On August 17th, 1945, Sukarno and Hatta of Indonesia proclaimed independence from the Dutch. It was a simple statement. These Founding Fathers felt that the proclamation had to be made post-haste, before the Dutch could re-invade Indonesia after the Japanese defeat. In this sense, the atomic bombs detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki became birth pangs for the new Indonesian Republic.
Sukarno had his reasons for refusing to define Indonesia in Islamic terms, possibly including his penchant for procuring numberless nubile Indonesian maidens for his sexual pleasure. Among the more valid of these reasons, however, was also the absolute reliance on money from the non-Muslim Indonesian communities and their foreign patrons to defend the fledgling republic.
In addition to pleasing the wealthier of these non-Muslims by restricting the Independence Proclamation to the simplest language not referring to any cultural or religious elements, Bung “Karno” claimed to have had a sort of revelation on some hillside that inspired the Indonesian national ideology known as “Pancasila”. This inspiration involved five elements, or pillars, which early apologists said were analogous to the “five pillars” of Islamic worship.
The analogy was not a very good one, yet nevertheless, in spite of Karno’s promises to re-instate Shari’ah in the founding documents as soon as independence was secured, this promise to the Muslims has not been fulfilled to the present day. One Sumatran patriot named Kartosuwirdjo later lost patience and proclaimed another independence for Indonesia, calling his homeland the “Negara Islam Indonesia”, or, the Indonesian Islamic Republic. Kartosuwirdjo was prompty murdered, some say by Sukarno’s own security people.
NII people are active to this day, in trying to wrest power from the Jakarta “Pancasila:” government by exclusively non-violent, educational means. Their complaint with the Sukarno-Hatta regime and its legacy of the Pancasila ideology, was, and remains, that it has diluted and emasculated Islam out of all recognition.
Vast efforts have been expended in writing “Pancasila” textbooks for the public schools, enforcing loyalty to Pancasila by means of extreme legal penalties, brainwashing college graduates in two-week, full-time “Pancasila Instensives” before they are given their diplomas, and so on. Nevertheless, in spite of translating Islamic values and ethics into something called “Morale Pancasila” for the school children, the central government went right on plundering the country and building a thoroughly corrupt civil service.
In retrospect, although Pancasila is still in place, it would seem obvious that it cannot be enforced. Stalwart followers like to claim that it is a good thing that has never been implemented properly. More realistically, perhaps, Muslim critics observe that nothing Sukarno experienced on that hillside in the 1940’s can possibly equate with the Revelation vouchsafed to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), and that therefore there is a deficit of “Taqwa” in Pancasila that has allowed Indonesia to build one of the most thoroughly corrupt governmental and business communities in human history.
Here in Malaysia, efforts have lately been made to render Islam more palatable to the international community by means of something called “Islam Hadhari”. If, however, we read the “Ten Principles” of “Islam Hadhari”, we find the exact same dilution of Islamic values as in Pancasila, to the extent that, as with Pancasila, no one in the secular humanist or United Nations universalist world could find a single thing to disagree with.
However, upon further consideration, and reflecting on unsettling new tendencies in the Malaysian Opposition’s own plans for representing and protecting an Islamic majority community in future events and documents, I have re-read these “ten principles” previously reviewed. This time though, I noticed that there is not one single Islamic “identity marker” in the lot. In other words, no one would know they were derived from “Islamic values” unless they were told. Islam has been homogenized to fit the global world. Protection of the beliefs and practices for which Muslims have always had to struggle by means of “Jihad al Akbar”, starting with our belief in “Tawheed”, is neither provided nor encouraged.
The question arises, both with regard to the “Hadhari” campaign of the present government, and the “reformation” agenda of the Malaysian opposition, where is the Taqwa? Where, indeed, is Islam? Looking at the Pancasila precedent, and in the context of a somewhat crumbling western society, what is there of Taqwa (poorly translated as “fear of God” or “fear of sin”) to prevent these modernized, universalist settings of Islamic values and culture from self-destructing along with everyone else?
We must now also raise the issue of problems for “interfaith dialogue”, as propounded by the Malaysian and Singapore governments, and even the United States government, if such dialogue is restricted to “values we share”. Almost anyone can share the values of Pancasila or Hadhari. That is not the point. The transubstantiation of the sin-prone human personality is effected by the Islamic “ibadah” (or “rituals” as westerners like to say, subconsciously denigrating it as usual), and no discussion of shared values without reference to the transforming power of the Islamic “Five Pillars of Performance” can ever really mean very much.
And then, when there was a proposal for some consideration of Islamic practices as distinct from values at a recent “interfaith” conference sponsored by the US State Department itself (lavishly funded in true American style), only very thinly disguised hostility from the western side was encountered. It seemed obvious to the Muslim audience in attendance that these westerners really had no intention of learning anything from us. They seemed to want mainly to be thought “nice guys” and are spending their money to ingratiate themselves to us while subconsciously avoiding any real interface with the elements of worship without which we would be indistinguishable from other religions, and in fact, thoroughly emasculated.
Malays are defined as professing Islam in the Federal Constitution. Intercultural, as distinct from interfaith, dialogue may be useful. Matters of culture are more open-ended and flexible, whereas matters of deepest faith are not. But if the political opposition compromises the Founding Documents of the country too much, or too far, in order to please others, Malaysia may be truly finished.