[This article was published in the 17th issue of Nida'ul Islam
magazine (), February - March 1997]

The Amir of the Islamic Group - Indonesia, Sheikh Abdullah Sungkar talks to Nida'ul Islam about:

Suharto's "Detect, Defect and Destroy" Policy Towards the Islamic Movement

Sheikh Abdullah Sungkar was born in Surakarta about 60 years ago. He was raised in a strict Islamic Environment and his family obediently adhered to Islam.

After finishing high school in Solo, he did not continue with further education due to the economic situation of his family. This did not deter him, however, from learning as much as he could including Arabic and English.
He worked as a Da'i (preacher) giving lectures until December 1971. Together with some friends, he opened an Islamic Boarding School, Al-Mu'min, in Ngruki-solo, which still exists today.

In 1969 He established Radio Da'wah Islamiyyah Surakarta. By 1975 it was banned from going on air. Many times he entered and left jail and on the 19th of November 1978 he entered jail for 3 1/2 Years on the grounds of trying to establish the Islamic State of Indonesia whilst denigrating the nation based on Pancasila.

During his 3 1/2 years in jail, he memorised Al-Qur'an. After his release in April 1982 and whilst awaiting a further trial, he escaped Indonesia together with his life long friend, Sheikh Abu Bakar Ba'asyir.

He now lives in exile unable to return to Indonesia in safety. He is part of a group devoted to the establishment of the Law of Allah upon this earth.


Over 180 million Muslims live on the islands of Indonesia, which makes it the largest Muslim country on earth. Can you please give us a brief summary about its history, beginning with the entrance of Islam through the weak phases of the Islamic state and the downfall of the Ottoman Khilafah, until the extinction of the last Muslim emirate in the 60's?

Possibly as yet, you have not closely examined or truly understood the situation of Indonesia either through the mass media or directly, and you would probably feel amazed at how despite the size of the Islamic community there, it is not capable of establishing Dawlah Islamiyyah (Islamic State) in Indonesia today.

The majority of historians write that Islam came to Indonesia by means of traders. There are those of the opinion that they came from India around the 13th century, there are those of the opinion that it came from China around the 9th century. There is also the opinion of those who say that Islam arrived directly from the Arab lands around the 7th century CE. Allah knows best.

During the next phase of its Islamic development, many states of the Indonesian archipelago became Islamic kingdoms, including the kingdoms of Demak, Banten and Pasai amongst others.

It was through out these Islamic Kingdoms that there arose the spirit of self defense when the colonising Kafir Dutch tried to forcibly take these Muslim States which were Indonesian. At that time the Kafir Dutch, who were notably Christian came bearing their mission of the 3G (Gold, Gospel [Bible] and Glory [Colonisation]). The Ulama and the young of the Islamic Community who came from various backgrounds arose up to oppose the Colonialists with the irrefutable spirit of martyrdom. The nature of the Islamic Communities opposition at that time was indeed still regionally sporadic, and amongst those who led against the colonialists are such are well-known names such as Imam Bonjol, Pangeran Diponegoro and Tengku Cik Di Tiro.

As to the movement on a national scale, it emerged firstly in the year 1905 with the appearance of the SDI -"The United Islamic Merchants"- which was pioneered by H. Samanhudi. Following this organisation, came the birth of SI - "United Islam"- in the year 1912 which was pioneered by H.O.S. Cokroaminoto, and during the development of this organisation there arose the PSII -"The United Islamic Party of Indonesia". The movement was orientated towards the various aspects of life - IPOLEKSOS (Political Ideology, Economy and Social). By the means of a long exhaustive process, in the year 1949, The Islamic State of Indonesia was formed under the leadership of Imam Sekarmaji Marijan Kartosuwiryo until he was arrested by the secular regime of the Indonesian Republic. This was achieved using the Muslim hostages as human shields in their battles against the Muslim army. Consequently Imam Sekarmaji surrendered to the secular enemy. Since that time until now some of The Islamic Community in Indonesia who understand thesefacts continue the struggle to return Dawlah Islamiyyah.

What were the steps taken by the Dutch invaders to enforce the secular rule in Indonesia and exclude Islam from people's life?

The Colonising Dutch introduced various methods in applying secular laws such as:

a. Separating the Islamic Community from Al-Qur'an in stages:

- Conditioning the community, including religious scholars, not to translate the Qur' an into Indonesian or a regional language, and the weakening of the spirit of Muslims by not allowing them to study Arabic -the language of Al-Qur'an- with the purpose being that Muslims will not understand Al-Qur'an.

- Eliminating all the features which are connected with Al-Qur'an such as Pegon (better known as "Jawi" in Malaysian), the Arab Indonesian script used in text books within Islamic schools by changing it to Latin script.

b. Withholding parts from the Islamic Law of the country but in such a way as to be unnoticeable except to those who truly and honestly understood Islam. For example, opportunities were given to the Muslims in order to implement Islamic laws but only in the acts of service (Salat, zakat, Sawm and Hajj) and marriage (Nikah, Talaq, Ruju') only. Anything more than these were not approved and in fact prohibited.

c. Develop secular frameworks within the native Indonesians in order to lead the country after their departure with the duty of instigating the De-Islamising process which was initiated by the colonialists.

The Colonialist efforts, which were held by their cadres, were capable of expressing enough success in keeping Islam away from the native Indonesians. This started with the emergence of people in the Islamic Community of Indonesia both from within the Ulama's themselves, their own leaders, and lay people, who distinctly stated that they did not want Islam to be the basis of their nation. In fact they had already achieved a certain threshold of fear, which was enough to discourage those people who could have raised Indonesia as an Islamic State. The latest information which is important enough to reveal at this state of affairs is that Amien Rais, a son of Indonesia, who as leader of the 30 million members of Muhammadiyyah (an Islamic Organisation which has some potential in Indonesia) is closely watched and respected, stated in the "Time" international magazine (September 23, 1996 - Volume 148, no 13) in an article entitled " The New Face of Islam" by James Walsh: "I don't want to waste any energy talking about stupid issues like an Islamic State, we must have a Democratic System." So, in Indonesia today it can be said that there is nobody who clearly states that it is obligatory for the Islamic Community to establish an Islamic Nation. There are those who oppose and compete against people who yearn for the establishment of Indonesia as an Islamic Nation. They use various kinds of pretexts, amongst which is: " There is no ayat or hadith whatsoever which orders us to establish an Islamic State."

As if they do not understand or indeed truly do not understand what is meant by the ayat of Allah:

"Judge you between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them lest they beguile you from any of that (teaching) which Allah has sent down to you." [5:49]

And many other ayats besides this one.

"Success", as defined by the colonialists and their successors, is in keeping Islam away from the Indonesian nation, by steadily increasing the number of scholars and leaders who have Islam as a religion yet do not want to see Indonesia as an Islamic state. Does that not constitute an indication that in Indonesia there does not exist anymore a person of Islam who has the desire to install the Laws of Islam or to establish a Nation of Islam?

Even more so, just the opposite according to our research, there are already enough of the Islamic Community in the nation of Indonesia, especially the younger generation, who have these noble ideals. Only that there are still many among them who haven't yet met with the appropriate and correct way in which to aim for these ideals. And I hope that our existence and people like us who are in the process of struggling for the installation of Islamic Law will come to a solution for them by the materialisation of these high ideals.

The Muslim people revolted more than once against this secular rule, what was the outcome of these revolutions and how did it end?

Indonesia has never had a revolution by the Islamic Community, within the frameworks of a rebellion, in opposition to the secular laws. However, what once happened was in truth, Jihad Fee Sabilillaah both towards the Dutch and the secular government of the Indonesian Republic. Although it has not occurred in its entirety, there have been changes in the laws from secular towards Islamic. The positive impact from this Jihad may be said to contain enough potential for claiming a consciousness, particularly in the younger generation of Muslims, and the Islamic Community of Indonesia in general, about the obligation of Jihad within the framework of aiming to re- erect Dawlah Islamiyyah.

What are the main foundations and characteristics of the Suharto regime, and how did it manage to stable its rule and to alienate Muslims from their religion?

Generally, in order to evaluate the Indonesian regime we are actually able to compare it with the regimes of Anwar Sadat, Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein and the leaders of other secular regimes. this regime is based firstly on secularism which is formed from Dutch laws and polytheistic beliefs (Mysticism, that is Hindu beliefs which are mixed with elements of Islam).

Suharto, using force, makes it compulsory for the Islamic Community to accept Pancasila as the only foundation for the nation, political parties and organisations. This means that Suharto in effect, very clearly makes it Haram to bring Islam into being as the nation's foundation or the foundation of organisations or political parties. This strategy clearly seeks to force the Islamic Community into accepting a polytheistic ideology.

Amongst its characteristics are nepotism, which along with others, gives national strategies aimed at families and their relatives. Other characteristics which this regime possesses are the characteristics of the Munafiq alias hypocrites. For the sake of perpetuating their authority, they have a phobia about their success which takes on various aspects of hypocrisy. At the time when the Christians held strategic positions, the policies of Suharto were inclined towards them. His regime still applies the system 'detect, defect and destroy' when applied towards the Islamic movement which it distrusts and regards as subversive. For example, the events which saw the butchering of the Islamic Communities in Way Jepara, Lampung (Sumatra) and in Aceh and Tanjung Priok.

Whereas when an "undercurrent" from the Islamic Community arises and its pulsation can be felt (whether or not they want to be so, the undercurrent will occur), he is unashamed and even embraces them by offering some little liberty to the Islamic Community over the question of an incomplete law. For example, the compensation allowing Muslim women to wear Jilbab which up to that time was expressly forbidden. The existence of UUPA (Law of Judicature in Religion), to speak openly and to criticise the regime and to physically erect Masjids.

How did the ruling family take advantage of its position, and what is the latest scandal on the economical side?

The cases of monopolising clove plantations, the car industry and communications along with many others in which they have utilised their positions. The Western press has already frequently mentioned the economic scandals of the Suharto's dynasty. They seriously strive to optimise, as much as possible, the authority now in their hands. Supposing there was a successor, Suharto would surely not want events to take place that will not be in the best interests of himself and his family. Like the events of the Philippines and its dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and Cuessescue, the president of Romania and their families. In order to avoid these events, surely there is a certain policy which must be followed. The most Effective way is to embrace and weaken the hearts of the majority of the Islamic Indonesian community which is still too easy to entice and lull to sleep.

Can you briefly describe the different Islamic movements in Indonesia and what they have achieved, and their plans to establish the Islamic state?

The Islamic Movement in Indonesia has many forms amongst which are:

a. The form of political parties which follows the way of the parliament.

These parties address failure, even more so now, if these political parties are based on Islam and desire to establish Dawlah Islamiyyah, they will be strictly forbidden and categorised as criminal in action, very dangerous and subversive.

b. Islamic organisations which are only active in the areas of education and social activities. These organisations are forbidden by Suharto if they are based upon Islam. Quantitatively, these organisations experience development, but qualitatively this has not yet been achieved.

The above two types of movements (a, b) are co-operative and can be easily dictated by the authorities. Whilst the other (c) is non co-operative.

c. Jama'ah Islamiyyah which has the purpose of establishing Dawlah Islamiyyah by applying the strategies of Eeman, Hijrah and Jihad.

The embryo of this Jama'ah, which is more well known as Darul Islam (DI/TII) has already declared its proclamation as the Islamic Nation of Indonesia (NII) on the 7th August 1949 in Malangbong, West Java. At that time it was still capable of implementing Islami c Laws although not 100% perfectly. Furthermore, at that time Jihad was taking place in order to defend its existence in opposition to the Dutch Kafir Government and the Secular Regime of the Indonesian Republic (which is best known as the "triangular war") until 1962.

In fact, the element of hope is still extant within the Jama'ah. And further more this Jama'ah tried to demand and bring about a return to the consciousness of its obligation to establish Dawlah Islamiyyah by following the way of Jihad. Nowadays they are quite active in bringing about methods and approaches of Da'wah aimed at the various social strata of the Islamic Community, and in doing so, they at least carry on the struggle of Jama'ah Islamiyyah.

What are the main guidelines of the methodology of your group, and what distinguishes it from other groups, and what weight does it hold when compared with other organisations and movements?

To realise an Islamic Community by the materialisation of three strengths:

a. Quwwatul Aqidah (Faith's strength)

b. Quwwatul Ukhuwwah (Brotherhood's strength)

c. Quwwatul Musallaha (Military strength)

These three elements of strength are essential in order to establish Dawlah Islamiyyah by means of Jihad. These amongst others, form points which are deemed vital by Jama' ah Islamiyyah, whereas other Jama'ah's ignore and generally disregard these strengths.

And how does the regime deal with the Muslim youth in general and your group in particular?

The youth of Islam have had the understanding of their Deen poisoned and clouded over by the false doctrines of Pancasila which represents itself as the only source for the community and the nation.

All of the nation's youth, during the course of their education whether it be primary, secondary or tertiary, are obliged to continually "upgrade" on the basis of the "Inspiration of Pancasila" which is more well-known as P4 - orientation, comprehension and practice of Pancasila.

Presently, as part of the scholastic curriculum, the government has made it obligatory to educate the doctrines of Pancasila, more commonly known as PMP - the Systematic Morality and Education of Pancasila. To add to that, students of all levels are steadily poisoned with nationalistic teachings known as PSPB - the Education of History of the Nation's Struggle.

By means of this slippery and cunning programme, Suharto shamelessly purchases the society of Ulama and those others who display religious potential or are highly regarded in the community. This is managed to such an extent, by misinterpreting the ayats of Al-Qur'an in order that their meaning is suitably modified for the falsity of Pancasila. In this way they are accepted by the majority of Muslims. This method of indoctrination is both the most effective and the most dangerous.

At this point in time the Regime is exerting itself against Jama'ah Islamiyyah by laying out severe punishments such as imprisonment or death. At the same time, it spreads Fitnah about Jama'ah Islamiyyah, which talks about Islam thoroughly, and that the main problem with the nation in riding on the back of communism.

You mentioned that Jihad in Allah's Cause is the way to uplift the Word of Allah on the land of Indonesia. What are the practical steps you have taken to attain this, and which phase have you reached?

In actual fact the Indonesian Regime already knows what we have done in essence, the development and concrete realisation of three strengths:

a. Quwwatul Aqidah (Faith's strength)

b. Quwwatul Ukhuwwah (Brotherhood's strength)

c. Quwwatul Musallah (Military Strength)

And we will continue onward with this programme. At the same time, it is expected from the Islamic community in Indonesia in particular and the Islamic community world -wide in general, to help with this programme which we follow.

The activities of the Christian missionaries increased dramatically in Indonesia, and it is said that it was able to Christianise millions of Muslims. How true are these claims?

Quantitatively, it can be said that the exodus of apostates from the Islamic Community who have become Kaffir Christians still occurs. However, qualitatively it is only people who were converted due to economic factors or because of their own stupidity until they fell as easy pray to the persuading propaganda of the Kaffir Christians.

There is, however, room for improvement within the Islamic Community and we acknowledge that. On the other hand, it is a fact that many people, who were once Kaffir Christians or followed other religions, have become Muslim. In general, they embraced Islam voluntarily, based on their own research into Islam. Physically also, the building of church's has increased greatly. Suharto has given his green light to this. He does not want to see efforts which restrict the building of churches. However, if Suharto wants he could quite easily stop the activity of erecting churches especially in districts which are predominantly Muslim.

A strong increase in the Shia' propagandists' activities has been reported. How dangerous is this movement and how do you deal with it?

True, because Indonesia indeed has enough potential to work in as a land for the spread of Shi'ism. The result that the deviated doctrine of Shi'ism has grown more than enough and as well as being a noticeably visible danger, it especially poisons the younger generation of secondary school and university students. What we are capable of doing to combat this, is to lecture concerning the Kafir Shi'ism and also to have some dialogue with the embassy of Iran in Indonesia.

The western media has been persistent in exposing the "oppression" and "suffering" faced by the Christians in East Timor, covering for the Christian crimes against Muslims. Can you please shed the light on this issue, and the desired solution?

The world regards what has happened in East Timor as being the oppression of the Muslims towards the Christians. However, what has in fact happened was the war between the secular regime of Suharto, who claims that East Timor constitutes one of the Indonesia's provinces, and the Kafir Christian group led by bishop Belo.

For the past six years, the group known as the green group, who are made up of Young Muslims having Secular Ideologies, especially ICMI (Intellectual Muslims Organisation) have been embraced by Suharto with the objective of making use of the Islamic community's potential in order to help preserve the perpetuity of the Suharto Regime.

The situation surely gives rise to jealousy towards non-Islamic groups other than Islamic, although those who are jealous definitely do not wish for pure Islam, but try to harmonise between Islam and the evil of Pancasila. The logical consequence of this jealousy gives birth to issues which are deflated by the community of the cross in East Timor, and most certainly by the other Kafir groups which are behind all of these issues.

Whilst what has happened towards the Islamic Community, like the burning down of Masjids, schools and even murder which was carried out by Kafir Christians, no matter what their reason. It is indeed a most uneducated action and in regard to this matter the Kafir press cover their eyes.

As for the solution, we have not yet found it because we must firstly get rid of the Suharto Regime which means we must bring into being Indonesia as an Islamic State. After that we will tidy up the other matters. All of that can be achieved through the process of Jihad Fee Sabilillaah, Insha'Allah.

Translated from Indonesian by:
Br. Khalid Sayfullah


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