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Home arrow Religion arrow Islam and the making of the nation: Kartosuwiryo and Political Islam in 20th Century Indonesia

Reconciliation: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer

The campaign that for decades had condemned Kartosuwiryo and his movement as anti-Republican and anti-national came to a halt in the early 1980s. The denunciation of Kartosuwiryo was first softened and then suspended. When it was replaced years later, it was with a new critique that distinguished between the means and the goals of the struggle, bearing witness to Suharto’s attempted reconciliation with Islamic groups in the late 1980s and mid 1990s.

Before this new wave of critiques, however, in 1983 Suharto announced the asas tunggal policy, according to which all organizations and parties had to affirm their foundation in the Pancasila. Whilst this policy was intended to eradicate Islam from politics - NU, for example, refused to abide by this principle and withdrew from politics - its unintended outcome was that now religion could no longer be confined to one party (the PPP), and religiously informed politicians could now spread their influence across the political stage. Several Nahdatul Ulama leaders lent their support to Golkar during the electoral campaign of 1987, and the PPP lost more than 10% of its votes.[1]

The 1980s were marked by three important phenomena: the religious revival, the secularists’ increasing interest in democratic reforms and the military’s mild opposition to Suharto. During this time, Suharto began to see conservative Muslims as suitable new allies, and the New Order changed its attitude towards Islam.

The tension between the ideological and violent aspects of the Darul Islam are probably best represented in the ABRI museum Waspada Purbawisesa, the Museum of Eternal Vigilance. This museum was opened in Jakarta in November 1987 by Suharto, with the objective of ‘presenting] some of the historical facts surrounding the cruelty of DI-TII terrorism’ and with the intention of ‘building and placing on a solid foundation the nation’s determination to preserve the Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution’.[2] The museum exhibits charts, maps, pictures, archival documents, miniatures and memorabilia laid out in such a manner as to establish an intelligible framework for the TNI operations against the Darul Islam across the archipelago.

Katharine McGregor has claimed, in her History in uniform, that ‘a visitor to the Museum of Eternal Vigilance is provided with only one motive for the Darul Islam rebellions: the establishment of an Islamic state’.[3] However, as a visitor I did not have the same impression, and the group’s religious motivations do not appear as evident as its violent means. Within a few years after the museum’s opening, the story was to change. Despite there being very little evidence to indicate the Darul Islam’s dedication to the Islamic cause, the guide to the building, published in the mid 1990s, describes Kartosuwiryo as having been committed to the Islamic state since 1938 and contextualizes the Darul Islam’s actions within the framework of the Islamic political cause and the anti-colonial struggle.[4] I suggest that this change, which in the long term helped the elaboration of alternative, positive visions of the movement, was the result of the state’s new relation with Islam. By the early 1990s, Suharto had relaxed limitations to public displays of religion and had strengthened his own Islamic credentials. The regime allowed headscarves and increased the offering of religious subjects in state schools, widened the powers of Islamic courts and recognized the Palestinian Authority. The presidential family went on hajj and supported the opening of the first Islamic bank. Catholic officers were replaced by ‘Green Generals’, more sympathetic towards Islam. Also, the conservative Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim Indonesia (ICMI, Association of Muslim Intellectuals) was established.[5]

Yet an underground rapprochement had already started as early as the 1960s. Under the cover of New Order repression, political Islam had come to represent the new enemy, but as the autocratic regime required a careful balancing of forces, the secret services orchestrated occasional releases of pressure. This great scheme of co-optation was doomed to fail, as former members of the Darul Islam were not prepared to be played as puppets and sought instead to take advantage of the movement’s guided reorganization to reconnect with each other and regain their strength.

The Darul Islam had been officially disbanded in 1962, when the movement’s top leaders signed a Joint Proclamation (Ikrar Bers- ama) acknowledging that they had been ‘wrong and misguided’ and affirming their allegiance to the Republic. Yet the quashing of the rebellion and the curbing of the Islamic state dream did not imply the total disappearance of the movement. In the 1960s the army made occasional use of its militias, as was the case during the alleged coup of 30 September 1965, for example, when former Darul Islam members in West Java and northern Sumatra were given weapons to attack suspected communists. In the words of a Darul Islam veteran, ‘Between 1962 and 1968, the Islamic state of Indonesia was buried by the worldly facilities that the enemy provided’.[6]

As Suharto was consolidating his newly acquired power, the disbanded Islamic Army offered an appealing pool of unofficial military supporters, especially as their collaboration was granted on the expectation that Islam would substitute communism as the new ideological ally of the state.

In the early 1970s the New Order continued to press forward with its co-optation policies, and the Badan Koordinasi Intelijen Negara (BAKIN, National Intelligence Coordination Body), under Ali Moertopo’s guidance, became involved in the reconstruction of the NII leadership. In 1973 Daud Beureueh was made a military commander, and the following year he became imam. Yet once the movement’s resurrection had been secured, tensions were quick to emerge. Daud Beureueh’s policy of ‘diplomacy and consolidation’ caused the first split in 1976, when Gaos Taufik - a former Hizboellah and Darul Islam member from Garut - deemed the times ripe to re-open a jihad front and created Komando Jihad as a jihadist re-embodiment of Kartosuwiryo’s group. Moertopo’s creation had released itself from the tight embrace of the government: at the end of the decade power struggles fragmented the organization, and Adah Djaelani - a first-generation fighter from West Java who had been co-opted by BAKIN in the early 1960s - bypassed Daud Beureueh and rose to the position of imam. He then reinstated Kartosuwiryo’s sons and original associates back into the dewan imamah.[7]

The fragmentation of this new Darul Islam did not lead to the fading of its activities, but rather to their proliferation. By the late 1970s Komando Jihad had expanded its operations to Sumatra and Flores, leading the police to crack down on the entire organization between 1979 and 1982. Adah Djaelani was also arrested, and by 1986-87 it had become clear that the movement could not proceed without an acting imam. The election of Masduki transformed yet again the outlook of the Darul Islam, most importantly by fostering the development of its international connections. In the changed context of the mid 1980s, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and Abdullah Sung- kar often travelled to Afghanistan and the Middle East. The goal of an Islamic state of Indonesia evolved into that of a transnational caliphate.[8]

In the years that followed, this jihadist soul of the Darul Islam alienated the sympathies of those committed to the socio-reli?gious advancement of the ummah, including the usroh movement, inspired by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. This jihadist faction eventually became the Jemaah Islamiyah in 1993. The Darul Islam movement was, overall, rarely weakened by these splits, as it was able to absorb their impact by multiplying and differentiating its strategies and priorities. It gave birth to the cell-based usroh movement, the institutional Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia and the international jihadist Jemaah Islamiyah: in the words of a Darul Islam member, ‘The Darul Islam is a house with many rooms, enough for all the factions’.[9]

In late November 1997, seventeen activists were arrested in Solo on the heels of a number of other arrests in West and Central Java. During the raid, the police reportedly found only one book, and it was about Kartosuwiryo and his struggle. Interviewed on the issue, a commentator declared: ‘This NII that we have now cannot be separated from the first NII.’[10]

What has kept these various factions under a single roof is Kar- tosuwiryo’s project of establishing a Negara Islam Indonesia. The deep desire to revive Kartosuwiryo’s memory and goals has led to his public re-interpretation as hero and model in the post-Suharto era.

  • [1] Hefner, Civil Islam, pp. 167-8. PPP went down from 27.8% in 1982 to 16% in 1987
  • [2] Museum Waspada Purbawisesa, Museum Waspada Purbawisesa: Bukupanduan. 3rd ed. (Jakarta:Markas Besar Angkatan Bersenjata RI, Pusat Sejarah dan Tradisi ABRI, 1997 [1995]), p. iii.
  • [3] Katharine E. McGregor, History in uniform: Military ideology and the construction of Indonesia'spast (Singapore: NUS Press, 2007).
  • [4] Museum Waspada Purbawisesa, p. 2.
  • [5] Schwarz, A nation in waiting, p. 175.
  • [6] Jones, ‘Recycling militants’, pp. 2-3.
  • [7] Jones, ‘Recycling militants’, p. 22.
  • [8] Jones, ‘Recycling militants’, pp. 2-3. For more details on Darul Islam’s re-embodiments inthe 1970s-90s, see Quinton Temby, ‘Imagining an Islamic state in Indonesia’, Indonesia 89 (April2010): pp. 1-36.
  • [9] Darul Islam members’ saying in Jones, ‘Recycling militants’, p. 31.
  • [10] Panji Masyarakat, ‘Impian para pendukung Kartosuwirjo’, 24 November 1997, pp. 16-8.
 
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