Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Muhammadiyah and Fatwā on the Indonesian Communist Party

Quoted from: Boland, B. J. 1971. The struggle of Islam in modern Indonesia. The Hague: Nijhoff. Pp. 145-146.
“An influential Muslim told me that in Java (perhaps in Central Java) a fatwā of the Muhammadiyah chairman had been a great significance in the extermination of the “Gestapu/P.K.I.”, because in this fatwā it was stated that their destruction ought to be considered a religious duty. The informant was probably referring to the statement issued at an emergency meeting of the Muhammadijah held on November 9th- 11th, 1965, in Djakarta.[17]
From this period, there are more statements known, made by Muslim leaders who declared this conflict to be a “Holy War”. This Muhammadijah statement, however, can be taken as an authoritative example.”
Under the heading Ibadah dan Djihad (Religious Duty and the Holy War), this statement explains that the action on September 30th, 1965, is to be regarded as an extension of the Madiun Communist rising of 1948. Officers such as Untung, Latif, Supardjo, Bambang Supeno and others are said to have been involved in the Madiun Affair. Therefore this time a decisive follow-up ought to be carried through in order to prevent a third Communist attempt at a coup in the future. The statement continues as follows:
“Therefore it was right for the Muhammadiyah, together with [the leaders of] its youth movement, during an emergency meeting in Djakarta, November 9th-11th, 1965, trusting in God (tawakkal), to make this pronouncement: THE EXTERMINATION OF THE GESTAPU/PKI AND THE NEKOLIM IS A RELIGIOUS DUTY.[18] … This religious duty is not (only) recommended (sunnat) but obligatory (wadjib), even an individual obligation” (wadjib `ain…) … “And because this action and this struggle must be carried out by consolidating all our strength –mental, physical and material—therefore this action and this struggle are nothing less than a HOLY WAR (DJIHAD). This Holy War, according to religious law, is not (only) recommended, but obligatory, even an individual obligation…” Finally it is stated –in accordance with Islamic law—that when carrying out this djihad “destructive excesses, defamation, revenge, etc. must be prevented”.
It is not explicitly stated what interpretation the (modern) Muhammadijah at that moment gave to the term djihad. But the conclusion drawn by the average Muslim as well as his enemy can easily be guessed. It is, however, hard to assess to what extent this fatwā had a result similar to that which earlier “djihad resolution” had on events in Surabaja in November 1945.

[17] Published in Suara Muhammadiyah, no. 9, November 1965.
[18] “NEKOLIM” is a SOekarno abbreviation for “neo-colonialist imperialists”; they, too, were not forgotten in this statement!


  1. Bapak yg dihurmati,
    saya dari malaysia dan berhasrat mengetahui lebih lanjut sejarah sebenar di sebalik peristiwa-peristiwa 1965 -termasuk pengistiharan Muhammadiyah Nov 9, 1965 - Jihad terhadap Komunis dan Nekolim, dan pembunuhan 6 general)

    Lebih khusus peranan golongan Islam - NU, Muhammadiyah dan lain2 ketika itu dalam pemgambilan kuasa secara langsung atau tidak oleh Suharto.

    Adakah golongan islamis sedar ketika itu bahawa CIA dan agensi barat lain terbabit menyokong Suharto mengambil alih kuasa.

  2. Thanks for visiting this blog. There are many works on the topic that you are asking about. Among them are:
    1. Budiawan. 2006. "Seeing the Communist past through the lens of a CIA consultant: Guy J. Pauker on the Indonesian Communist Party before and after the `1965 Affair'". Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. 7 (4): 650-662.
    2. Fowkes, Ben, and Bulent Gokay. 2009. "Unholy Alliance: Muslims and Communists - An Introduction". Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics. 25 (1): 1-31.
    3. Benda, Harry Jindrich. 1972. Continuity and change in Southeast Asia. New Haven: Yale University Southeast Asia Studies.

    all the best,

  3. Assalamualaikum,
    Thank you for the prompt response.
    Insyaallah will try to get the books you suggested.

    Meanwhile, apprec it if you could share with me your views on the subject.


  4. Salam Bapak Najib,
    Retrospectively did the Muslim leaderships particularly of Muhammadiyah, felt that Muslim organisations had unwittingly been used to bolster the Suharto-CIA(Nekolim)scheme.

    Though I'm sure the choice of showing support/indifference/opposition between the communists and Western powers is not an easy one to make at that point in time - if at all it actually posed as a choice/option/decision.

  5. The CIA, if they involved, could not work alone. Animosity to communism in Indonesia, and in Muslim world in general, had been engrained in the hearts and minds of Indonesian religious people, not only Muslims, before the 1965 failed coup d'etat. This was not only coming from ideological perspective, but also from historical point of view --i.e. the communist coups in 1920s and 1940s. Therefore, some scholars argue that the response to the 1965 coup is quite understandable, although certainly not acceptable from human right perspective.