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Inter-Asia Cultural Studies

Volume 5, Issue 3, 2004

Islam, modernity and Muhammadiyah's educational Programme

Islam, modernity and Muhammadiyah’s educational Programme

Muhammad Fuad

Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations

Volume 22, Issue 3, 2011

 Lakum dīnukum wa-liya dīnī: the Muhammadiyah's stance towards interfaith relations

Lakum dīnukum wa-liya dīnī: the Muhammadiyah’s stance towards interfaith relations

Ahmad Najib Burhani

pages 329-342

Let me start with Burhani:


TheMuhammadiyah, the largestmodernistMuslimorganization in Indonesia,was established with the primary latent purpose of resisting penetration into Indonesia by Christian missions (Shihab 1995).

In the long history of its development, the leaders of this mass organization have taken an active role in challenging Christian programmes in various aspects of life. In social welfare and education, the Muhammadiyah competes with Christians in building schools, hospitals, and orphanages. In missionary activities, they particularly compete with Protestants and Catholics in sending missionaries to people who profess ‘non-official’ religions.


In studying the Muhammadiyah’s stance toward interfaith relations, this article will analyse three events that stand out in the discourse on pluralism within the Muhammadiyah. The first is discursive in nature, namely the publication of Tafsir tematik al-Qur’an tentang hubungan sosial antarumat beragama (Thematic exegesis of the Qur’an on interfaith relations) in 2000, whereas the two other issues are more practical, namely Din Syamsuddin’s offer to Christians of the use of the Muhammadiyah’s buildings for their Christmas celebration in 2005, and the
model of the Muhammadiyah’s pluralism in Muslim minority areas as elaborated in the book Kristen Muhammadiyah(Christian Muhammadiyah) published in 2009.

This article argues that the Muhammadiyah’s relations with non-Muslims are more deter-mined by the precept of lakum dīnukum wa-liya dīnī (unto you your religion, and unto me my religion; Q 109.6) than by the precept of fa-istabiqūal-khayrāt (compete with one another in good works; Q 5.48). Although the latter has been considered by several scholars (e.g., Boullata 1995; Sirry 2009) as the qur’anic manifesto for religious pluralism, this precept is mostly used in the Muhammadiyah as a guide for social relations within Islam, particularly within the organiz-ation.


A few days before Christmas 2005, thecurrent president of the organization, Din Syamsuddin, stated that all the buildings and facilities belonging to Muhammadiyah, except mosques, could be used for Christian Christmas services (Bahari 2005; Ulag 2005). Syamsuddin’s offer attracted a lot of attention from within the Muhammadiyah and various other groups in Indonesia, both Muslim and non-Muslim. The responses to it were varied, ranging from support to unsympathetic rejection (Romli 2006). Syamsuddin once told the author that his cellular phone was flooded with text messages from Muhammadiyah members questioning his statement. Numerous mailing lists, such as Muhammadiyah Society, were also inundated with messages supporting or rejecting his statement. People in the Muhammadiyah offices spoke of it with a variety of sentiments; some were furious while others showed sympathy. It was also circulating among Muhammadiyah activists that a certain group in the organization
even asked for aMuktamar Luar Biasa(Extraordinary Congress) to be convened to remove Syamsuddin from his position as chairman of the Muhammadiyah.

Seventeen months after that incident, in April 2007, the present author conducted a survey on religious pluralism during the MuhammadiyahTanwirin Yogyakarta for his MSc thesis for the University of Manchester.Tanwiris the second largest meeting held by the organization and takes place at least three times during one period of leadership. Thistanwirwas attended by delegates from 32 provincial groups of the Muhammadiyah in Indonesia. Out of 128 respondents who were Muhammadiyah provincial leaders, two-thirds of them opposed Syamsuddin’s initiative to offer Muhammadiyah facilities for Christmas services (Burhani 2007).

For him ( on 23 December 2006, Muhammad Shofan, a lecturer at the University of Muhammadiyah-Gresik,) , this prohibition is against the Qur’an in that, rather than forbidding, this holy book offers the Christian a complete
greeting, ‘Peace on him [Jesus] the day he was born, and the day he dieth and the day he shall be raised alive!’(Q 19.15; 19.33) (Shofan 2006)


Two Muhammadiyah activists, Abdul Mu’ti and Fajar Riza Ul Haq, co-authored and launched a unique book entitledKristen Muhammadiyah: konvergensi Muslim dan Kristen dalam pendidi-kan (Christian Muhammadiyah: a convergence between Christians and Muslims in educational sectors) in 2009. This book is significant for the present study because it describes how the Muhammadiyah deals with the issue of religious pluralism, particularly in education, in three schools in Indonesian regions where Muslims constitute the minority: SMA Muhammadiyah Ende (East Nusa Tenggara), SMA Muhammadiyah 1 Putussibau (West Kalimantan), and SMP
Muhammadiyah Serui (Yapen Waropen, Papua). Since most studies on the Muhammadiyah have taken place in Java and Sumatra, where Muslims enjoy the majority position, this book

pro-vides an important perspective on how the organization deals with the issue of pluralism in Muslim minority areas.

*”puritans can be religious tolerant as well”*

*The book shows that the convergence of students across the religious divide in the three
schools successfully eliminates hostility and suspicion among people from different religions.*

*In its place, Christian students are given a substitute subject related to their religion, namely Pendidikan Agama Kristen(PAK –Learning Christianity), using a confessional method and taught by a Christian teacher. In Ende, this system has been in place since 1971, long before the government’s introduction of Statute no. 2/1989 and Statute no. 20/2003 on the System of National Education, which requires all schools in Indonesia to recognize students’religious rights by providing confessional education in their own religion.*

*Since its establishment, the number of converts in SMA Muhammadiyah Ende is virtually nil.*

*Kristen Muhammadiyahrefers to Christian people who form good relationships with Muslims, particularly the Muhammadiyah, not based on rivalry but on collaboration and cooperation in righteousness. This is an additional variant to the existing variants of the Muham-madiyah, such as Javanese Muhammadiyah, nationalist Muhammadiyah, traditionalist Muham-madiyah, puritan Muhammadiyah, and socialist Muhammadiyah (Mulkhan 2000).*

ANGEL RABASA Current trends in Islamist ideology, 2005



The founders of Muhammadiyah, established in 1912 as the institutional expression of the Indonesian modernist movement, wanted to banish the “superstition” associ-ated with some of the practices of traditionalist Indonesian Islam, and also to counterbalance the development of Catholic and Protestant missions. Today,
Muhammadiyahis heavily involved in education, health care, orphanages, and other social services with Islam as its ideological and moral basis.

In the past, it was opposed to Sufi practices. Today, however, increasing numbers of Muhammadiyah members practice Sufism.

在1980s之後  除了與基督教競爭教育之外,同時也必須要跟激進派競爭,因此有了更多跨越現代派與傳統派之間的合作。

These groups include Hizb ut-Tahrir and Jamaah Tarbiyah, which both support the establishment of a pan-Islamic caliphate, the Jamaah al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin Indonesia (Indonesian Muslim Brotherhood), and other extremist groups that emerged in the immediate post-Suharto period. As in the rest of Southeast Asia, the influx of Saudi money and ideology in Indonesia has been an important engine of this radicalization. The Saudi religious affairs office in Jakarta finances the translation from Arabic to Ba-hasa Indonesia of about one million books a year. It also offers scholarships to Indonesian students for study in Saudi universities.

Arab influences are also exerted through the Hadrami Diaspora in Southeast Asia. Islamic extremism in Indonesia is often associated with clerics of Arabic origin. For example, Ja’afar Umar Thalib, leader of the now disbanded Laskar Jihad; Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and the late Abdullah Sungkar, founders of Jemaah Islamiyah; Islam Defenders’ Front head Muhammad Habib Rizieq, and oth-ers. Some Islamic scholars attribute the moderate character of Indonesian Islam to their perception that Indonesia is the least “Arabized” of the major Muslim countries.

Organization Number Percentage
Nahdlatul Ulama 7,306 64.59
Muhammadiyah 184 1.63
Persis 49 0.43
Al-Jami’iya al Wasliyah 118 1.04
Islamic Community Party 46 0.41
Mathlaul Anwar 33 0.29
Al-Khairat 50 0.44
Nahdlatul Wathan 97 0.86
DDII 51 0.45
Perti 137 1.21
GUPPI 43 0.38
LDII 10 0.09
Independent 2,616 23.13
Others 572 5.06
Source: Tempo(Jakarta), February 24-March 1, 2004.


In the field of education up to 2010, Muhammadiyah has 4,623 kindergartens, 6,723 early childhood schools, 15 schools for the disabled, 1,137 elementary schools, 1,079 Islamic elementary schools, 347 religious schools, 1,178 junior high schools, 507 Islamic junior high schools, 158 Islamic senior high schools, 589 senior high schools, 396 vocational schools, 7 religious teacher schools, 101 Islamic boarding schools, and 3 vocational schools in pharmacy. In the level of higher education, up to 2010 Muhammadiyah has 40 universities, 93 institutes, 32 academy, and 7 polytechnic. In the field of health, up to 2010 Muhammadiyah has 71 general hospitals, 49 maternity clinics, 117 public health service/public health services for women and children, 47 polyclinics, and other health services. In the field of social welfare, up to 2010 Muhammadiyah has 421 orphanages, 9 senior citizen houses, 78 family fostering, 1 house for the blind, 38 death benefit, and 15 BPKM. In the field of economy, up to 2010 Muhammadiyah has 6 BPR (Bank of Public Credit), 256 Baitul Tamwil (Islamic Financial Institutions), 303 cooperatives.

Data Amal Usaha Muhammadiyah

Jenis Amal Usaha
1 TK/TPQ 4.623
Sekolah Dasar (SD)/MI
Sekolah Menengah Pertama (SMP)/MTs
Sekolah Menengah Atas (SMA)/SMK/MA
Pondok Pesantren
Jumlah total Perguruan tinggi Muhammadiyah
Rumah Sakit, Rumah Bersalin, BKIA, BP, dll
Panti Asuhan, Santunan, Asuhan Keluarga, dll.
Panti jompo *
Rehabilitasi Cacat *
Sekolah Luar Biasa (SLB) *
Masjid *
Musholla *

(Muhammadiyah official website)


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This entry was posted on November 6, 2013 by in 【Indonesia-ish & SEAsia】.
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