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At the end of 1943, Putera was also dissolved, and replaced with the Jawa Hokokai, by far the most successful of all the Japanese attempts to mobilize the Javanese population. This group retained

Soekamo as its leader, and throughout the year it enjoyed increased freedoms and support from the Japanese - including the creation of a military wing, the Barisan Pelopor (Pioneer Corps) - tipping the balance in favour of the secular nationalists. As Japan was the ultimate gate-keeper of the political sphere, the rising prominence of the secular nationalists had wide-ranging effects. By the time the government declared, in early September, that Indonesia would obtain independence ‘in the near future’,[1] the tables had turned and Islamic groups’ dominance was limited to the social sphere.

It was not until late December, when Japan was increasingly losing ground on the international scene, that local authorities once again embraced Islam as a key element of their anti-Western propaganda. In an attempt to identify their defence as a holy war, they added a religious flavour to the Pembela Tanah Air, (Peta, Army for the Defence of the Fatherland) by placing the Muslim crescent on its flag. They also allowed Masyumi to have its own armed wing.

Hizboellah was placed under the direction of Wahid Hasyim and was open to Indonesian Muslims between 17 and 25 years of age. Trainees came from all over the archipelago, and in February 1945 the first group of 500 started military and ideological training in Ciba- rusa, West Java, under the leadership of K.H. Zainul Arifin. Among the several ulama providing spiritual training was K.H. Moestafa Kamil from Singaparna, the above-mentioned Sarekat Islam leader.[2] In April 1945 Kartosuwiryo became a trainer for the Banten branch of the Barisan Pelopor; he was never a member of the Hizboellah.[3] It should not be a surprise that a leader of the Islamic nationalist movement became part of the cadre of the secular Pioneer Corps instead ofjoining Masyumi’s military wing. As mentioned, former PSII members had been effectively expelled from - or, perhaps more accurately, had never been included in - Masyumi, to the extent that politicized Islamic nationalists had infiltrated the Jawa Hokokai, gaining particular influence in Bandung and the Priangan area.[4]

Despite their mixed constituencies, their joint effort in preparing post-occupation institutions, their common goal of independence and their agreement over the need to protect Japan against the Allies, Masyumi appeared uninterested in Jawa Hokokai’s proposal to merge the two organizations. The Muslim party was aware that it would have meant the loss of its autonomy as well as of its leverage in securing a role for Islam in the future state of Indonesia.

  • [1] Benda, The crescent and the rising sun, p. 173.
  • [2] K.H.M. Hasyim Latief, LaskarHisbullah (Surabaya: Lajnah Ta’lif wan Nasyr PBNU, 1995), pp. 11-22.
  • [3] ‘Nama-nama kepala rombongan jang akan dikirimkan keloeroeh Syuu oentoek Hooshi-II’, Indonesia Merdeka, 25 April 1945, p. 6. Several scholars have argued that Kartosuwiryo was aHizboellah leader in West Java (ranging from Pinardi, Sekarmadji Maridjan, p. 29 to Merle C.Ricklefs, A history of modern Indonesia since c.1200, 3rd ed [Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001], p. 227),but I was unable to find any primary source supporting this statement. Hizboellah leaders inBandung were Aminuddin Hamzah, Kamran, Hoeseinsyah, Utarya, Gofur Ismail, Arustandi,Ahim, Samsudin Hamid, Mokhtar, H. Junaedi, Kadar Solihat, Zainal Abidin and Syahbandar;the Cimahi area was led by Umar Damiri and H Naswari; Kamran and Husainsyah coordinatedHizboellah across West Java. The West Java branch of the Sabilillah armed wing - a sister organization of Hizboellah - were instead established in February 1946, and among its leaders figuredIsa Ansyari, Ismail Napu, KH Joesoef Taoeziri, H Jaenuddin, Ajengan Toha and A. Mokhtar.Usman Jauhari, ‘Peranan Hizboellah-Sabilillah dalam perlawanan bersenjata terhadap Belandadi Jawa Barat pada masa revolusi fisik (1945-1959)’ (thesis, Universitas Padjajaran, Bandung,1987), pp. 34-5. The first group of Hizboellah fighters in West Java completed their training on20 May 1945 under the leadership of Kahar Mudhakkar, the future DI leader in South Sulawesi;‘Toendjoekkanlah kepada doenia, bahwa bangsa Indonesia adalah bangsa jang masih hidoep!’,Asia Raya, 22 May 1945, in Benda, The crescent and the rising sun, p. 140.
  • [4] Benda, The crescent and the rising sun, p. 266.
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