conclusion 200

Chapter 3: Changes after Independence 203

NU Leaves Masjumi 204

Implications of the NU Exit 216

NU as an Independent Party 220

Birth of New Islamic Organizations 222

Boom in Islamic Education 228

History of Government Patronage of Islamic Education 228

Increase in Islamic Schools after Independence 230

Teaching Islam in Non-Islamic Schools 236

A Shift in Language 241

Disappearance of Jawi Script 242

Vocabulary Selection and the Confinement of Arabic 260

Spelling Changes 271

Punctuation 281

Conclusion 282

Chapter 4: Muslims Face Elections 285

Election Law 287

Anti-Vice Campaigns as an Election Tool 294

Perfect Coincidence of Parties and Organizations 304

Amuntai and the All-Indonesia Ulama Conference 312

In-Fighting Between Islamic Parties 322

Campaigning against Communists 329

Use of the Term Kafir 336

Results and Aftermath of the Elections 340

Conclusion 352

Chapter 5: Decline and Collapse of the Islamic Movement 354

Marriage 355

Constituent Assembly Debates 364

Muslim Rejection of Compromise 367

Nature of the Debate on the Foundation of the State 371

Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia (PRRI) 376

End of the Constituent Assembly 387

Islamic Organizations Exit Masjumi 394

Disbanding of Masjumi 401

Giving Sukarno Titles 406

Conclusion 414

Bibliography 420

Table of Illustrations
Figure 1: Map of Indonesian provinces with the percentage of their residents that were

Muslim as of 2010

Figure 2: Image of Masjid Syuhada '45, Luwu, South Sulawesi

Figure 3: Amulet from the collection of Marzuki Arifin

Figure 4: Lima Puluh Sen coins from 1955 and 1957

Figure 5: Dua Puluh Lima Rupiah bill from the PRRI in 1958

Figure 6: Letter from Ahmad Bone, 1953

Figure 7: Page from a 1946 publication showing the use of Arabic cognates

Figure 8: Election symbols for Islamic parties

Figure 9: Journalist's Picture of Conflict between NU and Masjumi

Figure 10: Map of Proportion of the Vote Won by Islamic Parties, by Regency..

Figure 11: Map of Proportion of the Vote Won by Masjumi, by Regency

Figure 12: Map of Proportion of the Vote Won by NU, by Regency

Figure 13: Map of Proportion of the Vote Won by Perti, by Regency

Figure 14: Map of Proportion of the Vote Won by PSII, by Regency

Figure 15: Map of Regencies Where Islamic Parties Combined Won a Majority

Like any dissertation, this one grew not just out of my own work but also out of

the good will of others. Unfortunately, I do not think I will be able to give just

appreciation here to the hundreds of others on several continents who contributed to the

research and writing of this work. My apologies in advance to the many, many people

who helped me but do not find their names below; even if you are not listed, you are not


First, many thanks to my committee in the Department of History at Yale: Profs.

Peter Perdue, Abbas Amanat, Tony Day, and especially Ben Kiernan. Prof. Kiernan was

both diligent and patient in reading many drafts and fixing many awkward sentences.

They have all given me many great ideas and tips, and I apologize that I was not smart

enough and quick enough to integrate all of them into this product.

Many other faculty and staff members at Yale also deserve thanks for contributing

to this project. In no particular order, my sincere appreciation to Profs. Valerie Hansen,

Alan Mikhail, Jon Butler, Michael Gasper, Francesca Trivellato, and Hal Conklin; Rich

Richie and the Southeast Asia Curatorial Staff at Yale University Libraries; Greg Eow;

Prof. Joe Errington, Kristine Mooseker, and the Council on Southeast Asia Studies;

Indriyo Sukmono and my colleagues at the Yale Indonesia Forum; and Stacey Maples

and Abraham Parrish of the Yale University Library Map Collection for help in creating

the maps in the introduction and chapter 4. Special thanks to Marcy Kaufman, graduate

registrar in History.

Of course, many colleagues at Yale also helped me along the way, but these pages

cannot contain sufficient words for them. Suffice it for me to list a few of them, in

alphabetical order: Assef Ashraf, Amanda Behm, Teresa Bejan, Julio Capo, Jr., Hayden

Cherry, Zane Curtis-Olsen, Frank Dhont, Deborah Doroshow, Elizabeth Duggan, Eugene

Ford, Joe Fronczak, Emily Gasser, Julia Guarneri, Betty Luther Hillman, Vanessa

Hongsathavij, Ranin Kazemi, Kevin Ko, Nathan Kurz, Annette Lienau, Megan Lindsey

Cherry, ShawnaKim Lowey-Ball, Victor McFarland, Ana Minian, Katherine Mooney,

Robin Morris, Jamie O'Leary, Todd Olszewski, Richard Payne, Tom Pepinsky, Andre

Rivier, Leslie Theibert, Brian Turner, Farzin Vejdani, Miti von Weissenberg, Jennifer

Wellington, Faizah Zakaria, and Waleed Ziad. The Citations did not necessarily help me

to finish my dissertation, but they sure made the procrastination much more pleasant. My

apologies to the many others whom I have forgotten to name here.

Elsewhere in the US, I have incurred debts to Prof. Jim Collins at NIU, Prof.

Audrey Kahin of Cornell, Jeffrey W. Petersen of the Olin Library at Cornell, Anto

Mohsin, and Linda and Lenny, who graciously hosted me in Ithaca. I had the pleasure of

meeting Profs. Brad Simpson of Princeton and Jennifer W. Nourse of University of

Richmond while in the field, and I have enjoyed their good will on many fronts. Above

all, my advanced education, from before I entered college to my destination after

graduate school and across North Africa in between, owes an unspeakable debt to Profs.

Bruce B. Lawrence and miriam cooke of Duke University.

In Indonesia, I owe thanks to a legion of people. If I listed them all, the

dissertation would double in size. Instead, I will mention a few key names who were

critically important in teaching me about the country and connecting me with resources

related to this project. Of course, I am very grateful to all of the Indonesians I

interviewed to collect information about the Islamic movement in the 1940s, 1950s, and

1960s; find their names in the bibliography. At the New York Consulate: Zahermann

Muabezi. In Jakarta: Usep Abdul Matin, Tati Hartimah, Azyumardi Azra, Komaruddin

Hidayat, Yeni Ratna, Cut Erika, Max and Tina Kalivas, Jeremy Menchik, Satrio

Wicaksono, Josh Gedacht, Cornelia Paliama, Rizma Fadillah, Adnan Buyung Nasution,

Sabar Sitanggang, Trac Pham, Sunny Tanuwidjaja, Syatiri Ahmad, and the staff of the

National Archives, to whom I gave too much trouble and too little thanks. In Sukabumi:

Haji Endang. In Jogjakarta: Sita Hidayah and Inayah Rochmaniyah. In Surabaya:

Dewantoro Ratri. On Lombok: Chairussyuhur Arman, Suhubdy, M. Natsir Abdillah,

Lalu Muhammad Kasip, M. S. Ending, Fahrurozzi, and H. Asnawi. In South Sulawesi:

Alim Bachri Siri and family in Padangsappa, Muslim Muchtar in Masamba, Usman and

Munira at Wisma Rektor UnHas, Azhari, Abd. Rahman Hamid, the staff of Arsip

Propinsi SulSel, Mustari Bosra, and Muhsin Mahfudz. In Central Sulawesi: Lukman

Thahir. In South Kalimantan: Irfan Noor, Syaharuddin, Ahmad Syadzali, and Farhat

Tifani. In Aceh: Nur Ikhwan, Sehat Ihsan Sulaiman, Azka Raf, Muhammad Thalal, Cut

Sari and family in Sigli, Usman Rizki, and the staff of Yayasan Ali Hasjmy library. In

Medan: Ali Murtado, Waijio and the staff of FISIP at USU, and, of course, Ompung. In

South Sumatra: the provincial leadership of Muhammadiyah, especially Nofrizal,

Abdullah Sani, and Romli S.A., Abdullah Umar, Hatamar, Noor Huda, and the excellent

staff of IAIN-Raden Fatah, K.H. M. Zen Syukri, Dita Marleni, and the Greens, naturally.

In West Sumatra, where I have incurred the greatest debts: Izzati, Hassanawi, Rizal S.

Haq, Ahmad Yusuf, men of Martabak Kaka (especially Jalil and Ravi), Gusti Asnan and

colleagues at UnAnd, Ibu Nari (the best cook any ravenous twenty-something could

want), the Rubles, Pak Pung, Takuya Hasegawa, Anas Navis, and Mestika Zed.

Special mention goes to a few of people who did their best to make me

Indonesian: Mohammad Fadil and the gang at his warnet, Jon Pieter Nazar and family

(especially Jourdan, who also withstood my efforts to make him American), and Maria

Monica Wihardja. With a few more months, you all might have succeeded in making

something out of me. Of course, the ones who made the most progress in turning me into

an Indonesian were Lisa Sri Dwiyana, Ali Akbar, Abrar, Nadia, Datok Marwan and Umi.

Forgive me that I have been such a poor student.

Above all, I owe my ability to finish this project to my two families, Indonesian

and American. In Indonesia, the Siburians took me in when I was nothing more than

pitifully sick fresh arrival barely able to order a meal in Indonesian. I learned so much

around their dinner table, not just about Indonesia but also about myself. I hope to see

Pak Victor, Nelda, Eddie, Joel and Jemma soon. I miss Ibu Lydia more than I care to

admit. To Wanda, Rubi and the kids in North Carolina, thanks for fielding my phone

calls, questions, and sorry attempts to contribute to the family with all-too-infrequent


My American family has put up with a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth as

this dissertation has slowly marched toward completion. They even braved Indonesia

during the rainy season (twice!) to see me during research trips. Thanks lil doodies! I

promise the next place you have to visit me will be less gastrointestinally perilous.

A Note on Indonesian Spelling
Today's Indonesian is a very straightforward language in terms of orthography.

All letters are pronounced roughly the same as English, with the exception of "c" which

makes the English sound "ch" as in "church," and the combination "sy" which makes the

"sh" sound as in "hush." Any Indonesian words or names of organizations that were still

in existence after 1972 will be spelled using this modern system, and all place names are

given in the modern spelling and with reference to their current province.

Before 1972, Indonesian spelling was slightly more Dutch. This system of

spelling will be preserved in the names of organizations that ceased to exist before 1972.

In this system, the modern "j" was spelled "dj," the modern "y" was "j," and the modern

"c" (for "ch") was "tj." Thus Jakarta was once Djakarta and Muhammadiyah was once


Personal names will be spelled according to the preference of the individual, as

best as can be determined. Many personal names preserved the old spelling, and some

kept one additional difference. Before 1947, the modern "u" in Indonesian was spelled

"oe." Thus Mohamad Roem kept the oldest spelling of his name (eschewing the

standardization "Muhammad Rum").

Outside of personal names, I preserve the pre-1947 spelling in only one instance.

I will use the old spelling "Masjoemi" to refer to the Japanese-sponsored Java-centered

social organization, and the revised spelling "Masjumi" to refer to the political party.
A Note on Indonesian Names
Even beyond issues of spelling, Indonesian names are as diverse and confusing as

Indonesian history. Although a few ethnic groups (most notably the Bataks and

Menadonese) have systems of clan names functioning as last names (thus, Yunan

Nasution and Ventje Sumual can very comfortably be called Prof. Nasution and Col.

Sumual), not all of their members follow this convention (for example, Burhanuddin

Harahap is most commonly referred to as Burhanuddin). Other ethnic groups do not have

such clear patterns. In some regions, especially across Java, many people have only one

name (such as Sukarno, and also Barlian). Other places multiple names are used, with

the person being called by the more unique of their names (as for Mohammad Hatta and

Mohamad Natsir being referred two by the latter of their two personal names, which did

not become surnames until they passed those names along to their children). In these

cases the placement of the unique element in their names is immaterial (thus Amir

Sjarifuddin is usually called Sjarifuddin, and Sjafruddin Prawiranegara is usually called

Sjafruddin). Other individuals are called by multiple names that are not abbreviated,

either because they are seen as both necessary (as with Abdul Halim or Daud Beureueh)

or because they are both too common to choose one (as with Mohammad Hassan). In a

few rare cases, individuals create a new moniker for themselves based off of an

abbreviation of elements from their titles and names. In this dissertation, the primary

user of this type of name is Haji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah, commonly known as


Lastly, there is a frustrating trend of naming people in homage to respected

figures to whom they often have absolutely no relation, creating much confusion for

historians when prominent names reappear. The most difficult case of this in the period

covered by this dissertation is the name Abdul Kahar Muzzakar. This was the name of a

respected scholar of Islam on Java, affiliated with the Muhammadiyah, who in the 1930s

accepted a young student from the Luwu region of Sulawesi. As a sign of respect for his

teacher, the student took on his teacher's name in the 1940s, meaning these two men

were called the same thing. Because both became important historical figures, this

dissertation will differentiate them by referring to the elder Javanese scholar and

statesman as Abdul Kahar Muzzakar, while the younger Buginese student and guerrilla

will be merely Kahar Muzzakar.

In January 1951, the residents of a small, remote town in Central Sulawesi wrote

to the President of Indonesia seeking redress from their new government. This was just

more than a year after the Netherlands had relinquished sovereignty of the Dutch East

Indies and less than a year after the territories of the archipelago formalized the unitary

(rather than federal) Republic of Indonesia. To President Sukarno, the town leaders in

Tinombo wrote that their local customary king, the Raja of Moutong, "no longer

conforms to the environment of this time," because the Raja violated "all the prohibitions

from [the President of Indonesia] and especially violated the Islamic religion."1 Both the

king and the subjects were Muslims; this had not changed from colonial times. What had

changed was how the subjects perceived the foundation and logic of the state, and their

perception of independent Indonesia as a state for Muslims determined how they framed

their appeal in terms of religion. After describing the Raja's abuse of his power, actions

"unbefitting of a Muslim," and particularly his liberal attitude towards the young women

of the region, the town leaders decried this as inappropriate for an independent Indonesia

where Islam was now free. On the basis of his violation of Islam and thus the principles

of the new state, Tinombo's leaders called for the elimination of the Raja's special rights

of governance.

The people of Tinombo, like the majority of Indonesians, were Muslims, but they

were struggling to come to grips with how their religion related to the newly independent

1Letter from "Semua wali2 pemilih dalam Keradjaan Moutong," to President Sukarno, Tinombo, January
20, 1951. This comes from the collection of the camat (sub-district head) of Tinombo, held by Jennifer W.
Nourse. I am thankful to Professor Nourse for making this collection available to me.

Republic of Indonesia. The concept displayed in this out-of-the-way village, namely that

Islam should be the motivating logic behind the mechanism of the state, was not in force

in the halls of power in the country's capital. Rather, in Jakarta political leaders from

Indonesia's Islamic parties and theological leaders from the Islamic community were

unsuccessful in their attempts to make the Indonesian state more Islamic. This

dissertation examines the motivations held, respectively, by the Muslim masses, the

Islamic political leaders, and the more theological leaders of Islam, and then traces the

actions of each of these groups from Indonesia's proclamation of independence in 1945

through the dissolution of the country's main Islamic party in 1960.

The change in the leadership of the Islamic movement during the revolution

caused an increasing disconnect between this leadership and the broad base of Islamic

society. This divide rendered political Islam in the 1950s unable to achieve its goal of an

Islamic state.

Muslims in the Historiography of Independent Indonesia

The primary focus of this dissertation is on the pious Muslims of Indonesia and

their relationship with the independent Indonesian state. Despite their large numbers,

pious Muslims have been underrepresented in the historiography of Indonesia,

particularly scholarship in English.

Muslims in the Historiography of the Indonesian Revolution (1945-49)

The Indonesian revolution was, Herbert Feith astutely remarked, "a peculiarly
central experience for all those who were actively involved in it." It was, furthermore, a

2 Herbert Feith, The Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia (Jakarta: Equinox Publishing, 2007

[1962]), 18.

central experience in the life of the Indonesian nation as a whole, as revolutions are wont

to be. The quirks of the Indonesian revolution, the personalities involved, the speeches

that were or were not given before battle, and the soldiers who did and did not escape

death or capture, set the course of Indonesian politics not only for the coming decades,

but for the duration of the life of the nation-state, even up to the present day. The

revolution was not, however, a uniform experience. This is especially true for those who

participated as fighters on the ground, rather than as politicians involved in government

affairs at the center.

Benedict Anderson claimed that the Dutch were not defeated by the Republican

state, but by "a highly localized popular resistance, above all in Java and Sumatra,

expressed through a myriad extrastate politico-military organizations, locally recruited,

financed, and led. What linked these myriad resistances together was not the state, but a

common vision of a free nation."3 While I agree that resistance to the Dutch was highly

localized, I do not believe that the members of these localized movements shared a

common vision of a free Indonesia. Rather, they had differing visions of what their free

nation would be like.

The concepts Indonesians held about their revolution varied across at least three

axes. The first axis is location: the Indonesian revolution meant something entirely

different to fighters in Aceh than it did in Jogjakarta, to give an obvious example. The

second axis on which the revolution varied is time: most Indonesians had different ideas

about the fight and about their state at the beginning of the revolution than they had at the

3 Benedict R. O'G. Anderson, "Old State, New Society: Indonesia's New Order in Comparative Historical
Perspective," in Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia (Jakarta: Equinox, 2009
[1990]), 101. Emphasis added.

end. The third axis, although slightly more difficult to tease out because of more blurred

lines of division, is a sectarian spectrum, from staunch Marxists on the left through

devout non-Muslims and noncommittal abangans fighting for secular nationalism all the

way to hardline santris on the right. In some cases the conflict between these visions of

the revolution became sharply visible, such as at the Communist revolt in Madiun in

1948 or the Indonesian Islamic State proclaimed in West Java in 1949. In other cases the

variance was not as palpable, but arguably no less important.

Although historiography of the Indonesian revolution has always included the

pious Muslims on the spectrum of key contributors to the fight for independence,

scholarship has not yet understood either the dynamics taking place within this sector of

society or the motivations driving this sector's participation in the fight. This is due, in

part, to the account of the revolution reified by the Indonesian state.

In Indonesia, the state has, like so many of its brothers in the family of nations,

worked very hard to inculcate, refine, and disseminate a unitary narrative of the

revolution, its goals, its heroes, and its victories.4 Because the state for several decades

dominated history-writing, and especially the history of the Indonesian revolution, its

nationalist story became monolithic. This anachronistic, teleological approach assumes

that the current Indonesian state is the natural and only possible outcome of the

revolution, and thus it projects backward the idea that a Pancasila-based non-sectarian

4 Historical manipulation, including and especially of the Indonesian revolution, peaked under Suharto's
New Order government. For an evaluation of Suharto's historical exaggeration of his own role in the
revolution, see R. E. Elson, Suharto: A Political Biography (New York: Cambridge UP, 2001), 13. For
attention to specifically how the New Order tried to portray Islam as a threat to the nation (and the military
under Suharto as the complementary guardian of the nation), see chapter 6 of Katharine E. McGregor,
History in Uniform: Military Ideology and the Construction of Indonesia's Past (Honolulu, HI: U of
Hawaii Press, 2007), especially 176-193.

state was the goal of all Indonesians who fought in the revolution.5 In addition to

government-sponsored national histories of the revolution, provincial-level teams writing

their province's history during the Indonesian revolution became ubiquitous in the 1980's.

These projects were aimed at demonstrating each region's contribution to the national

revolution, as defined by the narrative of the Suharto regime: army-dominated, secular,

unitary. Thus, they tended to relegate pious Muslims to the fringe of the narrative. (By

contrast, Communist groups have been altogether excluded.) In spite of their focus,

though, these histories did capture much of the popular enthusiasm for the revolution at

the lowest level. They also document many of the contributions of Hizbullah and

Sabilillah, even if they do not integrate these activities into the main narrative or attempt

to understand the motivations of such pious Muslim groups.6

Standing opposed to official histories, many individual scholars (Indonesian and

foreign) have looked to local actors and unique social trends that colored the Indonesian

revolution. Among these, scholars often appreciate the contributions that Muslims made

in the struggle and even their unique experiences. Benedict Anderson, for example,

points to the experience of Muslim students in a pesantren as the archetypal model for

the formation of a pemuda (youth) identity, which became so crucial to the revolutionary

5See, for example, Anhar Gonggong, et al., Sejarah Nasional Indonesia, vol. VI, Republik Indonesia: Dari
Proklamasi sampai Demokrasi Terpimpin (Jakarta: Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, 1993). The
section on the revolution in this official government publication mentions Hizbullah and Sabilillah only
once (page 45) in a laundry list of local militias, makes no mention of ulama, and does not address at all the
various motivations at play in participants in the revolution.

6 For a demonstrative example, see the official history of West Kalimantan during the revolution: Pasifikus
Ahok, Slamet Ismail, and Wijoso Tjitrodaijono, Sejarah Revolusi Kemerdekaan (1945-1949) Daerah
Kalimantan Barat (Pontianak: Kanwil Depdikbud Provinsi Kalimantan Barat, 1993). Although Islamic
mass organizations, such as Muhammadiyah, are mentioned in the text as present, no alternate ideology of
the revolution is ever presented, and Islamic militias are presented as supporting the mission of the armed

moment in Jakarta and elsewhere. Yet he takes the Islamic content of that youth

experience less seriously, and so he also does not identify how such an Islamic

experience could lead to an Islamic interpretation of the revolution by actors on the

ground. Anderson repeatedly eschews Islamic, or all religious, explanations for events in

the revolution, and he is instead prone to seek Javanese cultural reasons.8

In those instances where Islamic rhetoric, symbols, and associations were used in

executing the revolution, I believe they were significant, not merely for their

revolutionary nature but for their Islamic nature. Just as Reynaldo Ileto found the

rhetoric of Christ's passion important to understanding the motivations behind Filipino

rebellions in the first half of the twentieth century,9 the Islamic imagery deployed in the

Indonesian case, heterodox or not, also carries serious meaning.

Anderson is not alone in underplaying the Islamic aspects of the Indonesian

revolution in his scholarship. Although George McT. Kahin,10 Anthony Reid,11 and

7 Benedict R. O'G. Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution: Occupation and Resistance, 1944-1946

(Singapore: Equinox, 2006 [1972]), 5ff. Anderson also suggests that this archetype is more related to
Java's Hindu-Buddhist past than its Muslim present, and that the pesantren pattern is not truly Islamic; ibid,

8 Anderson views the pesantren experience as a model for adolescence in Javanese society, the community
in which young men came to adulthood and especially the relationships (with their fellow students and with
the kyai, the religious head of the school) which exemplify all Javanese youth loyalties. However,
Anderson downplays the actual Islamic practices and doctrines instilled during the pesantren experience,
instead emphasizing "initiations into the secret sources of illumination and cosmic energy" (ibid, 6-7). This
overlooks not only the ostensible reason that young men went to live at a pesantren, but especially the
strong trend in the first half of the twentieth century towards greater orthodoxy and orthopraxy at Islamic
religious schools in Indonesia. On this last point, see Deliar Noer, The Modernist Muslim Movement in
Indonesia, 1900-1972 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1973).

9 Reynaldo C. Ileto, Pasyon and Revolution: Popular Movements in the Philippines, 1840-1910 (Quezon
City: Ateneo de Manila UP, 1979). Note that Ileto was also writing against a non-religious interpretation of
the exact same movements in David R. Sturtevant, Popular Uprisings in the Philippines, 1840-1940 (Ithaca,
NY: Cornell UP, 1976).

10 George McT. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution in Indonesia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1952).

" Anthony Reid, The Indonesian National Revolution, 1945-1950 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986
[1974]). Notably, Reid's more local study of North Sumatra, The Blood of the People: Revolution and the

1 *)
Taufik Abdullah include pious Muslim actors in their narratives of the revolution,

particularly those Masjumi politicians who figured prominently in the central and

provincial governments, none of these treats the Islamic groups and Islamic visions

experienced by everyday Indonesians. The latter particularly ignore Islamic fighting

groups on the ground, such as Hizbullah and Sabilillah, and the role of Islamic leaders in

organizing their communities. Even collected volumes, like Taufik Abdullah's The

Heartbeat of Indonesian Revolution, do not include studies of the religious aspect of the

fighting.13 Regional studies focused on Java, like those by John Smail,14 Robert Cribb,15

and William H. Frederick,16 similarly include some local Islamic groups, but generally

treat them as tangential to the main narrative and do not explore their unique

revolutionary teleology. The scholarship on Sumatra, such as the regional studies by

Audrey Kahin17 and Anthony Reid,18 includes deeper engagement with the Islamic side

End of Traditional Rule in Northern Sumatra (New York: Oxford UP, 1979), pays much more attention to
Islamic groups. It still, however, does not seek to unpack the Islamic understanding of the revolution,
instead interpreting the Islamic resurgence as primarily a socio-economic one. Although economic
interests doubtless played a part, I believe that the Islamic expression of those interests is important, too, in
giving insight into the understanding on the ground.

12 Taufik Abdullah, Indonesia Towards Democracy (Singapore: ISEAS, 2009), especially pp. 113-166 on
the revolution.

13 Taufik Abdullah, ed., The Heartbeat of Indonesian Revolution (Jakarta: Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 1997).

The edited volume Audrey R. Kahin, ed., Regional Dynamics of the Indonesian Revolution: Unity from
Diversity (Honolulu, HI: U of Hawaii Press, 1985) is marginally better, confining Islam to the chapter by
Eric Morris, "Aceh: Social Revolution and the Islamic Vision," 83-110.

14 John R. W. Smail, Bandung in the Early Revolution, 1945-1946: A Study in the Social History of the

Indonesian Revolution (Ithaca, NY: Modem Indonesia Project of Cornell University, 1964).

15 Robert Cribb, Gangsters and Revolutionaries: The Jakarta People's Militia and the Indonesian

Revolution, 1945-1949 (Honolulu, HI: U of Hawaii P, 1991).

16William H. Frederick, Visions and Heat: The Making of the Indonesian Revolution (Athens, OH: Ohio
UP, 1989). Just as an example, this book's index has an equal number of references to the British
commander A.W.S. Mallaby as to Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama combined.

17Audrey Kahin, "Struggle for Independence: West Sumatra in the Indonesian Revolution," PhD.
dissertation, Cornell University, 1979. See also Audrey Kahin, Rebellion to Integration: West Sumatra and
the Indonesian polity, 1926-1998 (Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press, 1999).

of the revolution. Still, even Audrey Kahin concedes, "Because I had limited access to

some local Muslim groups in West Sumatra, I may not have been fair in my assessment

of their actions and points of view in a few of the incidents I deal with."19

The exception that proves the rule is the scholarship of Deliar Noer, himself a

former Islamic activist in early independent Indonesia. His studies of the Masjumi

party,20 Islamic politics in Indonesia more generally,21 and the Indonesian revolutionary

parliament all show attention to the experiences of pious Muslims and to their explicitly

Islamic goals for the fight.

Finally, there is a dearth of scholarship connecting the revolution with the decade

immediately following, when the expectations established in the revolution were realized

or crushed. Many scholars have written books that span the Japanese and revolutionary

eras, but few have connected historical trends from the 1940s to the 1950s.23

Muslims in the Historiography of the 1950s

The 1950s has long been an understudied decade in Indonesia's history. Two

landmark studies by scholars of government appeared within several years of the events

they chronicle: Herbert Feith's Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia and

18 Reid, Blood of the People.

19 Kahin, "Struggle for Independence," vi.

20 Deliar
Noer, "Masjumi: its organization, ideology, and political role in Indonesia," MA Thesis, Cornell
University, 1960.

21 Deliar Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional 1945-1965 (Jakarta: Grafiti Pers, 1987).

22 Deliar Noer and Akbarsyah, KNIP: Komite Nasional Indonesia Pusat, Parlemen Indonesia 1945-1950

(Jakarta: Yayasan Risalah, 2005).

23Books that run from the Japanese period into the revolution include Anderson, Java in a Time of
Revolution-, Frederick, Visions and Heat; and Smail, Bandung in the Early Revolution.

Daniel S. Lev's Transition to Guided Democracy in Indonesia,24 These two books were

the primary studies of the 1950s for nearly 40 years. They focus, however, on national

political developments and policy shifts in the capital; thus they miss the experiences of

everyday Indonesian Muslims. Furthermore, these studies, encompassing the full

spectrum of political alignments, do not look at the internal motivations for Islamic

politicians or organizations. Scholars of Indonesian history, however, have not been able

to write a broader picture.

Within Indonesia, the Suharto regime discouraged critical scholarship looking at

the I950's. This decade of liberal democracy was seen as "a Pandora's Box whose lid

must be kept firmly closed."25 The danger in studying this decade was in drawing

attention to a disorderly decade where alternative possibilities for the Indonesian state

were openly discussed; the authoritarian Suharto regime did not want to repeat the

"regional rebellions and rising political tensions between right and left" that it presented

as the hallmarks of the 1950s.26 Indonesian historiography was thus directed away from

the 1950s to the Indonesian revolution or to the colonial era.

A few Indonesian scholars did engage in research on the 1950s, in part as a form

of protest against the Suharto regime. Adnan Buyung Nasution27 and Ahmad Syafii

Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia', Daniel S. Lev, The Transition to Guided
Democracy: Indonesian Politics, 1957-1959 (Jakarta: Equinox Publishing, 2009 [1966]).

Ruth T. McVey, "The Case of the Disappearing Decade," in David Bourchier and John Legge, eds.,
Democracy in Indonesia: 1950s and 1990s (Clayton, Victoria: Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, Monash
University, 1994), 7.

26 Henk Schulte Nordholt, "Indonesia in the 1950s: Nation, modernity, and the post-colonial state,"

Bijdragen totde Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde vol. 167, no. 4 (2011): 386.

27Adnan Buyung Nasution, The Aspiration for Constitutional Government in Indonesia: A Socio-legal
Study of the Indonesian Konstituante 1956-1959 (Jakarta: Pustaka Sinar Harapan, 1992). This was based
on the author's dissertation in law at Utrecht.

Maarif28 both wrote on the Constituent Assembly (Konstituante) debates (1956-1959) as

a way to critique Suharto. Nasution focused on the consensus reached in the Constituent

Assembly around human rights, while Maarif looked at the Islamic ideology put forward

there. While traditional historiography has presented the Constituent Assembly as a total

failure, these two scholars have demonstrated how the productive and civil debate could

have pushed Indonesia toward a stable future if it had not been dismissed by Sukarno and

its results discarded.

A more common contribution to the historiography of the 1950s from Indonesian

Muslims is to write biographies of key leaders from the period. Thus, volumes have been

assembled on the Islamic party leaders Burhanuddin Harahap,29 Mohammad Natsir,30

Sjafruddin Prawiranegara,31 and Wahid Hasjim,32 in addition to innumerable theses on

other prominent and less prominent leaders.33 Almost all of these biographies of Islamic

28 Ahmad Syafii Maarif, "Islam as the Basis of State: A Study of the Islamic Political Ideas as Reflected in

the Constituent Assembly Debates in Indonesia," PhD. Dissertation, University of Chicago, 1983.

29 BadruzzamanBusyairi, Boehanoeddin Harahap: Pilar Demokrasi (Jakarta: Panitia Buku Boerhanoeddin

Harahap/Bulan Bintang, 1989).

30Thohir Luth, M. Natsir, Dakwah dan Pemikirannya (Jakarta : Gema Insani, 1999); Ajip Rosidi, M. Natsir:
Sebuah Biografi (Jakarta: Girimukti Pasaka, 1990); Waluyo, Dari "Pemberontak"Menjadi Pahlawan
Nasional: Mohammad Natsir dan Perjuangan Politik di Indonesia (Jogjakarta: Ombak, 2009); Panitia
Peringatan Refleksi Seabad M. Natsir, M. Natsir di panggung sejarah republic (Jakarta: Republika, 2008).

31Ajip Rosidi, Sjafruddin Prawiranegara: Lebih Takut kepada Allah SWT (Jakarta : Dunia Pustaka Jaya,
2011 [1986]).

32Although many biographies have been written, none compares with Abubakar Aceh, Sedjarah Hidup
K.H.A. Wahid Hasjim dan Karangan Tersiar (Jakarta: Panitya Buku Peringatan Aim. K.H.A. Wahid
Hasjim, 1957).

33 Many of these theses were written by instructors from the Institute Agama Islam Negeri (IAIN) system

who studied at McGill University. Others come from regional scholars in Indonesia and praise leaders at
the regional level. See, for example, Abdul Hayyi Nu'man, Maulanasysyaikh TGKH. Muhammad
Zainuddin Abdul Madjid: Riwayat Hidup dan Perjuangannya (Pancor, Lombok: Pengurus Besar Nahdlatul
Wathan, 1419 H/ 1999 M); Masnun, Tuan Guru KH Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul Madjid: Gagasan dan
Gerakan Pembaharuan Islam di Nusa Tenggara Barat (Jakarta: Pustaka al-Miqdad, 2007); Ahmad
Bachmid, Sang Bintang dari Timur: Sayyid Idrus al-Jufri, Sosok Ulama dan Sastrawan (Jakarta: Studia
Press, 2007); Ali Anwar, K.H. NoerAlie: Kemandirian Ulama Pejuang (Bekasi: Yayasan Attaqwa, 2006).

leaders were written by a younger generation of Muslims who stood in awe of the Islamic

leaders from the early independence period; the biographies are often uncritical to the

point of hagiography. Insofar as Indonesian scholarship moves beyond biography, even

the most heralded publications are largely derivative and provide little in the way of new

facts or new interpretations of history.34

While Indonesian Muslim scholarship has generally turned to biography, foreign

scholarship often gives the 1950s a minimal role in surveys of Indonesian Islamic life.35

Robert W. Hefner's acclaimed study of civil and democratic traditions in Indonesian

Islam covers the constitutional democracy period in five pages.36 Bachtiar Effendy and

Fachry Ali, similar to Heftier, followed the trajectory of Islamic groups in the Suharto era

and how they embraced the cause of democracy as the attainment of Islamic ideals, but

they also do not examine the 1950s for the Islamic experience that led to the mass

movement's change in direction under Suharto.37 Other major studies, such as those by

Feener and Cammack,38 Arskal Salim,39 and Yudi Latif40 lose sight of the 1950s in their

presentist focus on Islam and Islamization after 1998.

34See, for example, Irsyad Zamjani, Sekularisasi Setengah Hati: Politik Islam Indonesia dalam Periode
Formatif (Jakarta: Dian Rakyat, 2009). Another example is Ahmad Syafii Maarif, Islam dalam Bingkai
Keindonesiaan dan Kemanusiaan: Sebuah Refleksi Sejarah (Bandung: Mizan, 2009), which provides a
very traditional history despite the author's demonstrated skills at historical scholarship.

35The notable exception to this is Robert Pringle, Understanding Islam in Indonesia: Politics and Diversity
(Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2010).

36 Robert W. Heftier, Civil Islam: Muslims and Democratization in Indonesia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton

University Press, 2000), 42-47.

37Fachry Ali and Bachtiar Effendy, Merambah Jalan Baru Islam: Rekonstruksi Pemikiran Islam Indonesia
Masa Orde Baru (Bandung: Mizan, 1986); Bachtiar Effendy, Islam and the State in Indonesia (Singapore:
ISEAS, 2003).

38 R. Michael Feener and Mark E. Cammack, Islamic Law in Contemporary Indonesia: Ideas and
Institutions (Cambridge, MA: Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School, 2007).

There are several excellent studies of individual Islamic organizations that include

the period of the 1950s. Howard Federspiel has studied on the small reformist group

Persatuan Islam.41 Mitsuo Nakamura's analysis of Muhammadiyah in the Central

Javanese town of Kota Gede similarly spans the colonial, wartime, and postcolonial

periods, and explains Muhammadiyah's societal appeal, but it does not look at issues of

the state or how the issues observed in this town might translate in other locations 42 The

most exhaustive study of an Islamic organization during this period is Greg Fealy's

dissertation on the Nahdlatul Ulama, which provides unique insights into the reasoning of

the organization's leaders.43 Its tight focus on NU leadership, however, limits its

usefulness when considering the NU's mass following and the leadership of other Islamic

organizations and parties. Yusril Ihza Mahendra attempts to provide the same level of

analysis on Masjumi, which he compares to Pakistan's Jamaat-i-Islami, but produces

instead a rather uncritical panegyric of his former mentors.44 Yusril's account, built

largely from his own personal relationships with Masjumi's former leaders and from

documents that they provided to him, has been critiqued even within Indonesia as overly

39 Arskal Salim, Challenging the Secular State: The Islamization of Law in Modern Indonesia (Honolulu,

HI: U of Hawai'i P, 2008).

40Yudi Latif, Indonesian Muslim Intelligentsia and Power (Singapore: Institute for Southeast Asian
Studies, 2008).

41Howard M. Federspiel, Islam and Ideology in the Emerging Indonesian State: The Persatuan Islam
(PERSIS), 1923 to 1957 (Leiden: Brill, 2001).

42 Mitsuo Nakamura, The Crescent Arises over the Banyan Tree: A study of the Muhammadiyah Movement
in a Central Javanese Town (Jogjakarta: Gadjah Mada University Press, 1983).

43 Gregory John Fealy, "Ulama and Politics in Indonesia: A History of Nahdlatul Ulama, 1952-1967," PhD.
Dissertation, Monash University, 1998.

Yusril Ihza Mahendra, Modernisme dan Fundamentalisme dalam Politik Islam: Perbandingan Partai
Masyumi (Indonesia) dan Partai Jama'at-i-Islami (Pakistan) (Jakarta: Penerbitan Paramadina, 1999).

positive.45 B.J. Boland provides an overview of the broad scope of the Islamic movement

after independence in his book The Struggle of Islam in Modern Indonesia, which is

perhaps the most ambitious of the studies mentioned here.46 Unfortunately, Boland's

work does very little to examine motivations and causes, and it has been criticized for

many factual errors.47

The authoritative account of Islamic politics in Indonesia for the first twenty years

after independence is Deliar Noer's Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional. Noer looks

specifically at political issues, but includes all of the Islamic parties of the period and

connects the emergence of these parties in the revolution with their activities in the 1950s.

He does not, though, account for or analyze the grassroots support of these parties, or

issues that were less political.

Leaving behind scholarship on Islam, one of the bright spots in the historiography

of the 1950s is in regional studies, both those provided by historians and those penned by

anthropologists. These studies, though, are often too narrow, either geographically,

chronologically, topically, or some combination thereof, to speak to issues of the

transformation of the relationship of the Islamic community and the state. Audrey

Kahin's study of West Sumatra and the Indonesian polity, while covering aspects of the

1950s in detail, epitomizes regional studies that look at issues of governance, but not of

See Adian Husaini, Yusril versus Masyumi: Kritik Terhadap Pemikiran Modernisme Islam Yusril Ihza
Mahendra (Jakarta: DEA Press, 2000).

46 B.J. Boland, The Struggle of Islam in Modern Indonesia (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1971).

47For a critical analysis of some of these errors and their implications for the usefulness of the book in
general, see Deliar Noer, "Islam in Indonesia," Asian Studies Association of Australia Review vol. 9, no. 3:
93-99. It is also worth noting that Boland came to Indonesia as part of a Catholic mission, making many
Muslims suspicious of his motivations in writing the book.

48 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional.

Islamic experience.49 Barbara Harvey provides a similar book for rebellion in Sulawesi.50

Perhaps the best study of local politics in the 1950's is Gusti Asnan's book on West

Sumatra, which delicately picks apart the motivations of various parties and individual

leaders in West Sumatra, but it does not connect with the legacy of the revolution or the

trends in other regions.51 Cornelius van Dijk carefully documents the internal

developments, personal animosities, and economic motivations of various branches of the

Darul Islam rebellion, but entirely discounts the possibility that participants were

motivated at all by Islamic beliefs. Coming out of the 1950s, many foreign

anthropologists were writing about the Indonesian Islamic experience with a very local

focus, including Clifford Geertz on Java53 and James Siegal in Aceh,54 but they do not

pay attention to the state or connect their regions with national trends.

A common characteristic of scholarship on the 1950s, unlike scholarship on the

revolution, is that it takes for granted that the Islamic ideology held by pious Muslims

differed from the mainstream non-sectarian structure of Indonesia.55 In this, the contrast

with the scholarship on the revolution is marked, but the lack of studies drawing a

49 Audrey Kahin, Rebellion to Integration.

50 Barbara S. Harvey, Permesta: Half a Rebellion (Singapore: Equinox, 2010 [1977]).

51Gusti Asnan, Memikir Ulang Regionalisme: Sumatera Barat Tahun 1950-an (Jakarta: Yayasan Obor
Indonesia, 2007).

Cornelius van Dijk, Rebellion under the Banner of Islam: The Darul Islam in Indonesia (The Hague:
Martinus Nijhoff, 1981).

53 Clifford Geertz, The Religion of Java (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972 [I960]); Robert R.

Jay, Religion and Politics in Rural Central Java (New Haven, CT: Yale University Southeast Asia Studies,

54 James T. Siegel, The Rope of God (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1969).

55Lev, Decline of Constitutional Democracy, in particular, concedes that the Islamic group had a different
agenda entirely than secular nationalists in government, and that the Muslim grassroots was not entirely
convinced by Sukarno's presentation of the state's goals.

connection between these two eras has stunted any consideration of the origins of this

separate Islamic ideology.

Now, as Indonesia once again navigates democracy and encourages open debate

between sectors of society with very different visions of the country's future, scholars

have reached consensus that "much more work needs to be done to investigate the

relatively unknown 1950s in more detail."56 Among the specific questions posed,

including by Indonesians, are questions of the fate of Islamic parties and organizations,

and particularly how political Islam could have failed so spectacularly despite its
perceived strength.

This dissertation is an attempt to face some of those questions and to provide

some answers about the relationship of Muslims to the state in Indonesia.

Muslims in Indonesia before Independence

Today Indonesia is well-known for having the largest Muslim population in the

world. Muslims today make up approximately 87% of the Indonesian population, with

the remaining thirteen percent officially split between Protestants, Catholics, Hindus,

Buddhists, and Confucians, in descending order of size. In thirteen of today's 33

provinces, Islam is the religion of over 95% of the population. The places with the

56 Nordholt, 386.

57 Ahmad Syafii Maarif, Islam dalam Bingkai Keindonesiaan dan Kemanusiaan, 146.

58 The 2010 census recorded Indonesia's population was 87.18% Muslim, 6.96% Protestant, 2.91%
Catholic, 1.69% Hindu, 0.72% Buddhist, 0.05% Confucian, and 0.13% other, with the remaining 0.38% not
answering. See Badan Pusat Statistik, "Penduduk Menurut Wilayah dan Agama yang Dianut," available at:
http://sp2010.bps.go.id/index.phD/'site/tabe]?lid=32 l &wid=0 [accessed March 8, 2012]. Because
Indonesians are required to register with one of six designated recognized religions on their national
identity card, non-standard beliefs that may be well articulated or practiced exclusively are not represented
in official figures. These figures have changed hardly at all from the 1980 census; for all of the provinces
on Java, the percentage of a given province's population that is Muslim has changed less than 1.5%. See
lowest percentage of Muslims in their population are the interior of North Sumatra, home

to the Protestant Christian Bataks; the island of Bali, which has its own form of the Hindu

religion; parts of Central Sulawesi and the northern-most tip of Sulawesi (Menado),

which are Protestant; the Moluccas islands, which have an intermixed Muslim and

Christian population; the southeast corner of the archipelago, called East Nusa Tenggara,

which is majority Catholic but almost one-third Protestant; and the provinces on

Indonesian Papua, whose indigenous populations are mostly Christian and animist.59 The

distribution of Muslims has changed very little over the last century, and the areas of

greatest Islamic strength are the same today as they were in the 1950s. The continuity in

the geographic distribution of Muslims, though, hides the changes that have taken place

within the community over time.

Although scholars continue to debate the exact date of arrival and the provenance

of Islam to Southeast Asia and particularly to the Indonesian archipelago, the bulk of the

conversion of new Southeast Asian territories to Islamic leadership occurred in the

twelfth through sixteenth centuries, C.E.60 More important than the initial date and place

of Islam's arrival in the archipelago or the date of a royal family's conversion, however,

is the process of Islam's adoption by the general populace. Both indigenous Muslim and

foreign scholarly sources agree that Islamization in the archipelago was "not a single act

Ridwan Saidi, "Ummat Islam dan Sensus Penduduk 1980" Panji Masyarakat, 22, No. 318 (Rabi' al-Akhir
24, 1401, March 1, 1981).

59 Note that Papua was not a part of Indonesia in the 1940s and 1950s; it remained under Dutch colonialism
until 1962.

60 Azyumardi Azra, Islam in the Indonesian World: An Account of Institutional Formation (Bandung:
Mizan, 2006), 19. Scholarship in Dutch, English, and Indonesia has debated whether Islam became
implanted in Indonesia in the twelfth century from South Asian roots (as is the trend in most Western
scholarship) or if Islam came in the seventh century directly from Arabia (as is the major thrust of Islamic
Indonesian scholarship).

Percentage of the Population that is Muslim, by Province

M > ~ *

1 10% - 50%
1 . - 1 60% -75%
H 75% - 85%
85% -95%
H 95% -100%
of conversion, but a long process toward a greater conformity to the exclusiveness of

Islam."61 Muslims retained many of the pre-existing traditions of local societies while

adopting some beliefs and practices from Islam, and over the course of centuries these

became a unique, Southeast Asian Islamic traditionor, rather, several unique traditions

among the archipelago's different ethnic groups. The thoroughly syncretic combination

on Java, for example, is suggested by the popular belief that one of the quasi-mythical

Nine Saints (Wali Songo) who converted the island to Islam was also the inventor of the

popular native traditions of shadow puppetry and the gamelan Javanese orchestra. Lest

one think that Southeast Asian Islam was static, the theology and ritual of the region was

constantly changing even after widespread confession of the Islamic creed. Some

changes were more gradual and peaceful,63 while others were quick and contested 64 The

general trend, though, drew Islam in the region closer to Middle Eastern orthopraxy, in

part due to increased connections across the Indian Ocean and in part because of

increased conflicts with Christianity.65

By the time the Netherlands finished conquering the archipelago for their colony

of the Dutch East Indies in 1911, the patterns of Islamic life were well-established. The

61 Azra, Islam in the Indonesian World, 7.

62 Geertz, Religion of Java, 123.

63 Theological evolution on Sumatra was a process over centuries drawing Indonesian Islam closer to
orthodoxy; it is documented in the first two chapters of Michael Laffan, The Making of Indonesian Islam:
Orientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011).

64The Padri Wars provide a good example of social, economic and political upheaval related to a
theological shift towards orthodoxy; they are well-analyzed in Christine Dobbin, Islamic Revivalism in a
Changing Peasant Economy: Central Sumatra, 1784-1847, Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies
Monograph Series, no. 47 (London: Curzon, 1983).

65M.C. Ricklefs, "The Middle East Connection and Reform and Revival Movements among the Putihan in
19th Century Java," in Eric Tagliacozzo, ed., Southeast Asia and the Middle East: Islam, Movement, and
the Longue Duree (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2009), 111-134; Azra, Islam in the Indonesian World, 26-

key institutions of Islamic life in the Dutch East Indies were Islamic leaders and Islamic

educational institutions.66

Islamic leaders were a staple of village life in every Islamic village in the

Indonesian archipelago. The terms for local Islamic leaders varied with the various

ethnic groups across the archipelago: teungku in Aceh, syekh in West Sumatra, kyai on
Java, tuan guru on Lombok, anrong guru in South Sulawesi, and many others. In the

first part of the twentieth century, the term ulama was not in widespread use for local

Islamic leaders in the first part of the twentieth century, and these leaders did not perform

the same scholarly role associated with ulama in the Middle East.68

Religious leaders served multiple purposes in an East Indies village. They

provided education for the community by teaching basic literacy, usually in Arabic script,

and thus serving as the first step for young men who might study later in an Islamic

school. They led Muslims in rituals, such as prayers and communal activities. In many

cases they performed divination, mystical healing, or released individuals from spells in

ways that might not be seen as strictly orthodox in the Middle Eastern tradition of

66 CliffordGeertz, "The Javanese Kijaji: The Changing Role of a Cultural Broker," Comparative Studies in
Society and History vol. 2, no. 2 (Jan., 1960): 231, has alternatively suggested the hajj (or hajji) and the
pesantren as the two key institutions of the "great tradition" of Indonesian Islam (as opposed to the "little
tradition" of popular religious experience). I think that the hajj, while an important force increasing
orthodoxy, is better understood in conjunction with the institution of religious scholars more generally,
some of whom would gain their knowledge in local centers of learning rather than in the Arab world.

67Siegel; Lynn L. Thomas and Franz von Benda-Beckmann, eds., Change and Continuity in Minangkabau:
Local, Regional, and Historical Perspectives on West Sumatra (Athens, OH: Ohio University Center for
International Studies, 1985); Geertz, Religion of Java; Baharuddin, Nahdlatul Wathan dan Perubahan
Sosial (Yogyakarta: Genta Press, 2007); Mustari Bosra, Tuang Guru, Anrong Guru dan Daeng Guru:
Gerakan Islam di Sulawesi Selatan 1914-1942 (Makassar: La Galigo Press, 2008).

68 Boyd R. Compton, "The Medan Ulama Conference" Newsletter of the Institute for Current World Affairs,
August 20, 1953: http://www.icwa.org/articles/BRC-18.pdf. 1-2. The term was used in some comers of
Indonesia, but with a distinct meaning. Snouck Hurgronje reported that in Aceh in the late 19th century
both the terms ulama and alim were in circulation as different types of Islamic leader; the rank ulama was
above that of alim. C. Snouck Hurgronje, The Achehnese, A.W.S. O'Sullivan, trans. (Leiden: E.J. Brill,
1906), vol. II, 25.

Islam.69 Often Islamic leaders also served as the leader of the community more

generally.70 Another role that Islamic religious leaders played from time to time was that

of leading resistance against the Dutch. "Every time of upheaval in Indonesia

demonstrated again [Islamic teachers'] ability to inspire peasant resistance and

heroism."71 After 1850 especially, many local Islamic leaders had completed the fifth of
the five pillars of the religion: the pilgrimage to Mecca, called the hajj. They thus
earned the title hajji and were entitled to wear white robes distinctive to pilgrims. Not

all hajjis were local religious leaders, however, and not all local religious leaders were

hajjis. The main requirements for Islamic leaders were basic knowledge of Islamic ritual,

some knowledge of the Arabic script, and a willingness to serve in the community. More

prominent religious leaders were those who had traveled and received an advanced

Islamic education.

Islamic educational institutions were the other major manifestation of Islam in the

Indies' society at the turn of the twentieth century. These Islamic schools were "geared

to learning Arabic and memorization of texts dealing with the various Islamic sciences,

especially canonical law, theology, and behavior."74 Like the terms for Islamic scholars,

69 Geertz, "The Javanese Kijaji," 238.

70 Cf.the comparisons of village Islamic life in Muhamad Radjab, Semasa Kecil di Kampung, 1913-1928:
Autobiografi Seorang Anak Minangkabau (Jakarta: Balai Pustaka, 1974); oral history with Mohamad Roem,
interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SL1 1981 #6, tape 1; oral history with Idham Chalid, ANRI
SL1 1985 #9, tape 1.

71 Reid, Indonesian National Revolution, 4.

72 Geertz, "The Javanese Kijaji," 232.

73 For more on hajjis and their influence on 19th century religious life on Java, see Sartono Kartodirdjo, The

Peasants' Revolt of Banten in 1888: Its Conditions, Course, and Sequel ('S-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff,
1966), especially Chapter V: The Religious Revival (140-175).

74 Federspiel, Islam and Ideology, 23.

the names of these schools varied across the archipelago, including surau in West

Sumatra, and meunasah in Aceh; similar to the word ulama, which had limited currency

before independence, the word madrasah for Islamic schools became more common only

in the twentieth century and usually described Islamic schools organized in a modern

style with grades and pre-set courses. The normative model of an Islamic school in

Indonesia, however, is that of a Javanese pesantren. Traditionally pesantren on Java

were located outside of the cities, and formed an insular community of young men (called

santri during their time in the pesantren) studying under a senior teacher.76 Youth could

spend years studying at a pesantren, or cycling between several pesantren gathering

different aspects of Islamic knowledge so as to become qualified to open their own

school. Alternatively, they could stay at a pesantren only for a short time and then

returned to their home community. Regardless, time at a pesantren served as a rite of

passage for most Muslim young men on Java. On Sumatra there existed a similar

tradition of young men taking up residence in a religious school as a bridge between

childhood and adulthood.77 On Kalimantan, similarly, Islamic educational institutions

served as a key socializing experience for young men.78 In all cases, traditional Islamic

75 This is normative not only in Indonesian scholarship, where studies sponsored by the Ministry of

Religion tend to focus on pesantren, but also in Western scholarship, which is often Java based (see, for
example, Karel A. Steenbrink, Pesantren, Madrasah, Sekolah: Pendidikan Islam dalam Kurun Moderen
[Jakarta: LP3ES, 1986] and Florian Pohl, Islamic Education and the Public Sphere: Today's Pesantren in
Indonesia [Munster: Waxmann, 2009]).

76 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 5.

77 On the West Sumatran surau, see Azyumardi Azra, Surau: Pendidikan Islam Tradisional dalam Transisi

dan Modernisasi (Ciputat: Logos, 2003), an adaptation of the author's Master's thesis at Columbia. On the
tradition of meunasah in Aceh, see Siegel, particularly chapter 7.

78 H.Suriansyah Ideham et al., Sejarah Banjar (Banjarmasin: Badan Penelitian dan Pengembangan Daerah,
Propinsi Kalimantan Selatan, 2003), chapter IV, "Zaman Baru, 1500-1900."

schools were cultural centers grounding the community of pious Muslims in a given


Islamic scholars and educational institutions were the most Islamic features of the

high colonial period in the Dutch East Indies, but they were not the only Islamic

symbolism in society. Dutch colonial bureaucrats believed that Indonesians saw Islam as

"everything the native can identify as his own territory."79 Indeed, the boundaries of

Islam were incredibly flexible, including a broad range of syncretic, mystical, and

communal activities in addition to the orthodox rituals associated with the Islamic
scriptural tradition. In particular, as Islamic religious movements became a key outlet

for anti-colonial hostility, ideas and activities that were anti-Dutch became associated

with Islam, regardless of their connection to the Islamic tradition in the strictest sense.81

Over the course of the first half of the twentieth century, this attitude changed,

and the meaning of Islam began to constrict, especially among the new class of Western-

educated Indonesians. Secular nationalists began "championing 'Indonesian' rather than

'Islam' as a national identity." Some secular nationalists thoroughly rejected Islam as a

point of true identity. Notably, the famous nationalist leader Dr. Soetomo argued that

"people 'went to Digul' [the Dutch internment camp for political prisoners] out of

79 Reid,Indonesian National Revolution, 4, quoting Dutch Governor-General Idenburg to de Waal Malefijt,

October 7, in S. L. van der Wal, Het Onderwijsbeleid in Nederlands-Indie 1900-1942 (Groningen: J.B.
Wolters, 1963), 215.

80 Cf.
Howard M. Federspiel, Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals of the 20th Century (Singapore: ISEAS,
2006), 9-10.

81 Kartodirdjo, 141, 169.

82 Noer, Modernist Muslim Movement, 324.

conviction while Muslims went to Makkah [Mecca] only because of a [superficial]

religious obligation."

As Islam changed over the first half of the twentieth century, the definition

narrowed, but still contained a wide variety of beliefs and orientationsand significant

contestation between the holders of various conflicting Islamic beliefs. In this context,

orthodox Islamic leaders who advocated religious practice along the lines of the practice

of Islam in the Middle East did not have the authority or power to enforce on the whole

of society their ideas about the proper understanding and practice of Islam.

Anthropologists have categorized Muslims on Java (and, through synecdoche and

slippage, sometimes all of Indonesia) into two major groups based on their stance

towards Islam. The differences between them are important to understand the different

positions of Indonesian Muslims towards the prospect of an Islamic state.

Divisions within Indonesian Islam: Pious and Nominal Muslims

In the 1950s the American anthropologist Clifford Geertz documented religious

life in the East Javanese town of Modjokuto. The work he produced from that time, The

Religion of Java, has become a foundational work for the discussion of Islam in

Indonesia. Geertz categorized the residents of his town into three subvariants: santri

(pious Muslims associated with the market), abangan (animist-inclined peasants), and

priyayi (bureaucratic elites with pre-Islamic, Hinduistic sensibilities). He claimed that

these were "terms and divisions the Javanese themselves apply," making them

appropriate descriptions of distinct communities as relates to Islamic devotion. Geertz's

83 Federspiel, Islam and Ideology, 49.

84 Geertz, Religion of Java, 6.

three religious communities were not distinct in language, class, or location; rather, they

lived cheek-by-jowl across Java in neighboring villages and sometimes mixed together in

the same village, mingling in social contexts and competing in the lowest level of


Santri is Geertz's term for pious Muslims who practice a stricter form of Islam,

derived from the Javanese word for Islamic students at a pesantren. "The santri religious

tradition, consisting not only of a careful and regular execution of the basic rituals of

Islam the prayers, the Fast, the Pilgrimagebut also of a whole complex of social,

charitable, and political Islamic organizations," stands in contrast to that of abangans in

Clifford Geertz's typology.86 Abangan, derived from the Javanese word for "red,"

applies to nominal Muslims who identify Islam as their religion but do not practice the

normative obligations. Instead, they are deeply entrenched in rituals drawn not from the

orthodox Islamic corpus, but rather from traditional beliefs about spirits and their impact

on human affairs. The key ceremonies are ritual feasts, called selamatan, in which they

celebrate major life events, ameliorate guardian spirits, or sanctify relationships or


Scholars since Geertz have been split on how to receive his categories. Certainly,

Indonesian Muslims have come to use the term santri beyond its original meaning of

students and outside of Java; santri has now become a national term for the kind of pious

Muslims Geertz described. However, Indonesians are generally less familiar with

85Robert R. Jay, another anthropologist in Geertz's group in Modjokuto provides an excellent example of
santri and abangan villages living in close quarters and in conflict.

86 Geertz, Religion of Java, 6.

87 Geertz, Religion of Java, 11.

abangan as a religious descriptor, especially outside of academic circles.88 By contrast,

the term priyayi has fallen out of use in discussions of religion; it has been identified as a

social class instead of a religious orientation.89 All the same, most scholarship on

Indonesia accepts the observation that a readily-identified sector of society practices

Islam in a more devout and conscientious way.90 Even if not recognizing distinct sectors

of society, Timothy Daniels helpfully suggests that these are recognized modes of

religious practice, in which individuals participate across a spectrum ranging from highly

animist to strictly orthodox.91

Others have rejected Geertz's categories. Azyumardi Azra has criticized Geertz

for making it appear as though abangans and priyayi were not Muslims and thus

88 The continuing relevance of the term santri is evidenced by the large number of Indonesian books that
deploy the term santri in their titles, such as Asrori S. Kami, Etos Studi Kaum Santri: Wajah Baru
Pendidikan Islam (Bandung: Mizan 2009); Syafiq Hasyim, ed., Pluralisme, Sekularisme, dan Liberalisme
di Indonesia: Persepsi Kaum Santri di Jawa Barat (Jakarta: ICIP, 2007) and Promono U. Thanthowi,
Kebangkitan politik kaum santri: Islam dan demokratisasi di Indonesia, 1990-2000 (Jakarta: PSAP, 2005).
Abangan, even when it appears in Indonesian scholarship, is usually paired with santri and evaluated for its
efficacy as a cultural category, as in Zaini Muchtarom, Santri dan Abangan di Jawa (Jakarta: INIS, 1988).
M.C. Ricklefs notes the recent provenance of the word abangan, as opposed to the very old term santri, in
his "The Birth of the Abangan," Bijdragen van de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde vol 162, no 1 (2006): 36.
Mohamad Roem also attests to the prevalence of santri as a common identity, but he expresses his personal
ambivalence towards the terms (especially abangan and priyayi), in oral history with Mohamad Roem,
interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SL1 1981 #6, tape 1.

89 See
Donald K. Emmerson, Indonesia's Elite: Political Culture and Cultural Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press, 1976), 103-104; and oral history with Mohamad Roem, interviewed by A. Rahman
Zainuddin, ANRI SL1 1981 #6, tape 1.

90 See,for example, R. William Liddle, Ethnicity, Party, and National Integration: An Indonesian Case
Study (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1970); Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy in
Indonesia; Saiful Muzani, "The Devaluation of Aliran Politics: Views from the Third Congress of the PPP,"
Studia Islamika, vol. 1, no. 3 (1994): 177-221. These terms continue to be in usage in current scholarship,
as was demonstrated in the panel "Aliran Now? Identity and Political Competition in the New Indonesian
Democracy," Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, Honolulu, Hawai'i, April 2, 2011. One
instance where these terms are confused is Pringle, 194, where he conflates santri and abangan with
reformist and traditionalist Muslims, respectively.

91Timothy Daniels, Islamic Spectrum in Java (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009), especially chapter 2,
"Locating 'Islam' between Thin Veneer and Normative Piety."

undermining the position of Islam in Indonesian society.92 Mark Woodward has asserted

the Islamic roots of abangan and priyayi practices, calling them Islam Jawa (Javanese

Islam, as opposed to normative Islam), and rejecting the idea that these practices are

sharply limited to strict sociological categories. Ricklefs noted that the ideas of a

division along the lines of santri and abangan were fairly new in the twentieth century.94

Others have conceded that Geertz's divisions may once have applied, but argued that, as

of the 1990s, "the santri-abangan dichotomic approach is no longer relevant to an

understanding of the religious life of Javanese Muslims."95 Finally, some scholars have

tried to propose alternative formulas for the religious division of Indonesian society, but

none have taken root.96

This dissertation is predicated on the existence of a sector of society in Indonesia

that is oriented to Islam as the source of inspiration for its worldview and lifestyle. More

simply, I believe that there was indeed a difference between pious Muslims and nominal

Muslims in Indonesia in the 1940s and 1950s, and I believe that pious Muslims drew

different conclusions about events in the life of the nation because of their orientation

92 Azra, Islam in the Indonesian World, 3.

93 Mark R. Woodward, Islam in Java: Normative Piety and Mysticism in the Sultanate ofYogyakarta

(Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1989). Woodward also asserts that the non-orthodox practices
of abangans are still drawn from the practices of Sufism, thus giving them Islamic roots; see Mark R.
Woodward, "The Slametan: Textual Knowledge and Ritual Performance in Central Javanese Islam,"
History of Religions vol. 28, no. 1 (1988): 54-89.

94 M.C.Ricklefs, Polarizing Javanese Society: Islamic and Other Visions (c. 1830-1930) (Honolulu, HI:
University of Hawai'i Press, 2007), 86.

95Bambang Pranowo, "Islam and Party Politics in Rural Jawa," Studia Islamika, vol. 1, no. 2 (1994): 18.
This sentiment was common among articles in the journal Studia Islamika at the time.

96 See, for example, M. C. Ricklefs, "Six Centuries of Islamization in Java," in Nehemia Levtzion, ed.,
Conversion to Islam (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1979), 117-26; M. Syafi'i Anwar, "Political Islam in
Post-Suharto Indonesia: The Contest between 'Radical-Conservative Islam' and 'Progressive-Liberal
Islam'," in Eric Taggliacozzo, ed., Southeast Asia and the Middle East: Islam, Movement, and the Longue
Duree (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2009), 349-385.

towards normative Islam. All the same, I do not define pious Muslims in quite the same

way as Geertz defined santri, with excessive attention toward Islamic rituals and strict

avoidance of non-Islamic rituals. Rather, I identify the pious Muslim community as

those people who believed that their actions were inspired by Islam. Thus, an Indonesian

man who participated in mystical activities and believed in amulets was no less a pious

Muslim in my understanding that an Indonesian woman who staunchly avoided any

practice (like mysticism or amulets) not explicitly found in the Qur'an, so long as they

both believed their practices to be Islamic. Put another way, pious Muslims are "those

who take Islam as the way of life," whether or not their knowledge of Islam is orthodox.

Whether pious Muslims form a constant and separate sector of society is a point

more open to debate. Although Geertz wrote that "The self-sufficiency of the santri

community [within a single pesantren] in all but religious things is almost complete,"

they live intermixed with and interdependent with non-santri and even non-Muslims in
Indonesian villages. Furthermore, there is truth to Daniels's point that greater Islamic

piety or more attention to non-Islamic rituals are modes of religious practice that can ebb

and flow in individuals' lives or can be combined in creative and unique ways. Because

an individual's piety can increase or decrease over time, estimating a precise number or

percentage of pious Muslims within the general population is difficult.

At the same time, during the period studied in this dissertation, certain social

structures in Indonesian society served to reinforce pious Muslims as a cohesive

community consistently following orthodox Islam in a devoted way. These included

97 Geertz, "The Javanese Kijaji," 236.

98In this view, I am supported especially by the work of Herb Feith and observations of several authors
about Indonesia in the lead-up to the 1955 elections. See Herb Feith, "Constitutional Democracy: How

the experience of the pesantren, where santri lived isolated from the outside world, but

also the increasing socialization of Muslim families through Islamic organizations and

the creation of institutions and social services designed specifically to serve the Muslim

community. Some of these structures that were then new trends in Indonesian Islam will

be discussed below. Although participation in these institutions cannot be accurately

estimated for the 1950s, one can get a rough idea of the percentage of the Indonesian

population that affiliated itself with Islam politically by looking at the results of the 1955

elections. In those polls, approximately 44% of the Indonesian populace voted for an

Islamic party, signaling their acceptance of the principle that Islam should govern the life

of the state."

Divisions within Indonesian Islam: Traditionalist and Reformist Muslims

In addition to the split between pious and nominal Muslims, there is another

major cleavage in the Indonesian Islamic community that has received significant

scholarly attention over the last century: the theological division between traditionalist

and reformist Muslims.

The split focuses on how Muslims approach the texts and authority in their

religion. The foundational scriptures of Islam are the Qur'an, the word of God which

Muslims believe was revealed directly to Muhammad, and the Sunna, or traditions of the

Prophet. The traditions were recorded in several compendia after the Muhammad's death

based on accounts of him given by those who knew him directly. The large body of

scriptural material in the Qur'an and Sunna was then studied and systematized by

well did it function?" in David Bourchier and John Legge, eds., Democracy in Indonesia: 1950s and 1990s
(Clayton, Victoria: Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, Monash University, 1994).

99 Usingfigures from Alfian, Hasil Pemilihan Umum 1955 untukDewan Perwakilan Ralgat (Jakarta:
Leknas, 1971), 9.

scholars in the first centuries of Islam. There soon arose differences of interpretation

within the mainstream Sunni community, and even differences in the methodology of

interpretation. Sunni orthodoxy coalesced around four major schools of jurisprudence

(Ar. madhhab, pi. madhahib) that arose based on the work of four Islamic scholars in the

first two centuries after the death of Muhammad. In Indonesia, the vast majority of

Muslims followed the Shafi'i school of jurisprudence, which was also popular in Yemen

and was very compatible with Islamic mysticism, known as Sufism.100 A significant

body of theology built up slowly over the centuries to settle issues of ritual, theology, and

Islamic law for the Shafi'i school. Thus theological and legal decisions in the modern

period were based mostly on earlier rulings by Shafi'i jurists rather than on new

interpretations from the original scriptures. In Indonesia, Muslims who adhere to the

Shafi'i school of jurisprudence (or to any single school of jurisprudence) are called

"traditionalist Muslims."101

A new theological trend emerged within Islam around the turn of the twentieth

century, as a generation of Islamic scholars in the Middle East came to grips with the

impotence of Islamic countries facing European imperialism. Led by the scholars

Muhammad 'Abduh and Rashid Rida in Egypt, this new brand of theology called for a

revival of Islamic societies based on a return to the Islamic scriptures and called for

scholars to derive fresh interpretations directly from the Qur'an and Sunna, without

100 For more on the Shafi'i madhhab, see E. Chaumont, "al-SHafiiyya," Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed.

(Leiden: Brill, 2002).

101This term has become ubiquitous in scholarship on Indonesia in both English and Indonesian (where it is
rendered tradisionalis, a direct transliteration). Alternatively, when the group first became identified in
Indonesia through conflict with reformists, they were called kaum tua, or the "old group."

regard to the intervening precedents set by the four schools of jurisprudence.102 This line

of thinking entered Indonesia in the first decade of the twentieth century with Indonesians

who had studied in the Middle East.103 Spreading first through journals and then through

a wave of change at Islamic schools, this Islamic reformism came into sharp conflict with

traditionalist Muslims for rejecting the authority of Shafi'i jurisprudence and calling for

cultural changes among Indonesian Muslims. Followers of this new branch of theology

are called "reformist Muslims."104

Reformist Islam in Indonesia received its greatest boost with the founding of an

organizational body, Muhammadiyah. Muhammadiyah was the brainchild of the

Jogjakarta-based Islamic teacher Ahmad Dahlan, who wanted to make his school provide

a more practical education for Muslim students. He added secular subjects to the

102Marshall G.S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization, volume
3 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974), 273ff.

103See Hamka, Pengaruh Muhammad 'Abduh di Indonesia (Jakarta: Tintamas, 1961) and R. Michael
Feener, Muslim Legal Thought in Modern Indonesia (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
Michael Francis Laffan, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia: The Umma Below the Winds (New
York: Routledge, 2003), 170, makes the point that direct transmission from 'Abduh is unlikely, but the
influence of his follower and disciple Rashid Rida is more understandable.

104 Inscholarship on Indonesia, both the terms "modernist" and "reformist" have been used with regards to
this group, with modernist being more common in Indonesia (as modernis, although kaum muda or "young
group" was the original moniker when they emerged as a force in the 1910s). Modernist is used by Fealy,
"Ulama and Politics;" and Noer, Modernist Muslim Movement, among others. Reformist is used by
Howard M. Federspiel, "The Muhammadijah: A Study of an Orthodox Islamic Movement in Indonesia,"
Indonesia vol. 10 (Oct 1970); James L. Peacock, Muslim Puritans: Reformist Psychology in Southeast
Asian Islam (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1978); and, somewhat incorrectly, Pringle,
Understanding Islam in Indonesia. Still other scholars have used the two terms interchangeably, even in the
same paragraph; see Hefner, Civil Islam, 40; Laffan, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia, 190. I
have settled on the term "reformists" because it does not carry with it the suggestion that this group is
somehow more modernized and attuned to Western cultural norms than traditionalist Muslims, rather that
they are reforming theology (like the Christian Reformation). Although early in the twentieth century,
traditionalists were more likely to reject the trappings of foreign cultures (such as pants, ties, grade levels in
schools, and formal organizations), this changed over the course of the twentieth century. Now many
would argue that the traditionalists are more "modern" than reformist Muslims in Indonesia. See Fealy,
"Ulama and Politics," 35; Robin Bush, "The Role of Islam in Indonesia," lecture to the Indonesian Heritage
Society, Jakarta, November 10, 2009. I also recognize that Hefner has used the term reformist to refer to
Muslims invested in political reforms, but this meaning is not mainstream in Indonesian studies; see Robert
W. Hefner, Remaking Muslim Politics: Pluralism, Contestation, Democratization (Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press, 2005).

traditional offerings of a pesantren, and also used innovations like grade levels and

desks.105 As Muhammadiyah expanded, it built a large network of social services,

including not only schools but also hospitals, libraries, women's circles, and youth

scouting groups.

In response to Muhammadiyah's spread and the concomitant spread of Islamic

reformism, a group of traditionalist scholars in East Java came together to form a

traditionalist group in 1926. This group, which they called Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), or

"Revival of the Religious Scholars," spread mostly on Java. In 1930, the year the Dutch

officially recognized it as a legal organization, NU had 6 branches in West Java, 21 in

Central Java, 18 in East Java, and one in South Kalimantan.106 The two leading figures in

the founding of NU were Wahab Hasbullah, a young schoolmaster interested in

modernizing methods of instruction, and Hasjim Asjari, a venerable and respected cleric

who ran East Java's largest pesantren}01 As more religious leaders across Java joined

the organization, membership increased rapidly, with large numbers of students and lay

Muslims following their teachers and guides into NU. In form, though, NU simply added

a greater emphasis on certain personalities to the very modern structure of

Muhammadiyah; this development caused one observer to observe "reformism had

actually won a victory for Indonesian Islam as a whole by forcing on its opponents the

105 Federspiel, "The Muhammadijah," 57.

106 Faisal
Ismail, Islamic Traditionalism in Indonesia: A Study of the Nahdlatul Ulama's Early History and
Religious Ideology (Jakarta: Departemen Agama, Proyek Peningkatan Pengkajian Kerukunan Hidup Umat
Beragama, 2003), 32.

107 Fealy, "Ulama and Politics," 28.

adoption of organizational techniques which strengthened Islam vis-a-vis other social
forces in Indonesian society."

Although other organizations and theological questions have risen in the century

since Muhammadiyah's founding, the basic division among pious Muslims in Indonesia

remains a traditionalist-reformist divide. Although these two groups have clashed at

times, most notably in the 1920s (leading to the creation of NU) and in the 1950s, they

generally recognize that they agree on the importance of Islam more than they disagree

on the minutiae of ritual, and together they constitute a solid religious bloc of Indonesian

society, even when they are in political competition.

Three Trends in Indonesian Islam in the Early 20th Century

Within this sector of society, three major trends in the first half of the twentieth

century guided the struggle of Muslims in independent Indonesia. These trends were 1)

toward organizations; 2) towards orthodoxy; and 3) towards politics.

Toward Organizations

Organizations in Indonesian Islam were not limited to the two largest groups,

Muhammadiyah and NU, mentioned above, but these two groups exemplify the trend. In

most cases, a particularly charismatic religious leader (such as Ahmad Dahlan or Wahab

Hasbullah) would gather several like-minded colleagues together to found an

organization, often based at a particular school or set of schools, to protect and promote

108 Hany J. Benda, The Crescent and the Rising Son (The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958), 51.

their theological vision. This pattern holds for Muhammadiyah and Nahdatul Ulama, but

also for many smaller organizations founded across Indonesia in through the 1930's.109

The Islamic organizations began not among indigenous ethnic groups but among

Arab immigrants to the Dutch East Indies. A community of Arab sayyids (direct

descendants of the Prophet Muhammad) founded the organization Jami'at Khair in 1901

to run schools for the Arab community and promote Arab welfare.110 In 1914, a

Sudanese teacher in Jami'at Khair left the organization over his rejection of sayyid

exceptionalism; he founded the organization Al-Irsyad, based around his new school in

Jakarta, to promote Arabic language and Arabic norms among Muslims in the Indies.111

Other reformist-minded organizations prominent on a regional level in the Dutch East

Indies included Persatuan Islam (Persis), founded in Bandung in 1923 by the Tamil

theologian A. Hassan;112 Jong Islamieten Bond (JIB), a group that grew out of Western

associations among high school students in the Dutch educational system in 1925;113 a

new organization called Studenten Islam Studieclub (SIS) that emerged from JIB in 1934,

targeting university students;114 Jamiyatul Washliyah, which grew out of a debating club

in an Islamic school in Medan in 1930;115 and Persatuan Ulama Seluruh Aceh (PUSA),

109 On the rise of Islamic organizations as a force in the everyday lives of Muslim Indonesians, see Noer,

Modernist Muslim Movement, especially 319ff.

1,0 Laffan, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia, 190.

111 Laffan, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia, 191.

112 Federspiel, Islam and Ideology.

113 RobertE. Elson, "Disunity, distance, disregard: The political failure of Islamism in late colonial
Indonesia," Studia Islamika, vol 16 no. 1, 2009: 15-16.

114 Yudi Latif, 207.

Ahmad Hamim Azizy, Al-Jam'iyatul Washliyah dalam Kancah Poltiik Indonesia (Banda Aceh: Yayasan
Pena, 2006); Al Djamijatul Washlijah 'AAbad (Medan: Pengurus Besar A1 Djamijatul Washlijah, 1955).

which starting in the late 1930's promoted Muslim empowerment in Aceh through

Islamic education and greater adherence to orthodox Islam.116

On the other side of the divide, traditionalist organizations appeared in several

provinces to safeguard their beliefs against increasing reformist encroachment. These

organizations included Persatuan Tarbiyah Islamiyah (Perti), founded in West Sumatra in

1928 in response to sharp conflict with Muhammadiyah followers over orthodoxy;117

Rabithatul Ulama, a scholars' union in South Sulawesi founded in 1938;118

Musjawarattuthalibin, a traditionalist union in South Kalimantan that was active

organizing Islamic schools in the 1930's;119 and Perikatan Umat Islam, a group based in

Sukabumi, West Java, that included many large Sundanese pesantren.120

One hallmark of these organizations was their increased accessibility to all

members of society, stemming from their creation of targeted auxiliary groups for

Muslim women, youth, children, and special interest groups. Although the creation of

such auxiliaries could be controversial, it expanded debate and activism on Islamic issues

beyond the core of male, educated Islamic scholars.121 This was true of many other types

of organizations emerging at the same time in Indonesian society, such as societies to

116 Siegel, Rope of God, especially chapters 5 and 6.

Alaiddin Koto, Pemikiran Politik PERTI, Persatuan Tarbiyah Islamiyah (1945-1970) (Jakarta: Nimas
Multima, 1997); Za'im Rais, "The Minangkabau Traditionalists' Response to the Modernist Movement,"
Master's Thesis, McGill University, 1994.

118 Bosra, Tuang Guru, Anrong Guru dan Daeng Guru, 164-65.

119 M. Nur Maksum et al., Musyawaratuththalibin: Historis, Perjuangan dan Pergulatan Pemikiran

(Banjarmasin: Antasari Press, 2007).

120 Steenbrink, 75-76.

121Precisely for this reason some of the more traditionalist groups were cautious about the growth of youth
and women's auxiliaries. NU, in particular, twice refused to recognize youth groups before it finally
acquiesced to the creation of Ansor as a youth branch of the organization. See Fealy, "Ulama and Politics,"

preserve adat (local customs), but Islamic organizations' auxiliaries had great staying

power as groups for self-identification.122

These organizations in some ways displaced the Sufi brotherhoods that had been a

common social vehicle for Muslims in many parts of the archipelago.123 Geertz blamed

the decline of Sufism in part on Dutch fears of the mystic brotherhoods, which then

trickled into the biases of the Dutch-educated Indonesian national political leadership, as

well.124 The fact that these new, modern-style organizations became the primary

religious association for Muslims in Indonesia does not mean that Sufism disappeared.

Rather, Sufism was often a subjugate identity under the associational affiliation.125 This

was certainly the case for Perti in West Sumatra, which was closely aligned with the local

Naqshbandiyyah brotherhood (less so for the local Shattariyyah, which was in decline).126

Islamic organizations changed the face of Islam in the archipelago in two ways.

First, they connected Muslims to co-religionists beyond their village in a concrete way.

Muslims previously had an idea that there were millions others like them in the ummat,

the Islamic community, and if they had traveled to study at an Islamic school outside of

their village they would have encountered a tiny tip of the scope of their religion. But the

122 Smail points out that ethnic nationalist groups, like the Pagoejoeban Pasoendan, were at least as
extensive, but I can find no sign of their lasting impact on society. Smail, Bandung in the Early Revolution,
9. This trend toward creating auxiliaries exploded in the 1950s, with the creation of supporting groups for
fanners, laborers, traders, fishermen, high school students, college students, female high school students,
female college students, and others as local circumstances required. Secular and Communist parties also
created such auxiliaries before and during the independence era.

123 On Sufi brotherhoods as a socialand politicalvehicle, see Kartodirdjo, 144ff.

124 Geertz, "The Javanese Kijaji," 239.

125Martin van Bruinessen, "Origin and Development of Sufi Orders (Tarekat) in Southeast Asia," Studia
Islamika, vol. 1 no. 1 (April-June 1994): 17.

126For a discussion of the changing role of Sufi brotherhoods in West Sumatra earlier in the 20th century,
see Ken Young, Islamic Peasants and the State: The 1908 Anti-Tax Rebellion in West Sumatra (New
Haven, CT: Yale Southeast Asian Studies, 1994), 109-116.

new Islamic organizations socialized Muslim villagers to the idea of a truly global

community by sending them newsletters with news from Muslim communities around the

world; by announcing to them how their membership connected them to a community of

hundreds of thousands, and even by holding mass rallies to advocate on issues well

beyond the scope of any one village. Second, Islamic organizations, through their

debate on theology and promotion of particular practices, changed normative practice of

Islam in the archipelago and pulled Muslims closer to Middle Eastern orthodoxy.

Toward Orthodoxy

The second major trend in Islam in the Dutch East Indies during the first half of

the twentieth century was towards orthodoxy. As debates emerged in the Middle East

and Southeast Asia about the role of Islam in society and the decline of Muslims

compared to the West, Islamic leaders became more concerned with properly practicing

their religion so as to achieve prosperity and freedom once again.128

One important impetus in inspiring orthopraxy among Muslims in the Indies was
1 70
the hajj, which had greatly increased in the nineteenth century. Participating in the

hajj exposed more and more Southeast Asian Muslims to orthodox forms of Islam, which

they then brought back and practiced in their home communities. After the hajj, Muslims

127On exposing Muslims to the Islamic community well beyond their home communities through
newsletters, I am thankful for the assistance of Za'im Rais, who lent me copies of many kaum tua
periodicals from the 1910's and 1920's and talked me through their contents and implications.

128 The movement in the Arab world known as the nahda, or renaissance, clearly inspired the Indonesian
turn to increased orthodoxy, as described in Hamka, Pengaruh Muhammad 'Abduh di Indonesia, but
spreading ideas of nationalism and increased contact with the Arab core were also key. For an excellent
examination of the foreign Islamic influences leading to Islamic reform and orthodoxy in Indonesia, while
still respecting the preservation of certain indigenous traditions, see Jeffrey Hadler, Muslims and
Matriarchs: Cultural Resilience in Indonesia through Jihad and Colonialism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press, 2008).

129 Kartodirdjo, 141; Lafifan, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia, 39.

were less likely to engage in syncretic practices and more likely to imitate Arab forms of

Islam.130 After the turn of the twentieth century, a substantial contingent of Southeast

Asian Muslims studying in Cairo also felt a strong push towards increased piety and
orthodoxy, and they spread these ideas upon their return to the East Indies.

Many of the founders of Islamic organizations were indeed leaders who had

returned from the Middle East. These men used their new-founded organizations to

proselytize and promote strict Islamic practice. Among other methods, changes to

Islamic education during this period facilitated increased knowledge of the scriptural core

of Islam and thus stricter practice. A practice adopted almost simultaneously on Java and

Sumatra was to pay increased attention to teaching comprehension of the Arabic

language, with the goal that students would understand and begin to interpret what they

were reading (where as previously they had merely been able to intone it and memorize

the explanation given by their teacher). One result of increased Arabic fluency was an

increase in Arabic cognates used in everyday interactions among Indonesians; thus, the

words ulama and madrasah were adopted across Indonesia in the first half of the

twentieth century.

Competition between traditionalists and reformists was also crucial to increasing

Islamic orthodoxy. As organizations on each side of the theological divide tried to draw

130 N.a. "Education through Pilgrimage." Studia Islamika, vol. 1, no. 3 (1994): 81 (1-6). See also Dadi

Darmadi's forthcoming dissertation, "The Hajj, Reinvented: Pilgrimage, Mobility and Inter-state
Organizations in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia," PhD. Dissertation, Harvard University, 2012.

131Laffan, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia, 139; Audrey Kahin, Rebellion to Integration, 54.
On a small scale, this same pattern was related to me by Tahir Azhari, whose father, K.H. Ahmad Azhari,
studied at al-Azhar University in Cairo and found the experience so transformative he took the school's
name as his new surname. Ahmad Azhari was then a leading promoter of Islamic orthodoxy in his
hometown of Palembang. Interview with Tahir Azhari, Ciputat, January 17, 2010.

132 Steenbrink, 3,44, 71.

more villages to their view, they fought to assert their correctness and uprightness on all

issues of doctrine. As a result, they pushed their followers to follow Islamic precepts

more strictly.133 Overall, promoting standard practice of Islam became just as important

as proselytizing Islam for Islamic leaders and organizations in the twentieth century.134

This is evident in the stated goals of the organizations according to their founding

documents, as well as in their activities in the first half of the twentieth century.135

Toward Politics

In the nineteenth century, politics as such was a proscribed field of activity for

religious leaders. The Dutch had a class of officially-recognized scholars who "lent

themselves to the Dutch colonial policy in repressing manifestations of [extremist, anti-

colonial] activity," but these men were not allowed to create their own interpretations of

how Islam should engage the state, for fear of losing state patronage.136 Thus, no

political thought or activity was allowed among scholars, forcing any political activity to

position itself in direct opposition to the colonial state. Many religious movements of

opposition did arise, but these were quickly suppressed or their leaders exiled by the

Dutch.137 No sustained movement could emerge that faced political questions from an

Islamic stance.

133 Za'im Rais, 94.

134 Federspiel, Islam and Ideology, vii.

135 See, for example, Al Djamijatul Washlijah 'A Abad, 342, which states the goal of the organization as

"Implement the requirements of the Islamic religion so as to progress toward happiness in the world and the
hereafter." Cf. Fealy, "Ulama and Politics in Indonesia," 29; Federspiel, "Muhammadijah," 58.

136 Kartodirdjo, 146.

137 The Java War, Padri War, and Aceh War could be taken as religious opposition to Dutch colonial rule,
but the more common form was the regional revolt led by a religious leader; this prototype is discussed in
chapter 2.

This was in part due to the policy formulated by the foremost Dutch advisor on

Islamic issues: Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje. Snouck Hurgronje came to Indonesia after

studying the Indonesian community in Mecca (which he did undercover as a Muslim).138

Upon his arrival in Indonesia, he visited Aceh no less than seven times and devised a

strategy for the Dutch to win the Aceh War, conquering the last corner of what would

become the Dutch East Indies.139 His main contribution to Dutch policy, however, was to

formulate a new Dutch policy towards Islam. Instead of seeing Islam as a single

dangerous phenomenon, Snouck Hurgronje viewed two separate components in Islam:

the religious and the political. In advocating that the Dutch colonial government support

the purely religious elements of Islam and forbid all political elements, he was able to

win the agreement of many Islamic scholars at the turn of the twentieth century.140

The other key pillar of Dutch policy was to favor Indonesian customs and

customary law, called adat, over Islamic practices.141 Dutch scholars moved to codify

adat law in various forms for different ethnic groups and then force the implementation

of these codes in various parts of the archipelago.142 In some regions, the Dutch

preference for adat over Islam also connected with favoring traditional nobles over

138 Laffan, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia, 62.

139 P.Sj.
van Koningsveld, "Penulisan Sejarah Suatu Perang Ekspansi Kolonial," in Snouck Hurgronje dan
Islam: Delapan Karangan tentang Hidup dan Karya Seorang Orietnalis Zaman Kolonial (Jakarta:
Girimukti Pasaka, 1989), 251.

140 HarryJ. Benda, "Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje and the Foundations of Dutch Islamic Policy in
Indonesia," in Continuity and Change in Southeast Asia: Collected Journal Articles of Harry J. Benda
(New Haven, CT: Yale University Southeast Asia Studies, Monograph Series No. 18, 1972), 87, 92.

141 Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 68.

142 Supomo, The Future ofAdat Law in the Reconstruction of Indonesia ([Jakarta?]: n.p., 1952?), 3-6.

Islamic leaders, as in Aceh.143 This contributed to antagonism between Islamic leaders

and the Dutch.

Dutch policy entering the twentieth century called for Islam to be explicitly

apolitical, but other circumstances pushed the Muslim population in the opposite

direction. In particular, the economic dominance of the local Chinese population on Java

grated on indigenous and Arab traders, who began to form organizations and unions to

oppose Chinese economic might. After a few false starts in the first decade of the

twentieth century, a successful organization was founded in 1912, with explicitly

indigenous leadership, called Sarekat Islam (SI). Under the guidance of the Surabaya-

based activist H.O.S. Tjokroaminoto, SI grew into a much larger body and spread beyond

Java. At the same time, its interests broadened from breaking Chinese monopolies to the

general promotion of Muslim welfare and the Islamic religion. The chief goals laid out in

Si's statutes were "(a) advancement of commercial spirit and enterprise among the

indigenous population; (b) assistance to members who were in difficulties through no

fault of their own; (c) advancement of the spiritual development and material interests of

Indonesians, thereby assisting in raising their living standards; and (d) combating

misconceptions of Islam, and prompting religious life among the Indonesian people in

accordance with the laws and customs of that religion."144 During its first decade, SI

engaged in programs primarily concerned with social welfare, rather than religious

practice or overt politics; with this focus SI membership expanded rapidly, on Java and

143 Siegel, 70; Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 75. Cf. the treatment of adat leaders versus Islamic

leaders from the Padri War, Hadler, Muslims and Matriarchs, 48.

Azyumardi Azra, "The Indies Chinese and the Sarekat Islam: An Account of the Anti-Chinese Riots in
Colonial Indonesia," Studia Islamika, vol. 1, no. 1 (April-June 1994): 38.

beyond, to reach a peak in 1919 of a reported two million members.145 Although it had

started as fairly neutral in politics (Snouck Hurgronje, writing from the Netherlands in

1916, even welcomed the emergence of SI as a positive development for Indonesian

Muslims),146 political issues grew markedly in the organization at the end of its first

decade. This included the rise of many Communist and left-leaning leaders in local SI


In 1923, in response to these political trends, Tjokroaminoto led the organization

as a whole to take two bold steps: first, rejecting the Communist ideology as "godless"

and thus inappropriate for them (and thereby ejecting a large fraction of the Si's left-

leaning members), and, second, transforming the organization Sarekat Islam into the

party Partij Sarekat Islam.147 Part of the drive to give Sarekat Islam a more political

character came from Haji Agus Salim, a Minangkabau former bureaucrat in the Dutch

colonial government who had studied both the Islamic and Western canons.148 The

ejection of the Communists in 1923 weakened the Sarekat Islam, and the exit from

Sarekat Islam did not destroy Marxism in Indonesia; rather, the Partai Komunis Indonesia

145 M.C. Ricklefs, A History of Modern Indonesia since c. 1200, third edition (Stanford, CA: Stanford

University Press, 2001), 210; Ricklefs doubts that so many people actually participated in the organization.
Note that in some places SI did engage in religious activities or reform; in Ulakan, West Sumatra, the
Sarekat Islam was the first group to preach reformed Islam and not follow the Shattariah Sufi order, and for
this they were accused of being infidels. See Yaumil Fitri, "Syarikat Islam di Sumatera Barat, 1916-1920,"
Padang: Skripsi Fakultas Sastra Jurusan Sejarah Universitas Andalas, 1992,40. SI also had a religious
program, consisting of "the withdrawal of all laws and regulations which hampered the spread of Islam;
payment of salaries to kiyais and penghulus; subsidies for Islamic educational institutions; and official
recognition of Islamic holidays." Azra, "The Indies Chinese and the Sarekat Islam," 41.

146 Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 70.

147 Takashi Shiraishi, An Age in Motion: Popular Radicalism in Java, 1912-1926 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell

University Press), 237-38.

148 Noer, Modernist Muslim Movement, 298.

(PKI, Indonesian Communist Party) had a continuous existence from 1920 to 1966.149

The change led the Partij Sarekat Islam to focus on promoting more Islamic goals and

boycotting the colonial government. Tjokroaminoto went so far as to flatly reject in 1926

an invitation to sit in the colony's representative council (Volksraad).150 Still, the

movement was susceptible to society's trends; in 1929, in response to surging

nationalism and the founding of several secular parties, such as Sukarno's Partai Nasional

Indonesia (PNI), the Partij Sarekat Islam changed its name to Partai Sarekat Islam

Indonesia (PSII), thus fusing its strong sense of Islamic identity with the new territorial

nationalism of the era.151

Unlike SI and its successor parties, many of the mass Islamic organizations

formed in the first half of the twentieth century were explicitly apolitical. This was

certainly true, at least initially, for the two largest groups, Muhammadiyah and NU.152

The apolitical stance connected with these organizations' focus on theological and

liturgical issues, which were the impetus for their founding. At the same time, given

Dutch policy that discouraged and suppressed political Islam while allowing or

encouraging a more cultural practice of religion, their apolitical stance safeguarded the

continued existence of Islamic organizations. Sometimes it even gave them access to

government funds to further their projects, as with many modern-style Islamic schools.153

149 On the founding of a Communist party in the Dutch East Indies and its early interaction with Islamic

groups, see Shiraishi, chapters 6 and 7.

150 Elson,"Disunity, Disgrace, Disregard," 5; PSIIdari Tahun ke Tahun (with English Translation)
([Jakarta?]: Departemen Penerangan dan Propaganda PSII, [1952]), 8.

151 Elson, "Disunity, Disgrace, Disregard," 8.

152 Fealy, "Ulama and Politics in Indonesia," 30.

A famous example is the Adabiyah School of Abdullah Ahmad in Padang, Noer, Modernist Muslim
Movement, 43.

Most Islamic schools, however, were breeding grounds for politics, and

particularly politics opposing colonialism. According to one Indonesian observer, the

pattern of educational movements evolving into more political forms reflected new trends

in Western-style education integrated in Islamic schools, causing new types of self-

reflection and competing ideas among the up-and-coming Muslim leaders.154 The

reformist schools of West Sumatra provide perhaps the clearest example of an

educational movement turning ever more political. In 1930, what had been an alliance of

several dozen reformist schools called Sumatera Thawalib (Sumatran Students)

transformed itself into a mass political movement open to the public. The new

organization, created by young reformist teachers and heavily influenced by trends in the

Middle East and on Java, called itself Persatuan Muslim Indonesia (Union of Indonesian

Muslims) or Permi.155 Permi fused nationalism and religion at a time when other Islamic

organizations were promoting religion only. In this way it provided a sharp critique both

of secular nationalism, which Permi leaders and other pious Muslims found objectionable

for isolating Muslims in the East Indies, and of apolitical religious activism, which Permi

leaders thought did not fulfill all of the requirements of Islam.156 Although holding

aspirations to spread across the Dutch East Indies, the actual footprint of Permi was

limited to West Sumatra. Its ideas on Islamic nationalism, however, had an impact on the

direction of politics back on Java.

154 Maarif, Islam dalam Bingkai Keindonesiaan dan Kemanusiaan, 89.

155 Taufik Abdullah, Schools and Politics: The Kaum Muda Movement in West Sumatra (1927-1933)
(Ithaca, NY: Cornell Modern Indonesia Project, 1971), 130-31.

156 Noer, Modernist Muslim Movement, 321.

Even as Permi proposed a new possible direction for nationalism, the main thrust

of Indonesian nationalism was avowedly secular, with Sukarno keeping his Partai

Nasional Indonesia "closed to religion," and Christian newspapers calling for "setting

aside all religions" to achieve the goals of nationalism.157 Facing this staunch secularism,

Islamic activists felt "boycotted, ignored, not accorded their due, their ideas not

considered worthy or relevant, not embraced and employed by their fellows."158 At the

same time, pious Muslims generally rejected the leadership of secular nationalists. In

1933, in an article in the Islamic journal Pembela Islam, a Muslim activist named Sabirin

argued that the secular nationalists, who rejected the religious duties to pray five times a

day and avoid women who were not their relatives, etc., "were somehow short of the

mark and were not good choices as leaders for Muslims who might otherwise be attracted

by some of the nationalists' political statements."159 At the same time, secular

nationalists rejected Islamic nationalism as applicable only to a small sector of society,

with one secularist writing in 1931 that "a political association with Islam as its basis will

bring division and will find adherents only amongst serious Muslims."160

This polarization between secular and Islamic politics became much more marked

in the 1930s than it had been in the 1920s. In the early twenties, many SI branches were

run by Communist-leaning activists, and even in the mid-1920s the strict Muslim Haji

Misbach was writing in a major Islamic journal about the consonance between Islam and

157 Quoted in Elson, "Disunity, distance, disregard," 6.

158 Elson, "Disunity, distance, disregard," 7.

159 Federspiel, Islam and Ideology, 35

160 Elson, "Disunity, Distance, Disregard," 10, quoting Pertjatoeran, March 12,1931.

Communism.161 In 1926, Sukarno, who later became the foremost leader in Indonesian

nationalism, promoted a blend of Islam, Nationalism and Marxism to achieve the goal of
1 ff)
a free Indonesia. Increasingly in the 1930s, however, Sukarno's three categories of

Islam, Nationalism and Marxism were seen not as ideas to be blended together, but rather

as separate sectors of society. The shared anti-colonial history and synergy between
communism and Islam were forgotten. Even between secular nationalists like Sukarno

and pious Muslims, like the young student columnist Mohammad Natsir, there was

increasing conflict over the role that Islam should have in a future Indonesian state. In a

series of contending editorials published in 1940, Sukarno looked to the Turkish model of

a fully secular government while Natsir called for total integration of Islam in the state so

as to properly serve the Muslim population.164

After 1930, the Islamic movement in Indonesia focused increasingly on

implementing Islam more perfectly, and it saw nationalism as merely a means to reach

that end. Permi shifted to this position after it was criticized by Muslim leaders both

inside and outside West Sumatra.165 PSII also turned more exclusively toward Islam

161 Shiraishi, 285-98.

Sukarno, Islam, Nationalism, and Marxism, Karel H. Warouw and Peter D. Weldon, trans. (Ithaca, NY:
Cornell University Modern Indonesia Project, 1970).

163 Shiraishi, 342.

164 Significant excerpts from these debates have been translated in Noer, Modernist Muslim Movement,

279-95. Several of Natsir's essays from this debate are reprinted in the fifth section of M. Natsir, Capita
Selecta (Bandung: W. van Hoeve, 1954).

165 Elson, "Disunity, Distance, Disregard," 14.

around this time,166 leading to some of the conflicts mentioned above between PSII

leaders (and Muslim leaders in general) and secular nationalists.

Even as it grew more distant from secular nationalism in the 1930s, the Islamic

movement in Indonesia also fractured. PSII remained the main vehicle for Muslim

politics until the Japanese invasion, but it had several off-shoots. In 1933, a medical

doctor named Sukiman, who had studied in the Netherlands and been thoroughly

integrated in the nationalist movement there, took exception to the exclusivist direction of

PSII and its refusal to cooperate with the Dutch authorities. When PSII kicked Sukiman

out of the party for his conflicts with Tjokroaminoto over these issues, Sukiman led

several followers to establish their own party, the Partai Islam Indonesia (PII), with a

more collaborative stance.168 Without mass backing, PII fizzled within a year.

Sukiman's critique of PSII's non-cooperative policy, though, had an impact on other PSII

leaders, including Haji Agus Salim, who had been so critical when Sarekat Islam ejected

its Communist-leaning members. With several other regional leaders, Salim founded the

Barisan Penyadar PSII (Front to Awaken the PSII) in 1934.169 After several years of

struggle within the party over its stance toward the Dutch colonial government, PSII

kicked out the Barisan Penyadar and its sympathizers in 1937. These sympathizers,

including not only Salim but several other future leaders such as the law student

Mohamad Roem, established the Barisan Penyadar as an independent political

166 Elson, "Disunity, Distance, Disregard," 10-11.

167 Yudi Latif, 201.

168 Elson, "Disunity, Distance, Disregard," 22. On Sukiman, see Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution

(Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1972), 189.

169 Yudi Latif, 203. Elson, "Disunity, Distance, Disregard," 24, dates this front to 1936.

organization, but it, too, failed to win a mass following.170 Still, there was room in

Indonesian politics for an alternative to PSII in the field of Islamic nationalist, as was

proven by the re-emergence of PII in 1938 with support from many Western-educated

intellectuals.171 The departure of these the PII and Barisan Penyadar left PSII unified

against collaboration with the Dutch colonial regime but hollowed by the loss of several

notable leaders and divided about its own political potential.

In an attempt to unite Indonesian Islam, and in a display of strong initiative by the

hitherto apolitical mass organizations, Muhammadiyah and NU organized an "All Islam"

conference in 1937. This conference resulted in the founding of an umbrella organization

for all Islamic groups in Indonesia, the MIAI (Madjlisul Islamil A'laa Indonesia, or Great
in j
Islamic Council of Indonesia).

The MIAI brought together the three major trends of Islam under late Dutch

colonialism. Organizations, and particularly mass organizations, were the chief vehicle

for Islamic progress and reform, and the MIAI was the first example of mass

organizations taking the lead on issues of Islam and nationin fact venturing directly

into political issues. MIAI was also a forum for debates on orthodoxy and proper Islamic

practice; it promoted stricter adherence to Islam among Indonesia's Muslims and debated

how such adherence could be encouraged or enforced. And, finally, the MIAI was a

vehicle for political interests, a body that directly interacted with the state and impacted

colonial policy. All this opened the way for greater predominance on the part of Islamic

170 Elson, "Disunity, Distance, Disregard," 24.

171 Elson, "Disunity, Distance, Disregard," 25.

172Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 89-90. Although this organization was founded by leaders from
Muhammadiyah, NU, and PSII, NU did not become a formal affiliate of MIAI until 1940. Elson, "Disunity,
Distance, Disregard," 28.

theological leaders in the political realm. MIAI proved that the Snouck Hurgronje's

policy of separating Islam from politics was not successfully implemented by the Dutch

colonial state.

Around this time there emerged in the broader world of Indonesian nationalist

agitation similar unifying organizations. In 1939, most Indonesian political parties and

nationalist organizations joined the new Gabungan Politik Indonesia (Indonesian Political

Federation, GAPI), agitating for an indigenous representative body and increased

autonomy for the Dutch East Indies.173 These issues appeared particularly pressing for

Indonesians because of the war spreading in Europe and East Asia, but the Dutch were

unwilling to make concessions. Muslim organizations supported GAPI's demands, and

made additional stipulations about minimum Muslim representation in any parliament

and administrative branches for Islamic affairs, but these demands were swept away by

the invasion of the Japanese.174

Japanese Occupation

The Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies on January 10, 1942, and conquered

the whole territory by March 8, 1942, thus smashing the image of impregnability that the

Dutch had built up for centuries.175 This swift victory was perhaps facilitated by

Indonesian Muslims' refusal to defend the Dutch East Indies in a vigorous way. NU and

Muhammadiyah each ruled that protecting the Dutch colonial state did not count as

defending one's homeland for theological purposes, and MIAI prohibited Muslim blood

173 Ricklefs, History of Modern Indonesia, 230.

174 Elson, "Distance, Disunity, Disregard," 30.

175 Reid, Indonesian National Revolution, 10.

transfusions to wounded soldiers in the Dutch military.176 After capturing the territory

with relative ease, the Japanese divided the East Indies into three parts to be occupied and

administered by different military units. Sumatra came under the Japanese 25th Army (at

first jointly with Malaya, then independently run from Bukittinggi); Java was under the

Japanese 17th Army; and East Indonesia (comprising basically all islands outside of

Sumatra and Java) was under the Japanese Navy.177

The position of Muslim organizations under the Japanese differed markedly from

their position under the Dutch, especially on Java. Although at first the Japanese closed

down all native organizations, including Islamic organizations, so as to secure their

control over the new territories, they then fostered Islamic organizational activity

specifically to win allies among Muslims.178 Among their first actions in this regard, in

1942 the Japanese founded an Islamic affairs office, staffed both by local Muslim leaders

and by Japanese Muslims, on the central square in Jakarta.179 Then the Japanese re-

chartered MIAI as a way to channel Muslim support to the occupying regime. All other

Indonesian political parties, nationalist and communist, remained banned. The goals of

this new Japanese-sponsored MIAI were listed in the first issue of the organization's new

magazine: "to make the people conscious of their belief, to promote co-prosperity [with

Japan], to comment upon the Qur'an, to publish important speeches about religion, to

give information about the true Japanese means for the establishment of Great Asia, and

176 Elson, "Distance, Disunity, Disregard," 35.

177 Ricklefs, History of Modern Indonesia, 235; Kahin, Rebellion to Integration, 95.

178 C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "Japanese Islam Policy in Java, 1942-1945," in Aspects of Islam in Post-

Colonial Indonesia, 134-35; Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 201.

179 Van Nieuwenhuijze, "Japanese Islam Policy in Java," 117-121.

1 sn
to spread Japanese culture." In October 1943, the MIAI held its last meeting, and its

Japanese creators shut it down as easily as they had created it. In its place, the Japanese

sponsored a new federation of Islamic mass organizationsinitially only NU and

|O ]
Muhammadiyahto be called Masjoemi.

The November 1943 creation of Masjoemi was a turning point for pious Muslims

on Java. When the Japanese military government closed down MIAI, it called the group

"the shadow of an 'anti-colonial' federation."182 MIAI's replacement thus had to have a

different character, and this character was defined by working exclusively through mass

organizations. In this way, the Japanese were able to change their relationship with

Java's Muslim populace and change their interlocutors. The Japanese empowered the

leaders of Islamic mass organizations, primarily theological leaders, over political leaders

from PSII and other parties from the late colonial era.183 This solidified theological

leaders' dominant position, a position which they had begun to assert after the Al-Islam

conference of 1937. The ascendance of more theological leaders was largely a result of

Japanese policy (the Japanese hand-picked the leaders for both the MIAI and Masjoemi

180 Translated from Madjallah Islam Soeara Madjelis Islam A 'laa Indonesia, and quoted in C.A.O. van
Nieuwenhuijze, "Islam in a Period of Transition in Indonesia: An Essay on Tendencies and Possibilities,"
in Aspects of Islam in Post-Colonial Indonesia: Five Essays (The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958), 49.

181Van Nieuwenhuijze, "Japanese Islam Policy in Java," 153; Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 151.
Masjoemi later incorporated the Persatuan Ummat Islam (PUI) of Sukabumi and Persatuan Ummat Islam
Indonesia (PUII) of Majalengka, two smaller mass organizations. Yusril Ihza Mahendra, based on
interviews with old Masjumi hands, has suggested that the name Masjumi was originally chosen under the
Japanese because this abbreviation of "Majlis Sjuro Muslimin Indonesia" also sounded like a Japanese
girl's name, and so was very unthreatening to the occupiers. Yusril said this in the discussion of the
launching of a book and it was chronicled in the book's second edition: Nurcholish Madjid, TidakAda
Negara Islam: Surat-surat Politik Nurcholish Madjid - Mohamad Roem, 2nd ed. (Jakarta: Djambatan, 2000),

182 Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 151.

183This was especially true after the switch from MIAI to Masjoemi, when Western-educated individuals
like Wondoamiseno and political figures like Abikusno Tjokrosujoso were removed from organizational
leadership. Yudi Latif, 214.

during the occupation), but Japanese policy may have grown out of an astute observation

of the strength of mass organizations in Javanese society.184 On the other hand, it may

have been an attempt by the Japanese to forestall any potential political opposition.185

The most important innovation of Masjumi as an unofficial organ of the Japanese

occupation government was the incorporation of ulama into positions of authority in the

government on Java. This was true on the local level, through the Islamic Affairs Offices

created by the Japanese, and on the island-wide level. As Benda observed, "For the first

time in Indonesian history, a leader of the Muslim movement had spoken to religious

officials with the voice of authority."186 Muslim leaders also spoke with authority outside

of the narrow constraints of Islamic subjects; the Japanese chose Muhammadiyah leader

Mas Mansur to be among four Javanese leaders (along with secular nationalists Sukarno

and Muhammad Hatta and education activist Ki Hadjar Dewantara) leading the Pusat

Tenaga Rakjat (Center of People's Power, Putera), which was Java's closest

approximation to a framework for self-governance.187 Thus Muslims on Java were

gaining power not only in the religious sphere, but in the governmental structure more


On Sumatra, too, the Japanese found ways to integrate Muslims in the

administration of the occupied territory, but in a much more limited way. In West

184Oral history with Mohamad Roem, interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SL1 1981 #6, tape 8.
Roem reports that both he and Agus Salim were happy not to be chosen for leadership positions by the
Japanese, but had absolutely no control over this because appointments were entirely Japanese prerogative.

185Cf. Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 108-110, where he reports that the Japanese were looking for
"the most reliable and Eastern-oriented" leaders to associate with, and found these to be the leaders of
Islamic mass organizations.

186 Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 165.

l87Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 23.

Sumatra, the seat of occupying 25th Army, the Japanese accommodated Islamic voices by

placing key Muslim leaders from Islamic education and mass organizations on the
council advising the army leadership. Elsewhere on Sumatra, Muslims were more

disappointed with their position under the Japanese. For example, the Japanese

occupation of Aceh did not elevate the ulama to positions of power, as the ulama had

expected based on their revolt against the Dutch immediately before the Japanese

invasion. Instead, the Japanese ruled Aceh through its traditional nobles (uleebalang),

and the ulama took a distant or mildly oppositional stance towards the harsh excesses of

the Japanese occupation.189 In the South Sumatran city of Palembang, too, Muslims were

frustrated by a general ban on religious associations and strict limitations on Islamic

education.190 On Sumatra, no formal organization brought together all Muslim groups

until the very end of the war, when the Japanese inaugurated the Madjelis Islam Tinggi

(High Islamic Council, MIT), and then only in West Sumatra. It was not until December

1945, after independence was declared, that the MIT drew members from other provinces

and became a more broadly representative Islamic umbrella organization, and shortly

afterward it folded itself into the newly-formed political party Masjumi.191 The major

inroads that Muslims on Java made into government under the Japanese were not shared

on Sumatra.

188 Audrey Kahin, Rebellion to Integration, 99.

189 Reid, Blood of the People, 126-27.

190 Oral history with K.H. M. Zen Syukri, June 7, 2010, Palembang; oral history with M. Thahir Azhari,

January 17, 2010, Ciputat.

191 Reid, Blood of the People, 176.

In East Indonesia under the Japanese Navy, developments were similar to those

on Sumatra. In South Sulawesi, the Japanese shut down all Islamic schools and

organizations.192 In a concession to the Islamic community, the Japanese created an

umbrella organization based in Makassar called Jam'iyatul Islamiyah (Islamic

Community) that included several prominent Buginese and Makassarese Islamic leaders,

but the organization's head was a Japanese Muslim whose religious belief was highly

suspect.193 In South Kalimantan, on the other hand, Islamic schools were allowed to

continue, and the Japanese even founded a new Islamic Middle School in Banjarmasin,

albeit with Japanese propaganda heavily integrated into the curriculum.194 The major

traditionalist organization of the region, Musjawarattuthalibin, never recovered from

being closed down by the Japanese.195 At the same time, very little overt resistance to the

Japanese on religious grounds took place on Kalimantan.196 In Eastern Indonesia, then,

one could argue that Islam was neither promoted nor discouraged; it was contained. This

was in keeping with Japanese plans to keep Eastern Indonesia in their empire for

perpetuity, and thus not to empower any representatives, religious or secular, of the
1 Q*7
indigenous populations in the eastern archipelago.

192 Bosra, Tuang Guru, Anrong Guru dan Daeng Guru, 255.

193Bosra, Tuang Guru, Anrong Guru dan Daeng Guru, 258-59. The Japanese Muslim, a certain Umar
Faisal Kobayashi, claimed to have studied at al-Azhar in Cairo, but accounts from the Muslim community
found his knowledge of Islam unimpressive.

194 Suriansyah Ideham et al., Bab VI.

195 M. Nur Maksum et al., 71.

196 M. Nur Maksum et al., 15-16.

197 Reid, Indonesian National Revolution, 13.

On Java, the Japanese occupation was a time of empowerment not merely for

Islamic leaders. Nearly all Indonesians in the bureaucracy climbed several ranks upon

the imprisonment of the Dutch officials at the top of governmental infrastructure.198 The

Dutch language was outlawed, forcing Indonesian students to learn the Indonesian

national language based on Malay (many of them for the first time) in order to continue

their studies.199 In March 1944, the Japanese also established a successor organization to

the Putera called the Jawa Hokokai (Java Service Association); this secular para-

government seemingly felt somewhat threatened by the advances of Muslim leaders

through the Masjoemi. In March, 1945, the secularist-dominated central council of

Hokokai proposed to unite their organization with Masjoemi, because the two were

"serving identical purposes." This was, in the words of Benda, "the first open and

unmistakable warning to Muslim leaders that the exceptional role which Indonesian

Islam had played under the aegis of Dai Nippon would be challenged by the nationalist


There was opposition to the Japanese occupation of Java on several fronts. Early

on, when the Japanese instructed Muslims to bow towards Tokyo rather than Mecca

during their prayers, Muslims thoroughly rejected these Japanese instructions.201 As the

Japanese learned more about traditional customs on Java and avoided such flagrantly

198 Ricklefs, History of Modern Indonesia, 238.

A personal account of this can be heard in oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R.
Caniago, ANRI SL1 1980 #1, tape 1.

200 Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 183.

201 Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 122-23. Cf. Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution, 128.

offensive instructions, resistance faded from the Islamic sector. Instead, opposition to

the Japanese centered around socialist and communist leaders in Jakarta, especially Amir

Sjarifuddin and Sutan Sjahrir, and their youth followers. Amir's circle failed in its

attempts to resist; when the activists were arrested in early 1943, the Japanese executed

most of Amir's deputies and spared Amir only because of a personal plea from

Sukarno.203 Sutan Sjahrir's circle, on the other hand, succeeded only by focusing its

attention not on traditional underground resistance activities (spying and sabotage) but

rather on political discussions and nationalist theorizing, what Anderson called "thinking

dangerous thoughts."204 Both of these resistance groups were left-leaning and did not

include any prominent Islamic activists.205 Although a circle of Muslim youth formed

around the Muslim intellectual Muhammad Natsir, it was significantly smaller, less

influential, and not so strongly opposed to the Japanese. Within the urban Islamic

community on Java, the initiative remained with those who collaborated with the

Japanese during the occupation, and outright opposition was minimal.

Rather, the Japanese encouraged or imposed cooperation at all levels. They began

building up Indonesian strength to help combat any Allied invasion towards the end of

the war. This involved the creation of military units and militias. Though the Japanese

202 Theexceptions to this were a few isolated rural revolts in the classic Islamic style. Anderson describes
one in 1944, a year of widespread crop failures, in Tasikmalaya, West Java, led by a local kyai. See
Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 35-36. Cf. the discussion of Islamic revolt in chapter 2.

203 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 38.

204 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 49.

205For more on the underground resistance of Amir and Sjahrir, see Anton Lucas, ed., Local Opposition
and Underground Resistance to the Japanese in Java, 1942-1945 (Melbourne: Monash University Centre
of Southeast Asian Studies, 1986).

206 Yudi Latif, 217. In addition, Latif, 246 n. 115, describes the developments at the Sekolah Tinggi Islam
in Jakarta after July 1945, but these were very late in the Japanese occupation period and were more of a
transition into the revolution than a response to the Japanese occupation itself.

originally formed these militias with the intention that they could aid the Japanese

military in the event of an Allied invasion, it became clear by 1945 that these military and

para-military groups would serve as the defenders of impending Indonesian independence.

On Java, the Japanese first inaugurated an indigenous fighting force in October 1943, a

group called Pembela Tanah Air (Fatherland Defenders, known as Peta). This effort

involved giving some 40,000 Javanese cadres military training in the Japanese style and
providing their soldiers with limited arms. On Sumatra, a similar effort, known by its

Japanese name Giyugun (People's Militias), trained 30,000.208 More than a year later, in

December 1944, the Japanese started a similar initiative on Java for specifically Islamic

militias. This force, called the Hizbullah (from the Arabic for Party of God), had the

stated purpose "to realize the device of the Indonesian Muslim community, viz. to stand

together with Japan, in the path of the Lord, in any situation."209 Contradictory though

their charge was, the training of Muslim military leaders for this auxiliary of Masjoemi

proved important for the Muslim community's participation in the later revolution against

the Dutch. Although perhaps no more than 500 men graduated from the Hizbullah

training program, their effect was greatly multiplied by Muslim men who flocked into

Islamic militias, swelling the militia's numbers to 50,000.21

On the outer islands, the Japanese did not build up Muslim militias in the same

way. No separate Islamic militia group was ever formed on Sumatra by the Japanese, but

207 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 20-21; Reid, Indonesian National Revolution, 14.

208Mestika Zed, Giyugun: Cikal-bakal Tentara Nasional di Sumatera (Jakarta: LP3ES, 2005); Reid,
Indonesian National Revolution, 14.

209 Quoted in van Nieuwenhuijze, "Japanese Islam Policy on Java," 159.

210Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 26; Reid, Indonesian National Revolution, 17. It is likely that
Reid's number of 50,000 includes not only formal Hizbullah militia members, but also informal Muslim
militia fighters, called more precisely Sabilillah. See chapter 2.
many of the Japanese-trained military leaders for the Giyugun there were products of the
Islamic educational system and active in Islamic organizations. In Eastern Indonesia,

Japanese preparations for Indonesian independence only began very briefly before the

end of the war, so they sponsored no military groups.212 On the other hand, some Muslim

militias formed independently in mid-1945, and these represented the main preparations

of East Indonesian Muslims for independence.213

Outline of the Dissertation

During the Indonesian Revolution (1945-1949), the leadership of the Islamic

movement shifted from more theological leaders and those closely associated with

Islamic mass organizations to a more political group of leaders, many of whom were

Dutch-educated. These Islamic political leaders were heavily influenced by Western

norms and Western religious ideas, and they engaged in the struggle to establish an

independent Islamic state with these constitutional and legislative biases intact. More

theological leaders, on the other hand, wanted the primacy of the existing mass Islamic

organizations of Indonesia's Islamic communities, and demanded few changes in Islamic

practice. The shift in leadership was caused in part by the failure of the theological

leaders to achieve their goals in the early years of the revolution and in part by the

supremacy within the Indonesian government of Socialist leaders who favored the more

political faction within the unitary Islamic party, Masjumi. This new ascendancy of

Western-oriented political leaders in Masjumi, and in the Islamic movement in general,

2.1 Kahin, Rebellion to Integration, 102-103.

2.2 Reid, Indonesian National Revolution, 13.

213 Bosra, Tuang Guru, Anrong Guru dan Daeng Guru, 261-62.

led the movement's top level to think more about state, religion, and society in ways that

followed Western norms rather than in preserving existing structures. Furthermore, for

the first time since the beginning of the Dutch colonial period, independence meant that

Muslim leaders now had the authority to implement some of these political ideas through

new legislation and the creation of state bureaucracies.

By contrast, the popular Muslim experience of the revolution was diverse, diffuse,

and popularly driven. Pious Muslims across the archipelago experienced the revolution

as an explicitly Islamic struggle, using Islamic means (both orthodox and syncretist) for a

single Islamic goal (the establishment of an Islamic state), on which they were not

necessarily clear or agreed. The diversity of heavily Muslim experiences in the

revolution, including the use of amulets and other heterodox expressionswhich did not

line up with either modern or conservative definitions of Islamic orthodoxy

demonstrated the distance between the syncretic Islamic grassroots and the new

leadership of the Islamic movement nationally, which tended to be more homogenous

and more concerned with the trappings of modernity.

After the transfer of sovereignty in December 1949 allowed for the

implementation of new initiatives, the competing visions of an Islamic state held

respectively by the masses, by theological leaders of mass organizations, and by the new

leadership of the Islamic movement came into conflict. This was manifested in the 1952

departure of Nahdlatul Ulama from Masjumi, showing different visions of the state

(patronage versus policy), and in the shifts in language policy, demonstrating the new

version of Western-oriented modernity for independent Indonesia. At the same time, the

Islamic movement spread orthodoxy and calcified the definition of proper Islamic

practice by extending structured Islamic organizations into more corners of the

archipelago and by both supporting and regimenting Islamic education.

Things came to a head in the national elections of 1955. After pushing through an

election law that it believed would ensure the victory of Islamic parties, the Islamic

political elite led a campaign that starkly contrasted Muslims with their enemies (the

immoral, the Communist, and the infidel), a dichotomy that was out of touch with the

calibrated spectrum of grassroots Islamic experience apparent during the Indonesian

revolution. Facing the elections, the new political interests also proved themselves to be

paramount over existing social and cultural interests in the Indonesian Islamic movement.

Mass organizations were made subservient to party interests (under political elites) and

national discourse focused on the political implementation of Islam. The results of the

1955 elections were very disappointing for the Islamic movement, however; only 45% of

the seats in the resulting parliament and Constituent Assembly were won by Islamic


After this defeat, the strain between the Islamic political elite and the Islamic

grassroots and theological leaders became too great. Islamic political leaders were

pushed into increasing irrelevance, failing to pass legislation, failing in the constitutional

assembly, and committing half-heartedly to the PRRI rebellion of 1958-61. As a result,

the debilitated Masjumi party was dissolved. Islamic mass organizations freed

themselves from political parties, accepted a wider amount of variance in Islamic practice,

and embraced the Sukarno regime. As a result, the Islamic movement as a bloc

struggling for Indonesia to become an Islamic state fell apart.


The primary methodological concern of this dissertation has been to uncover

Muslim experiences and understandings of the time period. The choice to focus on the

Muslim perspective will naturally include analyzing certain trends, such as grassroots

experiences in Islamic mass organizations, that are absent from state-centered studies,

and will omit certain otherwise important events in the life of the state, such as military

leadership changes. These trade-offs allow for new insights. By focusing on the Muslim

perspective, the internal dynamics within the leadership of the Islamic community (and

between this leadership and the Islamic grassroots) will become clear and the reactions of

the Muslim populace to key events will be understandable.

In addition to focusing on the Muslim perspective on the time period, I hope in

this dissertation to capture the experiences of both national Islamic leaders and everyday

Muslims on the village level across Indonesia. Using either of these groups

synecdochically for the entire Muslim community of Indonesia would present an

inaccurate picture and would obscure one of the key weaknesses in the Islamic movement

after Indonesia's independence.

With its attention to issues of how the national leadership relates to the Islamic

grassroots, this dissertation necessarily must have some grounding in the experiences and

interpretations of the Muslim actors on both levels. This has been added through oral

history. A collection of recordings at the National Archives of Indonesia includes hours

of interviews with some of Indonesia's top leaders of the 1940s and 1950s; I focused my

attention on the oral histories with Mohamad Roem, Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, Idham

Chalid, and Burhanuddin Harahap. Although national leaders of such stature were no

longer available to interview during my fieldwork, I complemented the National Archives'

collection through interviews and meetings with the children of several national figures

who were able to fill in some details on their fathers' thinking.

I also traveled across Indonesia collecting oral histories from regional leaders and

average Muslims. My efforts resulted in over one hundred interviews across fourteen (of

thirty-three) provinces in Indonesia.214 In seeking out individuals for oral history

interviews, I worked closely with scholars of history and Islamic studies in each province,

working largely, though not exclusively, through the State Islamic University / State

Institute for Islamic Studies (UIN/IAIN) network. My primary focus was on Muslim

individuals born before 1940, although I also interviewed over a dozen informants who

were not pious Muslims, who were nationalist in orientation, or who were born after 1940,

insofar as they were willing to talk about their perspectives on the Islamic movement

from that time period. As with any oral history project, the interpretations I present in

this dissertation do not always follow or agree with those of my informants, but their

perspectives and understandings have informed how I analyzed the actions of various

actors in Indonesian history.

Understandably, the oral histories I was able to collect were skewed to those

informants more fluent in the national language, more open to speaking with outsiders,

and younger during the 1950s. Thus, to limit the impact of this skew and to multiply my

own ability to collect oral histories on the grassroots level, I read extensively in

undergraduate theses written at Islamic and secular universities in Aceh, North Sumatra,

214 Theseprovinces were: Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, South Sumatra, Banten, Jakarta, West Java,
Central Java, Jogjakarta East Java, Nusa Tenggara Barat, South Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, and Central

West Sumatra, South Sumatra, Banten, South Kalimantan, and South Sulawesi.

Although undergraduate theses may seem like an unusual source for serious scholarship,

in fact they are an untapped mine of raw data for local history across Indonesia. The

most common practice for undergraduates writing their history theses is to return to their

home town or old Islamic school and build up the history of a time period, institution, or

organization by interviewing elderly members of their own community. Because these

students are trusted cultural insiders in their communities, they do not face the same

limits on access and willingness to discuss issues that a foreign researcher faces. Because

undergraduate theses have been a standard practice for several decades in Indonesia,

many of the theses I read had conducted their interviews decades before I began my

fieldwork. Finally, Indonesian undergraduate theses are largely unanalytical, trending

toward direct reporting of the data collected in their home communities and often

including extensive block quotes. This makes much of their raw data directly available,

effectively increasing the sample size of the transcripts of interviews contributing to this


In addition to collecting oral histories across Indonesia, I also did extensive

research in archival collections in the United States, Singapore and across Indonesia. The

bulk of my archival work was in the National Archives of the Republic of Indonesia,

where I read in fourteen institutional and governmental collections and eight personal
01 S
collections that had been donated to the National Archives. Besides the National

Archives, I also availed myself of the National Library of Indonesia, especially for its

periodical collection. I researched in provincial-level government archives and libraries

The names and catalog codes of the collections in which 1 worked can be found in the bibliography.
Additionally, I listened to oral histories in the National Archives' collection, as noted above.
in Aceh, West Sumatra, and South Sulawesi. A number of private collections were also

made available to me by organizations and individuals in Aceh, West Sumatra, West Java,

Jakarta, and Central Sulawesi.

In Singapore, I read in the collection of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at

the National University of Singapore, which has a PRRI Documents Collection. In the

United States I gained access to the papers of George McT. Kahin at Cornell University

Library through the generosity of Audrey Kahin; I also had access to the extensive

collections of primary sources for the period held at both Yale and Cornell.

One of the constant difficulties when trying to study a country as large and

diverse as Indonesia is the effort to balance the voices of various regions when

representing a historical period. I spent significant amounts of time traveling around

Indonesian provinces, in both regional capitals and in very out-of-the way villages, trying

to capture the local experience so as to compare and contrast it to the national picture. It

could easily be argued that I spent a disproportionately large amount of time outside of

Java, thus underrepresenting the important local experiences on Indonesia's most

populous island. However, the majority of foreign scholarship on Indonesia is focused

on Java, in many cases exclusively so. Furthermore, Java is better documented in the

National Archives because the bureaucratic penetration of Java produced a thicker

archival record than for the outer islands. Thus, my close reading in this primary and

secondary literature has, I hope, balanced my perspective.

216Although my time in Indonesia was split roughly evenly between time on Java and time elsewhere, my
time on Java was largely residing in a Jakarta suburb, working with the Syarif Hidyatullah State Islamic
University, and reading in the National Archives, rather than conducting fieldwork. Furthermore, the bulk,
though not the entirety, of my fieldwork on Java was in West Java and Banten, which were closer to my
base outside Jakarta.

Ill addition to balancing perspectives between the various regions in Indonesia, I

have also striven in this dissertation to balance regional and national events and

interpretations, juxtaposing them so as to illuminate both. By looking at both national

and regional developments, this dissertation demonstrates how changes in the Islamic

movement on the national level impacted the orientation of the Islamic movement on a

popular level and ultimately doomed the goal of an Islamic state.

Chapter 1; Politics during the Revolution
From August 1945 until December 1949, Indonesians waged a national revolution.

They proclaimed an independent government in the face of Japanese occupation and then

fought to defend that government against the Dutch invasion. Although the predominant

narrative of those four years for many Indonesians was one of guerilla warfare or civil

resistance,1 the time was, as Robert Cribb has noted, "a long, fractious ceasefire

punctuated by brief bouts of heavy fighting."2 In many ways, the more heated conflict

was between leaders at the political center (first Jakarta and then Jogjakarta) who faced

the equally daunting challenge of establishing governance and a political system for the

diverse archipelago.

For Islamic leaders, the revolutionary period saw many great landmarks of their

political struggle. In light of the increased inclusion of Islamic leaders in national politics,

the establishment of a unitary Islamic party, and the agreement to include a sharia

obligation for Muslims in the new constitution, the first months of the revolutionary

period can be considered in some ways the peak of Islamic influence and success in

Indonesian politics. Yet despite their increased inclusion, Islamic leaders never held

political capital equal to their popular support, the unitary Islamic party fractured, and the

agreement on a sharia obligation in the constitution was broken hours before this
1This is due in large part to the overly military historiography of the New Order. As David Bourchier
wrote in the early 1990s, "Far more weight is given [by the New Order] to the armed struggle in the
Revolution than to the diplomatic negotiations with the Dutch. In the secondary school primers on the
Revolutionary period, only about 10% of the total page space is devoted to the negotiations." David
Bourchier, "The 1950s in New Order Ideology and Politics," in Democracy in Indonesia: 1950s and 1990s,
David Bourchier and John Legge, eds. (Clayton, Victoria: Monash University Centre of Southeast Asian
Studies, 1994), 52.

2Robert Cribb, "Legacies of the 'Revolution'," in Democracy in Indonesia: 1950s and 1990s, David
Bourchier and John Legge, eds., 75.

constitution went into effect. These blows made the revolution one of the most

disappointing periods for Islamic politicians.

Clearly, though, the revolution was an important time for the Islamic movement.

Fred R. von der Mehden is mistaken when he states: "Already decimated by its struggle

against Marxism and secularism and plagued by its own mistakes, religious nationalism

had entered the revolutionary period of the war as an almost worn-out cause."3 On the

contrary, both the leaders and devout Muslim masses were enthusiastic about the

potential for Islamic politics and religious nationalism from the very beginning of the

revolution, and fought hard to institute their vision and increase their influence

throughout the revolutionary period.

This chapter aims to chronicle the development of Islamic politics and political

organizations during the revolution so as to highlight the connections and differentiation

between Islamic politics at the highest level and Islamic social movements at the lowest

level.4 The relationship of Islamic leaders, and especially political leaders, to the Islamic

sector of Indonesian society changed significantly due to the vagaries of the revolution.

Islamic leaders, who had held few prominent posts of political leadership in the past, now

became national leaders at the highest level, but the individuals chosen for those

leadership posts were not well-grounded in the mass organizations that involved the most

Indonesian Muslims. Nor did the new national political leaders center their attention on

3 FredR. von der Mehden, Religion and Nationalism in Southeast Asia: Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines
(Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin P, 1963), 94.

4 For example, an event as major as the kidnapping of cabinet formateur Sutan Sjahrir in June 1946 is not
covered because of its minimal impact on the Islamic movement. For a fuller overview of revolutionary
politics, see Deliar Noer and Akbarsyah, KNIP, Komite Nasional Indonesia Pusat: Parlemen Indonesia,
1945-1950 (Jakarta: Yayasan Risalah, 2005) or George McT. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution in
Indonesia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1952).

theological issues and ritual that were the focus of village-level Islamic figures; instead,

the national leaders emphasized politics, policy, and position. Issues of great importance

to Islamic society were discussed at the highest level during the revolution, including the

foundation of the state, the creation of a national umbrella organization for Islamic

interests, the role of the state in religious matters, and the implementation of Islamic law.

However, in dealing with these matters, the actions taken at the center were not in

response to, or sometimes even aware of, the interests at the grassroots.

Proclaiming Independence and the Start of the Jakarta Charter Controversy5

Indonesians today celebrate their independence day on August 17, marking the

anniversary of Sukarno and Hatta's Proclamation of Independence, a radio-transmitted

announcement merely two sentences long:

We the people of Indonesia hereby declare the independence of Indonesia. Matters

which concern the transfer of power and other things will be executed by careful means
and in the shortest possible time.
Djakarta, 17 August 1945
In the name of the people of Indonesia
Sukarno - Hatta6

This moment represented a great breakthrough for the politicians of Indonesia, a Rubicon

for their individual lives as well as the life of the nation. However, some of the key

5 For a more detailed view of the development of the Jakarta Charter in 1945, see Saifuddin Anshari, The

Jakarta Charter of June 1945: The Struggle for an Islamic Constitution in Indonesia (Kuala Lumpur:
Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia, 1979). This work is based on the author's master's thesis at McGill
University in Canada; the author is also the son of Muhammad Isa Anshari, the hellfire and brimstone
Islamic preacher of Bandung.

6 George McT. Kahin, "Sukarno's Proclamation of Indonesian Independence," Indonesia, 69 no. 1 (2000):
2. Kahin provides in this article a translation of the hitherto unpublished speech that Sukarno gave before
reading the proclamation, but it is only the two sentences above that were circulated in the press and that
have gone down in popular memory. Their brevity and abstract nature became important later, when many
politicians clamored for a return to the "Spirit of the Proclamation of '45"despite the proclamation being
so short as to have very little defining spirit at all. On the brevity and ambiguity of the proclamation (in
popular memory), see Benedict R. O'G. Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution: Occupation and
Resistance, 1944-1946 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1972), 82.

moments of what historians consider the "revolution" occurred before the August


In particular, through the months of May, June, and July 1945, the laboriously-

named "Investigating Board on Efforts for the Preparation of Indonesian Independence"

(Badan Penyelidik Usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia, BPUPKI) drafted

Indonesia's first constitution. This body was made up of hand-picked public figures

chosen by the Japanese, but they were granted great power to establish the framework of

government for the whole Indonesian people. Not only did their product govern

Indonesia from 1945-50 and again from 1959 to the present, but the BPUPKI also

discussed and debated the central ideas of the Indonesian state, debates that played out in

larger society for the next decade or more.

One central issue was the foundation of the state as expressed in the constitution.

Sukarno proposed his now famous ideology "Pancasila" as a prospective state ideology

on June 1, 1945; the BPUPKI reacted with praise but not full acceptance.9 The five

principles of the ideology were: a just and civilized humanity; the unity of Indonesia;

democracy guided by the wisdom of consensus/representation; social justice for all the

people of Indonesia; and belief in the Divine (ke-Tuhanan). Even this formulation's

inclusion of a specific reference to divinity was not enough for many Muslim members of

7Among others, the classic consideration of the revolution written by George McT. Kahin Nationalism and
Revolution, recognizes the crucial nature of May through August of 1945 (see pp. 120-33).

8 The full work of this board, though not all of its subcommittees, is documented in Muhammad Yamin's
three-volume tome Naskah Persiapan Undang-UndangDasar 1945 (Jakarta: Jajasan Prapantja, 1959-60).
Others, particularly Mohammad Hatta, have publicly doubted the accuracy of this record. See Deliar Noer,
Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional 1945-1965 (Jakarta: Grafiti Pers, 1987), 34, n. 50.

9 Thespeech in which Sukarno first outlined this ideology has been translated and published as Sukarno,
The Birth of Pantjasila: An Outline of the Five Principles of the Indonesian State (Jakarta: Departemen
Penerangan, 1955).

the BPUPKI. The Islamic leaders of the BPUPKI, making up fifteen of the total sixty

seats, wanted the state to be founded explicitly on Islam.10 To search for a consensus on

this foundational issue (in every sense), the greater body appointed a special "Committee

of Nine" {Panitia Sembilan) to discuss the concerns of the Muslim community,

specifically that Islam should have a larger place in the state.

The Committee of Nine was made up of four secular/secularist Muslims (Sukarno,

Mohammad Hatta, Achmad Soebardjo, and Muhammad Yamin),11 four Islamic

nationalists (Abikusno Tjokrosujoso, Abdul Kahar Muzakkar, Agus Salim and Abdul

Wahid Hasjim),12 and one Christian (A. A. Maramis). The four Islamic nationalists

represented both political and socio-cultural groups; Abikusno and Agus Salim gained

prominence from their work with Sarekat Islam and its successor groups, Abdul Kahar

Muzakkar was a leading teacher in Muhammadiyah, and Wahid Hasjim served as the

day-to-day leader of Nahdatul Ulama. After several weeks of debate, the committee

reached a compromise by expanding Soekarno's original formulation by seven words; the

principle on "belief in God" would now read "belief in God with an obligation to follow

10 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 31. Contrast this with the number sixteen in Deliar Noer,

"Masjumi: Its Organization, Ideology, and Political Role in Indonesia" MA Thesis, Cornell University,
1960, 31 n. 21. Both places list the members; the thesis includes K. Abdul Fattah who does not appear in
the book. Abdul Kahar Muzzakar in his speech before the Konstituante in 1957 also gave the figure 15 out
of the 60 members of the BPUPKI, "Pidato Prof. H. Abdul Kahar Muzzakir," in Debat Dasar Negara:
Islam dan Pancasila, Konstituante 1957 (Jakarta: Pustaka Panjimas, 2001), 91.

11Sukarno and Achmad Soebardjo were both not particularly pious Muslims, making them both secular
individuals and secularist in their desires for the government. Mohammad Hatta and Muhammad Yamin,
by contrast, were both fairly devout men in their private lives (thus not secular), perhaps a result of their
Minangkabau ethnic background, but were committed to a non-Islamic vision of Indonesia (thus secularist).

12 These four individuals, active in Muslim parties and organizations both before and after the revolution,
were not actually members of the "Small Committee" (Panitia Kecil) of the BPUPKI tasked with drafting
the constitution, but they were asked to join discussions specifically on this compromise to represent
Islamic interests. See S. Silalahi, Dasar-Dasar Indonesia Merdeka: Versi Para Pendiri (Jakarta:
Grammedia Pustaka Utama, 2001), 166. Only Wahid Hasjim was also in the appointed parliament that
functioned after the proclamation of independence. See Anshari, 33.

Islamic sharia for its believers."13 The committee wrote this compromise into a draft for

the proclamation of the independent state of Indonesia, and this draft, named the "Jakarta

Charter" {Piagam Jakarta), was signed by all nine members (including the Christian

representative of the eastern parts of the country) on June 22, 1945.14 The committee

reported back to the larger BPUPKI when the latter reconvened in mid-July. The fruits of

their labor were incorporated into the preamble of the draft constitution (rather than as a

declaration of independence), elevating their importance further.15 Also written into the

draft constitution at the time was a restriction that only Muslims could serve as

Indonesia's president.

As a side note to this story in Jakarta's halls of power (or cramped houses of

power, as was more the case at the time), it should be noted that this specific issue was

debated outside the capital, too. Abdul Haris Nasution, the disciplinarian commander of

Indonesia's armed forces in the 1950s, noted in his speech on the 18th anniversary of the

Jakarta Charter that the Djawa Hokokai, which was the Japanese vehicle for

administering the island in the summer of 1945, had received more than 52,000 letters

from Javanese ulama and Muslims regarding the form of a future state. He argued that

13 The principle in Indonesian now read "Ke-Tuhanan dengan kewajiban menjalankan syariat Islam bagi
pemeluknya." This phrase itself has some vagueness to it, regarding the referent of "its." Although the
intuitive reading connects the possessive suffix nya with "Islam" (primarily because the wordpemeluk is
most commonly used to refer to adherents of a particular religion), thus obliging all Muslims to follow
sharia, the suffix could also be interpreted as referring to "sharia," thus meaning only those Muslims who
embraced the sharia would have to follow it. This grammatical ambiguity is only the first of many
challenges to implementation of the charter, not the least of which is the theological minefield of defining
sharia so as to clarify the associated obligations.

14 Deliar Noer, citing an interview with Abdul Kahar Muzakkar, says that the idea came from an informal

conversation between Abdul Kahar Muzakkar, Abikusno Tjokrosujoso, and A.A. Maramis, and that
Maramis supported this idea "200 per cent." Noer, "Masjumi," 33. In any case, no account indicates
Christian discomfort with the Piagam Jakarta before August 1945.

15 Silalahi, 167.

these letters influenced the drafting of the preamble now known as the Jakarta Charter.16

Nasution's suggestion that these letters may also have influenced the drafting process is

highly unlikely. None of the members of the Committee of Nine has mentioned these

letters or any other form of public input into their accounts of the considerations. The

timing of the decision, taking place during a very quick window in June, also points to

minimal public input; it is doubtful that so many letters could be read by the committee in

that time, much less evaluated and taken into consideration. So, although this point was

of great popular interest across Java, the popular interest was unable to influence the

Constitution drafted in the political center.

In fact, by a quirk of history, not even the compromise crafted by the Committee

of Nine made it into the final and legitimate version of the 1945 Constitution. After the

proclamation of independence on August 17, a Japanese navy admiral (the navy being the

service that oversaw Eastern Indonesia, where more Christians lived) came to visit

Sukarno and Hatta in the dead of night. The admiral warned the two leaders that if the

Jakarta Charter remained in the constitution, the Christians would see it as discriminatory

(even while recognizing that it did not apply to them) and would choose not to join their

regions with the Republic. In response to this news, Sukarno and Hatta scrambled to set

up several meetings the next morning with Muslim leaders, alerting them of this new

challenge and seeking an alternative route. The individuals with whom they met were

very well-grounded in Islamic society and mass organizations, and so in some ways were

very good representatives of the interests of Muslims more broadly. Wahid Hasjim was
16Piagam Djakarta Mendjiwai Undang-Undang Dasar (Jakarta: Departemen Agama, 1963), 19. The
reliability of this figure is rather suspect. It is unclear where Nasution found such information, and unlikely
that he would have received these letters, being merely the head of the Japanese-trained defense force at the
time and not connected with politics. It is also curious that none of the Islamic politicians, who so strongly
supported the Jakarta Charter, mention these letters in their later accounts.

the most active political leader of Nahdatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Islamic

organization.17 The second-largest Islamic organization, the reformist Muhammadiyah,

was represented by Ki Bagus Hadikusumo, who pushed back against the elimination of

the Jakarta Charter and caused a new formulation of the theistic principle of Pancasila.

Teuku Muhammad Hasan came from Aceh, the most fervently Islamic region in

Indonesia, and so his agreement was probably sought by Sukarno and Hatta as a

concession to more pious regions on Sumatra.18 Finally, Kasman Singodimedjo, a

prominent Islamic youth leader and the head of the official militia for the region around

Jakarta, could be seen as representing both young Muslims and those santri who had

some Western education.19 In this way, the president and vice-president were very

cognizant of different sectors of the Islamic populous as they negotiated the final form of

the constitution. None of these were purely political elite, however, thus differing from

the Islamic members of the Committee of Nine, which had included two politicians

(Agus Salim and Abikusno).

At the first session of the new parliament, on the afternoon of August 18, 1945,

Sukarno and Hatta presented the newly-tweaked constitution to the assembly with the

Islamic elements removed. They had rewritten the fifth principle of Pancasila to a new

17There is some controversy over whether Wahid Hasjim was actually back in Jakarta at the time to take
part in that meeting, as Muhammad Hatta later claimed. On this, see Anshari, 33.

18It is also worth noting that Teuku Muhammad Hassan, despite coming from the staunchly Islamic region
of Aceh, was himself not a very pious Muslim and was somewhat in conflict with the more hardline Islamic
nationalists who were soon to attack uleebalang (leaders from quasi-noble families) like himself. See
Anderson, Java in a Time ofRevolution, 87, and Anthony Reid, Blood of the People: Revolution and the
End of Traditional Rule in Northern Sumatra (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford UP, 1979), chapter 2.

19 Furthermore,Kasman Singodimedjo, despite having greater popular prestige, was a newly added member
to the Committee for the Preparation of Independence, and so he had fewer formed opinions on these
matters; Prawoto Mangkusasmito, Pertumbuhan Historis Rumus Dasar Negara (Jakarta: Bulan Bintang,
1970), 39.

form taking a middle road between the earliest minimal version and the obligation of the

Jakarta Charter: "Belief in Almighty God" (Ke-Tuhanan Yang Maha Esa) captured a

sense of monotheism while still allowing ambiguity.20 They had excised the clause

requiring the president to be a Muslim. Despite this, because of everyone's desire to

demonstrate unity on their first day as a government, the parliament accepted the
document unanimously.

Although Benedict Anderson has depicted the elimination of the Jakarta Charter

as writing on the wall from its very drafting, contemporary accounts agree that it was

actually a narrow miss but for which Indonesia would have a partial basis in Islamic
law. The press statement on Indonesia's independence reflects just how narrow.

Although the word "Allah" had been replaced with the more neutral "Tuhan" for "God"

in the constitution itself, no one fixed the press statement before issuing it, and so the

statement kept the word "Allah."23 In all iterations of the Indonesian constitution since

20 This was the result of strong lobbying from Ki Bagus Hadikusumo of Muhammadiyah that the principle

had to be more than just Ketuhanan\ it was he who suggested this new formulation. When asked in later
decades about the meaning of Ketuhanan yang Maha Esa, Ki Bagus explained the expression to the famous
Islamic politician Prawoto Mangkusasmito in one word: tauhid, an Arabic theological word meaning "the
oneness of God." See Prawoto Mangkusasmito, Pertumbuhan Historis Rumus Dasar Negara (Bulan
Bintang: Jakarta, 1970), 39.

21 Abdul Kahar Muzzakir explained his reasoning thirteen years later in a speech before the Konstituante
and cited unity as the sole reason he voted in favor of the amended constitution. See this speech reprinted
in "Pidato Prof. H. Abdul Kahar Muzzakir" in Debat Dasar Negara: Islam dan Pancasila, Konstituante,
1957. Ki Bagus Hadikusumo, who had been intimately involved in the whole process, was also still
unsatisfied with the new formulation, but kept his peace specifically so as not to cause division. Noer,
Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 43, citing an interview with Kasman Singodimedjo, a confidante of Ki

22 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 87, which portrays the elimination of the Jakarta Charter as the

desire of Sukarno and Hatta all along, merely something that they had to work out that morning. I find it
unlikely that these two men would sign the Jakarta Charter with the intent to undermine it.

23B.J. Boland, The Struggle of Islam in Modern Indonesia (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1971), 37 n. 70.
The word appears in the document's preface, saying what follows is "by the Grace of God."

then, no allusion to Islam has been inserted, leaving Indonesia and Turkey as the only

two Muslim-majority nations today whose constitutions never mention Islam.24

According to historian John R.W. Smail, "the fact that even this provision [the

Jakarta Charter] was swiftly eliminated on August 18th ... shows the rapid erosion of

Masjumi [i.e., Islamic] power at the national level."25 Smail misses the mark in two ways.

First, the fact that Islamic interests were able to force the creation of the Jakarta Charter

whatsoever, despite its later elimination, was an incredible increase in their power over

the Dutch colonial period. Second, his dismissal does not consider the vibrant future life

of these seven words: "with an obligation to follow Islamic sharia for its believers"

idengan kewajiban menjalankan syariat Islam bagipemeluknya). They were hotly

debated throughout the 1950s as a compromise that could be revived. Even after the Old

Order period ended in 1965, the Jakarta Charter has received copious attention in both

Indonesian historiography and popular imagination. This is perhaps because of the

episode's exciting (or, to some, frustrating) ending, with a dramatic, last minute,

midnight intervention and frantic meetings of famous individuals. On the other hand, the

24 Masykuri Abdillah, "Ways of Constitution Building in Muslim Countries: The Case of Indonesia," in
Birgit Krawietz and Helmut Reifeld, eds. Islam and the Rule of Law: Between Sharia and Secularization
(Berlin: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, 2008), 56.

25 John R. W. Smail, Bandung in the Early Revolution, 1945-1946: A Study in the Social History of the

Indonesian Revolution (Ithaca, NY: Modern Indonesia Project of Cornell University, 1964), 17. His choice
to identify Islamic interests exclusively with Masjumi is a little anachronistic; at this point the socio-
cultural organization Masjoemi as founded by the Japanese was coming to a close, and the unitary Islamic
political party Masjumi would not come into existence for two more months.

26 See,for example, Mark E. Cammack, "The Indonesian Islamic Judiciary," in Mark E. Cammack and R.
Michael Feener, eds. Islamic Law in Contemporary Indonesia: Ideas and Institutions (Cambridge, MA:
Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School, 2007), which feels obliged to start with the Jakarta
Charter even though it was a failure that did not actually affect the Islamic judiciary. Another example is
Robert Pringle, Understanding Islam in Indonesia: Politics and Diversity (Singapore: Editions Didier
Millet, 2010), 68, where the Jakarta Charter is identified as one of the six most important events in the
1945-65 period. Besides dozens of other written sources, especially those penned by Indonesian Muslims, a
level of popular attention was also borne out in oral history interviews.

Jakarta Charter's power as an idea in Indonesian society might have come from its role as

a potentially viable compromise on the hard-fought issue of Islamic lawnot only a

potentially viable compromise, but one that was raised repeatedly in later years.27

It is clear from the drafting process of the constitution that the mass Islamic social

movement had little to no influence on the political process, but their representatives in

this process were very reflective of the greatest forces within Islamic society at the time.

The fact that these men were unable to win the concessions they wanted in the new

government reflects the underrepresentation of Islamic groups in Indonesian government

in 1945, rather than a misrepresentation of the interests of Islamic society.

Islamic Politics in the New State

As of August 18, 1945, though, the Jakarta Charter was for the moment a dead

letter. The task facing Islamic politicians and the rest of the country was the creation of a

viable state in the face of the impending Dutch invasion.

The first institutions created, established by acclamation on August 18, 1945,

were the presidency and vice-presidency, held by Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta,

respectively. These two men had been the face of the Indonesian movement certainly

since the advent of the Japanese, and their role as co-proclamators of Indonesian

independence had solidified their legendary roles in the independence struggle. Their

personal differences were in many ways key to the success of their appeal as a duo. In

religious terms, although both were Muslims, they differed mightily in their practice of

27The specter of the Jakarta Charter rose again in 1998, when it was proposed by several new Islamic
parties. See Ahmad Syafii Maarif et al., Syariat Mam Yes, Syariat Islam No: Dilema Piagam Jakarta
dalam Amandemen UUD 1945 (Jakarta: Paramadina, 2001).

the religion. Sukarno, in Michael Francis Laffan's phrase, "wore his Islam like his black

felt hat."28 With a Hindu Balinese mother, Sukarno was steeped in pre-Islamic beliefs

and mythology from home, but he was a Muslim from birth. He had spent many of his

formative years living with the famed Islamic activist and founder of Sarekat Islam,

H.O.S. Cokroaminoto, but in this man's house he spent his time reading Washington,
Rousseau and Marx instead of the Qur'an. While in exile in Bengkulu, Sukarno joined

the Muhammadiyah, although is not entirely clear whether this membership stemmed

more from his personal religious convictions or from his desire to marry a female

Muhammadiyah activist. Sukarno did not abstain from alcohol or relations with women

who were not his wife. The gamut of religious faces he put forth made him rather like a

human Rorschach testeveryone saw what they wanted to see as regards his religious


Mohammad Hatta, on the other hand, left very little in doubt. He was a devout

Muslim who still believed in the separation of mosque and state. His readiness for

personal sacrifice served to emphasize his piety (for example, he pledged celibacy until

Indonesia achieved independence).32 The notable Islamic politician and diplomat Mr.

28 MichaelFrancis Laffan, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia: The Umma below the Winds (New
York: Routledge, 2003), 238.

29 Theodore Friend, Indonesian Destinies (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2003), 25.

30 Fatmawati, who remained married to Sukarno even after he took other wives and insisted on her position

as Ibu Negara (First Lady, but with the literal meaning "Mother (or Lady) of the Country"), maintained her
affiliation with Aisyiah, Muhammadiyah's women's auxiliary, throughout her life. See Syamsu Hadi,
Fatmawati Soekarno Ibu Negara (Jakarta: Yayasan Bung Kamo, 2008), especially chapter 2.

31 Cf. the statement of Barack Obama, "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different

political stripes project their own values." Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming
the American Dream (New York: Random House, 2006), 11. The phrase "human Rorschach test" was also
frequently applied to Obama during his presidential campaign in 2008.

32 Friend, Indonesian Destinies, 28.

Mohamad Roem said that in terms of personal devotions, it was very hard to find

someone more diligent than Hatta. And yet, Hatta was clearly a nationalist politician and

not an Islamic politician. He even kept personal distance between himself and the

Islamic faction. A story emerged in later years that K.H. Wahid Hasjim of NU had at

one point approached Hatta and offered him the leadership of the traditionalist Islamic

organization and later political party; Hatta turned the offer down, believing that a leader

should be raised up from within an organization.34 The real moral authority of the

Sukarno-Hatta duumvirate was not religious but revolutionary. Although after the rainy

season of 1945 they did not exercise their moral power over the government very heavily,

they were able to wield resignation as a significant threat throughout the revolutionary


Under the duumvirate of Sukarno-Hatta stood the cabinet, initially responsible to

the president. President Sukarno announced the first cabinet on August 31, and it lasted

almost exactly two-and-a-half months. This group, made up of sixteen ministers

including six without portfolio, included only two men associated with Islamic groups.

These were Abikusno Tjokrosujoso, an old PSII hand, as Minister of Information; and

K.H. Wahid Hasjim, the promising young leader of the Nahdlatul Ulama, as a Minister of

33 Oral history of Mohamad Roem, interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SL1 1981 #6, tape 8.

34 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 24. Noer cites a personal interview with Hatta.

35This threat was used especially when the KNIP, Indonesia's provisional parliament, looked unlikely to
ratify a treaty with the Dutch, as for example leading up to the ratification of the Linggaijati Agreement.
See Noer and Akbarsyah, 109.

36 This changed in what Benedict Anderson has called the "Silent Coup" of October 17, 1945, when Vice-
President Hatta issued Proclamation X (read "x" and not "ten"the state secretary gave it a place-holder
letter because he had forgotten what number the government had reached), which empowered the KNIP to
become a strong parliament with multiple parties. Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 173.

State without Portfolio. The inclusion of Wahid Hasjim was almost certainly a

concession to the Islamic groups for the fact that the parliament had rejected the creation

of a Ministry of Religion.

In the legislative branch the role of Islam was also limited. This branch enjoyed

basic institutional continuity from the Japanese period; the old BPUPKI continued on

under a new namethe Komite Nasional Indonesia Pusat (KNIP, Central Indonesian

National Committee)and with increased membership. New additions included Mr.

Kasman Singodimedjo; Mr. Mohamad Roem, a Dutch-trained lawyer and santri who

moved up into the KNIP from being head of the local Jakarta Komite Nasional; Mr. Amir

Sjarifuddin and Sutan Sjahrir, socialists who had refused to collaborate with the Japanese;

and several youth leaders. These additions did little to improve the position of Islam in

the KNIP. Of the 137 official members as of the beginning of September 1945, only

fifteen had affiliated themselves with Islamic groups.39

37George McT. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 139 lists the full cabinet. Numerous NU-aligned later
sources list Wahid Hasjim as the Minister of Religion in this first cabinet, seemingly in an attempt to make
him the first to hold that position. No contemporary account confirms this.

38George McT. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 138; Oral history of Mohamad Roem, interviewed by
A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SL1 1981 #6, tape 9.

39 Noer and Akbarsyah, KNIP, 365-367 (Appendix 3) gives a full list of the members. Noer, "Masjumi,"

41 n. 8 lists off those whom Deliar Noer counts among the Islamic faction. Because several of these
individuals were appointed to represent other groups (e.g., A.R. Baswedan was officially a representative of
the Arab community, not Muslims), this number could be arguably as low as 12 or as high as 17; Anderson,
Java in a Time of Revolution, counts under twenty "at highest estimate" (91). Still, clearly no more than
one in eight members was from the Muslim faction, a very low level of representation when compared with
elected bodies in future years. By contrast, more than 85 members (over 62%) were Javanese abangan (by
the count of Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 91), to which should be added the similarly
devotionally ambivalent Muslims of the outer islands like Mr. Teuku Mohammad Hassan. This trend was
not entirely new. Benda noted the "the absurdity of [Islam's] under-representation at the capital city"
during the colonial period as the result of the late politicization of Indonesian Islam; Harry J. Benda, The
Crescent and the Rising Sun: Indonesian Islam under the Japanese Occupation, 1942-1945 (The Hague: W.
van Hoeve, 1958), 92. The representation of Muslims in legislative and para-government councils had
improved under the Japanese, but still did not come close to approximating the influence of the Islamic
movement over the Indonesian people. Benda, 187.

Perhaps to compensate for this low numerical representation, Islamic politicians

took on leadership roles in the KNIP from early in its existence. The first head of the

Executive Committee, later to evolve into the Working Committee that conducted the

KNIP's work between plenary sessions, was Mr. Kasman Singodimedjo, who took up

this mandate when the KNIP became the country's acting parliament on August 29,

1945.40 Kasman was a Javanese graduate of the Law Faculty in Jakarta, a man closely

associated with the Muhammadiyah organization, but also a commander of the PETA

defense forces in the Jakarta region towards the end of the occupation.41 This gave him

the right balance of well-educated nationalist credentials, Islamic bona fides, and militant

anti-colonial struggle to become a strong compromise candidate and helped him appeal to

the broader social movements underpinning the revolution. Although Kasman's political

stance became uncompromisingly Islamic in later years, his leadership of the KNIP did

not have a particularly Islamic flavor. Of his three deputies, one was Christian (Johannes

Latuharhary) and one was irreligious (Adam Malik). More importantly, the program of

the KNIP under Kasman's leadership did not include any religiously-driven action points.

The Ministry of Religion was created only later, and no initiative towards Islamic law

was taken. Instead, the program of the government focused almost exclusively on issues

of governance and government organization.42

In some ways, the direction of the KNIP was limited by the existence of a unitary

national party, the Partai Nasional Indonesia (PNI). Established on August 22, 1945, as

the sole party of independent Indonesia, the party (like the KNIP) failed to include many

40 Noer and Akbarsyah, 23.

41 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 424.

42 Noer and Akbarsyah, 26-28.

Islamic leaders or address Islamic issues. Sukarno and Hatta led the PNI themselves,

carrying the titles "Great Leader" and "Vice Great Leader"; for daily administration,

Sukarno hand-picked Sartono, an old friend and activist in Sukarno's pre-war nationalist

party from 1930.43 The Muslim leaders involved in the leadership were only those "few

members of the prewar Islamic political parties personally congenial to Sukarno."44

These men, Dr. Sukiman Wirjosandjojo, Abikusno Tjokrosujoso and Wondoamiseno,

remained prominent in Islamic politics in the revolutionary period and afterward,45 but

none were particularly well-connected in Islamic mass organizations. The PNI as the

sole national party did not last long. Accusations that it was unrepresentative of Muslims

and of figures from the anti-Japanese underground,46 and that a unitary party trended

towards fascism (an ideology at a particularly low ebb in popular and diplomatic

popularity),47 may have contributed to the swift end of its monopoly of national party


The end of PNI as the sole national party came as part of a sweeping change in

government. By mid-October, the government recognized that it faced stagnation. Sutan

Sjahrir convinced the country's existing leadership that correcting this required radical

change. Such change came in the form of Proclamation X, issued by Vice-President

43 Noer and Akbarsyah, 20-21.

44 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 93.

45 As an interesting counter-example to the PNI as a state party on the national level, one can examine the

Partai Rakyat Indonesia created in Banjarmasin on August 26, 1945, as a unified party for Indonesians on
Kalimantan. Here, the central leadership in Banjarmasin (made up of bureaucrats and nobles) appointed
several kyai as local branch leaders. H. Suriansyah Ideham et al., Sejarah Banjar, (Banjarmasin: Badan
Penelitian dan Pengembangan Daerah, Propinsi Kalimantan Selatan, 2003), 409.

46 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 95.

47 Noer
and Akbarsyah, 21; oral history with Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI
SL1 1979 #6, tape 3.

Hatta on October 17, 1945. Proclamation X changed the function of the KNIP by

allowing it to fill the role prescribed to the Parliament as laid out in the constitution.

Although the KNIP was already theoretically a legislative body, the revision gave it more

powers in terms of exclusive rights to produce laws and oversee government function.

Importantly, Proclamation X also created the Working Committee (an evolution of the

Executive Committee) and gave it explicit authority to act on behalf of the whole KNIP

in day-to-day legislative matters.49 Two other actions immediately followed with the

proclamation: Sjahrir and Amir Sjarifuddin became formateurs of a new cabinet, to be

answerable to the KNIP instead of the President, and Sjahrir took over the leadership of

the KNIP. In the meeting where this was announced, the incumbent leader of the KNIP,

the Muhammadiyah-aligned Kasman, never known for his level-headedness, became so

heated that the KNIP had to relieve him from his position in favor of a deputy before

formally transferring power to the socialist duo, Sjahrir and Amir, who took over the

leadership of the new Working Committee.50

There are several reasons that Proclamation X took the form that it did. The clear

stagnation of the government stood above all reasons, and is agreed upon by all sources.

Sukarno did not appear to have a plan for the new revolutionary government, and

certainly the members chosen for his cabinet, like Kasman, were now considered too

48 This position is described in Undang-Undang Dasar 1945, Chapter 2. The parliament, called the Majelis
Permusyawaratan Rakyat (MPR, People's Consultative Council) in the constitution, was the unicameral
legislative branch of the Indonesian government on the national level. This became bicameral in the
amendments to the constitution following the 1998 resignation of President Suharto and the inauguration of
the Reformasi period.

49 Noerand Akbarsyah, 31. In existing statutes, the position and power of the Executive Committee (under
Kasman) in relation to the full KNIP was unclear, but it functioned more as a leadership board than as a
day-to-day replacement.

50 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 174.

close to the defeated Japanese. More importantly for the mood of the times, the old

cabinet did not appear sufficiently revolutionary for the youth and also was not taking

any significant revolutionary action.51 To counterbalance this, the Proclamation in effect

moved power into the hands of Sjahrir, closely aligned with the youth and free from any

taint of collaboration with the Japanese, which appeased a number of domestic voices in

politics. For an international audience, the Proclamation also moved power to the KNIP

as a legislative institution, making Indonesia into more of a parliamentary system.52 This

certainly helped Indonesia to look more democratic and added prominent non-

collaborators to the Indonesian government, thus helping to avoid accusations of being a

Japanese creation.53 The parliamentary system was also more familiar to the Indonesians,

as this was the type of system run in the Netherlands.54

In the newly empowered Working Committee of the KNIP (hand-selected by

Sjahrir and Amir), only two of the fifteen members were Islamic politicians (Mr.

Sjafruddin Prawiranegara and K.H. Wahid Hasjim).55 Of these two, Sjafruddin was not

51 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 170.

52 George McT. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 152, identifies this as the original intent of a socialist-

and youth-driven movement in the KNIP that spurred Sukarno and Hatta to issue Proclamation X.

53Oral history of Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANR1 SL1 1979 #6, tape 3;
Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 184. George McT. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 152, notes
that Sjahrir chose a KNIP working committee that was also heavily populated by Japanese resistors,
perhaps for similar reasons.

54 Oral history of Mohamad Roem, interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SL1 1981 #6, tape 9.
Roem also notes that while he was in Law School in Jakarta they studied (among many other topics)
procedures for the turnover of a cabinet in the Netherlands system (tape 6). Thirty years later, during the
Suharto period, the authoritarian presidential regime saw the move towards a parliamentary system of
government as a dangerous distortion of the 1945 constitution, and taught it as such in Pancasila education.
In 1945, though, legal experts pointed out that this did not violate the constitution, because Sukarno had
full discretion as to how to use his power. He, thus, had the authority to delegate power to a parliament if
he so chose. Oral history of Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SL1 1979 #6,
tape 3. The parliamentary system was later enshrined officially in the 1949 RIS constitution and the 1950
provisional NKRI constitution.

55 George McT. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 153.

yet solidly in the Islamic bloc. Having leaned sharply towards socialism in his student

years in Jakarta in the 1930s, Sjafruddin was very torn on which party to join in early

November: Sjahrir's Socialists or Masjumi's Muslims. In the end he decided to join the

Masjumi because of his strongly Islamic family background in Banten, but only after

doing so did Sjafruddin become a truly Islamic politician; he now began to practice his

prayers and devotions more diligently and started studying Arabic and Islamic subjects.56

Thus, one might say that initially only Wahid Hasjim, who was also sitting in the

incumbent cabinet, represented Islamic thought on this first working committee.

The trend towards a parliamentary system also opened the door for the creation of

more political parties. This issue was among the first discussed by the new Working

Committee, and all the members agreed that contending political parties were a necessary

condition of democracy.57 In some ways, though, the initiative for this move came from

the people and not from the center. Groups in the capital and the regions had already

expressed their clear desire to form new parties, and they appeared likely to do so even if

the government had not invited such a move. In the end, though, the government (in this

case, Vice-President Hatta) put out a call for new parties on November 5, 1945, following

a motion in the KNIP Working Committee on October 30.58 This turned out to be barely

before the parties formed themselves.

Founding of Masjumi as a Political Party

56 Oral history of Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1979 #6, tape 3.

57 Oral history of Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1979 #6, tape 3.

58 George McT. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 154; Alaiddin Koto, Pemikiran Politik PERTI,

Persatuan Tarbiyah Islamiyah (1945-1970) (Jakarta: Nimas Multima, 1997), 47.

Having been fostered by the Japanese, Masjoemi already existed as a unifying

Muslim socio-cultural organization on Java, but that role was no longer sufficient in the

new political order that was emerging in independent Indonesia. Its transformation into a

political party was intimately tied to Hatta's call for party creation, but was not

necessarily a result of it. On the one hand, the congress that founded Masjumi as a

political party on November 7-9, 1945, did present itself as an action in the wake of

Hatta's November 5 call for parties. However, rumors about an Islamic political party,

and even activity towards creating one, preceded both Hatta's call and Proclamation X.

Thus, both government decrees should properly be seen as a reaction to the mood in favor

of political parties as much as the political parties were a response to the proclamation.

Just days after the proclamation of independence, a meeting of Islamic leaders in

the Balai Muslimin building in Kramat, Jakarta, discussed the state of their country's

newfound independence and found it wanting. Some of those present decried the

elimination of the seven words of the Jakarta Charter from the constitution; others asked

more boldly "Why is this not an Islamic state?" Although the attendees came to accept

the loss of the Jakarta Charter as a fait accompli for the time being, they also reached

consensus that they should continue the Islamic movement with a follow-up meeting in

Jogjakarta.59 Anderson notes a meeting in Jogjakarta on October 11 between senior

Islamic leaders as another important predecessor to the creation of an Islamic party.60

59 Noer, "Masjumi," 39; oral history of Mohamad Roem, interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SLl
1981 #6, tape 9. Noer dates this meeting to September 1945, and places Abdul Kahar Muzzakar, Wahid
Hasjim, and Mohamad Roem as the leaders in attendance. Roem says more vaguely that the meeting was
"a few days after the proclamation," and recalls Mohammad Natsir, Wahid Hasjim, and Kasman
Singodimedjo as the leaders at the meeting besides himself. Roem also presents a picture of more differing
ideas in the meeting, which seems more plausible than the small group and easy consensus suggested by
Noer, given the confused nature of politics at the time.

60 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 111.

As a Japanese-sponsored union, Masjoemi had brought together Islamic leaders

from across Java; of course, its leading constituent organizations (and the only member

organizations at Masjoemi's founding) were the Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama.61

The leadership of the old Masjoemi was also drawn exclusively from the leadership of

these two constituent mass organizations, making it not only a non-political organization

but also an organization without particular political skill. The new political party

Masjumi, in order to become not only political but successful in politics, had to move

beyond these two organizations and also beyond Java. While the leadership of Masjoemi

had been hand-picked by the occupying forces, the new congress invited both those who

had been involved in the old Masjoemi and leaders who were active before the war.

Word also went out to some outer island leaders, although not many were able to


The congress held in Jogjakarta to found the party on November 7, 1945, drew

hundreds of attendees. They spanned the full gamut of Indonesian Muslim society: some

came directly from the pesantren where they lived their full lives, and others had been

educated entirely in the Dutch system.63 They also ranged in age from youth to elderly

scholars. The organizers called the event "Kongres Masjumi," even though it was

61Harry J. Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun: Indonesian Islam under the Japanese Occupation, 1942-
1945 (The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958), 151. Masjoemi had also incorporated the smaller groups
Perikatan Ummat Islam (based in Sukabumi under Kyai Ahmad Sanusi) and Persatuan Ummat Islam
Indonesia (based in Majalengka under Kyai Abdulhalim); C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "Javanese Islam
Policy in Java, 1942-1945," in Aspects of Islam in Post-Colonial Indonesia (The Hague: W. van Hoeve,
1958), 154 and Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 23.

62 M. Tahir Azhary, for example, reports that his father, K.H. Ahmad Azhary, attended this congress from
Palembang, South Sumatra. However, no one on the first elected political leadership of the party (see
below) was active outside of Java at the time. It is unlikely that this would have happened had the outer
islands been better represented at the meeting.

63 Oral history of Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1979 #6, tape 3.

unclear that the organization would continue under the same name. A proposal to name

the new political party Partai Rakyat Islam (Islamic Masses Party or Islamic People's

Party) lost to the old name Masjumi by a vote of 50-52.64 The proposed new name was

more along the lines of other parties being founded at the time and would have

emphasized the importance of the Islamic grassroots. It failed, however, because several

leaders who had been active in the Japanese-sponsored Masjoemi, including the

prominent Wahid Hasjim, thought it important to keep the old organization's name. By

continuing to act under the same moniker, it was thought, they could prove that Masjoemi

(and, presumably, its leadership) was more than just a Japanese puppet during the

occupation; in other words, keeping the old name would allow them to redeem it. Those

who had not been affiliated with the Japanese-sponsored Masjoemi, like H. Agus Salim

and Mohammad Roem, tended to vote in favor of the proposed new name, while those

most active with the Japanese-sponsored Masjoemi pushed to keep the old name.65

In addition to respecting an old name, the new party worked hard to respect

existing organizations. Where individual Muslims could become members of the party,

socio-cultural Islamic organizations could become "extraordinary" members (anggota

64 Noer, "Masjumi," 43, n. 14. There is disagreement among the sources as to whether the newly founded

party's name was still an abbreviation of "Majlis Sjuro Muslimin Indonesia" or if it was a neologism and
no longer an abbreviation. Those who believe it was an abbreviation include George McT. Kahin
{Nationalism and Revolution, 156) and Stephen T. Hosmer, "The 1955 Indonesian General Elections in
Java," PhD. Dissertation, Yale University, 1961, p. 143. Arguing against abbreviation, see Noer,
"Masjumi," 1 n. 1 and Kepartaian di Indonesia (Jakarta: Kementerian Penerangan Republik Indonesia,
1951), 14.

65Oral history of Mohamad Roem, interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SLl 1981 #6, tape 9.
Roem also notes that participation, and especially leadership, in the Japanese-sponsored Masjoemi was by
Japanese appointment only, so individuals like he and Agus Salim who had avoided selection by the
Japanese were almost entirely disconnected from the developments in Islamic politics during the

istimewa).66 This facilitated the immediate incorporation of all Muslims who were active

with religious organizations in their villages, greatly increasing the new party's reach into

the lower echelons of society. The idea behind this category was "to create a strong unity

among the members of the Muslim community. It was expected that the system would

facilitate coordination and cooperation between the numerous organizations without

neglecting the relationship of their particular spheres of activity with political questions,

thereby rallying all their following behind the Masjumi."67 The first organizations to join

were those that had been constituent organizations of the Japanese-sponsored Masjoemi:

Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah, Perikatan Ummat Islam, and the Persatuan Ummat

Islam Indonesia. Soon afterwards, when they were re-established, Persatuan Islam and

al-Irsjad, both based on Java, joined as well, followed by two Medan-based organizations:

Jamiyatul Washliyah and al-Ittihadiyah.68 In light of developments in later years,

Sjafruddin Prawiranegara considered the decision to allow institutions to join as

extraordinary members to be the downfall of Masjumi from the very beginning; once

there were cabinet seats and other spoils to divide, each organization began to compete

with the others within Masjumi to win the most for their own group.69

At the time, the incorporation of extraordinary members made great sense as a

way to immediately connect with Indonesia's Islamic grassroots. Although numerous

66 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 221 n. 37.

67 Noer, "Masjumi," 58.

68Noer, "Masjumi," 47. Sjafruddin Prawiranegara in his oral history lists the Partai Serikat Islam
Indonesia (see below) as one of the Islamic organizations that was an anggota istimewa of Masjumi from
November 1945 (Oral history of Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1979
#6, tape 3), but PSII does not appear on Noer's list, and later PSII accounts deny this. Regardless of
whether the PSII formally became an extraordinary member of Masjumi, all of its prominent leaders did
become active with Masjumi, and one can speculate that the rank and file followed them into the new party.

69 Oral history of Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1979 #6, tape 3.

secondary accounts criticize Masjumi and other parties for being unconnected with the

masses,70 Masjumi did, in fact, attempt to connect with everyday Muslims largely

through pre-existing Islamic organizations in which people were already involved. These

mass organizations gave the party a path of communication to share information with

villages across Indonesia, and to collect information from villages. This could have

caused some complacency, however, among Masjumi leadership regarding membership

drives and party propaganda. Expecting that such support-building activities would be

undertaken by the mass organizations, which in fact had their own agendas and were not

always concerned with Masjumi's political aims, probably limited the growth of Masjumi

activism among the lowest level of Islamic society.

Still, for the moment, the unity of all Islamic organizations and political

aspirations in one organization was an impressive and novel feat. First, it was novel to

have an exclusively Islamic political vehicle. Even the pre-war Partai Sarekat Islam

Indonesia, which had formed in the late 1920s out of the former mass organization

Sarekat Islam, had never been entirely Muslim. Mr. Mohammad Roem noted late in his

life that PSII had tried to establish a culture of crying out "Allahu Akbar!" at meetings to

replace clapping for speeches, but that this never succeeded because there were always

Christians in the crowd.71 Although an exclusively Muslim party had never been

70 See a discussion of this trend in the literature in Bahtiar Effendy, Islam and the State in Indonesia
(Singapore: ISEAS, 2003), 89. The common narrative is that only PKI connected with the people,
particularly explicit in Daniel S. Lev, The Transition to Guided Democracy: Indonesian Politics, 1957-
1959 (Jakarta: Equinox Publishing, 2009 [1966]), 107 and passim; and Herbert Feith, The Decline of
Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia (Jakarta: Equinox Publishing, 2007 [1962]), 354, 548 and passim.
Still, no one can deny that NU and Muhammadiyah connected with the grassroots, and these were
constituent organizations of Masjumi.

71 Mohammad Roem, "Ikut Serta dalam Peringatan Tahun Pertama Revolusi Islam Iran yang Gemilang," in

Bunga Rampai dari Sejarah, vol. 4 (Jakarta: Bulan Bintang, 1988), 129. This comes from a Roem speech
in 1980 after returning from the new Islamic Republic of Iran, whose practice of crying out "Allahu Akbar"
achieved before in Indonesia, the experience of the Japanese occupation certainly helped

to push the community in that direction. The Japanese occupation gave Islamic leaders

opportunities for leadership and incorporation into government on levels never before

attained,72 and the non-political associations sponsored by the Japanese (MIAI and

wartime Masjoemi) certainly laid the foundation for the political party.

The other novelty of the new Masjumi was its unification of all Muslims and

Islamic organizations under one umbrella. This trend was short-lived, as Masjumi

fractured just two years later, yet the desire for unity and especially the rhetoric of unity

resounded through the early months of the party. This could date back to the MIAI,73 or

to the Japanese-sponsored propaganda about the importance of a united Islamic front.74

This unity was new, though, not because it brought together traditionalist and reformist

Muslims, or because it spanned beyond Java, but especially because it united Islam with a

political direction.

Masjumi Leadership

The make-up of Masjumi's inaugural board reflected "the prevailing idea" at the

Congress of November, 1945, "that the Masjumi should be the Muslim party to unite all

the religious currents and prewar political affiliationship; that pre-war differences should
be eliminated and forgotten." The Congress elected a leadership board as follows:

reminded him of the PSU's failed experiment. This undoubtedly relates to Islam's role as the default
"native" identity during colonial times.

72 Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, passim, but especially 186-87.

73 Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 89-90.

74 C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "Japanese Islam Policy on Java, 1942-1945," in Aspects of Islam in Post-

Colonial Indonesia , 135, reports that this was the only consistent theme (along with supporting the
Japanese) in wartime propaganda towards Muslims.

75 Noer, "Masjumi," 60; emphasis in the original.

Chairman: Dr. H. Sukiman Wiijosandjojo
First vice-chairman: R. Abikusno Tjokrosujoso
Second vice-chairman: R. Wali al-Fatah
First secretary: Harsono Tjokroaminoto
Second secretary: M. Prawoto Mangkusasmito
Treasurer: Mr. R.A. Kasmat76

This leadership board looks very different from the Japanese-sponsored Masjoemi,

mostly because of the integration of political figures at the very top. Dr. Sukiman had

been the pre-war head of the Partai Islam Indonesia (PII), and Abikusno was the former

head of the Partai Sarikat Islam Indonesia (PSII), the two Islamic political parties in

operation on the eve of the Japanese invasion.77 Both of these groups had been closed by

Japanese proclamation, and the intention to incorporate their leaders into the new
Japanese organizations had not been fully realized. More recently, these two leaders

were also in the national leadership of the Partai Nasional Indonesia when it functioned

briefly as a state party. The rest of the leadership board also appears to have been an

attempt to balance the key pre-war political leaders: Wali al-Fatah was a former journalist;

Prawoto was famous at the time for serving as the last chairman of the Studenten Islam

Studieclub; Harsono was Abikusno's nephew and closely associated with PSII; Mr.

76 As listed in Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 100. This is slightly different from the listing given
in Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 220. Anderson gives S.M. Kartosuwirjo as the first secretary
and Harsono Tjokroaminoto as head of the youth section. Anderson's list could very easily have been the
original organization of the party; Kartosuwiijo broke with the Masjumi mainstream within a few years
(C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "The Dar ul-Islam Movement in Western Java till 1949," in Aspects of Islam
in Post-Colonial Indonesia 167), and Noer as a Masjumi apologist had a vested interest in depicting the
party as distant from Kartosuwiijo's later Darul Islam rebellion. Still, no other accounts of Kartosuwiijo
place him in the national Masjumi leadership, and Noer was directly involved in Masjumi politics within
several years of this decision, thus making Noer's account preferable.

77Sukiman had also previously been in the PSII before his expulsion in 1933. He stayed out of party
politics for several years before founding the PII in 1938. Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 17.

78 C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "Javanese Islam Policy in Java, 1942-1945," in Aspects of Islam in Post-
Colonial Indonesia , 134. Once the Japanese occupation got going, Abikusno served as head of the Komite
Pusat Pimpinan Persiapan Persatuan Ummat Islam, a short-lived group that gave way to the much more
influential (Japanese) MIAI and then Masjoemi. Dr. Sukiman reportedly received an invitation to join the
new Japanese-sponsored organizations but never came to play any role of significance.

Kasmat had been on the PII leadership (in addition to chairing the Studenten Islam

Studieclub in the 1930s).79 The average age of the leadership committee in 1945 was 40,

approximately six years younger than the average age of 47 for the wartime Masjoemi

leadership in 1944.80 Wali al-Fatah was the only one without Western schooling; all of

the others had attended the highest level of Dutch schools in the East Indies, and both

Sukiman and Abikusno held advanced degrees from the Netherlands (in medicine and

architecture, respectively).

Aside from its age, this leadership also stands out for its direction toward

concerted political action, rather than spiritual or theological leadership. No leading

theologian sat on the new central leadership; they sat instead on the Majelis Sjuro (see

below). Rather, all of these leaders had political experience. This contrasts markedly

79From Anderson's list, Kartosuwiijo was the founder of another dissident off-shoot of PSII, the Komite
Pertahanan Kebenaran PSII (Committee to Guard the Truth of PSII) in 1939; for this reason it would have
made great sense if he were originally in the titled leadership, as Anderson lists. The key figure missing
from this picture, if the selection of leaders had really been intended to reconcile all of the old Islamic
political factions from the Dutch colonial period, is Haji Agus Salim, who was "kicked upstairs" to the
Majelis Syuro (see below). Salim had led the Pergerakan Penyadar (Awakener's Movement) after being
expelled from the PSII in 1936 (after twenty years in its leadership); Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional,

80 Harsono being the youngest of the leaders at age 33, the average age goes up slightly to 40.7 if he is
replaced by Kartosuwiijo, who was 40 at the time. The full list of the leaders of the Masjoemi executive
under the Japanese can be found in Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 262-63, n. 6. They were Hasjim
Asjari as president, Mas Mansur and Wahid Hasjim as vice-presidents, Ki Bagus Hadikusumo and Abdul
Wahab as advisors, and an executive made up of K.H. Muchtar, Zainul Arifin, K.H. M. Sadie, Farid Ma'ruf,
Abdul Mukhti, T. Kartosudharmo, K.H. Hasjim, Nachrawi-Thahir. Of these, the ages of K.H. Muchtar,
K.H. M. Sadie, Abdul Mukhti, T. Kartosudharmo, K.H. Hasjim and Nachrawi-Thahir are unknown, and
thus not included in the above calculation, but educated guesses can be made. K.H. Muchtar (of Pesantren
An-Nur, Bekasi) and K.H. M. Sadie (presumably Sadiq) co-founders of NU in 1926, and M. Sadiq was
listed on party documents as the secretary of Majlis Tanfidziyah at the time (see H. Aboebakar, Sedjarah
Hidup K.H. A. Wahid Hasjim dan Karangan Tersiar (Jakarta: Panitya Buku Peringatan Aim. K.H. A.
Wahid Hasjim, 1957), 507; Gustiana Isya Maijani, "The Concept of Religious Tolerance in Nahdhatul
Ulama (NU): Study on the Responses of NU to the Government's Policies on Islamic Affairs in Indonesia
on the Perspective of Tolerance (1984-1999)," dissertation at Universitat Hamburg, 2005,46, available at:
http://ediss.sub.uni-hamburg.de/voHtexte/2007/3214/pdf/PDF Version of Content of Dissertation.pdf
[accessed August 21, 2011]). Therefore, they were probably no younger than 30 at the time, making them
at least 48 in 1944. Kartosudharmo founded the Muhammadiyah branch in Jakarta in 1922, so he must
have been born no later than 1900, making him 44 at the youngest in 1944. Calculating in these three
estimates does not change the average for the Masjoemi executive under the Japanese.

with the executive of the Japanese-sponsored Masjoemi executive, made up entirely of

NU and Muhammadiyah leaders with no concern for political savvy. One reason for this

political turn among the Masjumi leadership might have been to try to erase the blemish

of Japanese collaboration, which was becoming a political liability once the cabinet was

led by Socialists who had opposed Japanese collaboration. Regardless of the reason, the

result was to increase the political focus of Masjumi's leadership and to push mass

organization activists out of the highest leadership positions. In some ways this distanced

the party from its grassroots, which were best channeled through mass organizations like

NU and Muhammadiyah.

In addition to the named positions above, eleven members of the leadership did

not have a specific title: Dr. Abu Hanifah, Anwar Tjokroaminoto, K.H.M. Dachlan, K.H.

Fakih Usman, H.M. Faried Ma'roef, K.H. Fathurrahman, Junus Anies, S.M. Kartosuwiijo,

Mr. Mohamad Roem, and Mr. Samsudin. Some of these individuals were undoubtedly

close to the interests of the constituent organizations within Masjumi, particularly K.H.M.

Dachlan (a former head of NU), Junus Anies (a future head of Muhammadiyah) and K.H.

Fakih Usman (a future Minister of Religion and head of Muhammadiyah). Still, the

majority of the names were youth leaders or veteran political figures, including former

activists from the PSII and PII. Among these eleven men, the average age was 39, and

only 3 lacked Dutch schooling.81 This tier of individuals were also more likely to be

connected to Islamic mass organizations, although the top leadership was preserved for

the Majelis Sjuro.

81 Fakih Usman, Fathurrahman and Junus Anies. Notably, though, three were also Middle East graduates:

Farid Ma'ruf (after attending a HIS high school in the East Indies) and Fathurrahman from al-Azhar in
Cairo and K.H.M. Dachlan from Mecca (after attending a Dutch elementary school in the East Indies).
Only one, Mr. Samsudin, had graduated from the Netherlands (having studied law at Leiden).

The Majelis Sjuro, or Consultative Council, was a separate body from the party's

main leadership, meant to provide theological guidance to the main body but not to

participate in the raw politics. Most of the respected scholars of Muhammadiyah and

Nahdlatul Ulama who had dominated wartime Masjoemi's leadership, like K.H. Hasjim

Asj'ari and K. Wahid Hasjim,82 were placed on this council. This body appeared to

carefully balance NU and Muhammadiyah interests in its leadership, and broader

organizational affiliations in its membership:

Chairman: K.H. Hasjim Asj'ari

First Vice-Chairman: Ki Bagus Hadikusurno
Second Vice-Chairman: K.H. A. Wahid Hasjim
Third Vice-Chairman: Mr. Kasman Singodimedjo
Members: R.H.M. Adnan
H. Agus Salim
K.H. Abdul Wahab
K.H. Abdulhalim
K.H. Ahmad Sanusi
Syekh M. Djamil Djambek83

The chairman and second vice-chairman, and one other member (K.H. Abdul Wahab)

were leaders of NU, while the first and third vice-chairmen were the most prominent

independence leaders from Muhammadiyah. K.H. Abdulhalim was the leader of

Persatuan Umat Islam Indonesia, and K.H. Ahmad Sanusi led the Perikatan Umat Islam,

the two smaller constituent groups for the Japanese-sponsored Masjoemi. Syekh M.

Djamil Djambek is the only figure listed in any leadership position of central Masjumi in

1945 who was active outside of Java at the time; he lived and fought in Bukittinggi, West

Sumatra, where he was also chairman of Majelis Islam Tinggi (MIT, High Islamic

82 C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "Javanese Islam Policy in Java, 1942-1945," in Aspects of Islam in Post-

Colonial Indonesia , 155.

83 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 101; see also a description of its function in ibid, 61. Notably
missing from this body was K.H. Masjkur, who had been among the four most powerful Indonesians on
Java in the Japanese administration.

Council), a wartime all-Sumatra organization founded by the Japanese.84 Only two out of

these ten men (Haji Agus Salim and Mr. Kasman Singodimedjo) had any Western

schooling; the majority of them had been educated inand then rantraditional Islamic

schools. The composition of the Majlis Sjuro directly reflects the power of the

extraordinary members in Masjumi at its founding, even though this board remained

much less influential in Masjumi's governance.

Over the course of the Indonesian revolution from 1945 to 1949, a major shift

occurred in the Masjumi leadership. Whereas at the beginning, the top leadership

comprised men who had been politically active before and during the Japanese

occupation, the most visible leaders at the end of the revolution were newer faces who

had become politically prominent only after independence. Men like Mohammad Natsir,

Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, and Burhanuddin Harahap became prominent in the

Indonesian government before they took leadership roles in Masjumi. This pattern of

ascent is counter-intuitive, but the government of Sjahrir did not feel obliged to choose

leading Masjumi candidates to be their cabinet ministers. Instead, Sjahrir chose Muslims

and Masjumi members whom he believed would support his socialist goals and men who

were not associated with Japan. As Abu Hanifah wrote, "Sjahrir was criticised for having

only his nearest friends in the Cabinet; in fact the cabinet looked like a Sjahrir Club."85

Some of the young, "religious socialist" Masjumi leaders attained seats in the cabinet

exactly because they were "linked politically more to Sjahrir" than to any Islamic

84 On the Majelis Islam Tinggi, see Audrey R. Kahin, "Struggle for Independence: West Sumatra in the
Indonesian National Revolution, 1945-1950," PhD. Dissertation, Cornell University, 1979, p. 71. The MIT
dissolved itself into Masjumi slowly from December 1945 into the early months of 1946. Anthony Reid,
The Indonesian National Revolution, 1945-1950 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986 [1974]), 85.

85 Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1972), 165.

faction.86 This rise of the so-called "religious socialists" within Masjumi was caused not

by their original strength within the party, but rather by their selection by socialist

governments for cabinet positions. Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, when recounting his rise in

the party leadership, told an interviewer, "Not long after I became a member of Masjumi,

maybe because of my position as a Minister, I was already selected as a member of the

Leadership Board" of the party.87 Burhanuddin Harahap also joined the party leadership

only after he sat on the Working Committee of the KNIP.88 Abu Hanifah first led the

local revolutionary government in the Sukabumi region of West Java before Sukiman

asked him to join the leadership of the Masjumi.89 Mohammad Natsir started as an

untitled member of the Masjumi leadership in the last months of 1945, but after being

elected to the leadership of the Working Committee in December 1945 and hand-picked

for the cabinet in January 1946 (he served twice as Minister of Information), he moved

up in the party. Before the end of the revolution in 1949, Natsir, a man who had not been

on Masjumi's leadership board inl945, became head of the party.90 Once these men

became prominent in the Republican government, only then did they become party

86 Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution, 162. Abu Hanifah identifies himself, Natsir, and Roem specifically

in regards to this statement, among Masjumi's "religious moderates." See also Anderson, Java in a Time of
Revolution, 230.

87 Oral history of Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1979 #6, tape 3,
29:20-29:34. His qualifier "maybe" here is a form of Indonesian modesty through avoiding definitive
statements, not an expression of uncertainty.

88 Oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1980 #1, tape 1. In
this case, Burhanuddin was elevated to the Working Committee at the suggestion of Sukiman, another
religious socialist in the Masjumi.

Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution, 188-89. Abu Hanifah did not last in the highest echelon of
Masjumi; his star fell after a controversial stint as Minister of Education and Culture in the federal cabinet.

90 Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 170, n. 34; Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 101.

leaders. This means that the leadership of Islamic politics in Indonesia was determined

largely by an outside force: the Socialist government.

These younger leaders also had much weaker ties to broad grassroots support than

many of the older leaders in Masjumi did. Thus, it makes sense that when these younger

"religious socialists" ascended to the leadership of the party, Masjumi lost touch to some

extent with the masses from which it hoped to draw support. Mohammad Natsir, the

public face of Masjumi from 1949 onward, came from a background in Persatuan Islam,

a small, puritanical organization in Bandung without mass backing.91 Prawoto

Mangkusasmito and Burhanuddin Harahap came from the equally small and elitist

Studenten Islam Studieclub and were not connected to any Islamic mass organization.92

Sjafruddin Prawiranegara had no Islamic organizational background before joining

Masjumi.93 Granted, many of the other political leaders chosen to guide the party during

the revolution, like those religious socialists who came from the old PSII and its

offshoots, most prominently Mohammad Roem, Sukiman, and the latter's close associate

Jusuf Wibisono, did not have mass backing from their old political organization.94

Sjahrir's choices to place younger, left-leaning Islamic politicians in his cabinet

did not reflect the balance of power within Masjumi or the only Masjumi candidates

91George McT. Kahin, "In Memoriam: Mohammad Natsir (1907-1993)," Indonesia vol. 56 (Oct., 1993):
160. Cf. Howard Federspiel, Persatuan Islam (Ithaca, NY: Modern Indonesia Project, Cornell University,
1970), which called Persatuan Islam "small and loosely-knit" (8).

92 Yudi Latif, Indonesian Muslim Intelligentsia and Power (Singapore: ISEAS, 2008), 207-209; oral history

of Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1980 #1, tape 1.

93He also chose never to join Muhammadiyah or Nahdlatul Ulama so as to stay out of their theological
disputes; oral history of Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1979 #6, tape 4.

94 Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 90-91. Jusuf Wibisono also had connections through his work with
Jong Islamieten Bond and Studenten Islam Studieclub, but these remained limited to the small political
circles of the big cities.

qualified for office. In fact, he had many other options for Islamic leaders to nominate to

his cabinet who were equally qualified and better represented powerful factions.

Sukiman, the head of Masjumi, or Abikusno, his deputy, would have been a natural

choice for a minister; both were well-educated and experienced in colonial-era politics.95

The selection of young socialist-leaning Muslims reflected the cliquish nature of Sjahrir's

politics,96 the currency of youthfulness in the revolution,97 and the compatibility of these

religious socialists' policies with those that Sjahrir wanted to pursue.98 All of these

factors were external to the politics within Islamic groups and within the Masjumi at the

time, and so the elevation of Natsir, Sjafruddin, Burhanuddin, et al. in Masjumi was a

reaction to developments outside the party in revolutionary politics.

Thus, the leadership of Masjumi, during the 1950s comprising primarily these

political minds and a few representatives of Muhammadiyah and other constituent

organizations, grew away from the candidates favored by the Japanese and strong

grassroots organizations. Furthermore, the trend in the direction of the religious socialists

was caused by an outside force, namely the power of the Sjahrir to choose like-minded

men for prominence, rather than from forces within Masjumi.

95 Sukiman opposed Sjahrir's first cabinet very strongly because of its lack of Islamic representation,

something that was slowly remedied in later iterations. See Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 198.
As a medical doctor trained in the Netherlands and a non-collaborator, Sukiman was in many ways
perfectly suited to become a cabinet minister or leading bureaucrat, but Sjahrir passed him over.

96 Rudolf Mrazek, Sjahrir: Politics and Exile in Indonesia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell Southeast Asia Program

Publications, 1994), 375.

97Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, passim. Noer notes in Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional that
Mohammad Roem, among others, had not been selected for leadership in the Masjumi because he was of
the younger generation, while the first party congress had been dominated by the older generation. Roem
entered the government in Sjahrir's third cabinet (1947) and became Second Vice-Head of Masjumi in

98 This
is particularly true on the subject of negotiations, one of the leading issues at the time. Kahin,
Nationalism and Revolution, 166.

Masjumi's Platform

Masjumi's platform did not coalesce into its final form at the party's foundation

in November, 1945, but the central tenet was already set. Masjumi believed in Islam as

the ideal foundation of the state. According to Mohamad Roem's account, this concern

led leaders to form Masjumi in the first place so that this idea of an Islam-based state

could have a political vehicle." Within Masjumi, leaders did not all agree on exactly

what an Islamic state should mean, as became apparent in later years. Some of the

Western-educated leaders thought that it was enough for the state to profess the name of

Allah and that going all the way to full implementation of Islamic law was desirable but

not mandatory.100 Others, particularly the older, more conservative ulama, pushed for a

policy of full implementation of Islamic law by the new state.101 Both sides found their

theoretical foundation in Qur'anic injunction and prophetic and historical example.102

Despite differences in interpretation, the full spectrum agreed that the government of

Indonesia should be made more religious, as a way to guide the general populace to

become more pious.

99 Oral history with Mohamad Roem, interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SLl 1981 #6, tape 6.

100 The best analysis of this trend within Masjumi is found in Harun Nasution, "The Islamic state in
Indonesia: The rise of the ideology, the movement for its creation and the theory of Masjumi," MA Thesis,
McGill University, 1965, 141ff. Nasution draws the analogy of a state that confesses Islam to the
definition of muslim (a la Muhammad ' Abduh) as someone who professes the name of God, separate from
a mu 'min as someone who believes and follows all the precepts of Islam as well as professing the name of
God. More conservative scholars, following Nasution's analogy, called for a mu 'min state, while many
Western-educated "religious socialists" called for a muslim state.

101The resolution of the All-Indonesia 'Alim-'Ulama Conference held in Medan in 1953 confirmed this by
issuing a fatwa saying that it was obligatory (wajib) for Muslims in Indonesia to register and vote only for
candidates who supported the full implementation of shari'a by the state. One can assume, given the
generally conservative, pesantren-based group attending the original congress of Masjumi, that this more
conservative conception was closer to the mainstream Masjumi position in 1945.

102 Noer, "Masjumi," 67.

The full unity of Java and the outer islands was also a key part of the Masjumi

platform. Throughout the revolution, Masjumi held a strong unitarian position on the

appropriate form of the future state and opposed efforts at confederation or other regional
federalisms. This reflected their fear that the party would face increased obstacles

from a federal state's regions with a non-Muslim majority. Masjumi leaders probably

also saw their unity across the entire archipelago as their greatest strength. This stood in

stark contrast to traditional customary authorities in the various regions (the traditional

enemy of Islamic politics from the first half of the twentieth century), which each stood

for their own ethnicity and could not unite across islands.104 Furthermore, Masjumi's

great strength lay outside of Java and Bali, in contrast to secular parties like the PNI, PSI,

and PKI that had not organized very effectively outside of Java and Bali.105 Ironically,

however, after pushing for a unitary state during the revolution and in 1950, Masjumi

strongly supported regional rights in the late 1950s, and included a regional

representative body, which they called a senate, in their platform for the 1955 elections.

Masjumi supported private property rights, including those of foreign owners,

more staunchly than any other party in Indonesia.106 This position supported the many

103 Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution, 330.

104 On customary officials as the traditional enemy of Islamic politics, see Deliar Noer, Modernist Muslim

Movement in Indonesia (Singapore: Oxford UP, 1972); Mustari Bosra, Tuang Guru, Anrong Guru dan
Daeng Guru: Gerakan Islam di Sulawesi Selatan 1914-1942 (Makassar: La Galigo Press, 2008); and
Syaharuddin, Orang Banjar Menjadi Indonesia: Dinamika Organisasi Islam di Borneo Selatan, 1912-1942
(Jogjakarta : Eja Publisher, 2009). For an alternative perspective showing the power of a synthesis between
traditional ethnic customs and Islamic politics, see Jeffrey Hadler, Muslims and Matriarchs Cultural
Resilience in Indonesia through Jihad and Colonialism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2008).

105This was most vividly demonstrated in the 1955 elections, when Masjumi won a plurality in all but two
electoral districts outside of Java.

106 Reid, Indonesian National Revolution, 84.

prominent Islamic traders who affiliated themselves with Masjumi107 and also protected

the large holdings of many pesantren, which were listed on government rolls as the

property of single kyai. The promotion of private ownership and enterprise also reflected
1 ftS
Islamic economic principles. In practice, Masjumi appeared to be in support of big

business, including foreign business. This position (or perception) probably won the

party the support of the American government, which strongly supported Masjumi

politicians throughout the 1950's.109 Masjumi certainly did criticize the willingness of

other parties to reject foreign capital and foreign investment wholesale,110 and strongly

support pro-trade policies within Indonesia for their constituents,111 but Masjumi also had

some rather liberal economic policies.

A younger, Western-educated group within the Masjumi leadership favored

various kinds of social protections and government interventions on behalf of popular

prosperity and protection. The term "religious socialist," coined by George Kahin to

describe this group, accurately describes the experiences of young leaders like Sjafruddin

107 Hans Schmitt, "Post-Colonial Politics: A Suggested Interpretation of the Indonesian Experience," The

Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. 2 no. 9 (1963): 179.

108 Christine Dobbin, Islamic Revivalism in a Changing Peasant Economy: Central Sumatra, 1784-1847,

Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies Monograph Series, no. 47, (London: Curzon, 1983), especially
chapter 2, provides a brilliant explanation for why traders in a slightly less complex (and certainly less
globalized) Indonesian economy aligned themselves with the Islamic faction. Strong protections for traders
and property owners, as well as clear regulations on business and markets, favored trade, but Islam also
importantly provided a cover under which the traders could go after their opponents.

109 Most notably in the 1955 elections (see chapter 4) and then with the PRRI rebellion, which included

many Masjumi leaders (see chapter 5).

110 See, for example, the statement in Pedoman Perjuangan Masjumi, 2nd edition (Jakarta: Pimpinan Partai

Masjumi Bagian Keuangan, 1955), 32, that the blind rejection of foreign capital as "imperialism"
fundamentally "hampers and interferes with all the efforts of the government to coimplete and perfect
preparations and outfitting the country's institutions, the police, and the army etc."

111 Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy, 137-38.

Prawiranegara and Abu Hanifah."2 Both of these men were schooled to the highest

levels of the Dutch system in the Indies (as a lawyer and doctor, respectively) and studied

deeply in other philosophical traditions before returning to Islam as the faith of their

fathers. They believed that Islam had both the strong moral principles to organize society

and the deep compassion for the disadvantaged necessary for a downtrodden society as

found in Indonesia.113 The members of this group, which also included Mohammad

Natsir, Mohamad Roem, and Jusuf Wibisono, worked closely with the leaders of the

Socialist party, especially Sutan Sjahrir, but also Christian leaders such as Dr. Leimena

and Mr. Tambunan.114 Reflecting the thought of this group, the guide to the party

program that Masjumi published in 1954, whose authorship is credited to Jusuf Wibisono,

reads at times like a Marxist critique of capitalism with added analysis for when societies

lost religion. Under a heading of "Class Warfare," for example, Wibisono writes

That conflict, which clearly forgot shared interests and ruined human relations within a
religious community, relations that are necessary for the salvation of the world and of
humanity, divided humankind in the Western world that had followed progress from one
stage to another, until they became powers that controlled the world, dividing mankind
(who are held together by the obligation to work together) to become two factions
engaged in ruthless and vicious class warfare, until they disowned all of the moral virtues
of humanity. 115

112 George McT. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 157.

113 Oral
history with Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, tape 3; Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution, 64, 69, 161-62,

114 Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 157. Abu Hanifah also identifies Dr. Sukiman as one of the
religious socialists (Tales of a Revolution, 161), but this assessment is inconsistent with his positions in
Masjumi leadership, even if it accurately reflects his personal stance. Abu Hanifah was also a close friend
of Amir Sjarifuddin, who was a Socialist-turned-Communist, but they grew apart ideologically after 1940,
Tales of a Revolution, 44, 213. Natsir, who appeared to be the closest to Sjahrir ideologically and
personally, may have had some family connection to Sutan Sjahrir; both Natsir's wife and Sjahrir were
from the Natal region of West Sumatra, and Natsir's children always called Sjahrir "uncle." Interview with
Ir. Achmad Fauzie Natsir, August 1,2009, Jakarta.

115Pedoman Perjuangan Masjumi, 40. Noer credits the program to Jusuf Wibisono (although the
document itself does not identify its author) in Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 141. This quote is just as
convoluted in the original Indonesian, perhaps reflecting how it was awkwardly cobbled together from
socialist texts with the insertion of religious morality.

This combination of the Marxist stages of capitalist development and an interest in

human morality demonstrate the influence of both Western philosophical and modern

Islamic influences on young Masjumi leaders. With this ideology, these leaders were

both very interested in the welfare of all of Indonesia's Muslims and at the same time

very different in their thinking from the vast majority of Indonesia's Muslims, who would

not have thought along these Western philosophical lines.

The religious socialists' program for Masjumi included guaranteeing the life and

livelihood of the Indonesian masses. They promoted the obligation for employers to

provide sick leave, pension, and "social payments" to employees to support the economic

and social welfare of workers, although unlike most socialists they notably did not

believe that workers had the right to strike at any time.116 They called for the end of

tenancy for rural Indonesian peasants and the distribution of land to peasants.117 These

started out merely as the views of a younger faction of the party, but as the religious

socialists proved themselves dominant in the party politically (although not

demographically), these positions became part of the party's official platform in the


The Masjumi supported women's rights broadly, as did all Indonesian political

parties. As early as 1927, Haji Agus Salim had torn down the curtain separating male

and female participants at the Jong Islamiten Bond congress held in Solo; he felt that

116 Pedoman Perjuangan Masjumi, 68-69, 55.

117 Pedoman Perjuangan Masjumi, 62. This was a radical position for the party considering the large

landholdings of pesantren complexes and the very limited availability of additional arable land on Java.
Masjumi almost certainly added this point to the party program only after NU left the party.

1,8 Insofaras these ideas are current in Islamic political thinking in Indonesia today, it is because the
current generation of Islamic political leaders learned them from the leaders of political Islam in the 1950s,
not because these ideas have long existed in Indonesian Islamic thought.

such separation was an ethnic Arab custom rather than a religious necessity.119 A decade

later, several of the key constituent groups of Masjumi, including the PSII and

Muhammadiyah, embraced the idea of universal suffrage in 1938.120 Muhammadiyah

even expressed its readiness to admit women to its Madjlis Taijih (fatwa-issuing council),

if the women were recognized and studied ulama.121 As a point of comparison, the rights

of Christians (specifically, their right to serve as president of Indonesia) were less

strongly guaranteed by the Masjumi than were the rights of women.

Masjumi was split on the issue of negotiations with the Dutch versus armed

struggle to win independence, but this cleavage was less between younger and older

leaders than between urban and rural groups. The Jakarta-based politicians (usually

coinciding with the Western-educated religious socialists) tended to support negotiations,

122 while the Jogja-based and rural ulama leaned more heavily toward violence as the

only way to solve the dispute.123 (Each group had thus reversed their positions vis-a-vis

the Japanese.) This led to heated debate within the party leadership and sharp critique of

those members who served in cabinets that negotiated with the Dutch. Again the result

was a mix of positions. As a party, Masjumi came down on the side of armed struggle,

opposing both the Linggaijati and Renville agreements, a position that reflected the

119 Irsyad Zamjani, Sekularisasi Setengah Hati: Politik Islam Indonesia dalam Periode Formatif (Jakarta:

Dian Rakyat, 2009), 64.

120 SusanBlackburn, "Indonesian Women and Political Islam," Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 39, no. 1
(Feb. 2008): 89.

121 Noer, Modernist Muslim Movement, 302 n. 2.

122 Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution, passim, makes several comments on how his Dutch education

caused him to understand the Dutch mentality and work well with individual Dutchmen, while of course
opposing their efforts to re-conquer Indonesia.

123 Noer, "Masjumi," 65.

Islamic sectors of society that made up Masjumi's base. At the same time, Masjumi was

unable to project perfect unity in opposition to negotiations and support of the armed


Masjumi's Auxiliaries

At the meeting to found Masjumi, its women's auxiliary, Muslimaat, came into

being, as well. Muslimaat's leadership was under the party's in its formal organization,

but functionally it acted as an independent body closely aligned with the Masjumi

leadership. The second article of Muslimaat's charter sets out its program:

Considering women's strength of character and excellence, the working program given to
"Muslimaat" shall be:
a. To give knowledge and increase awareness of politics and religious subjects.
b. To make people aware of the obligations of women in their position in the household
and society.
c. To make young women aware of their responsibilities in society and the state.
d. To work together with other bodies in the field of struggle to achieve our shared

In addition to guiding the women of Masjumi in political matters, Muslimaat joined in

the leadership of Masjumi generally. From 1949, Muslimaat held one seat on Masjumi's

leadership council, and starting in 1956 two seats.125 These seats were held by the wives

of prominent Masjumi leaders, leading to the image of Muslimaat as a wives'


Close integration with Masjumi did not stop Muslimaat from holding independent

programs. During the revolution, these women wanted to actively participate in the

124 Qo'idah Moeslimaat (Masjoemi bg. Wanita) (Jogjakarta: "Masjoemi" daerah Jogja, [1948?]), 1.

125 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 102-105.

126This changed slowly in the 1950s, as women called for increased representation in Masjumi's
parliamentary delegation. See, for example, Siti Fatimah Usulu, "Ruangan Muslimaat: Menghadapi Bulan
Ramadhan," Suara Masjumi tahun XI no. 10 (April 1, 1956), 8. Still, throughout the life of the
organization the majority of its leadership (and not just its representatives on the Masjumi leadership
council) consisted of the wives of major Masjumi leaders.

physical struggle. At the February 10-13, 1946, congress of Masjumi in Solo, Muslimaat

set into action their plans for Red Cross127 and Community Kitchens.128 Later the

organization was particularly active in expanding literacy among women129 and holding

women's Qur'anic study circles.130

Other auxiliaries also formed themselves post haste. Of course, the Japanese-

trained Hizbullah militias were already actively participating in the revolution, and

Masjumi made Hizbullah an "extraordinary" member of the party in its own right at the

party's founding meeting.131 Trailing the Hizbullah in importance at the time, although

later to become the most important auxiliary, was the Gerakan Pemuda Islam Indonesia

(GPII, Indonesian Islamic Youth Movement). This organization was up and running by

early 1946 and included Muslims from their teenage years up through their twenties.132

The organization's constitution had a clause on working with Masjumi, explicitly calling

for cooperation and not merely following Masjumi's lead.133 One example came in July

1946, when Masjumi and GPII issued a joint resolution criticizing paralysis and

127 Although in some Islamic countries the symbol of the Red Cross has been switched in favor of a Red

Crescent to avoid violating religious sensibilities, in Indonesia this has never become an issue among the
Muslim community.

128 Qo 'idah Moeslimaat, 7-9. See also chapter 2 regarding women taking up arms.

129Interview with Darmis Kamaruddin, Bukittinggi, February 6, 2010; Tamar Djaja, "Rohana Kudus
Srikandi Islam Indonesia: Wanita pelopor jang harus dihormati oleh kaum muslimat. Tanggal 20
Desember hari lahirnja," Suara Masjumi tahun XI no. 15 (June 1, 1956): 6.

Called majelis taklim in Indonesian. On their use by Muslimaat, interview with Darmis Kamaruddin,
Bukittinggi, February 6,2010.

131 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 222 n. 40.

132 Cf. the long arc of Indonesian youth described in Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 3-10.

133When this clause was eliminated from the GPII's constitution at their April 1951 meeting, the removal
received a warm welcome from NU. See "Pendjelasan tentang Konsepsi P.B.N.O. Mengenai Perundingan
N.O.-Masjumi," an archival documented dated 23 Sja'aban 1371/18 May, 1952; accessed in the library of
Pengurus Besar Nahdlatul Ulama, Jakarta. My thanks to Syatiri Ahmad at PBNU for facilitating access to
this document.

maladministration in the government and calling for a new cabinet.134 The importance of

GPII issuing this proclamation jointly with Masjumi should not be overlooked. It implies

that GPII was an independent organization, capable of passing resolutions without

necessarily agreeing with the Masjumi leadership. This could never have been said of

Muslimaat, for example. GPII also held a unique position because of the importance of

the youth generation in the revolution and early republic.135 Still, while Masjumi was the

primary vehicle for Muslims during the revolution, it was also the stronger partner in any

collaboration with GPII, and GPII acted similarly to Masjumi's auxiliary organizations


Two other student organizations appeared during the revolutionary period: Pelajar

Islam Indonesia (PII, Indonesian Islamic [Secondary School] Students) in November

1946 and Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam (HMI, Islamic [College] Students' Association) in

February 1947.137 Although Masjumi tried to influence both of these organizations, and

occasionally pushed for the election of certain leaders within the organizations, the PII

and HMI remained independent student unions whose views sometimes, but not always,
aligned with Masjumi. Thus, Masjumi did not have one specific youth or student

auxiliary, because all of the groups remained technically independent from it, but

134 ANRI, RA2 Secretariat Negara RI 1945-49, #1053.

,3S Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, passim.

136 Deliar Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 56.

137 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 57. The Indonesian word pelajar implies a student in general,
but especially in primary or secondary education. The word mahasiswa, of Sanskrit origin, is used
exclusively for college students. Interestingly, none of the Islamic student organizations at the time chose
to employ the Arabic cognate murid in their names, perhaps because this word often connotes the student
or follower of a particular teacher.

138 Nurcholish Madjid, "The Issue of Modernization among Muslims in Indonesia: A Participant's Point of
View," in Gloria Davis, ed., What is Modern Indonesian Culture? (Athens, OH: Ohio Center for
International Studies, Southeast Asia Series no. 52, 1979), 144.

Masjumi retained strong connections with its youth and considerable influence on Islamic

youth organizations.

The same can be said of vocational groups. In keeping with its social program

that included workers' rights (such as a minimum wage and guarantees to be able to carry

out religious duties during working hours), peasants' security (primarily sufficient land to

support a family), and fishermen's livelihood (including sufficient instruments),139

Masjumi later created auxiliary groups targeted at these sectors. These organizations

were, for labor, the Sarekat Buruh Islam Indonesia (SBII, Indonesian Islamic Labor

Union); for farmers, the Sarekat Tani Islam Indonesia (STII, Indonesian Islamic Farmers'

Union); and for fisherman, the Sarekat Nelayan Islam Indonesia (SNII, Indonesian

Islamic Fisherman's Union).140 The STII held a seat in the provisional parliament by

1947 and through the end of the revolution,141 but the other two unions had less social

capital and influence.142

Even less influential was the Sarekat Dagang Islam Indonesia (SDII, Indonesian

Islamic Traders' Union). Masjumi founded this auxiliary believing it would flourish,

considering the strong support Masjumi received from the trading sector. As it happened,

139 Noer, "Masjumi," 68-69.

140 SBII and STII were very active, while SNII was much less so. There were other similar organizations in

theory and perhaps in local branches, such as Sarekat Dagang Islam Indonesia (roughly, the Indonesian
Islamic Chamber of Commerce), but they never played a significant role in politics. In the post-
independence period, SBII and STII were most visible in their local chapters and not in their national

141 Abu Umar, who passed away in 1949, was replaced by Mr. Dalijono and later Hendro Sudarmo; Noer

and Akbarsyah, 229-30, 292.

142 The influence of SBII increased in the 1950s as it became better organized.

though, the small-time traders for whom the group was intended were independently-

minded and disinclined toward such a union.143

Masjumi's Expansion

After Muslim leaders came together in Jogjakarta to found Masjumi as a political

party in November 1945, they then had to spread the news of this party throughout the

archipelago in order for it to form local branches and become the force that they had

envisioned. Because of the chaos of the revolution, this process was slow and sporadic,

but still informative about conditions within the Islamic community. The initial concern

was spreading Masjumi to all regions of the archipelago; Masjumi did not have an active

program from the center to facilitate the spread of the party into all levels of Islamic

society once it entered a region.

On Java, the transition from the wartime Masjoemi social organization into

Masjumi the political party on a local level was fairly straightforward, although

sometimes new local leaders were appointed in keeping with the new political tasks.144

The spread of branches and chapters made the dissemination of the news much easier,

though, and in any case more representatives had come from across Java for the

organization's founding meeting than from the other islands of Indonesia.

On Sumatra, Masjumi spread haphazardly at first, but by the end of the revolution

it was widely known and followed. In West Sumatra, the Japanese had established the

Majelis Islam Tinggi (MIT, High Islamic Council) during their occupation, and before

the Japanese surrender this organization had begun to expand into other regions. A

143 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 57.

144 See, for example, Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution, 169fF and 188.

December 1945 meeting in Bukittinggi (the organization's headquarters) declared the

MIT to be a political party, but in February and March of the following year the branches

slowly declared themselves for Masjumi, and the separate organization was dissolved.145

In South Sumatra, people had heard of and begun to follow Masjumi by mid-1946.

The head of the Tembilahan, South Sumatra, branch of Musjawaratutthalibin, a

traditionalist student-based organization in South Kalimantan, received a letter from

headquarters in 1946 saying that Musjawaratutthalibin had become an "extraordinary

member" of Masjumi. This man, Awang Syamsuri, then served as the local chairman of

both the Musjawaratutthalibin branch and the Masjumi branch. After that the

Musjawaratutthalibin did not have many more activities (only meetings for moral

exhortation)most everything was subsumed under the Masjumi heading.146

In the parts of Indonesia most distant from Java, Masjumi as a political party was

even slower to spread. This seems to have been especially true in East Indonesia, which

the Dutch had separated militarily from the rest of the territory early in the revolution.147

As of 1948, only two branches were set up in this region: at Makassar and Gorontalo.148

Nusa Tenggara did not see Masjumi form during the revolution, instead an entirely social

Islamic organization emerged in Persit.149 The Muslims of the Moluccas were equally

145 Reid, Indonesian National Revolution, 85.

146 M. Nut Maksum, et al. Musyawaratuththalibin: Historis, Perjuangan dan Pergulatan Pemikiran

(Banjarmasin: Antasari Press, 2007), 62. In other places like Rantau, Kalimantan Selatan,
Musjawaratutthalibin had already been subsumed by NU, which was also an "extraordinary member" of
Masjumi. Ibid, 49.

147 Of course, East Indonesia had also been under the separate administration of the Japanese Navy during

the Japanese occupation period.

148 ANRI, RA2 Secretariat Negara RI 1945-49, #476.

1491 Ketut Ardhana, Penataan Nusa Tenggarapada Masa Kolonial, 1915-1950 (Jakarta: Raja Grafindo

Persada, 2005), 377. Although Masjumi was unknown during the revolution, Muhammadiyah and NU had

ignorant of the Islamic politics in the center. In response to a letter from Husain bin Alie

in Tidore, North Maluku, K. Taufiqurachman (a Masjumi leader and high-ranking

bureaucrat in the Ministry of Religion) explained in October 1948 the nature of the party

and the position of the party's leaders in government. Taufiqurachman then invited

Husain bin Alie to join, and finally expand the party to the Moluccas.150

Formation of the Ministry of Religion

One of the first major victories for Islamic politics was the creation of an office

within the government to represent religious interests. During the Dutch colonial period,

Islamic religious issues were administered by the government by specific divisions within

the Office for Native Affairs.151 These divisions included administration of the hajj,

marriage, and religious education, although certain aspects of Islamic administration were

farmed out to other appropriate departments; for example, Islamic courts were under the

Department of Justice. When the Japanese came, they centralized administration of Islam

on Java in a Religious Affairs Office (Shumubu), from which they organized religious

life and religious organizations.152

already been active in the area since the 1930s, although NU was confined largely to the Arab community
until a concerted push in 1950. On NU, see Masnun, Tuan Guru KH Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul Madjid.
Gagasan dan Gerakan Pembaharuan Islam di Nusa Tenggara Barat (Jakarta: Pustaka al-Miqdad, 2007),
227. On Muhammadiyah, see Ardhana, 288.

150 ANRI, RA2 Sekretariat Negara RI 1945-49, #476.

151Peranan Departemen Agama dalam Revolusi dan Pembangunan Bansa (Jakarta: Departemen Agama
R.I., 1965), 103.

152Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun, 111; C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "Japanese Islam Policy in Java,
1942-1945," in Aspects of Islam in Post-Colonial Indonesia (The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958), 117. Of
course, because the different regions of Indonesia were under different military commands, the
administration of religions differed somewhat on Sumatra and the other islands.

After the proclamation of independence, Muslims aspired to improve their

standing in the government by establishing a full-blown Ministry, and thus a cabinet post,

to deal with Islamic issues. One of the frequent explanations given for this drive by

Muslims was the fact that their interests had been generally ignored and sometimes

actively hampered by the colonial government.153 Islamic groups intended not to be

ignored by the newly independent Indonesian government, and furthermore to have an

active role in its administration of religious affairs.

At first they were unsuccessful. The earliest attempt to form a Ministry of

Religion was rejected in the KNIP Working Committee based on the opposition from a

Maluku delegate who thought such a Ministry would give rise to conflict between

Muslim and Christian communities.154 All the same, from the first cabinets of the

Republic of Indonesia, cabinet members felt that religion deserved special attention.

Representatives of the Islamic community, K.H. Wahid Hasjim and H. Rasjidi, sat in the

first and second cabinets, respectively, ostensibly as representatives of Islamic interests

although without an official portfolio.155 The government also moved around religious

affairs as a part of the government bureaucracy to better suit the importance of that class

of tasks. On November 15, 1945, religious affairs, which had up until that point been

153This idea is expressed, for example, in Peranan Departemen Agama, 63. The implication was often also
that the interests of the Christian minority were well-served by the Dutch colonial government. See
Sismono, Sejarah dan Amal Bakti Departemen Agama Republik Indonesia (Bandung: Bina Siswa, 1991),
18. For an interesting inverse view, see Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution, 70, where he conveys the
opinion of the former Advisor for Native Affairs van der Plaas that the Office of Native Affairs actually
shielded the Muslim population from even more Christian proselytization.

154Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 90. This delegate was Latuharhary, who also sat on KNIP
leadership in the earliest days; Noer and Akbarsyah, 25.

155 Both of these men went on to become Minister of Religion in later cabinets.

under the Ministry of Education and Culture, were moved into the Ministry of Home


In a plenary meeting of the KNIP in late November, 1945, the delegation from

Banjumas, Central Java, led by K.H. Saleh Su'aidy, put forward a proposal strongly

supported by the Islamic representatives. He argued that rather than split religious

interests between several ministries (education, justice, etc.), they should be centralized

and dealt with by one Ministry of Religion.157 The government received this notion well

(it received greater support in the plenary session of KNIP than it could have in the KNIP

Working Committee, where it had been rejected two months earlier), and on January 3,

1946, Sukarno decreed the creation of a new Ministry of Religion, with H. Rasjidi,

formerly a cabinet minister without portfolio, as the first Minister of Religion.158

For the secular press, the creation of the Ministry of Religion was a non-issue.

The day after Sukarno's decree, the left-leaning daily Merdeka in Jakarta ran a headline

about Amir Sjarifuddin leaving his post as Minister of Information to focus on his other

post as Minister of Defense; the creation of a whole new ministry in the new Ministry of

156 Penetapan Pemerintah 1945 No. 3/ S.D., signed by Sekretaris Negara A.G. Pringgodigdo, reproduced in
Koesnodiprodjo, ed., Himpunan Undang2, Peraturan2, Penetapan2Pemerintah Republic Indonesia 1945
(Djakarta: S.K. Seno, 1950), 42.

157Peranan Departemen Agama, 104; Sismono, 15-16. Of the three delegates from Banjumas, K.H. Saleh
Su'aidy led this initiative, even though K.H. Abu Dardiri was actually the official head of the delegation.
Sismono, 30.

158 The creation of the ministry was in Penetapan Pemerintah no. 1/ S.D., 1946, reproduced in

Koesnodiprodjo, edHimpunan Undang2, Peraturan2, Penetapan2 Pemerintah Republic Indonesia 1946 ,

286. The Penetapan Pemerintah is very minimal, stating simply "Based on the proposal of the Prime
Minister and Working Committee of the Central National Committee, it is decided to create 1) The
Department of Religion, 2) The Youth Office, which will become a section of the Social Department." The
whole document is a mere 25 words in Indonesian. The appointment of Rasjidi appears in Peranan
Departemen Agama, 62.

Religion and H. Rasjidi's appointment as minister appeared as only a minor item

underneath Amir's move, only towards the end of a fifteen-line article.159

For the Islamic community, on the other hand, the creation of the Ministry of

Religion was an important victory for two reasons. First, on a theoretical level, it

confirmed the principle that religious affairs should not be entirely separated from

governance in Indonesia. This ministry was a major step in the new independent

government inserting itself in religious affairs; just as importantly, it was a step whereby

religious functionaries inserted themselves in government affairs. Second, and perhaps

more important for participants at the time, the creation of a Ministry of Religion

established a location within government from which to provide patronage to Islamic

leaders. Islamic organizations like NU and Muhammadiyah could provide guaranteed

salaries for their members by appointing them as local religious officials or by

subsidizing their Islamic schools through the ministry. The importance of this

opportunity is suggested by the raw scale of the Ministry of Religion. By 1971, the

Ministry of Religion was the second largest ministry in Indonesia, with 159,646

employees. This put it only 3,000 employees behind the Ministry of Education, which

included all public school teachers,160 and four times larger than the next largest ministry

159 Merdeka, January 4, 1946.

160 Partai Nasional Indonesia, which held a lock on the Ministry of Education and Culture except for the
federal cabinet of 1950, reportedly used educational positions for patronage in the same way that Islamic
groups used religious positions. Oral History with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago,
ANRI SL1 1980 #1, tape 3. While that position of PNI went unchallenged, PNI and Masjumi tussled over
patronage and party affiliation in the Ministry of Information; when Burhanuddin Harahap became Prime
Minister he accused PNI of having stacked the Information Ministry with its own people and cleaned house.
PNI then accused Burhanuddin of politicizing the bureaucracy. These sorts of issues never arose, though,
in Islamic parties' use of the Ministry of Religion. Oral History with Burhanuddin Harahap, tape 6; Asbiran
Aswad, "Tindjauan Dalam Negeri," Suara Masjumi tahun XI, no. 2 (January 10, 1956): 2-3.

(the Ministry of Health, which had only 40,000 employees in 1971).161 Although all

these numbers are undoubtedly much larger than they were in the early years of the

Republic, it is likely that their scale was roughly the same. From the beginning, the

Ministry of Religion took charge of registering all marriages and began appointing

general-service religious officials for every district, generating plenty of patronage posts.

Persatuan Perjuangan and Linggarjati as Testing Grounds

The formation of a single, unitary Muslim party would guarantee high

membership, but it did not guarantee political effectiveness. The KNIP, and especially its

Badan Pekerja or Working Committee, which handled day-to-day affairs between

roughly biannual plenary meetings, proved an important testing ground for Islamic

political unity.

Persatuan Perjuangan

The first major political issue of the revolution came with the declaration of the
1 fi")
Persatuan Perjuangan (Struggle League), a popular front that decreed a minimum

program focused on uncompromising independence and greater organization of the

emergent Indonesian state. Although this movement was led by Indonesia's most storied

Communist (the Minangkabau native Tan Malaka), non-Communist groups were quick to

pledge their support. The Partai Nasional Indonesia, the leading secular, non-Marxist

H. Bachtiar, "Bureaucracy and Nation Formation in Indonesia," Bijdragen totde Taal-, Land-, en
Volkenkunde, 128 no. 4 (1972), 444-445.

162 George McT. Kahin has translated this as "Fighting Front" (Nationalism and Revolution, 172), a name
which captures neither the flavor of the phrase for Indonesians nor the nature of the group. This body was
intended as a challenge to the government (not to the Dutch), an alternative vehicle of authority that would
pursue Indonesia's "100% independence." The word perjuangan in its name, literally meaning struggle, is
also closely tied in the minds of many Indonesian Muslims to the Arabic synonym jihad, with all its

party in the country, adopted a resolution in favor of the PP program at its party congress
1 fi'X
in late January, 1946. Masjumi followed suit in its Congress in Solo on February 10-


This commitment to the Persatuan Peijuangan posed a challenge to Masjumi

because of Masjumi's general willingness to support the government; the Persatuan

Peijuangan called on its members to withdraw any and all affiliates from the Sjahrir

cabinet because Sjahrir refused to accept the Minimum Program. When this instruction

came out in February 1946, two Masjumi members were already serving (as individuals,

not on behalf of the party) in the Socialist-led cabinet: Rasjidi as Minister of Religion and

Mohammad Natsir as Minister of Information.165 The instruction for all participant

parties to stay out of the cabinet until the full PP program was carried out did not,

however, cause Masjumi to call on its two members to resign from the cabinet.166

An opportunity to reevaluate the party stance toward the Persatuan Perjuangan

came in March 1946 at the plenary meeting of the entire KNIP. Immediately following

this meeting, Sjahrir moved to form his second cabinet, cobbling together a Socialist-
1 f\7
PNI-Masjumi coalition made up of individuals acting not in the name of their parties.

From Masjumi, the participants in the new cabinet were Haji Agus Salim as the Junior

163 George McT. Kahin, 175.

164 Noer, "Masjumi," 85.

165 Rasjidi had been appointed as a Minister without Portfolio when the cabinet was first announced and

easily tailored his work to religion when that portfolio was created. Sjahrir appointed Mohammad Natsir to
the cabinet on January 1, 1946, pulling him from his previous post as the vice-chair of the Working
Committee of the KNIP.

166 Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 175.

167 Noer and Akbarsyah, 65.

Foreign Minister,168 Mohammad Natsir continuing as Minister of Information, Sjafruddin

Prawiranegara as Junior Minister of Finance, and Rasjidi continuing as Minister of

Religious Affairs.169 Masjumi did not stop additional members from participating in the

cabinet, and one of these new ministers (Sjafruddin) was concurrently serving on

Masjumi's leadership board.170

The Masjumi-aligned ministers in Sjahrir's cabinet did not share their party's

commitment to the Persatuan Peijuangan program. Part of this was an inclination

towards self-preservation; the Persatuan Peijuangan aimed to "ultimately supplant the

existing government as the leader of the Indonesian revolution," although this goal was

not folly apparent until early 1947.171 The activities of the ministers demonstrated their

rejection of the PP long before that, though. Haji Agus Salim, in his capacity as a foreign

envoy, pushed for negotiations that were explicitly rejected by the Persatuan Peijuangan
i Ty
idea of physical struggle to achieve independence on Indonesia's own terms.

Mohammad Natsir seriously undermined the PP in Bukittinggi during his visit with a

168 Haji Agus Salim was not really anyone's junior; at age 62 in 1946 he was already known as the "Grand

Old Man" of the Indonesian Revolution (see Mohammad Roem, "Menuju Pemecahan Permasalahan Dunia
Secara Universal," in Bunga Rampai Dari Sejarah, volume 4 (Jakarta: Bulan Bintang, 1988), 175). He was
technically the Menteri Muda Luar Negeri, or Junior Foreign Minister, only because Sutan Sjahrir
simultaneously held the portfolios of Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. In practice, Haji Agus Salim
served as Indonesia's representative abroad and engaged very actively both in negotiations with the Dutch
and in discussions with representatives from the United Nations.

169 Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 177.

170 Oral History with Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SL1 1979 #6, tape 3.

Sjafruddin suspected that he was included in the Badan Partai because of his seat in the Working
Committee of the KNIP.

171 George McT. Kahin, 172.

172 MienSoedarpo, Reminiscences of the Past, vol II, Siti Nuraini Barnett, ed. (Jakarta: Sejati Foundation
with PT Gramedia Widiasarana Indonesia, 1997) describes the Indonesian delegation to the UN, including
Agus Salim, and their efforts to promote negotiations.

cabinet delegation in March 1946.173 Collectively, the Masjumi ministers in the cabinet,

along with the administration's leader, Sjahrir, ignored the demands of the Persatuan


Masjumi's ambivalent commitment to the PP was possible because the PP had no

bills before the government where the Masjumi ministers and legislative members would

have to go on record on opposite sides of the same issue. Thus, perhaps the issue went

without a decisive stance from the full party leadership. Masjumi let the organizational

tie to Persatuan Perjuangan slip as the PP called more clearly for the end of the Sjahrir

premiership and for its own rise in the state structures.

Linggarjati Agreement and the Expansion of the KNIP

A more delicate issue was the Linggarjati agreement, the first negotiated treaty

between the Dutch and the Republic of Indonesia. For this agreement between the Dutch

and the Republican government, the main negotiator had been Sjahrir himself, with the

help of Haji Agus Salim. Among the secular parties, the PKI and socialist PSI supported

it, while PNI joined the bulk of Masjumi's rank-and-file in the opposition. The key

provision of the Linggarjati agreement was Dutch recognition of the Republic of

Indonesia as the de facto power over Java and Sumatra; divisions arose because this fell

far short of the goal of the Republican government of being the de facto and de jure

authority over all former Dutch territory.

173 George McT. Kahin, 182.

174 It
is worth noting that Masjumi ministers were not the only ones to share affiliation with a PP-aligned
party and still reject the PP. Noer notes a case at the height of hypocrisy: in early March 1946 Wikana
announced on behalf of the Persatuan Peijuangan that members should stay out of the second Sjahrir
cabinet, then being formed. Despite his leading role in the PP, Wikana himself then went on to serve in the
cabinet as a Minister of State, representing the youth. Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 159, n. 26.

Masjumi leaders in the cabinet supported the Linggarjati agreement nonetheless.

To counter popular disappointment with the agreement's terms, Minister of Information

Mohammad Natsir felt obliged to publicize several positive elements of the agreement

the day after Prime Minister Sjahrir initialed the agreement. These were "that it was the

result of representatives who 'stood firmly on the same foundation as representatives of

the state and representatives of the people'; that the agreement was a step that 'opened

the door' to the direction that was desired, namely the unity of Indonesia and creation of

a federal government based on the outcome of consultations."175 Natsir was not the only

high-ranking Masjumi leader to line up behind Linggajati; the other Masjumi-aligned

members of the cabinet, including Mr. Mohammad Roem, Mr. Sjafruddin Prawiranegara,

and Arudji Kartawinata also strongly supported the agreement.

The trouble was that the rank-and-file of Masjumi, and much of the party's

leadership board, did not support the Linggaijati agreement when Sjahrir initialed it in

November 1946. Masjumi made its disapproval known by passing a resolution opposed

to the Linggaijati agreement at their party congress on November 20-21, 1946, in

Jogjakarta.176 This resolution put the Masjumi cabinet members in a difficult situation.

These men met together and decided that, because they had joined the cabinet as

individuals and not representatives of the party, they did not need to resign from the
cabinet over this issue.

175 Noer and Akbarsyah, 88.

176 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 165.

177 Oral history with Mr. Mohammad Roem, interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SLl 1981 #6,
tape 9.

Sjafruddin Prawiranegara reports a basic division in the Masjumi between

Western-educated members, who generally favored Linggaijati (and other subsequent

negotiated agreements with the Dutch), and the pesantren-based old guard who believed

that physical struggle against the Dutch was the way to achieve their goal of an

independent state. This generalization may exaggerate the support for Linggarjati,

because that is where Sjafruddin himself stood. Dr. Sukiman, the head of the party, sided

with the old guard against Linggarjati; Sjafruddin believes that Sukiman feared the old

guard would not continue to back his leadership if he bucked them on major policy issues

like this. Sjafruddin, on the other hand, defended the treaty, with the reasoning that if

independence and the goals of Masjumi were possible through negotiations, there was no

use to fighting and losing Indonesia's young men. Thus, Sjafruddin took this reasoning

to meetings with key leaders of Masjumi to try and convince them to support the treaty.

He focused on individuals with strong personal followings, like K. Wahab of Nahdlatul

Ulama and K.H. Masjkur of Muhammadiyah, strategizing that if these men could be

convinced then their former students would follow.178 Mohammad Roem and Mohamad

Natsir, both also sitting in the Sjahrir cabinet and supporting the Linggarjati agreement,

also lobbied hard for the membership to accept this as a starting point. Roem, in

particular, was sharply disappointed that the Masjumi congress in November had not

waited for a report from its cabinet ministers about the agreement before passing the

resolution against it.179 He and Natsir spoke at follow-up conferences and tried to bring

individual leaders to their point of view.

178 Oral history with Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1979 #6, tape 4.

179 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 166.

This effort was in vain. Not only did Masjumi stick with its opposition to

Linggaijati, but several subsidiary organizations like Muhammadiyah, Nahdlatul Ulama,

and GPII also passed resolutions opposing Linggaijati at their organizational meetings.180

Besides the issue of Linggaijati itself, the government (this time in the person of

President Sukarno) created an additional issue when it unilaterally expanded the

membership of the KNIP (Indonesia's temporary parliament) leading up to the plenary

KNIP session to debate the ratification of the Linggaijati agreement. Up to this point, the

KNIP held 217 members, all appointed by the president.181 On December 30, 1946, the

president announced Government Proclamation number 6 of 1946, expanding KNIP's

1 89
membership. The addition of new members to the KNIP would reflect the strength of

parties, represent the ones that had not yet received representation, and account for

regions, social groups, and ethnic groups: these new members totaled 314, more than

doubling the KNIP's membership.183

The obvious interpretation of most political observers at the time was that

Sukarno had issued this proclamation so as to change the composition of the KNIP and

make it more amenable to ratifying the Linggarjati agreement.184 Mohammad Hatta has

180 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 165.

181Noer and Akbarsyah list these individuals in their Appendix 14, pp. 382-387. Some of these individuals
had been appointed as replacements or additions over the course of 1946, but the majority of them were in
place at the end of 1945. Although technically appointed by the president, parties could still name men to
replace members who no longer served in the KNIP due to cabinet appointment or other impediments.

182 Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 200; Noer and Akbarsyah, 95.

183 Not all 314 seats were actually filled in the March 1947 plenary session; only 263 additional members

attended. Noer and Akbarsyah list these individuals in their Appendix 15, pp. 388-395. Out of the new
composition of the KNIP, parties held 222 seats (formerly 129), working groups 80 seats (formerly 0),
regions 78 (formerly 14), ethnic groups 13 (formerly 8), and "prominent individuals" 121 (formerly 49),
totaling 514 seats. See Noer and Akbarsyah, 95.

184 Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 200, identifies this as a major reason but "by no means the sole

important reason for the expansion," also citing political developments that were not yet reflected in the

since claimed that this adjustment was not necessary, and that the administration already

had the votes to pass Linggaijati without any expanded membership.185 Nevertheless, the

impression of "pushing through Linggaijati" was supported by the addition of large

numbers of leftist representatives, the leftists all lining up in support of the agreement.186

All the same, Masjumi also saw significant gains under the proclamation, increasing from

35 seats to 60 seats, and now had the greatest representation of any group in the KNIP.187

Even this was not enough to win the party's support for such a change in KNIP


In its first meeting of the new year, on January 7, 1947, the KNIP Working

Committee (including several Masjumi politicians) objected vehemently to this

proclamation. Interestingly, both the attack on the proclamation and the defense of the

proclamation were led by Masjumi politicians. Questioning the ability of the president to

change the legislative branch unilaterally was Mr. Prawoto Mangkusasmito, a member of

the Masjumi leadership board and a leading lawyer in the KNIP Working Committee.

Prawoto argued, regardless of the constitutional prerogatives given the president before

elections could be held, the proclamation violated the spirit of the times and the function

legislative and seriously underrepresented groups. He admits, though, that the general reception of the
proclamation saw it as a political trick rather than a democratic adjustment. According to Burhanuddin
Harahap, the prevailing view in Masjumi saw the increase as a devious and undemocratic political move,
and a dangerous one at that. Oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI
SLl 1980 #1, tape 1.

185 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 167, n. 61. Hatta projected passage of Linggaijati in the existing

KNIP by a margin of roughly 3 to 2.

186 Leftist groups supporting the Linggaijati agreement included the PKI, PSI, Murba, and the Labor party.

187Noer and Akbarsyah, 95. Masjumi's increase of 25 members was less than the increase for individual/
organizational members (added 72), Sumatran representatives (50), farmers (40), laborers (40), the
Indonesian Communist Party (33), and the Indonesian Labor Party (29), but they also had more
representatives to begin with, leading them to the highest number of members of any party, regional or
working group.

of the KNIP as the parliament envisioned in the constitution. Thus, Prawoto claimed, at

this point the legislative and executive should work together on the composition of the

KNIP.188 Prawoto was joined in his attack by Mr. Burhanuddin Harahap, also a graduate

of the Jakarta law school and a close friend of Prawoto's, who saw the president's move
as the height of undemocratic meddling. Defending the action was Mr. Mohamad

Roem, Prawoto's senior in law school in Jakarta and serving as Minister of Internal

Affairs. Roem pointed out that the KNIP was acting as Indonesia's legislature only

because Sukarno had willingly devolved some power to it; constitutionally this remained

a decision for the executive.190 In the end, the Working Committee passed a resolution

voiding the President's proclamation, but Sukarno invited all of the newly appointed

delegates to appear at the plenary session in Malang in March 1947 anyway.

At the plenary session, Sukarno played his political hand expertly well. First, he

ensured that all of his new appointees attended (these new potential members

outnumbering current members, in addition to being their friends), pressuring the KNIP

to accept the new men as colleagues. To further ensure acceptance of the new members,

Sukarno and Hatta threatened their nuclear option when Hatta stated in his speech before

the body: if the new members were not accepted, the president and vice-president would

be forced to resign.191 The issue was then quickly resolved; after a short recess the body

accepted its new members in a landslide vote.

188 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 168.

189 Oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1980 #1, tape 1.

190 Noer and Akbarsyah, 98.

191 Noer and Akbarsyah, 109; Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution, 207.

Next, the government had to convince the KNIP to ratify the Linggaijati

agreement. With the new composition of the KNIP this was a much more feasible task;

the new members were generally greatly indebted to Sukarno for their positions and

would follow the government's policies. Masjumi, however, felt no such obligation to

ratify a treaty which it had resolved to be unsatisfactory. In the plenary session of the

KNIP in March 1947, the two Masjumi representatives who spoke before the Linggarjati

ratification vote, Mohamad Sardjan and Sjamsuddin, both announced that Masjumi

refused to be responsible for the Linggaijati agreement, before leading the entire

Masjumi delegation to walk out of the meeting and thus miss the vote.192 Without

Masjumi or PNI (who had followed Masjumi out on similar terms) participating in the

vote, the KNIP ratified the Linggaijati agreement 284-2.193

Just as it had divided the secular parties, the ratification of Linggarjati remained a

controversial action among Muslims across Indonesia. In West Sumatra, driven by

disappointment at the ineffectiveness of regional military and civilian leadership and

anger at the Linggaijati ratification, Islamic militias even kidnapped the local civilian and

military leadership.194 Not everyone in Masjumi outside the cabinet opposed the

agreement. For example, although the Sumatra branch of the party had voted against the

192 Noer and Akbarsyah, 126. Abu Hanifah gives a slightly different account of this incident, in which he

himself takes the leading role as the only speaker on behalf of Masjumi and the one who led the delegation
to leave the hall. Abu Hanifah includes impressive detail (including with whom he had arranged to get
extra speaking time up to 40 minutes), but still the exclusive leading rule he assigns himself is suspect.
Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution, 207-211.

193Noer and Akbarsyah, 127. The only other Islamic party in existence at the time, Perti (see below), also
stated its opposition to the Linggarjati agreement, although this had very little consequence in the vote, as
Perti was represented by just one individual (its chairman Siradjuddin Abbas) as a regional representative
for Sumatra in the newly expanded KNIP. Noer and Akbarsyah, 91, 394.

194 GustiAsnan, Memikir Ulang Regionalisme: Sumatera Barat Tahun 1950-an (Jakarta: Yayasan Obor,
2007), 164.

Linggaijati agreement at the party congress in November 1946, Syekh Muhammad

Djamil Djambek, the head of the Sumatra branch and the only activist based outside of

Java who was on the central party leadership, personally supported the agreement.195

The differing views regarding the Linggarjati agreement show the different modes

of thinking even within the Islamic community. Leaders in the cabinet who wanted to

sign the agreement thought like statesmen, with the preservation of the Republic of

Indonesia as their primary goal. Their conception of the new Indonesian state seemed to

be basically a continuation of the form and format of traditional or mainstream politics,

but filled with Islamic content. On the other side of the issue, many of the Islamic

activists fighting on the ground in the revolution wanted a fundamental transformation in

the form of the state and the methods of politics. From the stance of expecting a

fundamental transformation, one can easily see how these activists took the Linggaijati

agreement as a betrayalany compromise with the Dutch would endanger the ideal of a

truly Indonesian Islamic state on the people's own terms.

The two factions of the Islamic bloc on this issue did not split cleanly between the

urban elites supporting it and the rural grassroots opposing it. Leaders in the Masjumi

party at the highest level of the government also split over the Linggaijati agreement.

Their opinions on the matter, furthermore, were very strong. Burhanuddin Harahap felt

so strongly opposed to the ratification of Linggarjati (and to the addition of members to

the KNIP to facilitate the ratification) that he resigned from the Working Committee of

the KNIP and would not lead legislative politics again until he became Prime Minister in

195 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 166, n. 57.

1955.196 Mohammad Roem, on the other hand, supported the negotiated agreement so

strongly that he became indelibly associated with negotiations and took the lead in future

meetings with the Dutch. The individuals supporting the Linggarjati agreement were

mostly those sitting in the cabinet, who were younger and more Western educated than

most Masjumi members, but not sharply distinguishable in age, ethnic background, or

education from some of their opponents within the party. Notably, the fissures on the

Linggaijati issue did not correspond with the fractures of the party in later years.197

As it happened, the two sides did not have to vote against each other in the KNIP

meeting, because members of the cabinet could not hold seats in KNIP concurrently, so

Masjumi was able to retain the appearance of solidarity.198 The desire for a united front

of Muslims held a place at the top of Masjumi's internal priorities for its first few years.

Even when differences of opinion arose within the party, Sjafruddin Prawiranegara

reports that a logic of ukhuwah Islamiyyah or Islamic brotherhood was invoked to keep

members united in action, even when this meant uncomfortable compromises.199

Unfortunately for Masjumi, this bond could not last forever.

Other Islamic Parties Emerge

Founding of Perti as a Rival Party

196 Oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1980 #1, tape 1.

197 Most visibly, Mohammad Roem and Prawoto Mangkusasmito, who stood on opposite sides of this issue,

both remained in Masjumi leadership through the party's dissolution in 1960 and belonged to the category
of "religious socialists" along the lines of Natsir. On the other hand, the fissures on the subject of the
Persatuan Peijuangan could be connected with the departure of PSII from MasjumiPSII leaders were
more strongly in favor of strong action like the PP advocated, and the detention of two PSII leaders became
a negotiating point when PSII re-emerged. See below.

198 Noer and Akbarsyah, 127.

199 Oral history with Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1979 #6, tape 4.

Although Masjumi intended to be the sole representative of Islamic interests in

the political sphere, other groups soon emerged. The first was Persatuan Tarbiyah

Islamiyah, more commonly known by its abbreviated name "Perti."200

In 1928, facing an increasingly strong network of Islamic reformist schools, the

Islamic traditionalists of West Sumatra felt they needed to band together to stand up for
the Shafi'i school of jurisprudence. A group of traditionalist Islamic scholars created a

network for their own schools, called Persatuan Tarbiyah Islamiyah (or Islamic

Educational Union) and made out of this a modern-style organization in 1930. The

organization was a major societal and nascent political force at the end of Dutch

colonialism in Indonesia, as demonstrated by the fact that Perti representatives were

included in the Visman Commission of 1941 that weighed self-governance for the Dutch

East Indies.202 As of 1945, the organization had, by its own tally, more than 350

affiliated schools, and 400,000 members, almost exclusively on Sumatra and mostly in

the Minangkabau ethnic homeland.203

200 The name of the organization and later the political party is usually given as "Persatuan Tarbiyah
Islamiyah" or Islamic Educational Union, but occasionally sources present the name of the political party
as "Pergerakan Tarbiyah Islamiyah," or Islamic Educational Movement. See Koto, 2; Rustam Sutan
Palindih, Rakjat Berdaulat dan Pemilihan Umum (Jakarta: Bulan Bintang, 1952), 60; Kementerian
Penerangan Republik Indonesia, Kepartaian di Indonesia ([Jakarta]: Kementerian Penerangan Republik
Indonesia, 1951), 72ff.

201 The conflict between modernist and traditionalist groups in West Sumatra is chronicled very well in

Noer, Modernist Muslim Movement; Za'im Rais, "The Minangkabau Traditionalists Response to the
Modernist Movement," MA Thesis, McGill University., 1994; and Hamka, Ajahku: Riwajat Hidup Dr. H.
Abd. Karim Amrullah (Jakarta: Djajamurni, 1967).

202 Koto, 106. Perti, of course, strongly supported not only self-government for the Indies, but furthermore
Islamic government, with the head of the government required to be Muslim and Islam enshrined in the
constitution. Ibid.

203Koto, 45. Perti's organization also extended up into Aceh and down into South Sumatra, but without
nearly as large a following as it held in West Sumatra at this time.

Upon hearing about Mohammad Hatta's call on November 5, 1945, to create

political parties, the organization's leadership called a plenary meeting of the leadership

on November 22, which was followed by the organization's fourth congress on

December 24-26, 1945, in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra. At these meetings, members and

leaders officially endorsed the move to become a political party: Partai Politik Islam Perti

(the Perti Islamic Political Party).204 The party's ideological foundation was "the Islamic

religion in its law and rituals according to Imam Shafi'i's school of jurisprudence and

following the determinations of the Ahlussunnah wal Jama'ah school."205 Although they

did not put forward a full political program until 1950, Perti did include five broad goals

in their founding document, as follows:

1. Deepen the feeling of love towards religion, nation, and homeland.

2. Intensify the spread and defense of the Islamic religion.
3. Defend the independence of the nation and State of Indonesia.
4. Advance the teaching, studying, and intelligence of the people.
5. Advance the economy and work toward the prosperity of the people.206

The greatest question coming out of the founding of Perti is why the group did not

join the Masjumi party. The answer to this question is never entirely clear in party

documents or memoirs, because the issue of Masjumi is often avoided or omitted. One

204 Koto, 47.

205 Koto, 175. In this book Koto has reprinted the full text of several key party documents; this quotation

comes from the Anggaran Dasar Partai Islam Perti as passed on December 26, 1945. Cf. the changes of the
1962 revision of the party's constitution, which reads "the pure Islamic religion which is in the faith and
beliefs according to the Ahlusunnah wal Djama'ah (Sunni) understanding and in the laws and rituals
according to the school of jurisprudence of Imam Sjafi'i Rahimahullah," and additionally states "This party
foundation which does not conflict with the Foundation and Goal of the State and its Program does not
intend to tear down the Foundation and Goal of the State." Article 2 in Anggaran Dasar Partai Islam Perti
(Sesudah dirobah dan ditambah oleh Kongres Partai Islam Perti ke IX, jang berlangsung di Djakarta dari
tanggal 13 sampai dengan 20 Djanuari 1962) (Jakarta: Lembaran Penguasa Perang, 1962). Cf. Rustam
Sutan Palindih, Rakjat Berdaulat dan Pemilihan Umum , 60.

206 Koto, 176. This is also from the Anggaran Dasar of December 1945.

can point to a few speculative causes based on the background of Perti and the party's

actions in the following decade.

First, the traditionalist ulama who founded Perti as an organization and converted

it into a political party did not trust the leaders of Masjumi. Those Masjumi leaders

originating from Sumatra were generally aligned with the reformist theological camp

(such as Mohammad Natsir and Burhanuddin Harahap), thus meriting theological distrust.

Worse yet, the leading Masjumi representative on Sumatra was Syekh M. Djamil

Djambek, the reformist scholar and leader in Bukittinggi and the archenemy of Perti's

traditionalists.207 The foremost traditionalists in the organization were Javanese, from

Nahdlatul Ulama. It is likely that Perti's leadership did not trust that their political

positions would be represented well by either of these groups.

Secondly, and probably just as important, it seems that the leadership of Perti

sought higher political office by founding their own party. Even if they had lined up on

policy with the leadership of Masjumi, which did happen, for example, on the point of

desiring sharia to come into force as Indonesian law, Perti's leaders hoped to gain

national prominence and powerful positions by driving their own, separate political


The third answer to the question, and perhaps the most important on the ground in

1945, is structural. Sumatra was administered by the Japanese 25th Army out of

On Djamil Djambek's leadership in Masjumi see above; on his enmity with the traditionalists, see Noer,
Modernist Muslim Movement, 36ff.

208 Koto, 186.

209 This seems to follow the pattern of political party splits in Indonesia today, where conflict arises more
often over personnel and positions than substantive policy issues. It also foreshadows the reasons for the
exit of PSII from Masjumi; see below.

Singapore, and totally separate in its administration from Java, which was under the 16th

Army.210 Islamic groups on Sumatra were not folded into the Masjoemi religious

organization created by the Japanese on Java; Perti never became involved in the

cooperative programs between Java's traditionalist and reformist Islamic groups that

occurred under Masjoemi auspices. Having never been a subsidiary of Masjoemi, Perti

was reluctant to become one when the social-religious group transformed into the

political party Masjumi in November 1945. It seemed more natural to the Minangkabau

leaders to form their own political party than to join one that had already been formed in

their absence.

Seen in this light, why did other Islamic groups outside of Java, such as Jamiyatul

Washliyah in North Sumatra, Persatuan Ulama Seluruh Aceh (PUSA) in Aceh, and

Musjawarattuthalibin in Banjarmasin, choose not to form their own political parties

during the revolution? In fact, to the contrary, these organizations chose between 1945

and 1949 to become subsidiaries of Masjumi. Some of these groups had not weathered

the Japanese era very well, such as Musjawaratutthalibin, and so were in no position to

reconstitute themselves as religious organizations, much less as political parties.211 For

groups like PUSA and Jamiyatul Washliyah, the perceived ideological difference must

have been much less of a challenge, since neither came out of a traditionalist environment

210 Reid, Indonesian National Revolution, 13.

211 Musjawaratutthalibin was a group very similar to Perti, founded in 1931 by traditionalist students in

South Kalimantan. See M. Nur Maksum et al., Musyawaratuththalibin, 17. The organization was banned
and persecuted under the Japanese (Ibid, 48), and after the proclamation of independence, rather than
reconstitute Musjawaratutthalibin the former leaders and members declared their support for Masjumi in
1946 (Ibid, 62) and scattered to different groups. The most prominent former member of
Musjawaratutthalibin was K.H. Idham Chalid, who went on to a storied career in NU after that organization
broke off" from Masjumi. See oral history with K.H. Idham Chalid, interviewed by M. Dien Madjib, ANRI
SLl 1985 #9, tape 1. Some Musjawaratutthalibin leaders also doubtlessly went into Sermi, a local party
created in Banjarmasin. See below.

that sharply conflicted with modernists. Thus it was that Masjumi was able to carry the

banner of the vast majority of Indonesia's Muslims for its first several years of existence,

with only Perti emerging as a rival Islamic party.212

There were two key consequences to the establishment of Perti as a separate party

in 1945. First, of course, was the politicization of Perti, which remained a political party

until 1970, and a faction within the official Muslim party, Partai Persatuan Pembangunan,

through the end of the New Order.213 The second consequence was setting a precedent,

however small at the time, for having more than one Islamic party in the field in

Indonesia. This created an opening that would later be used to split Masjumi with the

departure of PSII (see below). It should be emphasized, though, that Perti was not a

prominent force in politics, certainly not in national politics, and perhaps Masjumi saw it

as a regional party likely to integrate itself into Masjumi after the chaos of the revolution

had ended, like other regional parties (see below). Mohammad Natsir certainly did not

feel threatened by the existence of Perti; he presided over the commissioning of their

Laskar Muslim Indonesia and Laskar Muslimaat militias in Bukittinggi during his visit

with a cabinet delegation in March, 1946.214 In any case, this started as a small, rather

212 Two parties emerged in South Kalimantan, but these were not rivals to Masjumi; they were rather

created because of the separate political regime in power on Kalimantan. See below.

213Of course, Perti was not a formal faction within PPP, but informants uniformly reported that individuals
who had come from a specific Islamic organization (before the forced integration into PPP by Suharto)
remained loyal to and affiliated primarily with that organization after PPP's creation. Interview with
Jamaluddin Batubara, Medan, October 26, 2009; interview with Mohammad Thalal, Banda Aceh, March
11,2010. Both men served as PPP representatives; the former aligned with Jamiyatul Washliyah and
reaching the DPRD for North Sumatra, the latter with Perti in Aceh and serving in the DPR-RI.

214 Syamsul Madi, "Partai Politik Islam di Sumatera Barat, 1945-1949," Skripsi SI, Fakultas Ilmu-Ilmu
Sosial, Universitas Negeri Padang, 2000, 28.

unimportant exception to Masjumi's unitarianism, as evidenced by the fact that leading

observers were sometimes unaware of Perti's existence.215

Sermi as a Counterexample: Regional Political Islam

Not all regional Islamic interests felt led to found Masjumi rivals. In Banjarmasin,

South Kalimantan, in 1946 locals created an Islamic party, the Serikat Muslimin

Indonesia (Sermi, Union of Indonesian Muslims), to oppose the Dutch plans for

federalism, or more specifically to oppose the creation of a federal state on Borneo

separate from and counterweight to the Republic of Indonesia.216 Although founded by

Islamic leaders, the idea seems to have come from secular counterparts in the Serikat

Kerakjatan Indonesia (SKI, Indonesian Popular Union); the two parties also worked

closely together through the end of the revolution in opposition to Dutch federalist
0\ 1
politics. The Sermi's goal was "the foundation of a Unitary State of Indonesia (based

on politics and religion)." Among Sermi's members was the very popular Col. Hassan

Basri, a devout Muslim and leader of the TNI and anti-Dutch fight in South

215See, for example, C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "The Dar ul-Islam Movement in Western Java till 1949"
in Aspects of Islam in Post-Colonial Indonesia (The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958), 164, where he lists only
Masjumi and PSII as functioning Islamic parties. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, also makes no
mention of Perti.

216 The exact date of the founding of Sermi is very unclear. Artum Artha, Sejarah Kota Bandjarmasin
(Bandjarmasin, Museum Bandjar Lambung Mangkurat, 1970), 19, lists Serikat Muslimin Indonesia as
founded on September 27, 1946, after the pro-federalist Serikat Rakyat Islam on July 2, 1946. This
sequence is refuted by all other sources, and may stem from a typo on Artha's part; it seems that SRI was
founded on July 2, 1947. Maksum et al., 4, report the founding of Sermi in 1946, month unspecified. H.
Suriansyah Ideham et al. do not give a date for the founding of Sermi, but suggest that it came shortly after
the SKI. In this they follow the implication of SKI's self-account in the Department of Information's book
Kepartaian di Indonesia , 231, which suggests that the Serikat Kerakjatan Indonesia founded Sermi shortly
after it came into existence itself (without listing a date). According to a report by the Home Affairs
Ministry in 1950 (held in ANRI, RA5 Sekretariat Negara RI Yogyakarta (Des '49 - Sep '50), #176,
"Berkas mengenai azas, tujuan partai-partai di Indonesia disertai surat pengantar dari Kementerian Dalam
Negeri RI Jogja"), Sermi was founded in January 1947, but this date, although coming from the earliest
source, does not seem to fit the developments on the ground in Banjarmasin; Sermi was already
demonstrating significant organization and heft by mid-1947 (see H. Suriansyah Ideham et al., 416).
Overall, it seems likely that Sermi came into existence in mid-1946.

217 Kepartaian di Indonesia, 231; H. Suriansyah Ideham et al., 413-419.

Kalimantan.218 Although Sermi was aware of developments of the nationalist Muslim

party Masjumi on Java, they were prohibited from using national names for their local

organization by the local Dutch powers. Still, Sermi worked together with the Masjumi
whenever possible.

The Dutch, alarmed by Islamic and republican politics in South Kalimantan, a

territory that they intended to turn into a federal state after the Linggarjati agreement,

attempted to entice several religious leaders to create a break-off group from Sermi.

They even sent the well-known Orientalist van der Plaas, a man fluent in Arabic and

competent at Qur'anic exegesis, to try to convince or win over local kyai. After several

unsuccessful attempts with other ulama, the Dutch managed to gain the support of K.H.

Abdurrachman Siddiq, one of the founders of Sermi. In July 1947 he established a break-

off group in Banjarmasin, the Serikat Rakyat Islam (SRI, Union of Islamic People). This

new organization was willing to allow the creation of a federal system for Indonesia, with

some conditions. At the time of the Home Affairs Ministry's report on regional parties

in 1950, Sermi reported 10,000 members and SRI listed roughly 60,000.221

These parties were founded as a response to local circumstances (impending

federalism), but like Masjumi brought together traditionalists and modernists. The

members of these organizations dissolved the groups upon the integration of the Unitary

State of Indonesia in August 1950; Sermi officially dissolved itself into Masjumi in 1950,

218 ANRI, RA5 Sekretariat Negara RI Yogyakarta (Des '49 - Sep '50), #176.

219 Interview
with H. Ali Assegaf, Banjarmasin, September 19, 2010. H. Ali was a student at the Sekolah
Menengah Tinggi founded jointly by SKI and Sermi in 1947 through its shuttering by the Dutch in 1948.

220 ANRI, RA5 Sekretariat Negara RI Yogyakarta (Des '49 - Sep '50), #176.

221ANRI, RA5 Sekretariat Negara RI Yogyakarta (Des '49 - Sep '50), #176. These figures are obviously
estimates, and on the part of SRI almost certainly a gross exaggeration.

and many of its chapter leaders became the local leaders of Masjumi.222 Similar

movements emerged in other federal states as place-holder parties, such as the Gerakan

Muslim Indonesia that formed itself as a "political movement" in Bandung in September

1949. In this case, the connection with Masjumi was even clearer: several of its leaders

were Masjumi cadres, such as Isa Anshary and K.H. Abdulhalim, who wanted a vehicle

to criticize the Dutch puppet state of Pasundan.223 The disappearance of these regional

Islamic parties in 1950 suggests that there was very little enthusiasm in Indonesia for new,

local political vehicles. Instead, the regional leaders, and even the local leaders, were

generally supportive of the idea of Masjumi as a unitary political vehicle for Islamic


Exit of PSII and the First Fracture of Masjumi

While regional parties were alternatives to Masjumi, they were not directly

competing with Masjumi for support in the regions and positions at the national level.

They also had formed independently, but not out of former Masjumi members. For this

reason, the first two years of Masjumi's existence as a political party were a time of

relative unity.

This came to an end in the middle of 1947 with the first real fracture in Masjumi,

connected to the creation of a new cabinet. After leading three different coalition

cabinets, Sutan Sjahrir was not re-appointed in June 1947 as the formateur for the new
222Kepartaian di Indonesia, 231. Continuity of a Sermi leader in Masjumi was the case in Alabio, South
Kalimantan, for example, where Basthami bin H. Djantera, a long-time Muhammadiyah activist, founded
and ran the Sermi branch in 1948, but became the head of the local Masjumi in 1950-52. See his
curriculum vitae (as of November 1953) in the Muhammadiyah collection, ANRI, RA34 Muhammadiyah,
#55 "Daftar riwayat hidup calon Majelis Perwakilan Muhammadiyah Daerah, tahun 1951-1953."

223A document on the organization's founding is in ANRI, RA2 Sekretariat Negara RI 1945-49, #1030, but
no other documents on this "political movement" (gerakan politik, it never chose to become a party) are
available. Thus, it seems that this dissolved seamlessly into Masjumi when Pasundan dissolved into the
Republic of Indonesia in 1950.

cabinet.224 Instead, Sukarno appointed a team of four leaders from different parties:

Sukiman from the Masjumi, A.K. Gani from PNI, Amir Sjarifuddin from the Socialists

(Sjahrir's party), and Setiadjit from the Labor Party (Partai Buruh Indonesia, usually

called "Buruh"). These four were unable to reach a compromise on the composition of

the cabinet because Sukiman made high demands that the others were unwilling to meet;

Masjumi required at least four portfolios, including the prime minister, minister of

foreign affairs, minister of home affairs, and defense.225 In the general political spectrum

these demands seemed unreasonable, but Masjumi felt that it was not only the largest

faction in parliament but was also the strongest party by popular following. This was just

the first instance of Masjumi vastly overestimating the strength and nature of its popular

support, leading to a political blunder.

Masjumi also felt disinclined to work with Amir. Several Masjumi leaders

(although not all) distrusted Amir because of his conversion to Christianity at age 24 and

his anti-fascist collaboration work with the Dutch in the late colonial era (after previous

political activity advocating non-collaboration). The issue of wartime collaboration,

whether with the Dutch or Japanese, continued to have resonance in Masjumi and in

Indonesian politics generally.

When the original team of four found itself unable to create a cabinet because of

Sukiman's obstinate expectations, Sukarno dismissed the formateurs and reappointed a

224Sjahrir's third cabinet actually fell on June 27, 1947, but Sukarno did not appoint formateurs until June
30, with the new cabinet actually formed on July 3. See Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 209.

Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 169-70. Of course, it is a given that the Minister of Religion
would also be a Masjumi representative, but this demand was not made explicit.

Noer, "Masjumi," 107. Not all Masjumi leaders disliked Amir. Dr. Abu Hanifah, a schoolmate of
Amir's in Bandung and his close friend in Jakarta, still regards Amir very fondly in his 1972 memoir. Abu
Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1972), 44ff and passim.

new team of three, made up of the original four minus Sukiman. Amir Sjarifuddin and

his colleagues now had an opportunity to craft a cabinet more to their liking, but they

thought it would be politically dangerous to create one without Islamic leaders in it.

Amir contacted several Masjumi leaders who had previously served in cabinets without a

mandate from their party. Mohamad Roem, for example, reported being contacted by

Amir, requesting that he join in the new cabinet. Roem felt he had to reject the offer for

two reasons. First, his party had strongly proclaimed that they would not join the cabinet

if they could not lead it, even though this had not posed a problem for Roem's previous

participation in cabinets. Second, Roem felt that as a member of the outgoing cabinet his

policies had been rejected with the cabinet's fall and that he had best not govern for a

while.227 In the end, Amir did succeed drawing in one Masjumi affiliate into his new

cabinet: H. Agus Salim, who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Given the

Masjumi rejection of Amir as the new cabinet's leader, though, Salim served as an

individual and not on behalf of the party, just as he had in previous cabinets.

Unsuccessful at getting first tier Masjumi leaders to join the cabinet, Amir then

turned to second tier leaders with plenty of experience in colonial politics. Specifically,

he looked to Wondoamiseno and Arudji Kartawinata, two activists from the pre-war PSII

who were now low-level leaders of the Masjumi's Hizbullah militia office. When the

dust settled on the new cabinet, these leaders had not only won cabinet seats for

227 Oral history with Mohamad Roem, interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SL1 1981 #6, tape 9.

228 Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 210, lists Salim in the Amir cabinet (oddly, as a non-party rather
than a Masjumi man), but no source explains Salim's reasoning in joining this cabinet. Granted, Salim had
long been on bad terms with the senior leadership of Masjumi, but it is peculiar that he rejected the
instructions of the party by joining the cabinet and yet also refused to join the newly re-created PSII.
Perhaps it is because Salim still harbored bad feelings after his own ejection from PSII (after two decades
of leading the organization) in 1934.

themselves but also revived the old Partai Sarikat Islam Indonesia as an independent

political party, and thus a rival to Masjumi on the national stage. Amir gave PSII five

seats in the new cabinet, but this sacrifice was politically well worth the resulting split of
the nation's great Islamic party. The question remains, then, why certain Islamic

politicians would revive the PSII. The leaders had the option of joining the cabinet as

individuals, rather than as Masjumi-party representatives; this was the option Agus Salim

took. The motivations to form a rival party, then, must have been more than just the

desire to enter the cabinet.230

The party's own narrative of its revival was based on a call from PSII branches

for the revival of the party. More specifically, Wondoamiseno recounted a visit from two

emissaries from West Sumatra who presented him with a letter from South Sumatran

leaders that had already been signed by former PSII officers Sjahbuddin Latif and

Harsono Tjokroaminoto, calling all the party's branches throughout Indonesia back into

existence. Later accounts added the Sulawesi branches as agitators for the re-

229 Atthis point no other Islamic party was prominent at the national level; regional parties such as Perti
and Sermi were expected to fold themselves into Masjumi once the revolution came to an end, as some of
them did. On the number of seats in the cabinet, Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 210-211, counts six
by including both K. Ahmad Azhari as Minister of Religion and H. Anwarudin as Vice-Minister of
Religion; Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 170-171, counts only five, viewing these two men as
successive holders of the same position rather than as two simultaneous cabinet ministers. On Ahmad
Azhari's participation in the cabinet, see below.

230 Ofcourse, there were rumors circulating at the time that the men re-establishing PSII had been tricked
by the enemies of Islam into taking this action, even rumors of a pay-off to the tune of Rp. 2,000,000. See
Putjuk Pimpinan Partai Sjarikat Islam Indonesia, Bagian Penjiaran, Barisan Partai Sjarikat Islam Indonesia
bersiap!: sedjarahpembangunan P.S.I.I, kembali ([Jogjakarta?]: Partai Sjarikat Islam Indonesia, [1948?]),
1. These rumors are not worth taking seriously; these kinds of funds were not available to the government
or anti-Islamic (the implication is most likely Communist) groups, and regardless the existing motivations
were enough to cause the split.

231 Barisan Partai Sjarikat Islam Indonesia bersiap!, 3.

establishment of the party, making the movement appear more natural.232 All of this

supposedly happened in April, a full two months before the cabinet crisis in which PSII

broke with Masjumi to join the new Amir cabinet.

There is certainly some truth to the assertion of a strong PSII network throughout

the regions of Indonesia, and especially outside of Java. In West Sumatra, the popular

mayor of Padang, Bagindo Aziz Chan, strongly supported the re-establishment of the

PSII.233 Thus, the local PSII held a meeting in Bukittinggi on November 18, 1945,234

although it was not active full-time until the party revived on a national level. South

Sulawesi was also an area of serious PSII activity during the Dutch period, especially in

the Luwu region at the top of the Gulf of Bone. The most prominent PSII activist in

this region is also arguably the most recognizable revolutionary figure from Luwu: Opu

Daeng Risaju (1880-1964). She had founded the local PSII branch in 1930 and resisted

both Dutch and local (royal) attempts to shut down the organization. During the

Indonesian revolution, she was tortured so severely for her resistance that she became

deaf for the rest of her life. Her leadership helped PSII to gain prominence in this

staunchly Islamic region just as it was being revived at the national level. Sarikat Islam

232PSIIdari Tahun ke Tahun (with English Translation) ([Jakarta?]: Departemen Penerangan dan
Propaganda PSII, [1952]), 14 and 34.

233 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 76.

234 Syamsul Madi, "Partai Politik Islam di Sumatera Barat, 1945-1949," Skripsi SI,, 30.

See Mahbubah Kadir Daud, "Opu Daeng Risaju Tokoh PSII dan Perjuangan di Luwu," Skripsi SI,
Fakultas Adab, IAIN-Alauddin, 1983, and Muhammad Arfah and Muhammad Amir, Biografi Pahlawan
Opu Daeng Risaju: Perintis Pergerakan Kebangsaan/Kemerdekaan Republik Indonesia (Jakarta:
Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, 1991).

schools continued to function in South Sulawesi during the revolution, but the PSII

activists there did not recognize any of the Masjumi leadership except Abikusno.236

Although some encouragement may have come from PSII's branches either

before or after the cabinet crisis, it is unlikely that this would have been enough to spur

the re-assembling of party leadership. Instead, the motivation was probably very

personal for those politicians who initiated the break from Masjumi to form the PSII.

For Wondoamiseno, especially, the motivations appear to have been very

individual. He had previously held such high positions as the first director of the M.I.A.I.

umbrella organization under the Japanese,237 a leader in the PNI when it was the state

party, and one of the inspirations for the founding of the GPII. In Masjumi, however,

his position was merely on the board of the Hizbullaha doubly lower position

considering how decentralized Hizbullah was.240 When the cabinet was being formed in

July 1947, Wondoamiseno was also just leaving incarceration, having been captured in

June 1946 and accused of complicity in a Persatuan Peijuangan/ Tan Malaka plot to

overthrow the government.241 Reid has reported that his release was part of the deal

Amir offered to draw former PSII leaders into his cabinet.242 Wondoamiseno received

236 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 77.

237 C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "Japanese Islam Policy in Java, 1942-1945," in Aspects of Islam in Post-

Colonial Indonesia (The Hague: W. vanHoeve, 1958), 142.

238 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 93.

239 Yudi Latif, Indonesian Muslim Intelligentsia and Power, 322 n. 105.

240 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 76.

241Many accounts, such as Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, imply that Abikusno and
Wondoamiseno were complicit in the preparations for a Tan Malaka-led government turn over, but Abu
Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution, 167, suggests that these two men were merely the designated Masjumi
observers at the conference Tan Malaka and his colleagues held in Madiun.

the powerful Minister of Home Affairs position, holding it from July 1947 until Amir

reshuffled his cabinet in November 1947, at which point Wondoamiseno became Second

Vice Prime Minister.243

Arudji had not been so influential during the late Dutch and Japanese periods, but

he had also served in the national leadership of PSII before the war and felt disappointed

with how little political power he now had in the Hizbullah office.244 Resurrecting the

PSII alongside Wondoamiseno, Arudji was rewarded with the Vice-Minister of Defense

post, which he held until Amir's fall as Prime Minister in January 1948. After his stint in

the cabinet, he continued to be a gadfly for Masjumi's attempts to push policies through

the KNIP and its Working Committee, opposing Masjumi on issues like the acceptance of

the Round Table Conference.245 Arudji also opposed (unsuccessfully) the candidacy of

Prawoto Mangkusasmito to become the head of the KNIP in 1950. Although Arudji lost

that vote (Prawoto carried the day with 168 votes to 119, with one blank), it was still an

embarrassment to the Islamic community that they had two competing candidates for a

242 Reid, Indonesian National Revolution, 99. The issue of Wondoamiseno's deal to end his incarceration
is only reported in Reid, but is possible considering information available elsewhere. Masjumi issued a
resolution opposing their detention and saying the reasons for their arrest remained "unclear to the people"
(see ANRI, RA2 Secretariat Negara RI 1945-49, #1053). Wondoamiseno reports being released to house
arrest on March 28, 1947, so that he could be treated for a cardiovascular condition; this release came with
a requirement that he would not get involved in politics until his trial. Barisan Partai Sjarikat Islam
Indonesia bersiap!, 2. Abikusno Tjokrosujoso was still in jail when the PSII was founded without his
sanction; Amir Fatah of the Hizbullah eventually liberated him from jail by force to bring Abikusno to the
March 1948 Masjumi meeting (Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 100). Wondoamiseno's liberation
as an explicit part of the deal to create the new party seems rather unlikely, though, as neither Kahin nor
Noer mentions this point at all. It is likely that Wondoamiseno had been released shortly before Amir
began to form his new cabinet, although perhaps with the possibility of creating a rival to Masjumi as a
consideration in the release.

243 ANRI, RA2 Sekretariat Negara RI 1945-49, #615.

244 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 76.

245 Noer and Akbarsyah, 271.

position of leadership.246 This continued public opposition to Masjumi suggests that

Arudji had personal and not just policy disagreements with the Masjumi leadership, so

perhaps his decision to break with Masjumi was inspired by negative experiences with

individuals in the party.

The identities of the main leadership of Masjumi were, in fact, bound to have

some conflicts with PSII personalities because of their divisions in Islamic politics during

the colonial era. Dr. Sukiman, Masjumi's head at the time, had left PSII on unpleasant

terms in 1938, and his leadership of the Masjumi must have felt like a blow to PSII

activists. Furthermore, the PSII party line was not as close to economic socialism as the

Natsir-Roem faction of the party.247 PSII's stated objection to the positions of the

younger Masjumi leaders centered on those leaders' willingness to negotiate with the

Dutch, although this objection sounded very hollow when Abikusno accepted a position

in the delegation to the Round Table Conference negotiations with the Dutch in 1949.248

The other PSII leaders placed in the cabinet were more minor leaders: Sukoso

Wiijosaputro as Vice-Minister of Social Affairs, Sjahbudin Latif as Minister of

Information, and K. Ahmad Azhari as Minister of Religion.249 Two others were

appointed to the cabinet for PSII, but they turned down their roles in a rejection of this

246 Noer and Akbarsyah, 280.

This is rather paradoxical, because the origins of the PSII as the social safety network Sarikat Islam
were very close to the religious socialist vision of Natsir and Sjafruddin.

248 PSII dari Tahun ke Tahun, 15.

249 Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution, 211, gives the Minister of Religion's name as Achmad Asj'ari,
which also appears in ANRI, RA2 Sekretariat Negara RI 1945-49, #615. Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas
Nasional, 171, writes Ahmad Azhari, which is also the name he used in later years (see, for example, ANRI,
RA9 Konstituante, #10, which is the form that K. Ahmad Azhari filled out as a member of the Konstituante)
and is preferred by his children (interview with M. Tahir Azhari, Ciputat, January 17,2010).

J cA
splinter party. Even K. Ahmad Azhari displayed some ambivalence towards the new

party, despite being offered the prestigious position of Minister of Religion. K. Ahmad

Azhari was a religious scholar from South Sumatra trained in Cairo at Al-Azhar

University, whence he took his surname. He had joined PSII in the late 1930s, becoming

the head of the party's branch in Palembang by the time of the Japanese invasion. When

Masjumi transformed itself into a political party at Jogjakarta in November 1945, he

attended and gave his support to the new party. In July 1947, when trying to find a

religious scholar to take up the post of Minister of Religion for PSII, Wondoamiseno and

Arudji probably suggested K. Ahmad Azhari because of his earlier affiliation with the
if 1
PSII and his impeccable educational credentials. K. Ahmad never came to Java to take

up his post. It is unclear whether he did not arrive solely because it was impossible to

escape the Dutch, who had already invaded South Sumatra, or because he was also not

interested in splitting from Masjumi. His son reports that the Dutch arrested K. Ahmad

one day before he was to leave for Java to take up his post,252 but in later years K. Ahmad

remained loyal to Masjumi and did not join PSII. In Masjumi, he even rose to become

head of the party's Majelis Sjuro (Consultative Council) in December 1954 and a

member of the party leadership board starting in 1956. Whatever the reason for K.

Ahmad Azhari's absence from Java during his official tenure as Minister of Religion, in

250 Kahin,Nationalism and Revolution, 210 n. 206. These two were S.M. Kartosuwirjo (later founder of
Darul Islam) who was appointed Second Vice-Minister of Defense and Surowijono who was offered Vice-
Minister of Education.

251Wondoamiseno also put out information that it was Ahmad Azhari who penned the letter from Sumatra
calling for the re-creation of the party. Barisan Partai Sjarikat Islam Indonesia bersiap!, 8. None of
Ahmad Azhari's later works or documents acknowledge or confirm this, and his family does not believe
this to be true.

252 Interview with M. Tahir Azhari, Ciputat, January 17, 2010.

253 ANRI, RA9 Konstituante 1956-59, #10.

his absence another PSII activist took up the post; H. Anwaroedin served as Minister of

Religion ad interim.254

K. Ahmad Azhari's actions also point to a wider point: not everyone who had

been previously associated with the PSII left for the new party vehicle. Individuals like

H. Agus Salim, Dr. Sukiman, and Mohammad Roem who had previously been alienated

from the main thrust of PSII did not join after the re-emergence of the party, but there

were some even more notable figures missing from the new leadership. Chief among

these was Abikusno Tjokrosujoso, the brother of Sarikat Islam's founder, who remained

in jail in July 1947 and did not join the new party. Abikusno disapproved of PSII

splintering Masjumi, and he continued to show his own loyalty to Masjumi by running

forand winning another term ina leadership position in the organization at the March

1948 Masjumi congress.255 Only in 1950 did Abikusno switch allegiances and assume

the leadership of PSII, at the urging of regional chapters. At this point, one can assume

that the party was sufficiently well-established that there was little chance it would fold

itself back into Masjumi, and Abikusno saw this as a vehicle to bring himself (and his

nephews, Anwar and Harsono Tjokroaminoto) greater power.

A formal PSII conference took place in Banjarnegara, West Java, on July 13,

1947, where twenty branches of the organization approved of the leadership's action to

re-emerge as a party.256 The attendees at this conference voted to require the new PSII

254 ANRI, RA2 Sekretariat Negara RI 1945-49, #615.

255 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 100.

256PSII dari Tahun ke Tahun (with English Translation), 14, 34. The Indonesian version (p. 14) of this
party document gives the incorrect date of 1946 for the revival of PSII; the English translation (p. 34) gives
the correct date. In both cases, the document points to calls from the Sumatra and Sulawesi branches of the
PSII as the main reason for the organization forming itself again nationally, and it says that Abikusno was
not involved only because he was imprisoned at the time.

leadership to inform Masjumi of their intention to exit the party, but Masjumi insiders

insist that no such meeting with Masjumi's leadership was ever held.257

PSII branches quickly reassembled themselves when they received word from

Jakarta.258 In Indonesia's southeast comer, PSII revived its pre-war roots and, in fact,

grew beyond them. On the island of Alor, PSII had had a branch whose nationalist

credentials were unimpeachable; for this reason, republican groups from the center

consistently tried to contact old PSII leaders as local nationalist leaders. In December

1946, the Republic even sent a motor boat to contact the old Alor PSII leaders; this boat

was captured, and as a consequence the Dutch imprisoned several PSII leaders for having

been Japanese collaborators. In May, 1948, after the re-emergence of the national

party and the stabilization of the political environment locally, leaders on Alor were

brave enough to re-establish their chapter of PSII in Kalabahi, the sub-district's capital.

Formally this chapter functioned as a branch of the PSII organization for East Indonesia,

based in Makassar. The local leaders were drawn from towns across the island of Alor,

including Kalabahi but also Dolulong, and onto the neighboring island of Pantar from the

village Barnusa. Membership must have been extensive; the Dutch reports at the time

say members worked in 31 different trades.

Masjumi apologists have tried to downplay the importance of PSII's exit from the

unitary Masjumi party. M. Dzulfikriddin provides a representative example, saying,

257 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 77.

Mustari Bosra, Tuang Guru, Anrong Guru dan Daeng Guru: Gerakan Islam di Sulawesi Selatan 1914-
1942 , 107 and 268; Salmah Gosse, "Opu Daeng Risaju: Dari Bangsawan sampai Tokoh Pergerakan (1930-
1950)," Skripsi S2, Universitas Indonesia, 2000, 124.

259 1 Ketut Ardhana, Penataan Nusa Tenggarapada Masa Kolonial, 1915-1950 , 353.

260 1 Ketut Ardana, 385.

"The impact of SI [PSII]'s exit was not felt too much by Masjumi, because SI only

represented a small party of the Islamic community and their political influence was also

limited."261 The small size of the party at the time misses the most important aspect of

PSII's exit from Masjumi. PSII was the first fracture of Masjumi (or, for that matter, of

any major party). Elected leadership from one party split to found a rival group. For the

Islamic community, in particular, this fissure was felt very keenly at the time, because it

violated the principle of religious unity.

The short-term influence of Masjumi's exclusion from the cabinet in preference to

PSII was minimal. The left-leaning government was not very friendly towards Masjumi;

Sukiman said that "Masjumi was having a very difficult time and was not being offered

any chance for activity and development."263 That government did not last long. In

November, after the first Dutch police action, popular displeasure with the results of the

young cabinet forced Amir to reshuffle his cabinet. Several Masjumi figures entered the

cabinet at that time: Mr. Samsoedin, Mr. Mohamad Roem, Mr. Kasman Singodimedjo,

and K.H. Masjkur 264 It seems to have been apparent that Masjumi could not be ignored

or left out of government.

Islamic Law Becoming National Law

261 M. Dzulfikriddin, Mohammad Natsir dalam Sejarah Politik Indonesia: Peran dan Jasa Mohammad

Natsir dalam Dua Orde Indonesia (Bandung: Mizan, 2010), 98.

262 Oralhistory of Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SL1 1980 #1 tape 2; oral
history with Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SL1 1979 #6, tape 4.

C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "Islam in a Period of Transition in Indonesia: An Essay on Tendencies and
Possibilities," in Aspects of Islam in Post-Colonial Indonesia (The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958), 55 n. 1.

264 ANRI, RA2 Sekretariat Negara RI 1945-49, #615.

In revolutionary Indonesia, the implementation of Islamic law was a very real

possibility, something that the government considered and sometimes followed. In 1948,

the government named two committees to study Islamic law (one on Java named in

January and one on Sumatra named in July) with the intent

That in connection with the urgings of the Islamic Community that has for several years
longed to receive appreciation [for their place as a community] through the
implementation of the laws of the Islamic religion (which have become the customs of
the majority of the people) as the law of the land, there needs to be a committee given the
obligation to investigate to what extent the laws of the Islamic religion can be used as
government regulations.265

The committee on Java, including legal experts like Prof. Supomo, Islamic politicians

like Abu Hanifah and Jusuf Wibisono, and leading ulama like K.H. Abdul Wahab, Ki

Bagus Hadikusumo, and K.H. Dahlan, came about because of the initiative of the

Ministry of Religion, but with the approval of the Ministry of Justice. The committee on

Sumatra, populated almost exclusively with ulama, appears to have been a purely

political move by the government to calm Sumatrans offended that they had not been

represented on the original committee. Neither of these committees appears to have

produced any results, and no record of them beyond their formation appears in the


There are two key cases where the government did incorporate Islamic principles

into national law, however: marriage and alms. The first would become a national

headache for years to come. The second was a flash in the pan, and never came to

fruition in later years.


265 ANRI, RA2 Sekretariat Negara RI 1945-49, #470.

266 Neither
does any mention of this committee appear in accounts or treatises from named members of the
committees, like Abu Hanifah's Tales of a Revolution, or Supomo's Future ofAdatLaw on the
Reconstruction of Indonesia (Jakarta: n.p., 1950).

The Netherlands East Indies government had regulated marriages, albeit very

loosely, according to the religion of the participants, opening a window for religious law

to govern this area in the independent state.267 This policy created great interest, and

especially opposition, among Islamic groups. In 1937, the Dutch proposals for new

marriage regulations received such vehement rejection from various Islamic

organizations that it precipitated the creation of the MIAI so the groups could collaborate
in opposition to the proposal.

During the revolution the Indonesian government was unable to immediately

draw up a full law on how marriage would be conducted. Instead, as a stop-gap

measure until a full marriage bill could be drawn up, the government issued Law No. 22

of 1946, a "Law on the Registration of Marriage, Divorce, and Reconciliation" (Undang-

Undang tentang Pencatatan Nikah, Talak, dan Rujuk). Both the words for divorce (talak)

and reconciliation (rujuk) are Arabic cognates and refer exclusively to Islamic practices

of divorce and of reconciliation before divorce is finalized (respectively). By contrast,

the more common term for divorce in Indonesian is cerai, which can be used for Muslims

or non-Muslims. So, even from the law's terminology, it becomes apparent that Islamic

concepts strongly influenced its drafting.

267 The Dutch regulations were Huwelijks-ordinnantie S.1929 No. 346 jo. s. 1931 no. 467; Vorstenlandsche

Huwelijksordonnantie S. 1933 no. 98; and Huwelijksordonnantie Buitengewesten S.1932 no. 482.

268C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "Japanese Islam Policy on Java, 1942-1945," in Aspects of Islam in Post-
Colonial Indonesia (The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958), 144. The Islamic political movement was
successful, in 1937, in getting the Dutch draft regulations rescinded, although it is not clear if Islamic
groups had coalesced around an detailed alternative proposal.

269 This
is noted in the opening of the new law: "a new regulation to replace the above could not possibly
be made in a short time." A copy of this law can be found in ANRI, RA2 Sekretariat Negara RI 1945-49,

The basic principle of the law was that a Ministry of Religion official will oversee

all marriages, divorces, and reconciliations in every district; the husband is required to

pay a small fee at the time of marriage (amount to be determined by later ministerial

decree) and required to report a divorce within a week of its occurrence, again paying a

small fee. Large fines (Rp. 50.00, and consistently updated in later years to keep pace

with inflation) hit those who did not report marriages or divorces to the government. The

Ministry of Religion official would take down the full information on any such event in a

register, and issue letters verifying marriages when so requested.270

An interesting stipulation in the first clause declares that this 1946 law applies

only to "marriages conducted according to the Islamic religion." This receives no further

explication, neither in the law itself nor in its attached legislative history. The latter does

state the rationale behind the new act: not only were there differing rules in each district

under the Dutch system,271 but the officials recording marriages had relied for their

livelihood on the marrying parties to give a non-standardized donation, leading these

officials to become "lacking in their attention to proper Islamic law."272

270 The law appears in Himpunan Undang2, Peraturan2, Penetapan2 Pemerintah Republik Indonesia,

Tahun 1946 (Jakarta: S.K. Seno, 1951), 73-75, followed by its legislative history on 76-78.

271 Ironically, the text of the law decries the incumbent lack of standardization in their proudly unitary state

while restricting the promulgation of this law to Java and Madura. The geographic restriction was very
common during wartime for practical reasons, and most "national" laws were only written for Java and
Madura with the option of other regions implementing them by decree. The geographic restriction may
also relate to the separate Islamic court system on Java and Madura that had been implemented under the
Dutch, although this is less likely. On this court system, see Mark E. Cammack, "The Indonesian Islamic
Judiciary," in Mark E. Cammack and R. Michael Feener, eds., Islamic Law in Contemporary Indonesia:
Ideas and Institutions ,147.

272 It is unclear from the Indonesian ("koerang memperhatikan hoekoem-hoekoem Islam jang sebenarnja")
whether the officials were waiving certain Islamic requirements for large fees or inventing extra
requirements to extort fees, but the former seems more likely from the context. Thus, this law can be seen
as the first time that the government moved to strictly impose Islamic standards on marriages between

The legislative history of the law also casts aspersions on the ability of Muslim

people to conduct their own marriages in sufficiently Islamic fashion. It explains, very

briefly, that marriages in Islam function as a contract between the man and the guardian

of the woman, but says that "it is very rare that a guardian will make a marriage contract,

because very few of them have the necessary knowledge to make such a marriage

contract." This role, then, is to be filled by the government, or more specifically, the

Ministry of Religion, which will provide an official in each district who is able to conduct

the ceremony and complete the contract. In this way, the new "Law on the Registration

of Marriage, Divorce, and Reconciliation," simultaneously inserts the government into

the issue of marriage by requiring registration, standardizes the religious practices

(raising them to an Islamic bar), and provides an official income for the religious scholar

class by setting standard payment for this service.274

One more point to note about the marriage law was its unthinking Islamic

normativity. No accommodation was made for Christian marriages (which were certainly

also numerous on Java and Madura) or for those individuals whose stance towards

organized religion was opposed or unclear. Although later regulation clarified that

indigenous Christian marriages remained under the separate laws issued under the Dutch

for them, no legal space was provided for holders of traditional Javanese beliefs, usually

lumped in with Muslims under Dutch administration, to opt out of the system. In this

273 Himpunan Undang2, Peraturan2, Penetepan2 Pemerintah Republik Indonesia, Tahun 1946, 77.

274 Although these goals were all implicit in the design of the law, one must admit that they were not likely
very well achieved. Throughout the 1950s, this law was amended to set new fees to keep up with inflation,
but ulama at the village level probably pushed for extra cash, as well. The law also provides no concrete
mechanism, other than the Ministry of Religion's right to designate their official in each district, for
imposing the official or "correct" practice of Islamic law upon a wide spectrum of individual Muslim

way, Law No. 22 of 1946 may have constituted the first instance of requiring Indonesians

to adhere to one of a limited set of religious understandings.


A second legal issue that arose during the revolution years was the administration

of alms by the government. The giving of alms (zakat) is one of the five pillars of Islam,

set at 2.5% of one's yearly income for Sunni Muslims, and in many parts of the Muslim
world this has been administered by a government or para-government agency. The

MIAI had attempted the institutionalization of alms in Indonesia with the creation of a

Bait al-Mal, a general Islamic treasury; this project was abandoned when the Japanese

dissolved MIAI in favor of Masjoemi. In some parts of Indonesia, though, alms giving

had been institutionalized, such as in Aceh, where uleebalang (nobles) would collect the

offerings, usually in the form of rice, and use the proceeds specifically for mosques and

religious schools.277 In most places, alms were not administered by any one institution,

such that individual Muslims could pay it into their mosque treasury (administered by the

community), or directly to individuals in need (fakir miskin), or not make a specific

religious alms payment each year.

In 1949, after the Dutch had captured the government in Jogjakarta and the

Republic's Emergency Government (PDRI) on Sumatra was in operation, the acting

Minister of Religion issued a Ministerial Resolution on alms (No. 7/KA/Pm) on June 18,

275 A. Zysow, "Zakat," Encyclopedia of Islam, second edition (Leiden: Brill, 2002).

276 Benda, 149.

277This is reported in a letter from Ismuha to the Minister of Justice on June 1, 1950, ANRI, RA5
Sekretariat Negara RI Yogyakarta (Des '49 - Sep '50), #277.

1949.278 The resolution was a binding government order for whatever areas still fell

under republican control, but dealt specifically with alms in the form of rice {zakat padi).

The rationale was that the rice stores might rot uneaten in a time of great need if not

distributed properly. The formula determined by the Minister for the distribution of alms

was as follows: 70% would stay in the local community, with 25% of this total going to

the poor (fakir miskin), 12.5% to the collector (amil), 12.5% to mosque workers, 12.5%

to the Sabilillah militia, and 7.5% to Islamic organizations; the remaining 30% was to be

sent to the provincial level where the Religious Affairs Office would use the wealth at its

discretion. Purposes that might be included were spreading Islam, building hostels

(rumah musafir), establishing credit and loan banks, helping disaster victims, or

contributing to the Struggle in the Way of God (perdjuangan Sabilillah)?19

The novelty in this 1949 resolution stems largely from the move to place a

religious obligation directly under government control. Once again, local authorities

connected to the Ministry of Religion would gain authority under this program; they

administered all of the provincial-level funds and appointed (in conjunction with the

village council) the committee to collect and distribute locally. The government's direct

involvement in religious duties meant that it could absorb more religious functionaries

into its bureaucracy (patronage being a key function of Islamic parties, and all parties,

278A copy of this Resolution (Ketetapan Menteri) can be found in ANRI, RA5 Sekretariat Negara RI
Yogyakarta (Des '49 - Sep '50), #277. The date of the resolution is important; Ramadhan started at the
beginning of July in 1949, and alms are usually paid near the end of Ramadhan.

279 Both here and with the 12.5% mentioned above for Sabilillah, it is unclear whether this refers to the
military struggle against the Dutch (and the Muslim militia known as Sabilillah engaged in that struggle) or
generally "in the way of God," the literal translation of this Arabic phrase. In context, the former seems
more likely for the designated 12.5% and the latter seems more likely for the Religious Affairs Office's

during this era). It also meant that religious duties became subject to government

interpretation, rather than to the interpretation of individual believers.

The Assistant Attorney General of Sumatra raised the latter as an objection in a

letter to the Governor of Central Sumatra in February 1950. Abdul Moethalib Moro, also

serving as Assistant Judge Advocate General, suggested that administering the alms

through the government would make them more obligatory, whereas they "should be free,

following the philosophy of each religious person." Furthermore, objections had arisen

from several groups, including not only religious political parties but also mass

organizations and Sufi brotherhoods, concerned that the stream of income usually

available to them through alms would dry upapparently they usually collected and

distributed all the funds themselves on their own discretion. Finally, Abdul Moethalib

was concerned that government administration of alms could violate the constitution's

clause on freedom of religion, by dictating how a religious obligation would be executed

without consideration of variation of beliefs within an individual religion.280 This 1950

letter clearly displayed a concept of Islam and state relations that challenged the

normative ideas in the Indonesian context. The objection that different Muslims might

desire for their alms to be directed in different ways, and that these conflicting desires

were legitimate, was somewhat unspeakable in Indonesian Islamic tradition, which gave

ulama great discretion in the use of religious funds.281

280 ANRI, RA5 Sekretariat Negara RI Yogyakarta (Des '49 - Sep '50), #277.

281Contrast, for example, the arguments presented about government administration of religion during the
Konstituante, which altogether avoided the seemingly obvious problem of variation in dogma. In the
context of Abdul Moethalib's letter, one can assume that he was a traditionalist or Sufi practitioner afraid
that the modernist-dominated local religious offices would marginalize his religious giving.

As much as the letter challenged the premise of the Ministerial Resolution, the

resolution similarly challenged common practices of the Republican government, and it

was a peculiar product of the PDRI environment. Because PDRI was composed entirely

of Muslims (much more so than the Jogjakarta Republican government), it was able to be

more Islamic than the normal government.


In total, the impact of the revolution on Islamic politics was greater than the

impact of Islamic politics on the direction of the revolution. The 1945-49 period saw

great changes in the individuals and structures leading the Islamic political movement in

Indonesia, both in the creation of new parties and in the shift towards younger leaders

within those parties. The overarching trends of those changes, towards disunity in the

Islamic camp and towards younger leaders in the Masjumi especially, carried great

consequences for national politics in the 1950s.

The power of the Islamic ideology during the revolution can be seen in the

windows of opportunity for Islamic law during these four years. The fact that the

Indonesian state implemented only a few measures of Islamic law does not eliminate the

fact that all stripes of politicians debated Islamic law at the highest level. The revolution

demonstrates the potential that Islamic law had in the independent state, and the fact that

Islamic law was not more widely implemented is just as much a matter of happenstance

as of circumstance.

The political reality for Islamic politicians and Islamic law during the revolution

diverged significantly from the experience of Islamic fighters on the ground. Whereas

Islamic politicians constantly interacted with their secular colleagues, moderating and

tweaking their positions in response to governments led by secularists, Muslim

revolutionaries fighting the Dutch across Indonesia had a more isolated experience, rarely

interacting with non-Muslim militias and compromising very little in terms of their

ideology. This contributed to the distance between Islamic politicians and the devout

Muslim masses in Indonesia in the following decade.

Chapter 2: An Islamic Revolution at the

Grassroots Level
The Indonesian revolution at the local level was just as riveting and all-

encompassing as at the political center, but the experience was vastly different. At the

center, the revolution forced Islamic leaders to work with political leaders of other

factions, including secularists, socialists, and even communists, in the pursuit of

agreements with the Dutch and a functioning Indonesian state. At the lowest level, on the

other hand, Muslims were able to function almost separately from other sectors of society,

and in this way the revolution reinforced their ideas about Islam and the state.

Muslim experiences on the ground were less concerned with appearances or

collaboration. Instead, the primary focus was taking power, generally from the Dutch or

other foreign agents, in each region, and attempting to enact Islam as each small group

believed it should be practiced. This varied significantly across Indonesia; the highly

decentralized nature of the popular aspects of the revolution allowed the movement to

encompass very orthodox and very syncretist groups and interpretations. Groups ranging

the full spectrum of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, though, identified themselves as Islamic

groups, and shared the goal of an Islamic state and a more Islamic Indonesian society; for

this reason, all of them are addressed here. In fact, the presence of syncretist and

heterodox groups on the lowest level, which were not represented in the Islamic

leadership at the national level, contributed to the divergence of Islamic experiences

between the upper and lower echelons of Islamic society.

Muslim experiences on the ground in many ways mimicked previous Islamic

experiences of resistance. They drew on similar rationales, gave similar roles to ulama,

and followed similar patterns of organization as they had in the previous century-and-a-

half of Dutch rule. Certain innovations were clearly present, however: most of all the

connection all of these places felt (although most did not directly or immediately

experience) with other Muslims fighting in the revolution across the archipelago.

This chapter, in presenting the Islamic experience of the Indonesian revolution,

looks not only at where and how Muslims contributed to the fight for Indonesia's

freedom from 1945-49, but especially at how local Muslims understood that fight and its

goals. Examining general trends found across Indonesia in Islamic communities

facilitates focusing on the commonalities of the Islamic grassroots experience. The

ideology of Islamic participants, drawn from popular slogans and fatwas, both grew from

and reinforced the role of ulama as leaders. The organization of Islamic fighters into

specifically religious troops for engaging in the struggle, often building out of mass

Islamic organizations, facilitated the propagation and perpetuation of religious

interpretations of the experience. The chapter concludes with two case studies: first,

amulets as a physical manifestation of religious belief; second, West Sumatra as a

revolutionary theater, neither the most Islamic nor the least Islamic province.

Mapping out the Islamic understanding and experience of the revolution, held by

a significant sector of society at the grassroots level, allows for a deeper understanding of

the reactions of Islamic groups and pious individuals to the Indonesian state that soon

came to into being. It also demonstrates the contrast with the understanding and goals of

the Indonesian Islamic nationalist project held by the new political leaders at the center.

Archetypes of Islamic Rebellion in the Indonesian Revolution

In many communities, the revolution against the Dutch was an evolved form, but

not a complete break, of a pattern of Islamic rebellion long seen in Indonesia. This form

of rebellion was not entirely orthodox, and might be unrecognizable as Islamic by

Muslims not steeped in the Southeast Asian tradition, but its participants understood this

pattern as the archetype of Islamic rebellion. One colonial Dutch author of fiction paints a

good picture:

I remember hearing the first message about it on a Monday night and feeling that 1 had to
sayand maybe did saydamn it, another one of those annoying idiots who's gone
berserk. For they always went berserk, those rebels, and not a little, either. They thought
of themselves as little Messiahs, and the millenniums they offered were restricted to very
small areas, where the inhabitants no longer would have to pay taxes. They gathered a
number of disciples around them, they usually put on white clothes, and they fought until
they died. There never was a happy ending to their revolts. Hence sufficient reason to
have someone say, damn it, when he hears on a Monday morning that such a revolt has
broken out in his district.1

This pattern of revolt, small- or large-scale but presented with an Islamic frame, has been

well documented across several regions of Indonesia with variations: the Java War,2 the

Banten agrarian revolt of 1888,3 the Aceh War,4 and the anti-tax rebellion of West

1 A. Alberts, "The Hunt," trans. Hans Konig, The Islands (Singapore: Periplus, 1999), 79. Alberts had
served in the Dutch civil service on Madura, and his short stories, written in the 1950s but published in one
volume in 1972, fancifully reflected on his actual experiences in the field.

2 MichaelAdas, Prophets of Rebellion: Millenarian Protest Movements against the European Colonial
Order (Chapel Hill, NC: U of North Carolina P, 1979).

3 Sartono Kartodirdjo, The Peasants' Revolt of Banten in 1888: Its Conditions, Course and Sequel ('S-

Gravenhage: Nijhoff, 1966).

4 The classic account of the role of ulama in the Aceh war was C. Snouck Hurgronje, The Acehnese, trans.
A.W.S. O'Sullivan (Leiden: Brill, 1906). James Seigel has provided useful commentary, both on the war
itself and on Snouck Hurgronje's interpretation of it, in The Rope of God (Berkeley, CA: U of California P,
1969), 68-77. However, that the similarities between this war and the Islamic rebellions elsewhere during
the colonial period allow them to form one group for comparison with the Indonesian revolution.

Sumatra in 1908,5 just to name some of the more well-documented cases. It is neither

unreasonable nor anachronistic to see this pattern continuing through the Indonesian

revolution. Small-scale revolts of this nature occurred in West Java under the Japanese,6

and a rebellion of this sort occurred as late as 1960 in Bogor.7

Several characteristics of this type of pre-modern Islamic rebellion re-appear in

the Indonesian revolution. Although not all of them are explicitly or exclusively Islamic,

in Indonesia they were often employed by rebellions that identified as Islamic, thus tying

these traits to the idea of Islam in the popular imagination. First, as noted in the Dutch

passage above, the Islamic rebellions generally included millenarianism. This is not the

end of times, as in Christian millenarianism, but rather "aspiring to transform the

normative Islam, the existing political order, and the ethics of the Muslim community, by

claiming a new divine mandate, and by declaring commencement of an era of rejuvenated

faith."9 Thus, efforts to overthrow wicked overlords (in the Indonesian case, particularly,

the Dutch), end all taxes or levies, and bring prosperity to all (or all believers) are key

hallmarks of an Islamic rebellion in Indonesia. Second, religious leaders played a key

5 Ken Young, Islamic Peasants and the State: The 1908 Anti-Tax Rebellion in West Sumatra (New Haven,

CT: Southeast Asia Studies, Yale University, 1994).

6 JohnR.W. Smail, Bandung in the Early Revolution, 1945-1946: A Study in the Social History of the
Indonesian Revolution (Ithaca, NY: Modern Indonesia Project of Cornell University, 1964), 12 n. 21, lists
two revolts led by Islamic leaders in Tasikmalaya and Indramayu in 1944, ostensibly against rice levies
imposed by the Japanese.

7 ANRI RA42 #208 has a collection of articles and reports about a small revolt in June 1960 in Sukanegara
subdistrict, Bogor. The leaders, originally the heads of a local Sufi brotherhood, told their followers that
they would be impervious to bullets and that their rebellion would bring an end to the tyranny of local

8 Itshould be noted that many of these features do not differ radically from key trends that Anderson
identified in the Indonesian revolution. However, just as the studies above do not focus their attention on
the Islamic aspects of their revolt, Anderson also misses the ways in which the supernatural elements of
these features, especially when acted out by consciously Islamic participants in the Indonesian revolution,
carried heavy Islamic meaning.

9 Abbas Amanat, Apocalyptic Islam and Iranian Shi'ism (London: LB. Tauris, 2009), 41.

role in not only inspiring but also leading the rebellion in the field. These men could be

the leaders of the local Sufi brotherhood, as they were in West Sumatra, or religious

scholars (ulama) in the more traditional sense, as they tended to be in Aceh. In some

cases, as with the Java War, a leader with outstanding non-Islamic credentials took on the

mantle of Islam in order to lead his rebellion; this was less the case with the Indonesian

revolution, when other modalities of leadership were not only available but apparent.

Third, Muslim participants believed that they were imbued with supernatural powers to

wage this fight, in line with their religious understanding of its purpose.

All of these characteristics are also seen among Islamic groups fighting in the

Indonesian revolution, but with two important innovations. First, as Islam became more

uniform and orthodox after the turn of the twentieth century, more mystical and

syncretistic elements of this pattern of Islamic rebellion declined. They were not entirely

gone by the time of the Indonesian revolution, but they were less important to Muslims in

the revolution, and certainly did not serve as a bond connecting rebellious, often

syncretist Muslims with orthodox and orthopraxy Islamic leaders. On the other hand,

aspects of traditional Islamic rebellion that were compatible with orthodoxy became

heightened, such as the use of Islamic justifications for fighting and the leadership of

ulama. The second important change in the Indonesian Revolution as opposed to earlier

Islamic rebellions was the connection that Muslim participants felt with a wider project;

although the Indonesian Revolution was a very local experience for the vast majority of

participants, they still believed they were connecting with a wider movement and were

aware of a nation emerging.

The Ideology of the Struggle

The Reason for the Fight

Pious Muslim participants in the revolution did not state their Islamic ideology as

clearly as their predecessors did during many previous rebellions. Nor was their ideology

uniform for all Muslimsthere also existed variation within theological explanations of

the necessity of fighting the Dutch. However, when examining Islamic participants in the

revolution, it becomes clear that many Muslims had an understanding of the fight that

focused on theological (not merely national) imperatives, tied up with Islamic teleology.

First, one must recognize that the main priority for all groups, Islamic and secular,

was independence. The mantra, "Yangpenting, merdeka" (What's important is

independence) is repeated by all sides in all subsequent accounts. There can be no doubt

that the expulsion of the Dutch was the point on which all revolutionaries, from every

variant interpretation, could agree.10 Even ulama and Muslim groups who were most

committed to the establishment of an Islamic state admitted that during the four years of

the revolution, they put achieving independence from the Dutch first.11 One must ask,

though, to what end Muslims wanted this independence.

Islamic ideas about the cause did not stop at gaining independence from the Dutch;

in fact, independence from the Dutch was just one necessary step on the way to their

Islamic vision. For Hizbullah and Sabilillah, "Merdeka atau mati\" (Freedom or death)

10 Compare this with the very successful "Minimum Program" of Tan Malaka, especially the most popular
first point (sometimes used as synecdoche for the whole minimum program), 100% Independence;
Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 290.

11This was emphasized to me in interviews with, among others, T.G.K.H. Drs. M. Thoulun Abd. Rauf,
Palembang, June 7, 2010; Buya Mozhar, Padang, June 14, 2010; Ahmad J.D., Mataram, 28 August, 2010;
and H. Saifulkan Angai, Marabahan, September 26, 2010.

was only half of their battle cry, completed with "Allahu AkbarV (God is the greatest!).12

Indeed, "Allahu Akbar" was a common refrain among all streams of revolutionary leaders,

including the famously non-orthodox Bung Tomo in the Battle of Surabaya.13 Another

common battle cry for Islamic groups encouraging their members to join the physical

struggle for independence was "isy kariman mut syahidan,"14 an Arabic expression for

"live nobly, die as martyrs." The connection of theological positions (the greatness of

God, the idea of martyrdom) with the independence of the country demonstrates how

Muslims understood the fight in more than secular nationalist terms. To them, the victory

of Indonesia in the revolution would evidence victory of the Islamic religion.

Similarly, for many Muslims, the independence of Indonesia was closely tied to

the independence of the Islamic religion. The Jogjakarta newspaper Kedaulatan Rakyat

reported in late October, 1945, about a resolution of the organization Nahdlatul Ulama

that read: "We strongly implore the Government of Indonesia that they define a position

and actions that are clear and proportionate to every effort to endanger the independence

of the religion and state of Indonesia, especially regarding the Dutch and their agents.

We ask that it be ordered to continue the struggle in the way of God, to hold firm the state

of the Republic of Indonesia, freedom, and the Islamic religion."15 According to the NU,

Yusril Ihza Mahendra, Modernisme dan Fundamentalisme dalam Politik Islam: Perbandingan Partai
Masyumi (Indonesia) dan Partai Jama'at-i-Islami (Pakistan) (Jakarta: Penerbitan Paramadina, 1999), 79.

13 Tim Penyusun Buku PWNU Jatim, Peranan Ulama dalam Perjuangan Kemerdekaan (Surabaya:

Pengurus Wilayah Nahdlatul Ulama Jawa Timur, 1995), 60. NU tends to believe that Bung Tomo was
influenced by NU in his decision to use the Muslim creed as a battle cry; it is more likely that this had
become a common expression in a national fight that was perceived as pitting indigenous Muslims against
foreign Christians.

14 Alaiddin Koto, Pemikiran Politik PERTI, Persatuan Tarbiyah Islamiyah (1945-1970) (Jakarta: Nimas

Multima, 1997), 183.

15 Quoted in Tim Penyusun Buku PWNU Jatim, Peranan Ulama dalam Perjuangan Kemerdekaan 63.

"struggle in the way of God" was inextricably tied to the new Republic, and freedom to

the Islamic religion. This sentiment was echoed in the Masjumi daily Al-Djihad on

January 28, 1946, when Wondoamiseno, at the time a leader of Hizbullah, spoke of the

"independence of our country and our people" being "based on Islam."16

Freedom and independence, and especially the concept of freedom of religion,

carried particular meanings for Indonesian Muslims, which did not always dovetail with

the Jeffersonian/Madisonian idea of freedom of religion. As C.A.O van Nieuwenhuijze

points out, most Muslims in Indonesia, when faced with these two rather abstract nouns

(freedom, religion; in Indonesian as kemerdekaan agama) set in relation to each other,

would more like read them as "freedom for religion" than "freedom of religion," with the

necessary implication that this freedom was specifically granted to Islam so that it could

finally achieve its goal of "the Muslim community in the full, Islamic sense of the word,"

i.e., enshrined in the laws and the state.17 Thus, for these Muslim revolutionaries, the key

to Indonesia being free was practice of Islam, and the key for Islam to be free was an

independent Indonesia.

Fatwas for Religious Fighting

At the same time, across the archipelago Muslims were also hearing that the

revolution was a perangfi sabilillah (war in the way of God), and that those who died

would be martyrs. The first major fatwa to this end was decreed on October 15, 1945, in

Aceh. Issued by the new civilian government of Aceh, the Romanized Indonesian text

16 Quoted in Deliar Noer, "Masjumi: Its Organization, Ideology, and Political Role in Indonesia," MA

Thesis, Cornell University, 1960, 76.

17C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "Islam in a Period of Transition in Indonesia," in Aspects of Islam in Post-
Colonial Indonesia (The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958), 82.

announced the end of the Second World War and warned of the danger of Dutch re-


They will enslave the people of Indonesia to become their servants again, and they will
enact efforts to destroy our pure Islamic religion and to suppress and impede the
greatness and prosperity of the Indonesian nation. ... In accordance with our belief that
this struggle is a pure struggle that is called PERANG SABIL [Holy War], therefore
believe, O my nation, that this struggle is a continuation of the earlier struggle in Aceh
led by Almarhum Tgk. Tji' Di Tiro [the leader of the natives in the Dutch-Aceh War,
1872-1910] and the other heroes of the nation. For that reason, awaken, O my nation,
and be united in standing shoulder-to-shoulder and taking steps forward to join in the
footsteps of the struggle of our ancestors before us. Follow obediently all of the orders
that our leaders give us for the rescuing of our Homeland, Religion, and Nation.

The document is then signed by four leading elderly ulama from different parts of Aceh,
and attested to by the civilian administrators of the day. This very nationalist, only

mildly Islamic proclamation on government broadsheet contrasts with the version

circulated in Jawi (Indonesian written with Arabic letters), the language of the clerical

class, which reads:

May all of you, brother Muslims, continue on in the pleasure of God, that is the
independence of our country Indonesia. Hopefully all of us will give Thanks to God, ...
and may we be close to one another in the closeness of the Army of Mujahidin that
enjoys the Blessing of the Religion of God and raise up the Word of God and hold fast to
the instructions of Islam. [At this point the proclamation gives excerpts from four
Qur'anic verses in the original Arabic: Al-Ma'idah 5:2, Al-Imran 3:64, An-Nisa 4:89,
and Al-Baqara 2:120.] It is mandatory for us to join in the fighting of the enemies of God
and enemies of the Prophet and to follow ... Muslims, do not follow those Infidel
Colonizers or those who lean towards them who want to re-colonize Indonesia. It is
mandatory for us to love and be close to God and His Prophet, and may you sacrifice Life
and Wealth to strengthen the Religion of God and the legitimate kingdom.19

The second, through its invocation of Qur'anic verses, demonization of the Dutch in

Islamic terminology (Arabic-, not Sanskritic-root, particularly using the word kafir or

infidel), and heavy invocation of the Prophet in addition to God, focuses its audience on a

18 A copy of this proclamation, in both its Jawi and Romanized Indonesian forms, is available in Arsip

Provinsi Aceh, Koleksi Karesidenan Aceh 1945-49 dan 1951-52, #217.

19Ellipses in the original. In most of this I have followed the transcription of the Jawi that is found
alongside the original in the Acehnese provincial archives. Only on the last word I have diverged; the
transcription gives kerjaan (work), whereas I take it to be kerajaan (kingdom). In the non-vocalized Jawi
text, it is impossible to know which was intended.

more strict and theological message. Thus, even in the case of Aceh, where the

government openly recognized some religious aspirations in the early revolution, the

intentions and motivations of the Islamic scholarly class seem to be more radically

Islamic than the government recognized. One can see the contrast again in another

provincial proclamation issued in Aceh on the same day as the government broadsheet of

the fatwa, October 15. In this proclamation, Tuanku Mahmud, the head of the local

Komite Nasional Indonesia Daerah (regional government), called for peaceful relations

between all religions and prosperity for all. Most notably, this proclamation instructs,

"Do not let [internal Indonesian] differences of religion become a barrier in the struggle

for independence. Do not do anything that could offend the feelings of various

religions."20 This is a far cry from the stance of the ulama as demonstrated in the Jawi

version of the fatwa, where the scriptural references clearly instruct followers not to trust


Probably the most famous fatwa to come out in favor of the revolution was issued

by the Nahdlatul Ulama of East Java on the eve of the Battle of Surabaya. Gathering

together on the night of October 21, 1945, under the leadership of K.H. Wahab Hasbullah,

and with the knowledge of the organization's ultimate leader K.H. Hasjim Ashari, the

leading traditional Islamic minds of the region discussed the military and political

situation in terms of religious obligation. In the wee hours of the morning on October 22,

1945, they settled on the following decree:

1. The independence of Indonesia that was proclaimed on August 17,1945, must be


20In addition to calling all residents of Aceh to follow the precepts of religion, it insists on respect for the
Japanese, Chinese, Arab and Indian "guests" in their community. A copy of this proclamation is available
in Arsip Provinsi Aceh, Koleksi Karesidenan Aceh 1945-49 dan 1951-52, #67.

2. The Republic of Indonesia, as the only legitimate government, must be defended and
preserved even if this demands the sacrifice of property and lives.
3. The enemies of the Republic of Indonesia, especially the Dutch army that has come
piggy-backing on the duties of the Allies (America-England) regarding the issue of
Japanese prisoners of war, will certainly use this political and military opportunity to re-
colonize Indonesia.
4. The Islamic community, especially followers of Nahdlatul Ulama, is required to raise
arms to oppose the Dutch and their accomplices who wish to re-colonize Indonesia.
5. This requirement is a "jihad" that becomes mandatory for every Muslim (fardlu 'ain)
who is within a radius of 95 Km, (that is, the distance within which a Muslim can pray
congregational prayers and travelers' prayers). Those who are outside of the defined
radius are obligated to help those brothers who are within the aforementioned 94 Km

This fatwa was crucial in building the support of the Islamic militias for the total struggle

which was to break out immediately afterward in Surabaya. Notwithstanding the

attempts of low-level NU activists today to portray this resolution as directly in line with

the current form of the Indonesian state,22 the resolution suggests otherwise. The

resolution proclaiming a jihad immediately gave the Indonesian revolution another

meaning for those who followed the fatwa; it caused them to think of the struggle in

religious, not national terms. This naturally led to conceiving of the outcome of the

struggle in religious terms, as well. NU was not alone issuing an organizational fatwa for

religious struggle against the Dutch. The ruling of the East Java ulama was confirmed at

21Tim Penyusun Buku PWNU Jatim, Peranan Ulama dalam Perjuangan Kemerdekaan 59. The
parenthetical interjection on the meaning of 95 km appears in the original.

22 See for example Gugun El-Guyanie, Resolusi Jihad Paling Syar'i: Biarkan Kebenaran yang Hampir
Setengah Abad Dikaburkan Catatan Sejarah Itu Terbongkar! (Yogyakarta: Pustaka Pesantren, 2010),
especially 99ff. El-Guyanie is an activist in Ansor, the youth auxiliary of NU, and argues that the
resolution did nothing more than call Muslims to serve the state. According to El-Guyunie, without this
resolution Muslims across the archipelago would not have come to the defense of Indonesia's newly
proclaimed independence, so the Dutch would have re-established their power in the archipelago. The
book fails to understand that NU was not the only organization issuing fatawa on this issue, and that the
concept NU held toward the structure of the independent state was not the same as the form of the state

the meeting that founded the Masjumi party on November 7, 1945, when they declared

the revolution against the Dutch a jihad fi sabilillah (struggle in the way of God).23

For a brief window at the beginning of the revolution, the rhetoric of jihad and

Islamic struggle seemed ubiquitous in Indonesia. Even the left-leaning paper Merdeka in

Jakarta employed the rhetoric ofjihad fi sabilillah. On November 30, 1945, after

reporting on various Islamic groups who were participating in the fighting and an Islamic

school that was closed because all of its students felt the call of God to the battlefield, the

newspaper published an injunction. Under the heading "Berdjoeang Fisabilillah!"

(Struggle in the Way of God), the paper wrote "People of faith struggle in the way of God;

people of disbelief struggle in the way of Satan."24 The use of berdjoeang (now spelled

berjuang), the Austronesian-root word in Indonesian for the verb "struggle," instead of

the Arabic word jihad, shows that this rhetoric had been not only adopted but also

indigenized. Anthony Reid has argued that this pattern of calling for holy war in all

quarters "quickly faded" after November 1945, because ulama doubted "whether a jihad

was an appropriate form of struggle for a state which promised no stronger place for

Islam than its Japanese and Dutch predecessors." However, as demonstrated below,

fatwas continued at key moments throughout the revolution.

Rather than a change in the minds of low-level ulama and Muslims throughout

Indonesia engaged in the fight, the change in attitude came from the national leadership

of Indonesia, which was embarrassed by the parochial character that such fatwas gave the

23As this was a national convention, the particular points on the radius of Muslims who were obliged to
engage were omitted. Tim Penyusun Buku PWNU Jatim, 63.

24 Merdeka, November 30, 1945.

25 Anthony Reid, The Indonesian National Revolution, 1945-1950 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986
[1974]), 56.

struggle. Thus, Muhammad Hatta issued a Government Declaration (Maklumat

Pemerintah) on October 17, 1945, labeled "Prohibition on declaring (Holy) war by any

individual." Using the reasoning that Indonesia had to coordinate its defense carefully

and present itself well before other nations, the Vice-President declared it illegal for any

individual outside the government to declare war or to make known a holy war (perang
sabil). After this, the new proclamations of jihad decreased, especially from less pious

Muslims, but did not cease. Part of this was also because fatwas that had already been

issued remained in effect for the duration of the conflict, meaning that a dearth of new

declarations of jihad did not necessarily mean that the "holy war" character of the

conflict had gone away. Still ulama and leaders of religious organizations and parties

continued to issue fatwas urging the people to join the struggle, showing their belief that

the conflict would lead to a greater place for Islam in an independent Indonesia.

Masjumi continued to reaffirm the call for holy war throughout the revolution.

After the First Dutch Aggression (or Police Action) in July 1947, Masjumi repeated its

call for holy war against the Dutch with a pronouncement from its headquarters in

Jogjakarta. The Majelis Syuro' (Consultative Council) of the Masjumi party issued this

announcement, their first, on September 18, 1947. Relying on Sura al-Baqara 2:190 and

a hadith from Imam Ahmad, the council decreed the current war against the Dutch to be a

jihad fi sabilillah that was now personally (not collectively) incumbent on all Muslims,

male and female, across Indonesia. The council classified the war as a war to protect

religion, in addition to being a war to protect self and property, and thus confirmed that

any who died in the fighting would be martyrs. The announcement concluded by calling

26Koesnodiprodjo, Himpunan Undang2, Peraturan2, Penetapan2 Pemerintah Republik Indonesia 1945

(Jakarta: S.K. Seno, 1951), 60.

for total war against the Dutch, although preserving protected status for non-Muslims and

non-Indonesians who were not directly helping the Dutch.27

In the face of the Communist uprising at Madiun, Masjumi again issued a call for

jihad fi sabilillah. On October 7, 1948, Kasman Singodimedjo, then serving as the head

of the Defense Board of Central Masjumi, issued an order to that effect from the Defense

Board's Jogjakarta headquarters.28 Thus, the umbrella body for all Islamic organizations

in Indonesia continued to employ the rhetoric of jihadeven to impose an obligation of

jihadthrough the end of the revolution.

These national statements were complemented and made real by local ulama.

Although less likely to be written down, local proclamations of holy war were common

throughout Indonesia, and such proclamations were important motivators for Muslim

participants.29 While repeating several points of the organizational proclamations

examined above, the emphasis of local ulama, often engaging Muslim fighters through

Islamic sermons, was on martyrdom.30 The understanding that those Muslims who lost

their lives in the revolution would become martyrs left an indelible mark on Islamic

society, as evidenced by the many mosques across Indonesia named "Syahada '45," or

Martyrs of [the Revolution of] '45.

27 ANRI, RA3 Djogdja Documenten 1945-1949, #243.

28 ANRI, RA3 Djogdja Documenten 1945-1949, #91.

29 The Government Declaration of Mohammad Hatta, cited above, suggests an abundance of them. The
text of the declaration also vaguely references fierce anger in all quarters of society, suggesting that such
statements of holy war were legion and not limited to very pious Muslims. The continual repetition of
fatwas for holy war or declaring the Indonesian dead as martyrs was confirmed through interviews with H.
Saifulkan Angai, Marabahan, South Kalimantan, September 26, 2010; H. Jamiluddin Azhar, Mataram,
West Nusa Tenggara, July 27, 2010; and H. Munir Zakaria, Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, February 3, 2010.

30This was made especially clear to me by H. Saifulkan Angai, but other confirmed his analysis for other

Figure 2 This mosque in Luwu Regency, South Sulawesi, called Masjid Syuhada '45 (or Mosque of
the Martyrs of [the Revolution of] '45), shows how the local declarations of holy war were absorbed
by communities. Author's photo, October 2010.

Some fatwas went even further in promoting participation in the war. Jam'iyatul

Washliyah organization in North Sumatra had many members issue religious edicts

supporting the independence cause, even to the point where one decree proclaimed that

"Anyone who is a traitor to their homeland, their blood is halal."31 Among other things,

this allowed its Muslim followers to kill their local feudal leaders and other Muslims with

clear consciences.

From all of these fatwas, what insight can be gained into the mindset of

Indonesian Muslims fighting in the revolution? Most obviously, religious scholars

believed that Indonesian independence was necessary for Islam to survive and thrive.

That is why they were willing to make fighting for independence a religious obligation

incumbent on all Muslims in the archipelago. This religious obligation should not be

seen as subservient to their nationalistic obligations, however. Instead, the religious

obligation was the main driver pushing many young men into the battlefield. Many

young Muslims fought under the religious scholars who issued such proclamations, a

point that will be examined later, but the fact remains that ulama issued these fatwas

because they believed them necessary. Ulama thought that without the fatwas Muslims

might not participate in the fight. The ulama's understanding about pious Muslims,

then, saw them as motivated by religious rather than national obligations. If we can trust

that this accurately described even a portion of those Muslims who fought in the

31Ahmad Hamim Azizy, Al-Jam'iyatul Washliyah dalam Kancah Poltiik Indonesia (Banda Aceh: Yayasan
Pena, 2006), 102. Halal is the Muslim equivalent of kosher, meaning that the food or activity is
permissible for Muslims. Although Azizy does not give a date for this fatwa, he states that Jam'iyatul
Washliyah issued it during the social revolution, which peaked in North Sumatra in 1947.

32El-Guyanie takes this point to the extreme when he asserts that no Muslims would have fought the Dutch
without the NU resolution in favor of jihad. Greater insight can be found here by looking at the ulama's
perspective, rather than the soldiers perspective; the ulama issued it because they believed in its power.

revolution, we must recognize that there were variant inspirations for participation, and

that a leading one among them was Islamic.

The reasoning employed in these fatwas also demonstrates a religious motivation

separate from secular nationalism. Later proponents of religious cooperation with the

state have pointed to the Islamic axiom "Love of homeland is a part of religion," but none

of the fatwas related to the revolution used that as their scriptural basis.33 Instead, the

fatwas came from religious perspectives, inciting Muslims to defend their religion,

defend their own property (a right in Islam, in addition to being in their own interests),

and to create an environment where Islam could flourish.

The Role of Ulama in the Revolution34

Making up the nationwide structures of Islamic organizations and militias, ulama

were the boots on the ground organizing and mediating the Islamic experience of the

Indonesian revolution. Religious scholars, as respected leaders in their local

communities, played a key role in directing participation in the Indonesian revolution and

proposing interpretations for it. Ulama, whether locally called kyai, syekh, buya, or tuang

guru, were also the most prominent and respected leaders in most rural communities,35 so

33 This saying was already widely-known in the archipelago, as Michael Francis Laffan's research affirms.

Michael Francis Laffan, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia: The Umma below the Winds (New
York: Routledge, 2003), 157. Although it is popularly identified as hadith, or saying of the prophet, the
actual source is unknown, thus relegating it to the status of "fabricated" in Islamic jurisprudence.

34 One must be very careful writing about participation in the revolution, because since the 1960s all
Indonesians (and especially all leaders) have clamored to demonstrate their contributions to the fight in an
effort to prove their qualifications for leadership. I have attempted here to limit my examples to confirmed
activity in the field or trends that were visible in multiple locations, so that an exaggeration at one site may
not invalidate the point.

35 Smail, 11; Bosra, Tuan Guru, Anrong Guru, dan Daeng Guru, 22.

the fact of their participation is not surprising. Some of the modes of their participation,

however, do deserve closer examination.

One early role of Islamic scholars was to convey the news of Indonesia's

independence to their followers and interpret this information for them. In the fatwas

issued by the NU or in Acehalways signed by individual prominent ulama so as to

carry weight in specific localitiesthe message included the fact that Indonesian

independence had been declared and should be supported by Muslims. This information,

doubtless the first way that some Muslims heard about independence, was couched in

Islamic contexts: juxtaposed with names of famous Islamic leaders of yore and paired

with a call to jihad. In other cases, ulama announced and interpreted independence for

their followers in person rather than through a disseminated fatwa, although the form and

content of these announcements varied widely. In Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta,

after news of the proclamation came to the local kyai, K.H. Noer Alie, from his student

Yakub Gani, the kyai ordered the rest of his students to assemble at the mosque. There

he announced to them that independence had been proclaimed, and preached about the

meaning of independence: "a form of freedom for natives from the colonialism of other

nations, especially the Japanese, Dutch, and landlords who were Chinese."36 In East

Lombok, teachers of the famous Nahdlatul Wathan Dinniyah Islamiyah pesantren, who

had heard word on the radio, were the first to pass on the announcement of independence

to their students.37 Because ulama so often had youth assembled at their pesantren or

36 Ali Anwar, K.H. NoerAlie: Kemandirian Ulama Pejuang (Bekasi: Yayasan Attaqwa, 2001), 62.

37 Interview with H. Jamiluddin Azhar, Mataram, July 27, 2010.

traditional Islamic schools, it was natural that ulama were the ones to inform Islamic

youth of the Indonesian independence, and to interpret this independence for them.

Once the fighting to protect this new-found independence got underway, ulama

had to demonstrate their revolutionary leadership, usually through association with

militant forces. Although many folded themselves into Islamic organizations or

nationally-aligned Hizbullah militias, others wanted to continue to lead independently. In

the Muara Enim region of South Sumatra, H. Moh. Jamili and H. Zainuddin Akudaun led

their own fighting force, aligned with both TNI and Hizbullah but subject to neither,

drawing on their own charisma.38 In East Lombok, the stronghold of the Nahdlatul

Wathan organization, several teachers from this pesantren, in particular T.G.H. Ahmad

Rifa'i and T.G.H. Faisal, became famous for leading students in guerilla attacks on the

Dutch-occupation NICA government.39 In the Mandar homeland, now West Sulawesi

province, K.H. Muhammad Thahir and Imam Lapeo, with the support of the local king's

consort Ibu Depu, inspired and oversaw the creation of Kebaktian Rahasia Islam Muda

38 Interview with T.G.K.H. Drs. M. Thoulun Abd. Rauf, Palembang, June 7,2010.

39 Interview with H. Jamiluddin Azhar, July 27, 2010. In recent efforts to have the founder of Nahdlatul
Wathan, T.G.K.H. Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul Madjid (known as Tuan Guru Pancor), enshrined as an
official national hero, his supporters have also claimed that Tuan Guru Pancor also led troops in the field
against the Dutch. That was the general assertion during discussions at "Peran TGH. Muhammad
Zainuddin Abdul Madjid dalam Pembangunan di Nusa Tenggara Barat," a conference held at Universitas
Mataram on July 24, 2010, with the explicit goal of making Tuan Guru Pancor an officially-designated
national hero. I find this assertion doubtful. Oral history informants who were enrolled at the Nahdlatul
Wathan school in Pancor, at the time, such as H. Jamiluddin Azhar, have said that Tuan Guru Pancor was
not directly involved in military excursions. Others have admitted that he did not take up arms directly
(Rahmad Hidayat, "Peran TGH Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul Madjid dalam Pembangunan Politik di Nusa
Tenggara Barat" at the conference mentioned above), even while maintaining he played a key role in
military planning. Even the latter is dubious, because it has been well-documented that Tuan Guru Pancor,
with Dutch acquiescence, led a large delegation of Lombok pilgrims on the hajj in 1947. Not only is it
unlikely that the Dutch would have allowed him to do this had he been active in the military struggle, but it
is also unlikely that a military commander would want to leave his troops at that critical juncture of the
revolution. Certainly, Tuan Guru Pancor made significant contributions to the revolution on Lombok,
including disseminating the vision mentioned below, but he probably did not lead any military aspect of the

(Young Islamic Secret Religious Duty, known as KRIS-Muda), the leading militia of the

region.40 In this case, however, these Islamic scholars do not seem to have led the

fighting force in the field.

In other instances, religious leaders did become important leaders in the

Republican or non-sectarian fighting forces. In South Kalimantan, where the Republican

guerillas were led by Hassan Basry, this Brigadier General was seen as being a sort of

honorary religious scholar, a perception confirmed after the revolution when the

government sent him to Egypt to study religion at the famed al-Azhar University.41

Major General R. Kasman Singodimedjo went on to a prominent career as a Masjumi

politician and general Islamic firebrand after leading the West Java Peta as a daidancho

(battalion commander) in the early Revolution.42 Arudji Kartawinata followed a similar

trajectory from head of the Barisan Keamanan Rakjat Republican forces in West Java to

parliamentary leader of the Partai Sarekat Islam Indonesia.43 In Tegal, Central Java, the

Islamic nationalists dominated the Barisan Pelopor (Pioneers' Front) militia, no fewer

than seventeen of whose twenty-four local district and subdistrict leaders were members

40 Bosra, Tuan Guru, Anrong Guru, Daeng Guru, 262.

41 H.M. Syamsiar Seman, Hassan Basry, Pahlawan Nasional (Banjarmasin: Lembaga Pengkajian dan
Pelestarian Budaya Banjar Kalimantan Selatan, 2009), 33. The people's respect for Hassan Basry as an
Islamic leader is particularly manifest in the decision to respect his command's order that everyone in the
district boycott the hajj in 1949 so that the Dutch could not use their administration of the hajj for pilgrims
in occupied territory as a propaganda piece. See ibid, 28-29.

42 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 424. In 1947 he was appointed Junior Minister of Justice;
ANRI, RA2 Sekretariat Negara RI, 1945-1949, #615. His career continued on a political, not military,
track from there.

43On his leadership of BKR West Java, see Anhar Gonggong, et al., Sejarah Nasional Indonesia, vol. VI,
Republik Indonesia: Dari Proklamasi sampai Demokrasi Terpimpin (Jakarta: Departemen Pendidikan dan
Kebudayaan, 1993), 44. On his role in PSII, see Deliar Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional 1945-1965
(Jakarta: GrafitiPers, 1987), 76.

of the orthodox religious elite.44 West Sumatra, examined in detail below, may be the

best example of Republican forces thoroughly infused with Islamic-leaning officers. In

Aceh, the Republican, non-sectarian fighting forces were so weak that Islamic military

leaders were ex post facto declared the Republican military leaders for the province.45

For Muslims who joined fighting forces, either religious or non-sectarian, because

ulama had instructed them to do so, this presumably colored their expectations in these

fighting units. Because they had undertaken this fight at the urging of ulama, they

expected the fight to progress in an Islamic way and they expected to see Islamic

outcomes to the struggle. Ulama, on the other hand, after drawing so many Muslim

fighters to defend the cause, had reasonable expectations that they would be rewarded

with appreciation and status once Indonesia's independence was achieved. In the 1950s,

this expectation arose in different ways in different places, but leadership and recruitment

during the revolution were common justificatory refrains 46

Ulama also used the discipline of military units they led to foster piety among the

general populace. In one instance on Takalar, an island off the coast of South Sulawesi,

ulama commanded the supposedly non-sectarian Lipan Bajeng militia. In this role as

leaders, the ulama implemented and regulated the five daily Islamic prayers for their

troops and enforced attendance at congregational Friday prayers, which were also used as

44Anton Lucas, "The Tiga Daerah Affair: Social Revolution or Rebellion?" in Audrey R. Kahin, ed.,
Regional Dynamics of the Indonesian Revolution: Unity from Diversity (Honolulu, HI: University of
Hawai'i Press, 1985), 35.

See, for example, the appointment of Amir Hoesin Almoedjahid as an honorary Major-General in TNI in
April 1946. ANRI, RA2 Secretariat Negara RI, 1945-1949, #544.

46 See the letter of Col. M. Dahlan Djambek to Bung Tomo, ANRI RA7 #1467, for a representative
example, although the debates in the Konstituante (Constitutional Assembly) also took this tone. This is
also the thrust of El-Guyanie, Resolusi Jihad Paling Syar'i, presumably stemming from what his own
teachers in NU had taught him.

motivational sessions for the fight. According to several participants, this caused the

general piety of the fighters to increase as a result of involvement in the revolution, and

even to spread to elsewhere in South Sulawesi through contact with other troops. Some

reports even claim that non-Muslims (notably the heroic fighter Walter Mongonsidi)

attended Friday prayers with Muslims to build solidarity.47 The function of community

prayers in the Lipan Bajeng militia suggests that the ulama leaders believed that this

religious obligation would not only improve the faith of their troops, but it would also

help them to defeat the Dutch, connecting the divine with their cause and its outcome.

Whether or not they joined in the military struggle, many ulama across Indonesia

provided support and inspiration for troops engaged in fighting. In South and Central

Kalimantan, local religious scholars prayed over the local fighters and delivered special

inspirational sermons. On Lombok, soldiers were spurred on by a vision revealed to

T.G.K.H. Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul Madjid in which a flood of Noah proportions

appeared to envelop the foreign troops who sought to close down the Nahdlatul Wathan

pesantren,49 After the Dutch occupied South Sumatra in 1946, ulama originating from

the region, even those as far away as Mecca, felt obliged to try to reinvigorate the

revolutionary struggle in their home region. In letters from the newly formed "Front

Republikein Sumatera Selatan di Saudi Arabia" (South Sumatran Republican Front in

Saudi Arabia), they announced to the international press in 1948 that the military struggle

47Mustari Bosra, Laskar Lipan Bajeng: Perjumpaan Agama dan Nasionalisme dalam Perjuangan Bangsa
Indonesia (Makassar: Rayhan Intermedia, 2009) 88-90.

48 Interview with H. Saifulkan Angai, Marabahan, September 26, 2010.

49 This
vision is recorded in the handbook of the Hizb Nahdlatul Wathan, the Sufi tarekat founded by
Abdul Madjid, also known as Tuan Guru Pancor. I was informed of it in an interview with Fahrurozzi,
Mataram, August 30, 2010.

would continue, urged on their brothers to take up arms, and instructed Muslims that it

was religiously forbidden to support the Dutch, especially in their aim to create a separate,

colonially-sponsored South Sumatran state.50

Islamic leaders also secured leading places in the local government or para-

government structures that were emerging all across the archipelago. In South Banten,

K.H. Sjam'oen led irregular Hizbullah volunteers to campaign for the replacement of

civil servants with Islamic leaders in October 1945.51 In Tegal, where Dutch rule had

previously excluded them from the bureaucracy, orthodox Islamic leaders won 22% of

the district and subdistrict officer seats selected in 1947. Furthermore, the central

government had to send Wali A1 Fattah, a leading Muhammadiyah man, as the new

Republican resident after several secular residents had failed to keep control of the

Islamic leaders serving under them.53 The ability of Islamic leaders to become

government executives, even on the lowest level, marked a breach with the Dutch

colonial era. This was apparent in Palembang, where the city council included Islamic

representatives for the first time in the city's history.54 The moment was doubly unique

because it later became difficult again for ulama to serve in government roles outside of

the Ministry of Religion, largely because of a lack of Western education.55

50Letters of July 5, November 18, and June 30, 1948, respectively, in ANRI, RA3 Djodja Documenten
1945-1949, #73.

51Benedict R. O'G. Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution: Occupation and Resistance, 1944-46
(Singapore: Equinox Press 2009), 337.

52 Lucas, 35.

53 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 342.

54Interview with K.H. Zen Syukri, Palembang, June 6,2010. Zen Syukri was one of the ulama who served
on the city council starting in 1946.

55As one example, Lucas, 45, notes that most of the Islamic leaders in government administration moved to
the Ministry of Religion after the revolution and ceased serving as local executives.

The assumption of various secular posts by Islamic leaders has special

significance for understanding the meaning of the revolution for everyday Muslims

across Indonesia. As became clear in political debates during the 1950s, ulama and pious

Muslims across Indonesia held concepts of Islamic governance as the ideal for the

structure of the new state, involving both Islamic law and a leading position for Islamic

scholars. The selection of ulama as local political leaders suggests, if not the outright

endorsement, then at least the partial acceptance by the general populace of Islamic

governance as preached by the ulama. Of course, these concepts of Islamic governance

were not uniform across the archipelago and local ideas of their implementation also

different from the ideals of national political leaders, but one can safely say that they

placed more emphasis on Islamic principles as the foundation of the new state than the

formal structures of the nascent Republican state.

The participation of ulama in formal politics during the revolution also marked a

watershed change from their role under Dutch colonialism. Although a small minority of

Muslim leaders, often Western-educated, had engaged in pre-war politics under the

Dutch (generally through the Sarekat Islam or the Jong Islamieten Bond), the ulama had

followed Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah on a consciously non-political course.56

The Dutch policy had been to encourage "cultural" Islam while proscribing "political"

Islam.57 And yet, during the revolution, as ulama became political leaders on the local

level, Islam merged with politics. In some cases they not only became leaders, they

56 HarryJ. Benda, Crescent and the Rising Sun: Indonesian Islam under the Japanese Occupation, 1942-
1945 (The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958), 55.

57Harry J. Benda, "Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje and the Foundations of Dutch Islamic Policy in Indonesia,"
Continuity and Change in Southeast Asia: Collected Journal Articles of Harry J. Benda (New Haven, CT:
Yale University Southeast Asia Studies, Monograph Series No. 18,1972), 87.

actually went so far as to introduce strong policies for the promotion of Islamic law in
their local regions. The ulama would not disassociate themselves from formal politics

for another two decades, and even then only half-heartedly.59

Fighting for Religion on the Ground

If fatwas reflect the position of ulama, one can see the position of pious Muslim

non-elites from their participation in the struggle. One demonstration of Islamic

motivations for common soldiers is the way they reacted to attacks on mosques or Islamic


One of the most famous cases of this came in Luwu, the region of Sulawesi at the

northern end of the Gulf of Bone. There, the Revolution had been a rather low-level

conflict in which the Indonesian side had not, generally, taken great risks, until provoked

by attacks on Islam. As one participant from the royal house of the Datu of Luwu told a

researcher in 1981, "The things that pushed us to fight to the death against the colonizers

were the establishment of Christian missions that worked to spread the Christian religion

in the Luwu region, and if the Islamic community had not opposed it then churches

would have popped up all over. Even more so, when the Dutch ripped apart the pages of

58Interview with Lela Rosma, March 21, 2008, in Tujuh Koto Talago, West Sumatra; Mustari Bosra,
Laskar Lipan Bajeng, 88-89 (on Takalar, South Sulawesi).

59The process of withdrawing from politics back into social issues from the late 1960s through the mid-
1980s is chronicled well in Bahtiar Effendy, Islam and the State in Indonesia (Singapore: ISEAS, 2003).
Although many individual ulama remained involved in politics, the broad trendfrom Nucholish Madjid's
famous speech "Islam yes; Islamic Party no" to NU's withdrawal from politicswas for disengagement.
In some ways this reflects the broad ebb and flow of religion in Indonesian political life, which has again
blossomed after 1998.

the Qur'an and beat Tomanjawani, this was a violation that strongly embarrassed us in

the Islamic community."60

The specific incident mentioned above bears greater explanation, for it was the

great instigator of open warfare in the Luwu region. On January 26, 1946, KNIL colonial

soldiersa pro-Dutch company of Ambonese Christiansheard that Republican-aligned

troops, who had already long retreated from the district capital of Palopo, were gathering

in the small village of Bua, 25 kilometers south of the city. One of the local youth,

Tomanjawani, heard that the KNIL were coming, and he raced to the mosque at Bua to

warn the troops there.61 When the KNIL forces arrived, they beat Tomanjawani, who

was the only one remaining in the mosque, ripped pages out of the Qur'ans they found
there, and desecrated the mosque with graffiti. Even those who were simply found in

neighboring houses were jailed for their proximity.63

This incident lit a flame under Muslims in the region such that they were no

longer willing to avoid conflict with the occupying forces. They formulated an

immediate military response, which allowed them to briefly retake the city of Palopo.64

Islamic leaders, like the national hero Opu Daeng Risaju, pushed for total war against the

60 Interview of Andi Kaddi Raja with Mahadin Shaleh, September 21, 1981, quoted in Mahadin Shaleh,
"Sumbangsih Islam terhadap Perjuangan Kemerdekaan di Luwu," Skripsi SI, Fakultas Adab, IAIN-
Alauddin, 1982, 157. Note that the royal house of Luwu was not known for its piety, so this source can be
seen as a reflection of the general mood and not just the perspective from within the pious Islamic

61 It is unclear whether these troops identified themselves as Republican troops or as an Islamic militia.
One of the men who claims to have fled Bua that night, however, did confirm that the KNIL intelligence
was correct; they were, indeed, gathered at the village mosque. Regardless of their formal affiliation, their
Islamic affiliation was strong. Interview with K.H. Sjojah Opu Daeng Malonjo, Bua, Luwu, April 27, 2010.

62 Shaleh, 131.

63 Interview with K.H. Sjojah Opu Daeng Malonjo, Bua, Luwu, April 27, 2010.

64 Shaleh, 137. Republican forces held Palopo for three days, until KNIL reinforcements arrived.

Dutch and any Christians. For this, she was imprisoned and tortured, rendering her deaf

for the remainder of her life.65 More generally, this incident ended the period of

quiescence in Luwu, and set the scene for the district to become the center of Kahar

Muzakkar's fierce branch of the Darul Islam rebellion six years later.

Similar anecdotes have appeared across the archipelago regarding the importance

of religiously-charged incidents in inciting more active participation in the Revolution.

In South Kalimantan, a NICA soldier stomping on the Qur'an inflamed the Muslims of

the Hulu Sungai region to throw themselves more fervently in to the independence

struggle.66 In East Lombok, threats to close the Nahdlatul Wathan Diniyyah Islamiyyah

pesantren led to a vision by its founder. Tuan Guru Pancor, as he was known, shared his

vision (mentioned above) with the broad network of Islamic schools and their graduates

that had grown out of his own pesantren, and hearing about his vision inspired more

widespread participation in the fighting. The case of Tuan Guru Pancor and his nascent

Nahdlatul Wathan organization points to another key trend in Islamic participation in the

Indonesian revolution: most participation was channeled through Islamic organizations.

Islamic Mass Organizations in the Revolution

65Mahbubah Kadir Daud, "Opu Daeng Risaju Tokoh PSII dan Peijuangan di Luwu," Skripsi SI, Fakultas
Adab, LAIN-Alauddin, 1983, 62. Declaring war against Christians was particularly relevant in this region,
where very few Dutch returned during the Revolution but where Christian Indonesians loyal to the Dutch,
particularly the Ambonese and Menadonese, played a major role in opposing the pro-independence forces.
The administrator who oversaw the torture of Opu Daeng Risaju was a Christian Menadonese. Opu Daeng
Risaju continued to reside in Luwu as a living legend until she eventually passed away in 1964.

66Muhammad Iqbal, "Menyulut Api di Padang Ilalang: Pidato Politik Soekarno di Amuntai 27 January
1953," Skripsi SI, Universitas Negeri-Yogyakarta, 2009: 58.

67Interview with Fahrurozzi, Mataram, August 30, 2010. The full name of the founder is Tuan Guru Kyai
Haji Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul Madjid, but he is called Tuan Guru Pancor in honor of the town where
he founded his famous school.

Even as they were losing influence in national politics through the sidelining of

their leaders within Masjumi, Islamic mass organizations were a key site of mobilization

and organization for Muslims participating in the revolution at the grassroots level.

In certain regions, Islamic organizations had been suppressed under the Japanese,

and only reemerged in 1945. In Palembang, for example, the Japanese in 1942 closed all

Islamic schools save one. In the case of Musjawaratutthalibin in South Kalimantan, the

oppression of the Japanese was hard enough that, although members tried to revive the

organization in 1945, it never really recovered. After several years of ineffective

mobilization, Musjawaratutthalibin dissolved itself into Nahdlatul Ulama in 1950.69 On

Java, the organizations generally fared better under the protective wing of Masjoemi, the
umbrella Islamic organization created by the Japanese in 1942. Regardless, the

organizations universally demonstrated their vibrancy by throwing themselves whole

heartedly into the independence struggle after the proclamation in 1945.

The permeation of modern-style Islamic mass organizations throughout society

made them ideal channels for mobilization towards the revolutionary effort, and mobilize

they did. Muslim participants in the revolution framed the bulk of Islamic support and

68 Interview with Prof. H. Mochtar Efifendy, Palembang, June 7, 2010. Although the schools were formally

closed, several ulama were able to keep teaching their students informally at home. Interviews with M.
Tahir Azhary, Ciputat, January 17,2010 and K.H. Zen Syukri, Palembang, June 6, 2010. In terms of
Islamic organizational activity, however, South Sumatra was very quiet under the Japanese.

69 M. NutMaksum et al., Musyawaratuththalibin: Historis, Perjuangan dan Pergulatan Pemikiran

(Banjarmasin: Antasari Press/ IAIN-Antasari, 2007), 48. The revered NU leader and future speaker of
Indonesian parliament, K.H. Idham Chalid, had originally been active in the students' auxiliary of
Musjawaratutthalibin in his youth, and describes the vibrancy of the organization before the Japanese
crackdown in his oral history; ANRI SL1 1985 #9, tape 5.

70 Fora full history of Masjoemi (the organization, not yet the political party), see Benda, Crescent and the
Rising Sun.

activity in the Indonesian revolution as coming from these unifying organizations, even

when in practical terms it originated in the actions of individual religious scholars.

Islamic organizations were ready-made for this kind of mobilization. Not only

their broad reach in society, but also some of their specific activities facilitated easy

transitions into physical revolution, especially leading to membership in armed militias.

For example, Hizbul Wathan (the Muhammadiyah scouting organization) in Tappong,

South Sulawesi, had been assembling members at the local Muhammadiyah headquarters

for military training since the mid-1930s. Similar groups emerged elsewhere in the

province under Muhammadiyah auspices in 1942, specifically in Polombangkeng,

Bantaeng, and Jeneponto. These trainees then became critical leaders in the physical

struggle for independence, and often the Islamic militias they formed stayed intact for the

revolutionary period.71 On Sumbawa, the local Muhammadiyah had not trained a

paramilitary organization on its own, but it did push its younger male members into the

local branch of the nationalist BKR militia.72 In Sukabumi, K.H. Sanusi led the local

resistance from his pesantren, where he had also organized his students into a fighting

force and trained them specifically for the Indian Gurkhas who were expected to occupy

the city.73 Besides feeding their members into non-sectarian Republican militias, though,

Islamic organizations created armed groups of their own.

Sabilillah and Hizbullah

71 Mahadin Shaleh, "Sumbangsih Islam terhadap Peijuangan Kemerdekaan di Luwu," Skripsi SI, Fakultas

Adab, IAIN-Alauddin, Makassar, 1982, 107 and Mustari Bosra, Tuang Guru, Anrong Guru dan Daeng
Guru, 261.

72 Interview with Syamsuddin Anwar, Mataram, 29 August, 2010. BKR, or Badan Keamanan Rakyat

(People's Security Board) was the standard militia associated with nascent Republican government across
the archipelago.

73 Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1972), 186.

The most palpable manifestations of the Islamic participation in the independence

struggle were the Islamic militias organized by Masjumi: the Hizbullah and the Sabilillah.

The Hizbullah had actually formed in 1942, when Masjoemi was still a Japanese-

sponsored umbrella organization and not yet overtly political. The Hizbullah militias

were, in theory at least, trained and armed by the Japanese, and therefore immediately

ready when fighting broke out. Sabilillah was conceived as irregulars; all Muslim men

(and in some cases women) who were in physical condition to fight could be called into a

Sabilillah unit when their locality needed it. In practical terms, though, this dual structure

did not exist on the ground, where Islamic militias often included a mix of trained and

untrained, armed and unarmed men. By default, society referred to any and all of these

Masjumi-aligned (although not necessarily Masjumi-sponsored) militias as "Hizbullah."74

This was reflected in the Masjumi structural incorporation of the two groups. On the

central party leadership, one liaison represented both groups and was called the "Head of

the Hizbullah Section."75 Similarly, in provincial commands Masjumi would set one

leader for all Islamic militias in a territory; a famous example is Kamran, a former PSII

activist, who headed up Hizbullah and Sabilillah for West Java.76

In the spirit of mobilizing all wings of the Islamic organization in support of the

Revolution, women also organized themselves as fighting spread across Indonesia. The

74Smail, 91-92, describes the conditions on the ground around Bandung in great detail. He makes the
distinction of Hizbullah as the organized city companies and the Sabilillah as the irregular rural companies
(92), but even this distinction loses much of its meaning when applied outside of Java. Therefore, I will
generally follow common practice in referring to all these groups as Hizbullah, except in cases where they
specifically called themselves Sabilillah.

Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 220. The first man in this post as of November 1945 was H.

76 C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "The Dar ul-Islam Movement in Western Java till 1949," in Aspects of Islam
in Post-Colonial Indonesia (The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958), 168.

women's auxiliary of Sabilillah (women were not permitted to serve in the trained

military units of the Hizbullah) was called Sabilillah Muslimaat. This group functioned

under the auspices of the Masjumi women's auxiliary, Muslimaat, instead of under the

command of the local Muslim military leaders. They modeled themselves on the women

reputed to follow the Prophet and his companions when they went to battle, providing

drinking water and tending the wounded.77 Thus, they focused their energies on Red

Cross and Public Kitchen activities, with some efforts made to help the families of

martyrs and provide clothing for the heroes, as local circumstances permitted.78 All the

same, some women did find themselves fighting on the battlefield (see below).

Across Indonesia, but especially on Java and Sumatra, where Masjumi's influence

was the greatest, local organizationally-minded ulama often compelled all their students

of fighting age to become Hizbullah members under their leadership. Syeikh Kyai Yahya

of Muara Enim, South Sumatra, encouraged the youth under him to join up with Barisan

Pelopor Rakyat Indonesia (BPRI), a company division of Hizbullah under Hamzah

70 OA
Kuncit. K.H. Noer Alie in Bekasi also turned his students into a Hizbullah unit. This
Q1 Q'J Ol
was also common practice around Bandung, Jogjakarta, and Surakarta. In many

77Qo'idah Moeslimaat (Masjoemi bg. Wanita) (Jogjakarta: Masjoemi Daerah Jogja, Sidzin Moeslimaat,
n.d.), 7. This book is an overview of the purpose of the whole of the Muslimaat women's auxiliary, with
the last three pages dedicated to the Sabilillah Muslimaat. It appears to have been published during war
time. The references to women following the prophet, including specifically Ummi 'Atiyyab Al-Ansory
and Ummi Sulaim, are cited to the hadith of Imam Muslim.

78 Ibid, 8-9.

79Maliyanti, "Peranan Syeikh Kyai Yahya dalam Pengembangan Islam di Muara Enim (1881-1951),"
Skripsi S1, Fakultas Adab, IAIN-Raden Fatah, Palembang, 2002, 50.

80 Ali Anwar, 82.

81 Smail, 92.

82Mohammad Iskandar, ed., Keterlibatan Ulama di DIYpada Masa Perang Kemerdekaanperiode 1945-
1949 (Jakarta: Proyek Peningkatan Kesadaran Sejarah Nasional, DepDikNas, 2000), 40ff.

areas, such as Tegal and Brebes on the border between West and Central Java, the piety

of the locals led them to join Hizbullah militias in much greater numbers than they joined
secular militias. In Benkayang, Kalimantan Barat, the main militia group was

Hizbullah, founded by a Captain Bambang Ismoyo who came from Java, where he had

also served in Hizbullah. The group in Bengkayang was formed in September 1946, and

took to the forests after the city had fallen to the Dutch.85 The area of Hizbullah's

greatest strength, however, was East Java.

Anderson found evidence in Dutch reports that estimated the Hizbullah at 50,000

members at the start of the revolution; this presumably reflects the number of young men

trained by the Japanese.87 In December 1945, the Masjumi's program put a heavy

emphasis on increasing the number of members in their militia branches, specifically

Hizbullah, and improving their training and weapons. Thus, in early 1946, Abikusno

Tjokrosujoso, the Masjumi party's vice-chair, claimed 3 million members of Hizbullah

and two million in Sabilillah. These numbers are probably exaggerated and certainly

83 H. Soepanto, Hizbullah Surakarta (Surakarta: UMS Karanganyar, 1993), 36.

See the report of Djamal Marsudi about the end of the Central Java Darul Islam movement, held in ANRI,
RB16 Djamal Marsudi, 1947-1979, #53.

85Drs. Pasifikus Ahok, Slamet Ismail, and Wijoso Tjitrodaijono, Sejarah Revolusi Kemerdekaan (1945-
1949) Daerah Kalimantan Barat (Pontianak: Kanwil Depdikbud Provinsi Kalimantan Barat, 1993), 68.

86 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 267.

87 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 26 n. 23.

88 Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution, 222.

89Reported in the magazine Al-Djihad, February 1946, quoted in Irsyad Zamjani, Sekularisasi Setengah
Hati: Politik Islam Indonesia dalam Periode Formatif (Jakarta: Dian Rakyat, 2009), 104. Deliar Noer,
"Masjumi: Its Organization, Ideology, and Political Role in Indonesia," MA Thesis, Cornell University,
1960, 87, dates this estimate to February 1947.

only very rough estimates, as the numbers constantly shifted and Masjumi authority over

the militias across the archipelago also tended to be rather dubious.

The Masjumi leadership originally conceived of the Hizbullah as a military

auxiliary to their political party. They appointed leadership up to the top of the

organization, which would then coordinate with the civilian political leaders. However,

Masjumi also recognized the military leadership of the TNI, and especially the person of

General Sudirman. They reaffirmed their commitment to this command structure when,

in a resolution of July 8, 1946, all of the Masjumi and G.P.I.I. (the Masjumi student

auxiliary) branches from across Java and Madura unanimously resolved that "Every

member of Masjumi and G.P.I.I. expresses their faith in Panglima Besar Sudirman as the

Leadership of the Military, and Hizbullah and Sabilillah stand behind him."90

The case of Palembang is a good example of Hizbullah units functioning on the

very edge of Masjumi control. K.H. Ahmad Azhari, an old PSII hand in the town,

attended the conference in November 1945 in Jogjakarta to found Masjumi as a political

party. Upon his return to Sumatra, he led his students to create a Hizbullah militia. They

drilled on the outskirts of Palembang several times a week until the outbreak of fighting

in the region, at which point they gave up training for combat. When, in mid-1946, K.H.

Ahmad Azhari was appointed Minister of Religion in the Amir Sjarifuddin cabinet, the

Dutch issued a warrant for his arrest, and he had to go into hiding. At this point the

militias were already practically independent under their own company commanders.91

The salary for a Hizbullah fighter in 1948 was, according to one fighter in Palembang, Rp.

90 ANRI, RA2 Sekretariat Negara RI, 1945-1949, #1053.

91 Interview with M. Tahir Azhary, January 17, 2010.

200 (presumably per month). It is unclear whether this came from local or national

Masjumi coffers, or from the local government, but it is more likely that it came from

local Masjumi or local branches of mass Islamic organizations, given comparable

developments elsewhere.93

That these troops were irregular does not mean that their contributions to the

fighting were unimportant. Hizbullah groups were crucial, for example, in the Battle of

Surabaya in 1945. This port city saw the most famous battle of the Indonesian revolution.

It started in mid-November and became a bloody and chaotic mess in contemporary

accounts just as much as it was a glorious point of national pride in official accounts.

Hizbullah and Sabilillah militias, led mostly by NU cadres from the area surrounding

Surabaya, were very active in the battle. The Hizbullah central headquarters for

Surabaya was one of the first targets bombed on November 10,1945 (the day now

commemorated as Heroes' Day in Indonesia).94 Hizbullah units fighting Allied troops in

the city saw losses (listed as "martyrs") as early as October 30. Their men often died

undertaking military tasks that other units avoided or rejected. For example, the men

Ma'sum and Akhyak from the East Surabaya Hizbullah took grenades to attack Allied

tanks; they were killed but took the tanks down with them.95 As the fighting dragged on

until early December, religious fervor spread to other units beyond merely the Islamic

92 Thiswas reported by Malisin, a former Hizbullah member in Palembang, in his letter to the President in
1956 trying to get a pension. ANRI, RA7 Kabinet Presiden, #789.

93In West Sumatra (see below), the religious and party militias were fully supported by their mass

94 Tim Penyusun Buku PWNU Jatim, 62.

95 Tim Penyusun Buku PWNU Jatim, 63.

militias. As the short story author Idrus has written, "Each night Revolutionary Radio

broadcast from the Koran. 'Allahu akbar. God is great. Allahu akbar....' "96

Another national instance where Hizbullah militias were crucial to the outcome

was the response to the Madiun Affair of September 1948. When Musso and the leaders

of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) declared the Indonesian Soviet Republic on

September 18, 1948, the response of Masjumi and its militias was swift.97 As noted

above, on October 7, 1948, Kasman Singodimedjo issued an order from Masjumi Central

Defense Board to all Muslims, instructing them to engage in jihad fi sabilillah, and for

Masjumi to create local Defense Boards to coordinate their military efforts. Kasman

went further, saying that if the local government is in disarray, or in Communist or left-

leaning hands, local Masjumi members should seize the institutions of the state.98 This

instruction was strongly criticized by Republican military officials like Gatot Subroto,

who accused Masjumi of sowing anarchy in the wake of Madiun.99 It seems, nonetheless,

to have been attempted in some iteration by local Islamic militias in various parts of East

Java.100 This demonstrates how the Masjumi-led Islamic militia experience was separate

from, and in some ways almost anathema to, the mainstream Revolution.

96 Idrus,"Surabaya," in Harry Aveling, ed. and trans., From Surabaya to Armageddon: Indonesian Short
Stories (Singapore: Heinemann Educational Books, 1976), 18. Ellipses in the original. Idrus, although
originating from the Padang region, was in Surabaya for the fighting.

97 Fora general overview of Madiun, see Reid, Indonesian National Revolution, 136ff, or M.C. Ricklefs, A
History of Modern Indonesia, since c. 1200,4fll ed. (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2008), 265-267.

98 ANRI, RA3 Djogdja Documenten 1945-1949, #91

99 Gatot Subroto's report is also included in ANRI, RA3 Djogdja Documenten 1945-1949, #91; he is the
one who forwarded the Masjumi instruction to the government. On the Masjumi instruction itself, the
bottom of the one-page order actually reads "If this is already understood (take notes as necessary) please
tear up or burn"; clearly this was not intended for outside consumption.

100 Robert R. Jay, Religion and Politics in Rural Central Java (New Haven, CT: Yale University Southeast

Asia Studies, 1963), 74, reports of a town where an Islamic militia came through, instructed the lurah
(village head) that Indonesia was an Islamic state so he should perform his five daily prayers more carefully,

The Hizbullah differed from secular militias in several ways. First, being

recruited by ulama to join, they were also more likely to serve under religious leaders.

Often, religious leaders incorporated spiritual training alongside military training, making

Muslim soldiers more devout and orthodox. Furthermore, because Hizbullah members

saw ulama as simultaneously religious and military leaders, the authority of these Islamic

scholars increased. Second, being an all-Muslim unit led to affirmation of Muslim

soldiers' preconceptions about an Islamic society. Rather than being a secular,

Westernized experience of nationalism across ethnic and sectarian divides,101 the

Hizbullah or Sabilillah were intensely visceral vehicles to experience Indonesian

nationalism in a way that confirmed ethnic and religious ideas about what the new nation

should be. This made them virtually independent of control by central Masjumi. The

widespread participation of Muslims in Islamic militias, even if on an ad hoc basis,

means that many of them experienced a revolution that never challenged their Islamic

notions. Finally, Islamic militias were more likely than their secular counterparts to

engage in supernatural practices, of course with an Islamic flavor, such as amulets and


Case Studies


and that all left-leaning youth organizations should be banned. Jay judges this to be a typical Islamic
response to Madiun for the region around Modjokerto where he researched.

Contrast this with the experience of nationalism in schools, which were interreligious and interethnic;
Benedict R.O'G. Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism
(New York: Verso, 2006), 122.

As in previous Islamic rebellions, the Indonesian Muslims fighting in the

revolution had significantly less access to weapons, especially quality weapons, than their

enemies did. This led to responses growing from the realm of faith, in particular, belief

in supernatural protections for those who were poorly armed. Southeast Asian Muslims

had long believed in the power of amulets, called jimat: these usually consisted of written
1 n*?
scripture verses, prayers or mantras believed to give the wearer power. Amulets are on

the edge of Islamic orthodoxy, but they connected themselves to the Islamic tradition

very clearly by using Arabic inscriptions, usually drawn from Islam's holy texts. It is

worth noting that, as much as Indonesian Muslims believed in the power of these amulets,

the Dutch also seemed to fear them, or at least to fear the effect of amulets on their

carriers. In the late 19th century, the Dutch regime had imposed one of its heaviest fines

on anyone in West Sumatra caught selling these amulets to others.103

K.H. Noer Alie of Bekasi provides an excellent example of a local understanding

of such supernatural protections. Describing the emergence of a militia under K.H. Noer

Alie, one of his former students turned biographer has written,

K.H. Noer Alie very firmly believed in the strength and greatness of The Creator,
instructing his troops to hold tightly to the strength of Allah SWT. K.H. Noer Alie was
quite sure that if God willed it, natural (physical) strength as strong and great as anything
could be defeated by the strength of faith.
To give motivation for the struggle, K.H. Noer Alie ordered around 200 of his
followers to fast for seven days at the Ujungmalang mosque. While they fasted, the
participants were taught to recite the hizbun nasr prayer until they had memorized it.
They also added to this by reading wind, rartibul haddad, salat tasbih, salat hajat and
salat witir [various kinds of prayers]. If they had finished, they were declared "graduated"
and were given a kind of certificate that was symbolized by the giving of small-sized tin
plaque with the red-and-white [Indonesian national] flag on the back and with the writing
La ilaha ilia-Allah, Muhammad ar-Rasul-Allah (There is no God but God, and
Muhammad is the Prophet of God).

102 See "DJimat," and "Tamlma," Encyclopedia of Islam, second edition (Leiden: Brill, 2012).

103 Jeffrey Hadler, Muslims and Matriarchs: Cultural Resiliance in Indonesia through Jihad and

Colonialism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2008), 72.

Each time certificates were distributed, K.H. Noer Alie instructed his soldiers not to
conduct themselves in a boastful and arrogant way, especially at the moment of battle.
By the middle of November, 1945, K.H. Noer Alie had a Lasykar Rakyat brigade which
was trained in military and religious skills.104

The certificates (ijazah) given to K.H. Noer Alie's students were not so different from the

artifacts described in earlier periods as amulets (jimat) held by Islamic rebels.

In Ketapang, West Kalimantan, Rahadi Usman led an attack against the newly-

returned Dutch on December 7, 1945. Crying out "Forward, Allahu AkbarV as they

charged, the Indonesians were armed only with long field knives, facing the Dutch and

their firearms. One has to wonder at the bravery and recklessness exhibited in this attack,

where, indeed most of the Indonesians were killed.105 Could it be that they believed they

would be safeguarded by their appeal to Islamic symbols?

That was certainly the case around Bandung, where amulet fever struck in

November and December, 1945. Smail reports widespread belief in these talismans,

including some making trips as far as Java's south coast to visit a particularly powerful

kyai and bring a blessed item back to Bandung. The most famous use of these amulets

was in the attack on the British-led Gurkha units made by a Hizbullah company on

December 6, 1945. The young men brazenly attacked the foreign troops, believing in

their own invincibility due to the amulets they were wearing; they were, in turn, shot

down quickly and easily by the modern weapons of the Gurkhas.106

The amulets themselves often took the form of headbands. Marzuki Arifin, the

Department of Home Affairs official who in the early 1950s was sent to negotiate a truce

104 Ali Anwar, 75-76.

105 Pasifikus Ahok, Slamet Ismail, and Wijoso Tjitrodaijono, Sejarah Revolusi Kemerdekaan (1945-1949)

Daerah Kalimantan Barat ,73.

106 Smail, 102-105.

with the Central Java Darul Islam rebels, preserved several exemplars from those soldiers,

and there is no compelling reason that they would differ greatly from the amulets used

elsewhere. Those preserved by Marzuki Arifin are strips of cloth approximately ten

inches long. The cloth had been dyed red, but for Arabic phrases written on it in white;

the dyeing process seems to have employed the batik methods that would have been most

familiar to Javanese at the time. The center holds the mantra Allahu Akbar, framed by a

crescent moon.107

Amulets reveal the mindset of many average Muslim participants in the

revolution. Far from conceiving of the fight as a modern political contest, these

participants believed supernatural powers were at work to create proper order in the

world, and that these powers

would aid those whose cause was just. Despite all of its syncretism, this belief system

plays directly into the Muslim narrative of the revolution, which saw a religious teleology

to the struggle.

Syncretism also reveals how far Islamic fighters could be from the ideology of the

national leadership of the Islamic movement. Local ulama certainly understood

themselves to belong to wider networks of Islam, dating back to the tradition of Sufi

brotherhoods in the archipelago, but most of these traditional networks were based in part

on shared mystical practices. The strictly textualist and strictly orthodox character taking

prominence in Masjumi's leadership board was a departure from this tradition, and one

that must have been alienating for syncretist, albeit very devout, Muslim fighters.

107 Twoof these of the same style but by different hands are preserved in ANRI, RB7 Marzuki Arifin,
1945-1984, #366.

Figure 3 This example of an amulet in the Indonesian national archives shows the use of Arabic
formulas and the crescent moon symbol. From ANRI, RB7 Marzuki Arifin, 1945-1984, #366.

Revolution in West Sumatra

While the above cases pulled from across the archipelago, a focused study in one

province will demonstrate how the Islamic ideology of the revolution functioned within a

community and how a diversity of Islamic understandings could occur even in one

location. Audrey Kahin has noted perceptively that "in part due to their isolation from

the Indonesian central government in Java, leaders in West Sumatra remained steadfastly
1 OR
loyal to the Indonesian Republic as they themselves perceived it." This statement also

applies to rank-and-file soldiers, farmers, and religious leaders. The question, then, is

what everyday residents of West Sumatra perceived the Indonesian Republic to be, or

even what they aspired for the Republic to be. For many or most of them, the vision was


In West Sumatra, Islamic militias, specifically the Hizbullah, Sabilillah, and

Lasjmi, were the only three strong enough to maintain their integrity as separate units and

not be incorporated into the Republican military.109 These Islamic militias were even

strong enough to incorporate other independent bands of fighters into themselves.110

Around the same time that the regular Republican military was attempting to incorporate

irregular militias into its own organization, the government also stopped providing

supplies for party-aligned militias, claiming that this was the parties' responsibility.

When this happened, the Muslims again demonstrated their prowess; Hizbullah, the

Audrey Kahin, Rebellion to Integration: West Sumatra and the Indonesian Polity, 1926-1998
(Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 1999), 128.

109 Kahin, Rebellion to Integration, 110. Lasjmi was the militia of the local traditionalist Islamic mass

organization-cum-party, Perti.

1,0Kahin, Rebellion to Integration, 108. This is especially notable because the regional branch of the
Republican army, Divisi Banteng, was also trying to absorb regulars at the time, and yet the Hizbullah was
seen as a more worthwhile alternative.

Masjumi-aligned group, was far better supplied with food and weapons than other

militias.111 Lasjmi, aligned with Perti, must have been able to arm itself, too; Perti

established a weapons shop.112 Even smaller Islamic political parties, like the Partai

Komunis Indonesia- Lokal Islamy (Indonesian Communist Party- Local Islamic) and the

Partai Persatuan Tharikat Indonesia (Indonesian Sufi Brotherhood Union Party) were able

to form the Barisan Saifullah and Tentara Allah, respectively, but these two were not

strong enough to maintain their functional independence throughout the war.113 While

many Islamic militias were party-inspired, they did not hew very close to the party line in

their activities. There was no practical command structure above the company level, so

enforcing an ideology or even a fighting strategy was difficult at best.

Still, Islamic militias were so ubiquitous in certain areas that they had several

auxiliaries. Lela Rosma, who was a seventeen-year-old student at the time, served in the

Women's Sabilillah (Sabilillah Muslimaat) in her village in Guguak, outside

Payakumbuh. Although they had formed before the Second Dutch Aggression (Police

Action) in December 1948, their prior activities were largely restricted to running the

local community kitchen. After the Dutch re-entered the area, provoking a conflict in

which more than fifty members of her community died, Rosma reports that women

actively engaged in fighting, too. Rosma's preferred attack involved mixing sand and

Audrey Kahin, "Struggle for Independence: West Sumatra in the Indonesian National Revolution, 1945-
1965," PhD. Dissertation, Cornell University, 1979, 198, n. 54.

112 Alaiddin Koto, 49.

113Gusti Asnan, Memikir Ulang Regionalisme: Sumatera Barat Tahun 1950-an (Jakarta: Yayasan Obor
Indonesia, 2007), 162-63. Some secular parties in the province also had militias, like the Tentara Merah
Indonesia (Red Army of Indonesia) under the normal PKI and the Barisan Hulubalang under a traditional
culture association.

chili powder and throwing it in the Dutch soldiers' eyes.114 In other areas of the province,

Sabilillah Muslimaat was most active in Red Cross activities.115 Lasjmi also had a

women's group, called Lasjkar Muslimat, run by Norma Alamsuddin and Rohana


Even in the Republican army, several key local leaders had strong religious

connections. Most prominent among these was Dahlan Djambek, the son of the

modernist Islamic scholar Syekh M. Djamil Djambek of Bukittinggi.117 Dahlan Djambek

rose to become colonel and second-in-command of the regional armed forces. Still, there

was some frustration among local Islamic leaders that Djambek, as a strong Muslim and

Islamic nationalist who was the top-ranked student of the Japanese Giyugun training

program, became subordinate to the commanding officer Ismail Lengah, a Dutch-

educated secularist, ranked by their Japanese trainers as fourth in his class in terms of

military skill.118 Of a lower rank in the Republican forces, figures like Sjarief Usman and

Ahmad Husein also had close ties to Muslim groups and may have shared an Islamic

vision for Indonesia's future.

In local government throughout West Sumatra, Muslim leaders (more specifically,

Masjumi leaders) took control of almost all the village councils. A reliable source has

114 Interview with Lela Rosma, Tujuh Koto Talago, West Sumatra, March 21,2008.

Syamsul Madi, "Partai Politik Islam di Sumatera Barat, 1945-1949," Skripsi SI, Fakultas Ilmu-Ilmu
Sosial, Universitas Negeri Padang, 2000, 26.

116 Alaiddin Koto, 49 n. 56.

117 For
more on Syekh Djamil Djambek, see Deliar Noer, The Modernist Muslim Movement in Indonesia,
1900-1942 (Singapore: Oxford UP, 1973), particularly pages 35-38.

118 FachryAli, "The Revolts of the Nation-State Builders: A Comparative Study of the Acehnese Darul
Islam and the West Sumatran PRRI Rebellions (1953-1962)," MA Thesis, Monash University, 1994, 68.
For more on the Giyugun and Japanese training of Sumatran youths, see Mestika Zed, Giyu Gun: Cikal
Bakal Tentara Nasional di Sumatra (Jakarta: LP3ES, 2005).

estimated that 90% of the village heads elected in the province-wide elections of 1947

were from Masjumi.119 In some villages, like Koto Gadang, this was a continuation of

control by the old leaders, previously associated with a colonial era Islamic political
1 OA
organization called Permi. In most villages, though, this represented a meaningful

shift from the leadership of traditional chiefs, or penghulu, since Dutch times. Even in

some major urban centers, Islamic leaders increased their role. The most prominent

example is Bagindo Aziz Chan, an Islamic youth leader and PSII activist who served as

mayor of Padang from August 15, 1946 until his death on July 19, 1947.121

Furthermore, ulama in West Sumatran society continued to exercise outsized

influence on their communities, outside of politics. This also stemmed in some cases

from their outstanding anti-Dutch credentials, but, in other cases, it was due to their

charisma and mystique. The case of the village of VII Koto in Padang Pariaman is

informative. There, an elderly religious scholar known as Syekh Buya Ungku Saliah had

been working, by his own and his disciples' own reckoning, as a "reformer" for many

years. In practice, this reform entailed fighting certain un-Islamic traditional beliefs and

using Islamic incantations to break the black magic spells of local shamans; undoing love

1,9 Kahin, Rebellion to Integration, 123, citing Mr. Mohammad Rasjid, who was soon resident of Central

120Interview with H. Mas'oed Abidin, Padang, June 14, 2010. In Koto Gadang, the wali nagari, or mayor,
they elected was Abdul Rahman, associated with Masjumi but formerly with Permi. The camat, the civil
servant just above the village level, was also from Masjumi; Zainal Abidin Imam Mudo was a former
student at Sumatera Thawalib Parabek under Syekh Ibrahim Musa and Jamil Jambek, and who had become
the imam for the modernist mosque in Koto Gadang at age seventeen.

121Audrey Kahin, "Struggle for Independence," 182. See also Siti Fatimah, Bagindo Aziz Chan, 1910-1947:
Pahlawan Nasional Dari Kota Padang (Padang: Universitas Negeri- Padang/ PKSBE, 2007). After his
death, determined by the Indonesians to be assassination (although the Dutch claim he was a victim of
Indonesian friendly fire), Aziz Chan became a symbol for the revolution in West Sumatra and was made a
national hero (pahlawan nasional) in 2005.

jinxes was his specialty.122 In December 1948, he was visiting the town market in Lubuk

Alung and instructed everyone to leave several hours early because a major rain was

about to fall. Despite clear skies, the market cleared, and the religious scholar was

vindicated when the Dutch conducted an aerial attack against Lubuk Alung several hours

later.123 The Lubuk Alung market is the largest center for trade between Padang and

Pariaman, so the fact that it could be closed early, and immediately, on the instructions of

a religious teacher demonstrates the authority that religious scholars held in local society

at that time.

How much were the Muslim participants in the revolution in West Sumatra

cognizant of and connected to the national leadership of the revolution? More so than

other provinces, there were national leaders who hailed from the Minangkabau ethnicity,

but most of them had not resided in West Sumatra for over a decade.124 Of the regional

leaders based in West Sumatra, only Djamil Djambek came to play a role in the national
leadership of Masjumi during the revolution. The only other regional leader who can

be said to have influenced national politics was Bagindo Aziz Chan, the Islamic mayor of

122 Beni, "Biografi Tuanku Saliah, 1885-1974," Skripsi SI, Jurusan Sejarah, Fakultas Ilmu-Ilmu Sosial,

Universitas Negeri Padang, 2005,4 n. 5. The two specific spells that he often undid were calledpakasiah,
a spell that would make a woman fall in love with a particular man, and kabaji, which would sow enmity
between husband and wife. This thesis was constructed largely from interviews with Buya Saliah's wives,
children, and disciples in the Shattariah Sufi brotherhood. Note, also, that belief in and practice of various
kinds of magic, both black and Islamic, was widespread among pious Indonesian Muslims in the first half
of the twentieth century. Even Syekh Djamil Djambek apparently studied magic under a Moroccan in
Mecca; Noer, Modernist Muslim Movement, 36 n. 16.

Beni, 2. This event is also recorded in Bahri, Sejarah Angkatan Laut Pangkalan Besar Pariaman (1945-
1950) (Padang: Dewan Harian Daerah Angkatan 45, Museum Gedung Juang 1945 Sumatera Barat, n.d.)

124 This is true for Sutan Sjahrir, Mohammad Hatta, and Mohammad Natsir, all of whom had been resident

in Jakarta or Bandung since the 1930s. The other Minangkabau leader in Masjumi, Abu Hanifah had been
in Jakarta, Sukabumi, and on a Dutch navy ship since the 1930s, and was even more disconnected with
West Sumatra.

125 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 100-101.

Padang, who was cited by PSII as supporting the re-establishment of the party, although

the veracity of this claim could never be tested because of his untimely death.126

On the other hand, several national leaders, including the Vice President and

several cabinet ministers, came to West Sumatra during the course of the revolution; how

much did their time in the province influence national politics? Again, it seems that West

Sumatra was unable to exercise any influence. The most vivid example of this was when

Sjafruddin Prawiranegara headed the Emergency Government of the Republic of

Indonesia (PDRI, Pemerintah Darurat Republik Indonesia) from West Sumatra. Even

heas a cabinet minister (the Minister of Finance) and the designated head of the

emergency governmentwas unable to influence the negotiations that led to the Dutch
transfer of sovereignty from his position in Sumatra. Sjafruddin expressed great

exasperation that his position as the acting head of state was not taken into account in the

Roem-van Royen agreements, to the point where he considered seriously not returning

his mandate. The local community around PDRI headquarters outside of Paykumbuh

was also very frustrated with how little their efforts to preserve this emergency
1 98
government were recognized and factored into national politics.

Thus, as fighting forces had complete operational independence from national

commanders and West Sumatran leaders and events did not influence central Indonesian

126 Wondoamiseno cites Bagindo Aziz Chan as one of four Sumatran PSII leaders who incited him to break

the party out from Masjumi; see Putjuk Pimpinan Partai Sjarikat Islam Indonesia, Bagian Penjiaran,
Barisan Partai Sjarikat Islam Indonesia Bersiap!: Sedjarah Pembangunan P.S.I.I. Kembali ([Jogjakarta?]:
Partai Sjarikat Islam Indonesia, [1948?]).

127 Kahin, Rebellion to Integration, 154-55; oral history with Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R.

Caniago, ANRI SL1 1979 #6, tape 4.

128 Interview with Lela Rosma, Tujuh Koto Talago, West Sumatra, March 21, 2008.

politics, one can see the disconnection of local experiences of the revolution in West

Sumatra from national politics and national Islamic leadership.


The Indonesian Revolution was a critical moment not just for the nation, but also

for the large Islamic community within it. As Muslims sacrificed their lives and their

livelihoods for Indonesian independence, they understood the sacrifice as a contribution

to their religion and the future of Islam in Indonesia. This sacrifice contributed to

Indonesia's successes on the battlefield, but it also carried important implications long

into the future.

Because of their spirited fighting on behalf of independence, Islamic groups often

believed they had earned a unique and defining role in determining the form of the state

along the lines of their own Islamic conceptions. This was articulated especially clearly

in the Constitutional Assembly in the late 1950s. Shortly before the Constitutional

Assembly was dissolved, Anwar Sutan Amiruddin made a speech in which he decried the

proposal to accept Pancasila as the state foundation. He claimed that the Islamic struggle

for independence not only rivaled that of non-religious groups, but generally was greater

than the others.129 The implication was that Muslims' greater sacrifices entitled them to

Islamic principles of governance, the topic of debate in the Konstitutuante.

Around the same time, Col. Dahlan Djambek, the son of the Muhammadiyah

leader Djamil Djambek in Bukittinggi, wrote a letter to Bung Tomo to commemorate

129Anwar Sutan Amiruddin, a representative from the Partai Persatuan Tharikat Indonesian (Indonesian
Union of Sufi Brotherhoods Party), also traced the Islamic struggle for independence back further than the
revolution from 1945; he invoked individuals like Diponegoro and Imam Bonjol as the early pioneers of
the Islamic movement for independence. His speech is held in ANRI, RA7 Kabinet Presiden, #1467.

Heroes' Day, November 10, 1958. Dahlan Djambek in this letter betrays his belief that

the sacrifices of Islamic martyrs in the name of the Indonesian revolution should have led

to a different kind of state: "it was not that kind of [secular] Indonesia that was idealized

by the Martyrs or Heroes of Surabaya specifically and the fighters for Indonesia's

independence generally." Dahlan Djambek continues, more urgently, "We hoped that an

independent Indonesia will give an opportunity for Islam to develop in our homeland just

as in the time of the Prophet, free from all pressures and threats, both from colonialists

and from those in power who forget to come down."130 In this letter Djambek stated

explicitly what had only been implicit during the revolution itself: the alternative vision

of its purpose held by Indonesian Muslims.

On a different level, the signs of traditional Islamic rebellion embodied in part of

the Indonesian revolution present a picture of the piety of Indonesian Muslims that is

important for two reasons. First, it shows the extent to which Islamic ideas undergirded

society in general. In rural communities, especially, Islamic groups and Islamic leaders

were the focus of revolutionary activities and the source of understanding the revolution.

This demonstrates their prominence and power as Indonesia began its history as an

independent nation.

Second, it demonstrates the very traditional nature of Islamic beliefs at this time.

Islamic organizations emerged as an important factor in the revolution, but the experience

of the revolution was mediated by local Islamic leaders. Moreover, beliefs remained

traditional and rather syncretistic, as demonstrated in the use of amulets and incantations.

This made the local experience markedly different from the driving focus of Islamic

130 "KolonelM. Dahlan Djambek mengirim kawat kepada Bung Tomo," November 10, 1958, ANRI, RA9
Konstituante, #315. This last quote is in all caps in the original letter.

leaders at the national level, who were, more political, more textualist, and more orthodox.

The manifestations of syncretism at the grassroots during the revolution also provide a

useful baseline forjudging the evolution of Islamic belief in the subsequent decade. It is

noteworthy, then, that in the PRRI/ Permesta rebellion of 1958 one sees no evidence of

the use of amulets, even though most locals were worked up into an equally fevered pitch.

Even as Islamic beliefs in Indonesia moved generally away from syncretism in the

next decade, Islamic understandings about proper organization of the state remained more

constant. This set up the political and social conflict that emerged after the revolution


Chapter 3: Changes after Independence
ha December 1949, the Indonesian revolution ended with the Dutch transferring

unconditional sovereignty to a federation of states, headed by President Sukarno and

Vice-President Hatta. On August 17, 1950, all of these federated states dissolved

themselves into the Republic of Indonesia, imbuing the state that Sukarno and Hatta had

proclaimed five years earlier with full sovereignty. Thus, the Indonesian people had

achieved their goal of independence. However, for pious Muslims in Indonesia, who had

a higher goal of a more Islamic country, the struggle continued.

The independence period brought new challenges to the Islamic movement.

Whereas the revolution had facilitated Muslims fighting in separate militias, Muslim

activists now had to work alongside secularists to achieve their goals in the new state.

This led to conflicts, both with secularists over differing visions of what Indonesia should

become, and between Islamic leaders, usually in competition for the limited number of

positions available for Islamic interests in national leadership.

The most visible division between theological leaders and political leaders in

early independent Indonesian history was NU's choice to leave Masjumi and form its

own political party. This move, made primarily to protect patronage for NU, also

reflected the very different modes of operation for political and theological leaders. Still,

theological leaders' maintained a very important place in Indonesian society and politics.

One manifestation of their importance was the growth of Islamic organizations in the

early independence period. With the growth of Islamic organizations, Indonesia also saw

transformations in Islamic educationboth at Islamic schools and at public schools.

While Islamic education increased, Islamic influence on culture did not experience a

uniform renaissance. One place where culture drifted away from Islam was in language;

the Indonesian national language saw decreased Arabic influence after independence,

partly due to Western-educated leaders like the political leaders of Masjumi.

NU Leaves Masjumi

In the early independence period, Masjumi saw high politics between its several

factions. These factions were primarily drawn not along the lines of policy

disagreements, but rather along theological and cultural fault lines that appear to have had

very little impact on policy (beyond personnel selection).

Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) formed a particularly cohesive faction within Masjumi.

Because this organization had been in continuous existence since 1926,1 and moreover

because of the strong leadership structure and cults of personality inherent in this

traditionalist group, its members did not see their NU identity subsumed at all by their

participation in Masjumi.2 Their theological stance (traditionalist, as opposed to the

reformism of most Masjumi leadership) also gave them a unique identity within the


1 With the exception of a brief window immediately after the Japanese invasion, see chapter 1.

2 Contrastthis with members of organizations that floundered under the Japanese and afterwards, such as
Burhanuddin Harahap and the Studenten Islam Studieclub (oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap,
interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1980 #1, tape 1), or smaller organizations with less hierarchical
leadership, such as Mohammad Natsir in the Persatuan Islam, which Howard M. Federspiel has called
"small and loosely knit" (Islam and Ideology in the Emerging Indonesian State: The Persatuan Islam
(PERSIS), 1923 to 1957 [Leiden: Brill, 2001], viii).

3 Allthe same, NU did not include all the traditionalists in Masjumi; Al-Jami'yatul Washliyah in North
Sumatra is a clear example of another traditionalist group that stayed with Masjumi until the party was

For all of these reasons, NU as an organization was especially sensitive to its

roleor, more precisely, its leaders' roleswithin Masjumi as a political party. Their

desire to retain a clear organizational cohesion was one reason for Masjumi's granting

"special member" status to Islamic organizations, and the desire to provide leadership

roles for NU figures inexperienced in politics also led to the creation of the Majelis Sjura

as an advisory council within Masjumi leadership.4

In the early years of independent Indonesia, as cabinets came and went at the rate

of about one per year, NU leaders wanted leadership roles not only in Masjumi, but also

in the Indonesian government. The Rais 'Am (general leader) of Nahdlatul Ulama, K.

Wahab Hasbullah, felt it important to secure positions of power for NU, particularly the

post of Minister of Religion, so that the organization could "diwy up blessings."5 In

effect, this meant providing patronage positions to NU cadres in the Ministry of Religion

and providing funding to NU pesantrens through funds available to the Ministry of

Religion. On principle, too, NU wanted to have a strong voice in Masjumi decision

making. NU felt that as an organization with thousands upon thousands of members, its

voice should outweigh that of individual members on the Masjumi party board.6 As it

happened, very few NU loyalists gained positions on the Central Leadership of Masjumi

4 See chapter 1.

5 "Bagi-bagirezeki," as quoted by Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, oral history of Sjafruddin Prawiranegara,

interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1979 #6, tape 6. Throughout his oral history, Sjafruddin
Prawiranegara quotes K. Wahab as using this expression, which Sjafruddin found highly distasteful.

6 "Pendjelasan tentang Konsepsi P.B.N.O. Mengenai Perundingan N.O.-Masjumi," an archival documented

dated 23 Sja'aban 1371/18 May, 1952; accessed in the library of Pengurus Besar Nahdlatul Ulama, Jakarta.
My thanks to Syatiri Ahmad at PBNU for facilitating access to this document. The implication of this
demand by NU is slightly misleading. NU as an entire organization was not made equivalent to any single
Masjumi member off the street, but NU did not have special privileges in the Party Board any more than
individual members elected to this board by the party congress. The fact that the party board members
were elected to those positions by a congress that included vast NU participation is rather ignored by the
terms of the NU complaint.

(Pimpinan Pusat) because they lacked experience in politics and government. (As noted

above, this is why the Majelis Sjuro had been created.) In 1951, only K.H. A. Wahid

Hasjim and K.H. Masjkur represented NU on the Masjumi leadership body of 15

individuals.7 Thus, NU felt that its demands for a strong voice in Masjumi decision

making were not being met.

NU also seemingly had reason to fear being subsumed by Masjumi in the long run.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that in some regions Muslims seeking to be active in

politics or prominent in local Islamic society were often choosing to affiliate primarily

with Masjumi (the political party) instead of with Nahdatul Ulama (the religious mass

organization). The Kelua branch of NU in South Kalimantan is a prime example.

Although the Kelua branch had grown large enough to hold the NU regional conference

in 1938, "by the 1950s, there remained only eleven members of NU in the Kelua branch,

because the members had all become members of the Masjumi Party since the Japanese

occupation."8 Because of this kind of attrition in its branches, reviving NU in South

Kalimantan took significant effort. On Lombok, where NU had never established deep

roots, the traditionalist Islamic leader Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul Madjid had been

appointed the NU consul for Lombok in 1950. NU seemed to believe that his network

would turn into their organizational outpost in Nusa Tenggara, but this never came to

pass. Instead, Abdul Madjid became active with Masjumi, leading its regional advisory

7 Deliar Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional 1945-1965 (Jakarta: Grafiti Pers, 1987), 102.

8Drs. Ahdi Makmur, M.Ag, Drs. Bayani Dahlan, Drs. Ahmad Rijali, Sejarah Perkembangan Nahdlatul
Ulama di Kalimantan Selatan (1928-1984) (Banjarmasin: Pusat Penelitian Institut Agama Islam Negeri
Antasari, 1999), 24.

board by 1952. He did not become active with NU beyond accepting the honorary

position it offered him.9

After independence, NU increasingly complained that reformist-leaning

politicians in Masjumi were not respecting NU's position as Indonesia's largest Islamic

organization. The earliest signs of this came in 1950. Idham Chalid, a Banjarese (from

South Kalimantan) NU leader, visited Mecca in that year and held a meeting with the

NU-sympathetic Indonesians in the Holy City. In this meeting, Chalid bemoaned NU's

position in Masjumi. He claimed that the Masjumi party had only one leader originating

from NU (presumably he meant K.H. A. Wahid Hasjim), and that man was soon to be

kicked out of leadership. He said the party was dominated top to bottom by

Muhammadiyah men.10 Worse yet, Chalid told the audience, NU had no way to fight for

its position in the party. "What can we do," he asked, "use our prayer beads as

weapons?"11 In the end, Chalid advocated a repositioning of NU's political position

inside Masjumi, or outside Masjumi if necessary.

In 1951, because of ongoing discomfort with its lack of influence in Masjumi's

structure, NU began to push for Masjumi to reorganize itself as a federation. In this

proposal, the "extraordinary members" of Masjumi would no longer be subordinate to the

leadership of the political party on political matters, but rather the political leadership

would be effectively dissolved and political decisions would be taken on the basis of

9 Masnun, Tuan Guru KH Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul Madjid: Gagasan dan Gerakan Pembaharuan
Islam di Nusa Tenggara Barat (Jakarta: Pustaka al-Miqdad, 2007), 227, claims this happened in 1950.

10 Thelong-standing rivalry between Muhammadiyah and NU on Java made this a bit of a provocative
accusation in a crowd of NU supporters.

11In Indonesian, bersenjata tasbih. This quote was presented as a verbatim quote from Idham Chalid in an
interview with K.H. Adinan Iskandar, Banjarmasin, 20 September 2010. K.H. Adnan Iskandar is a former
branch secretary of NU in Banjarmasin during the late 1950s who happened to be in Mecca helping his
uncle in the gold trade at the time of Idham Chalid's visit.

consensus between the leaders of the various mass social organizations (not only NU, but

also Muhammadiyah, Jami'yatul Washliyah, Persatuan Umat Islam, etc.).12 Although

this had the potential to draw back in those who had left with PSII and perhaps also

incorporate Perti, it would have cast the political leadership of Masjumi out to sea. Not

surprisingly given the power of those political leaders, the proposal did not go very far.

At the same time, NU leaders began to publically chastise Masjumi leaders in a

generally way, a pattern that could be taken as laying the ground-work for an eventual

departure from the party. Some of the harshest critique came from Wahid Hasjim, one of

the very few NU figures sitting in Masjumi leadership. In late December 1951, he wrote

an article under the pen name Mu'min Bingung (literally, "Confused Believer"),

castigating Sukiman (then Prime Minister) and Mohammad Natsir (then leader of the

Masjumi faction in the parliament) for not responding to various threats to the position of

Islam in Indonesian society. After asking several pointed questions of these leaders,

Wahid then apologized for

calling out the two of them in front of the public in the form of a magazine read by
thousands of people. This is still better than these gentlemen experiencing the
accusations of the masses in Hell, as is narrated in the Qur'an where it paints the image of
the curses of the masses in Al-Ahzaab, verses 66-68, saying: "On the Day when their
faces are being turned about in the Fire, they will say 'if only we had obeyed God and the
Messenger,' and 'Lord! We obeyed our masters and our chiefs, and they led us astray.
Lord! Give them a double punishment and reject them completely.'13

NU's displeasure over its place and power within Masjumi came to a head after

the Masjumi-led Sukiman cabinet fell on February 23, 1952. K. Wahab met with

12 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 53.

13Wahid Hasjim, "Ummat Islam Indonesia Menunggu Ajalnya Tetapi Pemimpin-Pemimpinnya Tidak
Tahu," in Buntaran Sanusi, Ronny Kaloke, and Kusnandar, eds., Mengapa Memilih NU?: Konsepsi tentang
Agama, Pendidikan dan Politik{Jakarta: Inti Sarana Aksara, 1985), 126-27. The translation of the
Qur'anic passage follows The Qur'an, M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, trans. (Oxford: Oxford University Press,

Sukarno privately during the last week of February, 1952, after Sukiman returned his

mandate but before Sukarno nominated new cabinet formateurs. Suspicions abounded

that this meeting was not as apolitical as the two men claimed.14 When Masjumi began

to organize its thoughts on who it would nominate for positions in the cabinet, K. Wahab

came out with his own list of (NU-aligned) candidates. He wanted to see Sukiman return

as Prime Minister (where many in the Natsir faction preferred Prawoto Mangkusasmito,

one of Sukarno's two chosen formateurs), Dr. Abu Hanifah as Minister of Foreign

Affairs, Zainal Arifin as Minister of Defense, and Wahid Hasjim of NU as Minister of

Religion.15 This list balanced political leaders within Masjumi who were close to the

theological leaders (Sukiman and Abu Hanifah) with theological leaders themselves

(Zainal Arifin and Wahid Hasjim).

Knowing not all of its preferences would survive the chopping block, NU pinned

its last and strongest hopes on the Ministry of Religion. The Ministry of Religion was

especially important for NU as a means for patronage; it was easiest (and most logical)

for NU to distribute patronage to supporters and cadres by placing them in religious

affairs offices across the archipelago. The incumbent Minister of Religion, NU's Wahid

Hasjim, recognized patronage as widespread in the ministry already, sending around a

circular letter on the issue in June 1951 (which coincided with Ramadhan that year).16

14 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 221.

15 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 222. Among these, only Zainul Arifin and Wahid Hasjim were
clearly members of NU; Sukiman and Abu Hanifah were NU-friendly but in the end stayed with Masjumi
after the parties split.

16Surat Edaran Kementerian Agama RI No. A/4/7778, dated 9 June 1951/4 Ramadlan 1370, Hal:
Semangat "kontjo-sistem" dan "kepartaian," held in ANRI, RB16 Djamal Marsudi, 1947-1979, #22.
Interestingly, in addition to distributing this circular letter to all Religious Affairs Offices in Indonesia,
Wahid Hasjim also sent copies to Masjumi, NU, Muhammadiyah, Persis, PUI, PUII, Pergai [PGAI,
Persatuan Guru Agama Islam?], Jami'yatul Washliyah, al-Ittihadiyah, and PUSA. Conspicuously missing
were PSII, Perti, Partai Katholik and Parkindo.

He called out Religious Affairs Offices for three types of corruption: giving positions

only to members of their own organization, laxity in overseeing the work of members of

their own organization, and giving local projects and funding only to their own

organizations. Aside from its good intentions, it is likely that this letter was sent for show

to improve Wahid Hasjim's personal reputation in the face of widespread claims of

Religious Affairs Offices being used for patronage; Muhammadiyah operatives saw

Wahid Hasjim as preferring NU candidates in all posts.

K.H. A. Wahid Hasjim was a key figure for the NU organization, and it was

natural that NU wanted his tenure as Minister of Religion renewed. As the son-in-law of

K.H. Wahab Hasbullah, and the son of another NU founder, K.H. Hasjim Asj'ari (the

leader-for-life of NU immediately before K. Wahab), Wahid Hasjim perfectly embodied

the traditional identity of the organization.17 Within NU his official position was "Young

Leader" (Ketua Muda), which in effect meant that he conducted most of the day-to-day

affairs of the leadership. He also had extensive experience in government, having served

in political leadership positions under the Japanese and during the revolution. Most

immediately, Wahid Hasjim had served as Minister of Religion in the Hatta, Natsir, and
Sukiman cabinets, and he intended to hold that position for as long as he could. Others

17 For Wahid Hasjim's background, see Greg Barton, Gus Dur: The Authorized Biography of Abdurrahman

Wahid (Jakarta: Equinox, 2002), 4 Iff. An exhaustive and wide-ranging 975-page biography of him within
the context of the NU and broader Muslim movement is also available in Aboebakar Atjeh, Sedjarah hidup
K.H.A. Wahid Hasjim dan karangan tersiar (Jakarta: Panitya Buku Peringatan Aim. K.H.A. Wahid Hasjim,
1957). Wahid Hasjim was also the father of Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur), a future NU leader and
Indonesia's fourth president.

18It was very rare for cabinet ministers to keep on in a position through this many successive cabinets, or
even to hold any position in so many different cabinets. The only other analogies at the time were Dr.
Johannes Leimena, the medical doctor Parkindo politician who frequently served as Minister of Health
(under Amir Sjarifuddin, Hatta, Natsir, Sukiman, Wilopo, and Burhanuddin Harahap) and Ir. Djuanda, who
served in various capacities under Amir Sjarifuddin, Hatta, Natsir, Sukiman, Wilopo, Ali Sastroamidjojo, in
addition to becoming Prime Minister from 1957-59.

in the government and in Masjumi, however, were skeptical about Wahid Hasjim's

leadership of the ministry. This was not only because they wanted to give others a

chance as minister, but also because of his dramatic failure in hajj administration in 1951,

when the government collected payments from pilgrims but was unable to launch the

delegation to the Hijaz.19

The political leadership of Masjumi sought to place a new man as Minister of

Religion. The party board also faced great pressure from Muhammadiyah to appoint one

of its leaders as Minister of Religion; the reformist organization wanted not only

additional prominence for one of their members, but also the opportunity for some

patronage of their own.20 Thus Masjumi, after weighing the request of NU, set up a

committee to select their nominee for Minister of Religion. Of the eight candidates

discussed, only two were from NU, and the list did not include Wahid Hasjim. This bit

of political theater resulted in a Muhammadiyah nominee, K. Fakih Usman, greatly

angering NU leadership and especially Wahab. Both sides fostered narratives of how

19 Herbert Feith, The Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia (Jakarta: Equinox Publishing, 2007

[1962]), 234. On the debacle of the 1951 hajj, things came to a head with the "Amelz interpellation," a
speech made by the prominent Muslim politician Amelz calling for a vote of no confidence in Wahid
Hasjim's leadership of the Ministry of Religion. See the government's reaction to the Amelz interpellation
on October 17, 1951, preserved in ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #162. This response was circulated to
all branches for dissemination, so an identical copy appears in Arsip Sulawesi Selatan, Koleksi 11, Kantor
Wilayah Departemen Agama, #88.

20 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 221; Azyumardi Azra and Saiful Umam, eds., Menteri-Menteri
Agama RI: Biografi Sosial-Politik (Jakarta: PPIM, 1998), 140. It is worth noting that the many reformist
Muslims from Masjumi who had served in the cabinet were not particularly associated with
Muhammadiyah, even though they were theologically compatible with the organization. The first minister
of religion, H. Rasjidi, had been Muhammadiah-aligned, but he served a mere 9 months in the post,
compared to the five years plus of his successors: K.H. Fathurrahman Kafrawi, K.H. Masjkur and Wahid
Hasjim, all NU leaders. Wahid Hasjim alone had served twenty-six months by March 1952. See Azra and
Umam for information on all these individuals.

21Noer (Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 86-87 and 224) claims that Fakih Usman was selected from the
shortlist by the Masjumi party executive. Herbert Feith (Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia,
235-36), who was also present in Jakarta and close to many politicians of the period, puts this decision in
the hands of the cabinet formateur and eventual prime minister, Wilopo. In both accounts, the shortlist did

their choice established fairness. For Natsir's faction in Masjumi, since NU had so far

dominated the Ministry of Religion, it was only fair that Muhammadiyah be given a

chance; furthermore, the appointment of Fakih Usman had been based on a majority vote

in which NU representatives participated, thus the selection was democratic.22 For NU,

because none of the other four cabinet appointees for the new cabinet were from NU, it

was only fair that the traditionalist organization got the Ministry of Religion.

Having made threats and ultimatums to try to win the Ministry of Religion for

Wahid Hasjim, Wahab felt his options within the party were now exhausted. On April 6,

1952, Wahab and the NU leadership council followed through with their threat to leave

Masjumi. The Pengurus Besar Nahdlatul Ulama (Great Leadership of the Nahdlatul

Ulama, the organization's chief executive board) passed a motion to exit Masjumi as the

vehicle for their struggle and to make NU a separate political party. On May 8, 1952, at

the 19th NU General Congress, held in Palembang, the entire membership of Nahdlatul

Ulama voted to support the decision of the leadership council and exit Masjumi.24

The decision officially endorsed by the General Congress had four points. First, it

called for an end to the "unjust situation" of dual membership structure in Masjumi, with

both individual and organizational ("extraordinary") members. The preferred solution for

not include Wahid Hasjim, but did include some individuals from NU. It seems more likely that the
Masjumi leadership would make the radical decision to deny NU the Ministry of Religion after K. Wahab's
ultimatum. For Wilopo, such a fundamental and consequential decision coloring the future of one of the
institutional pillars of the Indonesian political system would be too bold a step. Noer's account is also
more detailed, giving the detail of March 23 as the date when Masjumi decided to set their own nomination
for this post rather than present the formateur with a shortlist.

22 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 85.

23Amak Fadhali, ed., Partai NUdengan Aqidah dan Perkembangannja (Semarang: Toha Ma'ruf, 1969),
25-26, cited in Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 87.

24 "Teks
Putusan Muktamar N.O. ke-19 di Palembang," an archival documented dated 15 Sja'aban 1371/ 8
May, 1952; accessed in the library of Pengurus Besar Nahdlatul Ulama, Jakarta. My thanks to Syatiri
Ahmad at PBNU for facilitating access to this document.

NU was to eliminate personal membership and allow only organizations to act as

members of Masjumi. If Masjumi chose instead to retain its individual members as a

unitary organization, then NU believed that a new federation would have to be created

above Masjumi to incorporate all Islamic organizations and political parties in Indonesia.

Second, NU called for a more appropriate balance of voting power within Masjumi, not

for large organizations to monopolize all the power, but so that large organizations would

not be made equivalent with small ones. Third, NU wanted a High Leadership Board of

the Indonesian Islamic Community (Dewan Pimpinan Tinggi Ummat Islam Indonesia),

seemingly to function the way that the Japanese-sponsored Masjoemi had during the war,

or the Majelis Islam Ala'a Indonesia during the late Dutch period. No single body in

Indonesia at the time spanned politics and other fields, including "economics, religion,

culture, social issues, etc." Fourth, the resolution appealed for an Islamic struggle that

would be "principled and consequential." This stemmed from their observation that "for

the last 5-6 years, it turns out that the attitude of letting go of those Islamic principles has

killed off the spirit of Islam in society."25

With such heavy rhetoric, it is no surprise that the break was unpleasant for many

of the participants. When an NU delegation met the Masjumi leadership on May 22 to

notify the Masjumi party board of the NU decision to leave the party, an NU document

described the meeting as "a courtroom environment" in which the NU delegation was

being prosecuted. After the initial meeting in the afternoon, the NU delegation came

back late in the night of May 22 to answer the many questions (by NU's account,

25 In Indonesian, selama 5-6 tahun jang achir, ternjata bahwa sikap melepaskan prinsip2 ke-Islaman itu
telah mematikan djiwa ke-Islaman didalam masjarakat. "Teks Putusan Muktamar N.O. ke-19 di
Palembang." The quotes "unjust situation" and "economics, religion, culture, social issues, etc." come
from the explanation that was appended to the General Congress decision on May 18, 1952, at the central
office in Jakarta.

accusations) raised by the Masjumi board during the day; NU later wrote about that

meeting as a "pit of disagreement." Perhaps the tenor of Masjumi's inquiry reflected

the common feeling of having been stabbed in the back by the NU decision to leave, as

though Masjumi's leadership had been punished for being reasonable (attempting to

negotiate) while the NU leadership was being unreasonable (issuing ultimatums).27

From May through July, 1952, also spanning Ramadan and Idul Fitri 1371, NU

continually tried to encourage Masjumi to reorganize itself as a federation so NU could

keep up some relationship with the other Islamic groups bound to Masjumi. After the

initial meeting to inform the Masjumi party board of NU's decision to leave on May 22,

NU delegations sent a letter on May 31 with a written draft of a formal proposal for

partnership between Masjumi and NU. It seems Masjumi never responded to this letter.

Most likely the leaders of Masjumi felt like this proposal added insult to injury; not only

removing a large voting block from the party but also asking the party's leaders to

openly admit moral bankruptcy of their organization and structure. A federative structure

would also disempower the political leaders, who often had no organizational platform or

came from a small organization, and favor theological leadersmany of whom were

seen as unprepared for heavy-hitting politics.

26 "Pendjelasan tentang Konsepsi P.B.N.O. Mengenai Perundingan N.O.-Masjumi."

27Oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SL1 1980 #1, tape 4; oral
history with Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SL1 1979 #6, tape 4.

28 "SuratPBNU kepada Ketua Muktamar Masyumi Dr. Sukiman dan beberapa Pengurus Besar Organisasi
Islam tentang Hubungan Ummat Islam Keluar," an archival documented dated Idul Fitri 1371 [June 24,
1952]; accessed in the library of Pengurus Besar Nahdlatul Ulama, Jakarta. My thanks to Syatiri Ahmad at
PBNU for facilitating access to this document.

After July 5, NU's Wahid Hasjim and A. Sjahri designated K.H. M. Dahlan as the

single future negotiator with the Masjumi board, showing that at this time hope for

progress had mostly petered out, requiring only a single negotiator from the fringe of NU

leadership. The final break happened on July 31, the deadline set by the NU Congress's

resolution, when NU asked all its members still participating on Masjumi boards to leave

those positions.30

Although NU could not convince Masjumi to form a federation, it did establish

the Indonesian Muslims' League (LMI, Liga Muslimin Indonesia), a federation of

Islamic parties and organizations. NU invited eighteen Islamic political parties and other

organizations to join them in the new federation, but in the end the LMI encompassed

only NU and the two other active Islamic parties, PSII and Perti, and a small traditionalist

organization in South Sulawesi, Darud Da'wah wal Irsjad.32 The LMI served as a

coordinating board for these Islamic parties, albeit not a binding alliance. NU intentions

29 "SuratKuasa Kepada KHM Dahlan untuk Menghadiri Sidang Kilat Masjumi," an archival documented
dated July 13, 1952; accessed in the library of Pengurus Besar Nahdlatul Ulama, Jakarta. My thanks to
Syatiri Ahmad at PBNU for facilitating access to this document. Prior to this the negotiating team had been
seven individuals, led by the very peak of NU leadership: Zainul Arifin (as head of the delegation), A.
Wahab Hasbullah (general head of NU), Amien Iskandar (representing the Bandung branch), O. Hulaimi
(representing the Tasikmalaya branch), Zainal Muttaqiem (representing the Tjiparai branch), Husin Saleh
(representing the Jakarta branch), and Djunaidi Jaasion (representing the Menes branch). See "Tentang
Perundingan antara Nahdlatul Ulama dan Masjumi," an archival documented dated 16 Ramadlan 1371/ 9
June 1952; accessed in the library of Pengurus Besar Nahdlatul Ulama, Jakarta.

30 Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia, 236.

31 Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia, 236.

32 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 94. Noer portrays the participation of DDI, a smaller

organization and never a political party, as the consequence of an accidental encounter between a DDI
representative in Jakarta with an NU leader and the misconception by NU, PSII, and Perti regarding the
size and influence of DDI. Ibid, 94-95, n. 95. It is unclear why NU did not also invite the Partai Politik
Tharikat Islam (PPTI) to join; NU clearly knew about their existence, and a reference to the party is made
in "Teks Putusan Mu'tamar ke 19 di Palembang," (albeit with a slightly off name: Partai Tarikat Islam
Indonesia) as one of the groups that should be incorporated into a federation. The most probable
explanation for the absence of PPTI is an objection from Perti to the participation of a group that fractured
their membership.

for a federation were much granderin their letter to Masjumi's chairperson, Dr.

Sukiman, they mention repeatedly both the World Muslim Congress and the Muslim

People's Organization, both international organizations.

Implications of the NU Exit

Nahdlatul Ulama's exit from Masjumi differed in several respects from PSII's

exit five years earlier. Although both had been long-standing organizations subsumed in

Masjumi as an all-encompassing organization, NU could legitimately claim unique

theological and policy positions that differed from the leadership of Masjumi. PSII's

departure had little if any theological motivation and only marginal policy justification.

By contrast, NU was able to become a viable party and a serious political threat to

Masjumi's survival and continued influence. If anyone doubted NU's draw and saw the

new party as a second PSIIinsular leadership, limited influence, little mass following

the elections of 1955 proved them definitively wrong.34 For NU, also, the initiative to

leave Masjumi and found a new party came entirely from within the organization, with

no encouragement from outside politicians.

In both cases, however, a key flashpoint was cabinet seats. This speaks to the

enormous attention to patronage in the early independence period. Masjumi apologists

33 "Surat PBNU kepada Ketua Muktamar Masyumi Dr. Sukiman."

34 See chapter 4.

35 Indeed, it is somewhat surprising, given NU's clear willingness to break away from Masjumi as the
Wilopo Cabinet was formed, that PNI did not abandon Masjumi and pull NU into the cabinet, just as Amir
Sjarifuddin had done with PSII in 1947 and as Ali Sastroamidjojo would do with NU in 1953. This would
have freed the PNI from Masjumi, a rather recalcitrant negotiating partner on some issues, and provided
instead a very pliant young party with few demands besides certain seats in the cabinet. There is no
surefire explanation for why this option was not exercised, but possible reasons include a standing
commitment to Masjumi to include their party in the cabinet, a fear that NU's support (parliamentary or
mass) was not broad enough, pressure from Sukarno and the public to include the two main parties of
Indonesian politics (PNI and Masjumi), or a dislike or distrust of the NU cabinet nominees as bureaucrats.

have long painted the single-minded desire to maintain full control over the Ministry of

Religion as the sole cause of NU's exit from Masjumi.36 This explanation must be

rejected. First, the NU very clearly made overtures towards leaving Masjumi a full two

years before this cabinet issue arose, and while Wahid Hasjim was still serving as

Minister of Religion. Second, the suggestions for reorganization of Masjumi that NU

made at the moment of its exit relate only marginally to cabinet nominations; their main

focus is on the power structure within the party as a whole. Third, Deliar Noer also notes

a conflict between old and new systems of authority in the break. The Sukiman and

Natsir cliques in the party believed that intellectuals, and perhaps especially Western-

trained intellectuals, were in a strong position to lead a modern country, while NU felt

that only ulama could lead a properly Islamic Indonesia.37

Another major result of NU's exit was to forever break any pretenses Masjumi

still held of being the umbrella party under which all Islamic groups in Indonesia should

find a political home. In fact, NU stated as much in their suggestion for a new High

Leadership Board for the Indonesian Islamic Community (Dewan Pimpinan Tinggi

Ummat Islam Indonesia) and then in their creation of the Liga Muslimin Indonesia.

Masjumi remained, however, the broadest Islamic group in Indonesian politics

and social life. Although the leadership was dominated by reformist Muslims, the Majlis

Sjuro remained in the hands of mostly traditionalist scholars.38 The traditionalist

36 Oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SL1 1980 #1, tape 4; oral

history with Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SL1 1979 #6, tape 4.

37 Deliar Noer, "Masjumi: Its Organization, Ideology, and Political Role in Indonesia," MA Thesis, Cornell

University, 1960: 148-49.

The chairman of the Majlis Sjuro from 1954 until the dissolution of Masjumi was the traditionalist K.H.
Ahmad Azhari from South Sumatra. See ANRI, RA9 "Konstituante, 1956-59," #10.

organizations Jami'yatul Washliyah and Al-Ittihadiah, both based in Medan, and

Persatuan Ummat Islam, headquartered in Bandung, remained extraordinary members of

Masjumi along with Muhammadiyah, the large reformist organization.39 Additional

traditionalist groups were pulled in shortly after NU's exit.40

Once Masjumi totally lost the mantle of exclusivity, though, this made Islamic

politics much more of a free for all. By the time of the 1955 elections, six Islamic parties

appeared on the ballot, in addition to locally popular Islamic scholars who chose to run as

independent candidates.41

Another major consequence of NU's exit was to solidify Mohammad Natsir's

position as moral leader of Masjumi. Sukiman, who had been better able to navigate a

middle road between culturally modern / theologically reformist interests and culturally

traditional / theologically traditionalist interests, no longer cut a compelling figure as

leader, given his inability to keep NU in the party. He had previously suffered a hit in his

reputation in 1949 after his decision to return to the Dutch-occupied city of Jogjakarta

because he could not stand the guerilla lifestyle.42 After 1951, he would never again be

39 Noer, "Masjumi," 136. The position of extraordinary membership keanggotaan istimewa changed
significantly after the exit of NU, and then again in the late 1950s as Masjumi became politically more
antagonistic with the regime. The extraordinary members made a late move to distance themselves from
Masjumi so as not to be damaged by its downfall. See "Laporan Pengurus Besar Muhammadijah Kepada
Mu'tamar ke XXXII" where the seventh point of the nine point program for Muhammadiyah in 1953 was
changing the nature of their "extraordinary membership" in Masjumi; ANRI, RA34 "Muhammadiyah," #27
"Laporan muktamar Muhammadiyah ke-32 di Puwokerto, tanggal 9-14 July 1953." For the effort to
distance themselves from Masjumi and the elimination of "extraordinary membership" status, see the draft
statement from Muhammadiyah in December 1958 about the elimination of extraordinary membership, in
ANRI, RA34 "Muhammadiyah," #3425 "Laporan tentang persiapan penyelenggaraan Muktamar Masyumi,
tahun 1958."

40 Themost prominent case is the Masjumi courtship of Tuan Guru Kyai Haji Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul
Madjid, popularly known as Tuan Guru Pancor, the head of Nahdlatul Wathan organization on Lombok.
See below.

41 Herbert Feith,The Indonesian Elections of1955, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell Modem Indonesia Project, 1957).

42 Noer, "Masjumi," 149.

selected as head of the party; the highest he rose after that was first vice-head, under

Mohammad Natsir (or, in 1959, under Natsir's close associate Prawoto


Natsir, on the other hand, was not damaged by the break with NU, and the

remainder of the party followed his line of thinking in politics and policy much more

closely. Natsir had not been among the group that met with the NU delegation on the

organization's departure from Masjumi, and he had not been among the party leaders

suggested for Prime Minister or cabinet formateur, who would have come in direct

conflict with Wahab and thus appeared divisive.44 Natsir had previously gained fame for

his prolific writings on Islamic topics in the 1930s, but he was not seen as a leader with a

mass following, in part because his main organizational affiliation was with the rather

small Persatuan Islam. His rise as a leader in Masjumi was quick and surprising; Noer

has said that as late as the Indonesian Revolution, most still saw Natsir as a "second

echelon leader."45 His election to be head of Masjumi after NU's departure completed

the ascent begun with his nomination to Sutan Sjahrir's cabinet in January 1946.46

Along with Natsir's ascendance, political leaders were now indisputably in charge

of Masjumi. This gave Islamic politics for the remainder of the 1950s a division along

43 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 102-105.

44 According to the NU document "Tentang Perundingan antara Nahdlatul Ulama dan Masyumi," the

Masjumi delegation that met them was led by Prawoto Mangkusasmito, and included Mr. Mohamad Roem,
Mr. Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, Mr. Burhanuddin Harahap, Mr. Kasman Singodimedjo, Moh. Sardjan, [?]
Usman, Zainal Abidin Ahmad, Isa Anshary, Nj. Sunaijo Mangunpuspito, Wali Alfatah, A. Haijono,
Taufiqurahman, and Sjarif Usman. Thus, Prawoto Mangkusasmito, having been both cabinet formateur
appointed in early March and facing the NU delegation on behalf of Masjumi in May, looked to be in the
most personal conflict with the NU leadership.

45 Noer, "Masjumi," 63.

46 See Chapter 1.

party lines between theological leaders (prominent in NU and Perti) and political leaders

(prominent in Masjumi and PSII).

NU as an Independent Party

In policy, NU did not much differ from Masjumi. The primary difference was

that NU did not join in Masjumi's staunch support for business, including big businesses,

although NU, whose pesantrens were major landholders, did oppose land reform and thus

shared interests with plantations.47 In politics, NU was slightly more willing to

accommodate leftists in the government, although it remained thoroughly unreceptive to

their ideas.48 In foreign policy, NU was not nearly as active as Masjumi, but its stance

generally supported Indonesia's independence from either of the major Cold War blocs.

NU immediately drew in Muslims who sought a door into politics. Noer points to

its acceptance of intellectuals with thin Islamic resumes as proving that NU accepted

intellectuals without concern for their prior connections to Islamic organizations. These

included Sunarjo (Minister of Home Affairs, 1953-54), Burhanudin (Minister of

Economics, 1956-57), Sunardjo (Minister of Trade, 1957). The goal was to fill their

ranks with competent intellectuals who could immediately take up leading roles in


47 This was a fine line to toe, because a key sector of big business in Indonesia was plantations. NU stood
opposed to agricultural reform because it threatened the hold many of their pesantrens had on huge tracts of
land, land that supported the work of the pesantren and the comfort of the kyai who ran it. NU did not,
however, support plantations (more prevalent on Sumatra) against squatters and those who attacked the
plantations as unwelcome foreign interests in Indonesia. See Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy,
294; Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 408.

48 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 250, points out that NU was more willing than Masjumi or PSII
to compromise on having a Communist-endorsed individual (although not Communist, and preferably not
fellow-traveler) in the second Ali Sastroamidjojo cabinet.

49 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 90, n. 56. The blame cannot fall entirely on NU for this trend.
Sunardjo had already served as a cabinet minister representing Masjumi (in the Sukiman cabinet) before he
left the party with NU. Deliar Noer, who strongly supported the Natsir faction within Masjumi,

On the local level, too, NU had to build up political cadres. One Muslim from

Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, reports that his teacher in Mecca asked him before his

departure to return to Indonesia which party he would align with. When the young man

could not say, the teacher encouraged him to join NU, where they needed talent and he

could rise quickly.50

NU also established institutions to train cadres. Many NU leaders came through

the newly established Perguruan Tinggi Agama Islam Negeri (PTAIN, or State Higher

Education in the Islamic Religion) in Jogjakarta and Jakarta, founded by the Ministry of

Religion.51 NU now founded its own finishing school in Semarang, too, the Kuliah

Muballighin. NU did so shortly after leaving Masjumi and becoming an independent

party, and the new school was rather political. Its students saw their training as direct

preparations for the upcoming elections; teachers under the leadership of Sjaifuddin

Zuhri trained students in the dakwah, or Islamic propagation, knowing that it would be

useful for politics, as well. The school ran a two-year program with a degree equivalent

to that of a secular high school, and then offered graduates the opportunity to continue on

at the PTAIN.52

conveniently overlooks this fact. Noer also overlooks the Masjumi leaders whose Islamic bonafides were
rather thin, such as Sjafruddin Prawiranegara and Abu Hanifah.

50 Interview with K.H. Adnan Iskandar, Banjarmasin, 20 September 2010.

51NU so thoroughly dominated these that by the 1960s many outside of NU joking tweaked their name
from LAIN (Institut Agama Islam Negeri, State Institute of Islamic Studies) to IAINU. Karel A. Steenbrink,
Pesantren, Madrasah, Sekolah: Pendidikan Islam dalam Kurun Moderen (Jakarta: LP3ES, 1986), 120, n.

52 Oralhistory with Jamiluddin Azhar, Mataram, July 27, 2010. Jamiluddin Azhar was a student at this
school on the recommendation of Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul Madjid. Note that the director of the
school, Sjaifuddin Zuhri, would become Minister of Religion in the early 1960s.

In terms of practical party administration, NU was famously very cohesive. One

observer of the party in the late 1960s said "it was too solidly based on interest and

suffered none of the schisms of principle that result from intellectual leadership."53 Greg

Fealy has sharply criticized Western scholarship for presenting NU as nothing but

opportunistic, patronage-seeking, bumpkins (such as in Arnold Brackman's quote calling

NU "a free agent, often allied to the highest bidder").54 Instead, Fealy argues, one should see NU

as protecting its interests and protecting its followers by staying in the government and defending

its position more than trying to implement new initiatives.55

Birth of New Islamic Organizations

Through NU, theological leaders from Java (and a few from the outer islands)

sought to play a role in politics. Many other theological leaders in Indonesia were

making an impact through the formation of new, regional Islamic organizations. These

organizations were almost always traditionalist in theology. (By contrast,

Muhammadiyah was able to centralize reformist theological activity at the national level

much more effectively because the organization was born contemporaneously with the

spread of reformist theology in Indonesia.) Some traditionalist, regional organizations

had existed for several decades, such as al-Jami'yatul Washliyah, based in Medan, which

53Daniel S. Lev, The Transition to Guided Democracy: Indonesian Politics, 1957-1959 (Jakarta: Equinox
Publishing, 2009 [1966]), 261.

54 Arnold C. Brackman, Indonesian Communism: A History (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1963), 173.

55Gregory John Fealy, "Ulama and Politics in Indonesia: A History of Nahdlatul Ulama, 1952-1967," PhD.
Dissertation, Monash University, 1998, 14. I thank Dr. Fealy for making this dissertation available to me.

was founded in 1930,56 and Persatuan Ulama Seluruh Aceh (PUSA), the Aceh religious
scholars union founded in the late 1930s. Most of these had become "extraordinary
members" of Masjumi in the 1940s. A few traditionalist organizations dissolved

themselves into NU, the largest such group.59 Still, the majority retained their own local

structures and network independent of national Islamic organizations and parties. Others

came into existence as organizations only in the early 1950s and in connection with

political developments at the time. Nahdlatul Wathan (NW) on Lombok is a great

example of this pattern.

In 1933, the ethnically Sasak Islamic scholar Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul

Madjid returned from Mecca to his home in East Lombok and founded an Islamic school

there. His modern style of teaching was too radical a change from tradition for the local

community there, but he persisted, and in 1937 on his second attempt he founded a

school in the village of Pancor that was to be his great success. He called the school

"Nahdlatul Wathan," or "Revival of the Nation" and copied the basic curriculum and

much of the style of the Madrasah Shaulatiyah in Mecca, where Abdul Madjid had


56 Drs. H. Ahmad Hamim Azizy, MA, Al-Jam'iyatul Washliyah dalam Kancah PoltiikIndonesia (Banda

Aceh: Yayasan Pena, 2006), 12; Al Djamijatul Washlijah 'AAbad (Medan: Pengurus Besar A1 Djamijatul
Washlijah, 1955). 1 am thankful to Dr. Mustari Bosra for making this latter book available to me.

"James T. Siegel, The Rope of God (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1969), 96.

58 See chapter 1.

59 This was true for Musjawaratuthalabin in Banjarmasin and Rabithatul Ulama in Makassar. On the

former see M. Nur Maksum, et al. Musyawaratuththalibin: Historis, Perjuangan dan Pergulatan
Pemikiran (Banjarmasin: Antasari Press, 2007), 48; on the latter, see Mustari Bosra, Tuan Guru, Anrong
Guru, dan Daeng Guru: Gerakan Islam di Sulawesi Selatan 1914-1942 (Makassar: La Galigo Press, 2008),
164-65. Rabithatul Ulama, founded in 1938, definitely co-existed with NU in South Sulawesi for several
years, but it had dissolved itself into NU by the time the latter became a political party in 1953.

60 AbdulHayyi Nu'man, Maulanasysyaikh TGKH. Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul Madjid: Riwayat Hidup
dan Perjuangannya (Pancor, Lombok: Pengurus Besar Nahdlatul Wathan, 1419 H/ 1999), 28-30. The

As graduates finished the school's seven-year program, they began to leave

Pancor and found schools in their own home villages. By 1945, graduates had founded

nine other "branches," all in East Lombok, and by 1953 this had mushroomed to 66

schools all across the island.61 With so many schools claiming to carry on the NW

tradition, there were significant administrative challenges in maintaining cohesion that

could have pressured NW to become an organization. Still, the deciding factor,

according to one of Abdul Madjid's students at the time, was pressure from the national

Masjumi leadership. Masjumi politicians worried that the traditionalists of NW would

side with NU in electoral politics, and so they pressured Abdul Madjid to form his own

distinct organization and bring it under the umbrella of Masjumi.62 Whereas he had held

the post of Consul for Nahdlatul Ulama in the Lesser Sundas since 1950, Abdul Madjid

jettisoned this title in 1952 and instead took up a seat as the Head of the Masjumi

Advisory Board for Lombok.63 Abdul Madjid told followers in the fifties, "I am

interested in Masjumi because of [my] many similarities of political vision and mission

with Mohammad Natsir, and I am less interested in the NU Party because of [my] many

differences of political vision with K.H. Wahid Hasjim."64 What similarities those were

was never stated, but Abdul Madjid may have shared a belief with Natsir that theological

spelling of Madrasah Shaultiyah follows Indonesian conventions for transcribing Arabic, the original is
The selection of the name Nahdlatul Wathan was itself rather controversial at the time, with
Abdul Madjid's teachers writing in from Arabia to suggest alternatives like "Nahdlatul Islam lil Wathan"
(Revival of Islam in the Nation) or "Nadlatuddin Al-Islami lil Wathan" (Revival of the Islamic Religion in
the Nation). Abdul Madjid held to his original idea, saying it was more in line with Indonesian and
especially Sasak culture. Ibid, 29.

61 Nu'man, 33.

62 Interview with Jamiluddin Azhar, Mataram, July 27, 2010.

63 Masnun, 227.

64 Masnun, 230, quoting an interview with one of Abdul Madjid's early disciples, Lalu Djelenge, Mataram,
March 2, 2000.

leaders should focus their primary energies on education and propagation of Islam and

leave politics to trained experts. Although he was an immensely popular figure in his

native region of East Lombok, after serving in the Constituent Assembly Abdul Madjid

never sought office again; instead he focused his energies on building up NW as an

Islamic movement.

Although he personally swore loyalty to Masjumi, Abdul Madjid did not want to

risk his nascent organization's future by betting it all on one political horse, so he

encouraged key disciples to become the provincial leaders for the Nahdlatul Ulama party,

PSII, and Perti.65 Since the organization's creation, NW has remained the dominant

political force on Lombok, Islamic or otherwise, through the vehicle of various other


The organization Alkhairaat in Central Sulawesi came into being in a similar way

to NW. Its founder, the Hadhrami Arab Sayyid Idrus al-Jufri, after a few years working

on Java as a trader and then as a teacher, established a trade interest in Palu in 1929; in

June 1930, he founded the Madrasah Alkhairaat in Palu, while keeping up his import

business.67 Over the next three decades, Sayyid Idrus traveled extensively throughout

Central Sulawesi, North Sulawesi (where he had two brothers also working in trade), and

65 Interview with H. Abdul Hayyi Nu'man, Mataram, July 23, 2010; Masnun, 230. Nu'man mentioned the
specific instance of H. Hasid Muzar, whom Abdul Madjid approached after a lesson in Muzar's home
village, and asked him to be an NU politician "so that I [Abdul Madjid] can stay in Masjumi."

66 Seethe analysis of a student journalist on Lombok in 1954, in ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #1710.
Masnun, 235, notes that in 1982, 18 out of the 22 members of the regional legislature were NW aligned. In
2010, during this author's visit to Lombok, he was informed that all eight district heads and mayors of
Nusa Tenggara Barat (encompassing the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa) were NW aligned at the time,
although this changed after an election in September 2010. See Kevin W. Fogg and Muhammad Saleh
Ending, "One Islamic Community, Two Rival Sisters," Inside Indonesia, vol. 103 (January 2011).

67H. Ahmad Bachmid, Sang Bintang dari Timur: Sayyid Idrus al-Jufri, Sosok Ulama dan Sastrawan
(Jakarta: Studia Press, 2007), 31.

as far east as Tidore, North Maluku. He consistently brought back students for his

madrasah, building a corps of alumni who would significantly change the face of Islam in

Central Sulawesi, especially.

Unlike Nahdlatul Wathan, which birthed a formal organization in 1953 to lead up

to the 1955 elections, Alkhairaat established organizational structure only after the

elections, in 1956. At a muktamar to celebrate twenty-five years of the Madrasah

Alkhairaat in Palu, but also in recognition of the many "branch" schools founded across

the region, attendees at the first Alkhairaat meeting established five broad goals: (1) to

have a second Muktamar in Ampana Poso, (2) to found an Alkhairaat Foundation, (3) to

achieve recognition of the Alkhairaat diploma by the Departemen Agama as equivalent to

a standard (i.e., government, secular) school, (4) to open a teacher-training facility with a

six-year program, and (5) to send Alkhairat students to the Middle East for advanced

study.69 Most of these were achieved quickly, with the Foundation's establishment

before the end of 1956 and the first delegation of its students sent to the Middle East in

I960.70 By the second muktamar in 1963, the number of schools affiliated with the
Alkhairaat organization had grown to 150.

68 Bachmid, 26; interview with Muhammad Salam, Palu, October 8,2010; interview with KH Abd Salam
Thahir, Palu, October 12, 2010. Muhammad Salam is the son of one of Sayyid Idrus's early converts in
North Maluku, and came to Palu for school in the Alkhairaat system. Thahir was one of Sayyid Idrus's
early followers from outside of Palu, coming to study under him in 1938. Thahir's son, Dr. Lukman Thahir,
now leads the Universitas Alkhairaat in Palu; I am thankful to Dr. Lukman for arranging these interviews.

69 Bachmid, 49.

70 Bachmid, 49. It is worth noting that Sayyid Idrus was already sending his own descendants to study in

the Middle East; his grandson and the current head of Alkhairaat, Sayyid Saggaf Al-Jufri, studied at Al-
Azhar Cairo in the 1950s, and even translated Sukarno's speech at Al-Azhar while there as a student.
Interview with Sayyid Saggaf Al-Jufri, Palu, October 11, 2010.

71Bachmid, 53. See also the statistics in Peranan Departemen Agama dalam Revolusi dan Pembangunan
Bangsa (Jakarta: Departemen Agama R.I., 1965), 70-72, which identifies Alkhairaat as one of the ten major
organizations with a significant school network and lists 157 schools in the organization: 155 Ibtida'iyah

Despite not having a formal organizational structure until 1956, Alkhairaat

supported Masjumi leading up to the 1955 elections in various ways. The most

prominent of these was allowing Masjumi to use the flagship Madrasa Alkhairaat in Palu

as a meeting center for electoral rallies and Masjumi party events. One such meeting was

the Konperensi Wilajah ke V [Fifth Provincial Conference], held at Alkhairaat Palu on

Wednesday, 17 November, 1954.72 The fact that the theologically traditionalist

leadership of Alkhairaat opened their doors to Masjumi well after NU had broken off as a

separate party demonstrates NU's inability to monopolize traditionalist loyalty across the

country in the 1950s and the strategy of Masjumi to connect with local traditionalist


The regional organizations believed that Islamic social and religious activities

complemented political activity and that political success would lead to the complete

achievement of Islam's goals. As a leading scholar of Jamiyatul Washliyah wrote on the

occasion of the organization's twenty-fifth anniversary: "If we feel any disappointment

on particular points, it is all a result of the weakness and unbalanced nature in the

methods of our struggle in the previous times," meaning the inferiority of activism on
solely religious and not also political fronts. Still, these groups' primary focus was on

ministering to the spiritual, social, and educational needs of Muslims in their districts.

(Primary) with 37,318 students, 1 Tsanawijah (Middle) with 327 students, and 1 Alijah (High) with 75

72 An invitation to this event, signed by Dj. Lapasere and A.R. Pettalolo, was held in the documents of

Kecamatan Tinombo, Central Sulawesi, copied by Prof. Jennifer W. Nourse during her anthropological
fieldwork there. 1 am thankful to Prof. Nourse for access to this document.

73M. Arsjad Th. Lubis, "Pendirian al Djamijatul Washlijah," in Al Djamijatul Washlijah 'A Abad (Medan:
Pengurus Besar Al Djamijatul Washlijah, 1955), 18. I am thankful to Dr. Mustari Bosra for making this
book available to me.

A Boom in Islamic Education

After independence, Indonesia saw a two-pronged increase in Islamic education.

First, Islamic organizations and local Muslim leaders founded more and more Islamic

schools, thanks in part to an open regulatory environment and in part to financial support

newly available from the government. Second, government schools began to incorporate

Islamic education.

History of Government Patronage of Islamic Education

Islamic educational institutions were a longstanding feature of the cultural

landscape in most parts of Indonesia. In fact, scholars have pointed to Islamic schools as

a cultural pillar spanning the pre-colonial, Dutch, Japanese and independence periods.74

By this they usually mean traditionalist Islamic schools, called pesantren on Java, surau

in West Sumatra, longgar in Aceh, and many other names in other parts of the

archipelago.75 The archetype of an expert teacher instructing residential students by rote

every morning and communal living for the rest of the day was a model that nationalists

such as Ki Hadjar Dewantara and Dr. Sutomo saw as ideal for Indonesian education, with
7 f\
or without its Islamic content.

Following a new "Ethical Policy," the Dutch had greatly expanded the
educational opportunities available to native Indonesians. This took place even in some

74 Benedict R. O'G. Anderson, Java in a Time of Revolution: Occupation and Resistance, 1944-46

(Singapore: Equinox Press 2009), 5ff. Mohammad Daud Ali and Habibah Daud, Lembaga-Lembaga Islam
di Indonesia (Jakarta: RajaGrafindo Persada, 1995), 145.

75The word madrasah entered Indonesian late, most likely in the twentieth century, and is generally used
for schools of the Western style, with grades, desks, and predetermined curricula.

76Daud and Daud, Lembaga-Lembaga Islam di Indonesia, 146-47; cf. Akhdiyat K. Mihardja, Polemik
Kebudayaan (Jakarta: Perpustakaan Perguruan, 1954).

77 M.C. Ricklefs, A History of Modern Indonesia, since c. 1200,4th ed. (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2008),

staunchly Islamic regions of the country. It also extended to supporting certain types of

private religious education. Christian schools received subsidies from the government,

and modern-style Islamic schools could apply for similar support if they included a

significant amount of instruction in general subjects. One school that took advantage of

this was Abdullah Ahmad's Adabiyah School in Padang, loosely affiliated with the

Muhammadiyah.79 Muhammadiyah's willingness to accept some Dutch subsidies for its

schools raised controversy in many parts of Indonesia, as in Makassar in 1930 where this
became a major line of attack for PSII to denigrate Muhammadiyah. One of the reasons

to accept a subsidy, as an Islamic school, was a 1923 Dutch regulation limiting

employment opportunities for those graduating from those schools not receiving a
government subsidy.

The real challenges for Muslim schools were not from a lack of employment

opportunities for graduates, though, but rather from an inability to start up at all. Besides

the monetary burden of start-up costs, the Dutch created significant hurdles to the

founding of Islamic schools through their Guru Ordinance of 1928 and Wild Schools

Ordinance of 1932. Both legal efforts attempted to limit the ability of Indonesians to

78 Outsideof Java, the area receiving the most educational investment was West Sumatra. See Elizabeth E.
Graves, The Minangkabau Response to Dutch Colonial Rule in the Nineteenth Century (Ithaca, NY;
Cornell Modern Indonesia Project, 1971).

79 DeliarNoer, Modernist Muslim Movement in Indonesia: 1900-1942 (Singapore: Oxford UP, 1973), 43;
Jeffrey Hadler, Muslims and Matriarchs: Cultural Resilience in Indonesia through Jihad and Colonialism
(Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2008), 101-102. Adabijah started receiving a Dutch subsidy in 1915, which is
when it also changed its name and became somewhat alienated from the rest of the kaum muda movement.

80 Bosra, Tuang Guru, Anrong Guru dan Daeng Guru, 242.

81 Federspiel, Islam and Ideology, 25.

instruct Indonesians on religious and secular subjects beyond the oversight of the colonial

government, and both faced strong opposition among the indigenous population.82

The increase in Dutch colonial schools did not accommodate demand, however.

As Federspiel has noted, "despite that expansion it did not meet the needs and

expectations of the general population and there was considerable room, indeed, even a

demand, that religious schools continue to operate and enlarge their operations.

Consequently, there was a steady expansion of schools by Christian, Muslim and Hindu

personages and associations to meet this demand."83 In 1942, the Japanese estimated the

Islamic boarding schools on Java to number 1,831, with 139,415 students. This number
was roughly equal to the number in Dutch-sponsored schools. The growth in Islamic

schools, and particularly rising numbers of modem-style Islamic schools associated with

Muhammadiyah, absorbed some of the young people seeking a secular education but

open to learning Islamic subjects, as well.

Increase in Islamic Schools after Independence

After independence, the number of Islamic schools exploded, particularly in the

period from 1947 to 1955. Two key factors contributed to this increase: the government

made funds available to subsidize private Islamic schools and a high, unmet demand for

education at this time.

82 Taufik Abdullah, Schools andPolitics.The Kaum Muda Movement in West Sumatra (1927-1933) (Ithaca,

NY: Cornell Modem Indonesia Project, 1971), 216. The Wild Schools Ordinance said that all teachers in a
non-subsidized school must get a certificate from the government allowing them to teach, and that to obtain
such a certificate they must have a diploma from a subsidized or government school and pledge to protect
colonial "rust en orde." After widespread protests, the government suspended enforcement of the Wild
Schools Ordinance in February 1933, and went back to relying on their 1923 regulation to oversee schools
on a more individual basis.

83 Federspiel, Islam and Ideology, 70.

84 Federspiel, Islam and Ideology, 70.

In the first year of independence, the parliament passed Law no. 4 of 1950

regarding education. Chapter IX, Article 13 of this law reads, "On the foundation of the

freedom of each citizen to confess their own religion or life belief, therefore unimpeded

opportunity is given to found and keep up Private Schools." Article 14 adds, "Private

schools that meet certain conditions can receive a subsidy from the government for

upkeep."85 This law reflected the long-standing desire among pious Muslims that Islamic

schools, which they had long preferred over government-sponsored secular schools, be

respected as legitimate education for their children. By opening up the opportunity for

funding, though, the government did not merely make Islamic schools legitimate; it made

them a key site of patronage for Islamic groups.

Funding came through two separate ministries: the Ministry of Education and

Culture and the Ministry of Religion. The subsidies of the Ministry of Education and

Culture for Islamic schools were based on Law no. 4 of 1950 and formed a real, but not

major, part of the ministry's budget. The Minister of Education Muhammad Yamin

reported to parliament in 1954 that the 1952-53 budget included Rp. 4,219,847.88 for

subsidies to Islamic schools, out of a budget of Rp. 61,792,080.88.86 The Ministry of

Religion supported many additional religious schools, and set their own standard for

monetary assistance fairly low. Although the Ministry did not provide any start-up

funding for Islamic schools, a school merely had to run for one complete year and "prove

85Reprinted in Drs. H.A. Mustafa dan Drs. Abdullah Aly, Sejarah Pendidikan Islam di Indonesia (SPII)
untuk Fakultas Tarbiyah, Komponen MMK (Bandung: Pustaka Setia, 1998), 118.

86 Fl.B. Djamil, "Masa Depan Madrasah / Perguruan Al-Washlijah," in Al Djamijatul Washlijah 'A Abad
(Medan: Pengurus Besar Al Djamijatul Washlijah, 1955), 22. The author does not actually accept this
report, though, and through his own calculations reaches a number closer to 1.5 million rupiah for Islamic
schools, which he contrasts with approximately 12 million rupiah for Catholic schools and 6 million rupiah
for Protestant schools.

that it was running well" to apply for a government subsidy.87 The sponsorship of the

Ministry of Religion allowed the number of religious schools in certain districts to

increase rapidly. In 1951, several regencies in Central Java were reporting record

numbers of Islamic schools, with the Ministry's sponsorship facilitating the increase in

Demak from 4 to 74, in Purwadadi from 0 to 48 and in Kenadi from 3 to 40.88

Perti, the political party cum religious associated based in West Sumatra, saw

Islamic education as a critical part of its mission, and so Perti's experience with state-

sponsored Islamic education is informative. From its 1950 party platform, Perti explicitly

called both for subsidies to religious schools and religious instruction in government

schools.89 Perti was fairly small in the number of schools it administered when compared

to NU or Muhammadiyah (in 1965, the Ministry of Religion listed NU with 4,630

elementary schools and Muhammadiyah with 1,757, compared to Perti's 43), but these

schools were the primary location of Perti activity as a social movement and political

party, so they retained importance beyond their educational mission.90 Funding for these

schools also remained an important method of funding Perti activities and a key way for

87 Ministry of Religion press release "Kemerdekaan Beragama di Indonesia Didjamin," in ANRI, RA7
"Kabinet Presiden," #164. The "running well" standard seemingly had no means for practical enforcement
it seems, such that if a school once received funding it was likely to receive state funding in perpetuity or
until a Ministry of Religion functionary had a specific target for further patronage.

88 "Islamic Activity in Indonesia," International Fides Service, November 10,1951- 284-NE315. This
report from a Catholic news agency cites the local newspaper Sin Min of September 24, 1951. The
International Fides Service report is held in ANRI, RA7 Kabinet Presiden, #164. It is unlikely that these
statistics are perfectly precise reflections of the number of Islamic schools in these respective regencies, but
even if this merely reflects the increase in the number of government-registered Islamic schools it still
provides an idea of the rapid increase at this time.

89 Alaiddin Koto, Pemikiran Politik PERTI, Persatuan Tarbiyah Islamiyah (1945-1970) (Jakarta: Nimas

Multima, 1997), 190.

90 Peranan Departemen Agama dalam Revolusi dan Pembangunan Bangsa, 70-71. Each organization had
many more middle and upper level schools, but the majority of students in each case were in elementary
schools (called ibtidaiyah).

Perti to distribute patronage (and thus retain support) in its community. In 1957 Perti

received Rp. 2,763,018 in funds for its own schools and passed Rp. 1,221,219.43 on to

other schools who had requested the funds through Perti's intercession.91 State funding

was so important in the expansion of Islamic education that some schools even founded

primary schools (to complement their existing secondary education) specifically so they

would have an easier time getting government subsidies.92

State funds were important to many groups beyond Perti, however. Many Islamic

groups, who depended heavily on these subsidies, continued throughout the 1950s to call

for an increase in funds to Islamic schools. For example, the Persatuan Guru Islam NU

passed a resolution at their Surabaya meeting on August 7, 1953, calling for subsidies for

Islamic schools to be hugely increased so as to be proportional for the Islamic population

with the amount given to Catholic schools for the Catholics' percentage of the

population.93 A similar call came in from Jami'yatul Washliyah at their 25th anniversary

in 1955.94 Even non-Islamic religious schools were strongly interested in preserving

subsidies for private religious education; the Dewan Pimpinan Komisariaat Partai Katolik

(Leadership Board of the Comissariat of the Catholic Party) on Timor passed a resolution

on 21 September 1952, condemning the government policy of preferring government

91 Yul Ardi, "Buya H. Mansur Dt. Nagari Basa: Sumbangannya Terhadap Pendidikan Islam di Sumatera
Barat, 1930-1994," Skripsi SI, Institute Keguruan dan Ilmu Pendidikan, Padang, 1995, 74. The statistics
seem to have come from records that Buya Mansur kept himself and from inquiries to the Perti central
leadership. The numbers after 1957 drop continuously through 1961, most likely because of the chaos and
uncertainty brought by the PRRI rebellion. See chapter 5.

92 This was the case with Madrasah Tarbiyah Islamiyah in Kamang Mudik. See Yul Ardi, 77.

93 ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #1126.

94 Fl. B. Djamil, 22.

schools over private (religious) schools, and calling for more subsidies for religious


Of course, not all private schools wanted government subsidies. In an ironic turn

of history, as Boyd R. Compton observed in 1952, all of the Muhammadiyah schools in

the central Javanese city of Pekadjangana place so Islamic that the government had not

succeeded in founding any public schools because the populace all sent their children to

Muhammadiyah schoolsrefused government subsidies for their schools.96 This attitude

became more widespread in Muhammadiyah towards the end of the decade, when the

Madjelis Tanwir (the organization's executive board) warned in 1959 of "the loss of

strength of Muhammadiyah in offering up activities within its movements" in cases

where "activities and movements of Muhammadiyah live and die dependent on help /

assistance from others (government subsidies, etc.)."97

Also facilitating the boom in Islamic schools was the high demand for education

in the early independence period, a demand not being filled by government schools.

Government schools were uniformly oversubscribed. When the American political

scientist George McT. Kahin visited villages in Central Java in 1954, he found that

schools were unable to keep up with high demand from villages. In Candirejo, outside

Jogjakarta, only 200 of the 500 children who had registered for school could be accepted;
in nearby Longandong only 50 of 250 made it into the elementary school. With

95 ANR1, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," # 1700.

96 BoydR. Compton, "Islam in Pekadjangan," written January 18, 1953, for the International Center for
World Affairs, available at http://www.icwa.org/articles/fBRC-6.pdf.

97 ANR1, RA34 "Muhammadiyah," #932.

98 George McTurnan Kahin Papers, #14-27-3146. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell
University Library, Box 70, folder "Material on Villages and Elections."

government schools so oversubscribed, Islamic schools had very little trouble finding


Another option also emerged in the early 1950s to accommodate students who

could not attend government schools under the Ministry of Education and Culture. The

Ministry of Religion founded its own network of religious schools. These schools were

government-administered on a pre-set national curriculum, but unlike schools under the

Ministry of Education and Culture they had a higher percentage of religious subjects,

roughly 30% of the curriculum." In addition to accommodating the high demand for

education, this was part of the Ministry of Religion's drive to "modernize" Islamic

education and, through it, modernize the Islamic community in Indonesia as a whole.

The secretary of the Ministry of Religion, Moh. Kafrawi, explained this function as one

of the five aspects of the primary task of the Ministry: "Striving for modernization,

especially in the Muslim communities, by more developed educational means,

information et cetera, so as to decrease their existing backwardness as compared to that

of their Christian brethren who have had the privilege of receiving the powerful support

of materially well-equipped missions and churches."100

With all of these Islamic schools emerging, there was also an acute need at this

time for higher education opportunities for Muslims. To this end, the Ministry of

Religion opened a State Higher Education in Islamic Religion (Perguruan Tinggi Agama

99 This70%-30% profane-sacred split in curriculum appears to have been common around the Islamic
world; this was also the division at the Dar al-'Ulum government religious school in Egypt. Hillary
Kalmbach, "From Turban to Tarboush in Interwar Egypt: Hybridity, Authencity in Cairo's Dar al-'Ulum
School," paper presented at Yale University Department of History, November 14, 2011.

100A pamphlet entitled "Indonesia's Religious Policy," translated in C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "The
Indonesian State and 'Deconfessionalized' Muslim Concepts," in Aspects of Islam in Post-Colonial
Indonesia: Five Essays (The Hague: W.van Hoeve, 1958), 222.

Islam Negeri) on September 26, 1951 in Jogjakarta. This faculty would train teachers in

Islamic subjects as well as religious functionaries for the Ministry itself. At the opening

ceremony, the Minister of Religion Wahid Hasjim gave a speech saying "the Government

has deemed it necessary to establish this faculty as in Indonesia, where the big majority

of the population are Muslims, no university training whatsoever existed thus far for

leaders in the religion of Islam, whilst other religious groups do already possess their

schools for religious higher education."101 This new Islamic higher education in

Indonesia can be seen not only as an educational innovation, but also as a nationalist

development. By establishing a site for Islamic higher education within the nation's

boundaries, Indonesia was no longer fully dependent on ulama trained in Mecca or Cairo,

and the country could further develop its own theological trends. This was particularly

appealing for the theological leaders who were called upon to staff such institutions.

Teaching Islam in Non-Islamic Schools

A significant number of new religious schools was not the only increase in

Islamic education during this time period. There was a simultaneous rise in secular

school students' exposure to formal Islamic education.

Since the significant increase in public education in the early 20th century, many

Muslim students in the colonial school system had sought religious instruction outside of

their Dutch schoolhouses. This was the case for, among others, K.H. Abdul Halim

(founder of Persjarikatan Umat Islam),102 Mohammad Natsir,103 Mohamad Roem,104 and

101 C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, "The Indonesian State and 'Deconfessionalized' Muslim Concepts," 239, n.

102 Steenbrink, Pesantren, Madrasah, Sekolah, 73.

103Raja Juli Antoni, ed., Aba: Mohammad Natsir Sebagai Cahaya Keluarganya (Jakarta: Yayasan Capita
Selecta, 2009).

K.H. Mohammad Iljas.105 This system was burdensome on the students and their parents:

students had to sacrifice their afternoons and evenings to get these religious lessons, and

parents had to pay not just school costs but also contributions to the instructor at the

mosque. More troublesome from a conservative Islamic standpoint, this system allowed

students in the public school system to avoid religious education altogether if they so

chose, creating a bureaucratic class that was thoroughly secular.

That began to change in the Japanese period. In mid-1944, K.H. Abu Daridiri, the

head of the religious affairs office in the Central Javanese regency of Banyumas,

proposed that all government schools teach religion to their students so as to create good

people with high morals. The Japanese administration accepted this proposal, and local

Islamic experts were hired as adjunct teachers to provide special instructions to students

in government schools. This idea picked up in several areas across Java, with Kediri and

Pekalongan regencies also providing government subsidies to hire religion teachers for

their public schools.106

After independence, the Indonesian government moved to solidify and expand

religious instruction in government schools. A meeting of the BP-KNIP in December

1945 agreed on ten broad guidelines for the instruction of religion (read: Islam) alongside

the standard curriculum:

1. Religious education in all schools will be given during school hours.

2. The teachers will be paid by the government.
3. In elementary schools this will be given starting in grade IV.
4. This education will be provided once every week at a pre-set time.
5. The teachers will be selected by the Ministry of Religion.
6. Religion teachers are required to be adept in general knowledge.

104 Oral history of Mohammad Roem, interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SLl 1981 #6, tape 1.

105 Steenbrink, Pesantren, Madrasah, Sekolah, 70.

106 Steenbrink, Pesantren, Madrasah, Sekolah, 86.

7. The government will provide books for religious education.
8. There will be training for religion teachers.
9. The quality of pesantren and madrasah must be improved.
10. The instruction of Arabic is not necessary.107

A Joint Regulation was issued by the Ministry of Religion and Ministry of Education and

Culture in December 1946, one year after the above general guidelines. The agreement

decreed that religion would be taught in schools from grade 4 through grade 6. This

agreement was not ever successfully carried out, though, because so many regions were

already teaching religion starting from grade 1. To figure out a solution, the government

created a Majelis Pertimbangan Pengajaran Agama Islam in 1947, led by Ki Hajar

Dewantoro (representing the Ministry of Education) and Prof. Drs. Abdullah Sigit
(representing the Ministry of Religion).

Two laws (1950 no. 5, applicable only in the Republic of the United States of

Indonesia period; and 1954 no. 20) and one Joint Regulation from the Ministry of

Religion and Ministry of Education and Culture (dated January 20, 1951) set the

regulatory environment for the integration of Islamic education in the independence

period.109 The 1950 law was staunchly opposed by Islamic parties using various

parliamentary and lobbying methods, from Masjumi and PSII.110

These policies promoting Islamic education in government schools were not

entirely uncontroversial on the secular side, either. There were many who opposed the

requirement to teach religion in all schools. The Taman Siswa organization, a pioneer in
107Steenbrink, Pesantren, Madrasah, Sekolah, 91, citing Soegarda Poebakawatja, Pendidikan dalam Alam
Indonesia Merdeka (Jakarta: Gunung Agung, 1970), 41. Cf. Mustafa and Aly, 127-28.

108 Mustafa and Aly, 124.

109 Steenbrink, Pesantren, Madrasah, Sekolah, 91-92. A copy of this regulation is available in ANRI RA7

Kabinet Presiden, #164.

See statements of each party after the law passed without their support in ANRI, RA5 "Kabinet Perdana
Menteri," #270.

education on Java that incorporated the culture and ethics of the island in its instruction,

long resisted the move toward teaching religion in schools. They had a strong influence

on the policies of the Department of Education and Culture, even after their founder Ki

Hadjar Dewantara stepped down as Minister.111 Press reports from Catholic and

Protestant interests at the time included phrases like "with a stroke of the pen, public

(government) schools have been changed into Islamic schools," prompting a public

affairs initiative from the Ministry of Religion to counter such hyperbole.112

The staunchest opposition to the teaching of Islam in public schools actually came

from a Muslim woman, Rasuna Said. She was a Minangkabau independence activist,

famous for being the first person, male or female, arrested and imprisoned by the Dutch

government for promoting Indonesian independence, but in the 1950s she was active as a

leftist and fellow-traveler of the Indonesian Communist Party.113 In 1951, after the Joint

Regulation came out, Rasuna made a speech in the Indonesian parliament, claiming to be

the voice for Sumatran women (which was, indeed, the ostensible reason for her

appointment to the assembly) and both rejected the integration of religious education in

government schools and called for the elimination of the Ministries of Religion and

Information. In response to this speech, Islamic women's groups across Sumatra

111 Steenbrink, Pesantren, Madrasah, Sekolah, 90, n. 157.

112The Ministry of Religion's initial press release, including the quote from an unnamed Christian paper, is
included in ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #164.

Audrey Kahin, Rebellion to Integration: West Sumatra and the Indonesian Polity, 1926-1998
(Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 1999), 56; interview with Drs. Nazwir LD. Simarajo, Padang, June 1, 2006.
Popular belief in West Sumatra puts the origins of Rasuna Said's Communist leanings in her second
marriage, which was with a Communist leader.

gathered and issued resolutions opposing Rasuna's position and calling for the

preservation of the Ministry of Religion.114

On the other end, many Muslims remained unsatisfied with the instruction given

in schools. The original Joint Regulation set religious instruction to begin in grade IV for

up to two hours per week. Muslims found this insufficient, and lobbied hard for a change.

This change came in a revision of the Joint Regulation on July 16, 1951, allowing

"special regions" (lingkungan yang istimewa; regions came to self-define as "special" if

they wanted to use this clause) to teach religion starting from grade I and lasting up to

four hours per week. Schools were not permitted to decrease secular subjects to

accommodate this increase in religious instruction.115 The 1960 update of the Joint

Regulation also gave instructions for secondary and tertiary schools to implement

religious education.116

One of the reasons that Islamic organizations fought hard for religion as a subject

at government schools was because it provided another avenue for patronage in the hiring

of religious teachers to give this instruction. Specifically for the subject of religion, the

local religious affairs office (a key patronage position to begin with) would choose an

instructor to visit the school part time. This instructor was paid for his lessons, but

teaching in government schools also gave him exposure to collect more students for

114One such resolution from six women's organizations in Bukittinggi, Central Sumatra, dated April 17,
1951, is held in ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #158. Notably, Rasuna Said was not alone in linking
opposition to religion in schools with the elimination of the Ministry of Religion. A resolution from the
Kongres Persatuan Pemuda Kristen Indonesia (Congress of the Indonesian Christian Youth Union) on July
6, 1951, made the same suggestion to eliminate religious education in public schools and review the need
for a Ministry of Religion, also in ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #158.

115 Peraturan Bersama Menteri Agama dengan Menteri Pendidikan, Pengajaran dan Kebudayaan no. No:

K/l/9180 tanggal 16 Djuli 1951 (Agama), Article 2, in ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #164. See also
Steenbrink, Pesantren, Madrasah, Sekolah, 92.

116 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 393.

private tutoring or to perform religious services for families.117 For the Islamic

organizations that also functioned as political parties (NU and Perti), it was important to

expand such positions when possible, so as to give an opportunity for a part-time

government paycheck to more followers and to spread their (traditionalist) theology

through the public school system.

A Shift in Language

In the independence period, the national language (Bahasa Indonesia, literally

"Indonesian language") slowly moved away from its religious past and became a secular

national language along the lines of European languages. When the Youth Congress of

1928 had pledged to make Indonesian the national language of their future country, it was

a popular dialect of the language indigenous to the Strait of Malacca and used more

broadly both for trade, religious teaching, and secular schools and bureaucracy. This

dialect, called school Malay before its adoption by the Indonesian nationalist movement,

had been "the language most associated with Islam and its dissemination throughout the

lands below the winds" and its use throughout the archipelago "represented a

continuation of the tradition of Islamic scholarship in the region."118 However, its new

life as a nationalist language in the twentieth century increasingly detached it from its

117The intricacies of how religion instructors were chosen and what perks came with this position were
explained to me in an interview with H. Sjarifiiddin, Banjarmasin, September 21, 2010.

118 Michael Francis Laffan, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia: The Umma below the Winds (New

York: Routledge, 2003), 236. I am grateful for insights on this point provided by James T. Collins, who
noted that the language adopted in the youth pledge was school Malay (not bazaar Malay), and that
Christians had been using this Malay for interethnic communicationand religious purposesfor several
centuries just as the Muslims had. Personal communication with James T. Collins, April 4, 2012. Still, I
agree with Laffan that the primary vehicle for spreading Malay for several centuries in the archipelago had
been Islamic venues.

more Islamic roots. Systematic changes to the old "ecumenical"119 Malay now created a

modern, nationalist, and secular language. Concurrently, pious Muslims in Indonesia

became alienated from this new form of a language their community had used for


The changes included the disappearance of the Arabic script for transcribing

Indonesian, the adoption of new words, the standardization of the Roman alphabet, of

non-Arabic spellings, and of punctuation and usage. Overall, one sees a trend towards

Western linguistic sensibilities and the waning of residual influences from Arabic.

Disappearance of J awi Script

As of the turn of the twentieth century, one could write bazaar Malay in two ways:

the Roman alphabet or the Arabic script. Malay written in Arabic script was called jawi,

a derivative of the name used in Arabic to refer to Southeast Asian pilgrims on the hajj

(all, regardless of their specific geographic origin, were collectively called Jawa).120

While based on Arabic, jawi included several additional letters for the precise

recording of distinct Indonesian consonants. One of the unique advantages of the jawi

script for writing Malay is the non-transcription of short vowels, offering the option to

vary the vocalization of spoken words to fit a range of local dialects. The word kambing

(goat) in bazaar Malay, written 5^ in Jawi, would not differ in its spelling from the

Minangkabau (a central Sumatran language) word kambiang (goat), even though the

pronunciations are different. Similarly, the Acehnese (a north Sumatran language) word

119 Laffan, 139, 236. Laffan uses this term meaning that it united individuals across local ethnic identities

to bring together the ecumene of island Southeast Asia, not that it bridged Abrahamic religions.

See C. Snouck Hurgronje, Mekka in the Latter Part of the 19th Century, J.H. Monahan, trans. (London:
Luzac & Co., 1931) and Laffan,. In common usage, many Indonesians today also use the term "huruf arab
melayu" for Indonesian written in the Arabic script.

Buaya (a title for an elderly religious scholar, W_*>) would be written in the same way as its

Minangkabau homonym Buya, and each could be mutually intelligible through written

multi-interpretability, despite the fact that the word buaya in standard Malay means

"crocodile." Thus, the lack of vocalization means that jawi requires greater personal

initiative for reading the text, yet at the same time it provides the opportunity for greater

mutual intelligibility between regions. Many European linguists disliked this

indeterminacy and (possibly subversive) multi-interpretability, however, and so they

labeled the jawi system of writing as "degenerate," thus fating it to phase out over


In Indonesia both religious and secular groups employed the Arabic script for

writing bazaar Malay up through the early twentieth century, although the Roman script

for Malay was also in circulation. In fact, through the 1920's Muslim Indonesians were

probably more likely to know jawi than Romanized Indonesian, especially if they were
Muslim Indonesians of a lower class. Mohamad Roem describes his best friend from

his youth, a tailor's son named Sardjan, as not attending school but still coming to the

mosque to learn to read and recite the Qur'an.123 Presumably, there was a substantial

population across Indonesia of Muslims like Sardjan who had learned to read the Qur'an

(and thus jawi script) in recitation circles, but who had never attended a formal school

121 Jeffrey Hadler, "Anti-Semitism, Syncretism, and the Definition of 'Indonesia,' " paper presented at the

Yale Indonesia Forum spring workshop "Inter-religious Relations in Indonesia," April 4, 2009. This
categorization as "degenerate" came from William "Oriental" Jones, who evaluated all the languages in
British Asia in 1789, and found Sanskrit to be perfect, while Malay (written, of course, in jawi), as a
Semitic language lacking vocalization, was among the worst (along with the equally opaque Chinese

122 In Malaysia, jawi lasted longer as a common script for writing Malay, and not only among Muslims.

Lee Hsien Long, the ethnically-Chinese current Prime Minister of Singapore, learned jawi as a boy in the

123 Oral history with Mohamad Roem, interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SLl 1980 #6, tape 1.

where they could be exposed to the Roman alphabet. Even more competent in jawi were

those Muslim youths who attended a religious school, either a traditional pesantren, or

(after they began to emerge in the 1910's) a more modern-style madrasah; they, too,

would have had little exposure to the Roman alphabet.124 In West Sumatra during the

first half of the twentieth century, the journals that pushed forward the religious debate

between reformists and traditionalists (al-Imam from Singapore, al-Munir al-Manar from

Padang Panjang and al-Mizan from Padang were the most prominent) were all written

entirely in Arabic script, and presumably this was appropriately tailored for the literate

Muslim audience they targeted.125 Hamka argues that jawi was ubiquitous across the

archipelago through the late nineteenth century, and only began to disappear after that

because of the influence of the Dutch colonial power.

Yet even in some Dutch run schools the jawi script was used for instruction in the

Indonesian language even in some Dutch run schools, with the Roman alphabet reserved

for Dutch and European languages. This system was in place in West Sumatra in the
197 19fi
nineteenth century, and remained in place in Banjarmasin until 1942. Anecdotal

124 Hamka testifies that he studied in jawi when he first learned to write in a Minangkabau surau; Hamka,

Kenang-kenanganku di Malaya, p. 14. This text is a typescript held in the Perpustakaan H.B. Jassin in
Jakarta. My thanks to Annette Damayanti Lienau for this reference. This was also true of students on
Lombok; interview with H. Jamiluddin Azhar, Mataram, Nusa Tenggara Barat, 27 July 2010. Furthermore,
with the Japanese choice to print in jawi all circulars for religious scholars on Java (see below), one can
assume that most of these scholars were not yet fluent or comfortable in Romanized Indonesian.

Za'im Rais, "The Minangkabau Traditionalists' Response to the Modernist Movement," Master's Thesis,
McGill University, 1994: 39.

126 Hamka, "Pengaruh Huruf atas Bahasa dan Bangsa," Hibnah 107 (16 February, 1952): 18-20. My

thanks to Annette Damayanti Lienau for this reference.

127Hadler, Muslims and Matriarchs, 70 n. 30 notes that both jawi and Romanized texts were produced by
Minangkabau students, as early as the 1850s. It is clear, though, that jawi was the normative way to write
the local language or Pasar Malay; a textbook for teaching Dutchmen employed exclusively jawi (ibid, 90).

evidence also suggests a greater literacy in jawi among the lower classes of Indonesia,
even without any exposure to formal Dutch-sponsored schooling.

By the 1920's, Romanized Indonesian was becoming prominent for the non-

Muslim community and in government affairs, but jawi remained the dominant system of

writing among the Islamic community. The Muhammadiyah press in Jogjakarta was

particularly active in printing religious materials in Indonesian and Javanese, for both of

which it used the Arabic script (Javanese in Arabic script is calledpegon).no In fact,

much of the literature was not only in the Arabic script, but actually in Arabic itself

through the 1920s, "whether the reader was a student learning the rudiments of the

religion, an adult seeking edification, or a scholar seeking authoritative answers to

religious quandaries."131 All religious and theological texts, including newspapers of an

Islamic character, used jawi until 1928, a mere 17 years before Indonesian independence,

when Ahmad Hassan published al-Boerhan as the first Indonesian Islamic treatise in the

Latin alphabet.132 Ahmad Hassan's scholarship appealed to a new class of Islamic

leaders: those trained by the Dutch at Western-language institutions who still wanted to

128Interview with H. Sjarifuddin, Banjarmasin, Kalimantan Selatan, September 21,2010. H. Sjarifuddin

had already begun to study jawi at home with his father before entering Dutch schools, as well. Also,
interview with Muhammad Ideham Suriansyah, Banjarmasin, Kalimantan Selatan, September 20, 2010.

129 The anthropologist Harold C. Conklin first studied Indonesian from a Javenese cook (and former sailor)
at the University of California at Berkeley who could write his native language only in Arabic script
(Harold C. Conklin, "Language, Culture and Environment: My Early Years," in Annual Review of
Anthropology, 27 (1998): xviii). Recent informants on Lombok critiqued the low literacy statistics for the
province of West Nusa Tenggara as not accounting for the large number of rural peasants who can still
today read Arabic script (interview with Fahrurozzi, Mataram, Nusa Tenggara Barat, July 26, 2010).

130 Federspiel, Islam and Ideology, 69.

131 Federspiel, Islam and Ideology, 66.

132 R. Michael Feener, "Muslim Legal Thought in Modern Indonesia: Introduction and Overview," in R.

Michael Feener and Mark E. Cammack, eds., Islamic Law in Contemporary Indonesia: Ideas and
Institutions (Cambridge, MA: Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School, 2007), 15.

explore their Muslim roots. These kinds of leaders, men like Kasman Singodimedjo, S.M.

Kartosuwirjo, Abu Hanifah, and Mohammad Natsir, became very prominent in Islamic

politics in the late 1930s and through the 1940s, and so brought a Romanizing leaning

into Islamic political circles. This foreshadowed the death of jawi as a system of writing.

Soon, reformist Islamic schools (including most Muhammadiyah-aligned schools) started

teaching Romanized Indonesian instead of jawi, and increasing numbers of scholars

published Islamic works in Romanized script.133 Still, the colonial government retained

jawi as a way to communicate with the religious community; circulars intended

specifically for Muslim scholars were often published in this script.

Thus, at the height of Dutch colonialism, the jawi script still had a distinct place, a

separate (and to Western minds inferior) way to write, intended by the colonial power for

relating to Indonesia's Muslim masses but not for high scholarship. By the end of the

Dutch period, even the Islamic community had begun to transition some scholarship into

Romanized Indonesian.

Under Japanese colonialism, jawi continued to hold a separate place, but it was

already becoming a less common script for the language. The Japanese evinced some

discrimination against the Arab script (in addition to the Arabic language) as part of a

loose anti-Arab policy.134 In some areas, the Japanese even tried to introduce their own

133Even Hamka, the later defender of jawi, began publishing in Romanized Indonesian when he became an
author for Balai Pustaka. His most popular early novel in Romanized Indonesian was Dibawah Lindungan
Ka 'aba, published in the late 1920s. Teaching in Romanized Indonesian also occurred at traditionalist
schools; the Tebuireng pesantren, center of NU activity, began to teach Romanized Malay in the late 1920s.
Steenbrink, Pesantren, Madrasah, Sekolah, 70-71.

Harry J. Benda, The Crescent and the Rising Sun: Indonesian Islam under the Japanese Occupation,
1942-1945 (The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958), 127.

system of writing non-Japanese terms, katakana, for general Indonesian language use.135

However, when the Japanese began to publish a bi-weekly magazine targeted at kyai and

ulama in March 1944, they chose to use the Arabic script for all three languages in which

the magazine circulated (Indonesian, Sundanese, and Javanese).136 On the other hand, for

the first time large numbers of Dutch-educated Indonesians began under Japanese

colonialism to study and use the Indonesian language, and they employed the Roman

alphabet, solidifying its dominance.137 Thus, while jawi continued in both official and

unofficial use under the Japanese, political Indonesians in the capital coalesced around a

Romanized standard for the language.

The complete disappearance of jawi as a viable alternative to Romanized

Indonesian occurred later but then rather quickly, from roughly 1948 through 1956.

Although jawi had never been used by the central Indonesian government for

administration, during the revolution it remained more heavily used in certain regions

(such as in Aceh, see chapter 2). Furthermore, Dutch specialists on Indonesia thought

that the Arabic script for Indonesian still had a strong future, as evidenced by the three

books they printed to teach the subject in 1949 and 1950.138

135 Interview with H.M. Irsyad Zein, Kec. Martapura Timur, South Kalimantan, on 23 September, 2010.

He reports that the Japanese teacher, named Tatsumi, assigned to his middle school in Martapura taught
them katakana for two years.

136 Benda, 161.

137 Oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1980 #1, tape 1.

138The most well-circulated was J.A. Mulder, Het lndonesisch-Arabische Schrift (Groningen/ Batavia: J.B.
Wolters' Uitgeversmaatschappij, 1949), written by a Dutch East Indies school inspector. In the
supplements to Mulder's book, the press advertises that they have two volumes for teachingyaw/ in press,
including Z. Usman's Kitab Lembaga untuk Beladjar Huruf Arab Melaju. The latter seem to be intended
for Indonesian speakers fluent in Romanized Indonesian. The idea that the company found it worthwhile to
prepare a textbook for Indonesians to learn jawi script is also quite telling.

The preference of the independent Indonesian government for Romanized

Indonesian effectively guaranteed the death of the jawi system of writing. Not only

government laws and regulations, but also education in government schools, was entirely

Romanized. Religious schools became obliged to teach the Roman alphabet, while

secular schools did not teach jawi, even on the highest level.139

The rapid decline of the status of jawi was also caused by practical considerations

in the new country. As more and more books were printed in mass numbers and fewer

texts hand copied, it was more difficult to print books in jawi, while Roman-letter presses

were ubiquitous. In 1952, Prof. Dr. Hazairin apologized because the Arabic words in his

book Pergolakan Penjesuaian 'Adat kepada Hukum Islam (The Movement to Bring

Cultural Law in Line with Religious Law) could not be printed correctly.140 The inability

to print in the Arabic script was even more dire when it came to the issue of producing

copies of the Qur'an for Indonesia. As of 1954, Indonesia had to order its Qur'ans to be

printed in India and Japan, because the government did not have the technology to print

in the Arabic script at any of the government's own facilities.141 Importing Qur'ans,

particularly from non-Muslim countries, led to some difficulties. In 1955, N.V. Bir & Co.

139 Prof.Dr. R.M. Ng. Poerbatjaraka reports the animosity of his non-Sumatran students when facing a text
in jawi, causing him to give up on integrating those texts in his courses at the University of Indonesia. Prof.
Dr. R.M. Ng. Poerbatjaraka, "Tentang Edjaan Bahasa Indonesia," Bahasa dan Budaja, tahun 2, no. I
(October 1953): 19, n. 3.

140 Prof. Mr. Dr. Hazairin, Pergolakan Penjesuaian 'Adat kepada Hukum Islam (Jakarta: Bulan Bintang,
1952), 3. The apology from the publisher reads: "Harap di ma'afkan karena kata2 Arab-nja tidak dapat
ditjetak semestinja" or "We hope to be forgiven because the Arabic words could not be printed as they
should have been." This is especially surprising in that it comes from the Bulan Bintang (Crescent Star)
press, the publishing house most closely aligned with Masjumi. Note also the several hallmarks of jawi
influence in the Romanized apology (the apostrophe in ma 'af, the reduplication of kata by adding a number
Ghazali Hasan, "Sanggupkah Kongres Bahasa Indonesia?" Tangkas, October 27, 1954, reprinted in
Kongres Bahasa Indonesia di Medan ([Jakarta]: Kementerian Penerangan, Bagian Dokumentasi, 1954), 30.

imported a batch of mis-printed Qur'ans. The Ministry of Religious Affairs and the

Nahdlatul Ulama immediately issued circulars and letters from February through April

1955, alerting the public to the problem, forbidding the resale and spread of the

misprinted Qur'ans, and apologizing for the error.142

In some ways, this inability to print Arabic-script for the Qur'an or any other

document fit with the nativist fervor surging through some sectors of the populus. In a

letter to the Ministry of Religion dated December 13, 1954, a certain Kasrin Sarwijanto

of Kudus, Central Java, urged the ministry to set a policy against printing the Qur'an in

Arabic, or even in jawi, but rather in Indonesian (presumably in Latin letters) or the other

indigenous languages of the country. Two related assumptions underlying his letter stand

out as symptoms of the attitude toward Arabization versus Romanization. First, he

assumed that the Indonesian language would not be in Arabic letters, which he saw as a

foreign script. Second, he assumed Roman letters were natural representatives for the

sounds in Indonesian. His two-page letter elicits a three-page response from the Ministry,

rejecting his proposal by saying that the Qur'an is a holy book which cannot be

interpreted so easily and thus must remain in the original Arabic.143 There was, however,

an attempt to print the Qur'an in Romanized transcription (not translation) in 1954, but

142 Arsip Sulawesi Selatan, Koleksi 11Kantor Wilayah Kementerian Agama, #236. This cannot be the
first time that mis-printed Qur'ans were in circulation. In 1950 the Ministry of Religion established an
eight-man committee to review all the versions of the Qur'an circulating in Indonesia and address any
mistakes that were extent. See Surat Keputusan Kementerian Agama No. 6/A/B.13, of the Jogjakarta RI
government under the RIS federal structure, dated 31 Januari 1950; ANRI, RA6 "Sekretariat Negara," #162.

143 ANRI, RA7 Kabinet Presiden, #150.

the effort was a failure because of the insufficiency of the Latin alphabet to represent all

of the Arabic sounds of the Qur'an, which must be made perfectly.144

Signs of the disappearance of jawi as a script accepted in everyday life are

particularly conspicuous on Indonesia's money. Coins had employed jawi in the earliest

days of the Republic, again a sign that the lower classes were more likely to read the

Arabic script than Roman letters. (Lower class individuals were also more likely to

handle coins than paper money; paper money in independent Indonesia never

incorporated jawi.)145 The images below of the 50 cent coin in 1955 and 1957

demonstrate this vividly. In 1955, the obverse of the coin shows a picture of Dipanegara,

labeled with his name in Romanized letters on the left and jawi (j^ip) on the right. On

the 1957 impression, the exact same image appears, but with the jawi text removed. The

25 cent coins similarly changed; whereas the 1955 issue had "Indonesia" in jawi (^j^O

on the obverse and Romanized letters on the reverse, in 1957 these were both Romanized.

The jawi script made an unexpected return in 1958 with the rebel currency of the

Pemerintah Revolusioner Republik Indonesia (PRRI, Revolutionary Government of the

Republic of Indonesia). This rebellion, which involved several leading Islamic

politicians like Muhammad Natsir and Burhanuddin Harahap, reverted to jawi for its

144 Ghazali Hasan, "Sanggupkah Kongres Bahasa Indonesia?" Tangkas, October 27, 1954, reprinted in

Kongres Bahasa Indonesia di Medan ([Jakarta]: Kementerian Penerangan, Bagian Dokumentasi, 1954), 30.

145 This was confirmed to me by the unanimous agreement of the Lembaga Budaya Banjar (Banjar Cultural

Council, a board of elderly cultural experts) in Banjarmasin, 21 September 2010. My thanks especially to
Muhammad Suriansyah Ideham for inviting me to this meeting. Looking through Banknotes and Coins .
from Indonesia, 1945-1990 (Jakarta: Yayasan Serangan Umum 1 Maret 1949 & Perum Peruri, 1991), I also
did not find any bills with jawi incorporated into the design, although some individuals signing the bills did
still sign their names in Arabic script. See, for example, H. Ahmad Khatib, who signed the bills put out by
the Banten regional emergency government in Serang {Banknotes and Coins from Indonesia, pp. 88-89),
and Daud Beureueh, who signed the bills of North Sumatra province (pp. 128-29). Note that Netherlands
Indies banknotes had used jawi (as well as Dutch, Javanese, and Chinese) on their notes from 1879 through
1939. Banknotes and Coins from Indonesia, 226-241.

Figure 4 Coins from 1955, on the left, and 1957, on the right. Banknotes and Coins from Indonesia, 1945-1990
(Jakarta: Vayasan Serangan Umum 1 Maret 1949 & Perum Peruri, 1991), 264.

( 1 "*
* J

Figure 5 The inverse face of a PRRI 25 Rupiah bill. Note the jawi text along the bottom, reading "Dua Puluh
Lima Rupiah" (Twenty-five Rupiah) and the circular stamp on the right with the shahada. Personal photo,
made from the collection of Museum Adityawarman, Padang, Sumatera Barat. My thanks to Lisa Sri Dwiyana
for facilitating my access to this collection.

banknote design and also employed Arabic stamps to validate bills. Each bill was labeled

in jawi on the inverse face with its denomination. The obverse was entirely Romanized.

Additionally, bills were stamped with the shahada (Islamic confession of faith) to make

them valid to circulate.

By 1956, jawi was no longer taught in Indonesian public schools; it was used only

for explicitly religious purposes.146 Even in some religious contexts, teachers had

stopped teachingyam' as a system for writing Indonesian. Some Muslims later blamed

Communist influences for this trend.147

In fact, Masjumi party leaders were just as responsible for the cultural shift as

Communists were. The Western-educated political leadership of Masjumi was, on the

whole, more comfortable in the Roman alphabet than it was in Arabic script. One such

man was Abu Hanifah, a Dutch-trained medical doctor who pointed to the thoroughly

Western orientation of his milieu:

We had in Indonesia many Moslem intellectuals, quite fanatical, but they only knew how
to pray in Arabic, to read the Qur'an without understanding the Arabic verses. Their
knowledge of the Qur'an came from translations. There were very good translations of
the Qur'an in Indonesian and Malay with the correct interpretations of the verses, as
explained by the great wise men, the imams of Islam. It may sound strange but many
intellectuals had their knowledge of Mohammad and Islam from books written by
European scholars and orientalists. I myself learned much about Mohammad's life from
a book by the German, Professor Hartmann.148

146 Interview with Junaidi Murid, Marahaban, Kalimantan Selatan, September 26, 2010. Junaidi Murid was

a school teacher and then school administrators in the 1950s; he never used jawi in his instruction, but the
outside teacher for religion classes did, and the local Arab school also used it.

147Interview with H. M. Irsyad Zein, Kec. Martapura Timur, Kalimantan Selatan, September 23, 2010. His
uncles taught at the local madrasah, using Banjar as the language of instruction. Before the end of the
revolution, they would use Roman letters some but always ensure that each student was able to read and
write jawi. After the revolution jawi was no longer taught. Irsyad Zein believes this must have been due to
Communist influence, although how exactly the Communists applied leverage against his uncles is unclear.

148 Abu Hanifah, Tales of a Revolution (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1972), 232.

Abu Hanifah had been the Minister of Education and Culture in the 1950 Republik

Indonesia Sarikat (Republic of the United States of Indonesia) government, but he gained

a reputation for being too European-friendly (in his words: "I wanted to thrust upon the

Indonesians a too Western-looking education programme"), so his tenure in the position

was never renewed.149 Similar to him, Sjafruddin Prawiranegara began studying Arabic

only after he was accepted into the Masjumi, but he had years of training in Dutch

schools. Sjafruddin felt so at home in Dutch that he cut a fine figure at the Dutch

students club in Jakarta.150

The impact of the disappearance of jawi on the religious community was tangible.

Muslims who were literate only in this script became illiterate in the modern state. This

was most likely true for a large number of lower-class Indonesians, as suggested by

Mohammad Roem's childhood friend, but also for a significant number of leaders.151

Many Islamic leaders who were competent in both jawi and Romanized script appeared

to prefer jawi for their personal usage. The famous Muslim author and polemicist Hamka

was fluent in both systems, but continued to use jawi for his private use and for

correspondence with close friends as late as the 1970s.152 Others were entirely unfamiliar

with the Latin alphabet, and so had to learn it afresh. Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul

149 Abu Hanifah, 337. This despite Abu Hanifah's move as minister to forbid all use of Dutch as the

language of instruction at the University of Indonesia, bringing him into sharp conflict with the remaining
Dutch professors there; Umar Junus, Sedjarah Perkembangan kearah Bahasa Indonesia dan Bahasa
Indonesia (Malang: Lembaga Penerbitan IKIP Malang, 1965), 22.

150 Oral history with Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1979 #6, tape 3;

oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1980 #1, tape 1.

Cf. Muhammad Iqbal, "Menyulut Api di Padang Ilalang: Pidato Politik Soekarno di Amuntai 27 January
1953," Skripsi SI, Universitas Negeri- Yogyakarta, 2009: 23, which says the lower classes of South
Kalimantan, while illiterate in the Latin alphabet, were often literate in Arabic script.

152Rusydi Hamka, Pribadi dan MartabatBuya Hamka (Jakarta: Pustaka Panjimas, 1981), 207, 210. My
thanks to Annette Damayanti Lienau for this reference.

Madjid, the founder of Nahdatul Wathan, felt much more comfortable writing in jawi and

conducted all his personal business in that script.153 Still, Abdul Madjid took the time to

become familiar with Romanized Indonesian so he could participate in forums where it

was used, such as the Constitutional Assembly to which he was elected in 1955. Still

others had to rely on students to write Romanized Indonesian for them. This was the case

for Sayyid Idrus al-Jufri, founder of the Alkhairaat organization in Central Sulawesi, who

could read and write only in Arabic script and so used students as his scribes for

Romanized Indonesian.154 Perhaps the most bitter choice was to continue to use other

scripts with which they were familiar, and thus be rendered legally illiterate and excluded

from mainstream and governmental discussion and debate.

One man rendered legally illiterate by the abandonment of jawi was Gurutta Haji

Ahmad Bone, a well-respected traditionalist leader in the Islamic community of South

Sulawesi. During the Dutch colonial period, Ahmad Bone had founded the traditionalist

league Rabithatul Ulama in 1938 (it was later folded into the national traditionalist group

Nahdatul Ulama), making him arguably the foremost organizer in the traditionalist

community on Sulawesi at the time.155 However, although Ahmad Bone was a venerated

religious scholar and could read and write Arabic, bazaar Malay (in jawi), and Buginese

(in the local Indie lontara script), he could not write in Roman letters. For this reason,

153 This is apparent from the appendices to Masnun, in which collected letters and writings of Abdul Madjid

are all reprinted in facsimile, and all are in jawi. It was also intimated to me by his son-in-law, Abdul
Hayyi Nu'man (interviewed in Mataram, Nusa Tenggara Barat, July 23, 2010) that Abdul Madjid was at
home only in jawi.

154 Interview with H.S. Saggaf Aljufrie, the current head of the Alkhairaat organization and grandson of

Sayyid Idrus, Palu, Sulawesi Tengah, October 11, 2010. This was confirmed in an interview with K.H.
Abdul Salam Thahir, a former student of Sayyid Idrus, who had accompanied his teacher on some
proselytizing trips. Interviewed in Palu, Sulawesi Tengah, October 11, 2010.

155 Bosra, Tuang Guru, Anrong Guru dan Daeng Guru, 164-65.

~^ ^wX.> C-U^T j - ~

vy <>/r# ~Ay3 '**> '/* v* \u, ti . . ^<vori

*>,:^.* > - K<t ft (f 'r 'r Oy '/ VV.. V, /. ,C*. v,, ,-j j A r r, .
">v^- ' *> v.-V ?*.<*> > .->, <*'/--

Figure 6 From these first few lines of Ahmad Bone's letter, one can see his use of jawi and lontara script; the
letter is written in both of these in an attempt to compensate for not being able to write it in Romanized
Indonesian. Arsip Propinsi Sulawesi Selatan, Koleksi 11, "Kantor Wilayah Departemen Agama Propinsi
Sulawesi Selatan, Periode Tahun 1947-1990," #184.

when in 1954 he wanted to weigh in on an issue of policy at the provincial level, he wrote

a bi-lingual letter, duplicating all of his opinions in Indonesian (written in jawi) and

Buginese (written in lontara). Thus, Ahmad Bone, who had been a leading Islamic

figure during the Dutch period, had founded the South Sulawesi branch of the NU party

and held sway over thousands of traditionalist Muslims, was unable to participate fully

in the policy discussion on eliminating prostitution (the subject of the above letter)

because of his inability to write in Roman letters.

More subtly, Indonesian leaders who were accustomed to writing in jawi appeared

unintelligent or juvenile when writing in Romanized script. A case within Masjumi in

1952 demonstrates this issue clearly. In 1952, as the NU party formed and left the

Masjumi, a series of letters were exchanged between K.H. Wahab Hasbullah of NU and

the Masjumi leadership, particularly Mohammad Natsir. Deliar Noer, when evaluating

these letters and their meaning in the exit of NU, notes that "It appears that this letter was

written by Kyai Wahab himself. This is seen in the style of language and spelling of the

letter."156 Because K. Wahab used jawi almost exclusively for his own use, one can be

reasonably certain that the tell-tale signs seen by Noer are markers of jawi usage. Taking

the one sentence provided by Noer, one can examine these trends.

Noer quotes K. Wahab as saying in Indonesian, "saja minta ma-af beribu-ribu ma-

af, saja akan coba2 berdjuwang untuk mencapae tuntutan tersebut tiada dengan melalui
1 ^7
Masjumi lagi," meaning, "I apologize a thousand times, I will try to struggle to reach

these aforementioned points without doing it through Masjumi anymore." The sentence

156 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 83, n. 76.

157 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 83.

contains four key variations from standard Indonesian: "ma-af' (usually maaf), "coba2"

(usually coba-coba), "berdjuwang" (usually berdjuang), and "mencapae" (usually

mencapai). The first has been given a marker in the middle to symbolize a glottal stop,

showing a sensitivity to Arabic sounds that are not meaningful in Western languages and

therefore fell out of style for representation in Indonesian (see below). The second

employs a numerical marker for repetition, which originated from jawi, although it has

later become common in casual writing.158 The third uses a spelling that appears to be a

more natural transcription of the jawi spelling for this word ( j*- ji), in which the Arabic

letter wa (j) can be interpreted to function either as a long vowel "u" sound or as a

consonant "w" sound flanked by short vowels. Finally, the word mencapae reflects a

similar unfamiliarity with standard vowels for the transcribing of jawi vowel

combinations. Although consonants were consistent, vowels in Arabic script were left

basically to the pronunciation of the user, and in this case K. Wahab used a vowel

transcription that better reflected the Javanese accent on this word.

All of these linguistic choices are understandable when recognizing their jawi

roots. However, to someone without knowledge of jawi, K. Wahab looks like an

unintelligent man who cannot remember proper spellings. This is how modern

Indonesians may have viewed his texts.

Just as it limited their participation in policy discussions, this bias in favor of

Romanized writing also would have disqualified ulama from governmental leadership

positions (such as regent) and many bureaucratic positions. It is likely that this

contributed to the return of bureaucratic and aristocratic regents after the revolution

My thanks to James T. Collins for this insight; personal communication with James T. Collins, April 4,

ended. During the revolution, Islamic scholars were voted into leadership positions in

many regions. In the 1948 election law, indirect electors were chosen for every 250

people, with the requirement that the electors be literate. This literacy could be in the

Latin, Arabic or a local alphabet.159 This trend was reversed in the 1950s when these

positions became appointed; the government usually favoring long-standing bureaucrats

whose tenure reached back to the Dutch period, meaning they were all well-versed in

Romanized Indonesian.160

Another implication of jawV s gradual death was a widened gap between

Indonesian and the Arabic language, leading also to greater barriers for Indonesians to

study Arabic or import Arabic subjects. Had jawi become the dominant script for

Indonesian, one can assume that Arabic thought would have continued to exercise a great

influence on the Indonesian public sphere; as it was, Indonesia became irrevocably

aligned in modern philosophy with the Latin-script Western powers. Hamka wrote in

1952, "the more time passes the more the new Indonesian drifts away from the soul of

Islam."161 Thus, the struggle for an Islamic state became crippled as jawi died out,

because the ideas of an Islamic state were less palatable when not presented in jawi to an

audience familiar with similar currents in modern Arab thought. As Michael Francis

Laffan has noted, "The ultimate failure of the Kaum Muda to achieve an Islamic state in

Indonesia was prefigured by their choice of script."162

Stephen Titus Hosmer, "The 1955 Indonesian General Elections in Java," PhD Dissertation, Yale
University, 1961, p. 10.

160 Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia, 567.

161 Hamka, "Pengaruh Huruf atas Bahasa dan Bangsa," Hikmah 107 (16 February, 1952): 18. My thanks to

Annette Damayanti Lienau for this reference.

162 Laffan, 237.

Vocabulary Selection and the Confinement of Arabic

To fuel Indonesian's expanded use, especially after its selection as the vehicle of

national struggle in 1928, the language itself had to expand to accommodate more uses

and more contexts. This expansion involved two major trends: nationalization and


The first trend sought to find indigenously acceptable ways to express certain

concepts, and was primarily concerned with finding alternatives to Dutch words that were

frequently used for certain concepts. This process had begun in Islamic groups even

under the Dutch. The Musjawaratutthalibin organization on Kalimantan rewrote their

organizational constitution in the late 1930s to include a switch from Dutch cognates to
1 ft\
Indonesian words (including many Arabic-derived). This process quickened after

independence. In West Sumatra, for example, Perti replaced the Dutch cognate kongres

for large organizational and party meetings with an Arabic root word, muktamar. The

word kongres "smelled colonial" whereas muktamar was "more Islamic and fitting with

the environment of independence."164 This continued even into the 1950s, when

members of parliament would try to amend bills that sounded too Dutch.165

At the same time, the 1920s and 1930s had seen a move in reformist Islamic

circles towards the use of the vernacular in Friday sermons, making Arabic more alien to

those Muslims who did not study it in the context of an Islamic school.166 Similarly,

certain Arabic cognates used within the Islamic community lost their position to

163 Maksum, 38.

164 Koto, 46 n. 50.

165 Hosmer, 31, notes that this happened for the election bill in late 1952.

166 Federspiel, Islam and Ideology, 58.

Austronesian- or Sanskrit-root words. While early twentieth century Islamic Malay-

language journals like Al-Imam (based in Singapore) preferred the Arabic term watan

over the Sanskrit bangsa for nation,] 6 7 the standardization of the Indonesian language in

the 1950s forever settled the issue in favor of the Sanskrit cognate.168

Beyond merely replacing Dutch words in common usage in Indonesia, however, it

was necessary to coin new words for concepts where Dutch words had not yet been

adopted into common usage. This was the push of modernization.

The process began institutionally under the Japanese. When the Japanese

outlawed the Dutch language, Indonesian had to fill the gap.169 The Japanese established

the Indonesian Language Commission on October 20, 1942, shortly after their arrival,

bringing together more than a dozen leading political figures, journalists, and literati to

address the language's grammar, new words emerging from society, and technical

terminology. Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana, a leading Minangkabau journalist, became the

head of the Language Office, the center of day-to-day activities for the commission.170

167 Laffan, 157.

168In this particular case, it is likely that the earlier use of bangsa in such prominent spots as the national
anthem (wherein one sings "Hiduplah bangsaku!" or "Long live my nation!") also went a long way in
setting the issue. See also H.D. Mangemba, "Djalan Memperkaja Kata2 Indonesia," Bahasa dan Budaja
tahun I no. 4 (April 1953): 16, where he uses kebangsaan as an example of an indigenous word that makes
an imported word (in this case, he says nasional) unnecessary.

169In the oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SL1 1980 #1, tape 1,
Harahap gives an account of how he and other colleagues from the Cikini student house, who had long used
Indonesian as a language of interaction, opened up lessons for Indonesian students who could not yet speak
the Indonesian language because they had been schooled entirely in Dutch.

Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana, "Pendahoeloean," in Kamoes Istilah, vol. I, Asing-Indonesia (Jakarta:
Poestaka Rakjat, 1945), 4.

His efforts concluded with a two-volume dictionary published during the revolution,171

but still the Indonesian language needed to add significantly more words.

To this end, the Ministry of Education and Culture of independent Indonesia

established a Working Committee on the Indonesian Language in June 1947. Once again,

Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana served as the head.172 In 1952, the Minister ordered that this

effort come under the purview of a new center at Jakarta's University of Indonesia, the

Culture and Language Institute (Lembaga Bahasa dan Budaja)}11' Headed by the

Javanese Dr. Prijana, in the first two years of its existence this institute composed almost

60,000 new words for the Indonesian language in a process that one observer called

"something out of Gilbert and Sullivan."174 The Institute distributed sheets of the new

words to newspapers, schools and government offices, where they were then copied, re-

copied, and passed around until the words came into popular usage. It also published the

new words every two months as an addendum to the institute's journal, Bahasa dan

Budaja (Language and Culture).

New words and technical terminology, according to the Language Institute,

should come from a list of source languages, ranked by priority:

1. Bahasa Indonesia
2. Well-known terms from regional languages (i.e., Javanese)
3. Arabic
4. Sanskrit

171 Volume I, organized by foreign terms, appeared in October 1945, but Volume II was not published until
July 1947 because of difficulties with printing. See Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana, "Pendahuluan," in Kamoes
Istilah, vol II, Indonesia-Asing (Jakarta: Poestaka Rakjat, 1947), 1.

Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana, "Pendahuluan," in Kamoes Istilah, vol II, Indonesia-Asing (Jakarta: Poestaka
Rakjat, 1947), 1.

173 Prijana, "Kata Pengantar," Bahasa dan Budaja tahun I no. 1 (October 1952): 3. The official order was

Ministerial Instruction no. 27440/Kab., dated August 11, 1952.

174 Boyd
R. Compton, "Indonesia's National Language," letter from the archives of the Institute on Current
World Affairs, dated October 18, 1952; available at http://icwa.org/articles/BRC-3.pdf. p. 3.

5. Widely used international terms (often Latin)
6. Other languages (usually Dutch or English)175

In practice, though, it seems that the committee reviewing new words actively preferred

Javanese, Sanskrit, and Dutch more than official policy dictated. Sutan Takdir

Alisjahbana, who under the Japanese had led the commission to standardize the language

(mostly grammar, not vocabulary), complained about the attempt to monopolize

vocabulary expansion in one office, when traditionally any Indonesian who had need of a

new word could create whatever neologism she thought useful.176 Alisjahbana also

bemoaned the high number of Javanese words selected by the commission.177

The propensity to select Javanese words, and the Dutch-educated Javanese head

of the Language Institute, meant that Arabic lost its place as a key source of inspiration

for new Indonesian vocabulary. Even as early as 1938, Hamka had noted the variations

in existing Indonesian vocabulary between Sumatra, which was heavily Arabic-

influenced; Java, which was more Sanskrit-influenced; and the intellectual community,

which was more European-influenced.178 In the 1950s, with a Javanese intellectual

leading the charge to modernize Indonesian, inspiration from Arabic was minimal.

Taking its place was not only Javanese but also Sanskrit, which became the source

language when future administrations sought to coin powerful monikers for new ideas.179

175 Compton, "Indonesia's National Language," 3.

176 Abu Hanifah confirms the practice of inventing whatever words an author needed in the case of an

introduction to philosophy that he wrote; Abu Hanifah, 69.

177 Compton, "Indonesia's National Language."

178Hamka, "Tjatetan Editorial: Menjamboet Kongres Bahasa Indonesia," Pedoman Masjarakat, no. 25 (22
June, 1938): 481. My thanks to Annette Damayanti Lienau for this reference.

179While Sukarno had a few famous Sanskrit-based neologisms (most notably pancasila), his linguistic
interests were catholic, also looking to English (manifes politik), and even Italian (the famous tahun vivere
periculoso). Suharto was more exclusive in employing Sanskrit (or Sanskritized Old Javanese) roots; see

Besides the influence from these two Asian languages, in 1952 Hamka also bemoaned the

new Indonesian language as "developed from Dutch and filled with Dutch."180 The

preference for Western loan-words in Indonesia (more than in Malaysia, where Arabic

cognates were more popular) can be seen in the adoption of the terms diproklamasikan

(to be proclaimed), ekonomi (economy) and kritik (critic), as opposed to the Arabic words

used in Malaysia: diishtiharkan, iktisad, and intikad, respectively.181

Prijana openly looked to Dutch influences for organization of the Indonesian

language. One of the articles he cites as a key source of thinking is an article by the

Dutch Orientalist language expert, Dr. C.C. Berg.182 Other authors in the official journal

Bahasa dan Budaja suggested systematic adjustments for Dutch words to make them

appropriately Indonesian (e.g., the suffix -et from the Dutch -eit, and -in from -ien),183 but

made no commentary on how to adjust Arabic words to make them appropriate for the

new national language, showing that the authors anticipated no systematic appropriation

from Arabic.

Benedict R. O'G. Anderson, "The Languages of Indonesian Politics," in Benedict R.O'G. Anderson,
Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia (Jakarta: Equinox, 2009 [1990]), 145-146.

Hamka, "Pengaruh Huruf atas Bahasa dan Bangsa," Hikmah 107 (16 February, 1952): 18. My thanks to
Annette Damayanti Lienau for this reference.

181 Lars Vikfitr, "Language Policy and Language Planning in Indonesia and Malaysia," in Thommy
Svensson and Per S0rensen, eds., Indonesia and Malaysia: Scandinavian Studies in Contemporary Society,
Studies on Asian Topics no. 5 (London: Curzon, 1983), 65. Viker also notes that the Western cognates are
not unknown in Malaysia, but that the Arabic cognates are not accepted in Indonesia. Vik0r misses the
alternative to diproklamasikan that was used for a time in Indonesia: dimaklumkan.

182 Prijana,
"Beberapa Tjatatan Berhubung dengan Edjaan Bahasa Indonesia," Bahasa dan Budaja, tahun II
no. 1 (October 1953): 54, n. 2 and 55fF.

183 Anas Ma'ruf, "Sekadar Pandangan Sekitar Persoalan Edjaan Bahasa Indonesia," Bahasa dan Budaja

tahun II no. 1 (October 1953): 16; Purnomo Abd. C., "Masalah Edjaan Bahasa Indonesia," Bahasa dan
Budaja tahun II no. 5 (June 1954): 41. A similar argument for adoption from Dutch (although without
specific suggestions as to systematic changes) is made in H.D. Mangemba, "Djalan Memperkaja Kata2
Indonesia," Bahasa dan Budaja, tahun I no. 4 (April 1953): 16.

By the late 1950s, language scholars were going so far as to ridicule and disdain

the adoption of Arabic words into Indonesian. Umar Junus, a lecturer at the teacher

training college in Malang, wrote that the adoption of Arabic (and Dutch) words into the

Malay language during the colonial period demonstrated how that language had

functioned as a tool of foreign oppression.184 That made it unthinkable for Indonesian

(which Junus identifies as an independent-minded language of the national revolution and

1 8^
liberation) to rely on the importation of foreign, Arabic terms. The popular language

critic Armijn Pane made similar critiques about the use of imported words, lumping

together Dutch and Arabic as foreign influences. Although Dutch is singled out for

special condemnation because it has such a pervasive influence, Pane also admits that

Dutch retained its place as a language of prestigewhich probably saved it from

elimination as a source of new vocabulary. Arabic was not so well protected, and fell

victim to linguistic nativism, which Pane also joined in, saying "Thinking in a way that

requires foreign languages will not lead us to think in a lively way, and will not lead us to

think in a way that creates."186 Thus, the importation of Arabic words, or the creation of

Indonesian words from Arabic roots, practically stopped after Indonesian independence.

Although the Language Institute in Jakarta and the Western-educated intellectual

elite eschewed the adoption of Arabic words, grassroots forces early after independence

184 Umar Junus, Sedjarah dan Perkembangan Kearah Bahasa Indonesia dan Bahasa Indonesia (Malang:

Lembaga Penerbitan IKIP Malang, 1965), 6. This publication is based on lectures Junus gave starting in

185 Junus singles out Arabic as a point of ridicule, not just Dutch. His conflation of Arabic and Dutch as

foreign influences is not well-explained in this book. All the same, this attitude can be taken as
characteristic of ultra-nationalist politics of the late 1950s.

186 Armijn Pane, "Hubungan Bahasa dan Berpikir," [The Relationship between Language and Thinking] in
his collection of short essays, Perkembangan Bahasa Indonesia: Beberapa Tjatatan (Jakarta: Lukisan
Suasana, 1953), 31. The condemnation of foreign words runs throughout the whole volume.

still looked to Arabic. Words were not always standardized immediately, especially

major imports and Dutch cognates with a natural Arabic alternative. Take, for example,

the word used for Indonesia's proclamation of independence on August 17, 1945. This

has now been canonized in popular imagination as the "Proklamasi," a Dutch-derived

neologism that is reserved almost exclusively for that one historical decree. And yet,

during the revolution not all Indonesians knew the event by the term "Proklamasi"; in

1946 an Islamic publication in Medan was still calling it "Perm'aloeman," an Arabic-

derived word still common today in Indonesian (especially in Islamic circles), although

superseded for referring to this one historical event.187 Even when using the word

"Proklamasi," for the first decade or so of independence this term often had to be

explained in context with another wordusually an Arabic cognatethus leading

Mohammad Yamin, Minister of Education and Culture at the time of the Indonesian

Language Congress in Medan in 1954, to the peculiar turn of phrase proklamasi jang

dimaklumkan Soekarno-Hatta ("the proclamation [Dutch cognate] that was proclaimed

[Arabic cognate] by Soekarno-Hatta").188 This use of the word maklum to explain the

new proklamasi shows the strength of Arabic cognates in many sectors of society, and

furthermore demonstrates how the official preference for European borrowings was a

result of the contingencies of history (a Dutch-trained Javanese man running the

Language Institute, among other things).

The loss of Arabic cognates became more relevant when a second type of

nationalization took place after independence: pushing to make Indonesian not only a

187 M. Arsjad Th. Lubis, Toentoenan Perang Sabil ([Medan]: Aboe Hanifah dan Ibnoe Moehammad, 1946),

188Kongres Bahasa Indonesia di Medan ([Jakarta]: Kementerian Penerangan, Bagian Dokumentasi, 1954),

f Purm aletman KcmsrjcUan |

f (nlos!a kesef c*.reli "Dcsnia #


..SINGKATPfJA, ... /> I
k j; [ r 'J :.** : - ./ ;{'1 ;
li - > *,! Djakarta*, Jyari 17 Boelaw f
t - . ^ VHI tahoen 1945, J
% tus nama Bangsa ' htdenesia

Figure 7 From M. Arsjad Th. Lubis, Toentoenan Perang Sabil ([Medan]: Aboe Hanifah dan Ibnoe Moehammad,
1946), 4, showing the use of the word "Perm'aloeman" instead of "Proklamasi."

modern political and scientific language but also the language of daily use throughout the

country. The press pushed Indonesian vigorously, but the true socialization of the new

national language came in public schools, making the youth the pioneers of Indonesian as

a lived national language. An English archeologist visiting Javanese villages found that

when he needed to speak to local leaders, "the headmen would call as interpreter one of

the school-children since they were the only ones who knew any Indonesian! We were

watching the birth-pangs not only of a nation but of a language too."189

In an odd twist of fate, traditional religious boarding schools (Javanese pesantren

and their analogies in the outer islands) probably did not take part in this experience to

the same degree. Being private, they did not bear the same obligation as the schools

under the Ministry of Education to adopt government curriculum and the government's

language. Furthermore, much of the instruction in religious schools took place not even

in local dialects but in Arabic. Thus, students in Islamic schools became less connected

to Indonesian than their secular peers (a stark reversal of the historical trend), and so

presumably had less influence as the language continued its officially-sponsored


Ironically, Indonesian moved away from adopting Arabic cognates just one

generation after a change in Islamic education had created a generation of Indonesians

who were qualified to help in the selection of such words. While in the nineteenth

century instruction in Arabic had been mostly rote without any understanding of Arabic

grammar or ability to produce Arabic independently, Islamic educational reformers in the

early twentieth century had changed this. "Hasjim Asj'ari, later the leader of the

189 Harold Forster, Flowering Lotus: A View of Java in the 1950s (Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks, 1990), 13.

Nahdlatul Ulama, studying in Makka [Mecca] near the turn of the century, regarded

language reform as essential, whereby the meaning of Arabic was to be as important as

learning its forms for reading and recitation."190 Similarly, Zainuddin Labai in West

Sumatra launched a trend of studying Arabic grammar and basic vocabulary before

starting his students at the Dinniyyah School on recitation of the Qur'an, a reversal of

mainstream practice in traditional Islamic schools. This also reflected Zainuddin's own

background. Interestingly for a Muslim scholar, he had learned his Arabic not only from

the Qur'an but also from the Egyptian secular press, which shows the penetration of

Arabic-language culture among Sumatrans.191

Even as more people were able to understand the Arabic that permeated Islamic

activities in society, the its linguistic influence was on the wane. At the turn of the 20th
1 Q?
century, most Friday sermons were delivered in Arabic, not the local vernacular. By

1970, only around 20% were still in Arabic, with the majority in Indonesian or local

languages.193 In 1940, Hamka editorialized that fulfilling certain religious obligations

(such as testimonythe act of conversion) in local languages or in Indonesian was

permissibleas a temporary measurefor new converts or those whose faith was

190 Federspiel, Islam and Ideology, 25, quoting Khuluq, "Hasjim Asy'ari" (McGill Thesis), 28-29.

191 Steenbrink, Pesantren, Madrasah, Sekolah, 44.

192 Steenbrink, Pesantren, Madrasah, Sekolah, 54.

193Steenbrink, Pesantren, Madrasah, Sekolah, 188, reports a 1970 study that of the 27,000 mosques with
Friday congregational prayers in West Java, roughly 6,000 of them gave the sermon in Arabic. Notably,
often an Arabic sermon was given quickly before a longer sermon in Indonesian or a local language,
meaning that knowledge of Arabic was not expected of congregants.

weak.194 This epitomized a mentality in which Arabic was becoming sidelined in

Indonesian Muslim usage.

Islamic political leaders were largely to blame for this. Many of them, including

Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, Mohamad Roem, and Abu Hanifah, felt much more

comfortable in Dutch than they did in Arabic.195 These leaders engaged in a style of

debate filled with legal language drawn from Dutch and contemporary global

watchwords drawn from English, and thus they communicated very smoothly with their

political colleagues from secular parties. They did not, however, pull much of their

rhetoric from Arabic or from theological concepts.196

Theological leaders, on the other hand, including those in NU and Perti, still saw

Arabic as an important language not only for religious devotion but also for state

purposes in a future Indonesian Islamic state. These leaders found Arabic-derived words,

and even directly-imported Arabic words, unavoidable in pursuing their Islamic political

goals. The Perti Congress in Jakarta in August, 1955, issued its draft constitution for an

Islamic State of Indonesia, which they gave an Arabic (not Indonesian) name: al-Daulah

al-Jumhuriyah al-Islamiyah al-Indonesia,197 Furthermore, Perti had several Islamic

concepts (such as nushuh au mabadi' al-'ammah, ahl al-hilli w al-'iqdi) that it felt

194 Hamka, "Soal2 Islam: Sembahjang dalam Bahasa Sendiri," Pedoman Masjarakat, no. 33 (August 14,
1940): 643. My thanks to Annette Damayanti Lienau for providing this reference. As Lienau has noted,
this decision came out of Hamka's preoccupation with religious competition at the time; allowing potential
converts to perform their prayers in Batak or Torajanese might win them over from their animism to Islam
and prevent them from converting to Christianity.

195 Oral history with Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRISL1 1979 #6, tape 3;

Abu Hanifah, 232.

196 The Masjumi party program provides many examples of Dutch cognates that sound distinctly foreign in

Indonesian; clearly its authors were reading and theorizing politics in Dutch and then translating these ideas
into Indonesian. By contrast, it does not include very many fresh cognates from Arabic. See Pedoman
Perjuangan Masjumi, 2nd edition (Jakarta: Pimpinan Partai Masjumi Bagian Keuangan, 1955).

197 Koto, 196.

uncomfortable including in its constitution just in Indonesian, so they are incorporated in

Arabic as parenthetical explanations.

Spelling Changes

Just as much as the addition of new words to the Indonesian language

demonstrated how language bureaucrats wanted the Indonesian language to develop

(projecting the future), the regulation of spelling and punctuation demonstrated the way

in which they wanted to deal with Indonesian's linguistic heritage (managing the past).

Which linguistic markers to preserve became a hotly-debated topic in the late 1940s and

1950s. Several small yet systematic spelling changes took place that demonstrated the

adoption of Western sensibilities over Arabic ones.

In early 1953, the Institute for Language and Culture, the same body tasked with

creating new vocabulary for modern Indonesian, sent out letters to luminaries in the areas

of language and literature to ask for their opinions on spelling in the national language.

The Minister of Education and Culture in 1947 had already issued a directive with a few

quick guidelines to modernize spelling,198 but by 1953 the environment was ripe to

consider further revisions. Even in 1954, leading up to the Indonesian Language

Congress in Medan, the newspaper Waspada complained in an editorial that "all kinds of

newspapers, magazines (and even government decrees) do not follow the spelling that

198 The minister at that time was Soewandi, so that system of spelling was called "edjaan Soewandi"

(Soewandi's spelling) and was only a slight adaptation of the Dutch formula for spelling Romanized
Indonesian proposed by Ophuysen. The major changes were to replace the Dutch-style vowel "oe" with "u"
and to do away with all diacritic markings on the letter "e" (previously "e" and "e" were used to
differentiate accented and schwa vowels, respectively). The directive was No. 264/Bhg. A dated March 19,
1947. See "Kata Pengantar," Bahasa dan Budaja tahun II no. 1 (October 1953): 3, and the directive
reprinted on pages 5-7.

was made official," meaning the 1947 regulations.199 After soliciting feedback from

experts across the archipelago, the institute reprinted their experts' replies in the October

1953 edition of their journal Bahasa dan Budaya, and the consensus that emerged shows

a distinctly European sensibility about language.

Among the several points at issue in the spelling of modern Indonesian, many

concerned how to adopt Arabic-derivatives into the Indonesian language.200 In some

cases, Arabic cognates had already morphed to make themselves sufficiently easy for

Indonesians to pronounce (e.g., the Indonesian word waktu, time, from the Arabic waqt

had added a final vowel so Indonesians could vocalize the "t"). These

Indonesianized words needed no further adaption. However, four Arabic letters posed

particular troubles for Indonesian: the glottal stop hamza (<), the voiced pharyngeal

fricative 'ain (^), the voiceless sibilant sheen (<_), and the voiceless velar fricative kha


The glottal stop is a sound also native to Southeast Asia, and found in several

common Malay words of Austronesian origin, such as tidak (no) and bapak (father). In

Malay words from Austronesian, however, the hamza sound always appears at the end of

199 "pgj-iukah 'Kongres Bahasa Indonesia' pada Waktu Ini?" from Waspada, Medan, July 30, 1954,
reprinted in Kongres Bahasa Indonesia di Medan ([Jakarta]: Kementerian Penerangan, Bagian
Dokumentasi, 1954), 20.

200 Other hotly debated issues included the marking of unaccented "e" to differentiate it from accented "e,"

and the issue of vowel harmony.

201These are not the only Arabic letters without a Romanized equivalent (or, more accurately, without a
Romanized Indonesian equivalent, since sheen is equivalent to "sh" in English). Others include <_p -k
<-> C j However, these four letters posed the greatest challenge because they could not be easily re
assigned to another letter. This suggests that these four letters had been vocalized by Indonesians,
especially those used to reading these letters in jawi writing, thus making it harder to push them out of
popular usage. Notably, jawi also added a few letters to the common Arabic script to transcribe common
sounds in Indonesian languages, such as l- for p, t for ng, a for nj, g for c ("ch" in English) and ^ for g.

a word, whereas in Arabic it can appear in other positions.202 In Romanized

transcriptions, this sound was commonly signified by an apostrophe (thus, tida', bapa')

through the 1940s, but the trend in the early 1950s was to signify this sound instead with

the letter "k." This was a common convention in the region at the time; for example,

the Romanization of the Khmer alphabet adopted it in spelling the name of the

Cambodian prince, Sihanouk. This solution avoided the use of apostrophes in the regular

spelling of words, something that did not appear in Dutch or English, save for

contractions, and thus was undesirable to the Dutch-minded literati of independent

Indonesia. Even the Ministry of Education and Culture weighed in against the use of

apostrophes in words, and supported the implementation of "k" as a replacement.204

However, this created ambiguity, as well, something that language scholars at the time

claimed they wanted to avoid.205 In certain Indonesian words, a final "k" is, in fact,

pronounced as "k" and not a glottal stop, as in masak (to cook), or at the end of syllables

202 There are instances, however, where a root word ending in a glottal stop is compounded with suffixes,

thus placing the glottal stop before the final sound. One example of this is the famous Islamic site in West
Sumatra at Ulakan; the name of this town is pronounced with a glottal stop instead of a "k."

203 In jawi, the transcription was also various. These words could be written with a final hamza (common

especially if the word was an Arabic cognate originally employing a hamza, but also as with or bapa'
for father), with a final "q" to symbolize the glottal stop (thus, c3&j or bapaq for father) or without any final
letter after the vowel (thus, or bapa for father). All three appear in H.C. Klinkert, Nieuw Maleisch-
Nederlandsch Woordenboek met Arabisch Karakter (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1902), 111. When an Arabic
cognate included a glottal stop, only the spelling with was common. The Romanized spelling with "k" at
the end was not new in the 1950s, but only then did it become the only acceptable alternative.

204This change is promoted by several authors in Bahasa dan Budaja, tahun II no. 1 (October 1953),
including A.W.J. Tupanno, "Surat dari A.W.J. Tupanno," 11-12; Slamet, "Edjaan Bahasa Indonesia," 39;
and the office of the Ministry of Education and Culture dealing with language, "Pendapat tentang 'Edjaan
Bahasa Indonesia,' " 33. Notably, some words with a hamza in the middle (as opposed to the end, the
natural place for glottal stops in Austronesian words) instead lost the apostrophe for hamza in modern
Indonesian without any replacement, such as soal (issue, from <J>).

205Lars S. Vikor, Perfecting Spelling: Spelling discussions and reforms in Indonesia and Malaysia, 1900-
1972 (Providence: Foris Publications, 1988), 66, notes that "In the fifties, the 'one-letter-one-sound'
principle was a dominant theme in the discussions and in the subsequent proposals made by both official
bodies and private persons." This principle was obviously abandoned in this case, consciously or

such as in saksi (witness) and bukti (evidence). Thus, by using a final "k" to symbolize

hamza, the new Indonesian spelling fell short of the "one letter one sound" ideal and lost

some clarity in the attempt to eliminate Arabic influence and become more European in


Even greater confusion arose with attempts to replace the letter 'ain. Several

common Indonesian words derived from Arabic include this letter, such as rakjat

(people/ masses, from Vj), Djumat (Friday, from *"?), sjair (poetry, from taat

(obedient, from ^^), and adil (just / fair, from <J-^). Here again, the 'ain had commonly

been symbolized in Dutch-era Romanization by an apostrophe (thus ra 'ajat or ra 'jat,

Djum 'at or Djuma 'at, sja 'ir, ta 'at, and 'adil). Because the apostrophe could be

interpreted as either hamza or 'ain by those who did not know the word, confusion was

also possible here. Thus, it seems that the expanded Arabic script used for jawi was

superior to Romanization as the most precise system of writing to record Indonesian

9ft f\
consonants. Unlike in the case of hamza, however, the linguistic experts consulted by

the Institute for Language and Culture could not come to a consensus as to how to

transcribe 'ain in a new Romanized system of spelling. Some, including R. Satjadibrata,

felt that 'ain could not be eliminated, and had to continue to be represented with an

apostrophe, so that the pronunciation and meaning of certain words would not be lost; he

notes the example of sjair or sja 'ir (poetry), which cannot be pronounced with an "ai"

206 Complaints were often made about jawi that it did not record vowels, in the tradition of Arabic and other

Semitic languages in which short vowels are often not indicated. As noted above, this sometimes worked
in favor of jawi as an interregional language, allowing it to encompass multiple pronunciations of the same
word, although it can also easily lead to a different kind of confusion. The difficulties arising from
unwritten vowels meant that many who were otherwise literate in jawi could not read unvocalized texts.
Interview with H. Sjarifiiddin, Banjarmasin, Kalimantan Selatan, September 21, 2010. Note that the
Qur'an is always vocalized.

diphthong as one would assume without an apostrophe.207 Others, such as ta 'at and 'adil,

saw the elimination of the apostrophe but no new letters; in the case of Djumaat there

continued to be debate on whether the word should have one "a" or two.208 By far the

most confusing were words in which the 'ain preceding a consonant or in a series of

consonants became written as a "k," such as rakjat,209 The letter "k" could also

symbolize the sound "k" or hamza, so when the 'ain used the same symbol the

Indonesian people learning the national language from its transcription understandably

could not identify it. The long-term result is that the current pronunciation of several

words originally pronounced with an 'ain is now a hard "k" sound (including not only

rakjat but also jakni, makna, maklum, and nikmat) or a glottal stop (as in dakwah and
1 ft
some regional pronunciations of maklum). The pronunciations with a hard "k"

seemingly came into existence during the 1950s, when people across the archipelago

were learning the language and its expanded vocabulary from scratch based entirely on

its written form; these pronunciations certainly were not apparent in the various spellings

recorded in the Klinkert jawi dictionary of 1902.211 This spelling reform not only

207Although an apostrophe was still commonly used in the word sja 'ir in the 1950s, after the 1972
standardization of Indonesian spelling, the apostrophe was dropped once and for all, and readers were
expected to know that the vowels did not collapse into a diphthong.

208Even in the 2004 Stevens and Smidgall-Tellings dictionary, the variants "jumaah," "jumaat," "Jumat,"
and "Jum'at" all appear; Alan M. Stevens and A. Ed. Schmidgall-Tellings, A Comprehensive Indonesian-
English Dictionary (Athens, OH: Ohio UP, 2004).

209I am grateful to James T. Collins for helping to clarify instances in which this happens and why;
personal communication with James T. Collins, April 4, 2012.

2,0 In certain dialects of Indonesian, maklum and nikmat are pronounced with glottal stops instead of hard

"k," but in no dialects is the 'ain sound retained.

211Admittedly, other types of confusion in pronunciation based on spelling were possible in Romanized
Indonesian, particularly with the two pronunciations of the letter "e." Apparently Indonesian Vice-
President Hatta mispronounced the word bebas as bebas (with a schwa in the first syllable) into the 1950s.
Vik0r, Perfecting Spelling, 31. Still, the confusion of the letter "k" well exceeded that of the letter "e"
because of the five Arabic sounds ascribed to this one Roman letter.

abandoned the "one letter one sound" ideal; it also entirely eliminated both the written

representation and later even the spoken replication of a sound previously present in

many dialects of bazaar Malay and fundamentally changed the pronunciation of many


The fate of the Arabic letter kha, traditionally transcribed "ch" in Indonesian,212

was thoroughly confused. The Ambonese high school teacher A.W.J. Tupanno noted that

the 1947 Soewandi directive did not list "ch" as one of the compound letters of

Indonesian (it listed only "dj," "tj," "nj" and "ng"), leaving the public confused as to how

to tackle this sound. People in Ambon, he reports, variously pronounce words like

chusus (especially, from with an initial "h" sound, "ch" as in "church"

(transcribed "tj" in Indonesian, following the Dutch model), or sometimes with a hard "k"

instead of the intended velar fricative. He suggests the elimination of the consonant kha

from Indonesian altogether.213 In the end, Arabic kha was sometimes represented with a

"k" (as in kabar [news, from and Kamis [Thursday, from o-^]); this led to increased

confusion with the other two phonemes from Arabic also transcribed "k." Alternatively,

kha was sometimes kept as "kh" but pronounced usually as an "h" (as in khas [unique,

from akhir [final, from j*^t] and khayalak [the public, <5^-]). Leading up to the

1954 Indonesian Language Congress in Medan, some editorials came out calling for "kh"

to be simplified down to "k" or "h," with the rationale that "foreign letters or words that

are used in the Indonesian language, their spelling should be brought into line with the

212In some Dutch-era transliterations, "ch" could also be used to transcribe the letters c and in Arabic,
both making an "h" sound; thus chewan (animal, from u1^) and achli (expert, from Jl) are both extant
spellings mentioned by contributors to Bahasa dan Budaja. However, "ch" was most commonly used to
transcribe kha.

213 Tupanno, 12.

official spelling of the Indonesian language."214 In certain areas, like Sumatra, where

Arabic influence was greater, the pronunciation kha remained, thus forcing the new

writing system to include it as an additional two-letter phoneme, and yet it represented a

non-European sound that the Dutch-educated scholars felt uncomfortable accommodating.

The sibilant sheen from Arabic was generally reduced to an "s," as many

Indonesians struggle to pronounce the "sh" sound (usually transliterated "sj" in

Indonesian at the time), but this reduction was not uniform. In some words, such as

sjarikat (union, from the Arabic ^_P), the early adoption of the form serikat (sometimes

sarikat) made the "sj" rare for this word. On other words, such as masjarakat (society,

from the Arabic *jUu>), although derived from the same Arabic root, the "sj" was kept in

the standard Indonesian spelling, although not always pronounced. In other cases,

confusion arose as to when the original Arabic-script letter had in fact been sheen,

leading for example to the occasional transcription of sah (meaning correct, for the

Arabic word ^) as sjah because the original sound was a hard "s" (a-=>) not found in

Indonesian languages. This led to occasional confusion with the Persian-derived word

for king, which was also sjah. The experts who wrote into Bahasa dan Budaja uniformly

supported doing away with "sj" (except in foreign words such as place names) and using
01 S
instead "s," but even this was not uniformly adopted, as evidenced by words like

permusyawaratan (consultative, one of the words in the name of the Indonesian


214 See "Edjaan Bahasa Indonesia" in Kongres Bahasa Indonesia di Medan ([Jakarta]: Kementerian

Penerangan, Bagian Dokumentasi, 1954), 16. This anonymous author also called for "f' to become "p" in
all cases, "sj" (later "sy") to become simply "s," and "z" to uniformly become "dj" (later "j"). It is unclear
where he thought the "official" spelling of Indonesian had been set, and why the letters "kh," "f," "sj," and
"z" were not a part of it.

215 Slamet, 42.

In the few cases where Arabic sounds could not be ignored, Indonesians did try to

domesticate them into European normativity. A key example is the word "Qur'an,"

which employs both a deep qaf sound in Arabic as well as a glottal stop at the start of the

second syllable. Being a critical word for religious purposes, even the most avid

modernizer was loathe to eliminate the Arabic flavor of the word, but many still tried to

tame it into Western norms. Thus, the public intellectual Ghazali Hasan writing in the

Medan newspaper Tangkas in October 1954 spelled it "Qur-an," replacing the awkward

apostrophe (which did not appear in Dutch words) with a hyphen, which was much more

common for Dutch or English words.216

Other letters were more easily absorbed, because they were no longer pronounced

differently. The most prominent example of this was the Arabic letter daud (o^), a hard

"d" sound unique to Arabic, at first generally transcribed with "dl" in Indonesian (as in

hadlir [attend, from j*-^] and Nahdlatul Ulama [Revival of the Religious Scholars, from

<^#j]). Within a few years, as the Arabic origins of words became less important

with the decrease in jawi literacy, the "1" was dropped (rendering hadir and Nahdatul

Ulama),217 making these "d"s equal with any others in the language. Similarly, the

Arabic letter qaf (<3) was easily replaced by the Roman letter "k" (as in akal [mind, from


Some contributors openly pushed for the elimination of "foreign" (evocative of

"colonial") Arabic influences on the Indonesian language. A.W.J. Tupanno saw Arabic

216 Ghazali
Hasan, "Sanggupkah Kongres Bahasa Indonesia?" Tangkas, October 27, 1954, reprinted in
Kongres Bahasa Indonesia di Medan ([Jakarta]: Kementerian Penerangan, Bagian Dokumentasi, 1954), 30.

2,7 Both "Nahdlatul Ulama" and "Nahdatul Ulama" are seen in literature on NU even up to today.

218 Cf. Prijana, "Beberapa Tjatatan Berhubung dengan Edjaan Bahasa Indonesia," 44-45.

influences in spelling as "something we have to eradicate," using a word (berantasi)

commonly used for exterminating pests and combatting social ills.219 R. Satjadibrata was

equally dismissive: "if people want to study Arabic, they will have to learn the Arabic

alphabet,"220 implying that it was the only reason to study that script or make its sounds.

The message was clear: sounds that appear in Arabic but not in European languages have

a very limited place in the Indonesian language, which strives to be uniform and modern.

The confusing and inconsistent approach to the four Arabic phonemes analyzed

abovephonemes that were frequently pronounced on Sumatrashows the tendency of

Dutch-educated, mostly Javanese language experts to erase Arabic influences. The

experts found these sounds, which did not occur in spoken Javanese nor in the Dutch

alphabet, as inappropriate for the modern, national language, and so they erased

representations of those sounds in the transcription of the Indonesian language. By

contrast, more Islamic writers continued to represent these sounds in their transcriptions

of words much later than general usage. The Masjumi magazine, Suara Masjumi,

continued to use apostrophes for hamza and 'ain through the end of the magazine's run.

Furthermore, many Islamic leaders had these sounds in their names, including Rasjidi,

Wahid Hasjim, and Faried Ma'ruf.

Even as secular individuals rejected any move to represent these Arabic sounds in

the spelling of the national language, some called for new letters to represent other

sounds from their regional languages. The soft "d" and "t" present in Javanese, for

example, were indistinguishable in the Roman alphabet, leading to some commentators to

2,9 Tupanno, 11.

220 R.
Satjadibrata, "Edjaan Bahasa Indonesia dengan Huruf Latin," Bahasa dan Budaja, tahun II no. 1
(October 1953): 9.

call for new letters so as to better represent the Javanese words that already had

"citizenship" in the Indonesian language.221

Facing the reality that standardized Indonesian was no longer sufficient to

transcribe Arabic words, and specifically to transcribe religious words needed for

teaching and ritual, the Ministry of Religion in 1953 set about creating a special system

for the transcription of Arabic in Indonesia. Even this system was criticized as

"unaesthetic" by its users (largely because of the repetition of letters forced by the

Indonesian aversion to diacritics), and it fell into disuse over time.222

The importance of these small spelling changes on Islamic-minded individuals

became apparent in 1972, when Indonesia again revised its spelling. In seminars leading

to the creation of the "Perfected" spelling system (Ejaan yang telah Disempurnakari), the

Islamic author Hamka protested mightily at the final death of the apostrophe (for the 'ain

sound in particular). The many protests by other Islamic scholars in 1972 were heard

by the government, but not incorporated into the final product. It is likely that had more

conservative religious scholars been literate in Romanized Indonesian in the 1950s, they

might also have objected to the elimination of diacritics useful in mapping Arabic sounds,

but as it happened they were, on the whole, unconcerned with Indonesian beyond jawi

and so were not party to the debate.

221 "Menjongsong Kongres Bahasa Indonesia di Medan," in Kongres Bahasa Indonesia di Medan ([Jakarta]:

Kementerian Penerangan, Bagian Dokumentasi, 1954), 12-13.

222Vik0r, Perfecting Spelling, 53. Contrast this with the Christian response to modern Indonesian:
churches and missionaries were quick to seize on the national language. Minister of Education Muhammad
Yamin noted in his 1954 address to the Medan Conference on Language that Indonesian was already used
"in churches and in [texts of] the Gospel." Muhammad Yamin, Pertumbuhan Bahasa Indonesia dalam
Abad Proklamasi (Jakarta: Balai Pustaka, 1954), 8.

223 Vik0r, Perfecting Spelling, 56.


A similarly subtle change took place in punctuation. Here again, Indonesian

became more distant from Arabic and adopted Western sensibilities. In Arabic, several

common prepositions (e.g., li-, bi-,fi-) are written as prefixes attached to their objects.

(Thus the famous Arabic introduction ^ ^ bism Allah, "in the name of God,: where the

preposition bi- [in] and the object ism [name] are not separated.) In jawi and Arabic-

influenced Indonesian, this pattern was also employed for the prepositions di (meaning

"at" or "in") and ke (meaning "to"). This pattern was followed in most Romanized

Indonesian in the first half of the twentieth century, such that di or ke would be written as

a prefix on the following word when functioning as prepositions (as in pergi kepasar [go

to market] or ada dirumah [be at home]).

In the 1950s, Dutch-educated scholars objected to this usage, arguing that it

created confusion with the other uses of di and ke. Each of these, in addition to being a

preposition, can also serve as a prefix (or as part of a circumfix) changing the meaning of

the word: di indicates the passive voice for verbs (such as dimakan, to be eaten) and ke

can indicate ordinance in numbers (kelima, fifth) or in the circumfix ke-an can create

abstract nouns (kecepatan, speed). Experts and bureaucrats shaping the Indonesian

language wanted to reserve di and ke as a prefix in the above uses where the word's

meaning is changed, but to separate it from the words when used as a preposition. In his

essay, "On the Spelling of Indonesian," Prof. Dr. R.M. Ng. Poerbatjaraka accepts Dutch

norms as Indonesian rules without further reflection and uses the Dutch standard of

separating prepositions from their objects to advocate for the separation of di and ke as

prepositions.224 Prijana himself expressed willingness to be flexible on the debate

between prefix placement and separated placement (bringing up the cases kulihat [I see]

and rumahku [my house] in which two words were also written as one), but he admitted

that distinguishing between the uses of di and ke through punctuation would increase

clarity.225 In the end, the European norm of separating prepositions from their objects

won, and it became standard Indonesian usage by 1960.

Trying to change Indonesian into a Dutch-style (Western, non-Semitic) language

under the guidance of leaders who had been using Dutch for their whole educations,

rather than accepting and developing Indonesian as jawi-based and Arabic influenced,

was a bit like moving the mountain from Mohammad. The end result made the written

and subsequently even the spoken language alien to the many Mohammads, Ahmads, and

Hassans who were accustomed to the jawi script. This linguistic shift also created a

cultural bias against Islamic norms, placing obstacles in the way of Islamic influence in

the new state.


After Indonesia's independence was recognized by the international community,

the country had the opportunity to shape its state and society. Islamic leaders were

important participants in this process, but their participation was hampered by the

division between political leaders and theological leaders. These two groups had already

been distinct since before the Indonesian revolution, and they had served distinct roles

224 Poerbatjaraka, 22.

225 Prijana, "Beberapa Tjatatan Berhubung dengan Edjaan Bahasa Indonesia," 65.

within Masjumi from the early days of the revolution. The split into two parties, with

political leaders staying in Masjumi and theological leaders (specifically those of a

traditionalist orientation) leaving with NU, escalated the tension between these groups. It

also broke the united front of the Islamic movement in a more pervasive and permanent

way than the fissures of Perti and PSII had. NU's departure set up the divide between

political leaders, theological leaders, and the grassroots that caused the failure of Muslim

nationalism in Indonesian politics under Sukarno.

As important as it was, party politics was not the only location of change for the

Islamic movement during this period. Important changes took place in the early 1950s

regarding organizational life and education that bolstered the Islamic movement. The

emergence of new organizations, sometimes inspired by political circumstances,

strengthened Islam in the outer islands. At the same time, increased Islamic education,

both through an increase in Islamic schools and through Islamic instruction in

government schools, spread religious knowledge. Both of these changes solidified the

Islamic movement and helped to standardize the vision of Islam in Indonesia, creating

consensus about what was Islamic and how to be Islamic.

At the same time, a different type of standardizationthe standardization of the

Indonesian languagecontributed to the divide between the political leaders, the

theological leaders, and the grassroots of the Islamic movement. As the Indonesian

language became standardized toward Western norms (with which the political leaders

were most comfortable) and away from Arabic norms (with which the theological leaders

were most comfortable), this process limited the influence of Islam on the language.

More important still, these changes weakened Islamic activists at the grassroots level by

excluding them from certain discourses.

Both the trends of this period, the division of the Islamic community and the

strengthening and standardization of Islamic ideas, were important for the next phase of

the struggle for an Islamic state: efforts by the Islamic bloc to win an electoral majority

with which to shape the country more permanently.

Chapter 4: Muslims Face Elections
A Yale graduate student conducting field research on Java surrounding the 1955 elections

wrote that "Elections had assumed an almost symbolic importance for Indonesian leaders

as a demonstration that their country was at last fully qualified to assume its rightful

place among the democracies of the world."1 Vice-President Hatta, in a radio address in

advance of the September vote, called the elections "the people's most important task in

the history of Indonesia."2 For pious Muslims in Indonesia, the elections had an

additional function: they saw this as their opportunity to secure the governmental

positions they needed to implement an Islamic state.

Facing elections, Muslims contributed heavily to the creation of an election law

that they believed would facilitate Islamic parties winning a majority. At the same time,

Muslims engaged in anti-vice campaigns in society intended not only to improve

society's morals but also to remind Indonesian voters on a local level about the

importance of religious issues in social life. The government offices that ran this anti-

vice campaign, staffed by Islamic party members, were also likely to be aligned with a

particular Islamic mass organization. During this period these mass organizations

brought themselves entirely in line with Islamic political parties, subjugating their own

programs to the needs of the party. This made the entire Islamic movement political.

When campaigning for the 1955 elections began in earnest, Islamic parties

engaged a series of enemies. First, through the debate surrounding a speech of President

1 Stephen Titus Hosmer, "The 1955 Indonesian General Elections on Java," PhD. Dissertation, Yale

University, 1961, p. 107.

2 Hosmer, 416, quoting Antara News Bulletin, September 28, 1955, p. 7.

Sukarno, they battled secularism; this effort continued through an important conference

of religious scholars in 1953. Islamic parties also fought each other, showing especially

the conflict between Masjumi, led by Western-educated political leaders, and NU, led by

traditionally-educated theological leaders. The main enemy for Islamic parties, though,

was the Communist Party of Indonesia (Partai Komunis Indonesia, PKI). It was

primarily against this group that Muslims deployed their most bruising campaign tactics,

including the heavy use of the word kafir (infidel).

After all of this campaigning, Muslims had high expectations for success in the

1955 elections. These hopes were dashed, however, when Islamic parties won only 45%

of the seats in the new Parliament and Constituent Assembly. Furthermore, the votes

were fairly evenly divided between Masjumi and NU, i.e., between the party of the

political leaders and the party of the theological leaders. These results set up the end

game whereby the Islamic movement would see its greater hope, the hope for an Islamic

state, collapse in the late 1950s.

On the whole, the 1955 elections heightened conflicts within society, including

conflicts within the Islamic movement. The conflict between the political leaders and

theological leaders weakened both groups in the elections. The contentious rhetoric

employed by Islamic leaders, both political and theological, during the campaign also

alienated them from certain sectors in Indonesian society that might have been more

aligned with the Islamic movement during the revolution. By engaging in morality

campaigns and using heated rhetoric like "infidel" for those with whom they disagreed,

Islamic leaders showed their growing distance from Indonesia's grassroots.

Election Law

Elections were a high priority for the Indonesian government from the first

months of its existence. As much as all parties wanted elections, though, it was

impossible for Indonesian political factions to agree on an election law that would serve

all of their interests. For Islamic parties, the key points of an ideal law would be

maximum enfranchisement, ease of use for the uneducated, and strong representation of

the areas outside of Java. Muslims believed that if a national election included as many

Indonesians as possible and fairly reflected their wishes, then Islamic interests were sure

to win an outright majority.3

Although Islamic parties strongly supported a swift general election, it took ten

years of war and independence to achieve a national election. Masjumi's platform of

November 1945 had included a call for "general and immediate" elections.4 In March

1946, just six months after Indonesia's proclamation of independence, the Attorney

General sent a draft bill on elections to the KNIP, Indonesia's provisional parliament.5

The KNIP did not take any action on this draft for several years, though. When Sukarno

appointed hundreds of new members to the KNIP to facilitate the passage of the

Linggarjati agreement in 1947, Muslim politicians saw this as an acute motivation for

swift elections to re-establish the body's legitimacy.6 Islamic leaders then redoubled

their efforts to hold elections quickly, but the chaos of the times did not allow for the

3 Deliar Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional 1945-1965 (Jakarta: Grafiti Pers, 1987), 43.

4 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 119.

5 Deliar Noer and Akbarsyah, KNIP: Komite Nasional Indonesia Pusat, Parlemen Indonesia 1945-1950

(Jakarta: Yayasan Risalah, 2005), 108.

6 Oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SL1 1980 #1, tape 2.

attainment of this goal. Although the KNIP finally managed to pass a bill in 1948 calling

for indirect elections, this law was never put into practice during the revolution.7

The process that eventually created Indonesia's major election law saw heavy

Muslim involvement at all levels. After the controversy surrounding Linggaijati's

passage in 1947, the government created a Kantor Pemilihan Pusat (KPP, Central

Election Office), whose vice-chair was Burhanuddin Harahap of Masjumi.8 Mr.

Mohammad Roem, another Masjumi leader and a sharp legal mind, was a crucial voice in

parliament during the crafting of an election law; contemporary news accounts credited

him as the person "chiefly responsible for mapping out" Indonesia's election plans.9 Both

of these men were Dutch-educated lawyers, with little or no theological training; they

were consummately political leaders in the Islamic movement, and their contributions

would have been calibrated to help Masjumi, a party dominated by political leaders.

After the transfer of sovereignty, the two Masjumi-led cabinets attempted to pass

election laws quickly, believing that faster elections were in their favor. The very first

point of the Natsir cabinet's program was "the early execution of general elections for the

Constituent Assembly."10 However, both cabinets were unsuccessful at drafting a law

that received consensus as being appropriate for the spirit of the independent country.

7Undang-undang No. 27/1948, in Koesnodiprodjo, ed., Himpunan Undang2, Peraturan2, Penetapan2

Pemerintah Republik Indonesia 1948 (Jakarta: S.K. Seno, 1951), 133-152.

8 Oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1980 #1, tape 2.

Harahap claimed that he served on the Committee until he was appointed Prime Minister, but in fact he was
dismissed from the leadership of the Kantor Pemilihan Pusat as it was dissolved in 1953 (two years before
his Cabinet formed) to be replaced by the Panitia Pemilihan Pusat. See Keputusan Presiden Republik
Indonesia No. 189 tahun 1953, in Rustam Sutan Palindih, ed., Undang-Undang dan Peraturan Pemilihan
Umum untukAnggota Konstituante dan Dewan Perwakilan Rakjat (Jakarta: Bulan Bintang, 1954), 194-96.

9 Hosmer, 37, n. 1, quoting P.I. Aneta News Bulletin of March 27, 1953. This is consistent with Roem's
own account in oral history with Mohamad Roem, interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SLl 1981
#6, tape 4.

10 Hosmer, 16.

The Sukiman cabinet came closer than its predecessor, but the bill it had drafted was

rejected by parliament, largely because it again planned for indirect rather than direct

elections, contravening popular sentiment."

It is natural that Islamic leaders were pioneers in drafting Indonesia's election law,

considering that their parties expected elections to bring them into a parliamentary

majority. This common belief, held not only by Muslims but also by leaders in non-

Islamic parties, caused secular interests both in the Kantor Pemilihan Pusat and in

parliament to drag their feet in an attempt to let support for Islamic political parties

dissipate before elections.12 The Partai Indonesia Raya (PIR) leader A.R. Djokoprawiro

explicitly stated in 1952 his intention to put off an election "until the position of the
supporters of the Pantja Sila were stronger." Even after the election law took effect,

two years passed before elections took place, a delay that some attributed to laxity on

behalf of the Panitia Pemilihan Umum (Central Election Committee), dominated by the

secular political parties, which feared an Islamic victory in elections. The Committee

was conspicuously missing any representation from Masjumi, the party widely expected

to win an outright majority in the national elections.14

11 Hosmer, 17.

12 Hosmer, 32, says that the PKI and Masjumi traded such accusations throughout 1952 and 1953. These
allegations are more credible when levied at the PKI, which understandably would want to secure the
maximum amount of time to recover from its failed Madiun revolt and for the memory of it to fade from
Indonesian collective memory. Masjumi, on the other hand, was widely expected to win the elections
outright if they were held earlier, so they had little reason to postpone the bill or the polls.

13Herbert Feith, The Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia (Jakarta: Equinox Publishing, 2007
[1962]), 275, n. 86.

14See the make-up of the Komite Pemilihan Pusat in Kuputusan Presiden Republic Indonesia No. 188
tahun 1953, in Rustam Sutan Palindih, 196-98. Masjumi's protest over this omission is documented in
Hosmer, 72. The chair of the committee was from PNI, the vice-chair from PRN, and members came from
NU, PIR, Labor, Perti, Parkindo and the Communist-aligned Barisan Tani Indonesia (BTI). See also Feith,
Decline of Constitutional Democracy, 349.

Parliament finally passed an election law in April 1953 under the PNI-led first Ali

Sastroamidjojo cabinet.15 The election law for 1955 was made to be as liberal as possible,

allowing all sectors of Indonesian society, however small, to seek representation in

parliament. This included allowing for individual candidates (if they could collect

enough signatures to run), and also allowing voters to write in the name of anyone on the

party's list they wanted to support (although few voters did this because it required

literacy and a knowledge of the candidates).16 There was no registration fee for a
candidate to appear on the ballot, merely a minimum number of signatures. So as to

balance the representation of regional interests with the representation of groups whose

support was scattered across the archipelago, the law created fifteen electoral districts for

the initial allotment of seats.18

The great hurdle faced by parliament when designing an appropriate election law

was widespread illiteracy among the electorate.19 To overcome this, a system of symbols

15 Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia, 279.

16 Oral history with Burhanuddin Harahap, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI SLl 1980 #1, tape 2.

17 Hosmer, 50.

18 Hosmer, 43. PSII and the Partai Katholik were particularly interested in not having small electoral

districts, as they believed this would dissipate their support, which was spread across Indonesia without a
strong local concentration. Technically, the law created sixteen districts, with one for West Irian, but
because that territory was still under Dutch control it did not participate in elections. Herbert Feith, The
Indonesian Elections of1955 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell Modern Indonesia Project, 1957), 3. The fifteen
districts eventually created were: North Sumatra, Central Sumatra, South Sumatra, West Java, Jakarta Raya,
Central Java (including Jogjakarta), East Java, West Nusatenggara (including Bali and Lombok), East
Nusatenggara (including Sumba and islands east to Timor), West Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, East
Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, Central and North Sulawesi, and Maluku. These loosely followed provincial
borders, with the islands east of Bali being the major exception.

19 As of the 1970 census, only 60% of Indonesia's population was literate in Indonesian, and one can trust
that this number was significantly below 40% fifteen years earlier. M.C. Ricklefts, "Why Indonesia? Why
Democracy?" Keynote address at the International Graduate Student Conference on Indonesia, Universitas
Gadjah Mada, December 2, 2009. Ricklefs during the question and answer period after his presentation
stated his belief that such low literacy was not enough to sustain democracy in the 1950s, even ignoring
most external interference. This is a position that I would highly dispute, and one rejected by Adnan

was used, whereby voters wishing to vote for a party (rather than write in an individual)

would simply punch the symbol of the party they supported. Masjumi chose the crescent

and star. PSII also had a star and crescent in its symbol, but in a slightly more complex

manner these symbols were made up of the words Allah, Muhammad, and the testimony

of faith written in Arabic. NU used its organizational symbol, involving an image of the

world wrapped up in a rope and surrounded by stars symbolizing the prophet, rightly-

guided caliphs, and schools of jurisprudence; the party's name appears across the symbol

in Arabic.20 Perti's symbol was a traditional Indonesian mosque, allowing them to use

the slogan that all their supporters should "enter the mosque," (masuk masjid) i.e., punch

the nail into the mosque.21

One success of the Muslim community in the drafting of the election law was to

extend the franchise to all Indonesians over the age of 18 or already married. This latter

provision was seen as helping Islamic groups, who were likely to marry younger than

average Indonesians, and often before 18.22 The provision to allow all married

Indonesians to vote squeaked by with a vote of 58 to 54. The PKI objected to the idea

that some individuals would be able to vote before the age of 18 (on the condition that

they were married) and others under the age of 18 were denied the vote; this was

especially important to the PKI because it believed it would have a strong advantage in

Buyung Nasution in The Aspiration for Constitutional Government in Indonesia: A Socio-legal Study of the
Indonesian Konstituante 1956-1959 (Jakarta: Pustaka Sinar Harapan, 1992), 2-3.

20 These symbols are described in Hosmer, 231, and a ballot from the East Java electoral district appears in
Hosmer, 234. See also Panitia Pemilihan Indonesia, Daftar Nama dan Tanda Gambar Pilihan Anggota
Dewan Perwakilan Rakjat dan Anggota Konstituante (Jakarta: Endang, 1954), which lists all the parties on
the ballot in each province and describes their party symbol in words.

21 Oral history with Darisun Rivai (Maruhun Basa), Bukittinggi, July 20, 2007.

22 Compton, "The Indonesian Election Law," p. 6.

PARTAI SMRfKAT PARTAI KAHDUm partai ml'sumfn partai isi.am rf.rti

| % *

W. ut
Figure 8 These symbols, copied from the 1971 ballot, are identical to the symbols used on the 1955 ballot
by the respective parties. The symbol used here by Partai Muslimin Indonesia was previously used by
Masjumi. I am thankful to Prof. Jennifer Nourse for providing the ballot from which these were copied. I
have confirmed the symbols against the examples from 1955 found in Hosmer, 234.

the youth vote generally. Thus, the party put forward an amendment to set the voting age

at 16 for all Indonesians, regardless of marital status, hoping to increase its vote and

eliminate any advantage for the Islamic parties due to young marriage. This amendment

failed (on strong Islamic opposition) by a vote of 93 to 28.

The election law also allowed those who were detained but not charged with any

crime (a more common occurrence in areas under martial law) to vote. This democratic

measure carried some benefit to the Communist Party, many of whose members had been

arrested under the Sukiman government,24 and also to Muslim parties because of the

number of pious Muslims detained in connection with the ongoing Darul Islam


Overall, the election law of 1953 was designed in a way that allowed for

maximum Muslim participation and representation. The Islamic political leaders of

Masjumi felt especially confident about their party's prospects. In spite of the very low

threshold for candidates and parties to get onto the ballot, Islamic groups were confident

in their ability under this law to win decisively in Indonesia's first national election.

With the election law in place, Islamic parties and mass organizations began to

look at other ways that they could bring their positions in government to bear to bring

about positive conditions for the upcoming elections. One aspect of their efforts was to

raise the profile of religious issues in society.

23 Hosmer, 38.

24 Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia, 189; Hosmer, 38-39.

25Compton, "The Indonesian Election Law," 7. Estimates in Abadi, the Masjumi-aligned paper, put the
number of Muslims detained in connection with Darul Islam upwards of 15,000.

Anti-Vice Campaigns as an Election Tool

In Ketapang, South Kalimantan, on the night of May 18-19, 1954, the local Office

of Religious Affairs, in collaboration with the police, Office of Social Affairs, and the

former regent, conducted a raid against prostitution. Starting at midnight, they picked up

seven women, aged 16 through 30 years old, lectured them on morals, and warned them

that if they were ever caught soliciting again they would be thrown out of the district.

The women were observed for two to three days and then, on promises of good behavior,

they were released on their own recognizance.26 This raid won accolades from the

Ministry of Religion offices for South Kalimantan province, which then passed it up to

the national level where it again received praise.

Guarding the nation's morals was one of the tasks that the Ministry of Religion

claimed for itself. In a letter forwarding the report on Ketapang's anti-prostitution raid to

all provincial offices, the Ministry's Head of the Religious Movements and Sects Section

noted that Indonesia needed to be a country of high morals and suggested that "raids

against prostitutes as described can be seen as a good and practical weapon for the

purpose" of guarding the people's morality.27 This had been a government program since

at least 1950, when the Halim cabinet (of the Republic of Indonesia within the federation

of the United States of Indonesia) included as their fifth platform point, "Move forward

the building up of morals in all sectors of society and guarantee the freedom and fertility

26 Surat 44/D/6/Rhs from Kantor Urusan Agama, Ketapang, Kalimantan Selatan, dated June 10, 1954 and

forwarded with a letter from the Kementerian Agama held in Arsip Propinsi Sulawesi Selatan, Koleksi 11,
Kantor Wilayah Departemen Agama 1947-90, #178. Conspicuously, no mention is made of the men
involved in the solicitation charges, nor is there any further threat given than expulsion from the regency.

27 Surat B.H. Hadisisuojo, dated July 15, 1954, held in Arsip Propinsi Sulawesi Selatan, Koleksi 11, Kantor

Wilayah Departemen Agama 1947-90, #178.

of a spirit of religiosity of various religions in the building up of the State, in accordance

with Article 29 of the Constitution."28

If this type of action promoted good morals, in 1954, anti-vice activities were also

good politics for the Muslim community. By eliminating "immoral" activities in their

community, they undercut the financial gains from these activities that went to

individuals who, if they were involved in politics at all, certainly did not support Islamic

parties. At the same time, the public nature of such raids reminded communities across

Indonesia of moral issues, the consideration of which would supposedly push them to

support religious parties in the upcoming national elections. Of course, pious Muslims

supported these actions for religious reasons, too, but the distinct uptick in attacks against

prostitution and gambling leading up to the national elections suggest a political as well

as a religious strategy.

Issues of morality and vice were included in the platforms of the Islamic political

parties at the time. One of the four social points of the Perti platform adopted in 1953

was "The state must have laws to eliminate prostitution, to eliminate hard liquor and

opium, to eliminate gambling in all its forms, to eliminate vandalism and theft of any
type." PSII, omitting only opium, had the exact same planks in its platform, word for

28 This platform point is mentioned in a Ramadhan message from the Ministry of Religion on May 8, 1950:

"Kementerian Agama R.I., Bagian Penjiaran dan Penerangan, Tuntunan No. 5/50, Hal: Peringatan Isra' dan
Mi'radj" held in ANRI RA5 Kabinet Perdana Menteri RI Yogyakarta 1949-1950, #276.

Alaiddin Koto, Pemikiran Politik PERTI, Persatuan Tarbiyah Islamiyah (1945-1970) (Jakarta: Nimas
Multima, 1997), 195.

word.30 Masjumi's program included the elimination of gambling and prostitution in its

social program, along with supporting orphans and helping veterans of the revolution.31

As much as opposition to vice was a winning issue for Islamic political parties,

anti-vice campaigns were hard to implement on the ground. Returning to the case of anti-

prostitution raids, the Ministry of Religion office in South Sulawesi enthusiastically

received the instructions from Jakarta that encouraged such actions. It sent a letter to

each regency's Office of Religious Affairs, instructing them all to make a list of the

regency's women of ill repute and then to work with the Office of Social Affairs and the

police to organize raids. Responses varied widely. Bonthain regency's office wrote back

to say "in our region there is no prostitution," thus exempting themselves from the

drive.32 Others, such as Bone, sent in a detailed list of women engaged in prostitution

(sixteen were listed, ranging from 20 to 40 years old), but failed to report on any actions

taken against their activities.33

The most extensive report came from Southeast Sulawesi, then a regency of South

Sulawesi. The Office of Religious Affairs in Bau-Bau, the regency capital, seemed to

take the instructions from Makassar very seriously, and so it attempted to draw in the

police and Public Education section of the local branch of the Ministry of Education and

Culture. These other offices did not have the same inspiration to take on prostitution, and

their letters to the Office of Religious Affairs show no interest in anti-vice campaigns.

30 Panitya Madjlis Tahkim PSII ke-29, Kongres P.S.I.I ke-29, 20-27 Maret 1953 di Jakarta (Jakarta: PSII

Bahagian Penerangan, 1953), 73.

31 Pedoman Perdjuangan Masjumi (Jakarta: Pimpinan Partai Masjumi Bagian Keuangan, 1955), 63.

32 Arsip Propinsi Sulawesi Selatan, Koleksi 11, Kantor Wilayah Departemen Agama 1947-90, #181.

33 Arsip Propinsi Sulawesi Selatan, Koleksi 11, Kantor Wilayah Departemen Agama 1947-90, #177.

The local education officials said that the source of the problem was not the women

themselves and that punishing them would not solve the problem; they did not, however,

offer any other routes of action. The police, more defiantly, said that prostitution is

caused by three problems: "the push of natural needs," which are explained to be the

women's sexual drive, "the push of economic needs," and "weak souls." The police

asserted that, other than prohibiting prostitution under law, which has already been done,

no other actions were practical.34 These other government institutions were not interested

in contributing to an effort that would clearly reap benefits primarily for the Islamic

parties and the Office of Religious Affairs, which was dominated by Islamic parties.

Notably, the Ministry of Education on a national level was famously under the sway of

the PNI party, which saw itself as the Islamic parties' chief rival in the elections, and for

the elections the police had formed their own national candidate list under the name

Police Employees' Association.35

Although the discourse on prostitution in South Sulawesi took on a very

misogynist tone,36 in other places women's morality was truly a women's issue.

Muslimaat, the women's auxiliary of Masjumi, at its national meeting in Surabaya in

December 1954, encouraged strong government protections against women's potential

moral slide. Muslimaat sought to institute anti-vice squads (the details of these are sadly

34 All of the letters forwarded from Bau-Bau are in Arsip Propinsi Sulawesi Selatan, Koleksi 11, Kantor

Wilayah Departemen Agama 1947-90, #179.

35 Feith, Indonesian Elections of1955, 60. For a similar situation on Java in which different branches of

the Indonesian bureaucracy (Ministries of Interior and of Religion) opposed each other on certain issues of
social policy, leading to bureaucratic inaction, see Robert R. Jay, Religion and Politics in Rural Central
Java (New Haven, CT: Yale University Southeast Asia Studies, 1963), 50.

36For example, the commander of the Bau-Bau police stated very matter-of-factly in his letter to the Office
of Religious Affairs that "Every woman's souls is weak." Tiap-tiap perempuan djiwanja adalah lemah.
Arsip Propinsi Sulawesi Selatan, Koleksi 11, Kantor Wilayah Departemen Agama 1947-90, #179.

not included in the organization's resolution), to create government regulations for

female students' exercise gear at schools, and to tighten film censorship.37 In the regional

meeting of Muslimaat Masjumi in Tegal in September 1954, they also opposed

prostitution but said that the state must combat it "among women and men."38 These

Muslimaat statements show that morality campaigns were not merely a government

initiative through the Ministry of Religionsocial and political groups took them up, too.

This was all the more true for gambling.

Gambling, like prostitution, is a violation of Islamic law, and so Muslims felt they

were obliged to oppose gambling at all times. The Indonesian government had already

limited, although not eliminated, gambling during the revolution by passing a law in 1946

that renewed the Dutch requirement of possession of a permit to run any gambling

operation.39 Islamic groups wanted stronger prohibitions, and occasionally they imposed

them. In Aceh the military governor, a prominent Islamic politician, issued strong

regulations at the end of the revolution to oppose gambling. The regulation introduces its

intentions in this way: "Eliminating gambling cannot be done only with arrests, rules and

expulsions, but rather elimination must be pushed through eliminating also all of the tools

and instruments used or that could be used for gambling."40 The governor's program was

Putusan Kongres P.P.I. Masjumi ke-VII tanggal 23 s/d 27 Desember 1954 dan fatwa 'alim ulama
Madjlis Sjura Pusat, 2nd ed. (Medan : Pustaka Sedia, [1955]), 29.

38 ANRI, RA7 Kabinet Presiden, #1905.

39 The law, Undang-undang No. 1/1946 mengenai Hukum Pidana, makes no mention of gambling in the
text, but its primary function was to renew broad swaths of the colonial criminal code. This law then
became the legislation referred to by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Attorney General when dealing
with gambling cases; see ANRI, RA5 Kabinet Perdana Menteri RI Yogyakarta 1949-50, #260.

40 Penetapan Gubernur MiliterNo. 22-G.M.-49, found in Arsip Aceh, Koleksi Lhok'nga, 1934-1952, #16.

obviously very thorough, with the reasoning that this was seen as a fundamental issue for

the new government.

Unlike prostitution, which all sectors of society verbally condemned even if they

did not combat it, gambling had some proponents within Indonesian society, so Muslims

felt the need to articulate the reasons for their opposition to gambling. This provides a

window into their thinking on why vice must be opposed. In the rhetoric surrounding the

issue of gambling, Muslims contrasted this social ill with the ideals of the independent

state. The members of the Lho' Sukon, Aceh, branch of Masjumi wrote to the President

on August 10, 1954, saying "In the Dutch colonial era, [gambling] permits were

intentionally given out solely with the goal of plunging society into the valley of

opprobrium."41 Thus, they connected gambling with not only moral debasement but also

with the oppression of the Dutch, implying that an independent Indonesian state should

be able to achieve moral uplift by eliminating such vice.

In a particularly long and livid letter, one Faisol of Palembang wrote to President

Sukarno in July 1956 to protest strongly that gambling profits were being used to build

the heroes' cemetery for South Sumatra. It seems that the local army command received

several permits from the Attorney General's office to hold gambling events whose profits

would be used for the cemetery project. Faisol protests both the nature of the money (he

calls it haram or forbidden) and the fact that multiple permits had been issued rather than

just one instancesuggesting multiple purposes: maybe the collection of money to

purchase the land was not as transparent as it was made out to be. Yet he seems

particularly incensed that such unclean money was going towards the men who gave their

41Resolution of Rapa Pengurus/ Anggota Masjumi Anak Tjabang Ketjamatan Lho'Sukon, 10 August 1952,
found in ANRI, RA7 Kabinet Presiden, #1905.

lives for Indonesia's independence, saying this might cause them to "roll over in their

graves."42 This implied that martyrs in the revolution had higher and stricter morals than

others, and that these morals were specifically Islamic, once again tying the revolution

and struggle for independence to Islamic beliefs.

Very common among anti-gambling resolutions was a statement that such activity

had the potential to ruin not only an individual's life, or even a family's life, but more

importantly ruin the life of the nation. A 1950 protest by Masjumi against gambling in

Magelang, Central Java, cited the government's warnings that the country was still in "a

state of danger" and other signs that "this is still clearly not yet a time of prosperity or a

time free from danger." They used this rhetoric to warn that gambling further

endangered the people and the nation.43 But Muslim parties maintained this stance long

after the postwar turmoil had ended, and in fact ratcheted up their rhetoric facing the

national elections. A joint resolution of Islamic groups opposed to gambling at the night

market of Semarang, Central Java, in March 1954 said that a state based on Pancasila

(seemingly a reference to the ideology's first principle of belief in God) could not

possibly allow gambling to take place.44 Muslimaat in Tegal, Central Java, resolved in

September 1954 that gambling "clearly costs and endangers society and the state."45

42ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #2012. The Indonesian expression is "feel hot in their graves"
(kepanasan dalam kuburnja).

43 ANRI, RA5 "Kabinet Perdana Menteri RI Yogyakarta 1949-50," #260.

44 Thisresolution was sponsored by NU, Sarekat Tani Islam Indonesia, Aisjiah (the Muhammadiyah
women's auxiliary), Al-Irsjad, Al-Irsjad Wanita, Gerakan Pemuda Islam Indonesia (the Masjumi auxiliary
for youth), Ansor (the NU auxiliary for youth), Peladjar Islam Indonesia (the Masjumi auxiliary for high
school students), Bekas Pedjoang Islam Indonesia, Nasjiah, Persatuan Peladjar SMP Muhammadijah,
Perkis, Djam'iatul Qurra wal Huffadz, Masjumi and GPII-Puteri, showing a surprisingly united front of a
variety of Islamic groups on this issue. ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #1905.

45 ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #1905.

It seems that Muslims at this time became newly sensitive to religious prohibition

of gambling in the lead up to national elections. The majority of the resolutions and

letters of protest regarding gambling sent to the Indonesian president prior to 1965 were

from the year 1954 alone.46 Some of the anti-gambling activity was likely intended to

target non-Muslim groups, especially the Chinese, rather than un-Islamic practices per

se.47 Faisol of Palembang explicitly protested Chinese involvement in the gambling

operation to raise money for the heroes' cemetery.48 Ki Moesa'l Machfoeld, a concerned

citizen in Jogjakarta, wrote to the Prime Minister, President, and half a dozen other

government officials complaining about "hot money" (this English phrase is used in the

original Indonesian letter) in the hands of the Chinese community, some of which must

have come from gambling.49 Similarly, ulama who protested the raising of money for a

school in Batu Sangkar, West Sumatra, through gambling might have been merely

protecting their own interests as the primary educators in the region;50 they did not

mention the government-run lottery, i.e. gambling, that had been used to support the

Normal Islam, the first Islamic college in West Sumatra in the 1920's.51 There was much

concern in letters and resolutions that the funds raised through gambling were going into

46 See ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #1905.

47On the traditional rivalry of Chinese and Islamic business interests in Indonesia, see Ernst Utrecht, "The
Muslim Merchant Class in the Indonesian Social and Political Struggles," Social Compass vol. 31 no. 27
(1984): 41.

48 ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #2012.

49 ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #404.

50 ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #1905.

Taufik Abdullah Schools and Politics:The Kaum Muda Movement in West Sumatra (1927-1933) (Ithaca,
NY: Cornell Modern Indonesia Project, 1971), 214.

inappropriate hands; in the context of elections these fears could be read as a protest over

the ways that non-Islamic groups raised funds to contest the elections.

Another spate of campaigns against gambling appeared on Java in 1957, leading

up to the provincial elections of that year. First, the district legislature of Sidoardjo, East

Java, passed a resolution calling for the explicit and full prohibition of gambling in

September 1955, immediately before the national elections. This idea revived before the

provincial elections of 1957, and mimic resolutions were passed in Lamongan,

Pekalongan, and other Javanese districts.52 This demonstrates that anti-vice campaigns,

or even the practice of stirring up Muslim sentiment through pointing out social ills,

served as a favorite tool for Islamic parties and organizations to galvanize their base.

Islamic organizations' attacks on prostitution and gambling stand in stark contrast

to their approach to usury, an equal or greater sin in Islamic theology. Usury was not a

campaign issue for Islamic parties in the lead-up to elections, despite the fact that many

Islamic parties and their auxiliaries had stated opposition to the practice in their platforms.

Masjumi voiced opposition to riba (an Indonesian term derived from Arabic that refers

especially to exploitative lending) in its founding documents in 1945.53 Perti included

opposition to riba in its platform as of 1953.54 The Sarekat Tani Islam Indonesia,

Masjumi's peasant auxiliary, stood opposed to riba, as a way to protect peasants who

were usually on the losing end of loans.55

52ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #2033. The Pekalongan resolution included here explicitly mentions
following in the footsteps of Sidoardjo, and so does not spell out again all of the reasoning given in the
original Sidoardjo resolution, showing how modular this resolution had become.

53 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 119.

54 Koto, 195.

55 ANRI, RA5 "Kabinet Perdana Menteri RI Yogyakarta 1949-50," #176.

Despite this, Muslims did not campaign on the issue of usury in the national

campaign of 1955. For Masjumi especially, leaders' involvement with national financial

instruments relying on usury, including the central bank and various loans and credit

schemes with foreign bodies, made it difficult to take this line of attack. Mr. Sjafruddin

Prawiranegara, a Masjumi man, was governor of the central bank at the time. Sjafruddin

and his colleague in Masjumi Kasman Singodimedjo had an interpretation of riba that not

all interest counted as usurious or exploitative, because in the case of large banks such

interest was win-win.56 Masjumi leader Mohammad Natsir, as Prime Minister, had also

founded a conventional bank based on interest: the Bank Pembangunan Nasional

(National Development Bank, Bapindo).57 Even the Masjumi party organ, the Suara

Partai Masjumi magazine, showed ambivalence on the topic of interest and riba.5*

Finally, middle-class traders were the primary constituency of the Masjumi,59 and many

of them likely used some form of interest in their business practices, making it entirely

unadvisable for the party to alienate them through an attack on usury.60 NU, similarly,

got significant financial support from traders whose licenses had been approved by NU

figures in the bureaucracy of the Ministry of Commerce;61 they were doubtless loathe to

alienate these backers.

56 Oral history with Mohamad Roem, interviewed by A. Rahman Zainuddin, ANRI SLl 1981 #6, tape 4.

Yusril Ihza Mahendra, Modernisme dan Fundamentalisme dalam Politik Islam: Perbandingan Partai
Masyumi (Indonesia) dan Partai Jama'at-i-Islami (Pakistan) (Jakarta: Penerbitan Paramadina, 1999), 287.

58 See "Menudju Pembentukan Undang-undang dasar Islam," Suara Partai Masjumi tahun ke-XI, no. 2

(January 10, 1956): 7.

59Daniel S. Lev, The Transition to Guided Democracy: Indonesian Politics, 1957-1959 (Jakarta: Equinox
Publishing, 2009 [1966]), 19.

60 On the issue of money-lending among Indonesian Muslims, see Utrecht, 36.

61 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 92.

On the other hand, several non-Islamic parties attacked usury head-on as a way to

increase their Islamic credentials and appeal to the poor. IPKI, the military-aligned

political party created for the 1955 elections, used an anti-usury appeal with an anti-

Chinese bent.62 The PKI also opposed foreign-backed banks, trust companies, and large

interest charges in its Urgency Program for the 1955 elections.

Campaigning against vice, particularly those vices with the potential to empower

financial backers of rival parties, increased markedly during the 1954-55 campaign

season. Although such campaign tactics often had an overt religious motivation, their

financial and political motivations must be taken into account to fully understand the


Perfect Coincidence of Parties and Organizations

In order to implement policies like anti-vice campaigns on a local level, it was

necessary for Islamic parties to work through multiple avenues, not just the bureaucracy

of the Ministry of Religion. For the national elections, political parties also wanted to

have as many active local branches as possible. To achieve this goal, Islamic political

parties worked with established Islamic social and religious organizations in order to

expand their networks. In the lead-up to the 1955 national elections, political parties and

their constituent organizations became virtually indistinguishable on the ground. Thus,

62 Hosmer, 380, n. 3.

63Kepartaian di Indonesia (Jakarta: Kementerian Penerangan Republik Indonesia, 1951), 293.

Communism in Indonesia had long emphasized the Islamic prohibition of usury as a drawing point for their
philosophy. This was espoused by Semaun at the pivotal Sarekat Islam congress in Surabaya in 1921, with
the injunction: "the class struggle must be carried out against Mohammedan capitalists also." Quoted in
Jay, 20.

Indonesia's Muslim organizations were not apolitical social groups; rather, they were

partisan political players from the start of Indonesian independence.

For two of Indonesia's major political parties, their roots in socio-religious

organizations are obvious. Both the Nahdlatul Ulama and the Persatuan Tarbiyah

Indonesia were founded as religious associations in the 1920's to bring together

traditionalist ulama. They grew as school networks through the 1930s and 1940s, with a

full complement of auxiliaries by the time of Indonesian independence.64 Thus, when

they transformed into political parties (Perti in 1945; NU in 1953), no one doubted the

perfect coincidence of constituencies between the social organizations and the political


The Masjumi was a different story. Despite growing out of the ashes of a

Japanese-sponsored socio-religious umbrella organization, Masjumi did not have its own

non-political wing or a direct constituency through immediate administration of religious

needs. Still, in many regions, Masjumi was identical to or entirely dependent on a socio-

religious organization that was an "extraordinary member" of the party. The largest of

these, and the only one with a national scope, was Muhammadiyah.

Many scholars, both foreign and Indonesian, claim that Muhammadiyah has

always been an apolitical movement.66 Many contemporary activists in Muhammadiyah

64 See the introduction and chapter 1.

65Granted, each of these parties did have some political reach or influence beyond that of their socio-
religious organization, but not extensive. Perti, for example, a Sumatra-based organization, got 98% of its
popular vote in the parliamentary elections of 1955 from Sumatra (calculated from figures in Feith,
Indonesian Elections of1955), and it is likely that the small numbers they received on Java and in East
Nusatenggara were from ethnic Sumatrans living off the island.

66Jay, 15; Abdullah, Schools and Politics, 209; Masnun, Tuan Guru KHMuhammad Zainuddin Abdul
Madjid: Gagasan dan Gerakan Pembaharuan Islam di Nusa Tenggara Barat (Jakarta: Pustaka al-Miqdad,
2007), 228.

also claim that the group "did not enter practical politics." This is an understandable

mistake, given Muhammadiyah's willingness to work with the Dutch during the colonial

period, thus forfeiting any opportunity to oppose the government in the field of politics,

and its abstention from politics since the 1970s.68 Nevertheless, it is clear that

Muhammadiyah was highly political in the 1940's and 1950's. Muhammadiyah not only

heavily overlapped with Masjumi, but in many regions they shared leadership boards.

Furthermore, Muhammadiyah used the social pressure it could exert through the arms of

its organization to ensure members' support for Masjumi, effectively turning the mass

organization into a political body.

Since the founding of Masjumi as a political party in 1945, Muhammadiyah had

been an "extraordinary member." It confirmed this status at the 38th Muhammadiyah

Congress in 1950, collectively assenting to the decision by Muhammadiyah's governing

body, the Majelis Tanwir.69 To establish more clearly the meaning of this affiliation, the

Majelis Tanwir held a special meeting in May 1952 and put out a statement on

Muhammadiyah's "extraordinary membership" in the organization's magazine, Suara

67 Thisphrase (tidak masukpolitikpraktis) was used by the leadership of Muhammadiyah- South Sumatra
to describe Muhammadiyah during the Sukarno period. Interview with Nofrizal (ketua Muhammadiyah
Sumatera Selatan), who provided the verbatim quote, Abdullah Sani, and Romli S. A., at Muhammadiyah-
South Sumatra headquarters adjacent to the campus of Universitas Muhammadiyah Sumatera Selatan,
Palembang, June 1, 2010. My thanks to Umar Abdullah for arranging this interview.

68Some observers took the creation of a political party by Amien Rais, former national chairman of
Muhammadiyah, as the organization re-entering politics, but Partai Amanat Nasional has consistently
rejected the label and Muhammadiyah as an organization has refused any formal association with PAN.
See Eunsook Jung, "Taking Care of the Faithful: Islamic Organizations and Partisan Engagement in
Indonesia," PhD. Dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2009, chapter 7, "Muhammadiyah as a
Civil Society Organization," especially pp. 179ff.

69ANRI, RA34 "Muhammadiyah," #25, "Keputusan MU'TAMAR MUHAMMADIJAH KE I" p. 6. This

congress was alternatively called the first (being the first after the transfer of sovereignty) and the 38th
(being 38 years after the organization's founding).

Muhammadijah, that month. In the national congress held in Purwokerto in July, 1953,

the Central Leadership of Muhammadiyah made an announcement to the assembly

regarding the upcoming national elections:

Regarding this very important issue, the Central Leadership of Muhammadiyah is

unanimous in its decision to work together with the K.A.P.U. [Komite Aksi Pemilihan
Umum, Committee for Electoral Action] being created by Masjumi. Instructions and
guides for what to do in each place, which have long been awaited in various events, will
be given to you. What is needed in putting forward this program is:
The preparedness to struggle, with energy, possessions and thoughts, and strong
discipline to follow instructions/guides/decisions of the leadership.71

To follow up on this vision in a concrete way, the same national congress voted to

include several political the points on the organization's program for the 1953-56 period:

"Organize specific functionaries for all matters related to elections," "Activate the

Majelis Hikmah [Guidance Council] to determine the form and direction of Islamic

politics, remembering the connection with Masjumi," and "Mandate education of

Muhammadiyah members so they will become politically conscious."72 Clearly

Muhammadiyah was not acting independently as it prepared for elections, nor was it

taking a neutral position between the various Islamic parties.

More than that, though, Muhammadiyah saw near perfect commonality of

personnel with Masjumi in many areas. South Sumatra provides a clear example of the

absolute overlap of Muhammadiyah and Masjumi. In the town of Pagaralam, sitting

alongside tea plantations at the foot of Mt. Dempo, Muhammadiyah entered local Muslim

life in 1929. After the creation of Masjumi as a political party spanning the archipelago,

Suara Muhammadijah, no. 23 tahun 1952. See also the report "Pemberesan dan Penjelesaian Mu'tamar
Muhammadijah ke-32 di Purwokerto Banjumas, 9-14 Djuli 1953" in ANRI, RA34 "Muhammadiyah," #27.

71"Pemberesan dan Penjelesaian Mu'tamar Muhammadijah ke-32 di Purwokerto Banjumas, 9-14 Djuli
1953" in ANRI, RA34 Muhammadiyah, #27.

72 "Pemberesandan Penjelesaian Mu'tamar Muhammadijah ke-32 di Purwokerto Banjumas, 9-14 Djuli

1953" in ANRI, RA34 Muhammadiyah, #27.

both traditionalists aligned with NU and modernists aligned with Muhammadiyah took

leadership positions in the party. Upon the departure of NU from Masjumi in 1953,

however, the leadership board of Masjumi the political party was populated exclusively

by Muhammadiyah individuals, in fact only individuals in the local Muhammadiyah

leadership. One such leader was Abdul Rais Saleh, who served as the head of the youth

section in Muhammadiyah and as the head of Gerakan Pemuda Islam Indonesia, the

Masjumi youth auxiliary. Saleh reports that his colleagues on the leadership of

Muhammadiyah could meet for the religious organization's leadership meetings and then

merely change seats to convene a leadership meeting for Masjumi. Every individual in

the leadership of the social organization held a different role in the local leadership of the

political party. Furthermore, when running Friday night special programs in

Muhammadiyah mosques, these leaders were identified as coming from the Masjumi

party, rather than from Muhammadiyah as an organization.73

Similarly, Rahim Dur, the head of Muhammadiyah in Lahat, South Sumatra, in

the late 1950s, told an interviewer that the greatest victory for Muhammadiyah in the first

decades of independence was Masjumi's victory in the 1955 elections.74 When Masjumi

won by a convincing margin in South Sumatra,75 it was able to place more individuals in

the bureaucracy and exercise more influence over the allocation of government funds.

73 Oral history with H. Abdul Rais Saleh, Kauman Pagaralam, June 4, 2010. My thanks to Umar Abdullah

and Dita Marleni for arranging this interview.

74Linda Widiya Astuti, "Islam dan Perubahan Sosial (Studi tentang Gerakan Tajdid Muhammadiyah di
Kab. Lahat), 1930-1957," Skripsi SI, Jurusan Sejarah Kebudayaan Islam, Fakultas Adab, IAIN-Raden
Fatah, Palembang, 2005, p. 41.

75Masjumi won almost 630,000 votes in South Sumatra, or approximately 44.3% of the total vote in this
province. By contrast, the closest competitor was PNI, which won barely a third of the votes that Masjumi
received. Feith, Indonesian Elections of1955.

This in turn "made all the activities [of Muhammadiyah] run perfectly," from tabligh
7 ft
activities to school repairs and the building of new orphanages.

Expecting such an outcome, Muhammadiyah at the national level sought to ensure

a Masjumi electoral victory and thus shore up its own social and religious activities

across the archipelago. To this end, Muhammadiyah asked its branches in 1953 to

compile lists of Muhammadiyah members who were simultaneously members of non-

Islamic parties and to address that undesirable situation. In addition to the names of these

individuals and the branches where they were members, the report to Muhammadiyah's

national headquarters also included the actions taken by the local branch. Although many

branches did not report back with this information (for example, in the Priangan region,

only three Muhammadiyah branches reported back after a canvas, and three never sent in

reports), the responses of branches who pursued this action demonstrate

Muhammadiyah's seriousness in promoting Islamic politics. The leadership of

Muhammadiyah for the Lampung region wrote back to headquarters in Jogjakarta with a

resolution that any Muhammadiyah members who joined non-Islamic parties, which

could jeopardize the bond of Muhammadiyah, "must be ejected without hesitation."77 In

other regions, the reported actions against individual members varied, ranging from "let

him be" (dibiarkan) to having the person "isolated" (diisoleer), to "called and asked to

leave [the organization]" (dipanggil, minta keluar)?% Clearly Muhammadiyah was taking

strong action, favoring specific political parties and purging the members of others.

76 Astuti, 44, quoting Rahim Dur.

77 In Indonesian, Harus ditjabut dengan tidak ragu2, from "Keputusan Sidang Madjelis Daerah Lampung

pada tanggal 1 Pebruary 1953," held in ANRI, RA34 "Muhammadiyah," #84.

78 All of these are listed as actions taken by the Muhammadiyah branches in the Malang region.

A similar initiative had actually been proposed earlier by another organization

supporting Masjumi. In the early 1950s, before the departure of NU from Masjumi or the

outbreak of rebellion that marred politics in Aceh, the leadership of PUSA (Persatuan

Ulama Seluruh AcehAll Aceh Islamic Scholars Union) had suggested that the

individual members of Masjumi's extraordinary members (i.e., its major constituent

organizations, such as NU, Muhammadiyah, Jami'yatul Washliyah, Persatuan Ummat

Islam, and PUSA) be required to become individual members of Masjumi. The goal was

to strengthen their socialization into the political goals of the party, and to prevent them

from becoming active with non-Islamic parties.79 Although this never became an official

policy of Masjumi as a political party, it seems that Muhammadiyah, at least, instituted a

policy closely approaching this goal.

Muhammadiyah was not the only organization standing solidly behind Masjumi.

Several regional organizations also supported Masjumi, either explicitly or implicitly. In

North Sumatra, Jamiyatul Washliyah was a large traditionalist organization that had

grown out of an Islamic missionary and educational movement in the 1930s. It had

become an extraordinary member of Masjumi in 1945, and subsumed all of its political

aspirations within the organization. Thus, facing the 1955 elections, one of its most

famous ulama wrote in an anniversary book that the organization "joins in the struggle

for Islamic ideals on the field of politics shoulder-to-shoulder with our brothers in the

Islamic Political Party Masjumi."80

79 Noer, Partai Islam di Pentas Nasional, 53. In his thesis, Noer dates this to the 1949 party congress: Noer,

"Masjumi: Its Organization, Ideology and Political Role in Indonesia," MA Thesis, Cornell University,
1960: 137.

80 M. Arsjad Th. Lubis, "Pendirian al Djamijatul Washlijah," in Al Djamijatul Washlijah 'A Abad (Medan:

Pengurus Besar Al Djamijatul Washlijah, 1955), 19. I am thankful to Dr. Mustari Bosra for making this
book available to me.

Other regional organizations were more cautious about making such a strong

endorsement or commitment to a single Islamic party. Darud Da'wah wal Irsjad, a

traditionalist organization based in Makassar, became involved in NU's Liga Muslimin

Indonesia (Indonesian Muslim League), an Islamic coalition intended to counter-balance

Masjumi, but it did not pledge its support to any particular party. On the staunchly

Muslim island of Lombok, the head of the organization Nahdlatul Wathan also did not

want to commit his followers to a single party. Although Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul

Madjid accepted a position on the Masjumi ticket for the Constitutional Assembly ballot,

he carefully picked out subordinates and allies to become the local chairmen of NU, Perti

and PSII, so that no matter which Islamic party came out on top in the national elections,

Lombok and his organization Nahdlatul Wathan would still be well-served.82

The Islamic parties without explicit organizational backing were the PSII and the

minor parties (AKUI, PPTI, etc.). Of these, only PSII passed the threshold to enter the

parliament (AKUI and PPTI each won a single seat in the Constitutional Assembly), and

its widespread support can be traced back to organizational roots in the since defunct

Sarekat Islam. Thus, one can speculate that the backing of social organizations was

crucial to developing a broad electoral base for Islamic parties.

81NU initiated the formation of the Liga Muslimin Indonesia in July-August 1953 shortly after its exit from
Masjumi. Besides DDI and NU, other members were Perti and PSII. Feith, Decline of Constitutional
Democracy, 236. It is likely that DDI was reticent to explicitly endorse NU because it feared that it would
be consumed by NU as an organization, not just in politics. In this way, endorsement of Islamic parties that
had grown out of social organizations (NU and Perti) was less likely than the endorsement of Masjumi.

82 Oral history with Abdul Hayyi Nu'man, Mataram, July 23, 2010.

Amuntai and the All-Indonesia Ulama Conference

One key moment in the long campaign that brought the Islamic and secular

visions of the country into sharp conflict occurred in one of Indonesia's most out-of-the-

way corners: Amuntai, South Kalimantan. This town, today still several hours' drive

over bad roads from the closest airport, was the location of an inflammatory speech from

Sukarno that drew the lines in the sand on the issue of the state's foundation.

Sukarno was traveling to Kalimantan in January 1953 to "raise the spirit of unity

and union (and throw out the spirit of division and provincialism), raise the spirits of

development and guarding security," according to one of the journalists in his

entourage.83 Joined by the Masjumi Minister of Agriculture, Mohammad Sardjan, he had

already stopped in the nearby towns of Martapura and Kandangan. Amuntai, further

inland and close to the home of the leading NU politician Idham Chalid, was a town

famous for its traditionalist Muslims. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the town also

had a fervent group of secular nationalist youth, led by a young man named Yusni

Yusni Antemas and his colleagues, in preparation for Sukarno's visit, planned to

push the president to speak on the issue of Islam as the potential foundation of the nation.

Leading up to the speech, this had been a hot topic of debate in town, to the point where

even the government's Information Office (Jawatan Penerangan) was giving out

83Sajuti Melik, Negara Nasional ataukah Negara Islam (Jogjakarta: Kedaulatan Rakjat, 1953), 20, quoted
in Muhammad Iqbal, "Menyulut Api di Padang Ilalang: Pidato Politik Soekamo di Amuntai 27 January
1953," Skripsi SI, Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta, 2009: 72.

84 Muhammad Iqbal based much of the information of his undergraduate thesis on a series of interviews
with Yusni Antemas, whose nom de plume is Anggraini Antemas. Under the latter name, he is famous in
South Kalimantan for publishing local history and short stories. I received additional information about
Antemas from a meeting of the Lembaga Budaya Bandjar in interviews with Muhammad Suriansyah
Ideham, H. Sjarifuddin, and Hj. Soerliani Djohansyah, Banjarmasin, September 21, 2010.

pamphlets on "Negara Nasional" (Nationalist [i.e., secular] State) and "Negara Islam"

(Islamic State). To bring the issue to Sukarno's attention, the nationalist youth prepared a

3 meter by 2 meter banner with a simple question written in red paint: "Please Clarify: A
Nationalist State or an Islamic State?" It is noteworthy that the sign was created by

secularist youth associated with the PNI, and not by Muslim activists as previous scholars

had thought.86

Sukarno then proceeded to give a speech in which he rejected the idea of an

Islamic state for Indonesia.87 He said that Indonesia had to be a state based on a nation

(using both the Dutch word natie and the Indonesian word bangsa), and not an Islamic

state. "If we said, brothers, that we only founded an Islamic state, our brothers in Ambon

[a Christian island in the Moluccus] would not want to join!" Sukarno claimed that he

had already received letters from East Indonesia threatening that they would establish

their own country if Indonesia became an Islamic state. As a concession to the audience,

Sukarno pointed out that "The Republic of Indonesia believes in God. Ketuhanan Jang

Maha-Esa is the first principle of Pancasila." More generally, he insisted that nothing in

the current make-up or organization of Indonesian governance conflicted with Islam. He

85 Iqbal, 74-75.

86 Both Feith {Decline of Constitutional Democracy, 281) and Cornelius van Dijk (Rebellion under the
Banner of Islam: The Darul Islam in Indonesia [The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1981], 256) credit the
banner or the call for Sukarno to face the Islamic state question head-on to Muslim activists in Amuntai, an
understandable mistake given the overwhelming Islamic character of the region. Many works published in
Indonesia have followed the accounts of these two foreign researchers to assign responsibility to Muslim
activists. See, among others, M. Suriansyah Ideham et al., eds, Sejarah Banjar (Banjarmasin: Pemerintah
Propinsi Kalimantan Selatan, 2003), chapter 8, which cites van Dijk. The research of Iqbal, using both
interviews with Amuntai activists present for the speech and the account of the journalist Sajuti Melik who
accompanied Sukarno on the journey, authoritatively corrects this misconception.

87 The full text of this speech was reprinted in Sajuti Melik, Negara Nasional ataukah Negara Islam
(Jogjakarta: Kedaulatan Rakjat, 1953), and from that source then re-copied as an appendix to Iqbal. Boyd
Compton described Sajuti Melik as "the president's own correspondent," and the pamphlet as his lengthy
praise of Sukarno's policy. See Boyd R. Compton, "President Sukarno and the Islamic State," Newsletter
of the Institute for Current World Affairs, March 8, 1953: http://www. icwa .org/articl es/BRC-8 .pdf. 2.

closed his speech by asserting "If there is some matter within the Republic of Indonesia

that stands in conflict with the Islamic religion, I will be the first to fight it!"88 Still, the

direct rejection of an Islamic state by the Indonesia's president was an unprecedented

step in opposing Islamic politics on the part of the government.

In response, Muslims and Islamic organizations were quick to decry the

President's speech as party politics with no connection to facts on the ground. The

leadership of NU sent Sukarno a letter requesting that he "remain neutral" in such

political matters as the foundation of the state.89 GPII and Perti also circulated letters

expressing their disapproval.90 Muhammadiyah announced that it was practicing serious

diplomacy with the President to change his mind: "the [Muhammdiyah] Central

Leadership has already given the order to Muhammadiyah elders who have closer and

deeper relations with the President to convey to him the feelings and opinions of

Muhammadiyah leadership, by finding a path to eliminate the tension over the results of

the speech, and thus also how to avoid such incidents in the future. The Central

Leadership has full hopes that these efforts will bring the desired results."91

Not all responses were quite so circuitous and polite, however. The Masjumi

newspaper in Jakarta ran articles like "Is it true that a Republic of Indonesia based on

Islam could cause regional divisions?,"92 challenging the central argument of the speech

88 Iqbal, 124-25, which copies the speech from Mimbar Penerangan, Tahun IV, No. 2 (Februari 1953): 1-3.

89 Hosmer, 281, n. 2.

90 Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia, 281.

91ANRI, RA34 "Muhammadiyah," #27 "Laporan muktamar Muhammadiyah ke-32 di Puwokerto, tanggal
9-14 July 1953."

92 Mohammad Saleh Suaidy, "Betulkah R.I. Berdasar Islam Bisa Menjebabkan Pemisahan Daerah?" Abadi,
February 12, 1953, p. 3.

and saying that if Sukarno really wanted to fight un-Islamic influences in the country he

would also fight for the institution of Islamic law. A police report from Jakarta said that

a Pakistani man connected with the Masjumi party was whipping up crowds in the region

in opposition to Sukarno's disavowal of an Islamic state. This man described Sukarno's

speech as "a bomb explosion that rent the hearts of the Islamic community of Indonesia."

93 The police report also states that it has become a common question among the public

"why the President at that time [in Amuntai] did not say ... that he would not mind such

an outcome [an Islamic state] if a majority of Indonesians really did want it;"94 Sukarno

had in the previous year made such a statement about the prospect of Communist control

of Indonesia.

The most vociferous response to Sukarno's Amuntai speech came from the

firebrand preacher in Bandung, M. Isa Anshary. This man, the head of Masjumi's West

Java provincial structure, was described by one observer as "a very short man, stocky and

hunched in the shoulders, ... tough, thick-skinned, and single-minded."95 Upon hearing

about Sukarno's speech in Amuntai, his mind was focused on countering secularist

rhetoric and promoting the idea of an Islamic state. Anshary charged that the speech was

"undemocratic, unconstitutional, a challenge to the Islamic ideology, advantageous to

certain non-Moslem parties, and liable to create chaos and insecurity."96 Although he

asserted that an Islamic state would allow full rights to Jews and Christians, he suggested

93 ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #1742, "Laporan No: 167/PKN/Pol.," dated February 13, 1953.

94 This
stood in opposition to Sukarno's statement in the Philippines the year prior that he would not mind
Indonesia being controlled by Communist interests if that was the desire of the Indonesian people. See ibid.

Boyd R. Compton, "Muslim Radicalism: The Anti-Communist Front," Newsletter of the Institute for
Current World Affairs, March 5, 1955, http://www.icwa.org/articles/BRC-27.pdf. 3.

96 P.I. Aneta News Bulletin, February 3, 1953, pp. 4-5, quoted in Hosmer, 281, n. 2.

that hypocrite and apostate Muslims would not be tolerated; as a clear reference to the

President, this constituted a very direct threat in terms of Indonesian political discourse at

the time.97 Although many of Anshary's critiques of the president were hyperbolic, in at

least one respect he was an astute political observer: Anshary noted that Sukarno's

Amuntai speech made compromise between the government and the Darul Islam

rebellion in West Java all the more difficult to achieve.98

In fact, Sukarno's speech not only made reconciliation with the most conservative

Islamic groups difficult, it actually alienated some groups so as to push them to extreme

measures. Daud Beureueh in Aceh listed the speech as one of the contributing factors to

Aceh's break with Jakarta in the rebellion launched in September 1953." Fearing more

inflammatory incidents like the speech at Amuntai, and seeking to blunt the president's

impact on the election, the Masjumi-led Burhanuddin Harahap cabinet forbade Sukarno

from touring and making speeches for the last few weeks of the 1955 campaign; the

president disregarded their orders and toured several islands warning of a "threat to

Pancasila."100 On the whole, speaking out on such a touchy topic in Amuntai certainly

lowered Sukarno's status among the general population.101 Not only was his personal

reputation damaged, but Sukarno brought down the reputation of Pancasila, the founding

ethos of the nation that he had formulated in 1945, by standing it in opposition to the idea

of an Islamic state. As one contemporary observer noted, "The Pantja Sila- Islamic State

97 Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy, 283.

98 Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy, 282.

99Boyd R. Compton, "Revolt in Atjeh!" Newsletter of the Institute for Current World Affairs, October 21,
1953,: http://www.icwa.org/articles/BRC-21 .pdf. 6.

100 Feith Decline of Constitutional Democracy, 449-50.

101 Compton, "President Sukarno and the Islamic State," 6.

argument was intelligible, meaningful, and divisive for very large parts of the village and

town kampong population."102

This was a meaningful argument in Indonesian society because so many

individuals and groups flocked to the president's side to uphold a Pancasila state and

reject an Islamic state. The Partai Nasional Indonesia took this occasion to embrace the

president's speech wholeheartedly so as to try and win for their party as many of his
followers as they could. In some Christian areas of the archipelago, Sukarno's speech

was received not only as an accurate description of the situation (i.e., they would indeed

secede if Indonesia became an Islamic state),104 but also as an excuse to reject Islamic

politics more strongly.

The most prominent example of Indonesia's Christian population rallying behind

Sukarno's secularist rhetoric and rejecting proponents of an Islamic state occurred in May

1954. In that month, Sukarno swung through Ambon, an area of the Moluccas with a

mixed Christian and Muslim population, on a speaking tour. Speaking to a primarily

Christian audience, he emphasized Pancasila as the only viable foundation for the nation.

A few weeks later, on May 20, 1954, the second vice-president of Masjumi, Kasman

Singodimedjo, came to Ambon and delivered a sermon to a mass meeting of Muslims,

renouncing Sukarno's Pancasila. According to Kasman, Pancasilaas a manmade

102 Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy, 325.

103Hosmer, 278. The tactic of drawing close to the image of Sukarno for elections was common to all
parties at the time except Masjumi, but PNI did an especially effective job of lashing their party to the
president. On Masjumi's rejection of the president in the election campaigns, and even their reprimand of
those branches who did invoke the president (like North Sumatra), see Hosmer, 356.

104Boyd Compton reported that several of his contacts from Sulawesi (presumably from the island's
Christian northern region, Manado) averred to Sukarno's analysis of the situation; they said they would be
the first to exit Indonesia if it became an Islamic state. Compton, "President Sukarno and the Islamic State,"

ideologycould not be accepted by any Muslim over Islaman ideology from God. In

the heat of the moment, Kasman overreached, saying "With regards to ideology, let me

explain that only the Islamic ideology has been dictated by Allah, while other ideologies

are manmade." He listed several examples of manmade philosophies: Pancasila,

Communism, Socialism, and Christianity.105 This last piece was an intolerable insult for

local Christian youth; as they began to riot immediately after the mass meeting on May

20, the police swiftly arrested Kasman and held him several days at the local air force

base for interrogation. The local and national Masjumi leadership denounced Kasman's

statement and affirmed that Christianity was also divinely inspired, and Kasman came

around to take back his own words and ask to correct the record with the public in


One of the most interesting aspects of this incident was that it got interpreted in

the national conversation not as a Muslim leader's gaffe in insulting Christianity, but

rather as another punch in the fight between Masjumi's political Islam and Sukarno's

Pancasila. In a letter sent to the president on October 30, 1954, an anonymous supporter

of secular nationalism summed up the general reaction nicely: "Recently Kasman

[Singodimedjo] has also gone into rebellion against the President and his Pancasila."107

This shows the extent to which a narrative of Pancasila versus an Islamic state had

gripped Indonesia, and not just in the final months before elections.

105 This direct quote appears in a police report from the mass meeting that was forwarded to the president.

ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #1909.

106 ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #1909. This incident also gets a passing reference in C.A.O. van

Nieuwenhuijze, "The Indonesian State and 'Deconfessionalized' Muslim Concepts," in Aspects of Islam in
Post-Colonial Indonesia: Five Essays (The Hague: W.van Hoeve, 1958), 215.

107 ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #1709.

Within this debate, where Sukarno was the clear voice for Pancasila, it was much

more difficult to pin down the argument for the Islamic state. This was due in large part,

according to Boyd Compton, to the fact that "No one seemed to have a clear idea of the
nature of an Islamic state." Perhaps in an effort to correct this problem, Muslim

scholars gathered in the Western end of Indonesia, in the Sumatran city of Medan, on

April 11-15, 1953.

The Medan Ulama Conference was a major event in the religious life of the nation

in the 1950s because it involved so many prominent scholars from so many groups. M.

Isa Anshary gave an exhaustive list of the Islamic groups with representatives present:

"Scholars from Masjumi, Muhammadiyah, Persatuan Islam, Jami'yatul Washliyah, Al

Ittahadiyatul Islamiyah, Persatuan Ummat Islam, Front Muballigh Islam, scholars of NU,

scholars of PSII, scholars of Perti, and other Islamic scholars and leaders."109 While

representatives came from many different organizations, all of them were religious

scholars, ulama, whose authority was "based on broad knowledge and education."110 In

this way, the conference was to some extent wresting authority for the ulama back from

the hands of Islamic politicians, many or most of whom were not classically trained in

Islamic theology.111

108 Compton, "President Sukarno and the Islamic State," 2.

109 M. Isa Anshary, "Hanja Negara Islam jang kami pertjajakan!" Suara Partai Masjumi tahim XI, no. 16

(June 10, 1956): 8.

110 Boyd R. Compton, "The Medan Ulama Conference," Newsletter of the Institute for Current World
Affairs, August 20, 1953: http://www.icwa.org/articles/BRC- 18.pdf. 2.

111This interpretation, although not present in any of the contemporary accounts of the conference, still
deserves attention because of the parallel discontent over this issue within NU that year. One of the
organization's grievances as they departed Masjumi was the precedence given to Western-trained
politicians over Islamically-trained scholars. See chapter 3.

The conference discussed a wide range of issues related to Islam in Indonesia,

including making suggestions for the form of an Indonesian Islamic state. At the same

time, the primary focus of participants was on how to achieve such a state, rather than the

details of its form, and for this they looked to the upcoming elections. The Medan Ulama

Conference's most talked-about product was a fatwa to instruct Indonesia's Muslims

facing the national elections:

We instruct the entire Islamic community in Indonesia with the following:

1) All Indonesian citizens of the Islamic religion, male and female, who have the right
to vote according to the Election Law of Indonesia which has already been passed
a) ARE REQUIRED to exercise their right to vote by registering themselves as
voters and voting at the time that the elections are held.
b) ARE REQUIRED to vote only for those candidates who have a goal of
implementing the teachings and laws of Islam in the country.
2) Members of the Muslim community, male and female, who have reached the age of
accountability (legal responsibility), ARE REQUIRED to work and give every kind
of aid and sacrifice to attain the victory of Islam in the upcoming elections.112

This fatwa left very little ambiguity about how Islamic leaders saw the position of

Muslims in the election. By requiring all Muslims, estimated at the time to constitute

between eighty-five and ninety per cent of Indonesia's total population, to support

Islamic parties with not just their work but their votes, it is understandable how these

leaders believed that they had secured the election for Islamic parties. At the same time,

participants recognized that not all Muslims were sure to obey the fatwa, but the scholars

differed on how to address disobedience. While some particularly zealous speakers

called for labeling non-compliant Muslims as kafir or infidels and expelling them from

Islam, the moderate majority rejected those proposals and agreed not to determine a

This fatwa was reproduced in Pedoman Perjuangan Masjumi, 99-102, which gives both the Indonesian
and the Arabic versions of the instruction. The above quotation comes from page 100.
specific action towards Muslims who ignored the fatwa and voted for non-Islamic


Although the Medan conference attracted a wide theological spectrum, the

participants were not entirely representative of the Indonesian Islamic community. They

were more likely to be theologically modernist than traditionalist and more likely to align

themselves with Masjumi.114 The most striking disproportionality was geographic. Of

the 207 delegates at the conference, 19 came from Java, 11 came from Sulawesi, 7 came

from Kalimantan, and 5 came from the Lesser Sundas (Lombok, Flores); the remaining

165 hailed from Sumatra.115 Still, Islamic parties across the archipelago referred to the

fatwa throughout the campaign. The PSII reprinted the decision in its first pamphlet

facing elections, published just a few months after the conference took place, and it

featured in many speeches by the party's leader Abikusno Tjokrosujoso.116 The NUa

party based almost exclusively on Javapublicized this fatwa extensively and drew on it

to shore up support among Muslims who were wavering as to whether to support an

Islamic party.117 Masjumi also used this decision as a pillar of its campaign, but Masjumi

also went further by issuing additional fatwas that were even more divisive. Thus, one

can say that, whether or not all Indonesian Muslims were proportionally represented at

the Medan Ulama Conference, the conference and its outcome spoke for pious Muslims

across the country.

113 Compton, "The Medan Ulama Conference" 3.

114 Compton, "The Medan Ulama Conference," 5.

115 A full list of all delegates is included as Appendix 4 in Abikusno Tjokrosujoso, Ummat Islam Indonesia

menghadapi Pemilihan Umum (Djakarta: Endang, 1953), 37-44.

116 Abikusno, 35-36.

117 Hosmer, 334.

After Sukarno's Amuntai speech in January and the Medan Ulama Conference in

April, the battle lines were drawn by mid-1953 between Islamic parties and non-Islamic

parties facing Indonesia's first national elections. With the basic issue of an Islamic state

versus a non-sectarian national state set as the key axis of difference, parties and

organizations were then able to begin their campaigning activities, both overt and implicit,

in earnest.

The dividing line between non-Islamic parties and Islamic parties did not mean,

however, that the Islamic parties were a united front. On the contrary, Islamic parties

also demonstrated significant disagreement among themselves, primarily between

Masjumi and NU. This was not only at the national levelsuch infighting was common

between low-level cadres at the grassroots.

In-Fighting Between Islamic Parties

One of the candidates on the Masjumi list for the Constitutional Assembly in

1955 was TGKH Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul Madjid of Lombok, head of the

Nahdlatul Wathan organization. Later in life, Abdul Madjid penned the following poem

about the functioning of Islamic parties and Islamic politicians in general:

Ajaibnya terkadang di Partai Islam, One sees strange things sometimes in

Islamic parties,
Berpura-pura membela Islam, Pretending to defend Islam,
Aktif keliling siang dan malam, Going around day and night,
Membela diri melupakan Islam. Defending themselves and forgetting Islam.

Memang banyak si model begitu, There are lots of people of that model,
Diputar oleh makhluk tertentu, Hinging on particular things,
Akhimya buta tuli dan bisu, In the end they are blind, deaf, and dumb,
Ingatannya hanya perut dan bangku. us Remembering only their stomach and seats.

11s Masnun, 229, quoting from Muhammad Zainuddin Abdul Madjid, Wasiat Renungan Massa, 55.

The gist of the poem is clear: Islamic politics does not constitute a reflection of the best

within Islam, and sometimes it fails to look Islamic at all. Although this poem was not

written specifically about the 1955 elections, it is likely that Abdul Madjid remembered

the experience of Islamic parties in that election when writing the poem. Islamic parties

engaged in bitter local contests not only against non-Islamic parties, but also with other

Islamic groups.

The vision of one, unified Islamic party in Masjumi had fallen apart in 1945,

when Perti established itself as a rival party on Sumatra. The departure from Masjumi of

PSII (in 1947) and NU (in 1953) further demonstrated the internal fissures of the Islamic

bloc. By the time of the 1955 elections, two new Islamic parties had fractured off of the

existing ones: AKUI from NU119 and PPTI (Partai Politik Tharekat Islam, Islamic Sufi

Brotherhood Party) from Perti. There were also individuals with strong Islamic

affiliations running on their own ticket (such as L. E. Idrus Effending on Sulawesi) and

regional parties that affiliated themselves with the Islamic bloc (such as the Gerakan

Pilihan Sunda).121

Between the many Islamic parties and candidates, though, the most fierce and

sustained conflict was between NU and Masjumi. To some extent, this reflected the

long-standing antagonisms from prior to NU's exit from Masjumi. NU leaders continued

to harbor sour feelings about what they perceived to be their mistreatment within the

119 Hosmer, 204. AKUI was based primarily on Madura, supported by kyais who would otherwise have

supported NU but felt uncomfortable with NU's policy regarding the opening of the Indonesian embassy in

120 ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #2164. This file contains the party's first instructions facing the

general elections, issued in March 1953 shortly after the party's founding. PPTI was led by Sjech H.
Djalaluddin, built mainly on the strength of his own Sufi network in West Sumatra.

121 Nasution, Aspiration for Constitutional Governance, 34.

Masjumi structure.122 Many Masjumi politicians still felt disappointed with NU's

departure from their party and felt betrayed that NU would enter the PNI-led Ali

Sastroamidjojo cabinet without Masjumi.123 The leadership of the two parties also

thought about politics very differently, with Masjumi leaders drawing on the background

of their Dutch educations to think about governance along Western norms, while the NU

leadership made up of theologians approached issues of governance with ideas drawn

from classical Islamic jurisprudence. On the ground, though, personal antagonisms

formed the primary source of conflict.

The conflict appeared in the campaign on both theological and policy issues.

From NU, theological accusations against the Masjumi were the most common. In Kroya,

Central Java, a kyai accusing Masjumi of not following any of the traditionalist four

schools of Islamic jurisprudence issued a fatwa that Muslims should not vote for

Masjumi. The report in the Masjumi monthly newsletter ran as follows:

In [NU's] campaign to the public, in their agitation of the masses, there has begun to
come out an attack on Masjumi because it does not follow the schools of jurisprudence.
A fatwa was even issued by a kyai in Kroya making Masjumi forbidden (haram) because
Masjumi is schismatic (talfiq). This is just because Masjumi decided at its congress to
leave the four schools of jurisprudence! And because of that one should not vote for

Masjumi stood between a rock and a hard place when it came to defining a position over

the four traditional schools of jurisprudence. With the goal of not alienating any voters or

regional leaders, Masjumi could neither reject the traditionalist schools of

jurisprudencewhich would alienate many regional supporting organizations such as

Jami'yatul Washliyah and Nahdlatul Wathannor fully embrace traditionalist Islam

122 Oral history with Idham Chalid, interviewed by M. Dien Madjid, ANRI SL1 1985 #9, tape 5.

123 Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia, 340.

124 Hamka, "Tugas Kita Setelah Pemilihan Umum," Suara Masjumi, vol. XI, no. 3-4 (February 1, 1956), 2.

which would alienate their single largest supporting organization, the modernist

Muhammadiyah. Masjumi tried to ease the minds of traditionalists by passing a

resolution at the December 1954 meeting of their Majelis Sjura (Consultative Board).

This statement, called "The Position of Masjumi towards the Schools of Jurisprudence,"

emphasizes that Masjumi is a place for the political, rather than theological, struggle of

all subsets of the Islamic community. This also cemented the focus of Masjumi leaders

as political leaders, rather than theological leaders, standing in contrast especially to NU

and Perti. At the same time, Masjumi felt compelled to state explicitly, "Masjumi fully

respects the schools of jurisprudence that are followed by its normal members and

'extraordinary' members."125

This was not enough for the NU, an organization founded on the importance of

the schools of jurisprudence. To drive home the importance of their theological stance,

the NU gathered several of its leading scholars in Magelang, Central Java, in August

1955, just weeks before election day. This gathering issued a pronouncement that

Muslims who believe in the schools of jurisprudence were required to vote for a party

that also followed the schools of jurisprudence.126 Although this fatwa was less biting

than the one issued by an individual scholar in Kroya, it carried greater power because it

came from a formal meeting of NU leaders.

While exchanging fatwas and proclamations could have remained very distant

from the reality of campaigning on the ground, the local activists of the NU and Masjumi

were prone to sharper confrontations, especially in areas of great Muslim strength. A

125 "Sikap Masjumi terhadap Mazhab," in Putusan Kongres P.P.I. Masjumi ke-VII, 14.

126 Hosmer, 334.

student journalist named Moertyono traveled to one such area, Lombok, in August 1954

and wrote a report on his experiences in a letter to President Sukarno. In his letter, he

describes a worrying climate of reciprocal violence between NU and Masjumi activists.

During his visit, the Central Leadership of NU sent a representative from their

headquarters in Surabaya to Lombok to make a speech to the party faithful on Lombok.

When this rally "was attacked by Masjumi people, things became tense ... until the

forces of the state were forced to secure the situation."127 Furthermore, not to be outdone

by NU's speakers, local branches of Masjumi had also begun collecting funds to pay for a

round-trip fare for Mohammad Natsir to come to Lombok from Jakarta; it was presumed

NU would now raid the Masjumi rally. Moertyono complemented his report with several

drawings depicting the political environment on Lombok, including one portraying the

inter-factional violence between NU and Masjumi, which had become a major theme of

the local campaign season.

Conflict was not confined to Masjumi and NU; other Islamic parties also clashed

with each other across the archipelago. In South Sulawesi, the local offices of the

Ministry of Religion, whose bureaucracy was controlled by NU, were used by NU-

aligned officials at the provincial level to keep an eye on other Islamic parties in the

province. This was presumably also reported up to the NU-dominated bureaucracy in

the central Ministry of Religion offices in Jakarta. In the context of South Sulawesi, the

Ministry's reports focused on the activities of the region's two strongest Islamic parties:

Masjumi and PSII.

127 Letter from Moertyono, ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #1710.

128Arsip Sulawesi Selatan, Koleksi 11 Kantor Kementerian Agama Propinsi, #106 gives several examples
of this kind of report.

SZ&///6 T&>/fcpt Sh
r*RTf (ntfjUMl
5g?-r 2
. ; t o .

' -m

Figure 9 This picture, drawn by an aspiring journalist after a visit to Lombok, was given the caption "Party
Clashes Happen Often, as with Masjumi and N.O." ANRI, RA7 Kabinet Presiden, #1710.

In fact, in the town of Madjene, West Sulawesi, Masjumi and PSII came into

sharp conflict immediately before the Constitutional Assembly election in December

1955. In the Friday sermon at Madjene's main mosque on December 2, 1955, the

preacher expressed his disappointment that so many Muslims had not voted for Islamic

parties in the September parliamentary elections. He encouraged his listeners, as good

Muslims, to punch the Masjumi star and crescent on the December 15 ballot for the

Constitutional Assembly. The local head of PSII, who was also a congregant at that

mosque, took immediate exception to this promotion of a particular Islamic party, and

appealed to the mosque committee to let him give the next Friday's sermon, the only

remaining one before the election, so as to balance out the political message congregants

heard. The PSII leader was turned down; the mosque committee preferred to stick to the

predetermined rotation of speakers. In response, local Masjumi and PSII men in the civil

service traded accusations of exploiting their government position to promote their own

political party (a violation of the civil service code) and of violating democratic
1 90
principles. This one case became well-documented because of the reciprocal

recriminations passed back and forth by the local bureaucrats, but it is likely that a similar

situation arose at many of the thousands of mosques across the country.

Accusations could also arise from political actions by a particular Islamic party

that the others found theologically questionable. One instance of a very bold theological

move that earned some condemnation was a fatwa from Masjumi regarding the

obligatory annual Muslim alms, zakat. Masjumi told its followers that a portion of this

required offering could be paid to Islamic political parties for electoral purposes, because

129 Arsip Sulawesi Selatan, Koleksi 11 Kantor Kementerian Agama Propinsi, #232.

this counted as furthering the cause of the religion.130 This self-serving decision by the

party's theologians came under fire from competing organizations.

Although the relationship between Islamic parties was not always amicable,

Muslims reserved their greatest vitriol for Indonesia's Communists.

Campaigning against Communists

Boyd Compton, a young American touring around Indonesia in the early 1950s,

wrote, "Unlike their comrades in China, the Indonesian communists are faced with a

determined and capable enemy."131 By this he meant the Islamic political movement, and

this enmity became more apparent and focused during the campaign for the 1955 election.

The Islamic parties had come into conflict with the PKI often during the drafting of the

election law, but during the open campaign this conflict became even sharper.132

Islamic parties tried to paint Communists as traitors to the Indonesian nation by

frequently harkening back to the Madiun Revolt of 1948, in which Communists leaders

tried to take over the Indonesian revolution and institute a socialist state, killing hundreds

of religious students in the process. The violence inflicted by Communists against

Muslims surrounding the Madiun revolt, and the perhaps equally violent response from

Muslims in the ensuing weeks, and the anti-PKI violence that the government armed

forces and religious militias unleashed in response, had created an insoluble rift between

leftists and pious Muslims, particularly in the areas of East Java surrounding the revolt's

130 This fatwa appears in the Pedoman Perjuangan Masjumi, 98.

131 Compton, "The Indonesian Election Law," 1.

132 The one exception to this rule seems to have been the PSII, which stood with PKI on some policy issues
and did not seem to engage in the blanket attacks on Communism as an ideology that were common from
the other Islamic parties.

epicenter.133 Muslim leaders used the revolt to paint Communists as violent and

untrustworthy, scheming against the legitimate authorities.134 Several Masjumi leaders

called for widespread prosecutions of surviving PKI leaders, and even the banning of the
party as a whole, in retaliation for the 1948 revolt. Masjumi also several times

attempted to create a "National Day of Mourning" on September 18 to recognize the

"national tragedy" the PKI caused in Madiun.136

Another major line of attack that the Islamic parties used against the PKI was to

assail it for atheism.137 In this they had the support of not just Islamic parties, but also the

Protestant and Catholic parties.138 Almost no Indonesians felt comfortable with the idea

of atheism, even when they were not particularly pious in carrying out their ritual

obligations, so that this criticism had the potential to be highly effective. The

Communists' credibility took a hit when Chou En-lai made a public statement at the

Bandung Conference in April 1955 that "We Communists are atheists."139 Because

133 See Jay, 74-76, for a description of two adjacent villages, one orthodox Muslim, one left-leaning, where
villagers refused to even pass through the other community for the two years leading up to elections. On
the Madiun revolt and its repression more generally, see Ann Swift, The Road to Madiun: The Indonesian
Communist Uprising of1948 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell Modern Indonesia Project, 1989).

134Asbiran Aswad, "Tindjauan Dalam Negeri," Suara Partai Masjumi, tahun XI, Lebaran issue (May 12,
1956): 3, summarizes this line of attack on the PKI from the elections, the response of Lukman from the
PKI leadership, and a retort arguing why Lukman was wrong and the PKI truly was violent and
untrustworthy, all hinging on Madiun.

135 Oral history with Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, interviewed by J.R. Caniago, ANRI, SL1 1979 #6, tape 6

136 Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia, 360. ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #1905,

"Resolution of the Muslimaat Tjabang Tegal, 19 September 1954."

137 Zulfikar Ghazali, "Upaya Masyumi Membendung Komunisme," Ilmu dan Budaya, tahun XIII, no. 3

(December 1990): 186.

138 Asbiran Aswad, 3.

139 Feith, Decline of Constitutional Democracy, 360. See also Richard Wright, The Color Curtain: A

Report on the Bandung Conference (New York: World Publishing Company, 1956), 159, where Wright
describes Chou's fear of religious interests (particularly Indonesia's Muslims) rising up against him and
against Communism.

Sukarno was so avidly pushing Pancasila as the only appropriate basis for the Indonesian

state, and because the PKI was claiming that it also embraced Pancasila, Muslims

frequently condemned the Communists as violating Pancasila's first principle (belief in

God) through their atheism. One man wrote the President from Bogor in October 1953

asking him to face "the consequences for the Republic of Indonesia of holding fast to the

principle Belief in Almighty God and protecting [the state] from the influence" of

"militant atheist groups."140 His sentiment seems to be an accurate reflection of Muslim

fears of PKI's anti-religious antagonism on the ground.

Finally, Muslim leaders attacked Communists as being the toadies of the Soviets

and the Chinese. M. Isa Anshary claimed a distinct increase in Communist activity in

Indonesia after the opening of the Soviet and Chinese embassies, and averred that foreign

support was crucial to the PKI's survival.141 Stephen Hosmer also suggested heavy

foreign subsidies for the PKI, perhaps in reflection of a distinct American bias.142

To put their rhetorical condemnation of the PKI into practice, Masjumi and its

affiliated Muslim leaders began campaigns of denying various services and rites to

Communists. In West Java, a fatwa came out from Persatuan Islam instructing religious

functionaries to deny a Muslim burial to Communists and telling Muslims not to marry

140 ANRI, RA7 "Kabinet Presiden," #1709, "Surat dari Abrary Ch., Bogor, October 20, 1953." See also

ANRI, RA9 "Konstituante," #81; Margaret Bocquet-Siek and Robert Cribb, eds., Islam and the Panca Sila
(North Queensland: James Cook University, 1991), 17, from the speech of Mohammad Natsir in the
Constituent Assembly: "According to the communists there is no God. How they accept the fact of His
existence as part of the State's basis is beyond belief."