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Early reactions (March-May 1948)

Possibly because of the increasing presence of Islamic militias in the Priangan area, or possibly because of the geographic spread and high profile of its participants, the Cirebon gathering attracted the attention of the Dutch authority and the Republican police alike. As early as April, the Republican police and the Dutch reported on Masyumi’s new military configuration in the Ciamis, Mount Sawal and Mount Cupu areas and its relation to the Darul Islam/Tentara Islam Indonesia,[1] describing this new group as a puritan Islamic movement aimed at the establishment of an Islamic state.[2]

Reportedly, the March gathering was attended by branch leaders from Bandung, Sumedang, Tasikmalaya and Ciamis. The Cirebon regional branch of Masyumi decided to adhere to Kartosuwiryo’s transformation; Banten and Jakarta refused the offer, at least for the time being, while Bogor made it clear that it wanted to wait for the result of the Renville plebiscite.[3] The Plebiscite Movement demanded a popular consultation to determine whether Java, Madura and Sumatra would be part of the Yogyakarta Republic or would instead create their own states within the federal structure.

Even though they initially appeared to have lukewarm feelings about the idea, in May 1948 the Banten branch (which included some government representatives) issued intense public propaganda in support of the Darul Islam and against the Republican government,[4] and in August the head of the Majelis Islam in Bogor, Raden Mohammad Sapri, was arrested for forming a TII branch.[5]

In March the established ‘Islamic government’ was called Majelis Oemmat Islam, a variation on the Garut Islamic Community’s Defence Council, MPOI. In the previous months the MOI had been replicated across the region, forming a network of local ‘Islamic councils’ through which Islamic leaders coordinated the defence of West Java and formed an Islamic mass movement dedicated to creating an Islamic state.[6] Between early 1948 and the official proclamation of the Negara Islam Indonesia in August 1949, the MOIs functioned as party branches representing local headquarters of the Darul Islam and coordinating the activities of Masyumi, Sabilillah, Hizboellah and GPII across the island (mostly between West and Central Java).[7] Notably, in September 1948 the Republican police in Yogyakarta still considered these MOIs to be pro-Republican.[8]

Even though the MOI structure was not gathering much institutional support from Masyumi, the more general goal of creating an Islamic state was shared by a number of party leaders, who were also influenced by international events. When Israel, for example, was recognized as a state in Palestinian territory in May 1948, the Dutch government became concerned that the Palestinian question would become yet another piece of the Islamist puzzle in Indonesia, pushing Masyumi leaders towards further action. It is worth noting that the report explicitly singled out Soekiman, Kasman Singodimedjo, Abikoesno, Wondoamiseno, Agoes Salim, Aroedji Kartawinata, K. Ahmad Sanoesi and Kartosuwiryo as politicians who would be particularly sensitive to developments in the Middle East.[9] Indeed these events stirred much interest in Masyumi and Darul Islam circles.

At the 1948 Masyumi congress, held on 28 March in Madiun, Wali Alfatah (who would, in November, become vice-chairman of the Central Board) and Kiyai Ahmad Sanoesi (member of the National Majelis Sjoero) issued a joint declaration in favour of the creation of a dar-ul-Islam ‘as soon as possible’ in order to end the armed national revolution. The congress had gathered after the formation of the DI-TII, and the head of the NII’s information office in Tasikmalaya, Abdoelhadi Ibrahim, was present at the congress as Darul Islam’s representative. However, neither Wali Alfatah nor Kiyai Ahmad Sanoesi made any reference to Kartosuwiryo.[10]

Although they both argued in favour of an Islamic state, the speeches reflect the well-established difference between modernists’ and traditionalists’ strategic approaches to the creation of an Islamic state, as one focused on society and the other on institutions as primary engines of the transformation.

Sanoesi doubted that a dar-ul-Islam could be established in Indonesia because of the limited support enjoyed by Masyumi among peasants and labourers. Openly challenging Soekarno’s Pancasila philosophy, Sanoesi stated that Masyumi’s aim could only be achieved if the three fundamental elements of the state - the people, the government and the laws - were Islamic. On the other hand, Wali Alfatah expressed a more optimistic view of the future position of Islam in Indonesian politics, as he trusted that Soeki- man, as Minister of the Interior, would exert pressure on the civil servants to return to the occupied areas of the Republic and proclaim an Islamic state.[11] It is perhaps on these grounds that in April the Dutch suggested that Soekiman was the leader of the Darul Islam.[12]

The Pasoendan State, as noted above, had been trying to co-opt regional Masyumi leaders into their Negara Jawa Barat project, in February 1948. The president of this state, R.A.A. Wiranatakoeso- ema, had demonstrated an interest in realizing an Islamic political option for independent Indonesia as early as March 1947, and in April 1948 he participated in the formation of the MPOI in Bandung, for which he had shown open support. As the Islamic national movement in West Java assumed structural shape and increased its territorial control (see below), Kartosuwiryo decided to approach Wiranatakoesoema to suggest that they engage in a common struggle to ensure that WestJava’s independence would be established in Islamic terms. When directly contacted by Kartosuwiryo in August 1948 and by the Tentara Islam Indonesia in late February 1949, however, Wiranatakoesoema appeared reluctant to cooperate.[13]

Aside from these political reactions to the re-structuring of Masyumi, another key player in the success of the Darul Islam was the local population. Local villagers in the Priangan openly endorsed Islamic militias’ activities and supported them in their struggle, to the point that TNI soldiers often complained about this favouritism.[14]

  • [1] ‘Beknopt Politiek-Politioneel Verslag van de regentschappen Bandoeng, Garoet, Tasik-malaja, Tjiamis, Soemedang, Cheribon, Koeningan, Indramajoe, Madjalengka, Poerwakarta,Soekaboemi, Tjiandjoer en Buitenzorg, over de maand Maart 1948’; and ‘Politiek-EconomischVerslag betreffende de Residentie Priangan over de maand Maart 1948’, 28 April 1948; both inAMK:RI no. 283, NA.
  • [2] ‘Politiek-Economisch Verslag’, 28 April 1948; and ‘Beknopt Politiek-Politioneel Verslag vande regentschappen Bandoeng, Garoet, Tasikmalaja, Tjiamis, Soemedang, Cheribon, Koeningan, Indramajoe, Madjalengka, Poerwakarta, Soekaboemi, Tjiandjoer en Buitenzorg, over demaand April 1948; both in AMK:RI no. 283, NA.
  • [3] ‘Majelis Oemat Islam’, ‘C’ Divisie ‘7 December’, 12 August 1948, APG no. 997 NA.
  • [4] ‘Extract uit D.O.B.I. n.631 dd 10/05/48 Nefis IV dd 9-5-48 Eval A.Z.’, APG no. 1000, NA.
  • [5] ‘Tentara Islam Indonesia’, 17 August 1948, APG no. 1002, NA.
  • [6] Qanun asasy Negara Islam Indonesia, AABRI DI no. 9.
  • [7] ‘Ontstaan en ontwikkeling der ‘Majelis Islam’, bezien uit militair standpunt’, TerritoriaalTroepencommandant West Java, 19 March 1949, APG no. 1002, NA.
  • [8] ‘Surat dari Jawatan Kepolisian Negara bagian PAM tentang skema dari partai-partai yangdalam perjuanganya menentukan sikap pro dan anti-pemerintah’, 9 September 1948, JogjaDocno. 233, ANRI.
  • [9] ‘Hr.TOL’ (untitled), 21 May 1948, APG no. 1005, NA.
  • [10] ‘Darul Islam di Djawa Barat’, Djawatan Kepolisian Negara Bagian PAM Yogyakarta, 23 July1948, JogjaDoc no. 203, ANRI, states that ‘the characteristics of the Darul Islam survive alsoamongst Masyumi circles in the Republican territory, as evidenced in the speeches of Wali Alfa-tah and Kjai A. Sanusi’. This is the first instance in which the DI-TII is ignored as a model byother Islamic leaders advocating for an Islamic state; the reasons for and consequences of thisattitude are further discussed in Chapter 6.
  • [11] ‘Kutipan Pidato2 pada tgl 28/3-’48 (Kongres Masjumi di Madiun) dari 1. Wali Alfatah 2. KASanoesi’, JogjaDoc no. 243, ANRI.
  • [12] ‘Daroel Islam’, 5 June 1948, APG no. 1002, NA.
  • [13] ‘CMI Signalement: de verhouding tussen Wali Negara van Pasoendan Wiranatakoesoemaen de Daroel-Islam’, March 1949, AAS no. 3979, NA. Interestingly, an earlier Dutch documentargued that Darul Islam troops were actively opposing the Negara Pasoendan project in favourof a state truly independent of Dutch influences; see ‘Beknopt Politiek-Politioneel Verslag vande regentschappen Bandoeng, Garoet, Tasikmalaja, Tjiamis, Soemedang, Cheribon, Koenin-gan, Indramajoe, Madjalengka, Poerwakarta, Soekaboemi, Tjiandjoer en Buitenzorg, over demaand April 1948’, AMK:RI no. 283, NA.
  • [14] ‘Tindjauan singkat tentang keadaan daerah Keresidenan Prijangan’, 31 March 1948,KepNeg no. 495, ANRI.
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