Rationality and Enlightenment: A Comparison of Educational Reforms Promoted by Gülen Movement and Muhammadiyah

1. Introduction

It is a great honor for me to be with a group of such distinguished colleagues from Indonesia and abroad who have gathered here to discuss the significance of Gülen movement (GM hereafter) in the contemporary world.

I have been working on Islamic social movements in Indonesia over almost four decades now. Since the 1990’s, I have also extended my geographic coverage to other parts of the Islamic world mostly through Malay speaking peoples’ networks. However, it was only three years ago (2008) on my second trip to Turkey that I learned the existence of the GM. A Turkish Japanese couple organized a group tour, and my wife and I joined it. The couple has been supporters of the movement and trying to spread its network in Japan. In Turkey, my wife and I were introduced to the leaders of the Journalists and Writers Association, and visited a couple of Gülen -inspired centers in the eastern part of Turkey. Through that trip, we came to know for the first time the fact that GM in the form of ‘Turkish schools’ was extending to Indonesia, too, and also to other parts of Southeast Asia. Then, on a later occasion in Indonesia, we had a chance to visit Kharisma School in the out skirt of Jakarta, even though it was a very brief visit. Those visits made us curious of the GM very much and we started to learn more about it through its publications and website information. Then, the above-mentioned couple organized again a group trip to Turkey the last summer. My wife and I were exposed again more of Gülen-inspired activities now going on in the country.

Thus far, as you see, my knowledge and understanding on the GM has been very limited. But the movement is attractive enough for me as a researcher on Islamic movements to make me venture into a comparison with the Muhammadiyah movement in Indonesia, which I have been familiar with for many decades.

I am aware of the fact that my Australian colleague Dr. Barton has already produced an excellent paper analyzing the development of GM in the national context of modern Turkey with a comparative view to Indonesian parallels.[1] It is a very useful analytical comparison of the development of moderate Islamic movements in the two countries. So, I do not dare to attempt to replicate Barton’s work. What I want to try in this presentation is to review essential features of educational reforms promoted by Muhammadiyah and GM, to place them in the historical contexts of Turkey and Indonesia respectively, and then to examine them in the contemporary global contexts.

As pointed out by Barton, the two robust Islamic social movements in Indonesia, Nahdlatul ‘Ulama’ (NU hereafter) and Muhammadiyah, have many parallels to GM. However, I will focus my attention mostly on Muhammadiyah partly because its education system is perhaps the most extensive in the Islamic world and comparable to GM as Barton pointed out, and partly because I am more familiar with Muhammadiyah than with NU. Nevertheless, I will mention NU as well when it becomes relevant to my discussion.

2. Reformism of Muhammadiyah

As I said above, I have been observing the development of Muhammadiyah, a reformist Islamic social movement in Indonesia, for the past four decades. Its founder, Ahmad Dahlan (1868-1923), was a khatib (preacher) of the Royal Mosque of Yogyakarta Sultanate. He was inspired by the ideas of modernist Islamic thinkers, Jamaluddin Al Afghani, Mohammmad Abduh and Rashid Ridah, during his stay in Mecca in the last decade of 19th century and the earliest decades of the 20th century. He advocated ‘return to the Qur’an and Sunnah (The Porphet Muhammad’s deeds and sayings)’, rejected taqlid (blind obedience to the established legal schools), and employed ijtihad (independent reasoning) in order to liberate and purify Islam from deviant and syncretic traditions of Javanese Islam. He endeavored to re-invigorate Islam (tajdid) to counter Christianization and colonialist modernization by adopting modern sciences, technologies and institutions. The movement, supported by progressive ulama and indigenous urban middle classes, rooted well in Yogyakarta and soon spread to other parts of the Dutch East Indies. By the outbreak of the war in the Pacific region in 1941, it grew to become one of the strong undercurrents of Indonesian nationalism, and helped win the victory in the independence war in 1949 by mobilizing widely the Muslim population against the Dutch.

2-1. The Achievements of Muhammadiyah

The movement’s most remarkable achievements over the past one hundred years are obvious in the areas of school education and medical and social welfare services. The Muhammadiyah schools, combining Islamic and secular subjects, have spread all over the country and presented a model for national education. The movement has also constructed a national network of modern medical and welfare institutions, which also presented the forerunner of government institutions in these areas. These are all achieved on the basis of voluntary contributions and active participation of its members and supporters. In the area of institution building, the most effective way was to receive wakaf (waqf), i.e. permanent donations of properties, mostly lands, from the faithful for the construction of mosques, schools, or hospitals.

Today, Muhammadiyah has grown to be the largest private school system in Indonesia with more than 10,000 educational institutions --- ranging from playgroups and kindergartens to colleges and universities. It also operates more than 450 institutions of medical services including hospitals, clinics, delivery houses; more than 450 social welfare institutions including orphanages, elders houses, the poor houses; and more than 550 economic mutual help associations including microfinance unions and cooperatives.[2] The movement is now widely recognized as the second largest Islamic faith-based civil society organization in Indonesia with roughly thirty million members and supporters, alongside its ‘rival’, i.e. the traditionalist Islamic organization, NU, which claims forty million members and supporters.

2-2. NU’s Reforms

NU, established in 1926 as an association of traditionalist ulama in counter to the modernist movements like Muhammadiyah, has been modernizing itself significantly. The basis of NU, pondok pesantren = Islamic boarding schools, now totaling at approximately 20,000 places with 3 million santris (students), have maintained good part of traditionalism and also absorbed a good dosage of reforms. NU’s madrasas are now not much different from Muhammadiyah’s. Interestingly, in terms of adaptation to changing situations in the modern world, NU is often more progressive than MD due to the methodology of fiqh.

2-3. Nationalism and Modernity in Muhammadiyah

In the modern history of Indonesia, the earliest decades of 20th century were the time when nationalistic urge gathered strengths to have given birth to a number of organizations. The period was to be remembered as the age of the ‘movements’ (zaman pergerakan). Muhammadiyah was born in this period sharing concern for the colonial subjugation of the Indonesian people. Among others, Dahlan’s perception on the sorry state of Islam and Muslim community in Indonesia, it was caused by the weakness and backwardness of the community of Islam itself.

Dahlan thus emphasized the needs for awakening and self help. He often quoted The Qur’an, Sura 3, The House of Imran: 104, which reads “And let there be one group of you who call people to good, and urge them for virtuous conduct and restrain them from evil deeds. Those are the ones who prosper.”[3] Also Sura 13 Thunder : 11, which reads “God changes not what is in a people, until they change what in themselves.”[4]

Based upon these Quranic injunctions, the fundamental character of the movement has been defined as the one led by the motto: “amar ma’ruf nahi munkar,” or roughly meaning “inviting people to virtuous conduct while restraining them from evil deeds.” From this perspective, the Muhammadiyah movement has been a movement of enlightenment, promoting ‘re-Islamization’ or ‘internal conversion’ among the Muslim population of Indonesia, liberating them from the yoke of traditional Islam (kolot) to the acceptance of progressive Islam (maju) on the basis of rationality.

By the way, it should be mentioned here that NU started as a reaction to the emergence of reformism and modernism in global context. In fact, NU as an association of traditionalist ulama was formed in an immediate reaction to the abolishment of khalifat by the newly born Turkish Republic in 1924. Before that, as with all Sunni Muslim communities over the world, the Indonesian faithful paid allegiance to the Sultan of Ottoman Empire at every Friday prayer gathering.

The Muhammadiyah movement employed the methods of propagation (dakwah), informal social education through pengajian (religious lecturing), and formal education through school education. Nationalism, the use of Bahasa Indonesia, as official language of the organization in verbal communication as well as in official printing; efforts to unite all Muslim ethnic groups in the Netherland Indies, and enhance cooperation with secular nationalist movements in the struggle for independence.

2-4. Rationality and Independent Thinking

In Muhammadiyah, rationality and independent thinking were encouraged, with the implication of not to be subjugated by Western intellectual dominance as well as by the constraints of local traditional social hierarchy, superstitions and irrational customs.

This was typically seen in the fields of education and social welfare. Muhammadiyah from the beginning adopted modern western school system in a definite break from the traditional system of Islamic education in Indonesia, i.e. pondok pesantren. It adopted ‘graded class system’ with a structured curriculum for consecutive school grades. It introduced ‘class hours’ in which instructions were given by teachers within a limited time according to curriculum and textbooks. It gave periodic tests to assess the achievements of pupils. They passed or failed according to the results of tests. And all this was given in classroom, in which pupils sat on chairs or banks in front of desks while the teacher used a blackboard for instruction. The content of instruction consisted of secular subjects following the ones given at government schools while the teaching of Islamic religion, especially the essentials of the Qur’an, was given within the curriculum. Thus a typical name for such a Muhammadiyah elementary school during the Dutch rule was HIS, Hollandsch Inlandsche School met de Qur’an, or Dutch Native School with the Qur’an.

According to Amir Hamzah Wirjosukarto, who has written a classical work on Muhammadiyah’s education, the founder of Muhammadiyah K H Ahmad Dahlan launched its schools in order to educate:

(1) Muslims to equip with high morality deriving from The Qur’an and Hadith with their broad understanding;

(2) Muslims who possess full individuality in the sense of balanced development between spirit and body, faith and reason, and feeling and thinking; and

(3) Muslims who possess positive social attitude in the sense of being always prepared to work for the progress of society. [5]

Thus, morality, rationality, and social engagement were set as the basic guideline of Muhammadiyah education by Ahmad Dahlan.

Here a mention should be made on the attitudes of Muhammadiyah towards Sufism: It rejects tarekat as personal cult, which, it said, is not allowed in Islam, but it emphasizes the importance of building ‘good character’ (akhlak) and attainment of internal peace. So, individual practice of dzikir (repeating God’s names) is tolerated. In contrast, NU recommends and recognizes tarekat as a legitimate component of Islam.

In one of its earliest national conference held in Yogyakarta where Javanese language, instead of Bahasa Indonesia, was still used, one participant emphasized the significance of Muhammadiyah’s new educational approach by declareing, “Bocah-bocah, dimerdekaake pikire” (Chirdren, Do Independent Thinking!”)[6]

In practice, modern science, technology and social institutions developed and brought by Western powers were adopted actively yet selectively in order to uplift the intellectual levels, professional skills, and living standards of the Muslim population. To make this point clear, Muhamaddiyah’s educaters have often quoted Dahlan’s instruction as follows:

“Become a medical doctor and then come back to Muhammadiyah; Become an engineer and then come back to Muhammadiyah; and Become a lawyer and then com back to Muhammadiyah.”[7]

The appeal by Dahlan was well heeded by Muhammadiyah youths, and, as a result, a number of well-educated individuals in modern institutions of higher education, domestic as well as overseas, emerged by the end of the Dutch rule. They played an important role in Muhammadiyah leadership in the Japanese occupation period, and during the war for independence, and in the post-Independence period.

2-5. Social activism for Islamic philanthropy

Another Sura of the Qur’an often quoted by Dahlan was Sura Al Mau’n, which urged humane concern and sympathy for the orphans and the needy. On the basis of this injunction, a department called PKO was launched in 1921. PKO was a short for Penolong Kesengsaraan Oemum or Assistance for Those Suffering. Its immediate purpose was to help victims of the eruption of Mt. Kedu, a volcano. Thereafter, it has become one of the major areas of Muhammadiyah to engage in philanthropic activities to help alleviate public sufferings including poverty, disease, and victims of natural disaster. Also medical services for the public was provided by PKU (PKO), not only for curing medication but for enlightenment as well. For, PKU was instrumental in combating the influence of dukun, or magic doctor, who employed traditional healings with a good dosage of magic and sorcery. In particular, dukun bayi, mid-wife, who was usually called in to assist delivery of baby had very low standards of sanity or medical knowledge. The result was a very high rate of deaths of mother and/or baby at the delivery and thereafter. PKU’s facilities maintaining modern sanitary standards and instructions given to mothers concerning their and their baby’s health have resulted in a significant reduction in the mortality rate of deaths at child birth. So, PKU was not only providing medical services but also enlightening the community in terms of scientific hygiene knowledge. Thus Muhammadiyah has impacted on society at two fronts, i.e. education and medical services.

Modernity, rationality, nationalism and social activism are the explicit features of Muhammadiyah from the beginning. In those spirits, organizations for women, ‘Aisyiyah, and for young boys, Hizbul Wathon (Patriotic Troops) were also established as autonomous organizations of Muhammadiyah and became quite active in a number of cities before the outbreak of the war in the Pacific.

2-6. Muhammadiyah and National Education

After the WWII, Muhammadiyah has become truly a national movement in the sense that its branches spread over to all major cities of the country. Schools and clinics under the Muhammadiyah’s management were established in those places. Muhammadiyah’s schools presented a model for faith-based private schools in that they were built and managed by a large number of volunteers and supported financially a good amount of wakaf and monetary donations. In many places, those Muhammadiyah schools were in sharp contrast to government schools, many of which became under the influence of PKI (Communist Party of Indonesia) and leftist nationalists in PNI (Nationalist Party of Indonesia) in the 1950’s and the early part of 1960’s. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education became a stronghold on these two leftist parties. So, after the regime change from Soekarno’s ‘Guided Democracy’ to Soeharto’s ‘New Order’ in 1965-66, a new direction of Indonesian government’s education policy was sought. To start with, the government under the firm control of anti-Communist, anti-Soekarno army, purged all these leftist teachers -- perhaps numbered in tens of thousands -- from the field of primary and secondary education in addition in addition to those who were arrested or killed because of their apparent affiliation with those parties.

Meanwhile, a new policy guideline was needed to fill the void left by those purges and more positively to prepare ‘human resources’ to meet the need of long term programs for ‘modernization and development’, which became the fundamental goal of the Soeharto’s government. Amir Hamzah’s work cited above also mentions the fact that, after a period of secularist dominance in the field of education policy under the New Order, the significance of religious education as integral part of national education came to be emphasized as a means of national character building and, for that, the educational model of Muhammadiyah was given serious consideration as a basis for ‘consensus formation’ in formulating basic policy for national education.[8] However, the strategy for national education of the Soeharto regime seems to have experienced a zig-zag course especially concerning the positions of civic and religious education.

Since the so-called Soeharto’s ‘Islamic turn’ occurred in the early 1990’s, government’s attention for the education reform a la Muhammadiyah model seems to have become truly serious. This was exemplified by the fact that a Muhammadiyah leader was appointed to Minister of National Education by President Habibi who succeeded Soeharto in 1998.

On the part of Muhammadiyah, it has maintained and developed its own identity through the Soeharto era including the field of education. It maintained the stance of ‘critical partner’ for the government on the basis of the principle of “amar ma’ruf nahi munkar”. At the level of ideal individual personality, emphasis was placed on the balanced development of akhlak, a good character internalizing devotion to God, honesty, sincerity, selflessness, dedication, asceticism, discipline, and loyalty. Muhammadiyah, while growing rapidly in terms of members and institutions, maintained tight unity in spite of the enormity of its organization growth. No serious internal splits, even minor differences in opinion rarely went beyond the boundaries of the organization since the integrity and internal unity of the organization was given top priority. So much so that, the election of leadership, held in every five years at all levels of the organization, took a very elaborate way to ensure legitimacy and authority of elected leadership. There was little room for factionalism or intervention from the outside.

2-7. Muhammadiyah in Post-Modern contexts

The organization is now one hundred years old. Drastic changes have occurred in external situations surrounding Muhammadiyah during the decent decades. At the national scale, urbanization has progressed deeper and wider transforming its ‘traditional constituencies’, i.e. urban middle classes, more atomized, diversified and heterogeneous. Meanwhile, government services have improved greatly, exemplified by the spread of PUSKESMAS (primary medical and health service centers) to almost every corner of the country providing easy access for the large portion of the population to these services at a low cost. The growth of government as well as private educational institutions was also one of the most distinct results of the development program of the Soeharto’s era. Popular accessibility to primary to higher education was significantly improved during his rule. Thus, ‘monopoly’ or the pioneering position of Muhammadiyah in the fields of education and welfare services have become largely over or insignificant in many places of the country.

Meanwhile, with the growth, Muhammadiyah’s schools and social welfare institutions have been experiencing bureaucratization and commercialization while getting less competitive in quality of services and less beneficial for the ‘customers’. Also challenges from other Islamic movements have been keenly felt in recent years. At present, Muhammadiyah seems to be seeking the ways to counter these tendencies by re-invigorating its entire organizational activities. Entering the second century of its history, Muhammadiyah is now faced with the challenges of post-Modern world squarely. It seems to stand at a critical crossroads.

3. Characteristics of GM

Now let me shift my discussion to GM. The first point to be mentioned is the fact that it is a relatively young social movement. It was originated in the 1970’s by Fethullah Gülen, who was born in 1938. Gülen’s birth year is 70 years later than that of Ahmad Dahlan, 1868, who established Muhammadiyah in 1912. So, there exists a time span of more than half a century between the two movements besides the difference in the place where they were born, Turkey and Indonesia. Implications of those differences in time and space will be discussed later, but here it should noted briefly that GM was initiated in modern Turkey, which was newly born as a secular nation state out of the legacy of Ottoman Empire, which collapsed under external attacks and internal revolution. When Muhammadiyah was started, Dahlan’s Java was still under the yoke of Dutch colonial rule, in which the Sultanate of Yogyakarta was allowed to survive with full obedience to the colonial overlord. As anticipated from preceding discussion, there are many similarities as Islamic reformers obtained between the two figures, Ahmad Dahlan and Fethullah Gülen, but the movements they led do differ significantly, too. So, after making a brief review on GM’s general features, let me focus of those similarities and differences between the two figures and the two movements and discuss their significances.

However, at the outset of discussion on MG, I must warn the distinguished audience the following: Since my knowledge and understanding on GM is still meager, so please correct me if I err. Also please provide me accurate information if mine is wrong or insufficient. Since what I am going to say about GM may be a lot of my own hypothetical assumption instead of validated fact.

3-1. GM’s General Features

As mentioned before, my acquaintance with GM people and their activities are still brief. Even so, my impression about them is almost in full agreement with the observation made by an American couple, Karen & Michael Fontenot, and reported in the recent conference proceedings[9] as follows:

“Generally, Gülen’s followers are enthusiastic, hard-working, highly motivated, and filled with good will. They lead purposeful lives, labor without expectation of tangible reward, and more concerned about the quality of the work than whether they will receive credit for it. Most of all, they have tended to internalize one of Gülen’s most significant ideas – that everyone, through their daily activities and daily lives, can positively influence the world.”

I believe that nothing more is necessary to add to this brief but precise characterization of GM supporters.

3-2. GM and Education

As everybody with a modicum of familiarity with GM will acknowledge, the strategy for a new educational movement is central to GM. On this point, a paper presented in another conference on GM by a pair of academics from within the GM provides a succinct statement on its major characteristics as follows:

“Notable characteristics of Gülen’s educational framework include a high status for the enterprise of education and the profession of teaching, an altruistic approach to service in education, the idea of reward-free sponsorship, non-politicization, successful combination of the scientific outlook with sound morality, and an emphasis on a healthy educational environment conducive to success in every field of human endeavor including science, math, arts, language, and sports. None of the activities of the GM schools breach the limits of the system or break the laws of the countries in which the operate.”[10]

3-3. GM and Islam

Besides these beautiful summary characterizations just quoted above, let me add a bit of my own observations, not so much as a description of MG’s reality but rather as a questioning of why things are like that. The first point of my observation of this nature is the position of Islam in GM. In spite of the very fact that Fethullah Gülen is an Islamic scholar (‘alim) and was an official religious leader (imam) appointed by the government, his teaching has not been narrowly Islamic but rather wide enough to emphasizes the need to full-fill the spiritual quest of men and women in modern Turkey. To answer the quest, Gülen presents a set of universal values and invited Turkish men and women to engage in the noble work of hizmet, altruistic dedication for common good. Apparently, GM has been free of sectarian tendency of any faith-based social movement. I wonder how it was possible for Mr. Gülen and GM. Perhaps, here comes in the historical context of GM. GM proudly looks back to the heritage of the Ottoman Empire, especially its civilizational tolerance with religious and cultural pluralism. Also, the secularism of the modern Turkish republic is so deep that any hint of sectarian Islamic revivalism was out of question.

3-4. GM and ‘Turkish Patriotism’

The second feature of GM, which I have noticed with full curiosity, is the co-existence of nationalism, or one should rather say ‘patriotism’, and cosmopolitanism. Gülen himself emphasizes the necessity on inheriting Turkish traditions and culture. He also praises the contribution of the Turkish Army who defended independence and integrity of the Republic. Symbolically, loyalty and obedience to the founding father of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, are expressed constantly in the everyday life at Gülen schools. Learning of the history of heroic struggles for the creation of the Republic is also the must in their school curriculum.

At the same time, Gülen and GM urge a cosmopolitan approach in spreading MG schools outside Turkey with emphasis on the use of English as an indispensable teaching subject as well as a central teaching medium at secondary level of education. Perhaps, this cosmopolitanism is again deriving from the Ottoman heritage in which the global extension of its civilization was a natural thing. Then, what about the patriotic Turkishness in the cross-cultural contexts? Personally, I was puzzled by the picture of Ataturk hung on the wall of the central hall at Kharisma Bangsa School in Jakarta. Turkish patriotism in a cosmopolitan school in the capital of Indonesia? Is this not a combination or mixture of mutually antagonistic elements in one receptacle? Can we expect a creative fusion?

On this point, there is undoubtedly a recent acknowledgement by Mr. Gülen himself that the contemporary mankind has become “a global village.” So, the above-mentioned mixture might be indication the direction of a kind of natural intellectual development in the future. But, I wonder how Turkish activists of GM are negotiating in practice universalism and cosmopolitanism a la Ottoman Empire of GM and local culture and language in which they have to live and work. I was a bit shocked when I found that no one among the Turkish staff and teachers at the Jakarta school had a command of Bahasa Indonesia. Perhaps, I can anticipate in the near future a development in which fruitful mutual cultural and civilizational penetrations, or fusions, will occur in a number of places where GM is working in the world.

3-5. Amorphousness of GM

The third point of my curiosity about GM: that is the amorphousness of the movement. Barton characterizes it as an ‘organic movement’. Indeed GM was born and promoted by a number of people’s spontaneous dedication (hizmet). However, according to my observation, it defies the sociological common sense of ‘voluntary organization’ or ‘voluntary work.’ The notion of ‘voluntary organization’ usually contains the explicit purposes or goals to achieve through collective action, the definition of membership and the method of affiliation (and withdrawal and elimination), the rights and duties of members, the organizational structure and the ways to elect its leadership, the membership fees and other sources of income, and transparency in treasury and mechanism to guarantee its accountability, etc. It is not just a ‘voluntary work’ either, in the sense that a supplementary element in established institutions, usually unpaid yet forms a part of them as sufficient factor to promote their smooth running. GM’s ‘voluntary work’ is far more than that, constituting the core or indispensable elements of GM-inspired schools, dormitories and others.

So, GM does not have any of the attributes of voluntary association or voluntary work in their textbook definition except for that it consists of a series of the basic units of operation, i.e. individual units of schools, dormitories, teaching centers, etc. Yet, GM does exist and grows rapidly as a robust ‘organic’ movement worldwide. Defying sociological common sense, it grows and spread globally like an amoeba, if not a virus.

GM has emerged to the horizon of 21st century world, with the message of the common duty for every human being to eliminate ignorance, poverty and division from the mankind. It is gaining momentum in many places of the world, significance of which cannot be denied by anybody now. Perhaps, all those who are engaged in education, governmental as well as private, will soon be required to take a stock of their own endeavors in the light of the achievements and promises GM is offering.

3-6. The relevance of GM for Muhammadiyah

Now let me talk specifically about Muhammadiyah in reference to GM.

Muhammadiyah has been an Indonesian Muslims’ adaptation to the paradigma of modern nation-state. So is NU. Now the first point to which attention should be paid among GM’s endeavors is, according to my observation, its firm commitment to universalism. In other words, the reference group of GM is not longer the ummat Islam of Turkey or the Turkish nation either, but the entire mankind.

Certainly, recently both Muhammadiyah and NU emphasize the point that Islam is ‘Rahmatul Alamin’, the blessing of God upon the mankind, and they pursue global solidarity for peace and prosperity of the mankind across national borders and cultural and civilizational boundaries. Both are engaged in concrete actions for those purposes in the forms of ‘World Forum of Peace’ sponsored by Muhammadiyah and ‘International Conference of Islamic Scholars’ organized by NU. Yet, in both cases, Islam is still the reference point, not the mankind. Should and can we expect from Muhammadiyah and/or NU a kind of Copernican revolution of paradigm in approaching the matter of global solidarity proposed by Mr. Gülen?

On the level of everyday activities on the ground, the centrality of schools and teachers in GM is so obvious. The identity and ideals of teachers are defined as an ethical model for students and also as change agent in that regard. Now, to what extent, is this proposition comparable to the cases of Muhammadiyah and NU?

As a long time observer of Muhammadiyah, its recent bureaucratization is so obvious. Many of Muhamamdiyah teachers have become paid workers not much different from any office workers. Worse still, those Muhammadiyah teachers who are educated and qualified in pedagogy or as the teachers of subjects in school curricula tend to regard Muhammadiyah schools to be the second choice in getting jobs since Muhammadiyah schools offer lower wages and less favorable fringe benefits compared to government schools, and insecurity for pension years. In my view, how to re-invigorate its teachers’ corps is one of the fundamental challenges Muhammadiyah faces now. Is it possible at all? If not, what is the alternative?

3-7. Challenge of Paradigm Change for Post-Modernity

Finally, what is the relevance of the paradigmatic change in GM for the adaptation of world Muslims to the challenge of post-modernity? Are the Indonesian counterparts of GM, i.e. Muhammadiyah & NU prepared to follow the suit of GM and universalize its movement, especially its education? If they are, how are they going to do it?

This is all for my presentation at this moment. Probably, I have posed more questions than answers. I humbly hope that my questions are meaningful to ignite fruitful discussion among us. Thank you.


[1] Greg Barton, “Progressive Islamic thought, civil society and the Gülen movement in the national context: parallels with Indonesia,”2005, Fethullah Gülen On-Line.

[2] Program Muhammadiyah Periode 2010-2015, Pimpinan Pusat Muhammadiyah, 2005-2010, p.25. Also, see website, Muhammadiyah On-Line.

[3] English translation adapted from A.J.A.Arberry, THE KORAN INTERPRETED (MACMILLAN 1955), p. 87.

[4] English translation from A.J.A.Arberry, THE KORAN INTERPRETED (MACMILLAN 1955), p.268.

[5] Pembaharuan Pendidikan & Pengajaran Islam, Universitas Muhammadiyah Jember, 1985 [1962], pp.86-87.

[6] Quoted from M. Nakamura, The Crescent arises over the Banyan Tree, Yogyakarta: Gadjah Mada University Press, 1983, p. .

[7] Quoted from Nakamura, ibid., p.

[8] Ibid., pp.116-125, “Kearah konsesnus nasional.”

[9] Conference Proceedings, East and West Encounters: The Gülen Movement, December 5-6, 2009, University of Southern California, LA, CA, pp. 15-18.

[10] Yuksel A. Aslandogan and Muhammed Cetin, “The Educational Philosophy of Gülen in Thought and Practice,” in Robert A. Hunt and Yuksel A. Aslandogan (eds.), Muslim Citizens of the Globalized World: Contributions of the Gülen Movement, Somerset, NJ: The Light, Inc & IID Press, 2006, pp. 31-54.

Mitsuo Nakamura, Professor Emeritus of Chiba University, Japan, has been engaged in research on Islamic social movements in Indonesia since the early 1970’s. His major publications include The Crescent Arises over the Banyan Tree: A Study of the Muhammadiyah Movement in a Central Javanese Town, Gadjah Mada University Press, 1983, with Sharon Siddique and Omar Farouk Bajunid (eds.), Islam and Civil Society in Southeast Asia, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2001, and Islam and Democracy in Indonesia: Observation the 2004 General and Presidential Elections, Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School, 2006. After graduating from Tokyo University with a BA in philosophy, he moved to cultural anthropology, obtaining an MA from Tokyo, and then a PhD from Cornell (1976) on the basis of field study concerning the development of Muhammadiyah, a modernist Islamic social movement, in Kotagede, Yogyakarta. After years of teaching and research at University of Adelaide, University of Indonesia, ANU, Harvard’s Center for the Study of World Religions, he came back to Japan in 1983 to teach at Chiba until retirement in 1999. Meanwhile, he has widened his academic interest to cover traditionalist Islam as well, i.e. Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) in Indonesia. He has been active in creating networks of young scholars of Japan studying Islam in Southeast Asia and has tried to connect them with Muslim public intellectuals in the region. He has also expanded his field observations geographically to other parts of the Islamic world including Iran and Turkey. After retirement from Chiba in 1999, he has served as a consultant for some government and private institutions including the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) as its Senior Research Advisor, 2001-2003.