Published: July 13th 2012July 6th 2012
After the fall of former president of Suharto in Indonesia, many fanatic radical groups such as Hizbut Tahrir, Mujahidin Council of Indonesia, Laskar Jihad, Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia, Darul Islam, Jama'ah Islamyah and FPI now they can have their voices, political and religious activities. These groups whose leaders are Arab decendants and they want to create a wahabbism in Indonesia like in Middle East. Indonesia is so beautiful and why these thugs want to create mess in Indonesia.
This article by Hamid Fahmy Zarkasyi, PhD...
THE RISE OF ISLAMIC RELIGIO-POLITICAL MOVEMENT
(Its background, present situation and future)
Hamid Fahmy Zarkasyi PhD
Director of Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought and Civilization Jakarta
A paper presented at the Symposium on “Asia and Islam”
Organized by the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA) and the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM),
October 15th – 16th, Tokyo
This paper will trace the roots of the emergence of Islamic religious and political movement in Indonesia after longstanding experience of two oppressive regimes. During these periods Muslims were depoliticized as if they have no interest to form political parties. Nurcholish Madjid depicted the situation in a slogan “Islam Yes, Islamic Party No”. The trace alludes the factor of global situation but the focus is the political situation during Suharto regime, during which the Muslim political activities were held underground. There were two important impacts of Suharto’s strategy to depoliticized Muslim organization.
First that various study groups and student organizations mushroomed in the university campuses. The student activities moved from student center to mosques, where the student of secular universities could learn more about Islam. Second is the emergence of Islamic political parties, the most phenomenal of which is the emergence of Justice and Welfare Party (PKS) and other Islam based parties or parties established by Muslim intellectuals. The phenomena suggested that Madjid pronouncement was no more tenable. The New Order strategy to depoliticize the Muslims movement and organization was not effective. However, the freedom after long oppression was not without risk. Apart from political movement there are also religious movements of radical groups on the one hand and liberal group on the other.
However, the liberal group targeted the radical and extremist group, but in reality they attacked non-radical and moderate group which is the majority of Indonesian Muslims. The radical groups are not interested in such kind of liberal discourse, and liberalization seems ineffective to reduce their radical approach. Moreover, the liberal is not only intellectual movement but also social and political, therefore to a certain extent they tend to have the same decree of extremism as the radical groups. The present confrontation between the liberal and the moderate Muslim could lead to serious conflict in the future and would risk the democratic atmosphere.
The rise of Islamic political parties and Islamic religious movements after the fall of Suharto was not in abrupt manner. There were gradual processes involving numbers of national and global factors. Under the two regimes, Sukarno and Suharto, Muslim students and political movement were suffered from political oppressions, but the impact became effective for Muslims to mobilize themselves through underground organizations and movements.
The resignation of President Suharto and the succession of his Vice President, BJ Habibie in 1998 marked the end of four decade of authoritarian rule and the beginning of democratization in Indonesian politic. The era of authoritative rule with considerable restriction and repression in socio-political life was subsequently replaced by reformation era with extravagant euphoria of freedom. Repression against Muslim and other groups decreased somewhat under the Habibie regime and dramatically under the regime of Abdurrahman Wahid. Habibie started with lifting the existing ban on the number of political parties and announce general election would be held within a year. He also abolished the rule and regulation of media publication like news paper and magazine. Wahid, who was later known as pluralist figure, started with the abolishing the ban of ex-communist party members to participate in social and political activities.1
The situation is considerably conducive for the rise of diverse movements of numerous ideologies. Two most interesting phenomena are the rise of Islamic political parties, and the emergence of Muslim groups which are regarded as taking extreme positions either radical extremist group or extreme liberal groups. This paper will analyze the rise of those movements from its background, the present situation as well as its future.
After he steps down from his power Wahid appreciate the launching the publication of the translated Karl Mark book Das Capitalist. The students who present at the event commented that Islam should learn from communism.
Brief Historical Background
Studies on the rise of political Islam in Indonesia in present days, presupposes the study of the longstanding historical process of Muslim struggle in building nation state prior to and after the independence. Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation and is the world’s fourth most populated nation overall. It embraces within its territorial boundaries the largest concentration of Muslim in the world. From its total population of about 210 million, 87% are listed as Muslim.2
However, as the religion of majority; Islam and its institution have historically played a pivotal role in mobilizing and organizing the masses against the colonialist power. Prior to its independence Islamic organizations in Indonesia were also among those who spearheaded the Indonesian nationalist movements. Countless Muslim politicians, educators, social and religious leaders and others took part in struggle for Indonesian independent.
The establishment of Syarikat Islam in early1920s comprising Muslim traders from Java and Sumatera was ample evidence of such social mobilization. In addition, traditional education institution, like pesantren with its religious scholars (ulama) also displayed a remarkable potentiality to mobilize the armies against Dutch colonialists. The formation and collaboration of PETA (National Defender) and Hizbullah (The Army of God) during Japanese occupation is anotherevidence.3
After independence Muslims had been the key actors in the formation of state and even in the building of the nation as a whole. However, Islamic social movements, like Islam itself, are not monolithic. Rather, the movements are comprised of a diverse array of Muslim actors with different goals and myriad means by which they seek to achieve their objectives. Some social movements may seek an Islamic state by winning elections, some other attempts to implement Islamic laws among Muslim community, others may seek to improve the system of Islamic education through establishing schools, universities, or training centers, another group may seek to create their own economic systems and the likes. In short, Islam became the major impetus and the unifying factor of Indonesian nation that formed Indonesian state. However, after long debate among the founding fathers of Indonesia the idea of Islamic state brought by Muslim leaders was rejected and substituted with unitary state. By the early twentieth century two important organizations were established.
First is Muhammadiyah, which is formed in 1912 to assert reformist or “modern” Islamic ideals. Now, it becomes the second largest Islamic organization in the country that has 9,527 educational institutions of various types, and 3,775 health and welfare-related centers. Second organization reflecting the traditionalist outlook counterweight to it was established in 1926 under the name Nahdlatul Ulama (literally, "revival of the religious teachers," but commonly referred to as the Muslim Scholars' League). Now it becomes the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, which claims to have hundreds of traditional schools (pesantren) with 30 million supporters. It runs schools and community associations throughout the country. However, the founder of both NU and Muhammadiyah were graduated from Saudi Arabia in 19th
century, during which Mecca and Medina were the centers of traditional learning. They were known to be holding and practicing fundamental teaching of Islam but not necessarily became “fundamentalist” in Western sense of the term. During the struggle for Indonesian independence which finally declared in 1945, the prominent figure of these two organizations became committee members for the preparation of Indonesia Independence (PPKI).
Biro Pusat Statistik Indonesia
For the history of PETA and Hizbullah formation, see Harry J Benda, The Crescent on the Rising Sun, Indonesian Islam Under the Japanese Occupation, 1942-1945, W. Van Hoeve, The Hague, 1958.
After the proclamation of Indonesian independence in 1945, a large number of competing parties emerged. Among these parties Masyumi (Indonesian Muslim Consultative Council) was in a strong position. Masyumi was a federation of Islamic parties and organization including Muhammadiyah, Syarikat Islam and Nahdlatul Ulama. Its leader was Mohammad Natsir who during the earlier period of parliamentary democracy (1950-1957) became Prime Minister (from September 1950 to March 1951). No later than a decade the strains among the party members begun to show. Syarikat Islam party (in 1948) and Nahdlatul Ulama (in 1950) withdrew from Masyumi. Nonetheless, in 1955 election Masyumi won 22 percent of parliamentary vote equal to forty four seats. However, due to the hostility of the party member against Sukarno the party was then banned in 1960.4
During the New Order regime under the leadership of Suharto the Muslim parties were oppressed. Pancasila was placed as state ideology and stated to abolish parties based on religion. He then decided to reduce the number of political parties. In 1971 general election there were nine parties four of which are Muslim parties (PMI, NU, PSII, and Tarbiyah). In 1973 the government merged these four parties into a single body identified by a name that had nothing to do with Islamic aspiration, United Development Party (PPP). At the same time it merged five minority parties including Catholic party, the Protestant party and the remnant of the former Indonesian Nationalist Party to form Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI). The party that supports the government called Golkar. Thus, the number of parties at a single stroke was reduced to three parties which became the mark of the end of party based on religious ideology. Islamic political parties and organizations had been oppressed and almost lost their chance to compete in democratic system.
Apart from the above situation in 1970s there were gradually massive religious phenomena, particularly among the Indonesian Muslims and generally among the youth in the Muslim world. The phenomena, in Indonesia could be called the ‘santri-ization’,5
which means the increase of religious consciousness in Muslim society. Increased public practice of their Islamic faith like the consciousness to attend Friday prayers at the mosque, for women to wear the jilbab/tudung (Muslim head dress) and for Muslims to eat separately from non-Muslim colleagues has also characterized Malaysian and Singapore Muslims. Although this could be on the level of religious practice and not necessarily on religious thought or the substance of religious belief, it marked the rise of the greater awareness of Islam's global identity. Therefore, it should not be surprising that these phenomena occurred simultaneously with the growing support for the Palestinian cause, and commitment to support the struggles of Muslims in Afghanistan (during the Soviet occupation), Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya. Thus, the increased of religious practices grow simultaneously with global political awareness. However, the phenomena suggest only religious identification, and cannot be generalized as the emergence of transnational terrorist networks nor the desire to establish exclusionist Islamic states in Southeast Asia.
Since then Natsir change his activity into social movement. He established the Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia (Indonesian Council for Islamic Propagation). It is an organization for the propagation of Islam, set up in 1968. Under the leadership of Natsir, who was also appointment as vice-president of the World Muslim Congress, the Council received financial support from the Saudi Arabia government. However, after his death the council receives no more financial support from Saudi. The explications of political development in these years see H. Faith, The Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia, Ithaca, N.Y. Cornel University Press, 1962, esp. chapter 9 & 10.
The santri refer to students of religious education institution named pesantren, seen as devout Muslims compared to the abangan nominal Muslims. In reality, this Clifford Geertz’s old divisions are not so stark for there is a continuum that reflects the diverse practice of religious faith in Muslim society. The discussion of this term, however, refers to Koentjaraningrat, Javanese Culture (Singapore, Oxford University Press, 1985).
One would assume that the Taliban was “the final and the most formidable product of this long term strategy of Wahhabism,6
but so far Muslims in these area remained Hanafi adherent and in Southeast Asia are Shafii strong holders. In Southeast Asia the Wahhabi influence can also be seen in the emergence of the group called Salafi, but it is nothing to do with the rise of religious movement, let alone the current political movement, since the school forbids its members to join any political activity. The spread of Shia school of thought from Iran to South and Southeast Asia is also the irrefutable fact, but Muslims in these areas are predominantly Sunni and not Shiites like the Iranians. So the phenomena can hardly be traced from single factor, or be inferred as the rise of extremism and radicalism. John L Esposito regards it as Islamic revivalism and a global reassertion of Islam that had already been under way and that extended from Libya to Malaysia.7
Muslims Under Oppression
The above phenomena could be traced back to the Suharto regime which can be appraised in two periods: first, from the late 1960s until the late 1980s and second from 1980 until 1990s. In the first period Suharto regime practiced highly indiscriminate repressive policies against Islamic organizations and sought to diffuse the Islamic threat by imposing ideological conformity on the majority of Islamic groups permitted to act politically. In the second period Suharto permitted somewhat greater political openness inclusion and engaged in cosmetic competitive institution building. At the same time he also continuously applies repressive policies against Islam and any groups that posed a threat. In the first period, that is the first two decades of the New Order regime, Suharto imposed strict controls on Islamic political organization, as part of a systematic effort to depoliticize society and weaken the party system. After crushing the communists in the1965, Islamic extremists became the military’s enemy number one.
Since the military had to suppress a series of Muslim revolts from 1948-1962, military officials had been thoroughly indoctrinated in the threat of Islamic extremism.8
Outside of its official corporatist institutions, the Suharto regime was intensely suspicious of Islamic groups and as such, religious extremists and their views were crushed. Suharto’s policy towards Islamic groups mirrored that of the Dutch colonial administration: it encouraged faith in Islam but ruthlessly repressing any political manifestations.9
In order to achieve these goals Suharto channeled Islamic group interests into non-party national peak associations by establishing for example the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI), the Indonesian Mosque Council (DMI) and the Indonesian Dakwah Council (MDI). The aim was to keep political participation and interest demands low by channeling group interest into state-supervised structures and locking them out of power sharing agreements.10
It also to demobilize, depoliticize and to let the Muslim groups go underground.
Shireen T. Hunter, “Religion, Politics and Security in Central Asia”, SAIS Review, 21, No. 2 (Summer-Fall 2001), p. 72-81.
John L Esposito, “Political Islam: Beyond the Green Menace” The journal Current History, January 1994.
Vatikiotis, Michael, Indonesian Politics Under Suharto London: Routledge, 1994, 127.
Hefner, Robert. Civil Islam Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000, 121; Vatikiotis, Indonesian, 120; Liddle, William. Leadership and Culture in Indonesian Politics Sydney: Allen and Unwin 1996, 621.
Porter, Donald. Managing Politics and Islam in Indonesia London: Routledge 2002, 4; Liddle, Leadership, 615
Towards the existing political parties Suharto regime applied the same strategy. He realized that there had been numerous cleavages in the Islamic movement with some parties favoring an Islamic state, most notably Masyumi and its successor, Parmusi, while other parties wanted Indonesia to remain Muslim country but not one governed under shariah law. Besides, Suharto also aware that Sukarno’s supporters and other nationalist parties were still dangerous to his power and should be marginalized. Therefore in 1974 he only allowed three parties to compete in elections: four Islamic parties were forced to merge in to the Unity Development Party (PPP), non-Islamic parties, like PNI, were fused together as the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), and most significantly there was the party formed by the armed forces, the Joint Secretariat of Functional Groups (Golkar). Golkar was given primacy in rallying popular support for Suharto. Overall party influence was also minimized by restricting the parties’ role in the newly established legislative bodies, the DPR, and the MPR. About 20% of members were directly appointed by the government.
By merging some Islamic parties into one Partai Persatsuan Pembagunan (PPP), the Suharto regime forced to abandon its Islamic symbol on the electoral ballot, change the name of the parties into non-religious party name.11
The next step was to impose ideological conformity on Islamic political parties, organizations and state chartered religious institutions; all had to make the Pancasila their operating and organizing principle.12
This strategy fairly contributed to the depoliticization of certain Islamic groups that according to Donald Porter is effective in damaging religious organizations.13
This action was supposed to bring religious groups under state management and eliminate any unmediated Islamist tendencies.14
However, for those groups which refused to give up their Islamic ideology and replace it by Pancasila went underground and operated covertly through informal networks, cell networks and through local mosques to avoid government retaliation.
In the university level Suharto imposed this form of oppression through a “normalization policy,” (Normalisasi Kehidupan Kampus-NKK) which sought to depoliticize campus life by restricting the activities of student organizations and requiring students to focus entirely on their studies. In order to sufficiently depoliticize campus life, the government introduced the concept of the three duties of tertiary education institutions: expertise, responsibility and corporateness.
Moreover, it replaced independent student bodies and university student councils with administration-dominated “activity coordination bodies” and prohibited Islamic student organizations from conducting their activities on campus; only the coordination bodies were permitted to represent the students. This strategy was also applied to social organization and become an effective measure to exclude Islamic organizations from political participation and an important mechanism of the state and the military’s management and supervision of society as well as vehicles for the controlled mobilization of Indonesian into state-guided political and economic projects.15
Besides “the normalization” policy of student life in university campuses and depoliticizing the Muslims, the New Order of Suharto attempted to shape Indonesian Islam as supportive of government development programs. He utilized the Muslim intellectual to legitimize the program by quietly giving its approval to an Islamic Renewal
Liddle Leadership, 611; Porter, Managing, 39.
The five principles of the Pancasila are belief in one god, humanitarian justice, unity among Indonesians, democracy by deliberation and consensus, and social justice for all.
Porter, Managing, 39.
Porter, Managing, 33, 57.
(Pembaruan) movement led by Nurcholish Madjid, the president of the National Organization of Islamic Students (Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam or HMI and Harun Nasution, the Rector of State Institute of Islamic Studies, IAIN). The most popular concept in Madjid’s Islamic renewal was that of secularization,16
while in Nasution’s was that of rationalization. In consonant with his secularization concept, in 1970 the former provoked heated controversy when he called for Islam to be separated from politics with the slogan “Islam Yes, Islamic Party No.”17
The Renewal movement emphasized the interpretation of scripture in application to the modern world and the realization of Islamic values in personal life rather than through political parties. The slogan that Madjid claimed to be the real depiction of the Muslim society was more imaginary than reality. In fact, the Islamic organizations responded to the Suharto regime’s policies in a variety of ways. The Muslim thinkers adopted a flexible approach weaving between official suspicion of Islam and the conservative tendencies of ulama.
Some key dakwah groups, most notably Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) chose to depoliticize and withdraw from politics to focus on education and social welfare concerns. Other Islamists compromised their own beliefs to attain government sanction, but this didn’t diminish their popular support. Since they were unable to promote a political Islamist dogma, many Islamic scholars would hide their ideas in notions of socialwelfare.18
On the other hand the Suharto regime, in the early 1990s, adopted a program to send religious teachers overseas to western centers of Islamic studies in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. This is to steer them away from the main centers in the Middle East,19
at the same time to disseminate the liberal thought among the Muslim intellectuals. The program was quite instrumental in enhancing the rise liberalism in the future. This will be dealt with later.
The second period of Suharto regime was marked by a strategy of Political Openness. Suharto drew on support from incorporated Muslim interests, in order to seek to ward off challenges to his rule. This led to a state-Islamic accommodation and a simultaneous regime initiated political opening through which Islamic groups remobilized, after two decades of regime enforced depoliticization. With the Islamic revival, Suharto saw an opportunity to play the Islam card against members of the military and civilian elites who might challenge his rule.20
The major action Suharto took during this period was sanctioning of the formation of the Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI), in December 1990. This is an organization comprised of Muslim intellectuals, bureaucrats and activists, both pro-and anti-military, both pro-and anti-Suharto. The association was chaired by Minister of Research and Technology BJ Habibie with Suharto as its patron.
The idea was proclaimed after his short visit to United States, in the late 1960s. After a year or two Madjid proclaimed that Islam is secular religion and offered the concept secularization (sekularisasi) in the religious life of the Muslim. The concept that he claimed to be his own was duplicated from Harvey Cox’s concept of secularization in his renowned work The Secular City, the most popular book in the US in the late 60s. The book is Cox’s attempt to prove that Christianity is in line with modernity, a point that Madjid took to support the government development program.
Nurcholish Madjid’s speech was entitled, “Keharusan Pembaruan Pemikiran Islam dan Masalah Integrasi Umat” [The Necessity of Renewing Islamic Thought and the Problem of the Integration of the Islamic Community]. An English translation of the speech can be found in Charles Kurzman, ed., Liberal Islam: A Sourcebook (Oxford University Press, 1998: 284-9.
Vatikiotis, Indonesian, 129; Hefner, Civil Islam, 121; Vatikiotis, Indonesian, 129.
Vatikiotis, Indonesian, 127
Porter Managing, 4; Hefner Civil Islam, 121
However, ICMI was never meant to be an autonomous organization democratically representing the political interests of Indonesian Muslims to their government. Instead, it was a state corporatist organization, dominated by high officials closely allied with neither President Suharto, whose main policy slogan was one of human resource development and whose chief political enemies were neither radicals nor Christians, but market-oriented economists.21
Suharto’s political openness that drew on support from incorporated Muslim interests also brought about the increase of santri participation in Suharto administration. Therefore when Habibie’s ascent to the Presidency of Indonesia in May 1998, following Suharto’s resignation in the aftermath of the anti-Chinese riots, the leading Muslim activists are appointed to key positions in Habibie’s administration.22
As a result of this brief period of political opening, roughly from 1990-1994, myriad Islamic groups remobilized and Islamic political leaders, such as Abdurrahman Wahid, began openly criticizing the state.23
This brief period of political openness followed by a repressive clamp down political activism had an unintended consequence: it raised people’s expectations for change. Not surprisingly, Islamic student organizations were at the forefront.
Mosques served as the main organizing centers because the permitted students to organize activities out of the purview of the state and its corporatist institutions. In other words, the state could not control the Islamic organizations. By1996, the diverse array of Islamic organizations and oppositional activity had grown intolerable for the Suharto regime and they turned to repressive policies.24
In sum, the strategy to use indiscriminate repression and to targeting Suharto’s enemies rather than dangerous groups initiating disturbances did not succeed in demobilizing the Islamic organizations. It even brought about the rise of Islamic political movement.
By limiting participation policies the Muslims are driven to form underground organizations having informal networks, employing cell structures to escape the watchful eyes of the state. These organizations were widely formed in universities campuses throughout Indonesia. Therefore, by 1998, when autocratic leader, President Suharto stepped down from power, some Muslim groups were at the forefront of demands for democracy.
Liddle, Leadership, 625.
For a discussion of the transition from Suharto to Habibie, see Leo Suryadinata, “A Year of Upheaval and Uncertainty: The Fall of Suharto and the Rise of Habibie”, Southeast Asian Affairs 1999 (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore 1999), pp. 111-127. Suharto’s overtures to the Muslim community is covered in Robert W. Hefner, “Islam, State and Civil Society: ICMI and the Struggle for the Indonesian Middle Class”, Indonesia No. 56 (1993), pp. 1-35 and R. William Liddle, “The Islamic turn in Indonesia: A Political Explanation”, The Journal of Asian Studies, 55, no. 3 (August 1996), pp. 613-634.
Hefner Civil Islam, 162
Porter Managing, 172, 198-199
The Impact on Student Movements
The global political situation and the oppressive as well as depoliticization strategy applied by Suharto regime explicated above brought about consequences. In Tilly’s theory repression could raise collective action of the contender,25
and such an action as riots, rebellion and revolution targeted the government agents.26
Tarrow even assumes that the outcome of the repression in authoritarian systems can either demobilize or radicalize collective action.27
The theory of Tilly and Tarrow is proven in the emerging riots and protest of people power in the reformation era prior to the resignation of Suharto in 1998 that later on become social and political movements.
However, for the Muslims social and political movements were driven not only by political oppression but also by religious obligation, that to study Islam and to teach it to others as well as to practice it in daily life are parts of Islamic dakwah. In addition, national and international situation play a pivotal role in influencing student mind. Now, we shall trace the consequences of both international situation as well as Suharto oppressive policy on student life and thought. These activities were the embryo of Islamic movement that subsequently became the one mobilization vehicles of Islamic political parties. The impact of "Normalization of Campus” policy was the shift of political activity to dakwah movement. Muslim student movement did not depoliticized easily, many went underground and mosques became the new focus of politico-religious activities and discussion groups that helped to fuel the Islamic awakening.28
Student center had been dead and all the activity channeled to the mosque.29
“People need a channel for their political aspirations and they will find it where they can” says Rizal Ramly, former student of ITB, Bandung.30
All activities in the mosque were operated underground or with a low profile. In the late 1970s the study on Islam was influenced by the spirit of the Iranian Revolution,31
but not on the Shia school of thought. The spirit of Islamic revival was so great that student were so curious to learn about Islam. In Salman Mosque, for example, students were inspired by the fiery sermons of Imaddudin. At Salahuddin Gajah Mada University Amin Rais, Syaifullah Mahyuddin and others were important figures of student dakwah activities at University of Airlangga Surabaya Dr. Fuad Amsyari was their prominent figure.
Tilly, Charles. From Mobilization to Revolution Reading Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1978, 100.
Tilly, Charles. Politics of Collective Violence Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, 28.
Tarrow, Sidney, Power in Movement: Social Movements and Collective Action in Politics Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, 92
Porter, Managing, 2; Liddle, Leadership, 157, 624.
Salman at ITB Bandung, Salahuddin at Gajah Mada, Arif Rahman Hakim at University of Indonesia, arefew examples of university mosques.
This refers to the statement of the economist Rizal Ramli when he was student of ITB Bandung, as quoted by Elizabeth Fuller Collins, Fulbright Visiting Fellow Universitas Islam NegeriSyarif Hidayatullahin his unpublished paper Dakwah and Democracy The Significance of Partai Keadilan and Hizbut Tharir.
Ali Syariati (1933-1977) was the most influential intellectual leader of the Iranian Revolution. He had studied in Paris and was influenced by Third World and Left intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Che Guevara, and Frantz Fanon (Kepel 2002, 37-8). He transposed Marxist language of class struggle into an Islamic vocabulary, distinguishing the mostakbirine (the arrogant) and the mostadafine (the disinherited or oppressed).
The dakwah movement quickly spread to the mosques of other universities, where Qur’an study groups were established. Therefore, the terms employed for naming their study group were usroh (nuclear family), halaqah (a circle of students and their teacher), and tarbiyah (education under a teacher who provides moral guidance). The subject matter is more about inculcating religious morality, for those who had no background of Islamic studies. However, it developed into politic and civilization studies.
In 1980s university mosques or mosque around the universities became the centre of Islamic learning of secular universities.32
Although the groups that are part of this movement do not relate themselves with political activities, they are mostly in the opinion that the present government is corrupt and unjust. Internationally they also share the view that westernization and secularism are going on throughout the Muslims world and it should be prevented. Nevertheless, their spirit to learn and practice Islam was so great that prone to be influenced by any idea, school of thought, brought by their tutors. While university students were actively involved in studying Islam from whatever sources they can find, students returning to Indonesia after studying in the Middle East provided new leadership to the dakwah movement. There were various ideas and thought brought by the graduate Middle East Universities that can be categorized into at least four streams.
stream was the thought ofthe Muslim Brothers (Ikhwan al-Muslimun). It is the most well known political movement in Egypt. The works Hassan Al Banna, Mustafa Masyhur, and Sa’id Hawwa were translated into Bahasa Indonesia and became the core texts of dakwah activists. A second
stream of dakwah represents the Salafi School of thought33
of Saudi Arabia. This stream was initially used to prevent the influence of revolutionary Shiism from Iran. The study group that focused on Salafi school of thought concentrated at Universitas Indonesia, IKIP Jakarta (Now become Jakarta State University), Universitas Trisakti, and other Jakarta institutions of higher learning.
Later this group established an institute for dakwah development, Lembaga Pengkajian dan Pengembangan Dakwah (LPPD), to extend the reach of dakwah from university campuses to neighborhood mosques in areas such as Jabotabek, the industrial zone around Jakarta. In the 1990s this group extended its activities to Kalimantan, Riau, NTT, and Irian Jaya, utilizing the network of Dakwah Institution for Campuses (LDK) graduates who went to work in different parts of Indonesia. Hizbut Tahrir (HT) is yet a third stream of dakwah that was established in Indonesia inthe1980s.34
See V.S. Naipaul, Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey (1981) for a description of a dakwah session at Salman Mosque and Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples (1998). The usroh movement was strong in the Syuhada Mosque and the Shalauddin Campus mosque at Gadjah Madauniversity in Yogyakarta and the Arif Rahman Hakim Mosque at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta See John Malcolm Brownlee, Scripturalism and Religious Liberalism on Yogyakarta Campuses, MA thesis, Ohio University 1997.
Wahhabi refers to Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahab (1703-1792), leader of an Islamic reform movement in Saudi Arabia. Salafi, which refers to devout ancestors or to the Prophet and his companions or the first pious generation, is an Islamic movement of the second half of the 19th c. inspired by the writings of theSayyid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1838-1897) from Persia, Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905) from Egypt, and Rashid Rida (1865-1935) from Syria. Salafi teachers also draw on the teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah (1268-1328), who distinguished between the realm of Islam and the realm of jahiliyyah (a state of ignorance or barbarism) and called for jihad against the “un-Islamic” Muslim rulers.
Hizbut Tahrir (also transcribed Hizb ut-Tahrir) was founded in 1953 by Sheikh Taqiyuddin An- Nabhahani (also transcribed Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani) in Jerusalem in 1953. Nabhahani was a Muslim Brother, who was ousted from the movement for his views. He argued that Shariah (Islamic law) was the key to restoring the greatness of Islamic civilization. In his view the focus on ethical teaching of Islam that typified the Muslim Brotherhood and other dakwah movements drained energy away from the political struggle: “The passions of the ummahhave been defused by these boring, cheap and repetitive discourses . .. Nations are not [judged] by morality or ethics but by the faiths they embrace and the ideas they adopt and the systems they implement.” Translation of Azzam Tamimi, “Hizbut Tahrir Reflections on its origin and its ideas,” http://www.ii-pt.com/web/papers/tahrir.htm
Hizbut Tahrir was introduced to Indonesia by Abdurrahman Al-Baghdadi, the leader of Hizbut Tahrir in Australia, who moved to Bogor at the invitation of KH Abdullah bin Nuh, the head of Al Ghazali Pesantren. The movement spread from the Bogor Agricultural Institute (Institut Pertanian Bogor or IPB) to other universities in Java (Padjadjaran University in Bandung, IKIP Malang, and Airlangga University in Surabaya) and to Hasanuddin University in Makassar through the LDK movement. Until the fall of Suharto, Hizbut Tahrir was almost an underground movement. Few reports of their activities appeared in the media until 2001. Hizbut Tahrir claims to have 100,000 members with division in every province. Sidney Jones notes that HT has grown more rapidly than other radical Islamic groups, particularly in certain locations, such as South Sulawesi.35
Hibutz Tahrir emphasized on an educational (or moral) movement. The aim of dakwah is to show that Islam provides a solution to the multiple problems that confront society. They also believed that Islamic societies would become strong and respected if shariah law is established in the society.
The vision of establishing a khalifa is both a source of strength and weakness. Many young people are attracted to HT because of its revolutionary ideal and the argument that Islam is no longer a powerful force in world politics because Muslims have been divided by a nation-state system and democracy imposed by the West. For them Democracy as a Western form of government is rejected, and involvement in the politics of a secular state is regarded as a useless diversion, therefore its members are not allowed to be involved in current political system. It is for this rejection of the nation-state and democracy that Hizbut Tahrir can be considered the most revolutionary stream of dakwah, yet their movements are still on the democratic track and no subversive action against the government was taken. But unlike Salafi and other dakwah activists, their concern on studying Islamic thought is the most serious one. However, critics find the goals of Hizbut Tahrir unrealistic.
In fact, it was Hizbut Tahrir that initiated the establishment of a network of dakwah activists from university campuses called Dakwah Institution for Campuses (Lembaga Dakwah Kampus or LDK). LDK held its first gathering (Silaturahmi) in 1988. In the 1990s the LDK conducted regular recruitment campaigns among incoming students. By the early 1990s, most of the LDK were led to form the Indonesian Muslim Student Action Union (Kesatuan Aksi Mahasiswa Muslim Indonesia or KAMMI), the organization of Islamic students in support of the Reformasi movement to bring down Suharto. Both HT and KAMMI agree on the long term goal to apply Islamic values on state, but differ in their view of the appropriate strategy. For HT the application of shariah will impose Islamic values on society in a top down strategy. KAMMI adopt a bottom-up strategy of Islamization in which the party attracts support through its adherence to Islamic values and comes to power through democratic means.
The fourth stream is the Association of Inter-Campus Muslim Student Activists, which is abbreviated into HAMMAS and the likes. HAMMAS, which was established in October 1998 shortly after the fall of Suharto, claimed to have 10,000 members in August 1999, but this was most probably an over-estimate of its true strength. The name HAMMAS, chosen to declare militant support for Palestinians, reflects the militant and radical orientation of this stream of the dakwah movement. These organizations were established by a younger generation of Muslim students at secular universities, who came to maturity in the 1980s and 90s. They were disillusioned with the promise of the secular nation state to bring prosperity and greater social and economic justice. However, most of the above dakwah activists at campuses had no Islamic studies background except from learning activities in their study group during their free time of academic programs. Since most of them were not the student of Islamic universities, the subject matters in their study group were not as high as those who study at the faculty of Islamic studies, yet their spirit to practice Islam in their daily life was so high. However, at Islamic universities campuses, the phenomena were the contrary. There were major tendencies to learn and adopt modern Western thought and ideologies.
Sadanand Dhume, “Hizbut Tahrir Using War in Iraq to Seek Converts” Far Eastern Economic Review, April 3, 2003.
At Indonesia Islamic University (UII) and State Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN) Yogyakarta, for example there were groups of students having intensive studies on communism, socialism, the Left Islam (Islam Kiri), while other groups study capitalism, secularism and other Western thought. From these phenomena several points are worth noting. The political oppression towards university students by the New Order regime was not effective, but became the vehicle of Muslim student mobilization. The embryos of Islamic movement were not from Islamic universities campuses, like IAIN and other Islamic universities or institutes.
For this phenomena Hefner provides several answer 1) there was an increase in literacy which made studying and adherence to Islamic customs and practices more likely, 2) the official state education curriculum had a religious component to it so more people were exposed to formal religious ideas; 3) participation in organized religion was a relatively safe outlet for expression and it was a sphere of life not totally controlled by the state. In fact by this time, there was even some space for religious groups to influence public policy.36
However, there is no answer why the existing study group of Muslim student named HMI (Muslim Student Association) and PMII (Indonesian Muslim Student Association), had no significant role in the above student movements. Perhaps, one most possible reason was that the HMI accept Pancasila as the basis of their association, which implies that the association was already under the control of the New Order government.
The Impact on Political Movements
The impact of political oppression and depoliticization of Muslim organizations is another interesting point to note. From the study group or dakwah activities at university campuses the student activities were steered to political movement. Among the first political movement that stemmed from dakwah activities at university campuses were Partai Keadilan,37
and Hizbut Tahrir. The former was ready to be involved in democratic process, whereas the latter refuse to join such a political process that came from the Western civilization. Other political party that arose from Islamic organization or political party in the past was Crescent and Star Party (Partai Bulan Bintang), which derived the idea from Masyumi, the Islamic political party that was banned by Sukarno in 1960. The other parties which were established by Muslim intellectual and clerics but adopt secular basis are Nation Awakening Party (PKB), National Truth Party (PAN), Star Reformation Party (PBR). In a free democratic parliamentary election held in June 1999 forty-eight parties competing for 462 contested seats and resulted in seven most popular parties, four of which were new Islamic political parties.38
From those political movements Justice Party (Partai Keadilan, PK) is the most sophisticated and promising Islamic parties. It was set up shortly before the 1999 general elections. Several of its leaders were educated in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Nurmahmudi Ismail, the first President of the party, for example was a graduate of Texas A&M University, became Abdurrachman Wahid’s Minister of Forestry. As we mentioned above it was the result of university student activities in various campuses since the 1980s.
Robert Hefner, Civil Islam (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press) 2000: 16.
Partai Keadilan is now known as Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (Justice and Welfare Party).
What is meant by Islamic political parties could be Islam-base parties or parties established by Muslim leaders and supported by Islamic organization, like PKB, PAN and PBR
PK campaigners in 1999 stressed not the Islamic state but opposition to official corruption, their professional qualifications to govern, and an egalitarian economic policy balancing phased industrial development with self-sustaining agricultural growth. Their platform also proposed a sharper separation of executive, legislative, and judicial powers, with a Supreme Court no longer appointed by the president.
The New York Times, 30, April, 2002, took keen interest on the emergence of the Justice Party, especially on its mission to “restore a moral focus in a country that has fallen in chaos and widespread corruption”,39
based on shariah (Islamic law). Though their basic approach to Islam is moderate, many PK activists do not have roots in any of the pre-existing modernist organizations, such as Muhammadiyah or the DDII (Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesian). PK thus represents something new in Indonesian politics. Most of the party’s voters are urban and are particularly concentrated in the neighborhoods around major universities, where many leaders are lecturers and researchers. In its first participation of 1999 parliamentary vote, PK gained 1.4 percent or 7 seats but got significant increase in 2004 election into 7.3 percent equal to 45 seats.
PKB (Awakening Nation Party), which was founded in 1998 by the preeminent NU leader, Abdurrahman Wahid. PKB received 12 percent of the 1999 parliamentary vote equal to 51 seats, but only 10.57 percent in 2004 parliamentary vote equal to 52 seats. Though founded by NU and supported by Muslim traditionalists, PKB’s formal ideological base is not Islam but Pancasila,40
adopted secularist policies in government. The party is open to non-Muslims membership, but few have joined. At the October 1999 session of the People’s Consultative Assembly Abdurrahman Wahid was elected as President by a coalition led by “Muslim” parties and leaders.41
Wahid’s presidency was seen as the first democratic transfer of power in Indonesia’s history.42
However, twenty months later Wahid had been widely condemned as a failed leader. On July 23, 2001 he was impeached by the congress because of his inability to address continuing corruption at the highest levels, economic disorder, and separatist movements.43
Wahid had a reputation within Indonesia as a liberal thinker with a pluralistic outlook. It was due to this outlook and his authoritative approach that Wahid was defeated by Hasyim Muzadiin the election of the Chairman of NU at Boyolali in 2004 and by Muhamin Iskandar in the internal dispute of PKB recently.
Another Islamic party is The Crescent and Star Party (Partai Bulan Bintang, PBB). It was established in 1999 campaigning for an Islamic state. Many of its leaders have family connections with Masyumi leaders of the 1950s. Given its tiny vote (2 percent= 13 seats), compared to Masyumi’s 21 percent in 1955, PBB is considered by most observers to be a party of the past. However, in 2004 parliamentary vote it does maintain its vote i.e. 2.62 percent. An old party supported by traditionalist party is PPP (Development Unity Party). It was formed in 1973, during the Suharto dictatorship. It was a forced fusion of the four then-existing Islamic parties: NU, which had been a political party as well as a social and educational organization from the early 1950s; Parmusi, the short-lived successor to Masyumi (Council of Indonesian Muslim Associations), the principal modernist-led party of the 1950s, which had been banned in 1960.
New York Times, 30 April 2002.
The famous Indonesian five principles of belief in God, national unity, internationalism, democracy and social justice first enunciated by Sukarno in 1945.
General Election Commission of Indonesia. Analyzing Indonesia’s Election, 1999. (Jakarta: Indonesian General Election Commission) 2001. See also, Dwight King, 2003. Half-Hearted Reform: Electoral Institutions and the Struggle for Democracy in Indonesia (Westport, CT: Praeger) see chapters 3 & 4 on the 1999 elections.
It was through the support his party that Abdurrahman subsequently became Indonesia’s first democratically elected president, serving from October 1999 to July 2001, defeating Megawati Sukarnoputri of PDI-P.
Greg Barton, Gus Dur: The Authorized Biography of Abdurrahman Wahid (Jakarta: Equinox Publications), 2002
PPP with Islam as its ideology won 10 percent of the 1999 vote (46 seats). PPP, PBB, and PK have all declared Islam as their ideology. Like other parties PPP gain less percentage in 2004 election (8.15 percent) but increase its seats into 58 parliamentary seats. Another new party established by Muslim activists is PAN (National Trust Party). It was founded and led by Amien Rais,44
in 1998 and like PKB, PAN was founded as an open party with Pancasila as its ideology, and closely identified with modernists. Like Wahid, to attract both liberal and moderate Muslim and non-Muslims Amien appears to be committed to pluralist vision. Nonetheless, he failed to get the vote from liberal Muslim and non-Muslim.
In 1999 election PAN got only 7 percent vote and in the 2004 election the party cultivating only Muhammadiyah and other modernist voters, while Amin was defeated in the first round of presidential election. His party vote decrease in percentage form 7 percent into 6.44 percent, but the seats increase from 34 to 52 seats. For the ideological basis of some prominent parties in Indonesia and their vote result from 1955, 1999 and 2004 election see diagram below. PAN (National Message Party), gained 7 percent or 34 seats; Although most of the seats of parliament in 1999 election were still dominated by the old parties established during Suharto regime,46
yet Islamic political parties gained almost 35 percent of the total seats.
However, in 2004 election the seats increased significantly, while the secular parties got lesser vote, except Partai Demokrat, PD (Democratic Party), a party that brought Susilo Bambang Yodhoyono into his Presidency. The phenomena of the rise of Islamic political parties with the increased number of parliamentary seats from 1999 to 2004 suggests that the claim of neo-modernist liberal Muslim figure Nurcholish Madjid in early 70s “Islam yes Islamic party no” is no more tenable.
Amin Rais is an American-educated professor of international relations, who later on chaired the People’s Consultative Assembly, a kind of super-Parliament whose responsibilities until very recently included selection of the president and vice-president. In the 1990s Amien headed Muhammadiyah, the largest modernist social and educational organization. He is still the most prominent Muhammadiyah personality and modernist politician.
William Liddle, “New Patterns of Islamic Politics in Democratic Indonesia”, Asia Report Special Program, no.110, April 2003, p. 5
The seat gained by PDI-P (Indonesian Democracy Party-Struggle), was 34 percent of the vote and 153seats; Golkar, was 22 percent of the vote and 120 seats; PPP (Development Unity Party), was 10 percent and 58 seats.
Table 1. Indonesia’s Democratic Elections 1955, 1999 and 200445 (Opted)
The statement apparently intended to entertain the New Order government whose strategy was to depoliticize Muslim society. In fact, in the free democratic election Muslims’ participations in political parties are manifest. There might be various factors involved in the rise of new Islamic base parties. It could be the outcome of the long suppressed political aspiration of Muslim society by authoritarian rule to enjoy space granted to them by democratic freedom. Another possibility, especially on the success of the PKS, was of its campaign on a platform of good governance based on Islamic moral values. This point is properly set at the moment when the fundamental problem of government administration is about cultural and moral issues. The intrusion of materialistic world view of Western civilization into the Indonesian middle class brought about the incessant case of corruptions in the government administration. Experience of other countries suggested that a state incapable of bringing about justice and prosperity is the best breeding ground for primordial sentiment, including Islam, to emerge. Unless the issue of social justice is addressed adequately, the spirit of radicalism that emerge from Muslim, non-Muslim or secularist Muslim activists will always challenge the government. In short, the advent of the “Justice and Welfare Party” (PKS), was welcomed by Indonesian. It is known not only as Islamic political party but also as a party that has self-discipline, a gradual, peaceful approach to meeting reformist goals and commitment to end corruption. It also plans to be a pioneer in upholding Islamic values within a framework of national unity and integrity. Hidayat Nur Wahid and Zulkiflimansyah state:
We must work hard to ensure the real voice of Islam is heard in Indonesia and even in the world at large. We must speak out boldly in defense of a dynamic, moderate Islam—an Islam that upholds the sanctity of human life, reaches out to the oppressed, respects men and women alike, and insists on the fellowship of all humankind. Such is the true Islam of the Prophet, we believe, that some are now seeking to destroy.”47
Unfortunately, many observers interpret the rising tide of Islamic politics as a sign that Islam challenge to democracy or the rise of fundamentalism in politic. The interpretation is certainly biased. So far those parties are within the democratic track and commit no political fraudulence. It should, therefore, be understood in term democratic atmosphere, since in the reformation era every citizen has full right to participate in democracy regardless of his religion and race.
Hidayat Nur Wahid and Zulkiflimansyah, “The Justice Party and Democracy: A Journey of a Thousand Miles Starts with a Single Step” in Asia Program Special Report, April 2003, no 110, p.20
Justice and Welfare Party (PKS) and other Islamic parties had commitment to participate in democratic election and bound to adhere democratic process, therefore there is no reason to fear the outcome of democratic process, or to refuse to acknowledge the democratic victory of an Islamic Party. Otherwise it would risk the very principle of democracy, and is seriously counterproductive to democracy promotion.
On the other hand, Islamic movements, like PKS, are challenged to shift from slogans to programs. They are required to keep the balance between social activism into intellectual activism. They are urged to elaborate the whole Islamic concepts, especially those which are urgently required by current situation, such as tolerance, human right, justice, welfare and the like. They must become more self-critical, and speak out some un-Islamic practice in political and social affairs both national and international level including the acts of terrorism by extremists, corruption, oppression etc.
The Current Religious Cleavage
The current political situation and its future could be best understood from Islamic worldview by which we may sketch the position of every group in relation to Islam and to Indonesian political setting. To deal with religious movement presupposes the understanding of religion, which is generally defined as a system of belief. System of belief or religion can be seen from mental phenomenon that deals with a matter of believing or social phenomenon that concern about a feeling of belonging.48
However, system of belief in present situation can be best seen as worldview. It is an integrated system of basic beliefs about the nature of ourselves, reality, and the meaning of existence.49
It is also defined as a belief, feeling and thought that functions as a motor of social and moral change.50
To see Islam from the worldview perspectives is to see the whole concept of Islam as system of belief and of social life. As a system of belief it embraces the belief that God’s revelation is preserved in the Qur’an, so too Muhammad’s words and deeds were collected in narrative report or hadith attributed to the Prophet. The system of social life is to be found in those two sources of Islamic worldview. Much of the content of the Qur’an concern not only guidelines for worship, but also regulation governing marriage, inheritance, business contracts, criminal punishment, the conduct of war. It is plausible therefore, that Prophet Muhammad was not only the religious leader, but also the chief executive, judge, and commander in-chief of the Medinan state. He is the role model for Muslim, represented the totality of all embracing nature of Islamic worldview. As a worldview Islam provide guidelines for private and public life, duties to God and duties to society. In Islamic civilization religion has occupied an important place in public life: in the ideology of state and its institution and in the conduct of politics. Islam is incompatible with secularism or secular worldview. Ideologically, the Islamic community (ummah) was a religio-political state or empire. Muslim rulers (caliph or sultan) Muhammad’s successors as head of state, were to assure government according to Islam and to spread and defend Islamic rule.51
Wald, Kenneth D, and C.D. Smidt, “Measurement Strategies in the Study of Religion an Politics” Rediscovering the Religious Factor in American politics, edited by David C Leege et al. Aemonk, N.Y:R.E. Sharpe, 1993, 32.
Thomas F Wall, Thinking Critically About Philosophical Problem, A Modern Introduction, Wadsworth, Thomson Learning, Australia, 2001, 532.
Ninian Smart, Worldview, Cross-cultural Explorations of Human Belief, Charles Sribner's sons, New York, n.d. 1-2
Esposito, John L, (ed) Islam in Asia, N.Y. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1987, see editor Introduction, 12-13
In addition, Islam also gives full protection to other religions. They are permitted to practice their religion and to be governed by their own religious leaders, law and courts. They are also protected by Muslim from external aggression. No oppression and compulsion towards other religious adherent to embrace Islam is allowed. Islam has its own ways to deal with other religions, since it has a rich experience to live with other traditions, beliefs and religions. All those principle had been practiced during the golden age of Islamic civilization from 7th
century. However, essential modification in understanding Islam occurred due to orientalist tradition to study Islam, and fundamental change in the practice of Islamic teaching take place under the pressure of colonialism. Esposito conspicuously states:
By the late nineteenth and twenty centuries European legal codes had replaced Islamic and local customary laws. The political economic and legal penetration of Muslim societies by the West was further extended as modern Western educational reforms were introduced. Traditional Political and religious elite saw their power, prestige and way of life (custom and values) progressively altered by new modern Western oriented classes of professional and technocrats. By twenty the century, the West reigned supreme, dominating much of the Islamic world politically and economically. Its impact on social and cultural life was no lessthreatening.52
In fact, in some cases Western colonialism employed Orientalist for their understanding and interpreting Islam and Muslim society. Therefore Edward Said’s work suggests that orientalist understandings were generally colored with Western worldview and political interest.53
Such kind of understanding influenced the modernist Muslim intellectuals, especially those who studied in Western universities. From this situation at least two emerging religious orientations come to materialize, that in turn became two lines of religious cleavage: one approved and adopt the Western Orientalist approach to Islam, whereas other resisted it. In Indonesia, during Suharto regime, the former promoted secularism and rationalism, two important doctrine of modernism.
After the fall of Suharto this group advocated the postmodern doctrine such as relativism, religious pluralism, nihilism, and the likes. These intellectuals are known among the Indonesian Muslim as liberal Muslims but they called themselves Liberal Islam (Islam Liberal). On the contrary, the latter disseminated the spirit of Islamic revival and maintaining the traditional understanding of Islam. Some are against the West, but others are rationally critical or both Islam and the West. These two lines of religious cleavages are supportive of socio-political movement in current Indonesia situation. Therefore, to use a fair and objective designation to depict Muslims movement in relation to Islamic worldview and the present political situation, I avoid using the liberal-literal division, and instead I would prefer to employ liberal and non-liberal category. Since liberal-literal usually suggest that the former is positive, whereas the literal is negative. The liberal is more democratic, moderate, tolerance, humanistic, rational, whereas the literal are not.
Esposito, John L, (ed) Islam, 15-16
Edward Said identified three fundamental misunderstanding of the Orientalism in his work Orientalism, but to grasp directly the three point see Keith Windschuttle “Edward Said’s Orientalism revisited” The New Criterion Vol. 17, No. 5, January 1999, 5.
Moreover, to place liberal vis a vis literal is to neglect the non-liberal and non-literal approach to Islam which in turn would generalize that all Muslims are literalist, fundamentalist and terrorist. This, according to Esposito, tends to be misleading, as he states that,
To equate Islam and Islamic fundamentalism uncritically with extremism is to judge Islam only by those who wreak havoc--a standard not applied to Judaism and Christianity...54
Cheryl Bernard’s classification of the Muslims into: fundamentalist, traditionalist, secularist and modernist55
also appears problematic, since it is hard to distinguish between fundamentalist and traditionalist, because as I mentioned above, Muhammadiyah is modernist but by no mean liberal, while NU is traditionalist and could be in a sense fundamentalist. The same case is with Justice Party, which is modernist in a sense and fundamentalist in another. Also, between secularist and modernist, the two in some cases overlaps. Therefore, the category of liberal and non-liberal would be appropriate in relation to approach to Islam.56
The Non-Liberal Groups
Non-liberal approach to Islam refers to general understanding the Sunni school of thought or Ahlussunnah wal Jamaah, the largest school of thought adhered by Indonesian Muslims and Muslim in the world. It is within this school that Maliki, Hanafi, Hanbali and Syafii schools of jurisprudence, as well as Asy’ari and Maturidi schools of theology existed. In this school there are different ways to interpret Islam, many theories how to integrate reason and revelation, various legal decisions to deal with non-Muslims and women, but their approach are still within the ambit of the worldview of Islam.
In the case of Indonesian Muslims the non-liberal approaches are divided into groups each of which has its own particular interest. As was explicated above among the largest groups or organization are: Muhammadiyah, (emphasizes on social movements), Nahdlatul Ulama or NU (maintaining traditional spirit of Islam), and al-Irsyad (stressing on understanding Islam based on the Salafi school of thought) and traditional Islamic boarding school, named Pesantren, spread all over Indonesian regions. So far those organizations and education institution played a pivotal role in the struggle for Indonesia independence and therefore militancy in Indonesia can be said to go back to the early attempts of these organizations and other Muslim organization to struggle against the Portuguese and later Dutch colonizers. After the independence these organizations became a force for progressive political change, advocating religious tolerance, moderate position, protecting civil rights, empowering women for social activities,57
and helping the poor. Besides, they also promote Islamic values, traditions and practices, and in some cases may advocate Islamic law, however, they are committed to working within the law, and as part of the political system to advance their goals.
Esposito, John L, “Political Islam: Beyond the Green Menace”, Originally published in the journal Current History, January 1994. Cited from http://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/espo.html on September 25,2008
The modernist meant by Cheryl is in fact the liberalist. See Cheryl Bernard, Civil Democratic Islam, Partners, Resources and Strategies, RAND Corporation, Pittsburgh, 2003, 44-55.
Liddle depicts the religious cleavage into Liberal and Islamist, but by Islamist he refers only to the radical group excluding the moderate one. See William Liddle, “New Patterns of Islamic Politics in Democratic Indonesia”, Asia Program Special Report, April 2003, no.110.
For this purpose Muhammadiyah formed women organization named Aisyiah, while Nahdlatul Ulama has Muslimat for women and Fatayat for girl.
Be that as it may, voice of Islam in Indonesia is not represented only by these large, powerful, and moderate organizations. Other than those moderate organizations, historically, there were also “radical” movements in Indonesia whose membership in part consisted of Indonesian military and civilian combatants demobilized after the establishment of the Republic. The organization which is stigmatized as militant Islam in Indonesia is Darul Islam (DI). Darul Islam began as separate rebellions in West Java, South Sulawesi and Aceh in the late 1940s and early 1950s. D.I seeks to create an Islamic state, Negara Islam Indonesia (NII). In fact, the movements emerged due to conflict occurred between the military and Sukarno’s authoritarian strategy. But the military subsequently took refuge under the umbrella of Islam, declaring the establishment of a separate Islamic state.
This became strategic reason for the Indonesian Army during Suharto regime to be highly suspicious of political Islam with the same degree as the communists.58
Such a suspicion was inappropriate for it included the moderate Muslims in general. It also too early to consider the present social and political movements as there emergence of those radical and separatist movements (Darul Islam), yet further research is needed.59
At present the groups which are usually blamed as fundamentalist in Indonesia are Islamic Defender Front (FPI), Mujahidin Council of Indonesia (MMI), Laskar Jihad, and one other group which known as Jamaah Islamiyah
, which was accused of October 2002 bombings in Bali, followed in 2003, 2004 and 2005 by the bombing of the Marriott Hotel, and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.
The Islamic Defender Front (FPI) is a group formed in 1998 and led by Habib Rizq, an Arab Yemeni descent, who graduated from Ummul Qura University and University of Malaya, Malaysia. Its member is young activists partly uneducated and partly the activist of various mosques. It is now the largest Muslim pressure group in the country. It was able to organize demonstrations of over 10,000 people in Jakarta in October 2001. The primary concern of this group is to act upon the Prophetic injunction that “Whoever observe objectionable deed should change with his hand, if he is powerless he should change with his tongue and if he is powerless he should change with his heart and that is the weakest faith ”(al-Hadith). Therefore the targeted objects of FPI are the public places that for them facilitate the practices of objectionable deeds (munkarat) such as gambling dens, discos, nightclubs and bars that serve alcoholic beverages, and brothels that are considered as haram (legally forbidden). The objective of this group is that the Islamic law be applied in the Muslim society in Indonesia, while Indonesia is regarded as the place of Muslim society.
In many occasions Habib Rizq acknowledge that he never desire to use violence. Before he and his members force the closure of any forbidden places, he takes legal procedure by warning the owner of those places to close, and then by asking the formal and written permission of police as well as the approval of the surrounding society. Nevertheless, in practice the violence has to be taken.60
Such kind of movements reminds us to Hanbalite school of thought in jurisprudence, whose founder Ahmad ibn Hanbal claimed to be follower of Salaf. The characteristic of this school is its fanaticism and its frequent conflict with others without argumentation and demonstration, but only with act and deed. Their disagreement with rational interpretation of the Qur’an is also salient feature of the Salafi School. Their movement is simply to perform the Islamic obligation “to command the good and forbid the objectionable” (al-amr bi al-ma’ruf wa al-nahy ‘an al-munkar).
Further discussion about this see C. van Dijk, Rebellion under the Banner of Islam: the Darul Islam in Indonesia. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff), 1981.
It is because Dijk explains that from 1977-1982 virtually the entire leadership of Darul Islam was arrested, while there are split and power struggles at the top. See C. van Dijk, Ibid. And, International Crisis Group, “Recycling Militants in Indonesia: Darul Islam and the Australian Embassy Bombing.” Asia Report, No. 92, Feb. 22, 2005.
Personal discussion with Faried, one of FPI members, at Jakarta, on 23, August, 2003.
Ibn Athir sketched this school as follows:
”…if they found singer they beat them and break the music instrument; if they saw man, women and a child walk together they asked their marital status. If they did not respond they would beat them and bring them to police”.61
Because of this attitude, according Abu Zahrah, people run away from them. Another group is Laskar Jihad, which was formed in 1999, to support their Muslims brothers who were in conflict with Christian in Ambon, Maluku. In fact, the population of the region is almost evenly divided between Christians and Muslims, and no physical conflict was ever happened in the history of the region. By June 2000, the newly established Laskar Jihad sent 3,000 members to Ambon. With the support of some Indonesian military, Laskar Jihad hoped to establish control over Ambon, thus upsetting the fundamentalist Christian to establish a separate Christian state. While a settlement was reached on February 12, 2002 and a zone of neutrality established between the two sides, 5,000 people were slaughtered and 700,000 people became refugees.
However, this group is not well organized, no formal structure, no long term objectives and program62
and after the conflict, it disbanded its 15,000-member organization. A survey conducted in November 2002 by the Center for Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) at the State Islamic University in Jakarta showed that 71 percent of respondents supported the application of shariah (Islamic law) by the state to all Muslim men and women, and 54 percent said that radical Islamist movements to implement shariah, such as the radical Islamic Defender Front (Front Pembela Islam or FPI and Laskar Jihad) must be supported.63
While many people question the accuracy of the poll, almost everyone agrees that disillusion with secular democracy is growing and more people are turning to Islamist solutions. Another group which is regarded as the most radical Islamic group operating in Indonesia is Jama’ah Islamiah (JI) and its alleged leader Abu Bakar Bashir. In fact, the extreme position of Bashir was taken since the Suharto regime, during which he was against the use of national anthem and flag, Pancasila as the state principle and other national attributes. He is in the opinion that Indonesia should be Islamic states and apply shariah law. It was due to this position that he escaped to Malaysia in 1985 to avoid continued imprisonment by the Suharto government. Returning to Indonesia in 1999, Bashir established the Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI). According to Bashir,
“The MMI is an institution where a lot of people from a lot of Muslim groups including the NU and Muhammadiyah gather at one table to discuss how to get our vision of shariah implemented into national laws…As long as Muslims are the majority, the country should be ruled by shariah”64
All those radical movements do not represent the whole Muslim organization and movement, proponents of radical Islam remain a small minority, and while others devout practitioners who took moderate positions would never dream of using violence. However, the responses against these groups seem exaggerate, the most extreme one is from the liberal group which took liberal approach to Islam. Even though, all is to be alert to the possibility of individuals making common cause with international criminals disregarding religious denomination.65
Ibn Athir, “al-Kamil Fi al-Tarikh”, as quoted by M. Abu Zahrah, Tarikh al-Madhahib al-Islamiyah, fi al-Siyasah wa al-Aqaid wa Tarikh al-Madhahib al-Fiqhiyyah, vol. 2, Dar al-Fikri al-Arabi, 1987, 543
For a discussion of the creation of Laskar Jihad, see Noorhaidi Hasan, “Faith and Politics: The Rise of the Laskar Jihad in the Era of Transition in Indonesia”, Indonesia, 73 (April 2002) pp. 145-169.
Tempo December 24-30: 32-43 for a series of articles responding to this poll.
As quoted by Lawrence C. Reardon, A Rational Choice Interpretation of Political Islam’s Challenge to Southeast Asia, a paper presented at the New England Political Science Association Annual Meeting Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 30 April 2004, 13; see also Zachary Abuza. “MMI Concludes its first Congress Since the Release of Abu Bakar Bashir.” Counterterrorism Blog, http://counterterrorismblog.org/2006/07. (7/27/06)
The Liberal Group
The Liberal approach to Islam emerges only recently, almost at the same time as the rise of radical movement after the Reformation era, yet its root refer to secular notion by Nurcholish Madjid in 1970s. Liberal Islam was first enunciated in 1999, initiated by a group of Jakarta-based intellectuals led by Ulil Absar Abdalla, a graduate of Saudi Arabia Institute of Islamic Studies Jakarta (LIPPIA), and Luthfi Assyaukanie, graduate of University of Jordan and ISTAC Malaysia. Its acronyms was known as “Islib”, but later in March 2002, they alter the name with the Liberal Islam Network (Jaringan Islam Liberal) to disseminate their views through the media networks. Islib was originated from an intensive group discussion of young intellectuals at Paramadina University. Since it was allegedly not welcomed by the university lecturers, they moved to Utan Kayu street under the support of Gunawan Muhammad, former editor in chief of TEMPO magazine.
The movement became more intensive and come up with extreme ideas after the dramatic tragedy of 11/9. They established active website (www.islamlib.com
) and a moderated chat group, email@example.com
. From these two medium they debate issues, criticize current understanding of Islam, cite the Koran to support their arguments in liberal fashion etc. In addition, members of “Liberal Islam” write a syndicated Sunday column published in the widely circulated Jawa Pos daily newspaper and forty regional Indonesian language newspapers including Riau Pos (Pekan Baru) and Fajar (Makassar). It has also a weekly talk show broadcasted every Thursday by Radio 68H and is relayed by 20 other radio stations throughout Indonesia.
They have formed the Liberal Islam Writers Syndicate and have published booklets and pamphlets on controversial issues such as jihad, the shariah and the establishment of houses of worship.66
Their agenda is to disseminate secularism, liberalism, emancipation, religious pluralism, gender and feminism, democratization, tolerance and human rights. Other than “Liberal Islam Network” there are numerous newly established NGOs and study groups promoting the liberal thought. Among the lecturers of State Islamic Universities (UIN) and State Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN) there are activists who disseminate the liberal thought.
The fundamental ideas brought by “Liberal Islam” are parallel to religious liberalism that prevailed in the West. It advocates secular, relativist and rationalistic approach to Islam with special emphasis on liberal interpretation of the Qur’an. The principle look simple and rational, but in the writing of its exponent in media, books or article in journal become so extreme that provoke negative response from not only the radical groups but also the moderate Muslims as whole. Some of the liberal disputes principles that have created controversies and criticisms are consist of the following:67
, opening the gate of ijtihad for all aspects of Islam. This is not new for Sunni Muslims, but ijtihad for all aspect of Islam is a controversial point. It is because in the history of Islam there was no ijtihad on the definite matter (muhkamat) such as on the prohibition of alcoholic drink, obligation of five times prayers, hajj, fasting and following the rule of inheritance (fara’id) and the likes. The liberal refer to no authority in their ijtihad, and as a result they justify the practice of gay68
and others. These and other provoking thought look strange among the scholars (ulama).
Santi W.E. Soekanto, “Liberal and Literal Islam must sit and talk together”, The Jakarta Post, 1 March 2002; see also Adian Husaini & Nuim Hidayat, Islam Liberal, Sejarah, Konsepsi, Penyimpangan dan Jawabannya, Gema Insani Press, 2002, 4.
See Website of “Liberal Islam”, www.Islib.com
A group of liberal lecturers at State Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN) Semarang wrote a book entitled “The Beauty of Homosexual marriage”, see Ahmad Khairul Umam et al, Indahnya Kawin Sesama Jenis,
Recently pronounced by Prof. Dr. Musdah Mulia that lesbianism is legally allowed in Islam.
Counter Legal Draft of Compilation of Islamic Law, compiled by team chaired by Dr. Musdah Mulia, Research and Development of Religious Affair Department.
, giving a preference to contextual interpretation of the Qur’an; this principle is not always consistently followed by them, for when the text is against their ideas they interpret it contextually, conversely when the text agree with their argument they take literally. The extreme position is their emphasis to the context led them to denigrate the text and would result in the assumption that numbers of Qur’anic verses are irrelevant today. This position is intended to counter the literal interpretation of the Hanbalite School, but the drawback is that they only emphasize the contextual interpretation.
The Sunni scholars keep the balance between the textual and contextual interpretation, and this is the serious point of dispute with the liberal group. A point the sound quite strange among the scholars of Tafsir is that they employ a method of biblical hermeneutic to interpret contextually the Qur’anic text. Their extreme position is known when they hold that the science of Tafsir constructed by Muslim scholars in the past had caused moral, political and cultural decadence of the Muslims, a big claim that would risk the existing Islamic education institution and against the majority of Muslims scholars.
, believing that truth is relative; the principle led to the belief that no one knows the true teaching of Islam and no one knows the truth according to the will of God. Only God knows the absolute truth. Therefore, there is no claim of absolute truth. This principle is the foundation of pluralism, but the liberal activists deny this. Some hold that pluralism is admitting the plurality of religions or religious tolerance,71
but some other argues that pluralism is a belief that all religion is different ways to God.
The most crucial point that diametrically opposes the fundamental belief of the Muslim is the asserting that Islam is not the only true religion and Allah is a name of God in exoteric level but there is another God in esoteric level. Therefore, they believe that all religion is true and the goal of worship in all religion is one that is towards The One.72
This idea is purely derivation of John Hick’s conception of Global theology. In fact, pluralism is problematic not only for the Muslims but also for the adherent of Christianity.73
However, there is no clear definition of pluralism among the liberal proponents.
, believing in the religious freedom; this principle is derived purely from the principle of religious liberalism implying that full religious freedom means not only free to perform religious duties or to believe in one religion but also free not embrace any religion or free to become atheist.74
In Islam one is free to embrace Islam or other religion, but it is not free for Muslims perform their religious duties as they wish. Indonesia is neither religious nor secular state, but atheism as adhered by communism has no place, since it is against the first principle of Pancasila (Five Principles) i.e. “Belief in the Absolute One God”
Demokratisasi dan Perlindungan Hak-hak Kaum Homoseksual, Artikel di Jurnal Justisia, IAIN Walisongo Semarang.
H. Nuhrison M.Nuh, Faham-faham Kewagamaan Liberal di Kota Medan, a paper presented at a seminar on Liberal thought at Rural Communities, Research and Development Bureau (Litbang), Department of Religious Affair, Nopember, 15, 2006, 12.
Statement of Nurcholis Madjid as quoted by Achmad Rosidi in Liberal Masyarakat Kota Yogyakarta, a paper presented at a Seminar of Research Result about Liberalism Thought in Rural Community at Yogyakarta, 2006, held by Research and Development Bureau, Department of Religious Affair, Jakarta, November 2006, 31.
Kenneth R. Samples, “The Challenge of Religious Pluralism,” in Christian Research Journal, Christian Research Journal, Summer 1990, 39.
Nicholas F. Gier, “Religious Liberalism and The Founding Fathers”, dalam Peter Caws, ed. Two Centuries of Philosophy in America, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell Publishers, 1980), hal. 22-45.
The other liberal principle is a secular one, namely separating the worldly and religious authority, and that of religion and politics. Many if not most aspects of social life, including the state, are outside the direct purview of religion. This idea might effectively prevent the idea of Islamic state, but to isolate socio-political activities of the Muslims from their religious obligation is impossible. For the moderate Muslim no aspect of social life, most especially the state, is outside religion. The extreme position held by the exponent of liberal group is the demand of to abolish the Department of Religious Affairs and Ulama Council of Indonesia (MUI),75
for the two are symbols of integration of religion and state, placing religion as a question of public concern and not as a private matter.
It is not hard to trace the origin of these liberal thought. It was initially motivated by the spirit to respond Western notion of modernism. Among the early exponents of liberal thinkers were Harun Nasution and Nurcholish Madjid,76
both are the graduate of Western universities. However, the other exponents like Masdar F Masud, Hussein Muhammad, Hamid Basyaib, Ulil Absar Abdalla, Luthfi Asysyaukani and others were not Western universities graduate. Surprisingly, most of them were the graduate of either traditional or modern religious school (pesantren) and except Ulil Absar Abdalla they were the activists of Muslim Student Association (HMI).
However, there is no indication that the root of their liberal thought were not of their creative and innovation understanding (ijtihad) of Islamic tradition, but from their attempt to apply their understanding of Postmodern Western thought into Islamic thought. Therefore, the idea of liberal exponent mostly perplexed the student of traditional schools (pesantren), for there is no trace in the Muslim intellectual traditions. It is the reason that the liberal thought popularly spread only among young Muslim scholars in big cities, yet it caused curiosity, criticism, hatred as well as confusion of the masses.
The idea was pronounced in a session of VIIth
National Symposium of Human Right, held by National Commission of Human Right (KOMNAS HAM), Borobudur hotel, Jakarta, 8-11 June, 2008.
Harun Nasution, the graduate of McGill Islamic Studies, Canada, and Nurcholish Madjid the Chicago trained Islamic scholar, play a pivotal role in disseminating secularism, rationalism, religious pluralism and other fundamental ideas of liberalism. They were also known as scholars who promote a version of Islam that was acceptable to New Order Government. See Malcolm Cone, “Neo-Modern Islam in Suharto’s Indonesia”, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, 4, 2 (December, 2002): 52-67.
One of the most instrumental factors for the spread of the liberal movement is financial support the United State government. This matter was widely known by most of Indonesian Muslims, especially after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The target of US government is not only the terrorist but to change Muslim world attitudes towards the United States. The targets are the extremist Muslim activist or the “fundamentalist” in Western sense of the words, which are regarded as part of terrorism. To crush terrorism and fundamentalism the US government give financial support to NGOs and Muslim organization to disseminate the idea of democracy, human rights, religious pluralism, moderation, modernity, civil society, gender and feminism and the like. US funds are used to broadcast Islamic radio and TV shows, democracy training, develop curriculum in Muslim schools on civic education, holding seminars and meetings on civil education and other programs that promote liberal Islam.
USAID is actively involved in this movement and it is done through the Muslim World Outreach and Engaging Muslim Civil Society Program. USAID funds go through the Asia Foundation (TAF) to a wide range of 32 organizations and institutions. The Asia Foundation’s overarching program is called Islam and Civil Society (ICS) and collaborates with Muslim leaders and organizations to support democracy training and civil society development. These are offered at the State Islamic University in Jakarta and at Muhammadiyah University in Yogyakarta. Among other groups that it funds, ICP coordinates with and financially supports JIL’s radio talk show on “Islam and Tolerance”, and it helps fund the young women’s corps of Nahdlatul Ulama in establishing 20 domestic violence counseling centers and women’s advocacy centers.
It also provides financial assistance to Muhammadidyah and NU for a variety of educational initiatives (like those mentioned above). The program has contributed to strengthening the local Indonesian partners, and has widened a national conversation about democracy, human rights, and gender equality, but USAID and the Asia Foundation never realize the impact of this liberalization movement on the non-liberal groups. Apart from political interest the most serious problem with liberal thought concern the fundamental matter of Islamic teaching, some are mentioned above. Since the approach of “Liberal Islam” towards Muslim are unsympathetic and suspicious towards the liberal movement, the popularity of the US government under Bush administration decreased significantly. One of the exponents of Liberal group admits that his liberal colleague
“are sometimes too direct in their approach, insensitive in many cases to the feelings of their fellow Muslims, and too selective in the themes and subjects they address.”
…..they depend too much on Western sources in defending their ideas, and there-fore are susceptible to identification with a Western agenda. These two factors reduce the influence of their appeals and the promise of liberal Islam in Indonesia.77
The responses towards liberal movement were not only negative but also filled with hatred and animosity. There are various kind of response from activist, scholars, ulama, and public figures. For the non-liberal activists “Liberal Islam” is an anathema. Instead of a strict adherence to doctrines and teachings of Islam, the exponent of “Liberal Islam” are perceived as reinterpreting texts handed down by the Prophet to suit their own convenience. ‘Islib’ is regarded as a group of secularists who are spreading confusion and disinformation among the masses. Ironically, the debate between the Muslim fundamentalists and liberals mirrors similar debates between Christian fundamentalists and liberals.78
In its 7th
Congress the Indonesian Ulamas Council (MUI, "Majelis Ulama Indonesia"), which took place in Jakarta in late July 2005, issued a fatwa declaring religious liberalism, secularism, and religious pluralism as haram (forbidden), because these values are described as being incompatible with the true Islam.
M. Ihsan Alief, “Political Islam and Democracy: A Closer Look at the Liberal Muslims” Asia Program Special Report, April, 2003, no.110, 15.
For criticisms of “Liberal” by supporters of non-liberal approach to Islam, see the website of the Indonesian Islam Information and Communications Centre (www.alislam.or.id
In its statement, the council defines religious liberalism as Islamic thought that is not based on a religious foundation, but which instead subscribes to the freedom of human intellectual capacity. Officially, the MUI fatwas have the backing of 26 Islamic organisations. These have, however, issued statements calling on the people to take up the fatwas in a considered and calm way, and to resolve any differences of opinion in a "civilized" manner through dialogue and encounters. This fatwa is a definite blow for the growing influence of progressive and liberal Muslim movements like the Liberal Islam Network ("Jaringan Islam Liberal", JIL).
According to Ma’ruf Amin, the chairman of Fatwa Commission of Indonesia Ulama Council (MUI), liberal movement has deviated (from the teaching of Islam). First their method of thinking is not based on Islamic approaches; they departed from the approaches settled by ulama. Second, they consider the Qur’anic verses as irrelevant for today needs and therefore they modify its meaning to fit with global situation. Moreover, he denies that MUI is kills the freedom and diversity, MUI only kills the deviation.
“Ahmadiyah, secularism, pluralism and liberalism are not diversity in Islam, but deviation, since we have our own standard of tolerance.”79
The resistances of moderate groups against the liberal proponents were proven by the election of Hasyim Muzadi as the chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, and the defeat of Abdurrahman Wahid the liberal figures, and also the election of Din Syamsuddin, the non-liberal figure as the chairman of Muhammadiyah organization. In addition, the liberal exponent used to throw controversial ideas through mass media which are pronounced in a subjective fashion and without prior studies of the religious text. Open discourse with the liberal group in an academic atmosphere had failed, due to different approach. The liberal interprets the texts with logical tool, while non-liberal understands the texts with reason and authority.
Kampanye JIL Bukan Sekedar Wacana (Liberal Network is not Only Discourse, Hidayatullah, 1st
Edition/XIX, Media, 2006 Rabiuthani, 1427.
The gulf that is growing between the supporters of a liberal interpretation of religion on the one hand, and fundamentalist, and radical Islamic currents on the other is quite dangerous for the future unity of Indonesia nation, especially for the Muslims community. The two were caught up in an extreme approach, one condemn the other. The serious problem is that the liberal blame not only the radical interpretation but attack almost the whole Islamic tradition including the fundamental teaching of Islam.
I believe that militant Islamic groups have no enough support to be considered as major threat to the stability and viability of democracy. There are still many moderate Muslims that can handle the militant Islamic group and no need to face them with liberal approaches. Elections and the democratic processes that have taken root since 1999 have shown several important things: first, Islamic parties that run on a religious platform and that propose implementing Islamic values nationally win a preponderance of votes in 2004 election. Secondly, the parliamentary members of Islamic parties to some extent have better moral reputation than the member of liberal and secular party. Thirdly, the Islamic parties win the election of several governors and the head of sub-regions. Finally, the future of Islamic political parties would be in the hand of the moderate Muslims who are tolerance to non-Muslim, appreciating the diversity of races and religions, promoting not only human right but also human obligation to God, helping the poor and cooperative with other nations in political, economic, education and social welfare of human being.
Jakarta, 11 October 2008