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Imagining the Islamic state (November 1947-January 1948)

The first step in the formation of an Islamic resistance organization and an Islamic army in West Java - later to be known as Darul Islam, Tentara Islam Indonesia and Negara Islam Indonesia - was probably taken in late 1947, when Kartosuwiryo, as vice-president of Masyumi for West Java, called for a conference to re-organize the party’s constituency.[1] Masyumi’s membership in the province was divided into five regional branches - Priangan, Banten, Jakarta, Bogor and Cirebon -, each sub-divided into provincial and village- level branches (cabangand anak cabang, respectively). The cabang- Garut was at the centre of the party’s initial transformation in the region, a fact made clear when it changed its name into Majelis (or Dewan) Pertahanan Oemmat Islam (MPOI/DPOI, or Islamic Community’s Defence Council).

In order to integrate different constituents into a single body, the party’s multiple armed wings, including Sabilillah, Hizboel- lah, Gerakan Pemoeda Islam Indonesia (GPII, Indonesia’s Muslim Youth Movement) and other youth groups, were merged into a single army, the Tentara Islam Indonesia.[2] Around the same time, Kartosuwiryo and his aides added a new article to the party’s programme to further stress the adjustments necessary under their current state of war and struggle, namely, that they had the duty to ‘defend [the territory] from the attacks of the Royal Army’.[3] Though the TII had become a reality both on paper and as a military body for Kartosuwiryo and his lieutenants, soldiers themselves had not yet been organized around a comprehensive strategy.

In accordance with the Renville Agreement, TNI troops were ordered to evacuate West Java by the end of February 1948. In the weeks between the signing of the agreement and the beginning of the withdrawal, Republican and Islamic soldiers often clashed. Tensions were inflamed by a number of factors, including the troops’ different attitudes to combat and their scarcity of weapons, as already discussed. Islamic soldiers accused TNI soldiers of ‘sitting around’, waiting to withdraw without engaging in battle, and of not making good use of their rifles, whilst the Sabilillah and Hizboellah militias were exposing themselves to harm even without the appropriate equipment.[4]

Feeling the need to optimize their efforts and limit the clashes within the anti-Dutch front, Hizboellah, Sabilillah, Masyumi and TNI chiefs agreed to a meeting that would be mediated by local civilian authorities in Majalengka, which in early 1948 was the hub of military activities in the Priangan. The meeting did not achieve the intended goal of creating a unified army, but the participants at least recognized the need for coordinated action.

On the one hand, Islamic militias formally complained about the inertia of Republican soldiers and requested that other irregular militia groups be incorporated into their own ranks, rather than into the TNI’s. On the other hand, TNI commanders diplomatically suggested that their units should simply withdraw to Yogya- karta and surrender the defence of Majalengka to Hizboellah, as having ‘two armies in one state’ only created friction. Eventually, the parties agreed to arrange another meeting, in which higher officials would participate. TNI was to be represented by Lt. Col. Abimandju and Col. Hidayat (second-in-command of the Siliwangi Division), Masyumi by Kartosuwiryo, and the militias by Kamran (chief of West Java Sabilillah troops stationed in Bantarujeg, south of Majalengka).[5] The prominent place given to them in this meeting confirms Kartosuwiryo’s and Kamran’s leading roles in the province.

It is interesting to note that the source refers to Masyumi and Sabilillah instead of MOI or TII, suggesting the possibility that until February-March 1948 Sabilillah and Hizboellah may have been coordinating their activities under the command of the MPOI/ DPOI, and that the Darul Islam/Tentara Islam Indonesia ‘proper’ was only established in March 1948.

Even though sources on the second meeting are scattered, evidence suggests that it was held in Cinta, a village under Mount Talagabodas (Sukawening), just before the Siliwangi soldiers’ withdrawal in late January 1948. This meeting saw the participation of Col. Hidayat, Major Utaryo, Kartosuwiryo and several civil servants from West Java. On this occasion, Kartosuwiryo expressed his opposition to the TNI’s retreat and suggested that they all wage a holy war against the Dutch. What is more, he requested that Siliwangi soldiers leave their weapons behind to be used by those who were ready to fight the Dutch, meaning the Islamic troops.[6]

These demands were rejected by the TNI, and by the beginning of February 1948, roughly 22,000 men - and their weapons - were already on their way to Yogyakarta under the command of Colonel Nasution.[7] Though Indonesian forces outnumbered them, the militias had by now made it clear that they did not intend to leave. Several thousand Hizboellah and Sabilillah militiamen remained in West Java, swelling the numbers of Kartosu- wiryo’s DI-TII.[8]

During the first week of February 1948, officials of the state of Pasoendan (Negara Jawa Barat) took steps to convince regional Masyumi leaders to surrender their weapons and join the state. The list included several popular and military leaders from Tasikmalaya, Garut and Ciamis, amongst whom were Kamran, Toha Arsjad, Joe- soef Taoeziri and Junaidi, but not Kartosuwiryo.[9]

  • [1] According to ‘Negara Islam’, Territoriaal Troepencommandant West Java, 12 June1948, APG no. 997, NA, this meeting took place in September 1947; according to‘Majelis Oemat Islam’, ‘C’ Divisie ‘7 December’, 12 August 1948, APG no. 997 NA,and Centrale Militaire Inlichtingendienst [hereafter CMI] Publication no. 91, 29 September 1948, AAS no. 3977, NA, this meeting instead took place in November 1947. The Islamic community of West Java was also being organized within the context of the creation of the state of Pasoendan (itself part of the scheme for a Republik Indonesia Serikat (RIS,Federal Republic of Indonesia), as in mid October the Islam Conference established the dewanagama (religious council) and dewan al-Islam (Islamic council), which included a mahkamaIslam,penghulu hakim, hakim nikah (Islamic court, Islamic judge. and marriage officer, respectively),and an educational division, thus covering all needs of the ummah. ‘Islamic conference of WestJava’, 26-29 November 1947, AAS no. 3405, NA; this was followed by a similar initiative in EastJava.
  • [2] As it will become evident below, other sources claimed that the Tentara Islam Indonesiawas created in February 1948. However, it is possible that already by late 1947 the coordinationefforts among Islamic militias in West Java had led to the formation of a unified army.
  • [3] ‘Majelis Oemat Islam’, ‘C’ Divisie ‘7 December’, 12 August 1948, APG no. 997 NA. Probablyit referred to the KNIL, but the report only talks of ‘Nederlandse Leger’ and ‘Tentara Kerad-jaan’.
  • [4] One such clash, for example, occurred in Sukasari (Maja); here two Hizboellah battalionsthat had arrived from Gegesik (Indramayu) in January were attacked by the TNI after theyhad been caught stealing weapons. ‘Perlutjutan sendjata terhadap TNI oleh Hizboellah, KantorPolisi Kabupaten Madjalengka’, 19 January 1948, KepNeg no. 565, ANRI.
  • [5] The mediating civilian figures were the mayor of Majalengka, the people’s representativeand the local chief of police. ‘Perlutjutan sendjata terhadap TNI oleh Hizboellah, Kantor PolisiKabupaten Madjalengka’, 19 January 1948, KepNeg no. 565, ANRI.
  • [6] Edi S. Ekadjati, Sejarah kebangkitan nasional daerah Jawa Barat (Jakarta: Proyek Penelitiandan Pencatatan Kebudayaan Daerah Jawa Barat, Pusat Penelitian Sejarah & Budaya, Departe-men Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, 1979), p. 207. The two requests mentioned above are alsosaid to having been put forward by Oni and Kartosuwiryo in January 1948; see ‘Tanggal2 bersed-jarah bagi gerombolan D.I’. [1952?], AABRI DI no. 14.
  • [7] Abdul Haris Nasution, Tentara Nasional Indonesia (Jakarta: Seruling Masa, 1968); Ricklefs,A history, p. 227.
  • [8] By the end of the year more than 50,000 men were in the rank and file of the TII. ‘CMIDoc. No. 5176, Documenten betreffende de “Daroel Islam"-beweging’, 21 December 1948, AASno. 2752, NA. Among them were Zainal Abidin’s group in Blubur Limbangan, Koernia’s inCicalengka, Enoks’s in Wanaraja (Garut), Oni’s in Mount Cupu, and Kamran’s on the borderbetween Majalengka and Tasikmalaya (Pagerageung area). Nasution, Tentara Nasional Indonesia,p. 125; Tanu Suherly, ‘Kekuatan gerilya di daerah Priangan pada waktu divisi Siliwangi hijrahtahun 1948’. Paper, Seminar Sejarah Nasional ke-3, Jakarta, 10-14 November 1981, p. 4. Thissecond source provides a detailed list of the various groups on pp. 4-10.
  • [9] ‘Onderhandelingen met Masjoemi’, 9 February 1948, AAS no. 2746.
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