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Remy Madinier, L'Indonesie, entre democratie musulmane et Islam integral: Histoire du parti Masjumi (1945-1960).

Remy Madinier, L'Indonesie, entre democratie musulmane et Islam integral: Histoire du parti Masjumi (1945-1960). Paris: IISMM KARTHALA, 466 pp. [Collection Terres et Gens d'Islam.] ISBN 9782811105204. Price: EUR 32.00 (paperback).

Remy Madinier's monograph is a welcome contribution to the scholarly literature on Indonesian political history. Tracing the history of Masjumi, the Islamic party created by the Japanese in 1945, Madinier offers his readers a detailed account of the political developments and dramatic changes that shaped the Indonesian Republic in its first 15 years.

The book is organized in six chapters, with introduction, epilogue, and conclusions, all illustrated with reproductions of cartoons taken from Masjumi periodicals. In the introduction Madinier explains how the history of Masjumi allows 'd'analyser les ressorts politiques, religieux, culturels et sociaux d'une hesitation fondamentale entre une democratie musulmane d'inspiration occidentale et un Islam integral'(p. 11), attending to the study of a political history still 'largely unknown' (p. 15).

Chapter one, entitled 'Political genesis and historical imaginary', delves into the early career of several of Masjumi's future leaders, and the party's intellectual roots. These pages give a brief yet comprehensive overview of the state of Islam in Indonesia, as well as the mixed influence of European patterns of democracy and Middle Eastern reformism. The author recognizes the origins of Masjumi as resting on the Sarekat Islam party, established in the early 1910s, but the pre-1945 period is dealt with relatively briefly, though for understandable reasons.

Chapters two to four comprise the core of the book, as they cover the 19451960 period. The history of Masjumi is divided into three phases: its experience as the opposition party, when the Islamic faction is defeated by the secular nationalists in the debate on the position of Islam in the new state; its rise to power and its struggle to retain it vis-a-vis military concerns over the regional rebellions in the 1950s; and the party's electoral failure in 1955, followed by the isolation of this Islamic party and its own involvement in the rebellions.

These pages are dense with details, and the reader might well lose perspective of the bigger picture. Yet, this being the first book dedicated to Masjumi's history, it is unavoidable and necessary for Madinier to provide this amount of data. As stated in his introduction, the thread to follow is Masjumi's torn identity between securing a place for Islam in Republican politics and this party's commitment to parliamentary democracy. But things get more complicated than such a dichotomous approach. In chapter two it is made clear that the party's programmatic religious policy lasts only as long as the debate on the Jakarta Charter is open, and insofar as the call for Islam is useful to the anti-colonial resistance. In this context, Kartosuwiryo's dedication to an Islamic state is the only embodiment of direction and vision among the Islamists, yet according to Madinier, the opposition it raises in nationalist circles marks the end of Masjumi's tolerance of the Darul Islam's methods, and the party's realization of the 'impasse d'un discours radical qui conduisait au separatism et convertit la majorite du parti a la moderation' (p. 124).

In chapter three Madinier follows Masjumi in the 1950s, tracing the party's attempt to preserve the country's unity and political stability through parliamentary democracy. The strategies mentioned include a clear anticommunism policy; commitment to coalition cabinets with the nationalist PNI; an open foreign policy, especially towards the US; a less ideological economic policy; and, towards the end of the decade, a stronger stand against the Darul Islam rebellions. The analysis of these dynamics, which call for recurrent chronological back-and-forths, nevertheless delivers the message: when Masjumi was in power '[l]es imperatifs du redressement economique, et surtout la fragilite des coalitions gouvernementales, ne lui [Masyumi] permirent pas de mettre en oeuvre les principes islamiques dont il se voulait le porte-parole' (p. 200).

Chapter four, titled 'The fall' ('La chute'), looks into the defeat of Masjumi in the 1955 elections and the down-hill path that led to the eventual dissolution of the party in 1960. Madinier focuses on three points: the inability to create a majority in the Constitutional assembly, reflecting a decade of political fragmentation (true for nationalists, socialists, and Muslims alike); the lack of a clear strategy for government in Masjumi's and NU's campaigns, including the lack of references to an Islamic state; and the image of Masjumi as a 'martyr de la democratie' (p. 224) as Soekarno turned a 'Western' parliamentary democracy (p. 233) into the guided democracy.

The last two chapters build on the previous four, addressing diachronically the two themes of 'Governing in the name of Islam' and 'The ideal of an Islamic society', from the 1930s until the 1960s. Madinier is not convinced of Masjumi's religious-political intent and commitment. Pointing to the early writings of future Masjumi leaders in the colonial period, he skips the 1920s and focuses on the 1930s instead, a time when pragmatism had already taken over idealism in terms of the relation between Islam and government (pp. 282-5). Other examples are 'une vision minimaliste du droit penal musulman' (p. 299), the gradual rapprochement of party intellectuals to the Pancasila (pp. 310-4), and the final victory of Muhammad Natsir's strategy of a 'Negara yang berdasar Islam' versus Isa Anshary's understanding of an Islamic state as 'un Etat dans lequel l'Etat lui-meme met en oeuvre les Lois de l'Islam' (pp. 336-7).

These considerations are meant to find support in chapter six, an odd fit as a last chapter since it goes into the details of Masjumi's organizational structure. The party is here defined as 'une nebuleuse' (pp. 339, 356), with an 'anarchique' and dysfunctional structure (p. 357) and a wide cleavage between plans and actions (p. 362). Through an analysis of its organizational circles, Madinier reaches the conclusion that '[l'] ambition du Masjumi etait en fait quelque peu differente de celle de ses organisations membres: diffuser les valeurs de l'Islam a l'ensemble de la societe par des vecteurs non religieux (economiques, gouvernmentaux, sociaux, culturels...)' (p. 376).

The Epilogue links to his co-authored book with Andree Feillard (already translated into English as The end of innocence?, published by NUS press, 2011), covering the legacy and various re-embodiments of Masjumi in the New Order and post-reformasi years.

The relation between religious nationalism and pan-Islamism is left untouched, creating a gap in the analysis of the party's leaders' ideological milieu: Masjumi's leadership remains dichotomously identified as spearheading nationalism in the anti-colonial struggle, and opposed to the 'nationalists' in the post-independence years. There is much more in this book than what I have mentioned; this is a detailed history of the Masjumi experiment, its involvement in the shaping of Indonesia as a Republic and its effort to maintain that country's democratic structures with a religious flavour. As reflected in Madinier's account, these were not linear developments.

An English translation would make this key contribution available to a wider public, including those scholars and graduate students alike who grapple with the understanding of how an Islamic party, emerging from the organization that led the first structured anti-colonial movement (Sarekat Islam), managed to lose its political standing in the largest Muslim country in the world.


Feillard, Andree and Remy Madinier 2011 The end of innocence? Indonesian Islam and the temptations of radicalism. Translated by Wong Wee. Leiden: KITLV Press.


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Author:Formichi, Chiara
Publication:Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2012
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