Monday, February 1, 2010

Modern Islam in Indonesia: The Muhammadiyah After Independence

In Indonesia the Modernist movement took root in the foundation, in 1912, of the Muhammadiyah by Dahlan, who combined the duties of a religious teacher with that of a manufacturer of Batik cloth. Real progress, however, only began in 1922, when it received numerous adherents from the Sarikat Islam, an Islamic association which devoted little time to religion, much to politics, and compromised itself with the Communists. The Muhammadiyah, however, "ne fait pas de politique" but has held to its mission of reforming Islam. It should not be thought, however, that it had no influence on the Nationalist movement. While not taking part in it officially, "it would not be wholly incorrect to say that they are quite as anti-Dutch as other nationalists". Perhaps it exerted its greatest influence by showing those of the vast masses of the country whom it reached, especially those (all too few) who were being educated in the Western way, either by the State schools or by those set up by the Muhammadiyah itself, that Islam and progress were reconcilable. Hence it is not surprising that a substantial number of the leaders of the Nationalist movement, including President Soekarno and the late General Soedirman, founder of the Indonesian Army, have been members.

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