We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Islamisation and Its Opponents in Java

A Political, Social, Cultural and Religious History, c. 1930 to Present

M.C. Ricklefs

Publication Year: 2012

The Javanese -- one of the largest ethnic groups in the Islamic world -- were once mostly "nominal Muslims", with pious believers a minority and the majority seemingly resistant to Islam's call for greater piety. Over the tumultuous period analyzed here -- from colonial rule through japanese occupation and Revolution to the chaotic democracy of the Sukarno period, the Soeharto regime's aspirant totalitarianism and the democratic period since -- the society has changed profundly to become an extraordinary example of the rising religiosity that marks the modern age. Islamisation and Its Opponents in Java draws on a formidable body of sources, including interviews, archival documents and a vast range of published material, to situate the Javanese religious experience from the 1930s to the present day in its local political, social, cultural and religious settings. The concluding part of the author’s monumental three-volume series assessing more than six centuries of the on-going Islamisation of the Javanese, the study has considerable relevance for much wider contexts. Beliefs, or disbeliefs, about the supernatural are important in all societies, and the final section of the book, which considers the significance of Java’s religious history in global contexts, shows how it exemplifies a profound contest of values in the universal human search for a better life.

Published by: NUS Press Pte Ltd

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (583.4 KB)

List of Tables

pdf iconDownload PDF (93.7 KB)
pp. x-xi

List of Maps

pdf iconDownload PDF (57.2 KB)
pp. xii

List of Illustrations

pdf iconDownload PDF (95.8 KB)
pp. xiii-xiv

List of Abbreviations

pdf iconDownload PDF (114.8 KB)
pp. xv-xvii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (108.0 KB)
pp. xviii-xix

This is the final volume in a series concerning the history of the Islamisation of the Javanese people. Beliefs — or disbeliefs — about the supernatural are important in any society, so this series seeks to address questions that are not about the Javanese alone. The first of these books was...

read more

Transcription and Orthography

pdf iconDownload PDF (159.7 KB)
pp. xx-xxi

In the period covered in this book, the writing of Javanese in its own script died out and was almost completely replaced by a romanised form which does not distinguish between different sounds for e (as Javanese script did). Because of this and in order to be consistent throughout this...


pdf iconDownload PDF (93.4 KB)
pp. 1

read more

1. Islamisation in Java to c. 1930

pdf iconDownload PDF (633.2 KB)
pp. 3-20

The Javanese developed a sophisticated literary and religious culture and were governed by sophisticated elites long before Islam made its first recorded appearance in Javanese society in the 14th century. This earlier civilisation was inspired by Hindu and Buddhist ideas and left behind legacies of...

read more

2. Under colonial rule: Javanese society and Islam in the 1930s

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.7 MB)
pp. 21-58

It is rare for significant redirections in history to be associated with a particular year, not just as a convenient metaphor of historians, but as something that was actually visible in events. It is even more unusual for two such turning-point years to occur neatly one hundred years apart. Yet so...

read more

3. War and Revolution, 1942–9: The hardening of boundaries

pdf iconDownload PDF (652.9 KB)
pp. 59-79

Sandwiched between the 1930s and 1950s lies the chaos of the Japanese occupation and the Indonesian Revolution. This was a time of intense upheaval and hardship, of political and social conflict that was immensely influential in shaping the future social, cultural, political and...

read more

4. The first freedom experiment: Aliran politics and Communist opposition to Islamisation, 1950–66

pdf iconDownload PDF (941.1 KB)
pp. 80-115

The period of liberal democracy and the subsequent ‘Guided Democracy’ period (from the late 1950s to 1965) were characterised by what is known as aliran politics. The term aliran is found in both Javanese and Indonesian in closely related meanings. In Javanese it means a channel for diverting...

read more

5. The totalitarian experiment (I): Kebatinan, Christian and government competition and the end of aliran politics, 1966–80s

pdf iconDownload PDF (2.5 MB)
pp. 116-203

The political regime that developed in the second half of the 1960s was dubbed the ‘New Order’ by its leader, General Soeharto. It aspired to totalitarian control through condominium by a dominant military — above all the army — and a collaborating civilian bureaucracy, which...

read more

6. The totalitarian experiment (II): Grass-roots Islamisation and advancing Islamism, c. 1980s–98

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. 204-256

The break between the preceding chapter and this one is rather artificial, as often with historical periodisations, and the years covered overlap. The aim of this chapter is to show how, from roots that we have seen in the preceding chapter, in the last 20 years or so of the New Order four major departures...

PART II. COMING TO FRUITION, c. 1998 to the present

pdf iconDownload PDF (96.1 KB)
pp. 257

read more

7. The political and social settings

pdf iconDownload PDF (592.0 KB)
pp. 259-273

In the following seven chapters, we will observe a major transformation in the social, political, religious and cultural dynamics of Java, and hence of Indonesia. This history is, like all histories, plagued by imperfect and contradictory evidence and multiple, often confusing, directions of events...

read more

8. An Islamising society

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.5 MB)
pp. 274-317

Quite unlike Javanese life in the 1930s to mid-1960s, in the post-Soeharto era, from politics to government to culture to social practices to literature to academic life, Islam is prominent. Forty years ago an academic seminar began with the presenter saying selamat pagi or selamat sore (good morning...

read more

9. Efforts to impose conformity of Islamic belief

pdf iconDownload PDF (907.4 KB)
pp. 318-340

Javanese society has historically hosted a wide variety of ideas about the supernatural, and at certain times pious reformers sought to eliminate local idiosyncrasies. The first major wave of reform in modern times began in the mid-19th century and contributed to the polarisation of...

read more

10. Large-scale Modernist and Traditionalist movements on the defensive

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 341-370

While there are many individuals and agencies involved in the deepening influence of Islam in Javanese society, the largest players are unquestionably Muhammadiyah and NU. The precise numbers of their followers c. 2011 are not known, but it is conventional to say that NU has some...

read more

11. Older cultural styles on the defensive

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.7 MB)
pp. 371-407

Javanese society has a long history of people believing in a vast array of spirits, both benign and malign, who demand respect, awe and propitiation. One of the works of older Javanese literature is the Kidung rumeksa ing wengi (the song keeping guard at night), a mantra sometimes ascribed...

read more

12. The protagonists and new totalitarians: Smaller Islamist and Dakwahist movements

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. 408-445

We began the preceding chapter concerning the large-scale movements Muhammadiyah and NU — those usually described as ‘moderate’ — by citing the caveat that the label ‘moderate’ is of limited analytical value. In this chapter we will have less terminological difficulty, for we are turning...

read more

13. The remaining opposition: Seeking a neutral public space

pdf iconDownload PDF (427.4 KB)
pp. 446-457

There is now no significant opposition to the deeper Islamisation of Javanese society. There is only difference of opinion about what shape Islamic life should take, the extent to which variety and pluralism within Islam are acceptable or desirable, how Islamic society should relate to the significant...


pdf iconDownload PDF (92.5 KB)
pp. 459

read more

14. The Islamisation of the Javanese in three contexts

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)
pp. 461-499

This book and its two predecessors (Mystic synthesis in Java and Polarising Javanese society) have chronicled a story of profound political, social, cultural and religious change in Javanese society. Chapter 1 above briefly retold the story to 1930, and in subsequent chapters of this volume we have followed...

Appendix: Research methodology and case studies

pdf iconDownload PDF (240.6 KB)
pp. 500-507


pdf iconDownload PDF (185.7 KB)
pp. 508-513

Key analytical terms

pdf iconDownload PDF (126.7 KB)
pp. 514-516

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (131.2 KB)
pp. 517-519

The work on this book began 40 years ago, before I planned to write such a book at all. I had not even finished my doctorate when I was invited by the late Prof. Nehemia Levtzion to give a conference paper at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, where I was then...


pdf iconDownload PDF (847.2 KB)
pp. 520-548


pdf iconDownload PDF (270.9 KB)
pp. 549-551


pdf iconDownload PDF (664.8 KB)
pp. 552-576

E-ISBN-13: 9789971696597
Print-ISBN-13: 9789971696313

Page Count: 560
Illustrations: 3 maps, 44 images
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: New