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The Indonesian Revolution

Muhammad Natsir


Born in Sumatra, Muhammad Natsir (Indonesia, 1908–1993) was among the first Indonesians to receive a European education. He combined this Western training with his Islamic beliefs to create a modernist interpretation of Islam, which he promoted as leader of the modernist wing of the Consultative Congress of Indonesian Muslims (the Masjumi party) during the 1940s and 1950s. 1 Howard M. Federspiel, Persatuan Islam: Islamic Reform in Twentieth Century Indonesia (Ithaca, N.Y.: Modern Indonesia Project, Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, 1970); Deliar Noer, The Modernist Muslim Movement in Indonesia, 1900–1942 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1973). After Indonesia regained its independence, Natsir rose to the prime ministership, serving for a year in 1950–1951. Thereafter, through his speeches and interviews, he “became identified as the champion of liberal parliamentary democracy.” 2 Peter Burns, Revelation and Revolution: Natsir and the Panca Sila (Townsville, Australia: Committee of South-East Asian Studies, James Cook University of North Queensland, Southeast Asian Monograph Series No. 9, 1981), p. 31. In the following essay from 1955, Natsir urges Muslims to accept the secular Indonesian state (analogous to the Kabir and Zafar essays in this volume). In 1958, Natsir appears to have abandoned these views, siding with an Islamic revolutionary movement in Sumatra, serving several years in prison, and emerging with far more rigid theological positions. The younger generation of Indonesian Islamic reformers, represented by Nurcholish Madjid in this volume, viewed Natsir as a recalcitrant member of the old guard. 3 Mark R. Woodward, “Natsir, Mohammad,” in John L. Esposito, editor, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), volume 3, pp. 239–240.

We fought for an [independent] state and initiated the Revolution on 17 August 1945. But it was not on 17 August 1945 that the struggle for freedom was begun.

The struggle, pitting political force against political force, between the people of Indonesia and the Dutch colonial government is more than nine years old. In a political sense, the struggle began in 1905 [actually 1911—Translator] with the establishment, by Haji Samanhudi [died 1956] and his friends, of the Sarekat Dagang Islam [Islamic Business Association]. The Sarekat Dagang Islam was followed in 1908 by Budi Utomo [High Endeavor Association].

In 1912 the Partai Sarekat Islam [Islamic Association Party] came into existence—the first-ever mass organization. That was the moment when we began to pit political strength against the imperialists by drawing on the political strength of the common people.

But really, with regard to the fight for Indonesian independence—or, at the very least, for selfdefense against subjugation—it had all begun much earlier than that. One may note down the name of heroes such as Sultan Hasanuddin [sultan of Gowa, 1653–1669], Teungku Cik de Tiro [religious scholar of Aceh, died 1890], Imam Bonjol [Sumatran revivalist, died circa 1837], Diponegoro [Javanese prince, died 1855], Sultan Hidayat [presumably Hidayatullah, sultan of Banjar, reigned 1860–1862], and others of the great inexhaustible spirit of selfsacrifice.

We know that, in some regions, it was only at the end of the 19th century, or the beginning of the 20th, that the arms of the imperialists were able to subdue popular resistance. In some parts of our homeland—such as Sulawesi, Sumatra and elsewhere —it seems that our people did not quickly lay down their weapons. They were conscious of their weakness with regard to weapons and material resources but they had weapons which were not material, weapons immaterial—as people would now say—that is to say: the weapons of conviction and firmness of purpose in defending themselves against colonialism.

The Colonial Domination of Man over Man

With such weapons as were available, the people opposed the great and varied armament of the colonialists. Their non-material strength lay in their conviction of God's instruction: that they should hold themselves accursed if they were to let themselves be subjugated. Such beliefs as these are rooted in their very flesh and blood. Truly, there is no possible reconciliation between religious faith and colonial domination. The spirit of faith is a spirit opposed to tyranny, “to the exploitation of man by man,” as people say these days. They would feel as though they had not fulfilled the divine command, as though their religion was not yet perfected were they to allow themselves, or their folk, to be exploited by other groups or races. And that was as it ought to have been, for the religion they confessed numbered among its most important teachings, this, that one should oppose every case of the exploitation of man by man in any form whatever.

In its essence the teaching of Islam constitutes a revolution in opposing and wiping out every form of exploitation. Whether the exploitation bears the name of capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, Communism or Fascism—that's a question left to whoever wishes to be concerned with nomenclature. Such then is the spirit of freedom alive and burning in the minds of the Muslims of Indonesia. For centuries this spirit has been the source of strength for our people and it was this spirit too which built up and up and impelled us to proclaim, in the year of 1945, the independence of the Republic of Indonesia.

The Meekest Nation

The world, on hearing the Proclamation [of Indonesian independence], was astounded and amazed because all of a sudden, our nation took a form other than what had been portrayed from the beginning. [The Dutch] had given the Indonesian people the title “het zachtste volk der aarde” (the softest people in the world)—gentle of spirit in the sense of willing compliance and being content under the rule of the acknowledged masters. But this most gentle folk now, suddenly, has undergone a metamorphosis, a radical change.

If formerly they might have been likened to sheep or goats which only follow, now, suddenly they became like tigers showing such courage and extraordinary valor that they have astounded men in foreign lands. Then there occurred events such as those in Surabaya, Semarang, Bandung and elsewhere through the length and breadth of the Indonesian archipelago. It seemed as though our people had buried deep in their souls a treasury of velour which, at its appointed time, was to burst out. In a condition of utter lack and without arms to oppose the allied armies which were bringing back the Dutch, it was that non-material weapon which rose among the Indonesian people. Raised by the leaders and men at the forefront of the Revolution, it touched a chord in the hearts of the multitude by means of a spiritual call which has often reverberated in the ears of that multitude.

The Call “Allah-u-akbar” (God Is Great)

We heard the call and the cry on the radio to marshal the hidden energy. Millions of our people, men and women, old and young still recall the appeal of Bung Tomo [Sutomo, revolutionary leader, 1920–1983] through Radio Surabaya [in 1946]. He summoned the theologians, the religious teachers, through the whole of Indonesia with the call “Allah-u-akbar.” We greatly value it, that there should have been a young hero such as Bung Tomo. It was not just that he appeared bravely at the front leading the struggle, but also that he knew what many people don’t often know: that is, he knew where lay the key of strength in this nation of ours. He opened the lock on the hearts of the multitude with the words “Allah-uakbar.” He knew where to find friends. He also knew who were the friends who could rouse up energy and stir it to a high pitch. He sought those friends among the spiritual guides, whose names are never seen in newspapers and never inserted in the lists of leaders of political parties. He sought out spiritual guides—the ones called ‘ulama’ and kiayi—in the villages. He called and cried aloud, saying: Let us together open the lock to the hearts and minds of the people with the words “Allah-u-akbar.” And in that way all the energy desired seethed up and flooded over in abundance. So it was too with material requirements.

The young pemuda [freedom fighters], there being that summons which held the key to their hearts, without hesitation constituted themselves as defensive forces, as barriers to protect their homes and villages, to fortify their homes and villages from the bullets of the enemy. Many of them fell as heroes, knights and martyrs. The women folk too did not want to be left behind; not even the very old were content to sit at home. For that, they received neither wage nor salary; nor were they ordered to go. The only orders they received came from their own hearts, which had responded to the cry “Allah-u-akbar.”

Holy Sign

That holy call became a sign for those who gave the call. It was clear to them that there was a motivating force among the Indonesian people which could marshal energy to confront disasters coming from the outside. And this was no mere motivation which could stir and unite people to crush an enemy who wanted to oppress; it was also capable of drawing out energy and power on a large scale such that, if one were skilled enough to direct it, it could build and give content to this nation of ours. Every leader is fortunate who is aware of this, and who knows also how to use this great force. And, on the other hand, sad is the fate of the state if its leaders have not the skill to use this potential, so that it explodes and becomes incendiary, or remains completely unexploited. At present we are searching for the way, and we have these questions to answer:

• What meaning do we wish to give our nation state?

• How do we give meaning to Independence?

Such questions we must answer, in the interests of future generations, the young men and women who will replace us.

The Great Task

We face a great task and duty in the story of our people. Our nation is writing its history in the setting of world history.

We must answer the questions above together. Giving meaning to Independence: for us this is an action within the framework of expressing thanks and gratitude. We return thanks to God who, in such a short time (namely, just five years) favored us with such a mighty achievement in the form of our own, independent, Indonesia. This Republic of Indonesia of which we have taken possession is, we feel convinced, the gift of God for which we must thank Him.

There is much lacking in this republic of ours. Many are its shortcomings. There is much which we find unsatisfactory. However, with all its blemishes clinging to it, we must accept the Republic with feelings of gratitude and of benediction. For the faithful of Islam the expression of gratitude for a blessing is an obligation.

But it must be borne in mind that expressing thanks for divine favor is not merely being glad and joyful while releasing every instinct for pleasure and luxury. Expressing thanks for divine favor entails acceptance with consciousness of the way things are with all their potential weaknesses and strengths latent within them. Receiving with the intention of making improvements. Improving that which is still not good, strengthening that which is not strong, while making whole that which is still imperfect. That's what it means to express thanks for divine favor. And it's definitely not a matter of rejection, or of using scorched-earth policies, after having seen the many blemishes in what you hold in your hands.

Disgruntled people—those who, having received, feel a sense of deprivation—they are not the ones who know how to express thanks. There is but one teaching, one guide—to which we adhere—namely the word of God, the gist of which is:

If you know how to show gratitude, I shall multiply many times what you have received. But, if you are thankless, unappreciative and unable to value it, spending your time in complaint and rejecting all of it because it is not enough, know then that my punishment is bitter punishment indeed. (Qur'an, Sura 14, Verse 7)

We do not wish to become ungrateful reprobates. Such is the Republic of Indonesia we received, come let us nurture it, strengthen it and cultivate it from within with every good basis for healthy growth hereafter.

Because of that, answering the question, “What is the best way we can improve and perfect the blessing we have received?” is not so difficult for the faithful of Islam. We have been blessed with a homeland of such fertile earth and such good climate. Neither very hot nor very cold. It does not rain in flooding torrents as it does it in other tropical regions. Its heat is not a blazing, burning heat, which dries up and makes the fields of grass into fields of stone and sand. Our nation is a very prosperous land and abounds in natural wealth. Meanwhile, if we contemplate its human resources—again the praise is to the Lord—we would not be shamed, were we to be compared with the peoples of other nations. Our nation has a high culture. The culture referred to does not mean only the fruits of intellectual cleverness; it also refers to fine character and disposition which is pervaded by its internal basis of tasamuh (indulgence, forbearance), a basis of tolerance, people say nowadays. Discord and violent controversy are not one of our qualities.


In other nations—as in India for example—religious problems between the Hindus and Islam often cause discord and difficult troublesome problems leading to fights and large-scale bloodshed never knowing peace. In our country, things are not like that. This is a positive benefit; something most glorious in the ranks of our people.

The wealth of natural resources remained comparatively undeveloped by the imperialists during those hundreds of years. It's just some few percent which they took at the end. There is not yet here any large-scale industrialization as there is in the West. Industrialization of a revolutionary kind, which shakes the structure of society, has not yet built up to anything very disturbing in our society.

Feudalism, which distinguished the status of one group from that of another, was not something which reigned unchecked in our homeland. Our people possessed a quality which lived deeply rooted in their very bones, to wit: the quality to which we often refer as gotong-royong [mutual aid]. The conflict between what they call capitalism and the proletariat in our country has not—all praise to God—become basic, as has happened in Western nations since mid-way through last century.

In brief, it can be said we have a homeland still clear of the seeds of that which is capable of causing upset. This is something fresh and new which we want to develop. This is the base of our development. One might even say that a nation possessing the qualities and the geographical and sociological situation which Indonesia has, with a populace of between 75 to 80 million, is a state possessing special gifts, capable of making its own road into the future, consonant with the environment and the climate and the humanity of Indonesia itself.

Our Own Method

There would be no point were we to go looking for methods which may or may not work well in other countries. There would be no point in our adopting wholesale all those other systems and methods. We can look for our own methods and systems, in accord with our material and our talents, in accord with the mentality of the great part of our people.

For us of the Muslim community, we are permitted to experience it just as it was instilled into his disciples by our Master, the Prophet Muhammad—may the Lord bless him and give him peace—thirteen and a half centuries ago. They also staged a great revolution to raise a very weak community into one of high degree, one which had great capacities. It was, to wit, a saying of the Prophet that, when we recall it today, gets right to the point. The occasion of his utterance was the joyful return of the people from the battles that had culminated in victory; they were glad and rejoicing because they had finally accomplished a difficult task with brilliant results. Said he: “We have just come back from a minor battle, from the lesser struggle” (raja’na mina jihadi’l-asgar)—even though that struggle had resulted in the shedding of blood and the loss of life, even though it had been murderous and utterly destructive. Yet in spite of this, he spoke of it as a small-scale battle, a minor battle—jihad asgar. And he went on to say, the community would confront another phase in the development of the revolution, called the jihad akbar, the greater struggle, greater than anything before, in which there would no sound of swords—nor of rifles—in which there would be no killing and being killed, no incendiarism, but which nevertheless would be more difficult than the holy struggles of the past. The struggle—the jihadu’n-nafs—would be a struggle to develop one's own personality, to build up the identity of the Community, building up national strength and capabilities. This holy struggle would be more difficult than the struggle or battle with just the one slogan: “Kill the enemy—as many as possible.” This battle of the self (jihadu’n-nafs) is a struggle needing an organized plan, perseverance and a farseeing view, constant and enduring patience. Such a holy battle, the struggle to build up personal identity, and the Community, is a long-term struggle, a difficult struggle for those who seriously and earnestly want to carry it through!

It does not seem wrong to compare our struggle at this time to what our Master, the Prophet Muhammad—may the Lord bless him and give him peace—meant by the phrase of jihad akbar (the greater struggle).

In this regard we give thanks that we have guides in how to build up personality and how to build up society.

The Prophet Muhammad as a Revolutionary Leader

Muhammad—may the Lord bless him and give him peace—was a revolutionary leader. One of the elements of his revolution was the abolition of every form of the exploitation of man by man and the elimination of poverty and misery, as people put it these days.

Every teaching of Islam is, both in content and direction, concerned with the abolition of the exploitation of man by man and the elimination of poverty.

He said: “Poverty and misery are next to godlessness.” So poverty and misery are not to be let loose to rage unchecked around us, as they lead mankind into a state of rebellion against God. Good men may fall from grace, if poverty and misery reign unchecked. If character is not to deteriorate, if demoralization is to be checked, one method of curing it is wipe out poverty and misery. In the practical instruction given by Islam, every single one of us must use his own strengths and powers to increase and multiply production, to increase output so that we can elevate the quality of life of mankind and can mete out, in an orderly and fair way, the riches and the necessary goods. Why, zakat [obligatory Islamic tax] is only a small part of the system, and so too is sadaqa [voluntary charity]. Nonetheless, rampant misery and poverty can be abolished just by zakat and sadaqa, provided that they are administered in an orderly way.

Freedom from Poverty, Suffering, and Oppression

The whole system put forward as a way of life by Muhammad—the Lord bless him and give him peace—is clear and explicit in its broad outline. That is, it is to create a society which lives in harmony. We, as the community of Islam, are not permitted to allow ourselves to accept poverty and misery. We have been commanded not to forget our fate here on earth. We have been told to use anything and everything about us, by deploying the forces of nature, things of metal, the products of the oceans, and so on to facilitate the harmony of life. God provided all of that for mankind. And all of that can elevate the life of man, so that it becomes a life of harmony and brilliance and man can feel the blessings of divine favor.

The System of Production

According to the teaching of Islam, capital, or wealth, should not be accumulated without bringing about an increase in production. Gold and silver are not to be stored up just to be looked at and counted over repeatedly; they should be put into the wheels of production, invested in the productive process to increase happiness and the common welfare. God has pronounced His threat to men who accumulate unproductive property, namely on those called yaknizuna’dh-dhahab, that is: people who store up unproductive gold and silver to no useful purpose (Sura 9, Verse 34).

Wealth must not be static; it must be put into circulation so that the unemployed get work and the level of production can meet the needs of society. Or, in other words: while capital must be made productive, it is desirable that the employers or those who command capital should not be motivated exclusively by the profit motive but should give great weight to development and the needs of the community.

Basic Human Rights

In the search for the good life and the well-ordered community, philosophers and sociologists as well as freedom fighters from all over the world have come to an agreement framed in a charter named “[The Universal Declaration of] Basic Human Rights.” The United Nations has a separate section for drawing up what they call basic rights for mankind. Nearly all the free nations of the world have recognized those basic rights as a conceptual basis to be made into a foundation for the development both of nations and of essential human nature.

Those basic human rights include, among other things, the rights to free speech and the free expression of opinion, the freedom to profess a religion, the right to a decent standard of living, the right to strike when this is necessary—yes, all sorts of rights. The charter of basic human rights is so arranged as to remind men that there should be no person under the exploitation of other men. It reminds each person, himself, that he should refuse to be used as a tool by other men. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

But it is not clear what these basic human rights have achieved. It has not yet been absorbed into the consciousness of each individual exactly what is his right, what is not his right, so that among the communities of the human race, those basic rights have yet to be fully realized.

Man is instructed to fight for his rights. He must strive to attain his rights. Those who hold those rights will not just acquiesce to be taken over by him to whom the rights properly belong: he will defend that which he believes belongs to him. As a consequence of this being-aware-of-rights and that not-yieldingof-rights there is a clash between the holders and the entitled.

Organized labor says: “We have the right, you refuse to concede it; we shall use the strike weapon.” The employers say: “No, we want to see how strong you are. We are not going to concede even the slightest part of those rights without a struggle!”

And so a fight ensues with rights won and lost, and from the seizing of rights there arises a kind of system usually dubbed, these days, as “the struggle for life”—a snatching of life based on claim and counter claim, the consequence of which is that the strongest emerge on top while the weakest goes to the wall.

In western nations, it is this “struggle for life” outlook which holds sway at the moment, the search for life—even though other people might be crushed in the process.

But, we may ask, is that indeed the only road by which to achieve life and social welfare? The teaching of Islam, in confronting this vexed problem, holds a different outlook. Without in any way diminishing the necessity for each individual to know what his rights are, Islam first and foremost teaches that it is not a matter of “What are my rights?” but, for a Muslim, “What are the obligations which I have to fulfill?” . . .

The basis of the Islamic approach to this problem has already been laid down by the great Prophet Muhammad himself—may the Lord bless him and give him peace—when he said, “No man has perfect faith who does not love his brother (man) as he loves himself.” It is on this basis that Islam holds the opinion that the employers’ group and the workers’ group do not constitute two classes each representing particular exclusive interests that conflict with each other and cannot be brought together. Islam considers both employer and worker as factors of industry each having his function, responsibility and share, each of the same importance in the process of producing the commodities which society needs. . . .

The Islamic way of settling problems on the basis of mutual affection and mutual understanding and respect for the interests of the other party is the best way. That is without increasing hatred and enmity as is entailed by the concept of class conflict, which does nothing to reduce the possibility of the new danger in the tyranny of the trade unions. With the achievement of harmonious relations between employers and workers, organizations will change in nature and they will function as executive bodies which care for and elevate the degree of mutual understanding between management and the workers themselves. Thus, they will no longer represent two class heroes which in mutual confrontation are already under the power of mutual suspicion and mutual distrust! . . .

Such is the essential teaching of Islam in bringing groups closer together, one stratum with other strata in society. It makes obligation the point of emphasis, that is what each one, individually, has to carry out.

Hence Islam teaches two kinds of obligation, namely fardu ‘ain and fardu kifaya. Fardu ‘ain is individual duty, the duty of the individual towards his God. This cannot be passed on to someone else, just as worship, the fast and the pilgrimage cannot be contracted out wholesale to other people. Next to fardu ‘ain there is fardu kifaya which must be carried out for one's fellow men, for society. Each individual must perform his fardu kifaya for the community. These two fardu or duties may not be ignored. Should one be withdrawn, all that remains is 50 percent: it is not whole. In this second type there are included what people now speak of as the social, the economic, and the political. Call it economic, call it political, call it social: it's all actually [embraced] within Islam.

Values of Religion

Religion and the profession of religion in Islam have such a close connection to humane values that the estimation of a man's religious profession is based on what he does and how he does it to fulfill his responsibilities towards humanity. There are warnings in the Qur'an for the man who makes an insincere pretense of religion—called “one who makes a lie of his religion”—even though he bobs up and down [in fake prayer] five times in each 24 hours and fasts through the whole month of Ramadan. He will yet be known as the man who made a lie of his religion if he will not cast the slightest glance to the side to alleviate the plight of the orphans, the poor and destitute. “Do you know who it is who made his religion into a lie?”—so runs the rhetorical question in the Qur'an, which it then goes on to explain and answer itself, namely: “people who do not care for orphans, who do not protect the poor, those who let misery flourish, who feel quite content living to themselves, who give not the slightest regard to beggars.” Those are the people who make a lie of their religion. Such is the teaching of the Qur'an (Sura 107, Verses 1–4)].

The values of the individual and the worth of his religious profession are measured by the attitude he adopts with regard to the community. If we wish to be constructive, we must strive to bring about a society which, structurally, has the qualities of tasamuh [tolerance] and gotong-royong [mutual aid]. The spirit of gotong-royong internally is a fertilizer for the fulfillment of fardu kifaya. There is no longer any doubt that such a system fits exactly with the mentality of the Indonesian people. In this Indonesia of ours there is no chance that any system based on the conflict of group with group or class with class will emerge. The system which meshes with the Indonesian national mentality is harmony of life as a fixture, but there is gotong-royong as well. Such is the teaching brought by the Great Leader of the Revolution, the Prophet Muhammad—may the Lord bless him and give him peace.


[The Prophet] brought a teaching for the abolition of what is called ta‘assub or what people often refer to by the term “fanaticism” (although the expression fanaticism is not an exact translation of ta‘assub). But let's use the word fanaticism meaning fanaticism in the broadest sense. Fanaticism in ideas, fanaticism in defending one's race and kin group. In this connection I had better put something forward, because often people assume that Islam is opposed to the very existence of races or nations—in short, they say, Islam repudiates the existence of race, as though those who have embraced Islam have lost their nationhood altogether. Such is not the truth. We can be dutiful Muslims while, at the same time, we sing with joy “Indonesia, my native land” [the Indonesian national anthem]. How are we going to lose our “Indonesianness” seeing that it was God Himself who made us into distinct races and nations such as can be seen at present, all over the surface of the earth. We must be able to be happy and to rejoice in showing to the outside world that this is how we, the people of Indonesia, are: this is our language, this is our culture, this is our hand-drawn batik fabric, these are our vital statistics, such are our carvings, such is our music, and so on.

There's nothing wrong in all that. We are even ordered to make our cultural contribution to the culture of the world at large. As a nation we are a member of the larger family of nations.

There is no need for the Muslim to have to strip himself of his nationality and culture. In the teaching of Islam, it is said that humanity has been made in different groups: different nations and different races. Even their languages vary. This is fitra, or “natural,” as people say nowadays. The end of the verse says li’t-ta‘arafu: so that you might become mutually acquainted the one with the other. How boring it would be were we to see all the people of this world of no more than one skin color. If white, then all white; if black, then all black! In that case, in pursuit of variety—wanting to taste it—we might fly to the moon or to the stars in search of other people.

Equality of Rights

Therefore, the natural condition or the effective law of God in effect among humankind will stay that way. But let us not feel, just because we have white skins, that we are, at once, superior to the nation whose skin has the color of the sawo fruit so that we feel we have acquired the basic right to take them under our imperial protection. Or, should we by chance have sawo-colored skins, let us not feel ourselves to be superior to people with black skins. That kind of thing is not healthy nationalism. That has evolved into racial conceit, racial arrogance, xenophobia. Such a concept of nationalism is indeed forbidden by Islam. Islam is a system which does away with racial fanaticism, narrow chauvinism—that which Westerners nowadays call racism. That way of thought, which Islam prohibits, is, according to our religious scholars (faqih), ‘asabiya jahiliya.

I want to say, once again, that, far from wanting to wipe out nations and nationhood, Islam has set down the bases for prosperous life on both the national and ethnic levels—on the basis of mutual respect, mutual acquaintance, give and take. If we are the Indonesian nation, take pride, if it pleases, in being Indonesian! But, beware, let us not slide into narrow chauvinism, headed in the direction of fascism or totalitarianism.

Do not rest assured that fascism or totalitarianism (or the rest) will not be able to grow in this our nation. It could quite easily grow. Fascism and the like constitute a mode of thought independent of whether skin color be white or black or ripe sawo, etc. We must be careful that fascism and the like do not grow in this democratic nation of ours which holds to the sovereignty of Almighty God. This is the responsibility of every Muslim.

Racism Is a Monstrous Disease

Racism is acknowledged to be one of the sources of the sicknesses of the world, giving rise to war after war. Chauvinism gives rise to forms of racism which are more dangerous for society, as for example the rise of fascist and totalitarian thought and other examples of the same sort of thing. [Adolf] Hitler [German Nazi leader, 1889–1945] said that the “Herrenvolk” was the master race; the rest were mixed races which could not be left to live their own lives; they needed the domination of the master race.

All of that evolves from ‘asabiya jahiliya.

For those groups who would be happier listening to, or would be quicker to accept, what we are propounding here if it were written in a foreign-language publication—say English—I would like to introduce them to a professor named [Arnold Joseph] Toynbee [1889–1975], one of the most excellent English historians of the present time. He writes in his book, Civilization on Trial, as follows: “The world at present has two diseases for which men have yet to discover the cure. They are racism and alcohol.” In a full and frank analysis, Toynbee declares that racism and alcohol are sources of the world's commotion. Toynbee goes on to say: “If there is one system which can smash racism and the problem of alcohol, it is Islam alone.”

Toynbee is not a Muslim; he is a Christian. As a scientist he looks at facts as facts. He simply analyzes one state of affairs after another. Such were the words of Toynbee, speaking frankly and honestly.

Bibliography references:

2. Peter Burns, Revelation and Revolution: Natsir and the Panca Sila (Townsville, Australia: Committee of South-East Asian Studies, James Cook University of North Queensland, Southeast Asian Monograph Series No. 9, 1981), p. 31.

3. Mark R. Woodward, “Natsir, Mohammad,” in John L. Esposito, editor, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), volume 3, pp. 239–240.


1. Howard M. Federspiel, Persatuan Islam: Islamic Reform in Twentieth Century Indonesia (Ithaca, N.Y.: Modern Indonesia Project, Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, 1970); Deliar Noer, The Modernist Muslim Movement in Indonesia, 1900–1942 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1973).

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