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The physical isolation of West Java from Republican territories caused by the Dutch invasion in July 1947 laid the foundations for the region’s divergent political path to independence, a phenomenon further strengthened by the Renville Agreement. The increasingly ideological characterization of the antagonism between the Republic in Yogyakarta and West Java’s regional politics paralleled the polarization of troops on the ground. In the wake of previous Masyumi calls for holy war against the Dutch, in mid August 1947 Kartosuwiryo yet again invoked perang sabil for Muslims in West Java. This call was followed in late September by a national call for jihad fi-sabilillah proclaimed by the central branch of Masyumi.

Kartosuwiryo’s Perang sabil

Marking a dramatic change from his Haloean politik Islam speech, in Perang sabil Kartosuwiryo called upon ‘the ummat Islam that feels it a duty to establish a dar al-Islam and fully implement hukum Islam’ to rise up against all enemies of religion and the state, the Dutch (Fir’aun Belanda), its NICA employees and Indonesian spies.

Unity and cooperation were no longer under consideration, the secular nationalists were still entertaining diplomatic relations with the aggressive Dutch, and Republican elements were not quite friends and not quite foes. True ‘friends of the struggle’ were those who shared the goal of a national revolution aimed at establishing an Indonesian state free from colonial domination, regardless of their religious beliefs or political inclinations.

Kartosuwiryo affirmed his hopes that the Indonesian Republic would conform to Islamic ideology in order that it could be part of the dar al-Islam (or dunia Islam) in the form of an Islamic state implementing Islamic laws among its citizens, and thus ensuring their worldly and eternal salvation. Yet he was still open to the possibility that, following the revolution, national authority could be in the hands of other political groups that were representative of whichever ideology the population supported in larger numbers.[1]

Continuing to draw parallels with Muhammad’s struggle, Kartosuwiryo associated the Dutch with the Quraysh, Soekarno with the Banu Bakr tribe, and the Linggadjati Agreement with the treaty of Hudaibiyah (628 CE).[2] In such a framework, the breach of the Hudaibiyah treaty, Muhammad’s attack on Mecca and the ummah’s subsequent victory over the polytheistic Arab tribes became the key to interpreting the breach of Linggadjati as an opportunity that legitimized the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Islamic state. This Negara Islam Indonesia would result from the ummah’s commitment to taking up arms in a perang sabil, as jihad represented the ummah’s effort to build and defend its state and religion.

Recognizing the mixed origins of the term perang sabil, Karto- suwiryo underlined how the Indonesian word perang was attached to the Arabic sabil ‘path, way’ as the shortened version of fi-sabil- illah, ‘on the path of God’. This meant ‘a war for the defence of the sovereignty of the state, and the purity of religion, a war to fight any attempt to colonization from any nation in any way’. Per- ang sabil (thus meaning ‘war on the path (of God)’) or perang suci (‘holy war’, also bearing the connotation of ‘cleansing, purifying’) were identified as specific cases of jihad fi-sabilillah, for which all connected actions were to be pursued with trust in God (tawakkal Allah), and purity of heart and belief (i’tiqad).[3]

Although it is likely that on this occasion Kartosuwiryo acted on his personal initiative, soon afterwards the central board of Masyumi followed his lead. In late September 1947, former PSII commissar for sharia and ’ibada Kiyai Taoefiqoerachman declared the independence struggle a jihad fi-sabilillah obligatory for all Muslims. He went further, and, mirroring Kartosuwiryo’s definition of ‘friends of the struggle’, the kiyai argued that in addition to those future martyrs who were fighting ‘fi sabilillah’ to defend Islam, the nation and the territory, there were also those who did not seek the implementation of sharia, but desired to exhibit their bravery, were hot-tempered or simply sought external praise. Making references to Islamic traditions, the text argued that ‘whoever fights to enhance Islam fights on the path of God’, even if Islam is not their religion. Like Kartosuwiryo, Masyumi supported cooperation between Islamic fighters and unbelievers, as long as the latter did not cause harm to the former.[4]

  • [1] ‘Keterangan ringkas tentang Perang Sabil S.M. Kartosuwiryo’, Arsip Jogja Documenten1946-1948 [hereafter JogjaDoc] no. 243, ANRI.
  • [2] The treaty of Hudaibiyah was signed in 628 CE by Muhammad and the Quraysh tribe,from which Muhammad himself hailed. The treaty gave individuals and tribes the freedom tochoose whether to side with the Quraysh or the Muslims, and allowed Muslims to perform thepilgrimage to Mecca in safety. The following year, the Banu Bakr clan, an ally of the Quraysh,attacked members of the Khuza’a tribe, an ally of Muhammad. Following this breach of thetreaty, Muhammad gave the Quraysh three options, from which they chose to end the treaty,hence paving the way for Muhammad’s attack on Mecca.
  • [3] ‘Keterangan ringkas tentang Perang Sabil S.M. Kartosuwiryo’, JogjaDoc no. 243, ANRI.
  • [4] ‘Pengumuman ke-I Majelis Sjuro Pusat’ by Kyai H. Abdul Wahab and Kiyai Taufiqurach- man, 27 September 1947, JogjaDoc no. 243, ANRI.
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