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Home arrow Religion arrow Islam and the making of the nation: Kartosuwiryo and Political Islam in 20th Century Indonesia


This book is a historical investigation of the interaction between Islamic groups and government institutions in Indonesia from the late 1910s to today. This effort is aimed at affirming the religious foundations of Kartosuwiryo’s Darul Islam and shedding light on the failure of political Islam in the 1950s, when the first elections were held in independent Indonesia, and again in the 2000s, when the country’s democratic institutions were fully restored. The thread will be the life, career and legacy of Sekarmaji Marjan Kar- tosuwiryo (1905-1962), Secretary General of Sarekat Islam in the

1930s and Imam of the Islamic State of Indonesia (Negara Islam Indonesia) beginning in 1949.

Kartosuwiryo’s Darul Islam has been the eponym for separatist, regional, anti-Republican rebellions, as decades of state propaganda under General Suharto’s rule stripped the movement of its religious motives. In more recent times, the same name has been used to rally Islamist sympathizers who aspire for an Islamic state around a well-known, albeit almost mythological, forefather, as militant groups in the pre-Jemaah Islamiyah era hailed from Darul Islam networks and more often than not carried the same name.

The truth lies somewhere in between: Kartosuwiryo and the Darul Islam were neither arch-enemies of the Pancasila Republic, as conveniently argued by the state between the late 1950s and the 1980s, nor were they the ultimate synthesis of Islamic religious piety and political accomplishment, as claimed by Indonesian Islamists today.

In this book, Kartosuwiryo is approached as a journalist and politician who refused to be co-opted by the colonial administration simply because of having received a Dutch education, and who instead reacted to social, economic and political injustice by becoming a prominent figure in the anti-colonial Islamic party and dedicating his efforts to the struggle for independence in religious terms.

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