Rashid Rida’s lnfluence and Networks in Indonesia

By: Dr. Umar Ryad

Assistant Professor “Islam in the Modern World”, Leiden University

Building up an Islamic reformist readership community spanning from North America, to Africa and South East Asia and China. Printed words as means of transmission of reformist knowledge in Indonesia.Indonesian students in Cairo as a significant channel of transmitting Al-Manar ideas to the Malay-Indonesian world.During the period of its publication 1S98 1935, Rashid Rida received almost 134 questions from the Malayo Indonesian world, and some 26 articles in the form of articles, announcements and messages.This correspondence laid a solid foundation for dialogue between Islamic reform movements in Egypt and Muslims in Indonesia.Although the Dutch authorities tried to ban al-Manar from entering the colony, its issues were smuggled through ports where the Dutch were not active, especially through the port of Tuba of East Java. The Dutch did not however censor its shipment to Ahmad al-Surkati of al-Irshad movement in the Archipelago. Besides Al-Manar agents, pilgrims to Mecca and Medina had also introduced Rida’s ideas in many parts in Indonesia.

Al-Manar’s name was also mentioned in some contemporary Islamic fictive novels. Al-Manar’s influence has resulted in the establishment of two reform magazine in Indonesia and Singapore: namely a/-//7?am(1906-1908} anda/-Afun/r)(1911-1916)Al-Imam: kaum muda (or kaum al-Manar) versus [kaum tua).Itwas established by Sheikh Muhammad Tahiribnjalaluddinal-Azharial-Minangkabawi who was born in Sumatra in 1869. He studied in Mecca and at Al-Azhar, and stayed in Cairo for 4 years where he established close ties with Rida and contributed to his journal.

Al-Munir was established by prominent leaders of kaummuda. It was the first Islamic journal published in Padang by Hajji Abdullah Ahmad in April 1911-1916. It translated many of al-Manar’s articles on reformism, ijtihad, modernism etc. Rida’s accusation of the Dutch authorities in Indonesia of adopting newschemes for christianising the whole Archipelago.

Indonesian students in Mecca should read modern newspapers or magazines or works of history, sociologyand geography. Such a small country as the Netherlands was ableto colonise and exploit millions of people. In RiHa’s view, the Dutchhad followed a unique and successful way in evangelising Muslims,especially in Depok, a village between Batavia and Bogor. He was toldthat missionaries were dispersed among Muslims in remote villages.while ‘enlightened’ Arab Muslims were entirely forbidden to enterthem. They also studied religious superstitions and ‘false’ beliefs thatcirculated among_j;he locals, describing them as part of the people’sfaith in order to convince them of the ‘fallacy’ of Islam. They supportedtheir arguments by focusing attention on the deterioratingstate of Muslims as compared to the flourishing state of their Christianfellow citizens in knowledge, wealth and status. As a result, the inhabitantsof these regions converted to Christianity,, and started to ‘hate’MusIims. RiEa explained cynically that ‘when a Muslim entered [thesevillages], he would not find shelter. None of the inhabitants wouldgive him a cup of coffee or water; nor would they meet him or talkto him. Was Jesus sent to instil animosity and hatred among peopleto such a degree? Or was it the European policy which was far fromthe religion of Christ

‘If the Dutch continued in their policy, all Indonesian islandswould easily change into another Spain/The Javanese journal al-Wifdq (edited by the Meccan publicist Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Sa’Id al-Fatta] reported to Ridha that the Dutch authorities intensified their ‘prosecution’ of Muslims injava by inspecting worshippers during the time of the prayer. Thejournal commented that Muslims should always obtain permissionwhenever they wanted to establish congregational prayers, whereasmissionary workers were given all the space to hold their gatheringsand spread their publications over the whole island.

As early as 1930; Muhammad Basyunl b. Muhammad Tmran(1885-1953], one of the followers of al-Manarm Indonesia (Sambas,West Borneo], sent Rilzla a query requesting him to refer it to Prince ShakibArslan.The query focused on the causes of Muslim decline as compared tothe progress of the Western world. Arslan promptly answered thequestion in the form of a well-known treatise (known as LimadhaTakhkhar al-Muslimunwa Li madhaTaqqadamaGhayruhum) tackling the reasonswhy Muslim nations stagnated while the others experienced rapidprogress. The treatise has become one of the significant contributionsby Arslan to al-Mandr.

brought forward his appeal to Arslanto write un the subject as a continuation of what ‘Abduh and Ridha had already written in their defense of Islam. Although it addressedMuslims, the treatise was primarily an indirect response to theWestern incursion in the Muslim world. In his attack on Afghani, Abduh and Rida, UthmanlbnAqil accused Rida of being “Tarik al-Salah (neglecting prayers) and a freemason who denies the authenticity of hadith.


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Modernity”, Mediterranean to the Chinese Sea: Miscellaneous Notes, Claude Guillot, Denys Lombardand RoderichPtak (eds.), Wiesbaden, Harrasowitz, 1998, p. 93-111.

Azra, Azyumardi. “The Transmission of al-Mandr’s Reformism to the Malay-Indonesian World: the Cases of al-Imam and al-Munir”, Studialslamica, 6/3 (1999), p. 79-111.

Bluhm, Jutta E. “A PreliminaryStatement on the Dialogue Established Between the Reform Magazine al-Manaraud theMalay-Indonesian World”, Indonesia Circle, 32 (1983], p. 35-42,

Bluhmjutta E. “al-Manarand AhmadSoorkattie: Links in the Chain of Transmission of Muhammad ‘Abduh’s Ideas to the Malay-Speaking World”, Islam: Essays on Scripture, Thought and Society, Peter G. Riddell and TonyStreet (eds.); Leiden, Brill, 1997, p. 295-308.

Bruinessen, Martin van. ‘Basyuni Imran,’ in Dictionnairebiographique des savantsetgrandes figures du monde musulmanperipherique, du XIXe siecle a nosjours,Fasc. no 1. Paris: CNRS-EHESS, 1992.


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