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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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I'Opposition 9 Une Nouvelle Legitimite', Archipel, no.46,
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---1974, The 1971 Election in Indonesia: An East Java Case
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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.
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