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Kartosuwiryo’s Haloean politik Islam

The Dutch invasion ofJava in July 1947 transformed the Priangan into a theatre for total warfare and would push Kartosuwiryo to abandon formal politics. But in mid 1946 he was still participating in the political process in the rank and file of Masyumi, upholding the party’s commitment to parliamentary struggle, cooperation and unity. Kartosuwiryo’s continuing dedication to the cause was best expressed in a speech he delivered in July 1946 in Garut, later printed by the Dewan Penerangan Masyumi Daerah Priangan (Pri- angan regional Masyumi Information Office).[1]

After considering the differences between Western and Islamic politics, the pamphlet then focuses on the strategy the ummah should follow to ensure the attainment of God’s will on earth (the dar al-Islam) and in the afterlife (the dar al-salam) in the specific historical context of Indonesia’s struggle for independence. Following a line of thought he had first set out in the late 1920s, Kartosuwiryo insisted that Islam was equally concerned with worldly and eternal salvation, and that only through the establishment of a dar al-Islam could Muslims be guaranteed salvation and admission to the dar al-salam.

The political efforts of the Indonesian ummah were aimed at the establishment of an Indonesian republic based on Islam, in which the government guaranteed the implementation of sharia law in its widest and most complete formulation. Grounding the government in sharia law would allow Indonesia’s Muslims to pursue their obligations and would guarantee all Indonesians their freedom from slavery.

Compared with the ideas contained in Kartosuwiryo’s writings through the 1920s-1930s, there is nothing new in his describing active participation in the effort to free Indonesia from foreign imperialists as a ‘religious duty’. Surely, though, some change in attitude is detectable, as he now encouraged the formation of a unitary front, and supported the parliamentary avenue towards establishing an Islamic state. Conscious of the fact that so many skilled political parties were angling for primacy in the race to control the national government of the soon-to-be independent state, Kartosuwiryo argued that constructive cooperation was the only defence Indonesia had against civil war. Kartosuwiryo realized that the ummah would have much competition in this race, and that it was certainly possible that communism, socialism or nationalism would win. As such, the ummah should strive to build a new world in full conformity with the Qur’an - a dunia Islam or dar al-Islam. He heavily condemned fanaticism, as it ‘easily threatens the unity of the nation (persatuan bangsa) and the success of the struggle, causing splits and betrayals unwished for at a time when all citizens ought to feel compelled to join in the National Revolution’.

Kartosuwiryo preached the necessity of having ‘ideology’ to work hand in hand with ‘reality’. For Kartosuwiryo, ‘ideology’ dictated the goals of the effort, while ‘reality’ determined its means in accordance with the current time and society:

An ideologically driven fighter never stops in his effort to reach and achieve his ideal, maybe once he will appear as running back, jumping right or left, flying west or east because the conditions and reality of society do not allow for anything else, but [...] in his eyes and heart he never left his ideology.[2]

In this understanding, the national revolution was a struggle that had to begin inside individual persons before it could move to broader communal and societal contexts on the road to national independence; this was true for Kartosuwiryo, whether the revolution were to be pursued by diplomacy or by weapons. No portion of Indonesia’s population was relieved from its duty and responsibility to defend the country and build national sovereignty. But the task that rested solely on the Muslims was the social revolution: a struggle aimed at deconstructing colonialism from within society, thereby effecting a change on the ummah itself. The broader social revolution, however, could only be carried out by those who had already succeeded in the revolution at the individual level and who had fully conformed their souls to Islam.

To Kartosuwiryo, both the national and social revolutions - now explicitly defined as al-jihad al-asghar and al-jihad al-akbar, respectively - were necessary to eradicate colonialism by acting on external (state and government) and internal (citizens’ souls) objects of foreign domination. As stated above, modernists and traditionalists developed different strategies to achieve an Islamic state, and Kartosuwiryo concluded that in the current context it would be inappropriate to adhere to dogmatic divisions between social and national revolutions. He suggested instead that the revolutions should be pursued at the same time. Because ensuring de facto and de jure independence was an urgent goal, Kartosuwiryo argued that initially a stronger emphasis was to be placed on the national struggle: the ummah would concentrate its efforts on supporting the physical revolution, while delegating the social revolution to the Islamic leadership. Only once the foreign oppressor had left and Indonesia was free would the rest of the population be involved at the social level.

After independence, the establishment of an Indonesian state based on Islam could be achieved in either a top-down or a bottom- up fashion, depending on the ummah’s level of representation in, and influence on, national governing bodies. In the first scenario, even though the executive bodies were not dominated by Muslims, those involved in the legislature would have the duty to comply with Islamic regulations, and thus would advance the formalization of an Islamic government. Because of this possible discrepancy between the legislative and the executive bodies, Kartosuwiryo argued in favour of conducting military and political courses for the ummah to ensure a high level of awareness and education at the grassroots level. He also invoked unity and cooperation between ulama and intellectuals, as the former knew the sharia and the latter the rules of government.

In case this attempt to coordinate hukum, hakim and mahkum (law, judge and sentence) at the national level failed, Kartosuwiryo advanced an alternative strategy: the ummah, still responsible for the implementation of Islamic law at the personal level, would create its own daral-Islam (note the similarity with the 1938 MIAI speech). Seen as part and parcel of the individual revolution, the involvement of the ummah in legal matters was the first step towards an Islamic social revolution, also called an Islamic people’s revolution. It is this social dimension of the ummah’s organization and mobilization that Kartosuwiryo had in mind when he established the Darul Islam in 1948.

  • [1] Kartosuwiryo, Haloean politik Islam (Garut: Dewan Penerangan Masjoemi, 1946).
  • [2] Kartosuwiryo, Haloeanpolitik Islam, p. 12.
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