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Muhammadiya h a nd T he C halle nge o f

Modern I ndones ian C ommunity

Suprayetno W


Suprayetno W, lahir di Medan pada tahun 1963. Menyelesaikan pendidikan dasar pada tahun
1976 di Sekolah Dasar Islam Persatuan Amal Bakti (PAB) Medan Estate kemudian
melanjutkan ke Sekolah Menengah Pertama di tempat yang sama dan selesai pada tahun 1980.
Cita-cita untuk menjadi guru direalisasikan dengan melanjut ke Sekolah Pendidikan Guru
Negeri I Medan dan tamat pada tahun 1983. Program Sarjana Strata 1 ditempuh di Fakultas
Tarbiyah IAIN Sumatera Utara dan diselesaikan pada tahun 1990. Tahun 1997 menyelesaikan
program Master di Institute of Islamic Studies McGill Univesity, Montreal, Canada. Saat ini
sedang menekuni program Doktoral di Program Pascasarjana IAIN Sumatera Utara. Karya-
karya tulis yang pernah dihasilkan antara lain. (1). “Robert J. Sternberg And Ibn Hazm On
The Nature Of Love” dalam The Dynamic of Islamic Civilization diterbitkan oleh Titian Ilahi, Yogyakarta tahun
1998. (2) “Perlukah Anak Hukuman Badan ?” dalam Kumpulan Artikel Psikologi Anak diterbitkan oleh Intisari
Mediatama, Jakarta tahun 1999. (3) “Modernisasi Sistem Pendidikan Pesantren” dalam Pranata Islam di
Indonesia yang diterbitkan Logos Wacana Ilmu, Jakarta tahun 2002. (4) “Kepribadian Individu Dan Masyarakat
Muslim Dalam Tantangan” dalam Kepribadian dan Pendidikan diterbitkan Cita Pustaka Media, Bandung tahun
2006. (5) “Tantangan Psikologis Era Reformasi Dalam Penegakan Jati Diri Muslim Indonesia” dalam Pendidikan
dan Psikologi Islami diterbitkan Cita Pustaka Media, Bandung tahun 2007. (6) “Hubungan Interpersonal
Konselor-Klien” dalam Pendidikan dan Konseling Islami diterbitkan Cita Pustaka Media, Bandung tahun 2008.
Sejak tahun 1992 sampai saat ini mengabdikan diri di IAIN Sumatera Utara sebagai dosen Psikologi Agama.

Since its establishment on November 18, 1912 the Muhammadiyah has been known as an

Islamic Modernist movement in Indonesia, which has proclaimed itself as a tajdd (modernist)

movement. In its early days this modernist or tajdid label fit the Muhammadiyah, because its

method of propagating Islam stood in contrast to those of the traditionalists. Its educational

activities, contrasted to those of the Nahdatul Ulama (NU) in their pesantren, the Muhammadiyah

applied a modern educational system introduced by the Dutch. As a result their students were able

to find employment in government and in private companies. The Muhammadiyah educational

movement was in forefront of fulfilling and anticipating the needs of the community. In

organization Muhammadiyah applied modern management techniques at that time, and in religious

activities the Muhammadiyah is known for its purification programs which separated adat from

Islamic doctrine. Moreover, as a tajdd movement, the Muhammadiyah interprets Islamic doctrine

in a way which paralleled developments and problems encountered in the community. This

movement resulted in the achievement of Muhammadiyah in its education, social, youth, women


The complexity and the rapidity of the development of the Indonesian community in the

modern era has resulted in the degradation of both social and religious values. Moreover, the

achievement of Indonesian economic development lead to social change in Indonesia, or in other

words the Indonesian community has now become materialist and secular. The Muhammadiyah is

required to respond to these problems immediately and accurately. However, in its ijtihd efforts

Muhammadiyah emphasized Islamic worship, namely aqidah and fiqh rather than social issues.2

This ijtihd is done by referring to the Qur'n and adth without further interpretation of its social

and historical context. As a result the ijtihd is formulated without the conjunction of modern

social problems. Or in other words, Muhammadiyah, at least in the last two decades, has tended

to be a salafiyah (reformist) movement rather than a mujtahid movement.

Referring to M. Amin Abdullah, at there are at least three problems faced by

Muhammadiyah at the present time3: First, ijtihd concentrated on worship rather than on the

social religious context of the community, which is a more complex matter in recent times.

Second, the traditional methods used by Muhammadiyah in interpreting the Islamic doctrine are

not relevant to the development of science and technology and social culture of the Indonesian

1 M. Amien Rais, "Beberapa Pemikiran Islam Kontemporer di Indonesia" in Pergumulan

Pemikiran dalam Muhammadiyah, ed. Sukriyanto A.R. and Abdul Munir Mulkhan, (Yogyakarta:
Sipress, 1990), p. 40

2 M. Amien Rais, " Harus Berani Melakukan Perubahan" in Suara Muhammadiyah, 1995,
11, p. 7

3 M. Amin Abdullah, "Muhammadiyah dan Tantangan Modernitas" in Ulumul Qur'an, VI,

2, 1995, p. 24

community in the modern era. Third, the organizational structure should be widened in a manner

appropriate to the development of the community and the complexity of the problems arising in

the community, therefore modern management methods should be applied.

It can be said that the first and the second problems correlate with the application of ijtihd.

Since its establishment, the Muhammadiyah's concepts of ijtihd and tajdd have always focused on

human historicity which covers problems of the nation (ummah).4 As a tajdd movement the

Muhammadiyah placed relate its activities in the context of an Indonesian community which is

always developing. Therefore, the Muhammadiyah's interpretation of tajdd should be dynamic and

creative. In fact that, in the colonial era and until the 1980s, the reformation the tajdd of the

Muhammadiyah programs were always followed by practical action and always met the needs of

Indonesian community, for example, establishing educational institutions and hospitals which were

affordable by the poor. In the last two decades Muhammadiyah reformist programs seem to

anticipate the problems encountered in the community temporarily. Temporary solutions to the

issues which arise can be seen from the establishment of many departments in the Muhammadiyah.

For example, the Muhammadiyah established the Lembaga Pengkajian dan Penelitian

(Department of Research and Development) in order to anticipate the issue of reformation. The

problem is, at the present time, the temporary solution is not enough for the community which

faces more complex problems then in previous times. For this M. Amien Rais states:

"It should be noted that the condition of our community now is different from the

condition in the last few decades. We are now moving to the industrialization era

and we are now facing the gradual and constant urbanization process. We are also

now facing the kinetic image that is quickly overwhelm at any aspects. While we

4 ibid

should also notice the values degradation resulted from the pragmatism concept of

the community which then leads to the emergence of new ethic and morality."5

Therefore, it is essential for the Muhammadiyah to redefine its concept of tajdd and even

to reexamine the ijtihd, which has been formed in order to find solutions which are not just able to

anticipate present problems but are also able to predict new problems and solutions. Of course it

is difficult for any organization at the present time to undertake ijtihd individually, but it can still

be done collectively. For this Muhammadiyah gathered together all its ‘ulam and intellectuals.

Unfortunately, it is a fact that, "there is no place for intellectual creativity in

Muhammadiyah",6 and this neglection of intellectual discourse then leads to of the

Muhammadiyah's weaknesses to be proactive to the social problems in the community. It is

assumed that the concentration on practical activities has succeeded in making the

Muhammadiyah one of the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, but this concentration also

caused the Muhammadiyah to ignore intellectual discourse.7

In the case of organizational management the Muhammadiyah should change its traditional

management to a more modern management system. M. Amien Rais states:

It should be examined that both hardware and software in Muhammadiyah more or

less is in the backwardness. For example, in the secretariat office of the centre of
Muhammadiyah in Yogyakarta and Jakarta the file system is done manually and
conventionally. Computer which in the last fifteen years has been revolutionized
and has revoluted many organization and modern management as well as modern
communication and transportation, in both secretariat has not been introduced and

5 M. Amien Rais, " Muhammadiyah Menyongsong Abad 21" in Pergumulan Pemikiran

dalam Muhammadiyah, ed. Syukriyanto A.R. and Abdul Munir Mulkhan, (Yogyakarta: Sipress,
1990), p. 118

6 M. Amien Rais, ibid

7 See M. Din Syamsuddin, "Konservatifisme dan Reformisme Muhammadiyah" in

Muhammadiyah dalam Sorotan, ed. Usman Yatim and Almisar Hamid, (Jakarta: Bina Rena
Pariwara, 1993), p. 291-296.

has not even been applied.8

Moreover, the management of the Muhammadiyah flows from the centre to small branches

formed voluntarily the membership give the moment a lower priority than their affairs.

Muhammadiyah is one of the biggest organization which has the great potential to create social

welfare in Indonesia; it cannot rely for its mobilization on amateur administrator, it must be

managed professionally. This leads to bring the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of the

Muhammadiyah results in its failure to realize its programs.

According to M. Amien Rais, there are three problem faced by the Muhammadiyah: First,

the problem of developing reliable and competitive human resources. Second, the problem of

relevance of the programs and the activities to globalization issues. Third, the problem of creating

social justice for Indonesian society.9 Indonesian development, especially in the fifth Rencana

Pembangunan Lima Tahun (Repelita or Five-Years development Plan) which focuses on

industrialization, requires that a population who have skills in science and technology. Since the

progress and the achievement of Indonesian development depends on the educational level of its

people, the Muhammadiyah will find that it is best able to contribute it if it is able to maintain an

educational system which is relevant to the development of science and technology. Indonesian

development, of course is not only focused on materialism but is also focused on spiritual aspects.

As it is mentioned in Garis-Garis Besar Haluan Negara (GBHN or Broad Outlines of the

Nation's Direction) that:

Pendidikan Nasional berdasarkan Pancasila, bertujuan untuk meningkatkan

ketaqwaan terhadap Tuhan Yang Maha Esa, kecerdasan dan ketrampilan,
mempertinggi budi pekerti, memperkuat kepribadian, dan mempertebal semangat
kebangsaan dan cinta tanah air, agar dapat menumbuhkan manusia-manusia
pembangunan yang dapat membangun dirinya sendiri serta bersama-sama
8 M. Amien Rais, "Muhammadiyah Menyongsong Abad 21" in ibid, p. 119

9 See M. Amien Rais, "Harus Berani Melakukan Perubahan", ibid.

bertanggungjawab atas pembangunan bangsa"10

From this it is clear that national education is based on Pancasila, and that the purpose of a

national education system is to increase piety towards God, intelligence, skills, morality, strength

of character, nationalism and love of the fatherland. In this way everyone will be able to develop

both himself and the nation. On the basis of this statement, the Muhammadiyah's educational

institutions are part of the National Education scheme and play an important role in helping to

achieve government objectives. The problem is how Muhammadiyah can exploit its resources in

education by managing its schools, from the primary to university level, which are spread

throughout the Indonesian archipelago.

As a part of the Indonesian national educational system, the Muhammadiyah cannot ignore

Indonesian government's curriculum, but they still have freedom in maintaining their own

educational standard. For example, Muhammadiyah has succeeded in making the whole month of

Raman a holiday session in its schools. Regarding the regulation of Indonesian government in

education, it is difficult for the Muhammadiyah to deviate far from the government system. Yet,

there is still a room to do so by enlarging the time schedule and the objectives of some subjects. In

my opinion, Muhammadiyah can go further than this by establishing a new kind of educational

institution which is a part of the Indonesian national educational system but also has more

freedom in maintaining its system as it is shown by Nahdatul Ulama with their pesantren system.

Needless to say, the da‘wah (Islamic propagation) programs of Muhammadiyah tended, in

order to purify and implant a new seed of faith in the Islamic community have made solid

contribution to the fulfilment of the spiritual aspects of Indonesian development. This program is

given in both formal and non-formal sectors. In the formal sector the Muhammadiyah implant the

morality and ethics of its members and the community through education institutions by providing
10 GBHN 1993

religious teaching in its schools and universities. While in the non formal sector it is given through

pengajian rutin11 held at all levels of the organizational structure.

In this era of globalization, mass media plays an important role in spreading ideas and

ideology. Muhammadiyah, however, does not take serious consideration of this matter.12 The only

tool that Muhammadiyah has to spread the information nationally is its journal Suara

Muhammadiyah and Suara Aisyiah which the operation has not yet been able to handle

professionally. Indeed, the development of communication technology and transformation in this

modern era leads to the explosion of information, in this case, mass media plays an important role.

Moreover, da‘wah is related closely to the spreading of information. Therefore, in this era of

globalization an information clash cannot be avoided, and the Muhammadiyah should take part on

it, otherwise, its ideas and ideology will remain unknown.

As an organization which proclaims itself as a non political organization, Muhammadiyah

concentrates its programs on educational and social issues. This has lead to the passive

involvement of the Muhammadiyah in political practice from the colonial era to the present time.

However, in the 21th century, it will be important for the Muhammadiyah to deal with political

thought, as well as law, social ethic, social justice, environment, and modern technology; in its

ijtihad agenda.13 The involvement of the Muhammadiyah in the political arena seems to be

important because as one of the largest Islamic organizations Muhammadiyah represents the

Indonesian Muslim community in the political arena in order to bring their aspirations to the

11Pengajian rutin (routine preaching) held weekly and is attended by the members of
Muhammadiyah and its sympathizer as well as the community at large. The aim is to deepen
Islamic knowledge, the faith, as well as the morality.

12 See Nasional, Muhammadiyah di Panggung Nasional, Suara Muhammadiyah, 1995,

11, p. 9-10

13 See M. Amin Abdullah, ibid, p. 26

government. Moreover, in Islam there is no separation between state and religion. If they are

examined accurately, it is apparent that many Indonesian government policies are not in line with

Islamic doctrine and are even in conflict with Indonesian Muslims.14

Although Muhammadiyah is lack of involvement in political arena makes it more flexible

and easy to maintain its activities and leads to a concentrate on educational and social issues, the

Muhammadiyah are still unable to become more progressive in these activities; these two

programs still cannot meet the needs of the Indonesian community in certain areas. In my opinion,

this is because Muhammadiyah puts its emphasis more on fiqh and tauhid,15 social and economical

issues mostly are mostly dealt with legitimation in shar‘ah or fiqh. Behind all of this da‘wah

(propagation) becomes merely tabligh (giving speech) that is, da‘wah activities are limited only
asking people from the podium to do good deeds and not to do evil deeds. In the economy

sector, for example, the Muhammadiyah still cannot improve the economy standing of the middle

and lower classes; the situation was made even worse when many of Muhammadiyah's batik

factories went bankrupt because their inability to compete with modern factories. Therefore, it is

important for the Majelis Ekonomi (Economic Board) of Muhammadiyah to make an effort to

deal with these classes. sectors.

Compared to other programs the economic programs seems have not matured yet,

because in its early days the Muhammadiyah do not see the economic program was important in

Muhammadiyah activities. This maybe because the supporters of Muhammadiyah in its early days

14For example the prohibition of wearing jilbb at school and office lead to the suspending
of Muslimah students and workers.

15 This emphasis can be clearly seen in the TBC ( Tahyul, Bid‘ah, Churaft) programs
which are intended to eradicate superstition, heresy and myth which contradict Islamic doctrine.

16 See Ahmad Watik Pratiknya, "Dakwah dalam Era Indonesia Moderen: Kesenjangan
Antara Kemestian dan Kenyataan" in Pergumulan Pemikiran dalam Muhammadiyah, p.138

were aristocrats and merchant; the economy is not seen as a major problem by the organization. 17

The immaturity of these programs are shown in the report of Majelis Ekonomi in Muktamar

Muhammadiyah 43 (43th Muhammadiyah Congress) in Banda Aceh.18 From this report it can be

concluded that the failure of economic programs was not merely because of the organization's

foundation or its financial situation, but mostly was caused by a lack of skill in economic matters,

management, and research.19

It is a fact that many banks in Indonesia, both government banks and private banks, have

not yet payed appropriate attention to the lower class community. Realizing this fact, the Majelis

Ekonomi planed to establish the Bank Perkreditan Rakyat (BPR or Community Crediting Bank)

as this mandate was given to the PT. Mentari Bina Artharaya in Jakarta has three function: first, it

functions as a consultant in the establishment and licensing of BPR; second, it provides in house

training and regular training; third, it provides guidance and counselling for the operations of the


Much of the agenda of the Majelis Ekonomi has not been realized yet, among of them

are: First, the establishment of trading houses as a marketing place for products which produced

by Muhammadiyah members. Second, the creating of a counselling board in technology and

capitalization sectors. Third, the establishment of Balai Latihan Kerja (BLK or Job Training

Bureau) and Lembaga Penyaluran Tenaga Kerja (Employment Distribution Bureau). Meanwhile,

the Muhammadiyah Cooperation Centre has not been established yet; the full development of the

Suara Muhammadiyah, Majelis Ekonomi: Yang Muda Yang Berkarya, Suara

Muhammadiyah, No. 14, 1995, p. 23

18 ibid, p. 24

For example, in this case, a castor oil plantation project in Lebak. The failure of this
project was caused by the inability to understanding land structures and plant diseases.

20 ibid, p. 26

economy of the community has not been achieved yet because of a lack of labour skills in this


Compare to Darul Arqam movement in Malaysia,21 in term of the propagation and social-

economic programs, Muhammadiyah is far behind this organization. In its age of 25, Darul Arqam

has had established its centres in 16 countries, USA, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Australia,

New Zealand, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia

and Uzbekistan.22 Darul Arqam definitely realized the importance of mass media in spreading their

ideas. For this they published sixteen news papers and magazines, produced video cassettes which

includes documentaries, religious teaching, and dialogues.23 Moreover, in propagating Islam Darul

Arqam used Islamic cultural presentation which was held in five-star hotels, public parks and

exclusive halls. For this Darul Arqam established its Department of Culture provide the training in

the School of Islamic Culture and Arts which established in 1991.

In term of socio-economical programs Darul Arqam purposed to creates the welfare not

only for its member but also for the entire Muslim ummah through its Department of Welfare

which established "to provide services among humans, to confront problems of life, and to create

a caring and cooperative society".24 In the year 1993 Darul Arqam possessed 417 economic

projects all over Malaysia. among them: 56 manufacturing factories, 20 mini-markets, 52 grocery

shops, 36 bookstores, 21 tailor shops, 12 workshops, and 18 restaurants. Also Darul Arqam had

produced 60 brands of foodstuff, cosmetics and other goods. Moreover, Darul Arqam had

21 Darul Arqam was founded by Imam Ashaari At Tamimi in 1968.

22 See Darul Arqam, 25 Years of Darul Arqam: The Struggle of Abuya Sheikh Imam
Ashaari Muhammad At-Tamimi, Kuala Lumpur: Penerbitan Abuya, 1993, p. 179

23 See, ibid, p. 192

24 ibid, p. 196

physical assets in supporting its activities and creating the welfare of its members, among of its

assets are 48 villages (total area of 293.2 acres), 92 vehicles of various kinds(including taxi) in all

over Malaysia. In addition, the financial of Darul Arqam came from its agriculture, husbandry,

fishing, and farming.25

In my opinion, the success of Darul Arqam lies on its socio-economical, cultural and

sufistic approach in spreading its ideas, and in propagating Islam it is not trapped in the theoretical

land but practise it in the daily life. Moreover, Darul Arqam runs its organization by applying

modern management.

In the sector economy, social welfare, social justice and propagation, Muhammadiyah

should adopt Darul Arqam's organization system. Also, Muhammadiyah should apply the sufistic

approach in its propagation activities in order to maintain the good personality of its member.

Really, shar‘ah approach cannot maintain the human personality effectively, how many Muslims

who understand exactly the Islamic doctrine but they do not practise and even break it. This

because the shar‘ah approach is just able to make people understand the Islamic doctrine but

cannot feel it, so any worship are performed without feeling. For enhance the feeling towards

worship, love towards God and God's creature is the task of sufism.

Apart from its weaknesses and problems, Muhammadiyah has contribution in the

development of Islam in Southeast Asia. This can be proved from the establishment of

Muhammadiyah organization in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, and they established Komite

Musyawarah Muhammadiyah se ASEAN (The ASEAN Muhammadiyah Conference Committee)

in May 2nd, 1993.26 Uniquely, the relationship of these organizations is not structurally but

ideologically, or in other words, the Muhammadiyah in each country is independent from other
25 For further information, see ibid, p. 194-202.

26 See, Suara Muhammadiyah, 1995, No. 2, p. 15

but they have the same ideas and system as a reformist and modernist movement.

It is time for Muhammadiyah to reexamine its form, system and programs in order to be a

modernist movement as it is declared. Frankly speaking, theoretically Muhammadiyah is a

modernist (tajdd) movement but practically it is a reformist (salfiyah) movement. This is

important for Muhammadiyah in order to relevance its programs and activities to the modern

Indonesian community, otherwise, it will be left behind by the Indonesian community and

Muhammadiyah feel satisfied in the nostalgic its golden age.



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------- Jaringan Bisnis Muhammadiyah, Suara Muhammadiyah, 1995, No. 14, p. 49-51

------- Muhammadiyah di Panggung Nasional, Suara Muhammadiyah, 1995, No. 11, p. 9-10

------- Diperlukan Upaya Alternatif, Suara Muhammadiyah, 1995, No.2, p. 18-19