The Makings of Indonesian Islam

The Makings of Indonesian Islam: Orientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past

Michael Laffan
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 320
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Makings of Indonesian Islam
    Book Description:

    Indonesian Islam is often portrayed as being intrinsically moderate by virtue of the role that mystical Sufism played in shaping its traditions. According to Western observers--from Dutch colonial administrators and orientalist scholars to modern anthropologists such as the late Clifford Geertz--Indonesia's peaceful interpretation of Islam has been perpetually under threat from outside by more violent, intolerant Islamic traditions that were originally imposed by conquering Arab armies.

    The Makings of Indonesian Islamchallenges this widely accepted narrative, offering a more balanced assessment of the intellectual and cultural history of the most populous Muslim nation on Earth. Michael Laffan traces how the popular image of Indonesian Islam was shaped by encounters between colonial Dutch scholars and reformist Islamic thinkers. He shows how Dutch religious preoccupations sometimes echoed Muslim concerns about the relationship between faith and the state, and how Dutch-Islamic discourse throughout the long centuries of European colonialism helped give rise to Indonesia's distinctive national and religious culture.

    The Makings of Indonesian Islampresents Islamic and colonial history as an integrated whole, revealing the ways our understanding of Indonesian Islam, both past and present, came to be.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3999-5
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. List of Abbreviations and Archival Referents
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  7. Part One Inspiration, Rememoration, Reform
    • ONE Remembering Islamization, 1300–1750
      (pp. 3-24)

      Seen from above, the great archipelagic world of Indonesia, the scene of much of what follows in this book, drifts eastward from the Bay of Bengal into the Pacific Ocean. The Malay Peninsula, too, has long been an integral part of this world. Its ports, and those of the mainland from the Gulf of Thailand to southern China, were tightly linked to states located on the major isles of Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, and the Moluccas farther to the east. South of these islands, and sharing in that same nexus of trade, lie Java and such eastern islands as Bali, Lombok,...

    • CHAPTER TWO Embracing a New Curriculum, 1750–1800
      (pp. 25-39)

      Compared to Aceh, Banten, and Mataram, we know little of the argumentation in the other, often warring, Muslim states of the eastern half of the archipelago, though it seems to have followed the lead of Sumatra. Makassarese legends claim, for example, that it was an Acehnese queen’s use of diplomacy that convinced their king to embrace the Islam of Mecca. While spurious, such tales nonetheless echo the trajectory of Muslim knowledge as it spread throughout the region.¹ Certainly they give us little information about the means of conversion, barring surviving hints that iconography and oral performance may have had a...

    • CHAPTER THREE Reform and the Widening Muslim Sphere, 1800–1890
      (pp. 40-64)

      We have now seen how, by the late eighteenth century, leading Jawi scholars were tapping into the ascendant “Meccan” discourse reaffirming Ghazalian norms that segregated law and mysticism. Some were in addition enabling orthodox forms of Islam, embodied by the madrasa, for the educated believer, and the tariqa for the elect. Given the dearth of reliable information, we must conclude, at least for the moment, that such forms were either absent or highly restricted in Jawi lands in the preceding centuries. To enact their programs, scholars like al-Falimbani and al-Banjari required the support of potent princes, whether to fund their...

  8. Part Two Power in Quest of Knowledge
    • CHAPTER FOUR Foundational Visions of Indies Islam, 1600–1800
      (pp. 67-84)

      Dutch interest in the East Indies can be perhaps best understood as a consequence of the subjugation of the Dutch by the Habsburgs, whose trading interests linked the azure waters of the Philippines with the leaden skies of the Low Countries. In the aftermath of the Protestant wars for independence, the eastern spice trade was seen as a potential support for the fledgling republic. This was made plain by the erstwhile clerk to the Portuguese bishop of Goa, Jan Huygen van Linschoten (1562–1611), who returned in 1592 with news of a route to the Indies that he described in...

    • CHAPTER FIVE New Regimes of Knowledge, 1800–1865
      (pp. 85-100)

      Leiden University is rightly famous today for its holdings of Islamic manuscripts. Its Indonesian collection has had an uneven history, however, rather like that of the Dutch tropical venture at large. One leading Dutch historian has argued that efforts to provide colonial officials with a working knowledge of local languages and cultures proceded by fits and starts and really began in earnest only after the British interregnum of 1811–16. For much of the nineteenth century, Dutch scholarship followed the British lead, spurred on by the need to compete with the only real power that ruled over the waves lapping...

    • CHAPTER SIX Seeking the Counterweight Church, 1837–1889
      (pp. 101-122)

      While the state was founding its training schools for aspiring colonial officials, travel writing and book collecting by churchmen-scientists continued, whose disdain for Islam was all too apparent even when they did communicate something new. This may be gathered from the accounts of the American James T. Dickinson (1806-?) and his English companion, the naturalist G. Tradescant Lay (c. 1805–45), who together journeyed from Malacca to Sulawesi, Magindanao, and Borneo in 1837.² Both men were concerned with mapping out opportunities for future Christianization, and whenever possible they handed out printed propaganda in Malay and Makassarese. Their tracts were apparently...

  9. Part Three Orientalism Engaged
    • CHAPTER SEVEN Distant Musings on a Crucial Colony, 1882–1888
      (pp. 125-146)

      Among the papers bequeathed to Leiden University after Snouck Hurgronje’s death is a file now designated Or. 7935. Like other such folders its contents are diverse, ranging from a prayer for Queen Wilhelmina (r. 1890–1948) written for the regents of Pasuruan and Malang by Isma‛il b. ‛Abdallah al-‛Attas, to a Malay romance about Egypt and Syria written around 1844. It also contains two documents emblematic of Snouck’s historical tasks and influence. One is a tract written in Arabic on three sheafs of paper. Collected in Aceh, it was most likely the property of an opponent of the Dutch taken...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Collaborative Encounters, 1889–1892
      (pp. 147-161)

      It has been argued that in the process of inventing the category of World Religions, and of including Buddhism within that framework, the European textual archive came to supplant indigenous self-representation, leaving the field to the missionaries.¹ But while a similar course of events can be followed in the field of Netherlands Indies Islamology, this is true only until 1889, for in that year the most energetic critic of Orientalists and churchmen alike landed on Java, ready to reprise his role as ‛Abd al-Ghaffar

      It will become clear only after I have been there a couple of days whether I...

    • CHAPTER NINE Shadow Muftis, Christian Modern, 1892–1906
      (pp. 162-174)

      Writing on the very eve of the Cilegon uprising, Sayyid ‛Uthman asked Snouck to supply copies of the papers in which his polemics on the tariqas had been praised. He had just put himself forward as the potential (pro-Dutch) mufti who could potentially advise local Muslims on questions of family law. This was not the first time that he had positioned himself at the side of the government. His anti-Naqshbandi tracts had by now won him respect in high places, and in 1881 he had even compiled a manual of jurisprudence intended for the new religious courts. Of course there...

  10. Part Four Sufi Pasts, Modern Futures
    • CHAPTER TEN From Sufism to Salafism, 1905–1911
      (pp. 177-189)

      So wrote G. F. Pijper (1893–1988), one of the last colonial administrators to be trained by Snouck Hurgronje, and a scholar now known (much as he had hoped) for his apparently novel interest in reformism and its impact on the Indies. But although the Salafi reformism of Cairo’s Muhammad ‛Abduh (1849–1905) and Muhammad Rashid Rida (1865–1935)—so known because of their claims that it emulated the attested practices of the “pious ancestors” (al-salaf al-salih)—had yet to penetrate Indies society when ‛Abd al-Ghaffar turned his back on Batavia, we should now recognize that when it did reach...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Advisors to Indonesië, 1906–1919
      (pp. 190-208)

      In his pseudonymous letters of a pensioned wedono, Snouck Hurgronje had insisted, as any respectable Muslim scholar would, that a genuine Sufi was to be known by his pedigree. The wedono, however, said nothing about that same individual’s representing a danger to the state. It is also clear from the outset that Snouck’s personal concern was with untangling the various pedigrees he found in the field, with an eye to exposing the genuine pedigree of Indies history. In January of 1890 he had written to his mentor Nӧldeke that he was looking forward to spending the rainy season with his...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Hardenings and Partings, 1919–1942
      (pp. 209-232)

      Not all elements of the national movement were as “modern” (or as patient) as the Kaum Muda of Sumatra. In 1916, this newly established Padang branch of Sarekat Islam would swiftly divide between the heirs to Ahmad Khatib and those affiliated with the traditional elite and their (new) Sufi allies led by the Naqshbandi Khatib ‘Ali.¹ Two key incidents would mortally wound Snouck’s Ethicists in 1919. The first, the May visit to Sulawesi of the Sarekat Islam representative for the “Outer Islands,” Abdoel Moeis (1883–1959), led to strikes against corvée labor and the murder of the Controleur at Toli-Toli,...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 233-236)

    It is my hope that this book will make a meaningful contribution to the study of Islam in Southeast Asia and to broader scholarship on the Muslim World. I have questioned the current consensus on the essence of Indonesia’s religious formation by highlighting assumptions formed during the colonial era. This has not been a straightforward path, hence it is worth recounting at this point the overall arc to show how colonial scholarship interpreted the precolonial, and then inflected particular strands of reformist Sufi self-critique into modernist discourse.

    A certain amount of preliminary work was necessary to set the stage. The...

  12. Glossary
    (pp. 237-242)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 243-286)
  14. Index
    (pp. 287-302)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 303-303)