The Crescent and the Rising Sun: Indonesian Islam under the Japanese Occupation, 1942-1945

By Harry J. Benda | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

Every new period in the history of civilization obliges a religious community to undertake a general revision of the contents of its treasury", wrote Professor Snouck Hurgronje in 1916, referring to the Islamic reform movement which at that time was shaking broad sections of the Muslim world.

In the same way one could argue that every new period in history obliges the student of religious movements to undertake a general revision of the concepts used by his predecessors.

Ironically enough it is Snouck Hurgronje's own interpretation of Indonesian Islam which is shown by the author of the present volume to be inadequate in the light of later historical developments. And it is especially a lack of understanding for the basic importance of the Islamic reform movement which, in Dr. Benda's view, reduced twentieth century Islamic policy of the Netherlands Indies government to impotence.

Dr. Benda's main contribution to the historiography of Indonesia consists of a well-documented account of Islam under Japanese rule. Anything like a full-scale history of the Japanese occupation of Indonesia is still unwritten; worse still, the field has hardly been explored. A few doctoral dissertations, defended either in the Netherlands (Zorab and Aziz) or in the United States (Poppe), are no more than first attempts based on very restricted materials and, especially in the case of Dr. Zorab's study, rather limited in scope. To these dissertations may be added Elsbree's book covering the whole of Southeast Asia, and Piekaar's significant study of Acheh in wartime. A thorough study of the innumerable documents, pamphlets and periodicals, both in Indonesia and abroad, has still to be begun.

-vii-

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