By Pramono U.
September 11 2015
Among the many
resolutions of the recent 47th Muhammadiyah congress in Makassar, of particular
importance was the reassertion of its commitment to the national ideology, as
the organization inaugurated the Pancasila state as Dar Al ‘Ahd (nation
of consensus) and Dar al-Shahadah (land of dedication).
Though not mentioned
in the resolution, many understand the significance of declaring Muhammadiyah’s
stance, that this position is in contrast to that of extremist movements who
designate Indonesia as Dar el Harb — a land of war where violent jihad is
obligatory and in which civilian casualties, whether Muslim or not, are an
unfortunate but inevitable consequence.
agreed and urged leaders to further specify the details of this commitment and
how to disseminate it among schools and grassroots communities.
The resolution states
the stance is a “reassertion” of Muhammadiyah’s commitment, as the organization
has made similar declarations in several critical moments since its birth in
1912. First, during the bitter dispute among our founding fathers over the
basis of the newly independent Indonesia, ahead of its proclamation on Aug. 17,
Second, in the early
1980s when the Soeharto regime required all organizations to adopt Pancasila
into their statutes. Third, in the early 2000s when several Islamic political
parties proposed the adoption of Sharia into the Constitution during
Muhammadiyah has been
taking the stand that the unitary state based on Pancasila is the final,
enshrined form of the state. It is simply because Pancasila was a result of
consensus among our founding fathers, including Muhammadiyah figures, such as
Ki Bagus Hadikusumo, Kasman Singodimedjo and Kahar Muzakkir
concluded that Indonesia is neither suitable for an Islamic state, nor for a
secular state. The 1945 Constitution rejects the superiority of any religion
over the other. Muhammadiyah affirms that only Pancasila can appeal to the
various ethnic, regional and religious groups that comprise the nation.
contends that Islam, insofar as it enters politics, is a divisive element. This
is demonstrated by the frequent bitter tensions in Indonesian history resulting
from ideological rivalries among different political groups and interests.
We are fully aware
that the pluralistic nature of Indonesian society is not only a gift, but a
curse also — because each variant represents very different segments of the
population, from theological, socio-economic and political perspectives.
Potential dangers behind these differences will worsen when they are involved
either in political conflict or in ideological rivalry.
conflicts and rivalry have often paralyzed the political Islam movement,
notably in the 1950s, the 1970s and 1980s. The question is now whether it is
necessary for Indonesian Muslims to blatantly repeat such political demise by
affirming Islam as the state ideology.
states, however, that Indonesia is not suitable for a secular state in the
conventional sense of relegating religion to the private sphere, and enforcing
strict separation between religion and state. This refusal stems from the
awareness of the Muslim majority, that they should not limit themselves to the
nonpolitical realm. Such an objection also stems from adherence to the
doctrinal principle, that there is no clear separation between religion and
politics in Islam, as it governs all aspects of life.
It is the view of
Muhammadiyah that, as the majority population, Indonesian Muslims should fill
strategic posts not only in elective offices and government positions, but also
in policy making.
That is what democracy
precisely does. Therefore, what else do Indonesian Muslims want other than to
significantly influence Indonesian politics and society? Do they need to
further transform Indonesia into a theocratic state?
Muhammadiyah is also
fully aware that Pancasila has been frequently manipulated by different
regimes. First president Sukarno took pains to submerge those ideological
differences in the single jargon of Nasakom (nationalist, religious
[Islamic] and communist). Unfortunately, the new independent Indonesia could
not be simultaneously Marxist, Islamic and developmentalist, except in the mind
Then Soeharto sought
to construct a comprehensive ideological justification for authoritarian rule.
His regime abused Pancasila to stress social harmony. According to the “family
principle” (Asas Kekeluargaan), individuals and groups should
subordinate their interests to those of society as a whole. Since there was no
place for conflicting interests either within society or between society and
the state, political opposition was declared illegal.
have precisely shown that Pancasila is an open ideology — interpreted
differently by different groups for their own political causes. Indeed, there
is no single interpretation of Pancasila. At certain times under the banner of
democracy, the Pancasila doctrine has been ironically marshaled to oppose
pluralism, tolerance and democracy.
Given its openness
Pancasila provides an opportunity for Muslims to comprehend the ideology in
Islamic ways. Muhammadiyah sees much compatibility between the Pancasila
doctrine and Islamic values, such as deliberation (Musyawarah), moderation
(Tawasuth) and justice (‘Adalah).
Despite being a human
creation, Pancasila is not necessarily antithetical to the Koran’s divine
This is not a new
interpretation at all. However, the challenges and problems of recent years,
particularly the spread of transnational extremist ideologies, make Pancasila
its nationalistic commitment by declaring the Pancasila state as the land of
dedication (Dar Al-Syahadah) for all different groups. This country
provides a wide opportunity for all citizens to vie with one another in doing
good works (Fastabiq ul Khayrat), a valued deed in Islam.
As the majority
population, it is fair to say that Indonesian Muslims bear most responsibility
for this country, such as in regard to challenges like poverty and corruption.
The future of this nation, for better or worse is mostly up to the Muslim
Indonesia has not yet
arrived at its goals, as mentioned in the preamble to the 1945 Constitution.
Systemic corruption has hindered development; democratic transition has also
been clogged up; while tolerance has been blurred by extremist movements, to
name just a few challenges.
Amid all the misery
and disillusionment of the post-Soeharto years, as Indonesian citizens let us
demonstrate good sense and grace, even when political leaders have been showing
Pramono U. Tanthowi is secretary of Muhammadiyah’s
research and development council (2010-2015)