COMBINING ACTIVISM AND INTELLECTUALISM: THE BIOGRAPHY OF MOHAMMAD NATSIR (1908-1993)
Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim,
Mohammad Natsir adalah salah satu tokoh Islam Indonesia terkemuka di abad ke XX. Sosoknya tidak saja dikenal oleh masyarakat Indonesia, tetapi juga oleh masyarakat dunia, lebih khusus lagi di dunia Islam. Sepanjang hidupnya, Natsir aktif terlibat dalam pelbagai gerakan, baik yang bersifat sosial, politik, keilmuan, maupun keagamaan. Khususnya dalam bidang politik-keagamaan, Natsir sudah mulai aktif sejak masa remaja. Keberhasilan karir politiknya di antaranya ditandai dengan terpilihnya Natsir menjadi Ketua Umum Partai Masjumi, anggota KNIP, anggota Parlemen dan Konstituante, Menteri Penerangan, dan Perdana Menteri Republik Indonesia. Dalam gerakan keagamaan, Natsir juga mencatat prestasi yang luar biasa. Pada tingkat nasional, misalnya, Natsir memegang pelbagai jabatan penting dalam organisasi-organisasi keagamaan. Dia juga adalah pendiri dan sekaligus ketua Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia yang dipegang sampai akhir hayatnya. Sementara pada tingkat internasional, Natsir pernah memegang jabatan sebagai anggota Majlis Ta’sisi Rabithah al-Alam al-Islami yang berkedudukan di Saudi Arabia, dan sampai akhir hayatnya memegang jabatan sebagai Wakil Presiden Mu’tamar al-Alam al-Islami yang berkedudukan di Pakistan. Semua ini hanyalah sedikit dari sekian banyak prestasi yang diukir oleh Natsir semasa hidupnya.
Meskipun sosok keislamannya begitu menonjol, Natsir tidak pernah mendapatkan pendidikan Islam secara formal. Sebagaimana layaknya anak-anak Minangkabau waktu itu, Natsir juga hidup dalam suasana keagamaan dan adat yang begitu kental. Dia memang pernah sekolah di H.I.S (Hollands Inlandsche School) Adabiyah, namun kemudian pindah ke H.I.S yang dikelola oleh pemerintah Hindia Belanda. Setamat Sekolah Dasar ini, Natsir melanjutkan ke MULO, setingkat SMP, di Padang.
Natsir tampaknya tidak tertarik dan ditinggalkannya kesempatan emas ini. Dia justru lebih tertarik untuk langsung bekerja dengan masyarakat. Maka dia putuskan untuk menjadi guru dan mendirikan lembaga pendidikan. Pada zaman pendudukan Jepang, Natsir secara formal memimpin Biro Pendidikan dan Pengajaran Kotapraja Bandung. Dia juga menjadi salah satu pendiri dan sekretaris STI (Sekolah Tinggi Islam) di Jakarta. Perguruan Tinggi ini merupakan benih awal dari Perguruan Tinggi Islam lain yang kemudian berdiri pada zaman kemerdekaan.
Natsir juga aktifdalam pergerakanpergerakan lainnya, baik sebelum maupun sesudah kemerdekaan. la pernah mengemban tugas sebagai ketua Partai Islam Indonesia (PH) cabang Bandung. Setelah partai ini dibubarkan, Natsir masuk sebagai salah satu tokoh utama Partai Masjumi, di mana dia memegang jabatan ketua selama sepuluh tahun. Pada saat konflik politiknya dengan Sukarno memuncak, Natsir turut pula aktif terlibat dalam gerakan Pemerintah Revolusioner Republik Indonesia (PRRI) di Sumatera. Pada masa Orde Baru, setelah rehabilitasi Masjumi tidak dikabulkan oleh pemerintah, Natsir memilih aktif dalam gerakan dakwah. Menurutnya, “kita bukan lagi berdakwah dengan politik, tetapi kita berpolitik dengan dakwah”.
Selain sebagai aktivis handal, Natsir juga merupakan sosok intelek-tualyang disegani. Malalui pergaulannya dengan Ahmad Hassan, Agus Salim, dan tokoh-tokoh lain, Natsir sudah mulai terlibat perdebatan intelektual sejak masa remaja. Natsir menulis banyak artikel dalam bidang politik, sosial, agama, maupun filsafat. Dia pun menjadi salah satu perumus utama tentang hubungan antara agama dan negara di Indonesia. Berbeda dari Muslim sekuler, Natsir tetap percaya bahwa Islam dapat menjadi dasar negara. Sementara itu, berbeda pula dari Muslim protagonis, Natsir juga percaya bahwa Islam tidak memiliki preferensi sistem politik tertentu. Islam hanya menyediakan prinsip-prinsip umum untuk diterapkan dalam sistem politik tertentu yang disesuaikan dengan situasi dan zamannya. Maka, Islam dan Pancasila tetap dapat berjalan seiring, karena kesatuan antara Islam dan Pancasila terjadipada tingkat ide.
Meskipun Natsir tergolong intelektual produktif, dia bukanlah sebuah sosok “intelektual murni”. Maka karya-karya Natsir juga tidak dapat dikategorikan sebagai karya “intelektual murni”. Kebanyakan karyanya lebih bersifat kompilatifdanfragmentaris. Hal ini dapat dipahami, karena tulisan-tulisan tersebut lebih merupakan hasil upaya Natsir menanggapi masalah-masalah aktual melalui cara pandang intelektual. Pada titik inilah Natsir menggabungkan antara aktivisme dan intelektualisme.
Tulisan yang saya hadirkan di blog ini adalah adalah tulisan lama yang saya buat pada tahun 1995. Beberapa teman meminta saya menulis tema yang sama dalam rangka memperingati Seratus Tahun Mohammad Natsir pada tanggal 17 Juli 2008 nanti. Sayang, kesibukan saya akhir-akhir ini agak luar biasa, sehingga saya tidak sempat melakukan riset untuk menulis tentang biografi politik dan pemikiran Natsir. Karena itu, yang dapat saya lakukan ialah mempublikasikan kembali tulisan yang pernah diterbitkan dalam Bahasa Inggis oleh Jurnal Studia Islamika Vol. II Number 1, 1995 itu, semoga ada manfaatnya bagi siapa saja yang berminat untuk memahami biografi dan pemikiran politik Mohammad Natsir. Bagi teman-teman yang ingin menyampaikan komentar, boleh menyampaikannya baik dalam Bahasa Inggris maupun dalam Bahasa Indonesia.
Mohammad Natsir is one of the most prominent Indonesian activists and intellectual figures in the twentieth century. His name is widely known, not only in Indonesia, but also in the Muslim world in general. This article aims to assess his religious, social and political activities, as well as his intellectual contributions to solving real problems faced by Indonesian Muslims. Although not in detail, this article will also discuss Natsir’s participation in other parts of the Muslim world.
The following article is mainly concerned with the personality of Natsir within two Indonesian contexts: the colonial and the independent periods. Nevertheless, to some extent, this restriction will reach a generalization about the dynamic characteristic of the Islamic religious doctrines which wrestle with social transformation. This article proves that Indonesian Islam is dynamic because it is always involved in an on-going process of social change. Indeed, for its adherents, religion is not merely an eschatological belief. Definite and universal religious doctrines must not be ignorant in facing changes; they have to provide answers and make challenges. However, as the initial answer is given and the challenge is launched, new realities will generate new problems which in turn require new answers. Firstly, this article will describe Natsir’s activism first, to understand the historical setting of his intellectual character.
The Colonial Period
Mohammad Natsir, who holds the traditional title Datuk Sinaro Panjang, was born in Alahan Panjang, West Sumatra, 17 July 1908. He passed away in Jakarta on 6 February 1993, after having been in intensive care for some time. Although Natsir had always been active in Muslim movements, he never receive any formal Islamic education. During his childhood, he entered the H.I.S (Hollands Inlandsche School) Adabiyah, but later moved to a colonial government administered H.I.S. Having graduated from this primary school, Natsir entered MULO (secondary education) in Padang and then proceeded to AMS (Algemene Middelbare School) in Bandung, West Java where he studied language and classical European literature. He gained a first honors degree and therefore was entitled to a scholarship for his tertiary education, either at the Rechts Hooge School (Law High School) in Jakarta, or the Economische Hooge School (Economics High School) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.1
In fact, Natsir did not take up this opportunity. He preferred to work in the community as a teacher and setting up private Islamic schools, an unpromising profession in economic terms. Besides managing educational institutions, Natsir, together with A. Hassan, also administered the Pembela Islam andAl-Lisan magazines. Even though Natsir did not undertake a formal higher education, he committed himself to self-study. His fluency in European languages enabled him to discover European heritages in history, philosophy, literature, politics and Orientalism.2
Meanwhile, his knowledge of Arabic also enabled him to evaluate the classical and contemporary works of Muslim thinkers. During his youth, Natsir investigated various exegeses of the Qur’an and was particularly interested in the works of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim. He was familiar with the works of the 19th and 20th century modernist Muslims, such as Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida of the Middle East, as well as those of Sayyid Ahmad Khan, Shibli Nu’man and Syed Ameer Ali of South Asia.3 Although he was well-informed about their works, it cannot be concluded that Natsir was deeply influenced by these modernists. As Deliar Noer states, many Indonesian Muslim reformers, such as Agus Salim and Natsir, had good access for investigating Islam from its primary sources. Investigating people’s works functions as an attempt to broaden the insight of individual thought creation in providing answers for their own surrounding challenges.4
Apart from his formal and non-formal education, Natsir was also deeply influenced by his social surroundings and the people around him. During his childhood in the village, he was accustomed to live along the lines of the traditions and religion generally applied in the Minangkabau Muslim communities. At the same time, Natsir also witnessed religio-intellectual debates by local reformers challenging traditions. He also experienced the ideological debates between communism, nationalism and Islam, which swept the Minangkabau communities in the first decades of this century. The influence of his teacher, Engku Mudo Amin, one of the reformist ustadz (religious teachers) in Minangkabau, appeared to have a fairly deep impact on Natsir’s personality. Not surprisingly, after being in Java, he felt somewhat associated with reformist ’ulamas, such as Ahmad Soorkati —a Sudanese born ’ulama’ and a prominent figure of the modernist movement among Indonesian Arabs— and Ahmad Hassan, an ’ulama’ born in Singapore but of Tamil stock, who then resided in Bandung, West Java. At that time, Hassan was known as a radical ’ulama’, who was always polemical against ’ulamas holding different opinions.5 The influence of Hassan’s habit of polemicizing —he sometimes deliberately involved Natsir in open debates against ’ulama’ of different schools of thought— was obvious in Natsir’s intellectual career.
Agus Salim was also a figure who opened up Natsir’s intellectual insight. Salim was viewed by many foreign and Indonesian scholars as “the Father of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals.” He combined both intellectual and political activities. As with Hassan, Salim was also inclined towards debate and polemical methods. Nevertheless, if Hassan was known to be a hard-headed intellectual in holding certain ideas, and inclined to understand Islam from a legal point of view, Salim appeared to be more moderate.6 He was open-minded and appreciative of different ideas. As such Salim often published two different articles on the same topic, one with his own name and the other using initials only. The two articles would have different views about the same topic, so that readers did not recognize that the authors were one and the same person. According to Salim’s claims, he deliberately did this in order to teach people to appreciate different opinions. He hoped that by proposing different opinions society would learn about the impossibility of absolute truth. In short, there are many ways to solve a problem.
These personal tendencies of Hassan and Salim were also obvious in Natsir’s personality. He was also well-known for his inclination towards debate and polemics. However, he was able to distinguish between differences in opinion and personal relationships. Since his youth, for instance, Natsir had been involved in heated polemics with Sukarno. Yet, this did not hinder his personal relationship with him; in some instances, he was even able to make compromises and cooperate with the first Indonesian president. Although he did not want to make any compromises with communism, Natsir still made friends with PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) proponents, such as Sakirman and D.N. Aidit. This kind of personal relationship was also obvious in his friendship with Protestant and Catholic leaders, such as A.M. Tambunan and I.J. Kasimo. Yet, at the same time, Natsir was classified as a front-line opposition figure fighting against Christian missionaries in Indonesia.7
Natsir’s involvement in “political” movements began when he was studying in Bandung. In this city he was active as one of the leaders of Jong Islamieten Bond 0IB — the Association of Muslim Youth) and Persatuan Islam (Persis — the Unity of Islam). JIB was a youth organization, the members of which received Dutch colonial government administered “secular” education. This organization aimed to deepen its members’ understanding of Islam and encouraged them to be proud of being Muslims. As a cadre organization, JIB was active in conducting discussions and publishing magazines as well as journals.8 Many JIB activists, such as Kasman Singodimedjo, Mohammad Roem, Mohammad Sardjan, Jusuf Wibisono, Prawoto Mangkusasmito, Samsurizal, and others, later came to be prominent leaders at the time of independent Indonesia.
Persis, in which Natsir was active during his youth, was rather more a thought and purification movement than a social organization. Its social activities were very much conducted through the publication of religious books, brochures and magazines. These publications were widely distributed throughout Southeast Asian Malay societies. Dependent on the central figure of this organization, A. Hassan, many political as well as religious debates and polemics surfaced. One of the polemical issues in the 1930s was the problem of the relationship between religion and nationalism. Persis gave special attention to this problem of “loving religion and nation.” Together with Hassan, for example, Natsir participated in an open debate with Muchtar Luthfie, the head of Persatuan Muslimin Indonesian (Permi — the Association of Indonesian Muslims), on the possibility of combining Islamic principles with nationalism.9 Therefore, even though Persis never directly participated in politics, it surely made a contribution to the ideological debates that built the basis of the Indonesian struggle for independence.
As a young Muslim proponent, Natsir also held a position in Majlis al-Islam A’la Indunisiya (MIAI). This organization was a federation of all Muslim socio-politico-religious organizations that existed at that time. It was a communication body for Muslim activists, as well as a forum for discussing real problems faced by Muslims and all Indonesians. Decisions made by MIAI were supposed to be implemented by the organization’s members. The discussions conducted by MIAI were not confined to local matters, but often pertained to the problems of Muslims around the world.10
Natsir’s full participation in the political arena started in 1940 when he was elected as the head of the Bandung branch of Partai Islam Indonesia (PII — the Indonesian Islamic Party).11 Even though he had a close relationship with the older generation of Sarekat Islam (SI -the Association of Islam), such as Salim, Tjokroaminoto and A.M. Sangaji, he never became a member of this organization, which later became PSII (the Indonesian Islamic Association Party), or even a member of Gerakan Penyadar (GP — the Movement of Conscience), which was headed by Salim himself and supported by young proponents, such as Roem, Sardjan and Soedjono Hardjosudiro. At this time, Natsir was 32 years of age. He possibly thought that it was high time to enter the political arena. He chose to join PII, a new party established by Dr. Sukiman Wirjosandjojo and other pioneers who had withdrawn from PSII. In fact, PII gained support from Muhammadiyah leaders, such as Kiyai Mas Mansur and Mohammad Rasjidi. Nevertheless, the presence of PII had not had done much for Islamic political movements in Indonesia. Two years after its establishment, in March 1942, this new party was banned as Japanese troops took over Indonesia from the Dutch colonial government.12
Natsir distanced himself from political involvement during the first months of Japanese occupation. At this time, the mayor of Bandung, Admadinata, who worked under the administration of the Japanese Military Governor in West Java, asked Natsir to head Biro Pendidikan dan Pengajaran Kotapraja Bandung (the Education and Teaching Bureau of Bandung). Based on his ten years experience in educational administration, Natsir agreed to this request. In his spare time, he led Majlis Islam Bandung (Bandung Islamic Council), which constituted a communication forum for ’ulamas, religious teachers and preachers in this city. This council also constituted a semi-official body for the Bandung ’ulama’ in relation to the Japanese Military Government, in which they could openly put forward pleas and wishes. During this period, Natsir’s educational activities were manifested in his major contribution to the Sekolah Tinggi Islam (STI — Islamic High School) located in Jakarta. This was the first tertiary education specializing in Islamic studies in the history of modern Indonesia, and it became the seed of other similar education in the era of independent Indonesia.13
Natsir was not recruited as a member of Dokutritsu Zyunbi Coosa-kai (BPUPKI — the Council for the Investigation of Indonesian Independence Preparation), which was created by the Japanese in the last months before their defeat by the Allied Forces. The task of this council was to formulate input to the establishment of independent Indonesia, which “one day” would be granted by the Japanese to the Indonesians. All 62 members of this council were installed by the Japanese colonial government at the request of Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta —two trust worthy figures in the eyes of the Japanese. The members of this council, such as Agus Salim, Sukiman, Masjkur, A. Kahar Muzakkir, Ki Bagus Hadikusumo and some other ’ulama’ generally came from the older generation. Young adversaries, such as Natsir — who was active in intellectual, political and ideological debates with other factions in the Dutch colonial era — were not represented in the BPUPKI. The significance of this council was even felt in following periods. Most of the bills formulated by this council were approved to become the official constitution of Indonesia i.e Undang-undang Dasar 1945 (the Constitution of 1945), which is still valid today.
The Independent Period
Natsir’s political activity in the independent era had ups and downs. He regarded this as normal. He argued that the political positions that he held were no more than a mandate to be fulfilled. His interest in the political arena was not motivated by personal interests, but a call of duty. As such Natsir was unpredictably elected as a member of Komite Nasional Indonesia Pusat (KNIP — the Central Indonesian National Committee) on 29 August 1945. He was active in making a breakthrough to defend Indonesian independence, which was still threatened by the Dutch who wanted to prolong their authority in Indonesia.16
After the KNIP’s reorganization, changing its function to Parle-men Sementara Republik Indonesia (Temporary Parliament of the Republic Indonesia), Natsir was elected as a member of the Badan Pekerja (Executive Committee) of this council. From the start of his leadership, he appeared to be a constitutionalist supporter who wanted law as the basis of the state authority. For this reason, in the meeting of Badan Pekerja of KNIP held in November 1945, Natsir criticized the government, which changed the state system, from presidential to parliamentary, and followed up with the appointment of Sjahrir as the first prime minister of the Republic of Indonesia. Natsir basically did not hold the opinion that a presidential system was superior to a parliamentary one, because, in his view, the system was only a matter of situational demand. He launched criticism on the way Vice-president Mohammad Hatta replaced the system by issuing Government Decision number X, 16 October 1945, which, according to Natsir, violated the constitution. Even though he opposed this procedure of replacement, he finally accepted it on the basis that this decision was seen as a state convention, the implementation of which was “acceptable” in the state administration.17
In order to mobilize political power among Muslim communities in facing post-independence realities, Natsir arose as one of the pioneers to take the initiative of creating an Islamic party in Indonesia. This party,whichwassetupinJakarta,eventuallycametoreality through long negotiations with political, social and religious proponents.18 The Kongres Umat Islam Indonesia (the Indonesian Muslim Congress) held in November 1945, in Yogyakarta, decided to establish Partai Politik Islam Indonesia (PPII) as the only Muslim party in this country. The term “Masjumi,” which had been popular since the Japanese occupation, was added to the name, so it became Partai Politik Islam Indonesia “Masjumi.”19 Natsir held a position in youth affairs at the beginning of this party. Four years later, he was elected as head of the party replacing Dr. Sukiman Wirjosandjojo. Natsir led the party for ten years until Prawoto Mangkusasmito replaced him in 1959. In his hands, Masjumi was the biggest political party in Indonesia, or can even be regarded as the biggest Muslim party in a Muslim country. During this era, Masjumi was only comparable to the Pakistan Muslim League under the leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan.
Based on his position as a member of Badan Pekerja of KNIP at the start of independence, he was then elected as the minister of information to Sjahrir’s second Cabinet January 1946.20 He was the longest standing minister holding this post during the time of revolution (1945-1949), a hard time with limited facilities. As the minister of information, he had to have good abilities in explaining the Indonesian position in negotiations with the Dutch, both those conducted in Indonesia and abroad. He sometime acted more than a minister of information in conducting this task. When Yogyakarta was invaded by the Dutch in the Military Aggression II, December 1948, just prior to his arrest by the Dutch, Natsir still made use of his limited opportunities to give instructions to the guerrilla fighters on how to proceed with the struggle, even though the president, vice-president and the majority of the ministers had been arrested by the Dutch troops.21
When Natsir held the position of minister of information, the communist (PKI) rebellion exploded in Madiun, East Java. Facing this situation, Natsir not only had to fight for the return of radio stations that fell into the hands of the rebels, but also had to seize a counter-attack against the propaganda actions of Front Demokrasi Rakyat (FDR — the People’s Democratic Front) led by Muso. Nevertheless, Natsir withdrew from his position as a result of his dispute about the release of the arrested President Sukarno, Vice-president Mohammad Hatta and other ministers after the Dutch Military Aggression in December 1948. Natsir did not agree with the initiative to negotiate between Mohammad Roem, acting on behalf of the “government” of the Republic of Indonesia, the leaders of which were still in the political asylum on Bangka island, and van Roijen, acting on behalf of the Dutch government, to reach a settlement on the conflict between the two nations. Natsir emphasized that the only valid government in the Republic of Indonesia was Pemerintah Darurat Republik Indonesia (PDRI — the Emergency Government of the Republic of Indonesia) led by Sjafruddin Prawiranegara and based in Sumatra. Due to these arrests, the government led by Sukarno-Hatta was regarded as “invalid”. Moreover, this government had granted a mandate to Sjafruddin to establish an Emergency Government in Sumatra.22
Although Natsir did not agree with the Roem-Roijen negotiations, which caused a heated debate between him and Roem in the 1949 Masjumi Congress in Yogyakarta (among its decisions was that to recover the Sukarno-Hatta government and to bring them back to Yogyakarta), he still participated in resolving problems on the implementation of the contents of the negotiation. He accepted Hatta’s request to meet Sjafruddin in order to negotiate the “return of the PDRI mandate” to Sukarno-Hatta.23 What on earth would happen had Sjafruddin not returned the mandate, because the government’s authority was de facto in his hands. The position of PDRI at that time was strong. It was the valid Indonesian government. Its position was approved by the Indonesian people, Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI — Indonesian National Army) and the United Nations.24
After the creation of Republik Indonesia Serikat (RIS — the Federation of Indonesian Republics), Natsir was given a mandate to form the government for the Republic of Indonesia, which was one of the 16 states in the federation. Even though he participated in creating the cabinet, he turned down the position of prime minister. His position as the head of Masjumi since December 1949 had caused him to move to Jakarta, while the capital city of the Republic of Indonesia was Yogyakarta.25 However, RIS did not exist for long. A couple of weeks later, some states declared themselves dissolved and handed over their authority to the federal government. This dissolvement was continued so that by mid of 1950 only three states remained: the Republic of Indonesia, Negara Sumatera Timur (East Sumatra State) and Negara Indonesia Timur (East Indonesia State). The Indonesian political climate became heated in the midst of attempts to resolve the problems of RIS: what was the future of this state?; what was the best way to dissolve RIS and rebuild a unitary state such as that proclaimed on independent day in 1945?
In response to the dissolvement of RIS, Natsir arrived with his well-known “mosi integral” (integral motion). According to him, the federal government had to hold three-way negotiations between the members of RIS to fuse their states into one unitary state of “the Republic of Indonesia”. This “fusion” resulted in the dissolvement of the federal states and the creation of the Republic of Indonesia. The term “the Republic of Indonesia” was utilized to put to one side the psychological burdens of its leaders, who had experienced the political situation of RIS. The motion gained support from the majority of parliamentary members, and was implemented by the federal government of RIS.26 Finally, it was possible to establish a unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia on 17 August 1950. To emphasize the significance of the motion, Natsir made several political approaches to all factions, including the communists. Finally, the dissolution of RIS could be conducted peacefully without any blood-shed.
In this new unitary republic, whose territory covered as large an area as the present day’s, minus Irian Jaya and East Timor, Natsir was appointed by Sukarno to form a cabinet for the Republic of Indonesia. His appointment may have been related to his integral motion, but it may also have been connected with Natsir’s position as the head of the Masjumi faction, which constituted the biggest faction in the Temporary Parliament of the Republic of Indonesia. In the formation of the cabinet, Natsir attempted to create a coalition with the second biggest faction in the parliament, Partai Nasional Indonesia (PNI — the Indonesian Nationalist Party), but this failed. Finally, he established a “zaken cabinet” with a flexible calculation on the majority of support going to the ministers in the cabinet. The pragmatic and flexible characteristic of the Natsir cabinet were manifested in the participation of various ideological and religious factions within it. He involved five Christian ministers i.e M.A. Pallupessy, Tandiono Manu, Herman Johannes, F. Harjadi and J. Leimena. The prominent Javanese mystic, Wongsonegoro, also held a ministerial post in this cabinet.27
Even though it was created with great difficulty, the cabinet lasted quite a short time. Natsir was only prime minister for seven months during 1950-1951. The break up of his cabinet coalition, due to his dispute with Sukarno about the problem of Irian Jaya, and severe opposition launched by the second biggest party in the parliament, PNI, which boycotted parliament assemblies in connection with their demand for the dissolution of representative bodies in the district areas, made him return the mandate to President Sukarno.28 He returned to become a member of the parliament, the head of the Masjumi faction, and then represented Masjumi in the Constituent Assembly of the Republic of Indonesian.
Leaving his position as prime minister, Natsir had greater opportunities to pay more attention to movements in the Muslim world. Together with A.R. Baswedan and Anwar Harjono, he made a goodwill trip to Middle Eastern countries, Pakistan, Turkey and Burma in 1952. In the following years, Natsir was active in supporting Muslim struggles in Tunisia, Algeria, Palestine, Pattani and Moro, either through diplomatic means or by raising funds for the purchase of weapons. For instance, he made an initiative to hold an international conference on Palestine in 1956. With his close colleague, Prime Minister Burhanuddin Harahap, Natsir also actively supported Tunku Abdurrahman in his struggle for Malaysian independence during 1956-1957.
The more Natsir was involved in the political arena in his home country, the more apparent became his conflict with Sukarno. The dispute mounted as Sukarno bluntly violated the constitution through the application of the guided democracy system, which, according to Natsir, led the government to a dictatorial system with the support of the communist faction. This situation, and also protracted rebellions in the interior of Indonesian, finally drove Natsir to withdraw from Jakarta.
His departure to Central Sumatra to join military dissidents in this area, was a personal decision without any discussion with his colleagues in Masjumi.29 He felt that he had tried all possible legal and parliamentary procedures to improve the situation, but still failed to get President Sukarno to respect the basic constitution and democracy. Meanwhile, he experienced terror from PKI youth cadres such that his personal security in Jakarta was in jeopardy. Even though he reported this problem to the security forces, nothing was done about this.30
Finally Natsir made a risky political maneuver: leaving Jakarta to join the dissidents. They demanded a political reconstruction at the central level, banning the communist party and maintaining the Indonesian constitution, which had been violated by President Sukarno. When their demands were not fulfilled, the dissidents proclaimed the creation of Pemerintah Revolusioner Republik Indonesia (PRRI — the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia) as a rival to the central government in Jakarta led by President Sukarno and Prime Minister Djuanda Kartawinata.
Natsir’s departure, later followed by Sjafruddin Prawiranegara and Burhanuddin Harahap, raised controversy among Masjumi proponents. Although his leaving was a personal choice, such a decision would generally bring particular consequences for Masjumi, since Natsir himself had not yet given up his mandate as the head of Masjumi. Pro and contra views about his attitude emerged in the Masjumi congress in 1959 in Yogyakarta. Most participants were basically able to understand Natsir’s principles in handling Sukarno’s attitudes.31 Nevertheless, the involvement of Natsir, Sjafruddin and Burhanuddin in PRKI, although formally they were no longer Masjumi leaders, was manipulated by Sukarno as one of the reasons to ban Masjumi in 1960, aside from the main reason that Masjumi was construed as a “contra-revolutionary” party.32 Sukarno had indeed banned Masjumi, but he did not fulfill all the requirements of banning procedure. Therefore, according to a legal view, Masjumi could not be categorized as “a forbidden party” as experienced by the PKI after its banning in 1966.
Natsir launched guerrilla movement in the Sumatran jungle to fight against the central government, which was regarded as dictatorial and pro-communist, over at least three years. Extensive military attacks against PRRI, which then changed its name to Republik Persatuan Indonesia, eventually weakened the position of the dissidents. Finally, Natsir and his collaborators “gave up” after the central government offered “public amnesty” to the dissidents. Nevertheless, shortly after his arrival in Jakarta, he was detained and “quarantined” in Batu, Malang (East Java) charged with various subversive practices that were never proven in the courts. He was only released in 1967, after Sukarno stepped down from his throne and was replaced by the New Order government led by General Suharto.33
After the fall of Sukarno and the banning of the communist party, some ex-Masjumi proponents attempted to rehabilitate their party. They had enough reasons to do so. Firstly, although Masjumi had been banned, it was not categorized as a forbidden party, but merely a victim of the application of the guided democracy system and the cunning attitude of PKI leaders. Secondly, Masjumi was the first party to openly oppose Sukarno and demand the banning of the PKI, long before the PKFs coup de ’etat in 1965, when all factions —which later on committed themselves to be anti-Sukarno and anti-communism— did not yet possess the moral courage to firmly and openly insist on their principles.34
However, their efforts to rehabilitate Masjumi failed. The new government, which was dominated by the military and wanted to build anewtypeofIndonesianpoliticalsystem,wereworriedthat Masjumi would be rehabilitated. Natsir was indeed widely quoted as being the strongest candidate of Masjumi, while he himself felt reluctant to get reinvolved in the political arena. Partai Muslimin Indonesia (Parmusi — the Indonesian Muslim Party) was finally created to accommodate Muslim political aspiration, which had “yet to be accommodated in the available Islamic political parties.”35 Although using the symbol of the crescent-star, the ex-Masjumi symbol, this party was not able to regain the old Masjumi image. At the same time, the Indonesian political format changed. As military intervention in the political atmosphere was intensifying through the application of the concept of the military’s “double function”, the role of Indonesian party politics became marginalized.
Natsir, who was wise enough to understand the political changes, did not have to be bothered with building political power through a party. As he often said, a party was a means and not an end. If it was demanded and this means could be effective, a party should be established. If not, it is better to find alternatives. According to Natsir, the most demanding effort in the New Order political format was to improve the da ’wah (Islamic call) in order to develop the potential of Muslims in the future. For him, da ’wah was a process of conscientation, which led to the broader aspects of social life, including politics. While joking he said that, after the banning of Masjumi, “we are no longer conducting da’wah by means of politics, but engaging in political activities by means of da’wah .The result will be the same.”36
In order to engage in politics by da ’wah, Natsir sponsored the establishment of Dewan Da’wah Islamiyah Indonesia (DDII — the Council of Indonesian Islamic Da’wah) in 1968. This council was not a corporate body of mass-based socio-religious institutions, but a foundation that was only legalized by notarial document. The council had representative bodies in Indonesian provincial cities and even at district levels. The leadership of this organization, whether at the central or branch levels, was mostly dominated by ex-Natsirist Masjumi activists, such as Rusyad Nurdin in West Java, Kiyai Misbach in East Java and Ki Abdul Rasyid Siddiq in South Sumatra. The moving of its head -quarterstoJalanKramatRaya45,Jakarta,whichwastheheadquarters of Masjumi, affirmed the impression that DDII was another form of Masjumi. This impression was not explicitly demonstrated by its activists.
Natsir headed this organization from its beginning until his death. The council implemented the mission which he insisted upon, of “engaging in politics by means of da’wah.” It actively supported the establishment of mosques on university campuses, conducting Jum ’ah prayer and da ’wah in government and private offices, da ’i training, nurturing resettled people, sending da ’i into isolated areas, discussing Indonesian Islam and publishing magazines. In Natsir’s hands, even though DDII was merely a foundation, this organization was admired and influential enough, not only among Muslims at the grass-roots level, but also among various Islamic socio-religious organizations. In some respects, this council still retained the image of the unification of “the members of the crescent-star.”37 In handling Muslim political interests, such as the Bill of Marriage, the Bill of National Education, the bill on Pancasila as the “single basis” or about Pancasila Moral Education, this council was powerful enough to mobilize solidarity and unite Muslim organizations in Indonesia. Also, due to Natsir’s leadership, the organization was able to build international networks with Muslim socio-religious organizations throughout the world.
Although at this time Natsir was a politician veteran, he could not free himself from politics in the fullest sense. He was personally still influential, both in Indonesia and in the Muslim world. His long uneasy relationship with the Suharto regime —which appeared unhappy with an Islamic political revival in Indonesia— did not hinder him in helping the government to solve various internal problems. He also utilized his personal influence to recover the relationship between Indonesia and Malaysia, which was damaged during Sukarno’s era, to strengthen the relationship between Indonesian and Middle Eastern countries, and to defend the Indonesian position on the problem of East Timor.38 His role in the latest problem, whether that which had in Karachi, Pakistan or at the Mu’tamar al-’Alam al-Islami (MAI — Muslim World Congress) in Cyprus, influenced the attitudes of Muslim countries, which had previously been inclined to be negative about Indonesia’s position in East Timor.39
Natsir’s involvement in the Group of Concern, then popularly named the Petition of 50, which aimed to put forward corrections of Suharto’s maneuver in erecting democracy and constitutionalism, hampered his activities, both inside and outside the country. Since the petition was proposed to parliament in 1980, the Suharto government has restricted the political rights of its signatories, including the freedom to travel abroad. This means Natsir was unable to travel to Muslim countries and participate in Islamic international assemblies, in which he held a number of positions. Up to his death he was still the vice-president of MAI based in Pakistan and a member of Majlis Ta’sisi of the Rabitah al-’Alam al-Islami located in Saudi Arabia. He also held a leadership position in some regional Muslim organizations.40
Although his room for movement was narrowed, Natsir’s leadership was still influential until his life ended. His home and office were never empty of guests, from worldwide, Muslim and non-Muslim organizations. He was asked for his opinion and advice in connection with the problems of Afghanistan, Cyprus, the Camp David negotiations, the autonomy of Palestine, the expulsion of Muslim ethnics in Burma, and the Bosnia crisis. Some non-Muslim governments, such as the Japanese, even informally asked for Natsir’s advice in handling international political issues.
This is Natsir who, throughout his life, proved himself to be a tough and genuine figure of political, social and religious movements. His age did not prevent him from being active in resolving the problems of Muslim societies. Only death stopped his activities. We leave, for a while, our discussion on the activism of Natsir and move onto the topic of his intellectual contributions to religious, social and political life.
Throughout his life, Natsir actively made speeches and prolifically wrote articles and essays on various social, political, religious, philosophical and scientific issues. However, this does not mean that he can be categorized as a “pure intellectual”, who are usually at a distance from direct involvement in social, religious and political movements. On the contrary, Natsir was a prominent activist, who directly participated in real events. Therefore, his works also cannot be classified as “purely intellectual”, resulting from the contemplation of an out-of-reach thinker. Instead these are the writings of an activist who used intellectual activities to resolve empirical problems. For this reason, Natsir’s published writings are rather characteristically compilative and fragmentary. He did not write a unified intellectual work focused on a certain theme, such as those written by other prominent Muslim intellectuals.Even though his writings are fragmentary, there is, however, an unbroken intellectual framework in his thought. This framework is his metaphysical thought about human beings, the universe and God.
He investigates this thought from the doctrine of tawhid (monotheism), which forms the basis of the whole of Islamic teachings. Allah is the central core of all existence. Allah has a plan for the history of mankind, society and the evolution of the universe. Human beings are the servants of Allah living temporarily in this world and carrying out certain tasks which have to be fulfilled. Therefore, life is a responsibility to be conducted on the basis of self-devotion towards Allah. Compulsory prayer and worship are intended to strengthen human consciousness about the meaning and the destination of life. Religion also provides a firm moral basis for human attitudes. What distinguishes an attitude as Islamic or not is whether it is based on the intention of obtaining Allah’s blessing and on the moral codes that determine the normative boundaries of human attitudes. These reququirement finally assume the compulsory status of decent deeds for
Natsir opines that, even though Islam is a universal religion, its implementation “should consider local and period situations.”42 Muslims should always be open-minded to new insights that could bring betterment for themselves. According to Natsir’s view, religion cannot be discerned rigidlyand literally, but should be comprehended elasticallyand flexibly. The function of religion, as is stated in the Qur’an, is as the “guide and distinguisher” for mankind in facing the challenges that emerge in every era. Although Muslims have to be open-minded, this does not mean that they have always to compromise with reality. There are limitations, towards which they are allowed to make compromises, and towards which they are not allowed to do so. According to Natsir, these limitations have become Allah’s unviolated decisions.43 Based on this frame of thought, we would like to investigate Natsir’s ideas which have been put forward in response to actual social issues.
The writings from 1930-1940
Natsir’s writings during 1930-1940 appear to have been intended to defend Islam. This is understandable, since the position of Islam at that time was under severe attack by the Christian missionaries, secular-nationalist intellectuals and Javanese mystic proponents. Natsir felt a responsibility to explain Islam proportionally by quoting its original sources. He felt there were too many misunderstandings of Islam and “manipulations” of Islamic teachings launched by factions which were not sympathetic to this religion. Within this context, for instance, we can understand the two articles first published in a Dutch newspaper entitled “Qur’an en Evangelie” and “Moehammad Als Profeet”. These two articles were written in reply to the criticism of Domingus Christoffel, a Protestant priest, of Islam and of the biography of Prophet Muhammad.44
After the publication of these articles, Natsir wrote many articles in response to the activity of Christian missionaries in Indonesia. He harshly criticized Christian evangelism, which was very intensive in Christianizing Indonesians and was supported by the Dutch colonial government. He viewed the colonial government as not acting consistently with its “neutral” policy, as written in the constitution of the Dutch Indies (Indische Staatsregeling), in its treatment of religions in Indonesia. On the one hand, the government, either directly or indirectly, supported Christian missionaries, while it also restricted Islamic da ’wab on the grounds of security and order. Almost no Islamic da’wah was free from the government secret police’s surveillance. Even though Muslims had to work hard, due to the lack of available finance, expertise and sound management, Natsir made an appeal for Muslim activists to intensify da ’wah, educational and social activities. In a metaphorical phrase, he saw Christian and Islamic missionaries, especially in education, as being like “an express train competing with a caravan horse,” because the first worked with an international network and supported by the government, while the latter ran on its own capacity. Natsir’s writings about Christian missionaries and Islamic da ’wah were then published as a book entitled Islam dan Kristen di Indonesia (Christianity and Islam in Indonesia), which was reprinted several times and distributed in the community.45 His opinions about Christian missionaries did not change all his life. He was well-informed that Christianity, as with Islam, is a missionary religion, which means that the adherents of this religion have to disseminate the teachings of their religion to all people in the world. However, the adherents of different religions also have the right to defend their faith from “intervention” by other religious adherents. He believed that Indonesian Muslims were still in a weak position after experiencing colonialism for a long period. The independence of Indonesia had not yet improved the social and economic status of Indonesian Muslims who constituted the majority of the population. Therefore, Natsir rejected the Christianization process, which was being evasive about social, educational, health and economic improvements, that was supported by missionary wealth accumulated during the time of colonialism and by abundant aid from Christian societies in the West.46
Moreover, the striking activities of Christian missionaries in Muslim communities might turn out to be a threat to national unity. Therefore, according to Natsir, if there were assassinations of missionaries, or even burning of churches, these were not “actions” from Muslim, but “reactions” against a mission that did not respect the religious sensitivity of Muslims. For this reason, he proposed formulating ethical codes on religious dissemination in Indonesia. He held the opinion of the government of Indonesian that the objects of religious dissemination were only to be communities of adherents of non-world religions. The Muslim faction agreed with this proposal that was formulated at an inter-religious conference in 1968. Unfortunately, the Christian faction did not agree with it. Natsir’s activity in Islamic da’wah, and his cooperation with International da’wah organizations, is evidence of his great concern about Christian missionaries becoming stronger in the Muslim world.47
Between 1930-1940, Natsir also wrote short articles on taqlid (unquestioning acceptance) and ijtihdd (independent reasoning), and on daily furu’iyyah (non-principle religious matters). Natsir’s polemics on the furu’iyyah may appear “trivial” in the present context, such as the phrase nawaitu (state of intention) in prayers, the reading of qunut (additional prayer) in the dawn prayer and talqin (death chant) at burials. However, he argued that such debates on trivial matters would motivate people to scrutinize their intellectual roots in the understanding of religion. Having settled these trivial matters, the debate would proceed to wider problems, which covered social, political and philosophical issues. In Natsir’s view, Islamic intellectual enthusiasm in Indonesia was revived by such “trivial” debates.48
Natsir believed that the revival of Islam required a firm intellectual basis. Even though he was accustomed to classical European thought, he was certain that Islam had also bequeathed a rich intellectual heritage. For this reason, he encouraged educated Muslims to investigate Islamic philosophical and theological works written during the golden age. He himself pioneered this effort, although, due to the lack of original sources in Indonesia, he had to utilize secondary sources to investigate the opinions of Muslim philosophers and mutakallimun (theologians). In one of his articles on Muslim civilization (1936), he expressed his yearning for the revival of the past glorious Muslim civilization. He actively encouraged Muslim youths to reconstruct this civilization.49
Within the frame of this intellectual debate, we can anticipate Natsir’s polemics with Christian leaders, such as with Sipatuhar,50 and with an experienced nationalist, Sukarno, about the relationship between religion and state. Indonesia in the 1930s was a nation in search of an ideological format for the basis of common struggle, both in order to strengthen the formation of a “nation” and to build an independent state in the future. Since the emergence of national movements at the beginning of this century, various political and ideological factions had also emerged. In 1920, Sukarno mentioned that there were three main ideological streams in Indonesian national movements: Nationalism, Islamism and Marxism.51 Sukarno himself was a pioneer of nationalism, even though in his youth he was much in-/ spired by H.O.S Tjokroaminoto, an Islamic proponent with an inclination towards socialism and pan-Islamism.
When Natsir was still residing in Bandung he often attended public meetings of the PNI (Indonesian Nationalist Party), which was led by Sukarno. Sukarno made energetic speeches in these public meetings, insisting that nationalism was the basis of the Indonesian struggle for independence. Nevertheless, Natsir eventually felt that, in some respects, Sukarno’s ideas might contradict Islamic principles. Sukarno tended to contradict statehood aspirations in Islam and Indonesian national aspirations.52 Although Sukarno was a devout Muslim —and read many of Natsir’s writings when he was in political asylum in Ende—, he did not agree with the use of Islam as the ideology of the Indonesian national struggle. Sukarno was of the opinion that, within the political sphere, Islam and the state were two separate entities. In the 1930s Sukarno began to quote the ideas of Shaykh Ali Abd al-Raziq and Mustapha Kemal regarding Turkish nationalism, which was about to lead to secularism.53
Sukarno often emphasized that, as a Muslim, he really loved Islam and wanted to place it in the highest possible position. Therefore, he did not want Islam to be unified with the state. Islam would be stronger and more admirable, if it was placed as a religion and “separated” from the state, as with the Kemalists in Turkey. During the Ottoman empire, Islam and the state appeared to be identical. The regression of the Turkish sultanate, due to immoral practices, corruption and authoritarianism, brought about the decline of Islam in Turkey. Sukarno did not want to see Indonesian Islam experience a similar “fate”. He wanted to “build a throne for Islam in the heart.”54
Natsir could not accept this idea. He believed that Islam not only covered spiritual and eschatological matters, but also all other aspects of human life. Quoting H.A.R Gibb, Natsir said that Islam was more than a religion, being a complete civilization. Therefore, according to him, Muslims, as with Christians or communists, had their own outlook, Weltanschauung (world-view) and ideology.55
Indeed Natsir did not say that Islam was an ideology. Instead, Muslim ideology is shaped by Islamic teachings, which maintained that the purpose of worldly life is to serve God’s will. He knew that Islam did not recognize theocratic systems where the state was led by a group of priests on behalf of God. There is no religious hierarchical organization in Islam, such as that in Catholicism. Therefore, the separation of religious organizations from the state is irrelevant in Islam. The universal values of Islam cannot be separated from the idea of creating a state. The elements of morals and akhldq al-karimah (decent behaviors) had to be the basis of political attitudes in the state.56 Thus, in Natsir’s opinion, “the unification between religion and state” occurs at the level of ideas. Religion then provides guidance for the citizens of the initial state.
In rejecting the idea of “the unification between religion and state,” Sukarno quoted the work of Ali Abd al-Raziq, al-Isldm wa Usui al-Hukm, which had stirred up al-Azhar ’ulamas. Raziq insisted that no verses in the Qur’an encouraged Muslims to build a state. Muhammad’s mission was religious, not political or towards statehood. Natsir replied that the order to build a state was not necessarily expressed explicitly in the Qur’an, because the idea of a state was a historical necessity of human society. Whether in “the era of the camel” or in “the era of the airplanes”, Natsir said, state institutions would always be present. The state was a “necessary tool” for the common good, even though it was not an end in itself. The Prophet Muhammad had given examples throughout his life. Nonetheless, Natsir warned, as the state was only a “tool”, the Qur’an merely provided general guidance for Muslims about the requirements of building a state. Among the contents of this guidance are the necessity of uplifting equality, responsibility and trusteeship, upholding the law fairly, developing economic and social prosperity, and taking the side of the weak in society. These general guidances were “hudud” (boundaries ) that had been determined by God.57
Within his polemics with Sukarno, Natsir also expressed his opinions about democracy. He believed that in many respects Islam concurred with democracy, because it taught shurd (deliberation). Nonetheless, this did not mean that all problems had to be decided in terms of majority votes. This was because particular social practices had been explicitly banned by religion. Within this context, deliberation was intended to prevent these forbidden practices. Thus, Islam was neither “100 per cent democracy” nor “100 per cent autocracy.” Islam was Islam; it had its own “begrip” (outlook) on statehood.58
Natsir’s concept of democracy only became apparent when he made a speech in the Majlis Kontituante (the Constituent Assembly) in 1957. Once again he said that Islam was in line with democratic principles. However, there were limitations i.e political ethics and certain bound- . aries that had been decided by God himself. Therefore, Natsir preferred to name his concept a “theistic democracy” i.e a religiously-based democracy.59
In his polemics with Sukarno in 1940, Natsir insisted that there was no preferential structure for a state in Islam. On this matter, he differed from twentieth century Muslim protagonists, such as Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi of Pakistan. Maududi was of the opinion that the khaliphate system, which was inherited by the companions of the Prophet, was the ideal model for an Islamic state, the one that Muslims had to recreate in modern times. Contrarily, Natsir believed that Islamic principles of a state may be implemented through various different structures and governmental systems suitable to particular places and times. Thus, it was not misleading if Indonesian Muslims took the model of a modern state that was available in the twentieth century, as long as this model was able to fulfill Islamic ends and provide solutions for the real demands of Indonesian Muslims.60
Writings During the Revolution Period (1945-1949)
Natsir did not publish many articles during the revolution period. His efforts in the struggle to defend independence, both as a member ofKNIPand as minister of information, seemed to decrease his intellectual activities. One or two of his articles from this period were speech texts for Muslim anniversaries, and some articles published in Majalah Hikmah (Yogyakarta) and Aliran Islam (Bandung). Natsir warned Muslims that fighting for national sovereignty was a jihad fi sabilillah (struggle in the way of God). On the Adha anniversary, he reminded people that the sincere sacrifices of the Prophets Abraham and Ismael should be the model for Indonesian Muslims in upholding independence and religion in their country. He said that, based on the history of all nations in the world, independence could be firm and strong only when it “had been poured from the blood of its martyrs.” This had been done by Indonesian Muslims, who since early times had been fighting against foreign intruders.61
Other writings by Natsir were intended to response to the actual political situation. Knowing the high level of ideological struggles among various factions, as part of creating guidance for the national struggle, Natsir asked Indonesian Muslims to take part in this. He believed that ideological differences did not hinder cooperation on the basis of kalimatun sawd’ (common interest). He appealed to Muslims to cooperate with other people by holding to the principle of “struggle according to your faith, because I am also a struggling person.” Carrying jihad in the late revolution period did not only mean carrying weapons. Therefore, Masjumi, as the Indonesian Muslim party, was an institution for “jihad in the political arena” in order to reach the situation of haldatun tayyibatun wa rahhun ghafur (a sound state blessed by God).62
Some articles during this period also contained proposals and opinions on ways of handling negotiations with the Dutch government. Natsir was indeed an adviser on Indonesian negotiations with the Dutch. Not much is revealed by his writings of this kind, because their relevance to the present time is not very significant. It can only be concluded that, in the difficult time of revolution, and amongst his extraordinary efforts, Natsir still had time for intellectual activities, which was intended to provide society with consideration for their own self-determination.
Writings from the Post-revolution Period
At the end of the revolution period (1945-1949), some ideological polemics again occurred in Indonesia. These polemics emerged from the plan to formulate a permanent constitution to replace the temporary constitution available at that time. Although Natsir was in the Islamic faction and faced other interest groups, he was not occupied by distinctive Islamic symbols in proposing his ideas. According to him, the terms “Islamic ideology” or “Islamic state” might or might not be used. Also the explicit use of the term “Islam” in the constitution was tentative in its nature. The formulation of a national constitution might mention Islam explicitly or might only describe the intentions of Islam in a general formula.63
Therefore, Natsir viewed the attempts of non-Muslims to contradict a “nationalist state” on the one hand, and an “Islamic state” on the other, as a “masterpiece agitasi” (masterpiece of agitation) and “propaganda” to discredit Indonesian Islamic parties. As agitation and propaganda, they had all overstepped the boundaries of honesty and openness in listening to each other’s different opinions. Natsir himself did not see any dichotomy between a “nationalist state” and an “Islamic state.” The intention of Muslim struggle in Indonesia was to establish a nationalistic state on the basis of Islamic principles.64
Natsir also did not see any dichotomy between a “Pancasila state” and an “Islamic state.” In one of his speeches at Pakistan’s Institute of World Affairs in Karachi in 1952, Natsir stated that Pakistan was an “Islamic state”, whether “seen from its citizens or from the characteristics of its state.”65 At this time, Pakistan had not yet declared itself to be an “Islamic republic.” Only four years later, in 1956, did the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan complete its task of composing a constitution —to replace the India Government Act 1935, which was applied as a temporary constitution. Thus, according to Natsir, although Pakistan was searching of its political format, one that was in accord with Islamic and national aspirations, the majority of its population and the willingness of its leaders to give Islam a proportional place in the state would be the indication that Pakistan was an “Islamic state.”
Based on the Pakistan situation, Indonesia could also be categorized as an “Islamic state.” The reason for this was simple: “Islam was in fact recognized as a religion and became a guidance for Indonesians, even though it was not declared as the official religion.” Moreover, “Indonesia did not separate religion and state.” On the contrary, the Indonesian constitution emphasized belief in the oneness of God, which was the first principle of Pancasila, as “the bases of the spiritual, moral and ethical lives of the state and Indonesians.”66 This was one of Natsir’s perceptions of Pancasila, which was regarded as suitable for Islamic principles as long as it was interpreted within an Islamic framework. On many occasions Natsir put forward his opinion that the Indonesian constitution (at that time the Temporary Constitution of 1950) had fulfilled the minimum requirements of an Islamic state.
He did not see any contradiction between Pancasila and Islam. He thought that Pancasila constituted five ideal virtues, all of which were in line with Islamic teachings. However, he warned people not to regard Pancasila as identical to Islam. Pancasila would suit Islam if it was interpreted within the framework of the latter, or it would contradict Islam, if it was interpreted in ways contradictory to Islam. Because Natsir viewed Pancasila within the framework of Islam, his statement, that if Islam was the foundation of the state, this would not mean that its five principles would be “swallowed up by Islam”, was understandable. The five principles of Pancasila would always be alive and developing in the lap of Islam. Conversely, should Pancasila rest in the lap of atheists or religious sceptics, its first principle would disappear and only its skeleton would remain. Thus, based on this Pancasila frame of work, Natsir’s and his party’s struggle for Islam by means of valid and democratic ways was not to be regarded as competing with Pancasila. On the contrary, the use of Islamic base was instead to strengthen the position of Pancasila itself.67
According to Indonesian political observers, such as Munawir Sjadzali, there were “some forms of development or shift in Natsir’s outlook” about Pancasila, from that which he stated in Pakistan to what he said in his speech at the Constituent Assembly of the Republic of Indonesia in 1957 about the state’s foundation.68 This shift should be seen in the context of how Natsir interpreted Pancasila, and of how non-Muslim factions understood it. Had the debates in the Constituent been closely investigated, it would have been seen that the interpretations of Pancasila by non-Muslim factions, such as PNI, PKI, PSI, Parkindo (Indonesian Protestant Party), the Catholic Party and Partai Indonesian Raya (Great Indonesian Party), were indeed varied and contradicted each other. Nonetheless, what was striking for Natsir was that none of them related the five principles of Pancasila to religious teachings. The only interpretation that related the first principle, Belief in the Oneness of God, was that by Arnold Mononutu, a Christian PNI supporter.
It is discernible then, that in the Constituent Natsir finally concluded that Pancasila, as interpreted by its own supporters, was identical with “secularism”. If this was the case, there would be only two choices for the form of the state: “religious” or “secular”. Natsir then theorized on the advantages of taking religion as the foundation of state, while describing the weaknesses of secularism.69
Natsir himself was well-aware that, without a compromise, the democratic process in the Constituent Assembly would never be able to decide on Islam or Pancasila as the foundation of the state. According to Natsir, a compromise must be conducted sincerely and openly, each faction stating its opinion about the state’s foundation clearly and in detail. All factions also had to be given an opportunity to raise objections to the views of others. Only by this means, would a compromise be reached on the basis of honesty and good intentions.70 Natsir himself had frankly declared his objections to Pancasila, as interpreted by its own supporters, and put forward his rationale for taking Islam as the foundation of the state.
Compromises to resolve the problems were attempted. After the hearing of the state’s foundation, the team of formulators even conveyed this compromise proposal. The foundation of the state was still the five principles of Pancasila, but the meaning of the first principle was highlighted by relating it to various religious teachings found in Indonesia. The draft of this compromise proposal also mentioned Islam, as the religion of the majority, to be considered as the “state’s official religion.”71 Masjumi proponents, including Natsir, could basically accept this compromise.72 Nonetheless, historical records showed that various external factors, such as rebellions in many parts of Indonesia and the intention of President Sukarno to apply a guided democracy, had led Sukarno, through the support of the Angkatan Darat (Army), to reapply the Constitution of 1945. The inability of the Constituent to decide whether to reapply the Constitution of 1945 with the amendment of the Jakarta Charter, as demanded by Muslim faction, or without the amendment, basically meant that the return to the Constitution of 1945 was rejected by the Constituent itself.73 In fact, neither alternative was supported by a majority of votes. On this basis, Sukarno then issued the Decree of 5 July 1959 to dissolve the Constituent and reapply the Constitution of 1945.
When the Constituent was dissolved, Natsir had joined the PRRI in the interior of Sumatra. Yet, in a speech reported on PRRI radio, he criticized the dissolvement of the Constituent and regarded it to be a “coup perampasan kekuasaan” (power robbery) launched by Sukarno. He insisted that Sukarno’s real intention was not to implement the constitution as it was but to gain “absolute power” by using the Constitution of 1945 as a “mask”. There are two articles written by Natsir in response to the political changes after the dissolvement of the Constituent, the first entitled “Showdown” and the second “Cuo Sangi In”. The former criticizes Sukarno’s dissolvement of the Constituent by regarding it as a “dictatorial attitude.” The second criticizes Sukarno, who was regarded as driving the Parliament of the Republic Indonesia to become like “Cuo Sangi In”, a pseudo-representative body under the Japanese military government during the colonial period.74
As an Islamic politician, who viewed Islam as in line with modern constitutionalism and democracy, Natsir represents one of the figures deeply-concerned about the development of a democratic system in Indonesia, both during the Old Order (1959-1965) and the New Order (1966 to date). Natsir believed that, although democracy constitutes a weakness, because that it may easily slip into being engineered by the ruling elites and can change to become an oligarchy as determined by Robert Michels, no better alternative had yet been found. He acknowledges that democracy is a difficult system: slow, long-winded and unheroic. However, its strength is that it enables revolutionary changes to occur peacefully without bloodshed. Democratic values are universal, although their application has to take into consideration the historical and cultural expediencies of a nation. Nevertheless, one cannot simply a change democratic system through a veiled dictatorship in the form of a democracy “that suits the state of mind and personality of the nation”. Guided Democracy or Eastern Democracy, which was introduced by Sukarno in 1957 and which centers power in the hands of the president, is only a “dictatorship in the guise of democracy.”75
In response to the introduction of Guided Democracy, prior to which Sukarno wanted to “bury the parties in Indonesia”, Natsir wrote two articles entitled “Yang Akan Berdiri di Atas Kuburan Partai-Partai adalah Diktatur” (What Will Stand on the Parties’ Graves is Dictatorship) and “Kemampuan Mengendalikan Diri [adalah] Syarat Mutlak Bagi Kemerdekaan” (the Ability of Self-restrain [is] an Essential Requirement for Independence). In these articles Natsir again emphasized the demand for the preservation of “sound values of life” in running political lives.
Democracy, he said, was not merely a tool, but a foundation for collective life. It could not be replaced by dictatorship, which “obviously was a system in contradiction to Islamic principles”. He regarded the Indonesian political difficulties in the late 1950s as not lying within the democracy system, but rather in the fact that politicians had lost their idealism: the blurring of the boundary between the decent and the indecent, and of “zakelijk and objectief (firm and objective) values. In this situation, Natsir warned Muslims that Islam taught that “in conducting political, social and statehood lives, one is not allowed to detach ethical and moral values, which were not to be bought and sold or made fools of.” In other words, he said “engaging in politics was not to be detached from religious teachings, which were the source of life values and moral standards.”76
Natsir’s interest in the development of democracy and the decline of constitutionalism in the New Order era also emerged in his 1980s writings. He regarded the Indonesian development strategy, even though it had brought successes, as tending to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. He deeply was concerned about the willingness of the New Order to apply the Constitution of 1945, consequently and as it was, which in practice tended to lead to a concentration of power. Natsir’s article entitled “Indonesia di Persimpangan Jalan” (Indonesia at the Crossroads), which was co-written with A.H. Nasution and Sanusi Hardjandinata, severely criticized this implementation of the Constitution of 1945 by the New Order.
In Natsir’s view, the longer the New Order was in power, the more obvious it was that the implementation of democracy did not concur the provisions stated in the Constitution of 1945. He construed the five packages of political legislation, including those about political parties and Golkar (the government-supported party), general elections and the membership component of representative bodies, to be the products of a legislation that did not concur with the sovereignty of the people and the Constitution of 1945. Therefore, he regarded Indonesia in 1980s as standing at the crossroads between the ideals of a state based on law and an authoritarian state.77 However, Natsir’s attitude toward the New Order should not only to be seen from its dark side. In fact, after 1992, Natsir’s opinion changed in many respects along with the changes made by the Suharto government itself. In the dusk of his life, without being recognized by outside circles, Natsir basically supported the establishment of the Ikatan Cendikiawan Muslim Indonesia (ICMI —the Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals), although he did not participate directly. Nevertheless, Muslim pioneers, such as M. Imaduddin Abdulrahim, M. Amin Rais, A.M. Luthfie, Hussein Umar and the others, consulted Natsir in the creation of ICMI. Anwar Haryono, who replaced Natsir in the Council of Da’wah, built a closer relationship with the government. Were Natsir still alive, he would have been more flexible in looking at the changing policies of the Suharto government, which is regarded by many observers as more appreciative towards Islam than the governments of previous eras.
1.For more complete information about Natsir’s biography, see i.e Jusuf Abdullah Puar, Muhammad Natsir 70 Tahun: Kenang-kenangan Hidup dan Perjuangan Qakarta: Pustaka Antara, 1978) and Ajip Rosidi, Muhammad Natsir, Sebuah Biografi. Oakarta: Umninda, 1989).
2.Interview with Natsir in Jakarta during 1989-1991.
4.DeliarNoer, Gerakan Modern Islam diIndonesia 1900-1942 Qakarta: LP3ES, 1982),
5.On Ahmad Hassan and Persatuan Islam, see Howard Federspiel, ’The Persatuan Islam: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century”, Ph. D. Thesis, McGill University, 1966).
6.Interview with Natsir in 1989.
7.Ibid. Natsir’s writings on Christian missionaries in Indonesia, see Islam dan Kristen di Indonesia (Bandung: Pelajar, 1972), and Mencari Modus Vivendi Missi Kristen dan Dakwah Islam di Indonesia (Jakarta: Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia,
8.For reports on this debate, see Risalah Debat Kebangsaan (Bandung: Persatuan
9.Interview with Natsir in Jakarta in 1989 and Mohammad Sardjan in 1990.
10.Interview with Natsir in 1989.
11.See collection of Pedoman Masyarakat (Medan: n.p, 1940).
12.Interview with Natsir in 1989.
16.Ibid. See also Pertelaan Badan Pekerja KNIP (Jakarta: n.p, 1948).
18.Interview with Natsir on 3 July 1982; with Mohammad Roem on 14 July 1982; and with Mohammad Mawardi [in Yogyakarta] on 5 January 1985.
19.Kedaulatan Rakyat [Yogyakarta], 8-9 November 1945. Masjumi’s constitution and programs were reported in Kadaulatan Rakyat on 19 November 1945.
20.On this cabinet structure, see Kementerian Luar Negeri RI, Susunan Kabinet-kabinetRI 1945-1963 (Jakarta: Biro Riset Kementerian Luar Negeri, 1963).
21.For the complete text of Natsir’s instructions to the guerilla fighters, see Deliar Noer, Partai-partai Islam di Pentas Nasional (Jakarta: Grafiti, 1987), appendix IV, pp. 464465.
22.Interview with Natsir, July 1982. On the debate between Natsir and Roem, see ’Boendel Moektamar Masjoemi ke IV di Djogdjakarta” in Masjumi archive.
23.Interview with Natsir and Sjafruddin Prawiranegara in 1989.
24.On the PDRI, see St. Mohammad Rasjid, SekitarPDRI Qakarta: Bulan Bintang, 1982).
25.Interview with Natsir in 1989.
26.For the complete text of the integral motion, see M. Natsir, Capita Selecta (Jakarta: Pustaka Antara, 1954), Vol. II.
27.On Natsir Cabinet, see Herbert Feith, The Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1962) pp. 146-165.
29.Interview with Natsir, Mohamad Roem, M. Yunan Nasution, Boerhanoeddin Harahap and Anwar Harjono in Jakarta, 1982-1983.
30.Yusril Ihza, “Prolog PRRI dan Keterlibatan Sjafruddin-Natsir” in E. Saifuddin Anshary (ed.), Pak Natsir 80 Tahun (Jakarta: LIPPM, 1988).
31.See “Bundel Muktamar Masjumi ke LX di Djogdjakarta” in Masjumi archives. Interview with M. Yunan Nasution in 1985; with Firdaus A.N. in 1985; and with Anwar Harjono in 1988.
32.See the decision of the President of the Republic of Indonesia number 100/1960 on the dissolvement of Masjumi. The main reason for this dissolvement —that Masjumi was regarded as “contra-revolution” because it could not “self-adjust” with the Guided Democracy and Nasakom— can be investigated from the official speech of President Sukarno on 17 August 1960. See Sukarno, Menemukan Kembali Revolusi Kita Qakarta: Kementerian Penerangan RI, 1960).
33.Interview with Natsir in 1982.
34.On the documents on the efforts of Masjumi rehabilitation, see “FaktaDokumenta II” Qakarta: Yayasan Pembangunan Ummat, 1985).
35.On the creation of Partai Muslimin Indonesia, see K.E. Ward, The Foundation of Partai Muslimin Indonesia (Interim report Series, Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, 1970).
36.Interview with Natsir in December 1991.
37.The term “big crescent-star family” is an informal term, which is used as the symbol of solidarity among the ex-activists and supporters of Masjumi.
38.See, Jusuf A. Puar, Loc. Cit.
39.Interview with Dr. Inamullah Khan, the Secretary Genaral of Muktamar alAlam al-Islami, in Karachi, July 1991.
40.The policy of President Suharto to restrict the civil and political rights of the Petisi 50 signaturers was only terminated at the beginning of 1993. B.J. Habibie, the Minister of Research and Technology in Suharto’s cabinet, began a “reconciliation” with the petition’s signatories, so the problem was then resolved.
41.For thorough investigation of the basis of Natsir’s thought, see Yusril Ihza, “Modernisme Islam dan Demokrasi: Pandangan Politik Mohammad Natsir”, Islamika (3), (1994).
42.This is explicitly mentioned by Natsir in the draft of “Tafsir Asas Masjumi” , With some amendments, at the Masjumi party’s congress, this draft was then approved as the ’ideology” of this party. For complete text of this ideological formulation, see Pedoman Perdjuangan Masjumi (Jakarta: Pimpinan Pusat Partai Masyumi Bagian Penerangan, 1954).
43.Yusril Ihza, “Modernisme Islam”, Loc. Cit.
44.M. Natsir, Moehammad Als Profeet, reprinted by Penerbit Persatuan Islam (Bandung: Penerbit Persatuan Islam, 1930).
45.M. Natsir, Islam dan Kristen di Indonesia, edited by E. Saifuddin Anshary (Bandung: Pelajar, 1972).
47.M. Natsir, Mencari Modus Vivendi.
48.Natsir’s polemics on this issue can be found in the collections of Pembela Islam and al-Lisan. The complete collection of these magazines are held at the Headquarters of Persatuan Islam [Bandung].
49.M. Natsir, Capita Selecta Qakarta: Pustaka Antara), Vol. I.
50.On his polemic with Ir. Sipatuhar, see A. Moechlis [pseudonym for Natsir) “Kata Berdjawab: Naiviteit Jang Berbahaja”, Harian Pemandangan, (28 and 29 November 1941).
51.Sukarno, “Nasionalisme, Islamisme, Marxisme”, reprinted in Sukarno, Di Bawah Bendera Revolusi Qakarta: n.p, 1962).
52.Interview with Natsir in 1991.
53.Sukarno’s writings on this topic, see his Di Bawah Bendera Revolusi, Vol. I.
55.M. Natsir, “Islam Sebagai Ideologi”, in D.P. Sati Alimin (ed.), Polemik Sukarno-Natsir tentang Persatuan Agama dan Negara (Padang: Japi, 1972).
56.On Natsir’s analysis on “Islamic ideology”,-see Yusril Ihza “Modernisme Islam” Loc. Cit. and “Muhammad Natsir dan Abul A’la Maududi: Telaah Tentang Transformasi Islam ke Dalam Ideologi Sosial dan Politik” (Seminar on M. Natsir’s thought, YISC al-Azhar, Jakarta, July 1994).
57.D.P. Sati Alimin, Loc. Cit.
59.On Natsir’s speech on the state’s foundation in front of the Constituent Assembly of the Republic of Indonesia, see TentangDasar Negara di Konstituante (Jakarta: Sekretariat Jenderal Konstituante RI, 1957).
60.D.P. Sati Alimin, Loc. Cit. For an analysis of this topic, see Yusril Ihza, “Modernisme Islam”, Loc. Cit.
61.See the collection of Majalah Hikmah  held at the A.R. Baswedan Library, Yogyakarta.
63.For a more indepth analysis of this topic, see Yusril Ihza “Modernisme dan Fundamentalisme Dalam Politik Islam: Sam Kajian Perbandingan Kes Parti Masyumi di Indonesia dan Jama’at-i-Islami di Pakistan” (Ph. D. Thesis, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 1993) pp. 277-316.
65.M. Natsir, “Some Observations Concerning the Role of Islam in National and International Affairs”, a speech text in Karachi [manuscript, 1954].
67.M. Natsir, “Bertentangankah Pancasila dengan al-Qur’an” ( Harian Abadi, 22 Mei 1954).
68.See Munawir Sjadzali, Islam dan Tata Negara Qakarta: UI Press, 1988).
69.See Sekretariat Jenderal Konstituante, Tentang Dasar Negara di Konstituante.
70.Interview with Natsir in 1989. For more indepth analysis on Masjumi and the state’s foundation in the constituent, see Yusril Ihza, ’Modernisme dan Fundamentalisme Dalam Politik Islam” (a paper presented in Paramadina, Jakarta, 1993).
71.For the complete text of this compromise formulation, see Risalah Sementara Sidang Konstituante, Summit I ( 6 December 1957).
72.Interview with Natsir in 1984; with Osman Raliby in 1984; and with Anwar Harjono in 1989.
73.This is different from the considerance formulation of the Presidential Decree of 5 July 1959. The considerance states that the President’s proposal to return to the 1945 constitution was ’not decided” by the constituent. In my opinion, this formulation was wrong because this proposal was not supported by 2/3 of votes. This means that, based on the provisions number 135-137 of the Contemporary Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, the proposal was “rejected” by the constituent.
74.On these articles, see M. Natsir Capita Selecta, Vol. HI, unpublished.
75.Ibid. On his opinions and responses to Guided Democracy, see Kementerian Penerangan RI, Kroniek dan Dokumentasi Demokrasi Terpimpin .
76.M. Natsir, Capita Selecta, Vol. HI.
77.M. Natsir, ’Indonesia di Persimpangan Jalan” in Selamatkan Demokrasi (n.p, 1981).
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