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

By Harry J. Benda | Go to book overview

RETROSPECT

The foregoing pages have sought to trace the development of Indonesian Islam and its growing political stature in the first four decades of the twentieth century. There can be little doubt that the rise of modern Muslim movements belongs among the most important landmarks in the political history of Indonesia, and that it will continue to be of prime significance in the political destiny of the young Indonesian Republic. It may, then, be useful to survey this development in a few concluding pages.

Traditionally, Dutch colonial policy rested on support of the indigenous nobility and the Javanese priyayi class of ruler-officials. Although the authority and prestige of this class had suffered from the progressive encroachments which were the inevitable concomitants of modern colonial administration and the penetration of Western economic forces, the alliance between the Netherlands and the traditional Indonesian elite was to mark the entire period of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia, with the exception of a very short interval. If anything, this alliance was strengthened as a result of twentieth-century developments which seemed to threaten the colonial status quo from two directions.

The first of these stemmed from vigorous political agitation spearheaded in the main by Islamic spokesman in the first two decades of the present century. In fact, Islam had in centuries past been the principal political preoccupation of the native aristocracy and of Dutch colonial rulers, for fanatical Muslim leaders had frequently served as the rallying points of unrest and revolt against the powers-that-be in rural Indonesia. In the course of the nineteenth century Muslim-inspired revolts had assumed such proportions on Java and Sumatra that the Nether

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