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

By Harry J. Benda | Go to book overview

Chapter Seven
THE RISE OF MASJUMI: NOVEMBER 1943 - SEPTEMBER 1944

The closing months Of 1943 opened an era of profound Japanese transformation of Indonesian public life. The birth of Masjumi marked the first important step in this re-ordering, which proceeded in early 1944 at an accelerated rate. When finally in March the new Japanese-imposed pattern of the 'New Java' crystallized, the balance of power among Indonesian elite groups had undergone significant changes, of which the strengthening of the Islamic leadership was, perhaps, of greatest long-term importance. In order to evaluate this importance, we shall commence with a brief examination of the new Islamic organization in the context of other contemporary changes on Java.

News of the abolition of the old Islamic federation apparently found the public in general, and many Muslims in particular, unprepared. In the words of one commentator,

. . . many people either said or thought that there was no reason to change to something new, seeing that the old [organization] had been well established and was widely known . . . But what is at stake is not only a change of name, but rather a change of activity and effort. M.I.A.I. was part and parcel of the old order, [and thus] it has become out-of-date now.1

In effect, the change signalled the end of Muslim endeavors centered around the decades-old preoccupations on the socio- religious level, which had been led by M.I.A.I. for the past six years. Its long list of objectives and demands had to give way to the Masjumi's only goal, that of "strengthening the unity of all Islamic organizations", and of "aiding Dai Nippon in the interests of Greater East Asia." This goal was announced by the new federation's most ardent spokesman, Kiyayi Haji

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