The Foundation of the Partai Muslimin Indonesia

The Foundation of the Partai Muslimin Indonesia

The Foundation of the Partai Muslimin Indonesia

The Foundation of the Partai Muslimin Indonesia

Excerpt

Harry Benda remarked several years ago that Javanese Islam “… has usually been studied in the elite context, with the peasantry relegated to a more or less stereotyped background. The result has been that most have tended to take a basically Muslim orientation of the Javanese peasantry for granted.” Although the following discussion of the foundation of the Partai Muslimin Indonesia is largely restricted to an examination of events taking place within this elite context, some preliminary comments are necessary on the nature of Indonesian Islam, particularly as it exists in Central and East Java.

The pioneering research of the Harvard group of anthropologists introduced, or at least emphasized, the distinction in Javanese Islam between abangan (nominal Muslims) and santri (devout Muslims). Describing the inhabitants of Modjokuto, the town where his research was centered, Clifford Geertz wrote: “The great majority…pronounce themselves to be Muslims. Within this more general category, however, they make a clear distinction between the santri, the pious Muslim who takes his Islam seriously and attempts to keep it free of local adulterations, and the abangan, whose main adherence is to…the ‘Javanese religion’.” This latter abangan matrix of religious beliefs is an integration of the three major sources of spiritual tradition, animism, Hindu-Buddhism and Islam. Abangans show a lack of concern for correctness of religious doctrine, and consequently an unwillingness to condemn the religious

1 See his introduction to R. R. Jay, Religion and Politics in Rural Central Java (New Haven: Yale University, Cultural Report Series No. 12, 1963), p. iv.

2 Clifford Geertz, “Religious Belief and Economic Behavior in a Central Javanese Town: Some Preliminary Observations,” Economic Development and Cultural Change, 4, No. 2 (January 1956), p. 138.

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