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By : The Murmur
 🌼 Sayyidina Umar bin Khaththab R.A berkata; Tak ada kenikmatan setelah kenikmatan Islam yg lebih besar dari pada berteman dgn org shalih, jika kau mendapatkan maka jagalah pertemananmu dgn nya..
🌼 Asy-Syafi'i berkata: Jika kau mempunyai teman yg setia padamu, membantu-mu dlm ketaatan maka jgn pernah kau putuskan dia! Menjadi teman yg baik itu susah dan memutuskan nya gampang sekali..
🌼 Imam Hasan al-Bashri berkata: Kami lebih mencintai teman yg shalih dari pada keluarga dan anak, krn keluarga dan anak lebih sering mengingatkan kita pada dunia, tapi teman yg baik akan selalu mengingatkan kita pada akhirat, dan ciri mereka adalah siap berkorban utk kita..
🌼 Lukman alhakim menasihati anaknya:
Wahai anakku setelah kau mendapatkan keimanan pada Allah, maka carilah teman yg baik dan tulus.. Perumpamaan teman yg baik seperti "pohon" jika kau duduk di bawahnya dia dpt menaungi-mu, jika kau mengambil buahnya dpt kau makan.. Jika ia tak bermanfaat utk mu ia juga tak akan membahayakan-mu..
🌼 Ya Allah bimbing kami utk selalu mendapat teman yg baik hingga selalu bersama di dunia dan akhirat di bawah panji Rasulullah Saw..

Nahdlatul Ulama, Traditional Islam and Modernity Of Indonesia. Chapter Three

By : The Murmur

Chapter Three
The Radical Traditionalism
of the Nahdlatul Ulama in
Indonesia: A Personal
Account of the 26th National
Congress, June 1979,

Mitsuo Nakamura

Introduction: An Apparent Paradox of the Nahdlatul Ulama

  The Nahdlatul Ulama (literally, 'The Awakening of Islamic
Scholars') is one of the oldest Islamic religious organisations in
Indonesia. It was established in 1926 as an association of ulama,
i.e., Islamic scholars and teachers, as well as ordinary Muslims
who followed strictly the Sunni orthodoxy of Islam.1 After a
half-century's history, the Nahdlatul Ulama, or the NU as it is
commonly abbreviated, is reported to have grown to be the
largest of all Islamic religious organisations or, for that matter,
of all non-governmental organisations in Indonesia today in
terms of membership and organisational strength.2
  I had the opportunity of attending the 26th National
Congress of the Nahdlatul Ulama held in the city of Semarang,
the provincial capital of Central Java, for seven days from the
5-11 June 1979. My experience with the NU prior to this
occasion was not only meagre but somewhat biased. I first came
into contact with some NU members while I was doing
anthropological field work in the Central Javanese town of
Kotagede from 1970 to 1972.3 The NU in the town was,
however, rather insignificant in its size and influence, for it was
over-shadowed by the Muhammadiyah, the so-called reformist
rival of the NU, which dominated the religious sphere of the
town. Doctrinal and organisational conflicts between the
Nahdlatul Ulama and the Muhammadiyah coloured part of the
pre-War history of the town, as they did elsewhere. But these
conflicts were already things of the past and the NU itself was
regarded as largely irrelevant by most of the Muhammadiyah
members, who made up a large portion of the informants for my
study. In this situation, I did not feel any disagreement with a
characterisation of the Nahdlatul Ulama widespread among
Western students of Indonesia that it was the organisation of old
and old-fashioned ulama in the countryside of Java who were
religiously traditional, intellectually unsophisticated, politically
opportunistic, and culturally syncretic.4 In other words, I did not
think much of the NU as a subject of study.
  Yet several developments during the 1970s have since aroused
my curiosity about the Nahdlatul Ulama. Politically, the NU has
emerged as the boldest and most defiant critic of the New Order
government.5 The NU has not only withstood the merciless
onslaught of the government upon the existence of any social
forces independent of it but has even developed broad criticism
of the development strategy of the current regime.6 There are
emerging from among the NU circles a number of young
intellectuals who are seeking alternative development inspired by
Islamic social ethics.7 Young, well educated ulama and 'lay-
activists' are growing as a new leadership of the NU at all levels
of its organisation. The stereotype of the NU as 'a gerontocratic
organisation of opportunistic and unsophisticated rustic ulama
seems to have become less appropriate in view of the reality of
the NU today, if indeed, it ever was justifiable.
  Religiously, however, the NU's traditionalism seems to have
remained intact. It proudly calls itself ahlus sunnah wal
jama'ah, 'the people of the Sunna (the tradition of the Prophet
Muhammad) and of the community,' and its members remain
strict followers of the Sunni tradition. It treasures the institution
of pondok-pesantren, the rural Islamic boarding school, where
the traditional scholarship of ulama is maintained, transmitted,
and regenerated.8 Hence I was puzzled by the paradox of political
radicalism and religious traditionalism within the recent
developments of the Nahdlatul Ulama. I was also curious about
whether this paradox had anything to do with the organisational
strength of the NU. So I attended the 26th congress of the NU
held in Semarang full of curiosity and hoping to learn as much as
possible about the organisation first-hand. The experience I
gained at the NU congress met these expectations. Most
importantly, I realised that there was only an apparent paradox
in the conjunction of political radicalism and religious
traditionalism within the NU. In fact, what I had seen as a
paradox was illusory, caused primarily by a prejudice in my own
perception that radicalism could not co-exist with traditionalism.
The fact of the matter is, however, not that the NU is becoming
politically radical despite its religious traditionalism but that it is
becoming politically radical precisely because of its religious
traditionalism. It seems, therefore, no contradiction to talk
about the radical traditionalism of the Nahdiatul Ulama. The key
to resolving this apparent paradox seems to lie in an
understanding of the organisational features of the NU as an
Islamic religious association of the Sunni tradition.
  I would like to expand this point in the rest of my paper as
follows: in Section II ,which immediately follows, I shall present
an account of my personal observation of the NU congress; in
Section III, I shall develop, on the basis of my observations,
some points of analysis and interpretation of what I call the
radical traditionalism of the NU; and finally, in Section IV, J
shall conclude this paper with a few remarks on the study of
religion and politics.

Field Observation: The Militancy of Local Delegates

  I spent most of the seven-day period of the NU congress
attending and observing its plenary sessions and commission
meetings and I mingled with local delegates as much as possible
by eating, talking, staying, sleeping, bathing, and commuting to
and from the congress with them in the same accommodation
and facilities provided by the congress organisers.9 I learned so
many new things within that very short period of seven days
that it is still difficult for me to present a comprehensive picture
of what took place at the congress.10
  Certainly, this NU congress was conspicuous for one feature,
that is, the militancy on the floor of the local delegates vis-a-vis
the central leadership. As far as I know, all reports on the
congress in the Indonesian mass media unfailingly mentioned
this fact.11 It seemed to me, then, that the appreciation of the
significance of this phenomenon of local militancy might lead us
to an understanding of the congress and of the NU as a whole.
Therefore, I have focussed on this aspect of the congress, at the
expense of others, in representing a brief account of my
observations in this section.12

The Reports of the Central Executive Council

  The first half of the seven-day congress was spent in what
may be termed a grand dialogue between the Central Executive
Council and the local delegates of the NU in discussing the
former's performance since the last national congress held in
Surabaya eight years earlier. First, the congress heard the 'reports
of responsibility' (laporan pertanggung-jawaban) presented by
Idham Chalid, the general chairman and the Achmad Sjaichu, a
chairman of the Central Executive Council, Tanfidziah.13 They
were followed by the presentation of responses and views from
the local delegates, in geographic order with a set limit of time
for each speaker. Then the Central Executive Council took its
turn again and replied to the local delegates. Finally, the congress
made a decision on whether to accept the reports of the Central
Executive Council.
  In reviewing the past performance of the Central Executive
Council, Jdham Chalid covered general, external and political
aspects, while Achmad Sjaichu covered internal, organisational
and business aspects. In their respective reports, both Idham
Chalid and Achmad Sjaichu emphasised the fact that the period
of eight years since the last congress had been full of challenges,
difficulties, and even threats to the very existence of the NU.
There had been a major modification in the organisation, i.e.,
the relinquishment of its political activities to the newly formed
Development Unity Party, or PPP, and the reaffirmation of its
status as a religious association. This change had caused a lot of
sadness, disappointment and even anger from within and without
the organisation. But, in the end, the NU had survived the ordeal.
'Alhamdulillah, we thank God, the Compassionate,' exclaimed
Idham Chalid, 'that we have survived and we have returned to
the status of the NU prior to 1952 in original quality but in much
larger quantities (dalam kwalitas yang asli tetapi dalam
kwantitas yang lebih besar). We are to consolidate ourselves
through this congress. After the phase of consolidation, we will
be able to hope for continuous growth in the future' (Idham
Chalid 1979].

The Response of the Local Delegates

  To an outside observer like myself, the reports by the two
leaders sounded reasonable. Therefore, I was surprised to observe
that their reports were severely criticised by the overwhelming
majority of the local delegates who occupied the podium for the
following two full days to present their responses. Altogether,
about 40 speakers presented the views of the local branches.
Some common points of criticism which emerged from their
speeches included the following: (a) the Central Executive
Council was not active in representing and defending local
branches which had been faced with extreme pressures from the
outside, pressures which in some cases had led to the point of
physical extinction, especially during the two general election
periods of 1971 and 1977; (b) the Central Executive Council was
secretive about its own activities vis-a-vis the local branches,
especially with regard to aid and grants received from Muslim
countries overseas; and (c) the format of the reports of the
Central Executive Council was inadequate in that the program
adopted at the 25th Surabaya Congress was not used to evaluate
its performance.
  Besides these points of substance, more characteristic still was
the tone of outright defiance of the authority of the Central
Executive Council expressed in the speeches of a number of the
local delegates. They asserted that the NU's survival owed very
little to the Central Executive Council but a great deal to the
efforts of the local branches. The local branches were entitled to
exercise their sovereignty: 'If there are no local branches, the
central leadership will not exist (Kalau tidak ada cabang, tidak
akan ada PB [Pengurus Besar, lit. Big Management])'-a
delegate from Jakarta shouted in the face of the Central
Executive Council. 'The sovereignty of the local branches
(kedaulatan cabang) should be the order of the day'-many
other delegates echoed the slogan of the Jakarta delegate. Some
of them asserted determinedly: 'We should make a clean sweep
of those irresponsive and irresponsible elements when we have
the election of a new leadership in this congress.' 'Rats called
politicians (tikus-tikus yang disebut politikus) must get out of the
NU leadership from now on,' a delegate from West Sumatra
boldly proclaimed, and received sympathetic applause from
many of his colleagues on the floor.
  All but a few speakers expressed some degree of criticism of
the Central Executive Council. Speakers from East, West and
Central Java, the areas providing the largest numbers of
delegates, were the most vocal in denouncing the performance of
the Central Executive Council over the past eight years.14 They
simply and clearly stated that they were not able to accept the
reports of the Central Executive Council: tidak dapat menerima
sama sekali laporan pertanggung-jawaban PB.

The reply of the Central Executive Council

  When the speeches by the local delegates were finally over,
towards the end of the fourth day, it was then the turn of Idham
Chalid and Achmad Sjaichu to respond to these storms of
criticism. In giving their replies, the two leaders again spoke
separately. And in responding to the local delegates' criticisms,
they performed remarkably differently.
  Idham Chalid did not attempt to defend himself or the Central
Executive Council. Instead, he completely surrendered to the
critics. He stated that he was responsible for all the mistakes the
Central Executive Council had committed and he could only beg
for the forgiveness of the delegates (minta ma'af sebesar-
besarya). He praised the militancy of the local delegates in
criticising the central leadership. He said that he was very proud
to see that democracy was vigorously alive in the NU, a genuine
kind of democracy which would be hard to find anywhere else in
Indonesia. In concluding this reply, he expressed the hope that
the new leadership would learn from the old leadership's
mistakes, including his own, and be able to avoid any repetition
of similar errors. I felt as if I had been watching a show of magic,
for Idham Chalid's straightforward 'forgive me' (minta ma'af
speech received long enthusiastic applause from the floor, and
thus his authority was obviously re-established.
  In contrast, Achmad Sjaichu tried to fight back against the
criticisms of the local delegates by explaining in detail particular
actions of the Central Executive Council. For example, he said
that the scholarship aid from Saudi Arabia had indeed arrived and
had already been distributed to a number of pesantren which met
the academic standards and qualifications specified by the donor;
however, a public announcement about this scholarship program
had not been made for fear of an indiscriminate rush of
applications from a large number of unqualified pesantren.15
When Achmad Sjaichu ended his speech of self-defence, only
weak applause was heard.16

The Election of the New Leadership

  The contrast between Idham Chalid and Achmad Sjaichu in
terms of their respective performance in response to the
criticisms from the local delegates during the first half of the
congress was very obvious and seemed to forecast their later
performance in the election of the new leadership which became
the climax of the second half of the congress. In the election
held on the seventh and last day of the congress, those two
leaders competed for the position of general chairman of the
Central Executive Council, Tanfidziah. Idham Chalid, who had
begged for the forgiveness of the local delegates, defeated
Achmad Sjaichu by a two to one majority in popular ballots from
the floor. Achmad Sjaichu thereafter completely withdrew from
the national leadership of the NU.

Analysis and Interpretation of Field Information

  In this section, I would like to delineate, first of all, some
structural features of the NU organisation as background
information for the interpretation of my field observation
presented in the previous section. Then I shall proceed to
analyse and interpret my field information in three sub-sections
as follows: (a) the significance of the reports by the Central
Executive Council; (b) 'central' vs. 'local' in the NU
organisation; and (c) the implications of personal rivalry
between Idham Chalid and Achmad Sjaichu and the outcome of
their electoral contest. Finally, I shall conclude this section with
a general discussion of what I call the radical traditionalism of
the Nahdlatul Ulama.

The Structural Features of the NU Organisation

  In the introduction of this paper I stated that the Nahdlatul
Uiama adheres to the orthodoxy of Sunni which, according to its
followers, goes back to the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad
himself and has been transmitted through unbroken chains of
ulama to this day (sanad). In the NU circles the ulama are
regarded and respected as the most learned and most reliable
interpreters of the Qur'an, the Message of God, and of the
Sunna, the records of the deeds and words of the Prophet
Muhammad. The ulama are the most authentic guides for the
faithful to follow in pursuing a religiously righteous way of life.
The ulama are, therefore, called the primary pillar, tiang utama,
of the community of the faithful, umat (Achmad Siddiq 1979:13]
  The ulama are thus the spiritual leaders of the faithful. But
they are not clergymen, for Islam does not know ecclesiastical
orders. The social standing of an ulama depends on the respect
he commands from his local community as well as on the
consensual recognition he receives from among a wide network
of his ulama colleagues. He is, therefore, himself the ultimate
unit of authority and autonomy. The NU is essentially a
horizontal confederation or collegial alliance of such
autonomous ulama, not a monolithic, centralised hierarchy.
  The organisational structure of the Nahdlatul Ulama seems to
embody well those two aspects of the Sunni tradition described
above, i.e. (a) the spiritual leadership of the ulama vis-a-vis the
community of the faithful, and (b) the collegial solidarity among
the ulama. From the central to the local levels of the NU
organisation, the structure of the leadership at each level is
characterised by the presence of the two tiers of councils, i.e.,
the religious council, Syuriah, and the executive council,
Tanfidziah (see Fig. 1). The religious councils consist exclusively
of the ulama and occupy a superior position of legislative and
supervisory function over the executive councils, which consist
of both the ulama and 'lay-activists' and are in charge of day-
to-day affairs. An official document of the NU defines the two
councils as follows:

 Syuriah is the highest leadership (pimpinan tertinggi)
which functions to develop (membina), guide (membimbing),
direct(mengarah), and supervise (mengawasi) the activities
of the Nahdlatul Ulama. Tanfidziah is the daily executor
(pelaksana sehari-hari) [Nahdlatul Ulama 1979a: 17].

Figure 1: Leadership Structure of the Nahdlatul Ulama

Administrative Levels Leadership Levels
Centre Religious Council (Syuriah) Pengurus
(Pusat) Executive Council (Tanfidziah) Besar (PB)
Province Religious Council (Syuriah) Pengurus
(Propinsi) Executive Council (Tanfidziah) Wilayah
Regency/Municipality   Religious Council (Syuriah) Pengurus
(Kabupaten/             Executive Council (Tanfidziah) Cabang
Subdistrict Religious Council (Syuriah) Pengurus
(Kecamatan) Executive Council (Tanfidziah) Wakil Cabang
Village Religious Council (Syuriah) Pengurus
(Desa/Kelurahan) Executive Council (Tanfidziah) Ranting
Source: Nahdlatul Ulama[1979a: 17-18]

  The principle of collegial solidarity among the ulama is
reflected in the ways by which the relationships among various
levels of the religious councils are regulated. A decision taken by
the religious council of a higher level in the NU organisation
does not automatically bind lower-level religious councils or
individual ulama. In order to be effective, the decision must be
persuasive and accepted voluntarily and wholeheartedly.
Otherwise, lower-level religious councils and individual ulama
may exercise the right to reserve their decision or the right to
disagree and request further discussion, for there are no human
beings, including the most learned and revered ulama, who can
assume the position of ultimate authority on truth: that position
is reserved only for God.
  In this organisational structure it may also happen that an
ulama of a local religious council is much higher in authority and
prestige than a 'lay-activist' member of the Central Executive
Council. In this case the latter must pay due respect to what the
local ulama has to say and accommodate this properly in the
organisational action.
  The situation described above might look like a lack of
discipline or an organisation infested by factionalism. Indeed, to
the secular observer, the internal politics of the NU often appear
to he hopelessly disorganised and perennially ridden by factional
strife. However, when viewed in reference to the religious values
underlying the organisational structure of the NU, apparent
disagreements within the organisation present themselves not so
much as a pathological state but rather as a healthy state of the
organisation. With regard to this point, the ulama themselves
often quote a hadith, a record of the Prophet's sayings, that
disagreement among the ulama is the blessing of God for
mankind. This being the case, therefore, when a consensus is
reached on a particular issue among the ulama its morally
binding force among the ulama, as well as over the community
of the faithful, is extremely strong.17

The Significance of the Reports of the Central Executive Council

  In the light of the basic organisation of the Nahdlatul Ulama
described above, it seems possible now to appreciate better the
significance of the major thrust of the reports delivered by
Idham Chalid and Achmad Sjaichu. Both acknowledged that there
had been many attempts to alter the fundamental character of
the Nahdlatul Ulama. However, it had withstood these threats
and dangers, and succeeded in adhering to its original character,
the Islamic association of the Sunni tradition. That seemed to be
the reason why Idham Chalid, as mentioned above, thanked God
for the successful survival of the NU and implied that the
direction which the NU had taken since its last congress was
basically correct.18

'Central' vs. 'Local' in the Nahdlatul Ulama

  From the preceding analysis of the structural features of the
NU organisation, it should also be clear by now that the
locational centrality of the Executive Council situated in Jakarta
does not necessarily mean that it has more power and higher
authority vis-a-vis local branches in the social geography of the
Nahdlatul Ulama. Since the domiciles of nationally renowned
ulama have been mostly in the pesantren of rural areas, often
located deliberately remote from urban centres, it is a matter of
natural order that 'local' usually connotes a higher place of
esteem and authority than 'central' in the NU circles.19
  The militancy of the local delegates displayed in the NU
congress, 'therefore, should not be taken as a 'rebellion of the
local rank and file against the Central Executive Council.' That
might be an appropriate picture for a modern bureaucratic
organization in which the principles of centrality and hierarchy
coincide, but not for the NU, with an organization based upon
the collegial solidarity of autonomous llama. The claim of a
local delegate, which I mentioned in the previous section, that
the existence of the Central Executive Council depended largely
on the local branches but not vice versa, is not mere rhetoric but
rather an accurate presentation of the structural features of the
NU organization. Thus, beneath the surface phenomenon of the
militancy of local delegates which I observed in the congress,
there seems to be the fundamental autonomy of the local
branches of the NU under the leadership of the llama.

Idham Chalid vs. Achmad Sjaichu

  This fundamental autonomy of the ulama and the
concomitant militancy of the local branches in the NU
organisation vis-a-vis its Central Executive Council seems to
have played a decisive role in shaping the outcome of an
electoral contest between the two Council members. Idham
Chalid and Achmad Sjaichu. I must admit that my interpretation
of the proceedings is almost entirely based upon my own
observation of the overt events and actions on the floor of the
congress. I must, therefore, have missed many events and actions
concerning the electoral contest taking place behind the scenes.
However, so far as observed facts are concerned, it seems that
the difference in the two leaders' response to the criticisms from
the local delegates determined the outcome of the election.
  My impression is that Idham Chalid's total surrender to the
criticisms of the local delegates was seen by many of them as his
acknowledgment of the distinguishing feature of the NU
organisation, the sovereignty of the local branches and the
ultimate autonomy of the ulama. Furthermore, it seems that
many delegates felt it to be religiously commendable to forgive a
man and give him another chance when he had honestly
admitted and apologised for his mistakes, especially when the
man is of obvious high calibre like Idham Chalid.
  In contrast, Achmad Sjaichu's self-defence, technically
flawless and well argued if he had been a secular politician,
sounded in fact tremendously arrogant, showing disrespect
towards the local ulama and lack of appreciation of the primary
role the local branches played in the NU organisation. It is my
impression that Idham Chalid appeared to speak as a
representative of the central service functionaries, while Achmad
Sjaichu spoke as a representative of the central power holders.
Idham Chalid affirmed the traditional ethos of the NU by
expressing due respect towards the local ulama whereas Achmad
Sjaichu defied the tradition and attempted to raise himself to the
position of a supreme commander.20
  More generally, it can be observed that the fame of a leader in
secular politics does not necessarily entail respect or trust in the
NU circles. Rather, as indicated by the statement of the West
Sumatran delegate quoted in the previous section equating
politicians with 'rats', there seems to be a genuine distrust of
secular politicians in the NU. An NU leader must, therefore,
prove his leadership qualities primarily in religious terms whether
he is sitting in the Religious or Executive Council.

The Radical Traditionalism of the NU

  Let me conclude this section by discussing what I have called
the radical traditionalism of the Nahdlatul Ulama. First of all, it
is my observation that the NU is organisationally radical in the
original sense of the term, i.e., 'of or pertaining to a root or to
roots; fundamental, primary' (Webster). As we have seen above,
the NU organisation is structured on the basis of the principle of
autonomy and independence of its primary component units, the
ulama. The NU is not derivative of any other organisations. It
stands on its own terms. Watak mandiri, the character of
autonomy and independence, which constitutes the ethos of the
pesantren, according to Abdurrahman Wahid, seems to run
through the organisation of the Nahdlatul Ulama as well.21
  Secondly, there seems no denying that the NU has displayed
an increasingly radical stance in politics in recent years: radical
in the sense of broad, open, fundamental criticisms of the status
quo. This recent radicalisation of the NU makes a stark contrast
to its 'opportunistic' past. Has the NU changed its nature? It
seems not. Rather, the basic religious nature of the NU remains
constant. What has changed is its expression in the field of
politics in response to national political developments. What
concerns the NU all the time is whether it is striving to follow
the Syari'ah, i.e., the Way of God or the religiously righteous
way of life, as a group of individuals and as a collectivity of the
community of the faithful, the umat.
  In pursuing this goal, the NU works directly from within the
umat. The NU is committed to the well-being of the community
of the faithful, and seeks divine guidance in the Qur'an and the
Sunna, as they are interpreted by the ulama, in order to find
appropriate ways for the faithful to behave in response to
changing external situations. In so doing, the ulama know no other
authorities than God Himself. The ulama cannot be
dictated to by the temporal political authorities. The ulama are
independent of the 'establishment', sometimes to the extent of
open defiance. This gives a feature of fundamental 'people-ness'
(kerakyatan), a sort of populism, to the NU. If the NU sees an
external situation moving in the same direction as it is heading,
it will take an adaptive or 'opportunistic' stance vis-a-vis the
external situation. Equally, if it sees the external environment
moving in a direction contrary to its own, it will become
radically critical of the external environment. The NU's stance
can thus be situationally selective. At present, it is undoubtedly
entering a radical phase. Yet, in both phases, the religious ideal,
the Syari'ah, remains fundamental for the NU.22
  Thirdly, the NU is traditional in one vital area of religious
life, the transmission of religious values through scholarship and
education. It is traditional in the true sense of the word, i.e.,
'adhering to the act of transmitting something from generation
to generation' (Webster). This characteristic of the NU is self-
evident and does not seem to require any further elaboration.23
One point, however, to be remarked upon here is the fact that
the NU's traditionalism in the area of religious scholarship and
education does not necessarily mean that the content of what is
being learned and transmitted is traditional in the sense of being
mere blind repetition of past things. Instead, what is learned and
transmitted is an ideal system to which individuals must adapt
themselves and after which social reality must be remoulded. The
mode of transmission may be traditional but what is transmitted
is radical. I believe that this is one of the reasons why the NU's
religious traditionalism does not hinder but rather enhances its


*  This article was originally published in Southeast Asian Studies
   (Tonan Ajia Kenkyu), vol. 19, no. 2, September 1981, pp. 187-204, and
   is reprinted here with the kind permission of the publishers.

1  The spelling of the name of Nahdlatul Ulama in this paper follows the
   one employed by the organisation itself. Also in this paper, a          distinction made in the Arabic original between 'alim (singular) and          ulama (plural)--meaning 'man of knowledge'--has been ignored,          following the Indonesian convention. In other words ulama is used          both for singular and plural.

2  The NU was established in 1926 as jam'iyah diniyah Islamiyah, or
   'Islamic religious association, and its fundamental character has not
   changed since. However, from the viewpoint of its relationship with
   government and politics, the history of the NU can be divided into          five periods as follows: (a) 1926-1942, when the NU maintained a          strict non-political and non-cooperative stance vis-a-vis the Dutch          colonial government; (b) 1942-1945, when it was forced to cooperate          with the Japanese occupation authorities; (c) 1945-1952, when it          participated in the newly established Republican government through          the Masyumi party, in which it held the status of a special member;          (d) 1952-1973, when it participated in government and politics                directly and independently in its own name, i.e., the NU as a          political party; and (e)1973-present, when it relinquished its          political activities to the newly formed Development Unity Party, or          Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (PPP), and re-conformed its fundamental          character as jam'iyah diniyah, religious association. The most recent          change has been described by one of the NU leaders as the act of          'releasing' (melepaskan) and 'bestowing abundantly' (melimpahkan,          limpah denotes overflowing of some liquid from a container) the          'practical political activities (aktivitas politik praktis) of the NU          to the PPP [Achmad Siddiq 1979: 7]. These expressions seem to          illustrate aptly the change as viewed by the NU leadership.

3  Nakamura [1972] gives an overview of the scope of this field work.          For a history of social and religious developments in the town from          the turn of the century up to the early 1970s, with a particular          focus on the growth of the Muhammadiyah, see Nakamura [1976;1977].

4  This picture of the NU, first presented and developed by Harry Benda
   and Clifford Geertz in the 1950s [Benda 1958; Geertz 1960a; 1960b],
   was unchallenged for the next two decades and even elaborated into a
   particular type in the political constellation of modern Indonesia by
   Feith and Castles [1970].

5  The earliest documentation of this phenomenon seems to have been made
   by Ken Ward when he observed the 1971 general elections in East Java
   [Ward 1974]. On the basis of Ward's report and also of his own          earlier work [Anderson 1970] in which the pondok-pesantren, the          traditional rural Islamic boarding school, was viewed as the          generator of revolutionary youths for the Indonesian independence          struggle of 1945-1949, Ben Anderson warns of prejudice often found in          the conventional secular view of the Nahdlatul Ulama as 'politically          opportunist' [Anderson 1977: 23-24]. For descriptions of the             struggles of the NU and the PPP in and around the 1971 and 1977          elections, see Liddle [1978], May [1978], and McDonald [1980].

6  Various parts of the 'Basic Program for the Development of the
   Nahdlatul Ulama, 1979-1983' adopted by this NU congress in
   Semarang attest to this [Nahdlatul Ulama 1979b]. A more politically
   explicit criticism of the government can be found in the statement of          the Development Unity Party presented to the MPR (Majelis
   Permusyawaratan Rakyat, or People's Consultative Assembly) on
   March ] 5, 1978, by one of its leaders, H. A. Chalid Mawardi, who is          also a member of the current Central Executive Council of the          Nahdlatul ulama. Criticising the presidential speech on the          government's performance, 1973-1977, Chalid Mawardi advocated the          following six points: (1) change the economic structure from one          which is colonial and dependent on international markets into one          that is more independent and based on self-reliance; (2) change          dependence of the economy on imported capital, technology, and          management to reliance on domestic human resources; (3) first          priorities should be given to the basic needs of good, clothing,          housing, education, and health; (4) the bottom 40% of the population          must receive special attention; (5) a nation-wide full employment          policy is needed; and (6) inequalities in the distribution of          property ownership, trade facilities, and the availability of          education must be reduced (See McDonald [1980: 247-2491).

7  The most articulate spokesmen for this category of young activists
   include Abdurrahman Wahid and Mahbub Djunaidi. The former was
   elected to the position of vice-secretary of the Central Religious
   Council, Syuriah, and the latter, to that of second chairman of the          Central executive Council, Tanfidziah, of the Nahdlatul Ulama through          the Semarang congress. Both are popular and frequent contributors to          a number of newspapers and magazines, including the most widely
   circulated, Kompas and Tempo. Their recent writings are now
   conveniently compiled into booklets, Abdurrahman Wahid [1979] and
   Mahbub Djunaidi [1978] respectively. Wawasan, a journal for
   intellectual discussion in search of alternative development             strategies (published by the Lembaga Studi Pembangunan (LSP),                 Institute of Development Studies, Jakarta), should be given          particular attention for the fact that its initial chief editor was          Abdurrahman Wahid. Of course, the search for alternative development          models is not confined to the NU circles. A number of young          intellectuals and social activists are emerging and cooperating with          each other regardless of their diverse ideological backgrounds and          formal organisational affiliations. LSP is only one example of such          cooperation. The popular social science journal Prisma also provides          a common forum for these people. For earlier attempts by a group of          young Islamic intellectuals at re-evaluating the pesantren for its          potentiality in rural community development, see Dawan Rahardjo          [1947a; 1974b; 1975] and Sudjoko Prasodjo et al. [1974].

8  As far as I know, the best, though brief, exegesis of the NU             tradition written for its own members is found in Achmad Siddiq          [1979], an NU leader of national fame living in Jember, East Java. An          'autobiographic novel' written by Saifuddin Zuhri [1977], an NU          leader from Banyumas, Central Java, and former Minister of Religion,          depicts vividly the world of rural kiai and ulama and the development          of the Nahdlatul Ulama from the 1930s through the post-independence          period. An invaluable semi-official source book for the history of          the NU is the commemorative volume dedicated to the late Wahid          Hasjim, the NU leader from the late 1930s to the early 1950s, edited          by Haji Aboebakar [1957]. For historical and ethnographic accounts in          English of the intellectual and social organisational aspects of the          pesantren tradition, see Zamakhsyari [1980; 1981].

9  The congress was held in the Sports Hall of the Province of Central          Java (GOR, Gedung Olah Raga Propinsi Jawa Tengah) in the city of
   Semarang, gathering together about 4,500 delegates from 343 branches          of the Nahdlatul Ulama in all provinces of Indonesia (except Timor          Timur). The delegates were accommodated in numerous middle to low          class hotels and lodging houses (losmen) in the city, from where they          were transported to GOR every day by a large number of micro-buses          hired by the congress Organising Committee. A common kitchen (dapur          umum) was set up, under a huge tent raised next to the GOR building,          to serve meals to the delegates three times a day.

10 The agenda of the NU congress was as follows: (a) first day:          registration and provincial meetings; (b) second day: plenary          sessions for the opening ceremony and the reports of the Central          Executive Council; (c)third and fourth days: plenary sessions for the          speeches of the local delegates and the replies from the Central          Executive Council; (d) fifth and sixth days: commissions and          committee meetings; (e) seventh day: plenary sessions for the          adoption of resolutions and statements, the election of new          leadership, and closing ceremony. The scope of the debates in the NU          congress can be appreciated by looking at the discussion material          prepared for the participants in the congress, Rancangan Materi          Muktamar N.U. Ke-XXVI [Nahdlatul Ulama 1979a], which contained 'The          Rules for the Order of the Congress (Peraturan Tata Tertib          Muktamar),''Draft Constitution of the Nahdlatul Ulama (Rancangan          Anggaran Dasar Nahdlatul Ulama).''Basic Program for the Development          of the Nahdlatul Ulama, 1979-1983 (Program Dasar Pengembangan          Nahdlatul Ulama. 1979-1983).''Draft Resolutions and Statements to be          adopted by the 26th Congress of the Nahdlatul Ulama (Rancangan          Pernyataan/Sikap Nahdlatul Ulama yang diputuskan Muktamar N. U. Ke-         XXVI.)' and some other items. The official version of the 'Basic          Program...,' amended and adopted by the congress, is now available          separately [Nahdlatul Ulama 1979b].

11 Of the Indonesian mass media which covered this NU congress in
   Semarang, Suara Merdeka, a local daily of Semarang, and Tempo, a
   weekly magazine in Jakarta, seem to have produced the most detailed
   reportage of the congress. Other newspapers in Jakarta, such as       Kompas, Sinar Harapan, and Islamic Pelita, and nationalist Merdeka,       also devoted many articles to it. For the official report oft       congress by the Nahdlatul Ulama itself, see its organ Risalah       Nahdlatul Ulama.

12 The reader should, therefore, be warned of the limitations of this                paper. It only deals with one aspect of the congress, which certainly       had many other aspects not reported in this paper. Furthermore, I       must make it clear that I still lack first-hand information on the NU       in local social contexts, an aspect which has to be studied in any       serious attempt at understanding the NU at its grass-roots. A full-      scale research of the NU is yet to be done.

13 The report by Idham Chalid is available in mimeograph, Pidato Ketua
   Umum PB Nahdlatul Ulama KH Dr. Idham Chalid pada Muktamar NU
   Ke-XYVI di Semarang. For the Report by Achmad Sjaichu, no printed
   version was distributed and I have relied on my own field notes.

14 Although the delegates from East, West, and Central Java were by far       the most numerous, one feature of this congress which surprised me       was that the NU branches are now well spread throughout all parts of       the country. They are no longer confined to the islands of Java and       Madura, the traditional bases of the NU. A large number of delegates       came to this NU congress from Aceh, North, South and West Sumatra,       South Kalimantan, South and Central Sulawesi, and Eastern Indonesia.       The conventional view still held by many Western observers that there       is an inherent affinity between the NU and certain cultural traits of       the Javanese, Madurese, and Sundanese seems now to require critical       re-examination.

15 As one of the criteria for assessing the qualifications of a       pesantren for the scholarship program, Achmad Sjaichu mentions the       level of teaching in Arabic. Certainly the command of Arabic seems to       be a basic prerequisite for a student to be considered eligible for       advanced study in the institutions of higher learning in the Middle       East; and the local delegates agreed with that. However, many of them       seem to have been disturbed by the arbitrariness of the way in which       a student's level of competence in Arabic was equated with the size       of the fame of the pesantren to which the student belonged. Many       delegates obviously wanted to have a more open competition and to       give equal chances and encouragement to all students aspiring to       study in the Middle East.

16 The reports by the Central Executive Council were finally accepted          by the floor with a 'footnote' (catatan kaki) by the chairman of the       plenary session who stated that the reports themselves were far from       perfect; that all criticisms and suggestions for improvements should       be added to the reports; and that the new leadership should heed the          criticisms presented by the local delegates. With this critical        'footnote', the reports were approved by voice vote.

17 I attended a session of the Syuriah meeting held during the congress       in the huge prayer hall of the Baiturrahman Mosque, next to the GOR
   building. The meeting was carried on in a serious but informal       manner. There was no furniture at all except for one simple low desk       in front of the chairman and the secretary, around whom the       participants sat directly on the carpeted floor in irregular       concentric circles. There was no seating order except that the         Central Syuriah members and local Syuriah delegates occupied the       inner rings while ordinary delegates, observers and onlookers like       myself sat in the outer rings. The chairman seemed to be making a       conscious effort to canvass and exhaust different views among the       participant ulama on the subject under discussion. Debate went on       endlessly around some issues. It sounded as if, on average, one-
   third of the oral presentation by a speaker was made in Arabic,
   apparently direct quotations from the Qur'an, the Hadith or a
   commentary, without being translated into Indonesian. Since I do not
   have a command of Arabic, I was not quite certain of what exactly was
   being discussed in the session. But it seemed to me that the meeting       was, more often than not, agreeing to disagree over a number of       issues and then deciding how to deal with the disagreements.       Certainly there were a number of renowned and revered senior ulama in       this Syuriah session as well as in other meetings of the congress I       observed. However, their seniority or 'charisma' did not at all       stifle free and lively discussions. The absolute obedience of the       santri (student) to the kiai (teacher), supposedly an ethos of the       pesantren, did not seem to apply to the debate in the Syuriah or in       any other meetings of the NU congress. A statement made by Idham       Chalid in the beginning of his report that 'the NU had been pursuing       its goals without being dictated to by anyone (tanpa dikomando),       internally or externally' sounded truthful to me. In observing the       sessions of the NU congress, I was sometimes irritated by an excess       democracy rather than by any lack of it. The NU's way of deliberation       brought home to me the true meaning of musyawarah mufakat       (deliberation for consensus), which is often mistaken as compromise       for convenience.

18 I did not hear a single objection to the direction being taken since           the Surabaya congress, that is the relinquishing of political          activities to the PPP and the reaffirmation of the NU's status as a       religious association. The suggestion of the Vice President of the       Republic, Adam Malik, made in his opening address to the congress,       that 'the NU people do not need to be non-political (tidak usah perlu       tidak ber-politik),' was light-heartedly appreciated but did not       become a focus of serious discussion. Besides Adam Malik, a number of       generals and government dignitaries came to address the congress. The       response from the floor was generally polite and cordial, but       sometimes refreshingly open.

19 Ken Ward [1974: 94-95] and Ben Anderson [1977: 24] discuss this
   phenomenon from a slightly different angle than mine.

20 A common image of Achmad Sjaichu outside the NU circles is that he is
   more 'modern', 'progressive' and closer to the 'reformists' like the
   Muhammadiyah than to the mainstream of the NU, and that he has strong
   ties with the international Muslim world, especially with the Middle
   Eastern countries. My observation of his performance in the congress
   leads me to question the appropriateness of this characterisation.

21 On the concept of watak mandiri, see the important paper entitled,
   Pesantren dan pengembangan watak mandiri (Pesantren and the
   development of the character of autonomy), presented by Abdurrahman
   Wahid to the Second National Congress of the Indonesian Association
   for the Advancement of the Social Sciences (HIPIIS) held in Menado,
   North Sulawesi, November 1977 (now included in Abdurrahman Wahid

22 It seems necessary to take a fresh look at the history of the NU from     the viewpoint of the NU's self-perception. For this, another recent          work of Saifuddin Zuhri may provide a useful framework [Saifuddin       Zuhri 1979].

23 Since my knowledge of traditional Islamic scholarship is very             limited, I am incapable of appreciating whether there are any new       developments which might challenge this tradition from within the NU       circles. Even if there are any, my feeling is that they are more       likely to be advanced in the name of tradition rather than in the    name of reform. See Zamakhsyari [1981] on this matter.

Nahdlatul Ulama, Traditional Islam and Modernity Of Indonesia. Next 1

By : The Murmur

idea of obligation without, however, setting out precisely how it
would be enforced. The Ministry of Religious Affairs gave
assurances that the Charter would not harm non-Muslims, but
there was no answer to those Muslims whose practice and
knowledge of Islam was minimal.58
  As NU controlled the Ministry of Religious Affairs, NU
would, of course, be a determining factor in the debate. The
minister, KH M. Dachlan, made a declaration that the Charter
was indeed 'a source of law', a declaration used by modernist
Islam to strengthen support for the Charter. Later, in August,
Dachlan called those who 'betrayed' the Charter 'hypocrites'.
As early as June 1968, the government had reacted by asking
civil servants not to attend Jakarta Charter commemoration
ceremonies. A PMPI celebration was also refused authorisation
by the army.59 The Catholic youth group, Angkatan Muda
Katolik, sent a memorandum to President Suharto rejecting a
ministerial decision that described one of the tasks of the
Ministry of Religious Affairs as 'applying the Jakarta Charter in
its relationship with the Constitution'. 60 It suggested that the
Ministry be disbanded altogether.
  It was only under government pressure that the debate
subsided. As the aformentioned political parties' commission had
not succeeded in elaborating a common definition of the
Charter, the army urged them to stop their efforts, arguing that
tensions would be exacerbated at a moment when the New
Order's stability was still fragile.61 Ibrahim Hosen, a law
specialist, was quoted in a widely read Muslim magazine as saying
that the Charter was 'a necessity for law uniformisation, but did
not constitute an effort to enforce the application of the
Syari'ah'.62 I have found few declarations indicating exactly
what NU understood to be implied in the Jakarta Charter. KH
Dachlan said the Charter would allow government intervention
to ensure that the zakat and Muslim marriage customs be
respected.63 This gives a rather limited scope to the Charter, not
interfering with religious practices or the law in general. NU
never officially stated its understanding of the Charter, and most
texts on it quoted by Duta Masyarakat were from non-NU or
joint organisations' circles. Given the diversity of thought within
NU, there is reason to believe that there would, in fact, have
been no agreement on the scope of the Charter.
  There was never any official ban of the Jakarta Charter but
from then on, any contentious reference to it was avoided. This
is not to say that the Suharto government was opposed to
Islamic concerns. On the contrary, it accepted such
arrangements as the one that saw zakat being imposed on civil
servants, collected by a foundation, Yayasan Amal Bakti
Muslimin Pancasila, but not formalised in law. There were other
sore points, including the suppression of substantial subsidies for
the hajj. NU also disapproved of the government's laxity toward
prostitution, pornography and gambling. It was most of all
worried at new inroads apparently made by Christianity in
Sumatra and Java in the early years of the New Order-one of
the consequences of the 1966 MPRS decision to make religious
education compulsory and to ban atheism.64
  Thus, it is clear that the two 'brothers'-NU and the army-
had developed into awkward partners. Despite army resistance,
some ulama wanted the Jakarta Charter recognised while NU
politicians wanted a greater degree of democracy which they
believed would bring about a larger representation for NU in
Parliament. But NU was in a difficult position: representing the
government through the Minister of Religious Affairs, it had to
go against its own values and interests and protect all five
officially recognised faiths. It also had to defend the suppression
of subsidies for the hajj, and appeal for tolerance. Such appeals
were controversial at a time when Muslims were resentful of
what they saw as unprecedented competition from Christians.
Kiai Dachlan's speeches reveal how he oscillated from a
compromising stance to a fierce defence of Islam. In a speech in
May 1968, he repeated Suharto's recent statement that there
was 'neither majority nor minority in religion, and there was
'neither legitimate nor illegitimate children', clearly protecting
the minority religions.65 But in January 1969, Dachlan went as
far as declaring that: 'If the faithful of other religions attack the
Muslims and soil its purity, then the Muslim community has to
face this challenge with the same approach in obedience to
Allah, and if necessary, has to take arms to preserve the purity
of its religion." He made this statement at a time when several
incidents had recently occurred between the Muslim and
Christian communities in 1967 and 1968.67
  The final stage of open conflict between the army and NU
was the legislative elections which took place in 1971. The
army-backed Golkar, now competing as a political party, had
succeeded in attracting a few ulama, some of whom were so
ostracised later that they were almost banished from their
communities.68 Among those who crossed over were members of
the great NU families from Jombang, East Java, like KH A.
Karim Hasyim, one of the sons of Kiai Hasyim Asy'ari. It is not
my purpose here to describe Golkar's inroads into the Islamic
organisation, but it is important to note that those within NU
who did not yet see the army as rivals were soon convinced of it
during the election campaign when intimidation became
commonplace. Subchan warned that NU had 'abandoned its
sarong in order to be able to run faster than Golkar'.69 Ken Ward
has rightly pointed to the fact that Golkar's expansion and its
methods had forced NU to play a role it always had avoided: the
role of an opposition.70 As we have seen, this role can be traced
back as early as 1966.
  NU's attitude of accommodation toward the communist-
friendly Old Order had turned into a new opposition against the
army-dominated New Order. Subchan had been a prominent
figure during both periods. But here again, there was a
conservative current. Idham Chalid appealed to NU sympathisers
to 'increase participation and cooperation with government
agencies' and to make the elections 'a success', a formula
implying relative support for the new regime.71 In the face of
contradictory statements coming from NU, Kiai Masykur had to
intervene to dispell suggestions of confrontation within the
organisation. According to him, Idham Chalid and Subchan were
only 'managing two different fields'.72
  With 18.67% of the total vote in 1971, NU performed well
(improving on 18.4% of the vote gained in 1955), but it did
poorly compared to Golkar's 62.8%. It felt distressed by the
results. Indeed, there had been predictions within NU that
political parties would gather as much as 85% of the votes and
that Golkar would come third after NU and the PNI. The
disappointments did not stop, however, with the 1971 election
results. The next blow came when the Ministry of Religious
Affairs was removed from NU's control. The new minister was
Mukti Ali, a professor of comparative theology and a modernist
Muslim with no particular ties to any established organisation.
The government expected that he would put an end to the
Ministry of Religious Affairs being seen as 'a state within the
state', something frequently asserted by its critics. In 1971, the
Ministry Religious Affairs had refused to apply new legislation
regarding monoloyalitas or the 'moral obligation' for civil
servants to join and vote for Golkar.
  A consequence of 1971's manifold disappointments was the
expansion of an anti-Subchan current within NU. This current
was strengthened by the ill fortune of the revived Masyumi,
Partai Muslimin Indonesia. It was subject to tight government
control and interference, a disconcerting development for NU
which had been unaccustomed to government intervention in its
internal affairs.73 In January 1972, after the death of Kiai
Wahab Chasbullah, Subchan was dismissed from NU's executive
board. Many observers have seen in this dismissal the hand of
the army manipulating power conflicts within NU. But the
official letter announcing Subchan's resignation would seem to
indicate that this decision was due largely to traditional Sunni
anti-radicalist sentiment. One reason mentioned is that NU
wanted to choose 'the way of the middle', away 'from extremes
and away from western or oriental political practices'.74
Abdurrahman Wahid, grandson of NU's founder Hasjim Asj'ari
and of Kiai Bisri Syansuri (who was made the new rais am after
the death of Kiai Wahab), was quoted at that time explaining
Subchan's dismissal in the following terms: 'Pressures will be
stronger from the government against NU, the effect of which
will be to isolate NU from the mainstream, the main current of
Indonesian politiCs'.75 This sentence has a prophetic ring today
when one knows how NU activities suffered from the
authorities' distrust during the 1970s.76
  It is essential to note that the Sunni tradition of government
legitimation was not the only current of political thought
evident in the 1971 context. Subchan was defended by major
ulama such as Kiai Ali Ma'sum of Krapyak, Kiai As'ad Syamsul
Arifin of Situbondo, and by many regional branches, who had put
their hope in this dynamic, educated and cosmopolitan
politician. With the dismissal of Subchan and then his accidental
death in Mecca in 1973, NU moved closer to the mainstream,
but remained for more than ten years the army's main critic in
Parliament. Pushed by sharpened rivalry with the army, NU
could not relent in its battle despite the Sunni tradition of
  In conclusion, we can see that NU was not a monolithic
organisation in the early New Order period, but rather an
association of ulama and individuals with greatly differing
backgrounds and widely divergent interests. This resulted in
constant debates among the small circle of people controlling
the party, who disagreed over how far NU should go in defending
its interests without risking a political backlash. The Lubis
resolution in February 1967 committed NU to Suharto's cause
despite a hesitant leadership, and Subchan was dismissed in 1972
in a kind of peace pact with the army, regardless of strong
support for his radicalism even among the ulama. Some NU
leaders nowadays speculate that NU would have fared better if
the radical current led by Subchan had been less influential. But
Subchan was merely articulating a current of dissatisfaction,
whose sources were numerous: while the army was increasingly
dominating the political institutions, the more religious members
were themselves uneasy at the way in which the Jakarta Charter
was pushed aside, this unease was also exacerbated by the
phenomena of widespread conversions to Christianity. In any
case, the major changes taking place in the post-Sukarno period
could hardly have occurred without a significant degree of pain.
Subchan's influence increased as the dissatisfaction grew, but was
held in check by the traditional Sunni concern with avoiding
chaos at any price. Despite the 'peace pact', the relationship
with the army remained at best uneasy in the 1970s.
  This awkward relationship improved somewhat after 1984
when NU decided to 'withdraw from politics', that is to stop
giving its exclusive support to the Partai Persatuan
Pembangunan, the sole Muslim political party into which all
Muslim parties had to merge in 1973. From then on, under the
umbrella of the armed forces and the government, the
movement started to prosper again, enjoying more facilities for
what mattered most for the ulama: to preserve Islam through
preaching and education.77


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Jones, S. 1984,'The Contraction and Expansion of the "Umat"
  and the Role of the Nahdlatul Ulama in Indonesia',
  Indonesia, no.38, pp.1-20.

Hughes, J. 1967, The End of Sukarno: A Coup that misfired, a
  Purge that Ran Wild, Angus and Robertson, London.

Nasution, A.H. 1989, Memenuhi panggilan tugas: masa pemancangan
  Orde Pembangunan, jilid 8, Masagung, Jakarta.

Nugroho, N. 1985, Tercapainya Konsensus Nasional 1966-
  1969, PN Balai Pustaka, Jakarta.

Sjaichu, A. 1991, Kembali ke Pesantren: Kenangan 70 tahun
  KH Achmad Sjaichu, Yayasan Islam al Hamidiyah, Jakarta.

Walkin, J. 1969,'The Moslem-Communist Confrontation in
  East Java 1964-1965', Orbis, pp.822-847.

Ward, K. 1971, 'The Foundation of the Partai Muslimin
  Indonesia', Indonesia, pp.37-47.
---1974, The 1971 Election in Indonesia: An East Java Case
  Study, Monash Papers on Southeast Asia, no.2, Monash
  University, Melbourne.

Zuhri, S. 1987, Berangkat dari Pesantren, Gunung Agung,


58  Duta Masyarakat, 24 June 1968.

59  Nasution, jilid 8, 1989:105-106.

60  Ward 1968:46.

61  Interview with former intelligence chief, Sutopo Yuwono, 1991.

62  Kiblat, 8, XVI, p.33.

63  Kiblat, 3, XVI, 1968, p. 6.

64  Boland 1971:231. The Assembly introduced compulsory religious
    education from primary school to university. The aim was to create
    purely 'Pancasilaist citizen' (manusia pantjasilais sedjati)           (Decision TAP MPRS XXVII/1966, chapter I, article 1). Every             Indonesian had to profess one of the five officially recognised         religions: Islam, Catholicism Protestantism, Buddhism and Hinduism.

65  Speech of 11 May 1968, published in Kiblat, 4, XVI, p. 32, 1968.

66  'Pendjelasan Humas Departemen Agama mengenai Toleransi Agama',
    published in full in Duta Masyarakat, 3 March 1969.

67  Clashes between Muslims and Christians took place in several
    Indonesian cities, including Makassar in October 1967 (following a
    Protestant clergyman's alleged criticism of Allah and polygamy) and         in Banjak Island in 1968, where there was a massive exodus of         Christians.

68  See Jones 1984 on the subject.

69  Analis, 20 June 1971.

70  Refer to: Ward 1984:110.

71  Angkatan Bersendjata, 18 June 1971.

72  Duta Masyarakat, 23 June 1971.

73  On this, see Ward 1970.

74  'Pendjelasan tentang Keputusan P.B. Syuriah NU tentang Pembebasan
    JTH Sdr. H.M. Subchan Z.E. dari Kepengurusan PBNU' (Personal
    archive of Asnawi Latief).

75  Kompas, 25 February 1972.

76  On this, see my article in Archipel 46, Feillard 1993.

77  I have shown how beneficial the 1984 decision had been in education
    and missionary activities in Feillard 1993.

Nahdlatul Ulama, Traditional Islam and Modernity Of Indonesia. Chapter Two

By : The Murmur

Chapter Two
Traditionalist Islam and the
Army in Indonesia's New
Order: The Awkward

Andree Feillard

  Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia's largest traditionalist
Islamic organisation, played a legitimating role in the rise of
President Suharto's New Order military-backed regime following
the abortive coup of September 1965 (the coup which triggered
the elimination of Indonesian communism). A unique
phenomenon in the Muslim world, NU grew in importance from
that time on, in large part because it was the only major political
force, next to the army, which remained intact. The fact that it
gained more than 18% of the vote in the 1955 and 1971 general
elections further contributed to its political weight.
  NU was established in 1926 as an association of ulama and
their followers in the pesantren (religious boarding school)
milieu. It came steadily closer to the centre stage of Indonesian
politics during the 1950s, despite its rural roots which often
caused it to be slighted by the Jakarta elite, both secular
nationalist and Islamic modernist. During the Second World
War, the Japanese had made NU's president-general (rais am)
head of the National Religious Affairs Office (Shumubu),1 and
after independence, the Ministry of Religious Affairs was given
to an NU leader (after initially being held by a modernist
  The period of parliamentary democracy saw NU rise as a
political party when it took the rather audacious step in 1952 of
parting from the major Islamic political party, Masyumi, whose
leadership was, according to NU leaders, too much dominated by
modernists. In the first national elections in 1955, NU's
political strength was demonstrated when it became the third
largest party, after the PNI (Partai Nasionalis Indonesia--The
Nationalist Party of Indonesia) and Masyumi. The PKI (Partai
Komunis Indonesia--the Communist Party of Indonesia) was the
fourth-ranked party.
  Each of NU's three main competitors were swept aside over
the next decade. In 1960 Masyumi was banned because of its ties
with the 1958 PRRI (Pemerintah Revolusioner Republik
Indonesia--the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of
Indonesia) rebellion in Sumatra. Following the 1965 coup the
PM, being perceived to be too close to Sukarno, was severely
weakened while the PKI was banned and its members either killed
or incarcerated.
  Thus, of all the major political parties from the Sukarno era,
NU was the only party of consequence left. As such, NU's
response to developments in the period immediately after the
coup was important in reshaping Indonesia's political system
after Sukarno's 'guided democracy'. Ironically, as NU abetted
the army's rise to power it simultaneously found itself
increasingly sidelined in Indonesian politics. This drove some
Within it to a new radicalism, away from the tradition of Sunni
Pragmatism in politics, which has always been a distinctive
feature of NU's political thinking.2
  I shall analyse the early relationship between the army and
NU, and the many reasons for their later estrangement, looking
beyond the general assumption that the military had neither the
intention of sharing power nor the intention of letting ideologies
and religions divide the country. I shall begin by retracing the
role NU played in General Suharto's installation as president in
1968. This history is important if one is to understand the
reaction of deep disappointment that followed when
traditionalist Islam was given a subordinate political role after
the 1971 elections. Following this, I shall describe the mounting
tension, both in the political and religious fields, between the two
political groups, a tension that culminated in the violent 1971
election campaign. This led to a long period of malaise which
only came to an end in 1984, when NU decided to leave
practical politics and allow its members to support the army-
backed Golkar party. We shall see that the Sunni tradition of
government legitimation, which determined NU's political
strategy in 1966, and also in the 1987 elections, was not an
uncontested approach, but had serious opponents even among
the ulama.

The Alliance with the Army

  NU's reaction to the events of 30 September 1965 was seen
in the massive outbreak of anti-communist violence that
followed the coup.3 There is strong evidence that in East Java,
Ansor, the youth wing of NU, played an important part in the
anti-communist killings of 1965-1966.4 When in December
1965 the Team Peneliti Korban G30S PKI, an official fact-
finding mission into the killings, reported back to Sukarno, the
president is said to have strongly reprimanded the delegates of
the team who were Ansor members, saying he was disgusted by
Ansor's role in the slaughter.5 But NU's official political
position was in fact due more to prudence than anything else.
The fact that some senior NU leaders had a strong attachment
to Sukarno made their position difficult. This resulted in the
emergence of two distinct currents of thought, a radical, pro-
army current and another one rather more ambivalent about its
support for Suharto's new army-backed regime.

NU's Role in the Rise of President Suharto

  On 1 October the first reaction of NU's senior leaders was to
seek information about the kidnapping of the army's six top
generals, who were later found to have been killed. Indeed, the
mounting rivalry between the army and the PKI was clear to
everyone, but the radio announcement by the coup leaders on
October had not indicated any PKI involvement, saying
instead that it was 'a movement within the army' aimed at
Protecting Sukarno from an army plot sponsored by the CIA.6
Suspicion of communist involvement was, however, high among
the NU leadership.7 The decision was taken to have NU senior
leaders go into hiding while a mandate was given to 34 year old
Zainuri Echsan Subchan, NU's fourth vice-chairman, to deal
temporarily with NU's day-to-day affairs.8 Subchan was an
obvious choice as a young unmarried, well-to-do and outspoken
anti-communist who had good contacts not only with some
army generals but also with youths groups from outside NU
circles. Apparently, Subchan was given the task of 'preserving
NU's unity and studying the origins of the coup'. He would also
have been given instructions to make whatever alliances were
necessary to safeguard the interests of NU and its members.9
  It is difficult to ascertain the official position taken by NU at
the time to the events of 30 September as all non-government
publications were banned until 7 October. NU archives show that
Ansor made a declaration on 1 October, rejecting a claim made
in a radio broadcast that four NU or NU-affiliated leaders were
members of the 'Revolutionary Council' (a body named by the
coup leaders to which all power in the Republic was to be passed
until new elections could be held).10 Ansor appealed to its
members to remain loyal to Sukarno and not be drawn into the
'counter-revolutionary' action of the Thirtieth of September
Movement. Muslimat, the NU women's association, made a
similar denial on 2 October.11 On 3 October Ansor asked its
members to assist the army in restoring order.12 A large-scale
massacre of communists followed shortly after.
  At the same time, the Action Front to Crush the Thirtieth of
September Movement (KAP-Gestapu) was created with Subchan
and Harry Tjan Silalahi of the Catholic party as its leaders.
On 4 October at a mass rally in Jakarta, they asked, in the name of
major political mass organisations which included Ansor, for a
ban on the PKI.13 The KAP-Gestapu was thereafter to play an
important role in the fight against communism.
  NU's formal position at this time remained unclear. While
young NU leaders showed great eagerness to react fiercely, the
senior leadership remained very much in the background.14 If we
are to believe Duta Masyarakat, NU's daily newspaper, a
declaration was read in a radio broadcast on 1 October, urging
members to keep loyal to Sukarno and help the army restore
order.15 After several meetings with the army, an NU statement
was finally issued and read on the radio on 4 October, calling for
the PKI and its affiliates to be banned.16 Interestingly, the
declaration was prepared by young NU activists, with Subchan's
blessings, but was not actually signed by the NU leadership until
the following day. On 5 October, at the burial of the six generals
who had been kidnapped and later murdered by the coup leaders,
senior NU leaders were met by two of the party's younger
leaders and pressed to sign.17 Idham Chalid, the NU chairman-
general, signed it later at a cabinet meeting in Bogor.18 Clearly,
the initiative was in the hands of junior NU leaders while senior
leaders were wary of making the wrong steps in a confused
political situation. Thus, by mid-October, ambiguity continued to
Prevail when instructions were given to all NU media, including
Duta Masyarakat, 'to preserve good relations with the PKI, with
Sukarno, and not to offend the Air Force, and the Armed Forces
in general'.19 A 'mission impossible'.
  From this point onwards NU began increasingly to take sides
with the army. Apart from Subchan's action in organising anti.
PKI student demonstrations within the KAP-Gestapu and
KAMI,20 NU's role in Parliament became crucial for the legal
transfer of power from Sukarno to General Suharto. Indeed, with
the help of student demonstrations, the army had enjoyed an
initial first success: emergency powers had been handed over by
Sukarno to General Suharto on 11 March 1966. But only the
Consultative Assembly (MPRS) had the power to confirm and
extend these powers. Here, the role of Achmad Sjaichu, a leading
NU figure, was particularly important. As deputy speaker of
Parliament (since 1963), and then as speaker (after June 1966),
he approved three successive parliamentary purges by which
leftist members were replaced by army-backed MPs. Following
his election as speaker, he called for a meeting of the MPRS.
The assembly conferred emergency powers upon Suharto until
such time as elections could be held. It also allowed the army's
further involvement in Parliament through the nomination of
more MPs from the 'functional groups', which served as the
military's political arm.
  Six months later, several student groups demanded Sukarno's
dismissal and trial.21 Several of NU's younger leaders added their
voices to the general clamour. One of them, Jusuf Hasyim, a
leading Ansor figure, asked that Sukarno's role in the coup be
examined and that he be tried just like any other citizen. Subchan
lent his support to this position.22 In the following MPRS
session in February 1967, young NU radicals close to the army
pressed the party's more conservative leaders to commit NU to
removing Sukarno and installing Suharto as president. It is
important to note that this move came from the NU youth and
Was entirely contrary to the personal inclinations of some of
their elders. Nevertheless the political climate in early 1967
meant that the senior leadership was under strong pressure to
relent. Finally Nuddin Lubis, an NU parliamentarian, moved a
resolution calling for the dismissal of Sukarno as president, an
inquiry into his role in the failed coup and the election of a new
President. Following this another NU politician, Djamaluddin
Malik, moved a further resolution proposing that Suharto be the
next president. It needs to be pointed out that the initial Lubis
resolution represented a major reversal within NU as Lubis
initially lacked the firm support of the majority of NU MPs at
the time he proposed the resolution.23 Immediately after winning
over the support of the parliamentary group, aided
greatly by deputy rais am, Kiai Bisri Syansuri, he summoned
purnalists to a press conference and deliberately announced the resolution without prior consultation with the NU general-chairman,
Idham Chalid.24 Lubis' statement to the press presented
the NU leadership with a fait accompli.25 NU postponed
its February congress in Bandung, partly to deny a
forum to critics of the resolution, but also to comply with army
warnings that security conditions in West Java were still too
Uncertain to permit the holding of such a major meeting.26
  These NU resolutions brought Suharto to the presidency ad
interim, and presented Sukarno with the prospect of a trial (a
threat which was never carried out). NU's action in parliament
would not have been possible without key developments in the
months leading up to the February session. These included
Sukarno's continued support for the PKI, his belittling of the
army's role in the Revolution, a series of sharp price increases
and ongoing student demonstrations. Thus, February 1967 was a
turning Point for the pro-army current within NU. This current
asserted itself at the very moment when the army appeared to
gain decisive ground.
  In the period that followed, significant hostility towards
Sukarno emerged from within NU. The West Java Syuriah
(Religious Council) declared that it withdrew the title of Waliyul
Amri Dlaruri Bissyaukah. This title, given to him at a 1954
ulama conference, made him the legitimate ruler of Indonesia, a
state with a Muslim majority but a secular political system. Duta
Masyarakat explained in an editorial that 'a president having a
symbolic function required a noble mind, which Bung Karno does not possess.27 Finally the ulama could be clearly seen to have taken sides.
  The dominance of pro-army elements within NU continued
to be evident throughout 1968. During the course of the year
Achmad Sjaichu agreed to a controversial 'reform' of parliament
which reduced the number of MPs overtly aligned with Islamic
concerns to 28%, down from 48% in 1955.28 Sjaichu later
explained that he had had the assurance of Suharto that Islamic
interests would not be sacrificed in these changes. He recalled
that when he voiced his concerns to the president, he was told:
'the kiai are not the only ones to know what is haram
(forbidden in Islam) and what is not'.29 A few weeks later,
General Suharto was elected full president. Sukarno, at that point
under virtual house arrest, died in June 1970. The New Order had
been formally legitimated and, in part, it had been done with the
assistance of a divided Nahdlatul Ulama.

An Insight into the Disagreement

  Two currents had thus emerged within NU, among not only
the top leadership but also among the student leaders. The more
conservative of these two currents was closer to Sukarno, the
other, more radical current was inclined towards the Armed
Forces. The press talked of there being a dichotomy between
NU-ABRI (ABRI is the acronym for the Armed forces) and NU-
PNI, and also of 'NU-Orba and NU-Orla' (Orba and Orla being
the common abbreviations for 'New Order' and 'Old Order'
respectively).30 The rais am, Kiai Wahab Chasbullah, was
prominent in the pro-Sukarno current, as can be seen from his
declaration of June 1966 that Sukarno would be NU's
presidential candidate forever.31 By that time, Sukarno's demise
was already clear to many politicians, making Kiai Wahab one of
the last prominent supporters of the 'Father of the Revolution'.
Idham Chalid also expressed his genuine sympathy for the ailing
president and visited him in Bogor on several occasions,
including after March 1967, when Sukarno was under effective
house arrest.32 He reportedly told friends he felt sorry for the
lonely former president.33 At the opposite end of the spectrum
within NU was Subchan, whose strong commitment to the
Armed Forces was lauded in Duta Masyarakat as early as June
1966 in these terms: 'Subchan cleverly and forcefully directed
the progressive-revolutionary forces whereas some of our leaders
did not dare face the situation and preferred instead simply to
wait for the next turn of events'. Again in 1966, Achmad
Sjaichu, another leading pro-army figure, strongly expressed the
special ties between the army and NU, comparing them to two
'brothers' .34
  It should be noted however that the leadership of NU was
never entirely united in its political outlook. One good example
of this is the situation in 1959, when there was division within
NU about whether or not to accept the 'guided democracy' of
President Sukarno, which put an end to the liberal democracy of
the post-independence years. One NU leader, Imron Rosyadi,
joined forces with those resisting Sukarno's move to gain a
firmer hold on power, and as a result was imprisoned. At the
same time the NU leadership agreed to participate in guided
democracy. Several years later, in the period leading up to the
events of late 1965, Subchan, who, as we have already noted, was
an outspoken anti-communist, tacitly contested Idham Chalid's
leadership of NU. The result was a farcical state of affairs in with
each of them endeavoured to conduct the business of leading NU
from their private homes. (Concerned to ensure that
correspondence emanating from their desks was seen to be
official, when writing letters each would contact staff in the NU
Head Office in order to obtain the 'correct reference number'.)
  After the events of 30 September 1965 a number of figures
within NU were immediately persuaded that Sukarno had no
chance of remaining in office because he was seen as too close to
the PKI. Many others, however, felt that as 'Father of the
Revolution' Sukarno was simply irreplaceable. The persistence
of this pro-Sukarno current can be best understood by briefly
examining the history of the close personal relationships
between the nationalist leader and some of the senior Nahdlatul
Ulama leaders.35
  As early as 1940, NU decided that it would push for the
election of Sukarno as future president, paradoxically at the very
time when he was clearly expressing his sympathy for the secular
Ataturk model.36 Many factors are responsible for the special
relationship. Of some consequence is the fact that the major NU
leaders and the president both came from East Java, speaking the
same dialect of Javanese. More importantly though is the fact
that Sukarno was a protege of Kiai Wahab's close friend,
Tjokroaminoto, leader of Indonesia's first large-scale Muslim
association, Sarekat Islam. Sukarno also shared with Kiai Wahab
the same taste for Javanese theatre (wayang) and for selamatan
(ritual communal feasts). Another common factor was that both
were married a number of times. Further strengthening the
relationship was the fact that Sukarno allowed Wahab to make
use of a number of important business facilities. Within NU,
there were also genuine feelings of admiration for the brilliant
orator and nationalist leader, to the point where his speeches and
writings were studied in a number of pesantren. There was also
considerable gratitude felt toward Sukarno on account of his
support for the creation of a separate NU political party in
1952. Of greater importance was the strong sentiment of many
NU leaders that priority was to be given to stability in
government rather than to absolute democracy. Thus, Idham
Chalid justified guided democracy by saying that according to
Islam it was not necessarily 'the voice of the majority which is
always the wisest'. Islam, he went on to say, chose to be guided
by 'haq dan ahlinya', i.e., law and its experts.37 The Syuriah
leader, Kiai Wahab, was more cautious than the Tanfidziah
(Executive Board) chairman, and said that 'a leadership without
democracy could only lead to dictatorship while anarchy as well
as dictatorship are contrary to democracy'.38 But discussion with
older NU politicians seems to indicate that what they objected to
most about Guided Democracy was cooperation with the
communists rather than the authoritarian system of government
  In any case, by late 1966 it was clear that the tide had turned
and the pro-Sukarno current reluctantly gave in to the new
situation. Thus, Idham Chalid boasted in September 1966 that
NU was not afraid 'to criticise and be criticised, and when it did
criticise Sukarno, it was out of love for him'.39 The army had
achieved its aim of having Nahdlatul Ulama contribute to the
rise of the New Order, and in the process had gained a degree of

The Deterioration of the Relationship Between NU and
the Army

  In the process of NU assisting the ratification of the New
Order regime disagreements arose over the various political
institutions that were being established as well as over the place
of Islam in the post-Sukarno era. These differences soured the
alliance between NU and the army.

The Political Question

  As early as 1966, even before NU had formally proposed
Suharto as president, there were signs of the authoritarian
inclination of the emerging regime. One draft bill said the press
could 'control, criticise and correct' but only in a 'constructive
way'.40 One of the first points of conflict between NU and the
army was the date for the holding of elections. NU wanted these
to be held in 1967; the new government first proposed 1968 and
then postponed them until 1971. This gave time for the army to
organise its own political vehicle, Golkar. NU also opposed a
1966 plan to reactivate a presidential instruction (Penpres
2/1959) which forbade senior civil servants from joining
political parties. As the main source of civil servants for the
Ministry of Religious Affairs, NU suffered considerably when a
similar measure was later introduced.
  The most serious threat came from a set of bills on political
institutions proposed in November 1966. Anxieties within NU
were heightened by one draft bill asking political parties and
social organisations to base themselves on the national ideology,
Pancasila, and the 1945 Constitution. It also gave the
government the power to dissolve political parties whenever
they were deemed guilty of 'political misdeeds'.41 The election
bill also came under fire from NU. It rejected the 'district
system' for legislative elections, whereby the regions would
chose candidates rather than a political party. With regions
outside Java being less populated, the political weight of Java,
NU's stronghold, would decrease. Finally, it objected to a
proposal that the army be given 50% of parliamentary seats. NU              
wanted it to have only 5%.42
  It is interesting to note that these parliamentary debates
occurred in February 1967, at a time when NU was assisting
Suharto's bid to become president through the Lubis and Malik
resolutions. The draft bills had already been issued at the end of
1966 and NU knew of their contents at that time. One should
recognise here the influence of the Sunnite tradition of
government legitimation, with its fear of chaos, in determining
NU political strategy. Thus, Kiai Machrus Ali of Kediri said of
Suharto at the time of the debates on the new political system,
that the future president was like 'dawn after the night'.43 NU
intellectuals were not unaware of the threats of an army-
dominated government, as can be seen in one Duta Masyarakat
editorial: 'The people's sovereignty should be applied concretely
in laws and should not be a consumption object given in the form
of fairy tales'.44 The emergence of two new currents was already
evident: a conservative current and a radical anti-army current
parallel to the pro-army and pro-Sukarno currents, though not
always coinciding.
  In July 1967, at its Bandung congress, NU began, however, to
flex its muscles. It requested early elections, the cancellation of
the ban on senior civil servants' membership of political parties,
an anti-corruption bill and a more openly anti-Israel foreign
policy. Moreover, it complained of the poor economic
conditions faced by batik producers in such major textile
production areas as Tasikmalaya, West Java, and demanded that
these things be borne in mind by the government as it
formulated policy.45
  Slowly but surely, during the course of 1968, Duta
Masyarakat started to become more outspoken, with the pro-
army-turned-radical Subchan being more and more often quoted
by the conservative daily newspaper. During a meeting of the
MPRS in 1968, Subchan opposed the election of Suharto, arguing
that he should be elected only after legislative elections as MPs
make up half of the Assembly electing the president. Subchan
soon became one of the most outspoken opponents of the New
Order political system. This climaxed in the 1971 legislative
elections when violence erupted between the army and NU

The Religious Question

  The second vexed issue in the relationship between the army
and NU during the first years of the New Order was the question
of Islam's official role in the Indonesian state and society.
  The question of the Syari'ah (Islamic Law) and its legislative
relationship with the state had been around since the preparation
for independence in June 1945. A preliminary agreement had
been reached on what was called the 'Jakarta Charter', by which
it was suggested that the Constitution require obedience to the
Syari'ah from all Indonesian Muslims.46 In August 1945, NU
gave in to pleas by the largely Christian eastern islands, objecting
that they would not be part of an Islamic state. The Charter was
thus abandoned. The national ideology, Pancasila, made up of
five universal principles, including 'belief in one almighty God',
made no special reference to Islam.47 But the subject reappeared
during the Constituent Assembly debates in 1959. Sukarno
unilaterally dissolved the Constituent Assembly after neither
Islamic nor secular groups were able to achieve the required two-
thirds majority. The following compromise was worked out with
NU: a return to the 1945 Constitution would be proclaimed while
the Jakarta Charter with its reference to the Syari'ah would be
recognised as 'inspiring' and 'being at one with' the
  Under the New Order, Pancasila was understood to exclude
any ideology, communist or religious. It became the only
accepted reference while the Jakarta Charter increasingly became
a taboo subject. As early as 1966, the army became worried when
the Jakarta Charter began to surface again in Islamic public
discourse. During a large street parade held for NU's fortieth
anniversary in January 1966, banners were reportedly seen
asking for a return to the Charter. I have found no confirmation
other than verbal of the presence of such banners and NU says
nowadays that if there were any, they were not officially
sanctioned. Whatever the case, during the following days, the
army-backed press denied NU's alleged support for an Islamic
state.48 The fact is that the Jakarta Charter was used as a
legitimate reference during these early years of the New Order.
Thus, in April 1966, at a meeting of NU's Party Council in
Bogor, an official NU announcement said: 'Since the State is
founded on Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution, which cannot
be separated from the Jakarta Charter, the way is open to
implement the party's ideals'. It further said: 'If Pancasila and
the 1945 Constitution are applied properly in the life of the
state, and if the Jakarta Charter is properly applied in society,
the result will be a society in conformity with the party's
  Despite this, it seems that NU did not request a revision of
the Constitution in favour of the Jakarta Charter, and no longer
placed the Charter in opposition to Pancasila as had been done
in 1959. Later, at the MPRS meeting of July 1966, NU and
Muslim MPs in general asked that the Charter continue to be
mentioned in official texts.50 Finally, it was decided that
mention would only be made of 'the fact' that the Jakarta
Charter had been named in the 1959 presidential decree.51 This
amounted to a mild recognition of the Charter. It failed,
however, to be mentioned as one of the sources of law. NU had
more success when the MPRS agreed to make religious education
compulsory, a unanimous decision aimed at countering
communism, which has been seen as a major contribution to the
further Islamisation of the archipelago.
  In 1967, the Charter became the subject of further debate in
the press. The fact that NU defended the Charter's legitimacy
caused it to be branded 'neo-Darul Islam', after the violent
Muslim rebellion in West Java during the late 1940s and 1950s.
During MPRS commission discussions, proposals in favour of
Islam arose but it is difficult to have a clear picture of the real
demands being made by Islamic groups as proceedings were held
behind closed doors. The press practised self-censorship and the
Charter was steadily becoming a forbidden subject. The ulama
adapted to the new situation, insisting on the Charter's
legitimacy but avoiding any confrontation between Pancasila and
Islam. The Sunnite tradition of compromise was again apparent
with a call from Kiai Machrus Ali to 'Keep away from actions or
words that can provoke anger among other people. According to
Islamic law, any action that can disturb the society's order is a
major sin that will be judged by God'.52
  Another conflict emerged between the secular and Islamic
forces when a draft bill on marriage for Muslims was heartily
supported by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, an NU stronghold
as we have seen. The draft bill took the Jakarta Charter as a
reference and proposed that 'laws in accordance with the Muslim
Syari'ah could be issued especially for Muslims'. 53 This draft bill
was quickly rejected by secular and non-Muslim groups as
opening the way to a juridical dualism.
  The controversy over the Charter intensified in 1968, and
one can wonder whether this intensification was not tied to the
political parties' increased marginalisation by the army's inroads
into Indonesian politics. NU, together with other Islamic groups,
wanted the Charter mentioned and thus legalised by the MPRS as
part of the Broad Policy Guidelines (GBHN). Furthermore,
Islamic groups wanted the definition of human rights to ban
religious conversions (ganti agama). Having elected Suharto full
president, the MPRS finished its sessions without making any
decision on the Charter and the human rights questions, and the
Armed Forces opposed the continuation of the debates.54 NU
protested vehemently. Nuddin Lubis lashed out at Catholics and
sections of the functional groups which he said were 'without
roots in society [and] which did everything to see to it that the
commission works be rejected'.55 A few days later, on 8 April,
Suharto summoned the four Islamic parties, and asked them to
agree among themselves on the meaning of the Charter. A
commission directed by Prawoto Mangkusasmito, a former
Masyumi leader, was given the task of elaborating a common
vision. Kiai Masykur represented NU in that commission.56
  The anniversary of the Charter on 22 June was
commemorated with a plethora of declarations. Duta
Masyarakat published a statement of the commemoration
committee signed by the Pemuda Mahasiswa dan Pelajar Islam
Pusat (PMPI), an association of youth Muslim organisations
which included Ansor. It said, amongst other things: 'The
implementation of the Syari'ah does not mean that Indonesia
would be an Islamic state. The Syari'ah brings divine grace and
happiness for the Nation and its people on earth and in
heaven'.57 The second point of the statement read: 'the
obligation of religious practice (ibadah) reinforces morals and
character and is thus more powerful than appeals and
exhortations.' This apologetic declaration seemed to imply the


1. During the Second World War, after an initial period of strained
   relations with Nahdlatul Ulama, the Japanese cleverly courted Islam          by the establishment of the Shumubu. This cooperation led to the             creation of a national Islamic Council, Masyumi, which later became            the largest Islamic political party.

2  Several medieval Sunni thinkers have tried to bring constitutional
   theory into line with political reality, the chief concern being to
   Preserve Islam and its law through political concessions. With the
   argument that disorder and chaos are more dangerous than tyranny or
   injustice, legitimation could be given to a strong sultan, even if he           were a despot. Thus, if one is to conform exclusively to just orders,          al-Ghazali (1058-1111) asked: 'Shall we stop obeying the laws? Shall          we revoke the kadis? (...) Shall we let the people live in sin? Or          shall we continue, recognising that what is inanimate actually          exists, that all administrative acts remain valid, given the            circumstances and the necessities of the moment?' (in G.E. von          Grunebaum, L'lslam medieval, Payot, Paris, 1962: p. 185). Al-Mawardi          and al-Baqillani have also influenced NU'S political thinking.

3  On this, see Hughes 1967, Walkin 1969 and Cribb 1990. This conflict
   had in fact began sporadically in the early 1960s when Muslim
   landowners resisted PKI-inspired campaigns to force land reforms.

4  Refer to Cribb 1990: 26; Hughes 1967:154; and Crouch 1979:152.

5  Interview with Chalid Mawardi, an Ansor delegate present
   at the meeting (1991). The fact-finding commission was appointed by
   President Sukarno at the end of December 1965. It estimated that                     54,000 had been killed in East Java alone. The number of victims was          minimised, however, and the commonly accepted estimate was between          250,000 and 500,000 People killed across the archipelago (Crouch          1978:155-156).

6  Crouch 1978:97. There are several theories on the origins of the          coup. The official lndonesian version has it that the coup was the             work of the PKI, a version contested by Ben Anderson and Ruth McVey          from Cornell university. Scholars have been debating in favour or          against one Or the other theory. Although it seems clear that there          was indeed some PKI involvement, the extent of it remains uncertain.

7  Interview with Moenasir, 3 December 1994.

8  Interview with Syah Manaf, 1991. Present at the meeting were Kiai
   Masykur, a member of the NU's supreme religious council, the Syuriah,
   Idham Chalid, the Tanfidziah chairman, and Syaf Manaf, from NU's
   political bureau. Moenasir confirmed such a mandate was given to
   Subchan but was unaware of the time and place it was given to him
   (Interview, 3 December 1994).

9  Interview with Syah Manaf, 1991.

10 'Pernyataan pujuk pimpinan gerakan Pemuda Ansor', signed by Jahja
   Ubaied, its president, and by Chalid Mawardi (National archives,
   Jakarta). The list of Revolutionary Council members was drawn up
   without consultation and most nominees denied having any knowledge
   of it (Crouch 1979: 98).

11 Interview with Mrs. Asmah Sjachruni, a senior NU leader, 1991. The NU
   leaders named were: KH Fattah Yasin, A. M. Eahman, Jahya Ubaied and
   Mahmudah Mawardi from the Muslimat. signed by the chairman, H. A·

12 'Instruksi 3 Oktober, PP GP Ansor',
   Chamid Wijaya (National Archives, Jakarta).

13 Berita Yudha, 5 October 1965.

14 General Nasution passed on a letter to Idham Chalid explaining the
   situation and expressing his thankfulness in advance for a firm          position from NU (Interview with KH M. Moenasir, 3 December 1994).

15 Duta Masyarakat, 7 October 1965. I have found no trace of the             original Statement, which could have confirmed that it was actually_          made as early BS 1 October. Moreover, the national radio station was          in the hands of the September Movement leaders until 1 October at 7          p.m.

16 Ibid. Berita Yudha, 6 October 1965, published the entire statement
   bearing the date of 5 October.

17 Interview With Jusuf Hasyim, 1992.

18 Idham Chalid could not be found prior to the cabinet meeting. Knowing
   that he would attend the Bogor meeting, a student was sent to Bogor          to Obtain his signature. (Interview with H. Moenasir, 2 December          1994).

19 'Surat PBNU, Pedoman Politik Pemberitaan Harian NU', 14 October
   1965, sent to five media outlets (National Archives, Jakarta).

20 Kesatuan Aksi Mahasiswa Indonesia, the students' action front,
   organised major demonstrations, bringing an important contribution,          in coordination with the army, to the destabilisation of the Old          Order.

21 Refer to Crouch 1978: 212.

22 Duta Masyarakat, 11 January 1967.

23 He acted with the understanding and backing of the army.

24 This parliamentary session of 9 February ended at 1 am. One hour             later, Lubis called a press conference.

25 Interview With Nuddin Lubis, 1991.

26 Interview with Nuddin Lubis, August 1991.

27 Duta Masyarakat, 10 March 1967

28 Angkatan Baru, 21 March 1968; and Ward 1968:42.

29 Sjaichu 1991:69.

30 Duta Masyarakat, 5 April, 29 May, 3 July and 11 July 1967.

31 Antara, 7 June 1966.

32 After the MPRS session of March 1967, Sukarno remained in his palaces
   but it soon apparent that he was under virtual house arrest. In May          1967, he was no longer allowed to use his titles (Crouch 1978: 220).

33 Interview with General Nasution, 1991.

34 Duta Masyarakat, 13 August 1966.

35 It is important to note that the NU was politically dominated by just          a few senior leaders, those interested in politics, be they from the
   Tanfidziah (Executive Board) like Idham Chalid or from the Syuriah          like Kiai Bisri. It was a top-down organisation and the mass             membership had little impact on every day decisions.

36 See Berita Nahdlatoel Ulama, Surabaya, 1 July 1940, p. 8/225, about
   NU's reaction to Sukarno's defence of Kemal Ataturk. On Sukarno's
   choice as future president, see Anam 1985: 112.

37 Speech called 'Islam dan Demokrasi Terpimpin', given at PTI NU,
   Fakultas Hukum Islam where Idham was teacher (dosen luar biasa).

38 Zuhri 1987: 475.

39 Duta Masyarakat, 21 September 1966.

40 Duta Masyarakat, 12 November 1966.

41 Duta Masyarakat, 24 February 1967.

42 Duta Masyarakat, 24 March 1967. On the new political system put into
   place by the New Order, see Feith 1968.

43 Duta Masyarakat, 9 March 1967.

44 Duta Masyarakat, 22 February 1967.

45 Duta Masyarakat, 14 July 1967.

46 The famous phrase agreed upon on 22 June 1945 and known as the
   Jakarta Charter is: 'Belief in God with the obligation for Muslims to
   implement the Syari'ah in accordance with a just humanity'. It was                   never clear what it exactly meant or how the obligation would be          carried out.

47 In the months preceding independence in 1945, Sukarno proposed the
   five universal principles of Pancasila (belief in God, nationalism,
   humanitarianism, democracy and social justice). Any reference to a
   religion was avoided in order to create unity in this diverse nation.
   Sukarno's main argument was that, if]slam was indeed the majority
   religion, Parliament would issue laws in conformity with Islam.

48 Berita Yudha and Angkatan Bersenjata, 31 January 1966.

49 Antara, 16 April 1966.

50 Nugroho 1985:38.

51 'TAP XX/MPRS/1966 tentang memorandum DPR-GR mengenai sumbertertib             hukum Republik Indonesia dan Tata Urutan Peraturan Perundang RI'.      

52 Duta Masyarakat, 9 March 1967.

53 'Pendjelasan mengenai Undang Undang tentang Pokok-pokok peraturan                   pernikahan umat islam. Pendjelasan Umum', artikel 2-4.

54 Nasution 1989, jilid 8:105-106.

55 Duta Masyarakat, 3 April 1968.

56 Interview with Lukman Harun of the Muhammadiyah, January 1993.

57 Duta Masyarakat, 22 June 1966.

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