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Posted by : Ham uza Mar 22, 2015
Traditionalist Islam and the
Army in Indonesia's New
Order: The Awkward
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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.
Title : Nahdlatul Ulama, Traditional Islam and Modernity Of Indonesia. Chapter Two
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