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

Malangbong

The complicated nature of local network politics during this time is evident in Kartosuwiryo’s connection to Malangbong, a village situated on the busy winding road that connects Bandung to Ciamis and Banjar in the heartland of the Priangan region in the mountainous province of West Java.

The Jakarta branch of PSII, where Kartosuwiryo was actively involved, established a women’s wing in late August 1929. The Sarekat Islam Bagian Isteri (SI Women’s Group) was, in a way, led by ‘party wives’, as its chairwoman was Siti Roehati, wife of the PSII Jakarta vice-president, and its vice-secretary was Siti Kalsoem, iden?tified as Kartosuwiryo’s wife.[1] In a society in which socio-political networks dictated one’s fortune and misfortune, such a marriage was quite likely to represent an alliance between Kartosuwiryo and PSII in West Java, as Siti Kalsoem was the daughter of Kiyai Ardi- wisastra, chairman of the party’s Malangbong branch.

A second important aspect related to this union is the social status brought along by Kiyai Ardiwisastra’s position as a representative of an important aristocratic (menak) Sundanese family and a revered Islamic scholar. These two elements played an important role in transforming Kartosuwiryo into a bearer of traditional authority in the years that followed, as well as in the deepening of his own religious knowledge.

Reportedly, Kartosuwiryo used to spend long hours with local kiyai, among whom were party leaders Moestafa Kamil and Joesoef Taoeziri, mentioned above.[2] Moestafa Kamil (born 1884) was himself the son of a well known kiyai in Garut and had long studied in pesantren in West and East Java and also in Mecca. It was in Mecca that he first encountered Hadji Agoes Salim, and first heard of Sarekat Islam. Upon his return to Garut, Moestafa Kamil joined the ranks of the local branch and soon became a prominent political figure who was also often imprisoned by the colonial police.

Joesoef Taoeziri (died 1982), too, was renowned for his religious knowledge and was among the early members of the Sarekat Islam branch in Ciparay. Both kiyai were arrested with Tjokroaminoto in relation with the Cimareme Afdeeling B affair in 1919, during which the Dutch authorities suspected some Sarekat Islam members of having established a ‘section B’ of the party aimed at exterminating all Europeans and Chinese in Java.[3]

Taoeziri entered the Party Central Board in 1931 and left in 1938, one year before Moestafa Kamil became a member. Where these two politicians differed was in their approach to Islamic politics during the Japanese occupation. In the 1940s Moestafa Kamil was recruited as a lecturer for West Java’s armed wing of the Islamic party, the Hizboellah (literally ‘Party of God’) troops, and after the capitulation, he joined Kartosuwiryo’s Darul Islam. Taoeziri, on the other hand, rejected military intervention and established his own school in Ciparay, pesantren Daroel Salam (Abode of Peace), dedicating his full attention to teaching.[4]

  • [1] Fadjar Asia, 29 August 1929. This seemed to happen quite often. See also the women’swing of PSI in Sungai Batang, Meninjau, Sumatra, in Fadjar Asia, 1 August 1929. Pandji Poestakareported that the initiative of creating a women section of PSI had been spearheaded by Tjok-roaminoto’s wife, and that this group’s leadership reflected that of the general Sarekat Islamparty. ‘Kroniek Hindia’, Pandji Poestaka no. 72, 6 September 1929, p. 1144.
  • [2] Pinardi, Sekarmadji Maridjan, pp. 24-5, and an interview conducted by the author in Malangbong, 6 February 2008.
  • [3] On Afdeeling B see Else Ensering, ‘Afdeeling B of Sarekat Islam. A rebellious islamic movement’, in Dick Kooiman, Otto van den Muijzenberg, and Peter van der Veer (eds), Conversion,competition, and conflict: Essays on the role of religion in Asia (Amsterdam: VU Uitgeverij, 1984);William A. Oates, ‘The Afdeeling B: An Indonesian case study’, Journal of Southeast Asian History(March 1968).
  • [4] Biographic data for Moestafa Kamil are from Ismail, ‘Perjuangan K.H. Mustofa Kamilpada masa penjajahan dan kemerdekaan di Garut antara tahun 1914-1945’ (thesis, IAIN SunanGunung Jati, 1998). For Joesoef Taoeziri, see Dudung, ‘Peristiwa Cipari’ (thesis, UniversitasPadjadjaran, 1987) and Wahyudi, ‘Aktivitas K.H. Yusuf Tauzirie dalam mengembangkan syiarIslam di desa Cipari kecamatan Wanaraja kabupaten Garut (1926-1981)’ (thesis, UIN SunanGunung Jati, 2006). On Moestafa Kamil as dewan partij member, see Berita Priangan, 17 July 1939.
 
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