Friday, February 26, 2010

Hamka's "Tafsir al-Azhar": Qur'anic exegesis as a mirror of social change

Hamka's "Tafsir al-Azhar": Qur'anic exegesis as a mirror of social change
by Wan Yusof, Wan Sabri, Ph.D., Temple University, 1997, 291 pages; AAT 9813562

Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation attempts to explain interconnections between Tafsir al-Azhar and intellectual, social, political, and cultural phenomena in twentieth century Indonesia. Tafsir al-Azhar is a modern Qur'anic exegesis in Indonesia which takes into account indigenous experience to explain verses of the Qur'an. Hamka, who was a reformer, also interpreted verses of the Qur'an in the context of his reform ideas in which bid'ah and superstition were the main targets.

This study also finds that antagonistic ideologies such as Islam, nationalism, colonialism, and Communism filled the pages of Tafsir al-Azhar. This is because Qur'anic exegesis, just as it has been in earlier Islamic history, was used by the writer to express personal inclination and dogma. Hamka, who was constructed by his Islamic habitus, expressed his personal view in his interpretation which was informed by his antagonistic experiences with Christianity and Communism. The national unity of Indonesia was another Hamka's concerns that found its way into the pages of Tafsir al-Azhar.

In short, Tafsir al-Azhar was a mirror of social change: pre-independence and post independence Indonesia. All such issues were used to contextualize the meanings of verses of the Qur'an so that they were understood and related better to the Malay-Indonesian people who were lacking knowledge of the Arabic language. In other words Hamka was able to membumikan (indigenize) the meaning of the Qur'an to fit the Indonesian experience.

Indexing (document details)

Advisor:Ayoub, Mahmoud M.
School:Temple University
School Location:United States -- Pennsylvania
Source:DAI-A 58/10, p. 3957, Apr 1998
Source type:Dissertation
Subjects:Religion, Bible, Religious history
Publication Number: AAT 9813562
Document URL: entId=48051&RQT=309&VName=PQD
ProQuest document ID:736734291

Hamka's method of interpreting the legal verses of the Qur'an: A study of his "Tafsir al-Azhar"

Hamka's method of interpreting the legal verses of the Qur'an: A study of his "Tafsir al-Azhar"
by Yusuf, Milhan, M.A., McGill University (Canada), 1995, 118 pages; AAT MM07968

Abstract (Summary)

Having been influenced by the Muslim reformist ideas championed by Muhammad 'Abduh and his colleagues, Hamka attempted to disseminate and ameliorate the reform ideas in his country, Indonesia, through the means available to him; that is by preaching and writing. He was among the most prolific contemporary authors, having written 113 books including his monumental Tafsir al-Azhar. In this commentary, Hamka has probably included the sum of his ideas particularly those pertaining to religious aspects. With regards to the religious aspects, he mostly discusses the problems of theology, sufism and law. Hamka's conception of the law portrays his challenge and struggle towards the abolishment of taqlid (uncritical acceptance of the decisions made by the predecessors) and the implementation of ijtihad (personal opinion). In addition, his legal comments and interpretations are quite different from many of the comments made by sectarian commentators, who saw in tafsir a forum for defending their schools of thought. However, Hamka steered away from any school of thought and tried to be as objective as possible in his work, an attempt reflected in his method of interpreting the problematic legal verses. Moreover, he did not limit himself to a single method of interpretation. On the contrary, he availed himself of both the tafsir bi al-ma'thur method (interpretation derived from the Prophet, the Companions and the Successors) and the tafsir bi al-ra'y method (interpretation based on reason).

Indexing (document details)

Advisor:Boullata, Issa J.
School:McGill University (Canada)
School Location:Canada
Source:MAI 34/05, p. 1780, Oct 1996
Source type:Dissertation
Subjects:Theology, Bible, Biographies, Law
Publication Number: AAT MM07968
Document URL: entId=48051&RQT=309&VName=PQD
ProQuest document ID:743771781

Kiyai Haji Ahmad Dahlan, his life and thought

Kiyai Haji Ahmad Dahlan, his life and thought
by Idris, Muhammady, M.A., McGill University (Canada), 1976; AAT MK29372

Indexing (document details)

School:McGill University (Canada)
School Location:Canada
Source:MAI 40/07, 2002
Source type:Dissertation
Publication Number: AAT MK29372
Document URL: entId=48051&RQT=309&VName=PQD
ProQuest document ID:767244041

Hisanori Kato

Dr. Hisanori Kato (35), peneliti dari Jepang yang mendapat gelar Ph.D-nya dari Sydney University, Australia, tahun 2000 tentang peran agama Islam dalam pembentukan masyarakat demokratis di Indonesia, dan kini menjadi profesor tamu di Universitas Nasional Jakarta. Email:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The women's movement in Indonesia: With special reference to the 'Aisyiyah organization

The women's movement in Indonesia: With special reference to the 'Aisyiyah organization
by It, Suraiya, Ph.D., Temple University, 2005 , 304 pages; AAT 3203014

Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates the women's movement in Indonesia. It focuses mainly on their efforts to improve the position of women. The movements were formed on the basis of religion, community and ethnic groups, while others mobilized the wives of civil servants or women workers in the government. The emergence of women's organizations offered the possibility for women to articulate their political interests unshackled by the doctrines of the state. The central focus of the dissertation is on Muslim Indonesian women.

The Muslim women's movement in Indonesia was influenced by the Islamic reform movement in the twentieth-century. The reformists sought a "return" to the fundamental truth of the Islamic texts and tradition, as articulated in the Qur'an and Hadith . The women's divisions of religious reform movements played active roles in advocating and implementing social and educational reforms. 'Aisyiyah is the women's section of the Islamic reformist movement, the Muhammadiah, and 'Aisyiyah is used as a case study in the dissertation. Initially, their efforts were directed towards increasing the awareness of Muslim women in an effort to improve their lives, obtain their rights, and realize their responsibilities. Education, both secular and religious, was seen as the key, and Aisyiyah has long inspired Indonesian women to dedicate themselves to establish educational opportunities for women.

Particularly in recent years, the 'Aisyiyah organization has been spearheading a reexamination of traditional Islamic sources for answers to the complex relationship between culture, tradition and religious requirements regarding the role of women in Islam. Analyzing Islamic teaching from a gender perspectives was an innovative initiative to change thinking patterns on gender issues, especially in the Indonesian context. The dissertation examines how 'Aisyiyah's influence has made a difference for many Muslim women by its emphasis on the importance of the mother's role as an educator, as well as on the need for women to be economically independent and to make decisions on their own.

Cultural values related to women's sexuality, which reflected the inequality of gender, very much influenced the formulation of law in Indonesia, both secular law and Islamic law. The question of the role of religion on gender constructions in Indonesia has not been asked often enough, but is clearly of great relevance to contemporary debates, as Indonesia struggles towards a modern democratic state.

However, tradition provides a sort of framework within which gender roles evolve. Family and lineage inheritance, status, and solidarity are points in the gender ideology regarding women that emerges particularly in class societies, both in rural and urban regions.

How to conceptualize the bargaining power of women because the process of subtle negotiation is an important constant in social relations. To put it briefly, Indonesian Muslim women have a strong bargaining position within their households and their social spheres because they have some control over the acquisition and use of individual skills and resources. When compared with women in societies where households are hierarchical, embodying the ideal of age and gender distinctions in specific role constraints, Indonesian Muslim women are less bound by hierarchical constraints and somewhat freer to make independent, responsible decisions.

Indexing (document details)

Advisor:Ayoub, Mahmoud M.
School:Temple University
School Location:United States -- Pennsylvania
Keyword(s):Women's movement, Indonesia, Aisyiyah
Source:DAI-A 67/01, p. 216, Jul 2006
Source type:Dissertation
Subjects:Religion, Womens studies
Publication Number: AAT 3203014
Document URL:
ProQuest document ID:1150814121

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Recurrent Generational conflict in Muhammadiyah

Ahmad Najib Burhani , , JAKARTA | Sun, 02/21/2010 4:10 PM | Opinion

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The development of Islamic theological discourse in Indonesia: A critical survey of Muslim reformist attempts to sustain orthodoxy in the twentieth ce

The development of Islamic theological discourse in Indonesia: A critical survey of Muslim reformist attempts to sustain orthodoxy in the twentieth century
by Saleh, Fauzan, Ph.D., McGill University (Canada), 2001 , 412 pages; AAT NQ70145

Abstract (Summary)

This study aims to trace the development of Islamic theological discourse in Indonesia, from the early 1900s to the end of the twentieth century. It will focus on how modernist Muslims have constructed their theological thought throughout the century, which, in turn, reflects their religious understanding in response to the particular demands of their age. The modernist theological thought constructed so far signifies a continuum of progress, developing from one stage to the next. Implicitly, this progress also indicates the improvement of Indonesian Muslims' understanding of their own religion, which may suggest the betterment of their commitment to doctrinal beliefs and religious practices. Therefore, this study will also examine the ways in which Indonesian Islam noticeably grows more orthodox through these forms of religious commitment. Drawing upon an Indonesian term, the growth of orthodox Islam is known as the santri cultural expansion, which, at least since the last two decades of the century, has been characterized by the vertical (and horizontal) mobility of devoted Muslims in political, cultural and economic enterprises. As well, this study will include a discussion of the theological thought underlying that santri cultural expansion.

Indexing (document details)

Advisor:Federspiel, Howard M., Ormsby, Eric
School:McGill University (Canada)
School Location:Canada
Keyword(s):Islamic, Theological discourse, Indonesia, Muslim, Reformist, Orthodoxy, Twentieth century
Source:DAI-A 63/07, p. 2587, Jan 2003
Source type:Dissertation
Publication Number: AAT NQ70145
Document URL:
ProQuest document ID:764682701

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Rise and Development of the Modernist Muslim Movement in Indonesia during the Dutch Colonial Period (1900-1942)

by NOER, DELIAR, Ph.D., Cornell University, 1963 , 593 pages; AAT 6304807

Indexing (document details)

School:Cornell University
School Location:United States -- New York
Source:DAI 24/01, p. 372, Jul 1963
Source type:Dissertation
Subjects:Political science
Publication Number: AAT 6304807
Document URL: b?did=763064391&sid=2&Fmt=1&clie ntId=48051&RQT=3 09&VName=PQD
ProQuest document ID:763064391

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Discussion with Abdul Mukti, Muhammadiyah

Abdul Mukti

Mukti Abdul Mu’ti is a senior lecturer at The State Institute for Islamic Studies (IAIN) Walisongo Semarang. Mu’ti obtained his Masters degree in Education from Flinders University of South Australia and Ph.D in islamic education from The State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah, Jakarta. His major research is education and religious pluralism. Apart from his position as a lecturer, Mu’ti also serves as executive director of Centre for Dialogue and Cooperation among Civilisations (CDCC), Jakarta.

As an academic, Mu’ti has participated in numerous national and international conferences. He presented his paper on islam, education, terrorism and other themes related to religious pluralism. Mu’ti contributed his articles in many books including Pendidikan dan Hak Azasi Manusia (2008), Muhammadiyah Progresif: Manifesto Pemikiran Kaum Muda Muhammadiyah (2007), Muhammadiyah dan Politik Islam Inklusif (2006), Paradigma Pendidikan Islam (2001), Pendidikan Islam, Demokratisasi dan Masyarakat Madani (1999), His book, Deformalisasi Islam, published in 2004. This year, 2009, Mu’ti published two books: Kristen Muhammadiyah: Konvergensi Muslim dan Kristen Dalam Pendidikan (June, 2009) and Inkulturasi Islam (September, 2009).

Mu’ti is an activist of Muhammadiyah, a modern islamic movement in Indonesia that firstly established in 1912. He firstly joined Muhammadiyah University Student Association in 1988. In 1998 Mu’ti elected as chairman of Muhammadiyah Youth, Central Java. From 2002-2006, Mu’ti serves as chairman of National Board Muhammadiyah Youth. Since 2005, Mu’ti has been appointed as secretary of Council of Primary and Secondary Education, Central Board Muhammadiyah. Besides his position in Muhammadiyah, Mu’ti also actively involves in Indonesian Muslim Intellectual Association (ICMI) and Religious Counter Terrorism Ministry of Religious Affairs (TPT) whereby he serves as vice secretary. At international level, Mu’ti is one of the members of Indonesia-United Kingdom Islamic Advisory Group (IUIAG) formed by the Indonesia and United Kingdom government. The advisory group that has been inaugurated since January 2007 is aimed at developing strong engagement among people of the two nations, promoting pluralism and peaceful Islam through programs on education, youth and religion.

Discussion with Abdul Mukti, Muhammadiya

November 30, 2009

Background note: This discussion took place as part of preparations for a consultation on faith and development in Southeast Asia, held in Phnom Penh Cambodia December 14-15 2009. The consultation was an endeavor of the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD), the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, with support from the Luce Foundation, and the University of Cambodia. Its aim was to take stock of the wide range of ongoing work by different organizations that are, in varying ways, inspired by religious faith, but more important, to explore the policy implications that emerge from their interactions with development organizations.

Abdul Mukti is Youth Director of Muhammadiyah (Indonesia) and a leader in education and youth programming. In this interview he outlines the history and current work of Muhammadiyah, its philosophy and approach, and the major agenda of issues that it sees for Indonesia, with a focus on education and youth.

What was your path to your present position, and how have you been inspired to do the work you are doing?

I have been doing social development work for a long time. I was chairman of Muhammadiyah Youth of Central Java from 1998 to 2002, and then I moved to Jakarta to become the national chairman of Muhammadiyah Youth, 2002-2008. I was extensively involved with social programming through Muhammadiyah Youth as well as cooperation with other organizations in Indonesia. I now hold the position of secretary of the education council for Muhammadiyah, and as well as secretary of the Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Center (MDMC). I also recently joined the Indonesian Humanitarian Forum. Through the forum, Muhammadiyah and other organizations can share their experience and work together on humanitarian and social programs, also sharing their faiths. It is our belief that according to Islam, which is my religion, through social work we can contribute for the sake of humanity and for the benefit of people in general.

Although we have differences with people from other faiths, regardless of our differences on theological principles, we share universal humanitarian values. In addition, common ground found through work with youth enables us to unlock our differences. This is what we have done so far working in Indonesia with international agencies and other faith inspired agencies.

Can you give us a brief overview of Muhammadiyah and the work you do with them?

Muhammadiyah is an Islamic civil society movement established in 1912 In Yogyakarta. Muhammadiyah now is considered one of the largest Islamic movements in Indonesia. International communities classify Muhammadiyah as an Islamic modernist movement. We have international partnerships with many international organizations, and also with governments at the national and international level.

In my present position, I am working as a volunteer as Secretary for Council of Primary and Secondary Education. I manage primary and secondary education, and in total we manage more than 12, 000 schools with more than one million students. Related to education, Muhammadiyah also runs programs in social and health services for the Indonesian people. We have more than 500 health service programs, including hospitals, clinics, and orphanages.

I also work currently with the Muhammadiyah disaster management center. This is a relatively new institution within Muhammadiyah that provides assistance for any kind of disaster. This center has already been in operation for three or four years starting after the tsunami in Aceh. I am working as secretary of this institution to manage volunteers, medical doctors, and search and rescue, among other services. The center has a strong focus on children, providing them with education and awareness about natural disasters.

Can you speak more about your work in education with Muhammadiyah, especially given the size and reach of your school system?

Education programs in Muhammadiyah are self-funded. The education programs, both the beginning stages and the creativity behind its design and organization, began at the grass roots level. Our students pay a very minimum fee. As part of our education in Indonesia, Muhammadiyah has its own curriculum that combines both religious and national curriculum, and also what we call the institutional curriculum. It is a curriculum that is specifically taught within Muhammadiyah Schools throughout the nation. With the national curriculum, Muhammadiyah’s schools are exactly similar to other schools in Indonesia. For the religious subjects, although Muhammadiyah is an Islamic institution, schools are open to students of all faiths, not only Muslims. In the eastern part of Indonesia, where the majority of the population is Christian, schools are open for Christian students. In some of our schools, the majority of students is Christian and receives a Christian education taught by Christian teachers. The students are free to practice Christian worship in the schools. This indicates the commitment of Muhammadiyah towards tolerance and pluralism in Indonesia.

Is there a contradiction for Muhammadiyah, and Islamic organization to teach and allow Christian worship in your schools?

No. There is no significant contradiction or tension between Muhammadiyah and the rest of the society. This is because the subject of Christian religion taught in Muhammadiyah schools in the Christian majority areas is based on and created by the Christian education authority. It is designed by the Christian Education Authority, and is taught by Christians. It is actually based on the National Education System act. It is in no way contradictory with the basically theology of Muhammadiyah to be tolerant and inclusive.

How do you see Youth as being instrumental for the continued development of Indonesian society?

We consider Indonesia a young country, meaning that the majority of Indonesians are between 15 and 40 years old. The position of youth is very relevant, not only because of their big numbers, but also because of their position as the future of the nation. The government is active in empowering the role of youth to respond to global challenges, and Muhammadiyah is very concerned with the education of Youth. Unless youth in Indonesia receive a good education to develop their potential, there will be growing problems facing today’s youth. A new institution at the national level has been created to identify the concerns facing Youth, and help to see that they are empowered moving forwards into the future.

How do you deal with the issue of corruption?

Corruption remains a serious problem in Indonesia. Despite the commitment to eradicate corruption, it is still very prevalent. We can see corruption not only in the government, but also in civil society and within Muhammadiyah itself. Muhammadiyah is working on government reform to develop a moral movement for anti-corruption. This is a theological construction and moral movement based on education that aims to increase awareness about the danger of corruption for the future of the nation. Until now, Muhammadiyah has been one of the most active organizations that coordinates civil society to join hands and has developed its own methodology to be a model for clean governance. Muhammadiyah also invites other institutions to develop similar systems to combat corruption and promote good governance.

How does Muhammadiyah see the challenges with gender in Indonesia?

Historically, Muhammadiyah has been one of the Islamic organizations that put gender issues in its movements, and we have given education to women since 1912. We also set up a special organization, named Aisyiah as the women’s wing of Muhammadiyah. Muhammadiyah, together with Aisyiah and other women organizations work very extensively for four major areas in relation to gender:

1) Domestic violence towards women
2) Mothers’ mortality during delivery
3) Women trafficking
4) Improving the status and representation of women in society and parliament.

A lot of work has been done in Indonesia on decentralization. How does Muhammadiyah operate in this context?

Decentralization is really a revolutionary government system in Indonesia that has changed many aspects of leadership. Muhammadiyah already is a bottom up organization however, so there are not many challenges with relation to decentralization for the organization. Of course, decentralization has had an impact on the integrity of the nation, and also the welcoming of political identity, especially local identity. It has brought about local sentiment on the basis of religion, and Muhammadiyah understands this as we examine the impact of decentralization. Muhammadiyah accepts the importance of developing and maintaining pluralism, especially in relation to developing political identity.

Can you speak about Aceh, and Muhammadiyah’s view on the changes happening there, particularly the position of Sharia law??

I think for Muhammadiyah what is more important, is not the implementation of Sharia law in Aceh, but rather peace, coexistence, and greater prosperity for the Acehnese people in general. Muhammadiyah also of course respects the agreement between the central government and the Acehnese people on the implementation of Islamic law in Aceh. It is part of the solution for peaceful coexistence between central government and the Acehnese people. It is important that the Acehnese people maintain their traditions.

Are there any other organizations similar to Muhammadiyah in Indonesia or elsewhere?

There are some other Islamic organizations in Indonesia. The first I will mention is Nahdlatul Ulama. This organization was set up in 1926 and its members are primarily found at the grass roots level. This organization works for the empowerment of the poor. NU is also very active in education, especially in the area of Islamic boarding schools and Madrasas that are focused on religious education.

Are there differences in ideology (modernist vs. traditionalist) between Muhammadiyah and NU?

Originally many scholars categorized Muhammadiyah as modernist and NU as traditionalist. However, now the boundary between the modern and traditionalist has lessened and has almost closed. Even looking at our education, it is hard to differentiate. Traditional and modern now seems to have lost its relevance, especially after the development of education and the economy in Indonesia.

How has Muhammadiyah reacted to the economic crisis, and what are your views on microcredit?

The impact of the international economic crisis has not been very serious among Muhammadiyah members. Rather, it has had the most significant impact among the elite level of society; the group of people that run businesses with international connections. Muhammadiyah has limited international connections, and this was important in mitigating the effects of the crisis on the organization.

Apart from that, Muhammadiyah has developed a microeconomy and microcredit program, called Baitut Tamwil Muhammadiyah. This microeconomy has been one of the more influential economic movements among Muhammadiyah members. The program has been developed through a donation, and has been very successful at developing the prosperity and economy of the people it targets. The program adheres to the norms Islamic Finance.

What do you see at the role of religion and faith in the continued development of Indonesia?

I think Indonesia is a religious state, which has two meanings – 1) Set ideology, with explicit mentions to the importance of religion. The first pillar of the Pancasila states a belief in God, meaning religion is a source of inspiration and morality. 2) The people of Indonesia are very committed and devoted to practice their religion. They consider religion as an integral part of their lives. Religion, among Indonesians, has been a transcendent source of inspiration that has enabled them to work across boundaries and drives them to look after others. This is becoming the spirit, not only for rituals, but also for society, economy, cultural, politics, and all aspects of human life.

Does Muhammadiyah do any work internationally?

Yes – Muhammadiyah works with other organizations overseas. Now we have branches in about 18 different countries, including the USA. Having this network, Muhammadiyah already works well with international agencies from different countries. In relation to Southeast Asia, Muhammadiyah works with multicultural societies. For example, we have worked with the British council, USAID, AusAid, UNICEF, WHO, and other international agencies on humanitarian programs. For the promotion of peaceful coexistence in Southeast Asia, Muhammadiyah has been very active in working with the Thailand government to create peaceful coexistence in southern Thailand. We have also worked with the government of the Philippines to encourage peace in the southern part of their country. In addition, we have been important partners with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Indonesia dealing with the promotion interfaith dialogue. Muhammadiyah is a founder of regional interfaith dialogue, now in its 6th year of operation.

Faith is often a topic that is not on the official agenda of development organizations, yet it is a crucial factor that should be given ample consideration, especially in Asia. What, from your view, is missing on the development agenda with regards to faith, and what should be added?

In the Indonesian context, religion is important in inspiring people. In the future if we will consider development as part of the means to improve people’s prosperity, it is important to consider religion, especially how people understand religion themselves as part of development planning. Having a comprehensive understanding of religion seems to be very positive to support development programs and creating a better life for the people. That is part of our work as a religious organization. Helping others is part of religion. Integration of faith into life is important. People must work for the betterment of themselves and their surroundings in this life, and also do good looking towards the afterlife. These are important aspects to understand when looking at development policy.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah not in 'all-out' war

, The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Mon, 01/08/2001 7:40 AM | Opinion

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Syafii Maarif, Moderation and the Future of Muhammadiyah

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Fri, 05/06/2005 4:23 PM | Opinion

Hilman Latief, Kalamazoo, Michigan

At the next Muhammadiyah Congress from July 3-8 in Malang, East Java, the issue of the organization's leadership will feature prominently.

Ahmad Syafii Maarif has already confirmed he will not be standing for the Muhammadiyah post of chairman, creating a power vacuum that will have to be filled.

Although the Muhammadiyah's leadership has been described as ""collegial"", if Syafii's tenure as head is anything to go by, the group's future leader will be extremely important in shaping the future role of the organization.

Born in Sumpurkudus, West Sumatra, on May 31, 1935, Syafii has been involved in this organization since he was trained in the Mualimin Muhammadiyah Boarding School in Sumatra and Yogyakarta. After sharpening his intellectual powers at the FKIP Cokroaminoto of Surakarta (1964) and the FKIS IKIP of Yogyakarta (1968), he furthered his studies at Ohio University. In 1982, he earned a Doctorate from the University of Chicago.

Syafii has been a decisive figure in Muhammadiyah. After several years serving the organization, he was appointed in 1999 as caretaker to the Central Board of Muhammadiyah as soon as the Muhammadiyah chairman at the time, M. Amien Rais, established the National Mandate Party (PAN). Less than a year later in 2000, the group's congress appointed him the new chairman.

Syafii has a unique leadership style that has influenced and moderated many of the more extreme movements in the organization. By the time he was appointed to lead this organization, the social and political conditions in the country were in a period of transition after the fall of Soeharto in 1998. Following this political reform, Indonesian society in general, and the religious community, in particular, were enthusiastic for radical changes socially, politically and religiously. Such conditions were a big challenge for Syafii in his first years as leader keeping the Muhammadiyah organization constantly in a religiously ""moderate"" zone.

It helped that he was in tune with the majority of Indonesian Muslims, who are generally considered religious moderates by observers.

These days Muhammadiyah and its main competition, Nahdlatul Ulama, are seen as the two main groups that represent a general cross-section of Indonesian Islam, with scholars such as Robert Hefner, Martin van Bruinessen and Andrie Feillard labeling them the two ""pillars of Indonesian civil society.""

It was not always so. For three decades, scholars like Deliar Noer (1973) and later Mitsuo Nakamura (1993) had branded this organization in more radical terms, as a modernist (used here to mean Islamic modernism, which embraced new fundamentalist teachings from Iran and Saudi Arabia) and a reformist group.

These days, however, under Syafii's leadership, Muhammadiyah is seen as more moderate in line with the emergence of newer, neo-conservative movements.

Syafii has long sought to define Muhammadiyah moderately and apolitically, in terms of religion and not politics. While a number of Muhammadiyah members voiced their intentions to support various political parties, the Muhammadiyah leadership gave no particular endorsements. Instead, Muhammadiyah let its members freely affiliate with political parties they desired. In this way, Syafii and other Muhammadiyah leaders realized that the their organization's members had different social and political backgrounds.

At this time, in the age of extreme radicals like Osama bin Ladin and cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, demands from the more fanatical fringes surfaced. Taking the middle road between extreme conservatives and radical reformers, many of whom explicitly wanted the party to move in a political direction, Syafii played a significant roles in easing tensions and neutralizing the tendencies of political Islamization.

One can say Syafii is a moderate since he has not been inclined either to support secular-liberal, modernist or conservative Muslims in any clear-cut statement. He is not anti-conservative and neither does he agree with what the modernist Muslims struggle for, such as the formalization of Islam in the Indonesian Constitution. He often insists, ""why should we hang our hopes on sharia (law) on the government? Are we (Muslims) such a weak people that we expect that the sharia must be ruled by the state?"" (Interview, Republika, Oct. 23, 2000).

In regards to political Islam, Syafii strongly advocates the ""spiritualization"" of Muslim life by taking the grand principles or the substance of the Koran and Hadith, which does not necessarily mean either the formalization of sharia or the secularization of Islam. Syafii, for instance, frequently mentions, in terms of political Islam, the necessity of adhering to a ""salt-water philosophy"" (""colorless but tasty"") instead of the ""lipstick philosophy"" (""colorful but tasteless"").

The moderate attitudes of his leadership are a strategic achievement and make sense in view of the fact that the constituencies of the Muhammadiyah are culturally, socially and politically disparate. While many constituencies support a more liberal stance, there are also others that lean toward an Islamist view.

To keep the party cohesive and to preserve the developing democracy in Indonesia he has taken ""a clear stand against the recent attempts"" (Van Bruinessen: 2003; Saeful Muzani & William Liddle, 2004) to push the party toward ""formalization"" or ""secularization."" This middle-road leadership has also been taken by Nahdlatul Ulama.

With the religious, social and political points of view of the Muhammadiyah members remaining diverse, Syafii has sought to reconcile differences. His actions show he probably believes that promoting education, social welfare, and moderate political-religious behavior is more important than accusing certain factions of Muhammadiyah members of betraying the core values of the party.

As an intellectual and national figure in Indonesia, Syafii is very much concerned with crucial issues this nation faces. Sometime his statements about the future of this country seem to be a little pessimistic. That is actually the way he expresses ideas and the method he uses to criticize and spotlight a number of acute problems in this country, such as the systematic economic corruption, poverty, and political injustice. He also has a strong sense of commitment to the universal values of humanity. Therefore, it should not be surprising if he often criticizes the unfair policies and unjust treatment of superpower states, like the U.S., to several Muslim countries.

Some prominent figures who have different social, political, and academic backgrounds have been nominated for the upcoming Muhammadiyah Congress.

Whoever will lead this organization, the political and religious moderation of the Muhammadiyah must be consistently preserved. Although each period of the Muhammadiyah leadership its own style and separate challenges, Syafii's humility humble personality, integrity and moral and social commitments should be an outstanding example for future leadership.

The writer, is a lecturer at the Muhammadiyah University of Yogyakarta. Currently, he is a Fulbright student at the Department of Comparative Religion at the University of Western Michigan. He can be reached at

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Berpolitik atau menjadi organisasi masyarakat murni?

Muktamar Muhammadiyah ke-45 di Malang

Berpolitik atau menjadi organisasi masyarakat murni?

Wawancara Fediya Andina


logo-muhammadiyah240.jpgMuktamar Muhammadiyah ke-45 di Malang, Jawa Timur diharapkan dapat menjawab dua pertanyaan penting. Apakah organisasi itu akan berpolitik atau kembali menjadi organisasi masyarakat murni. Dan yang kedua apakah pemimpinnya harus seorang ulama, atau cendekiawan atau kombinasi dari keduanya. Ahmad Najib Burhani, peneliti LIPI dan juga anggota Pemuda Muhammadiyah menghendaki arah kemasyarakatan dan menolak dijadikan alat karir politik individu. Kalau ingin berpolitik harus lewat PAN atau PKS. Lebih lanjut berikut Ahmad Najib Burhani kepada Radio Nederland:

Ahmad Najib Burhani [ANB]: "Untuk membicarakan apakah perlu ulama atau perlu cendekiawan itu saya kira mungkin lebih baik adalah dua-duanya. Yaitu seorang cendekiawan yang ulama. Karena butuh orang yang mengayomi, tidak sekadar memanfaatkan Muhammadiyah untuk kepentingan politik. Harapannya kepada ulama, mungkin dia adalah seorang pemimpin yang bisa membawa Muhammadiyah menjadi organisasi kultural murni. Bukan semata-mata menjadi organisasi politik yang dimanfaatkan untuk kepentingan politik beberapa orang."

Politik atau agama?
Radio Nederland [RN]: "Tapi kan ada hubungannya siapa yang menjadi pemimpin itu dengan visi dan misi Muhammadiyah dalam beberapa tahun mendatang. Menurut Bapak titik beratnya ke mana, politik atau agama?"

ANB: "Nah itulah yang mungkin dihindari oleh teman-teman kalangan muda. Kalau kita misalnya memilih seperti bapak Din Syamsuddin atau Pak Malik Fajar, itu kekhawatirannya kita tidak bisa menjamin bahwa Muhammdiyah itu tidak dibawa kepada politik. Meskipun kemarin sebelum muktamar, angkatan muda Muhammadiyah sudah membuat sebuah nota, meminta supaya siapa pun yang akan memimpin Muhammadiyah harus berjanji tidak membawa Muhammadiyah itu menjadi alat atau kendaraan menuju presiden tahun 2009."

"Kalau kalangan muda Muhammadiyah menghendaki, Muhammadiyah itu sebagai organisasi murni kultural. Organisasi kebudayaan, kemasyarakatan dan sosial. Bukan organisasi politik. Biarlah misalnya organisasi politik itu ditangani oleh PAN atau PKS."

Dampak negatifnya
RN: "Apa buruknya, apa dampak negatifnya Muhammadiyah sebagai salah satu cara untuk berpolitik?"

ANB: "Tidak ada yang buruk. Tetapi seringkali ketika misalnya Muhammadiyah itu terlibat dalam politik, aspek-aspek yang lain di dalam kebudayaan itu menjadi dinomorduakan. Dan kecenderungannya misalnya, ketika politik itu dipilih maka strategi kebudayaan untuk mempengaruhi masyarakat, untuk membina ummat cenderung top-down bukan bottom-up. Nah kalau umpamanya strategi kebudayaan itu bottom-up. Dan mengakar dari masyarakat. Bukan sesuatu yang dipaksakan dari atas. Meskipun misalnya, katakanlah kalau pilihan politik itu diambil dan kemudian menang, bisa mempengaruhi masyarakat. Tetapi itu tidak jaminan dan tidak bisa bertahan lama."

RN: "Selama ini sebagai anggota generasi muda Muhammadiyah anda merasa dipergunakan untuk karir politik individu begitu?"

ANB: "Tidak secara langsung dimanfaatkan untuk karir individu. Tetapi dukungan kepada pimpinan yang misalnya masuk dalam jaringan politik tertentu, maka itu akan memanfaatkan Muhammadiyah sebagai jaringan politik orang-orang tersebut. Lihat saja misalnya pada pemilu lalu atau pada pemilihan presiden yang lalu. Kita mungkin terbengkalai kepada usaha-usaha, upaya-upaya politik. Sementara upaya yang lain, pemikiran, dukungan kepada intelektual nyaris mungkin tak terperhatikan."

Kombinasi politik dan sosial
RN: "Kalau kombinasi politik dan sosial yang baik itu bisa dicapai pak? Nanti juga kalau memilih seorang ulama yang juga cendekiawan, hasilnya juga sama saja. Dia berambisi politik?"

ANB: "Nah itulah, kombinasinya itu yang agak bingung juga. Seperti apa? Menurut saya kita harus memilih karir politik atau karir kultural di Muhammadiyah. Jangan kemudian memanfaatkan Muhammadiyah sebagai kepentingan ini."

"Misalnya Pak Din Syamsuddin, meskipun ini adalah calon yang terkuat. Misalnya dia akan memilih sebagai politisi, dia harus secara serius menggelutinya melalui jalur partai. Bukan dengan menggunakan Muhammadiyah. Kalau misalnya dia menggunakan Muhammadiyah, dia harus memperhatikan khusus kepada Muhammadiyah dan untuk kepentingan Muhammadiyah. Dan bukan dimanfaatkan untuk kepentingan politik."

"Mestinya kemarin dia misalnya siap menjadi katakanlah ketua PAN. Bukan kemudian merebut Muhammadiyah dan katakanlah dia keinginannya menjadi ketua MUI juga untuk menjadi dua syariat dia untuk masuk ke 2009."

Jalur kultural
RN: "Kalau misalnya Muhammadiyah itu sudah mengambil jalur sosial-budaya dan memilih seorang pemimpin yang ulama, tetapi kemudian dalam beberapa tahun mendatang diminta oleh salah seorang politikus, atau mungkin oleh Presiden SBY sendiri untuk berkoalisi. Bagaimana itu?"

ANB: "Kalau umpamanya kita mengambil jalur kultural, biasanya kita akan tidak menentukan kepada siapa orangnya. Apakah dia kader Muhammadiyah atau kader bukan Muhammadiyah. Tetapi kalau umpamanya orang itu memiliki kwalifikasi tertentu yang layak untuk dipilih, tentunya dari manapun asalnya akan didukung. Dukungannya tentu saja tidak seperti dukungan dalam partai politik, tetapi sebagai sebuah organisasi massa. Kemarin kan, karena sudah terlanjur terlibat dalam politik, kan agak susah untuk bersikap seperti itu. Dari tanwir satu ke tanwir yang lain, suaranya sepertinya diseret terus untuk memberikan satu penyebutan nama siapa yang didukung."

Demikian Ahmad Najib Burhani, peneliti LIPI dan juga anggota Pemuda Muhammadiyah.

Kata Kunci: Ahmad Najib Burhani , Muhammadiyah

Retrieved from:

Competition between liberal and conservative groups

The Jakarta Post, 30 December 2005

Ahmad Najib Burhani, Jakarta

The year 2005 saw numerous disputes between conservative Muslims and liberal Muslims to change the face of Islam in Indonesia. A number of incidents that occurred this year were a manifestation of these disputes. To mention some incidents, there was the ban on the Laskar Cinta (Love Army) logo created by the Dhani Ahmad pop singing group; the trial of Yusman Roy, who prayed in Indonesian and Arabic, and the attack on the Mubarok campus -- belonging to the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) -- in Bogor in July by a swarm of brutes calling themselves Indonesian Muslim Solidarity (GUII).

There are also controversies over 11 MUI (Indonesian Ulema Council) edicts issued on July 29, and the attempt to oust Liberal Islam Network (JIL) from the Utan Kayu complex in East Jakarta shortly after the fatwa was made public.

The issues of liberal Islam, pluralism among religions and tolerance of secular ideas seems to have greatly preoccupied the minds of Muslim leaders, particularly those at MUI, and thereby neglecting terrorism as the most pressing issue in this country.

There is a prevailing perception that liberal Islam, secularism, and pluralism are far more dangerous than terrorism. MUI has preoccupied itself more with issues like Ahmadiyah and interfaith marriages, than suicide bombings, which actually have a far more devastating impact society. They are more concerned with ritualistic issues such as interfaith joint prayers and female imams instead of the immorality in society like corruption, which has already become so deeply ingrained that it is almost like a tradition in our society.

They have paid little attention to the trial/investigation of former minister of religious affairs Said Agil Munawar, for his alleged involvement in a haj budget irregularities. MUI seems to be "delighted" by busying itself in "attacking" harmless groups such as JIL and JIMM (Muhammadiyah Young Intellectual Network), rather than decisively dealing with extremists. This shows the failure of religious leaders in listing priorities of problems within societies.

Bizarrely, the MUI seems to have just opened its eyes to these realities after they were invited by Vice President Jusuf Kalla to watch the shocking video tape of the Indonesian Muslim suicide bombers. Previously, the clerics were reluctant to condemn their Muslims brothers who were deviating from the true teaching of Islam. It appeared that they were unwilling to call them the real enemy of Islam, and that their deeds should be religiously forbidden and cursed by society.

Many Muslims leaders understand all to well the evil nature of terrorism, but they choose to be quiet in public, apparently afraid of being criticized as a mainstream Muslim. They have often shifted their moral duty to explain the truth to other similarly reluctant clerics at the expense of an increasingly misled society. "Not me, please," they say as they excuse themselves from the responsibility. More bizarrely, MUI regards liberal Islam as threatening as terrorism. This can be seen in the banner in front of Istiqlal Mosque, which reads "beware of liberalism and terrorism."

In dealing with this terrorism issue, even the antiterror team, which was recently founded by the MUI and the ministry of religious affairs, is full of ambiguities. Ma'ruf Amin as the one who was appointed as the leader of this team is actually the chairman of the fatwa (edict) council within the MUI. The fatwa council is charged with enforcing and issuing the controversial 11 religious edicts. He has always been perceived as a fiqh- oriented religious scholar with conservative characteristics. In a deeper analysis, terrorism is actually as subsequence manifestation of increasingly uncontrolled conservatism.

Such conservative views are widespread within Indonesian society. This is the reason why extremism is unstoppable in this country. Moreover, radicalism seems to find a fertile ground in the country's religiosity. Other social and economic matters might have contributed to radicalism, however the potential for conflict was already ingrained in the way the society sees religion.

From childhood, Muslim children here are trained to see the differences rather than the commonalities among people. Even my four-year-old daughter often says the Westerners on TV are kafir (infidels). When we were browsing around in a mall, my daughter asked about the Chinese couple walking in front of us, "Daddy, are they Muslims?" she whispered to my bewilderment. Such double-standard perceptions seem to have been deeply embedded in the psyche of Indonesian people: we go to heaven, they go to hell; we are right, they are wrong; we are beloved by God, they are a disgrace to God.

In addition to the antiterror team's problem of ambiguity, the way this team tackles terrorism issues is also problematic. Ma'ruf Amin, the chairman of the team, and many other religious leaders seem to try to portray terrorism as the antithesis of Islam; much the same way as the New Order portrayed communism as the antithesis of Islam. Therefore, according to their views, terrorism must have no relation at all with Islam.

Ma’ruf Amin once said to me, “al-Islamu syaiun, wat-terrorims syaiun akhar, Islam is one matter, terrorism is another one.” Therefore, Islam and terrorism are two different entities that will never be connected and reconciled; it is like good and evil. At the first place, such attitude would make people afraid of committing even any form which can be classified into terrorist acts. However, such attitude would only strengthen the militancy of the extremists. For example, the obvious reaction to this has been shown by the way some groups of people visiting the grave of Agus Purwanto, one of the suicide bombers, by shouting takbir and yelling, “Agus is a martyr.”

Such phenomena of the severe competition between conservatives and liberals has instead resulted in antipathy from other members of society towards these two competing groups. The majority now seems to have found a comfortable religiosity in the figures of Aa Gym (KH Abdullah Gymnastiar), Jefry al-Bukhary, Agus Haryono, Arifin Ilham, etc.

This is because the religiosity of this Muslim majority follows market mechanisms. For them, religiosity in the way they practice their religion, is a matter of "rational choice." For them, religiosity is like a commodity in a market where they have freedom to choose something that could really satisfy their needs -- much like the law of demand and supply in the economy. This demand for peaceful religiosity, in fact, cannot be found in those two competing groups.

Such peaceful religiosity is instead found in packaging models or "advertising celebrities" like Jefry al-Bukhary and others whose characters splash out on us from television. They are also crazy about religion that can miraculously heal diseases, relax emotions and expand their fortunes, as offered by the likes of Arifin Ilham and Ustadz Haryono.

So how do we predict our religiosity in the coming year (2006)? Terrorism might not have its heady anymore. However, there might be a new model of religiosity which is as frightening and socially disturbing as terrorism. People might end up treating religiosity merely as theatrical show, which would only be able to provide temporary happiness, far from deep happiness as genuinely promised by religion. At the same time, the liberals would increasingly believe that religion is a troublemaker. While the conservatives would increasingly believe that they should hold their religion as rigidly as possible.

The writer works at the Research Center for Society and Culture at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (PMB-LIPI). He is also a member of Pemuda Muhammadiyah. He can be reached at

Monday, February 8, 2010

Islam Moderat adalah Sebuah Paradoks

Jurnal Ma’arif [Vol. 3, No.1, Feb 2008]

Oleh Ahmad Najib Burhani*

"Moderation" ... is Russell's Paradox,
Reduced to a single word.
For being moderate in moderation,
Means one is immoderate in some respect;
And if one is completely moderate,
One is immoderate in moderation.

Rabbi Amos Edelheit
Willimantic, Conn.

Dalam wacana keberagamaan sekarang ini, istilah moderat memiliki konotasi yang sangat positif. Moderat adalah kata yang menghipnotis. Islam moderat, misalnya, dimaknai sebagai Islam yang anti-kekerasan dan anti-terorisme. Islam moderat identik dengan Islam yang bersahabat, tidak ekstrem kanan dan tidak ekstrim kiri. Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) dan Muhammadiyah pun dengan tegas mengklaim dirinya sebagai representasi dari Islam yang moderat, bukan liberal dan juga bukan fundamentalis.

Landasan teologis-ontologis pun dibangun untuk mengokohkan pilihan ini. Dalam beberapa kesempatan Azyumardi Azra, direktur pascasarjana UIN Jakarta, dan Din Syamsuddin, ketua umum Muhammadiyah, menjelaskan bahwa istilah Islam moderat memiliki padanan dengan istilah Arab ummatan wasathan atau al-din al-wasath (Qs 2:143) yang berarti “golongan atau agama tengah”, tidak ekstrim. Bagi Ali Syariati, pembaharu Islam di Iran, dan Buya Hamka, tokoh Muhammadiyah, al-din al-wasath berarti Islam berada di tengah antara esoterisme Kristiani dan eksoterisme Yahudi.

Dalam konteks percaturan global saat ini, dan juga konteks lokal Indonesia, menjadi Muslim moderat barangkali menjadi pilihan yang pas dan “aman”. Tapi label moderat ini seringkali hanya menjadi baju ketika seseorang tidak bisa menjelaskan posisi dirinya di tengah perebutan pengaruh antara kelompok garis keras Islam dan kelompok liberal Islam. “Tidak kanan” dan “tidak kiri” adalah sebuah negasi, belum menjadi sebuah identitas.

Bagi Muhammadiyah dan NU, pemakaian nama Islam moderat adalah sebuah fenomena baru. Sebelumnya Muhammadiyah menyebut dirinya sebagai Islam modernis dan NU sebagai Islam Aswaja (ahlussunnah wal jamaah). Muhammadiyah terkenal dengan struktur dan infrastruktur organisasi yang modern sejak pendiriannya di tahun 1912. Ketika identitas modernis yang lama melekat di Muhammadiyah mulai luntur, maka Muhammadiyah tidak menolak ketika orang luar memberinya sifat baru yang untuk saat ini berkonotasi positif, moderat.

Bagi organisasi seperti Muhammadiyah dan NU, mengambil posisi moderat tampak seperti sebuah pengkhianatan terhadap misi pendirian mereka. Sifat ini akan menghilangkan peran mereka sebagai gerakan (movement) yang memiliki visi yang jelas. Menjadi moderat juga berarti membiarkan umat mereka terus berada dalam perebutan berbagai aliran ekstrim. Moderat adalah pasif dan terus-menerus menjadi obyek. Bagi kedua organisasi itu, moderate lebih berarti medioker daripada netral.

Ahmad Dahlan, pendiri Muhammadiyah, dan Hasyim Asy’ari, pendiri NU, tentu bukanlah orang-orang moderat. Nabi Muhammad pasti juga bukan orang moderat. Jesus juga bukan orang moderat. Mereka adalah para revolusioner sejati. Pemaknaan al-din al-wasath sebagai agama yang moderat atau agamanya orang moderat justru menyesatkan. Dalam konteks ini, wasath mesti dimaknai sebagai center atau heart, agama yang menjadi pusat dan jantung peradaban.

Kekuranglincahan NU dan Muhammadiyah saat ini terutama bersumber pada keputusan mereka untuk memposisikan diri sebagai umat yang tengah-tengah saja. Hanyut dalam dekapan penguasa, baik yang tingkatnya nasional, seperti pada zaman Orde Baru, ataupun penguasa wacana global saat ini, seperti Amerika Serikat atau kelompok radikal Islam. Mengambil posisi moderat tentu bebas dari beresiko, tak berbahaya, dan terkesan taktis. Namun demikian, moderat tidak punya semangat pembaruan sedikitpun dalam dirinya. Selama kedua organisasi itu memilih posisi moderat, maka keduanya tidak akan menjadi pemenang.

Beberapa waktu sebelum turunnya Soeharto dari kepresidenan tahun 1998, seorang tokoh penting dalam ormas Islam di Indonesia mengatakan kepada saya, “Tidak usah meminta Bapak turun, kita tunggu saja dengan sabar. Toh, tidak lama lagi dia akan turun dengan sendirinya. Berapa sih umurnya manusia?” Menunggu turunnya Soeharto dari kepresidenan secara natural, dalam arti meninggal dunia, berarti masih perlu waktu 10 tahun. Sepanjang waktu itu kita tidak perlu melakukan apa-apa, yang terpenting selamat. Ini adalah cara berpikir moderat.

Sebagai mahasiswa kajian agama di Amerika, secara pribadi saya lebih suka menjadi murid dari dosen yang benar-benar atheis atau Muslim taat atau Kristen taat atau dosen yang seratus persen tidak beragama daripada dosen yang tidak sempurna bentuk keberagamaannya. Mereka yang sudah jelas posisinya sering terbukti lebih bisa menunjukkan hormat kepada orang yang memiliki keyakinan berbeda daripada orang yang masih belum mapan pandangan keagamaannya.

Karena itulah, Muslim moderat di Indonesia perlu menjelaskan identitas dirinya, perlu menegaskan karakternya, bukan sekadar menunjukkan negasi bagi kelompok lain, bahwa ia “bukan ini” dan “bukan itu”. Bernegasi ria adalah ciri dari pseudo-moderate. Tanpa memberikan definisi, maka Islam moderat bisa dimaknai sebagai Muslim banci, seperti pernah dituduhkan Abu Bakar Ba’asyir.

*Ahmad Najib Burhani
Peneliti di Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (LIPI), Jakarta