A Book Review

By: Herri Mulyono

There are two main issues emerged by Achmad Jainuri in explaining history and struggles of Muhammadiyah and people in early period of its movement; ideology and reformation. The term Ideology in general view is shown as “set of beliefs and goals of a social or political group that explain or justify group’s decisions and behavior”[1] that in a very simple way, Jainuri explains it similar as “organized collection of ideas.”[2]

The term “ideas” in Jainuri’s book mostly appears to provide clear understanding on what is meant by ideology beside “thought” and “view on religion” as Jainuri himself uses those terms in “ideas to reflect Muhammadiyah’s interest and social commitment” (p. 8) and “… it is not a coincident that the most important ideas from Islamic modern scholar in 19th and 20th century were derived from early reforming movement.” (p. 17). For the practice, the term ideology then is shown as collection of ideas and believes which are established to achieve their purposes. Jainuri give details that the ideology of Muhammadiyah is intended strongly to give obvious direction, justification, efforts and defense of the organization for the conduct of reformation in certain religion aspects.

The reformation carried out by Muhammadiyah and people in early period of its movement as explained by Jainuri was not about to bring out a new ideology on Islam or new establishment of Islamic scholar rather than “purification.” The use of word “purification” in discussion of his book of course cannot be put similarly with the renaissance movement in darkness age of 14th to 17th centuries – Catholic Church might feel to shame for using that darkness age but mostly refer to middle age.[3] The renaissance was emerged to cut down the roles of church in daily human lives as it interfered too much and was used for many political purposes. The renaissance was to much talking about how community encouraged themselves to against “corruption and hypocrisy in the Catholic Church” in 15th century.[4]

In contrast, the term “purification” brought out to the surface by Jainuri (e.g. on p.14, p.17 and p.18), mostly refer to the interference of intellectual in interpreting the religion; particularly refer to Koran and al-hadits and how the religion is practiced in daily interaction. Such idea seems close to What Muhammad Abduh suggests that the Islamic teaching might run under the basis of rationale and thought as well. This conduct emerges the reforming action of Muhammadiyah people to expose and interpret Islam on the basis of intellectual properties. This seems later to oppose traditional practice of Islam as mostly shown by the NU peoples as many Muhammadiyah activists made extreme changes in religious life. In its early movements, Muhammadiyah activists often clashed with other Islamic practices which are commonly conducted by the traditional NU people. The practice of hisab in effort of determining of the beginning of Ramadhan and Syawal for example has become debate between the two organizations that sometime arises tension from the two’s followers.

In stating clear issue of reformation conducted by the activists of Muahmmadiyah, Jainuri exploits two main areas; they were reformation on religion domain and social aspects. These two areas later continue to practice until recent movements of Muhammadiyah. On domain of religion, the reformation was to emerge the understanding and practices of religion on the basis of cognitive perspective (p. 100), willingness of each Moslem to carry out his duty (p. 105), and open tolerance and plurality as well (p. 112). For the perspective of human cognitive, Islam was fundamentally established as ideology and inspiration (p. 77) while then Moslem was to keep his balance between materialistic and spiritual happiness (p. 77). In this regard, Moslem is to keep genuine characteristics of religious practices by avoiding misleading influences.

Furthermore, Janinuri explains that through the reformation on religion domain, Islam has to be reconstructed firstly by giving the fundamental understanding of religion and its practices. This conveys ethics and ways to understanding the religion under cognitive perspective, ijtihad, and tarjih (p. 99-105). Secondly, this principle generates the philosophy of tolerance that Muhammadiyah views the absence of single legitimacy of religion practices (p. 177). In this sense, Jainuri clarifies that there is no absolute decision for each group of religion to attempt and might differ from others in understanding religion on certain contexts and situations.

Reformation in social aspects fundamentally reconstructs new concept of learning, that Jainuri says, the main goal of it is merely to achieve bless of God (p. 89) by implementing knowledge on social life (p. 91). In such practice, every Moslem has responsibility to serve his society (p. 91). Muhammadiyah raises issue that all practices of religion have to tailor with social responsibility (p. 147-178). This means the achieving goals is certainly indicated by successful daily social life and vice versa. On other word, religion practices fundamentally take account on social life conditions.

For the implementation of the above ideology and reformation both in religion domain and social aspects; Jainuri emphasizes three points that could be recommendation for our leaders, politicians, workers and all people that; tailoring religion to social life must be synergized and proven by real works, not merely talks but actions, and limits numbers of comments while working.

[3] Chatolic Encyclopedia, available at

[4] Paper #049201 :: The Catholic Church during the European Renaissance


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