MOCH NUR ICHWAN, - (2012) THE MAKING OF A PANCASILA STATE: POLITICAL DEBATES ON SECULARISM, ISLAM AND THE STATE IN INDONESIA. In: Political Debates on Secularism, Islam and the State in Indonesia, SOIAS Research Paper Series. Sophia Organization for Islamic Area Studies, Institute of Asian Cultures, Sophia University.

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Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, Yogyakarta Writing in the early 1970s, B.J. Boland said: “As a ‘Pancasila State with a Ministry of Religion’, Indonesia chose a middle way between ‘the way of Turkey’ and the founding of an ‘Islamic State’. A ‘secular State’ would perhaps not suit the Indonesian situation; an ‘Islamic State,’ as attempted elsewhere, would indeed tend ‘to create rather that to solve problems.’ For this reason, the Indonesian experiment deserves positive evaluation.” (Boland 1982 [1971]: 112) Studying Islam in modern Indonesia, Boland concluded that both the secular state and the “way of Turkey” and Islamic states are not suitable for Indonesia. He viewed the Indonesian concept of a “Pancasila State with a Ministry of Religion” proposed by the founding fathers of Indonesia as a solution to this problem. He also suggested that Indonesian experience is a model that deserves consideration and positive evaluation. As a Western scholar, I suppose, he idealized secular states, yet he did not view these as the best model for Indonesia. Boland knew how secularism and Islam have long been debated in the country with no concrete result except for the middle way, or the third model, of neither a secular nor Islamic state. This is referred to as a Pancasila State, in which religion is administered and managed by a special Ministry of Religious Affairs Debates on secularism and secularization in Indonesia, as elsewhere, are modern phenomena.2 In the West, they came after the Enlightenment, and in the Muslim world, they came along with the wave of colonization.3 In most Muslim countries, debates on Islam and secularism end with the victory of one over the other, either with the victory of Islam, such as in Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia; or the victory of secularism, such as in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia. In Indonesia, the debates led to the formulation of a compromising ideology, as most Indonesians believe it to be, called “Pancasila” (lit., five pillars). Most mainstream Indonesian Muslims do not consider Pancasila as “secular,” simply because it contains the pillar of “Belief in One Almighty God,” and because the other four pillars are not in contradiction with Islam. As a compromising, synthetic ideology, Pancasila has been officially described as “neither a secular nor a religious ideology” and it has been claimed that Indonesia is “neither a secular nor a religious state.” However, as a matter of fact, there has been a process of both secularization and religionization (especially Islamization) in the name of Pancasila, depending on the forces of secularization and religionization forces in parliament, government and society. State formation and ideological struggles are important aspects of history that should be taken into account when understanding secularism(s) in both Western and non- Western societies (Esposito 2009; Kuru 2007). While in many parts of the Muslim world, Muslim independence movements were dominant, in Indonesia Muslim and secular nationalist movements equally contributed to the struggle for independence. The slogan of jihad and nationalism were aired side by side, and in some cases even fused to each other. The secular nationalist leaders, Western-educated members of the elite like Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta, were even considered to be unifying leaders, or to use Feith’s (1962) term, “solidarity makers,” who attracted both nationalist and Islamic groups. There was an association between secularism and nationalist groups, the members of which were mostly Muslims, as the latter idealised a non-religious, secular nation-state, while there was antinationalist rhetoric voiced by certain conservative Muslim leaders and organizations both before and after independence.4 However, most of the founding fathers representing Muslim groups in the sessions before and soon after independence on 17 August 1945 supported nationalism. Indeed, most post-colonial Muslim countries have been governed according to the Western secular paradigm (Esposito 2009), but do not conduct official political debates on religion and state, although intellectual debates do sometimes occur. This was the case in Egypt, Turkey (Göle 1996; Navaro-Yashin 2002; Kuru 2009), Tunisia (Moore 1965), and several other secular Muslim countries. Indonesia is one of the rare cases in which the state encouraged official political debates on the relations of religion and state between different parties many times—and not just once at the beginning Official political debates were an important medium through which secular and Islamic parties articulated and communicated their ideological views. The present article shall deal with the political debates about secularism, Islam and Pancasila in Indonesian history. I use the term “political society discourse” to refer political debates, polemics and controversies that involves political societies, as opposed to civil societies. I use the term “political society” here to refer to the realm in which competition for political power takes place. It includes political parties, legislatures, president, and elections as well as rules of political competition (Linz and Stepan 1996). I will argue that Pancasila—or Pancasila secularism—constitutes, as Abdurrahman Wahid (2001) has rightly put it, a “mild secularism,” in which relative (not absolute) separation between state and religion is maintained, but allows at the same time the former’s moderate administering of some of the latter’s public affairs, on the one hand, and the latter’s moderate values and norms to inspire the former, on the other hand.6 If secularism contains three basic theses (Casanova 1994: 3-6), viz., separation of state and religion, privatization of religion and differentiation between religious and non-religious spheres, they are not fully and strongly implemented, because there has always been some degree of religiousness present, and this could not easily be abandoned. As for the official political debates, they were mostly related to the separation thesis, rather than to privatization and differentiation, but there has also been an association of secularism (also in the sense of separation) with nationalist groups and of anti-secularism with Islamic groups.7 This study will contribute to the knowledge of how secularism has been indigenized creatively as part of Indonesian political culture. This study will also show that secularism and Islam could mix in their milder sense in order to endorse a more democratic form of politics for Muslim society. To explore this subject, I will focus on political debates during the end of the Japanese occupation period, in which the concept of Pancasila was first proposed, and soon after independence on 17 August 1945, in which the Jakarta Charter was dismissed and the Ministry of Religious Affairs was established; during the Constituent Assembly (between 1956 and 1959), in which the basis of the state was debated again and the Presidential Decree was issued to return to Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution, with the Jakarta Charter as the foundation of the latter; during the New Order, especially in the 1968 and 1983 MPRS sessions in which it was decided that Pancasila would be sole basis of the state, and the 2000 and 2002 MPR sessions in which Amendment of Article 29 on religion was debated. Without neglecting its importance, I will not discuss non-official debates during the Dutch colonial and post-colonial periods, except in passing, because they are beyond the scope of my study.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Pancasila State, Political debates, Secularism, Islam
Subjects: Pancasila
Divisions: Paper
Depositing User: Miftahul Ulum [IT Staff]
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2015 11:36
Last Modified: 01 May 2023 14:12

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