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The Makings of Indonesian IslamOrientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past$
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Michael Laffan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691145303

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691145303.001.0001

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Seeking the Counterweight Church, 1837–1889

Seeking the Counterweight Church, 1837–1889

(p.101) Chapter Six Seeking the Counterweight Church, 1837–1889
The Makings of Indonesian Islam

Michael Laffan

Princeton University Press

This chapter shows that a parallel framing of the Indies as a missionary field was crucial in informing, and sometimes challenging the colonial enterprises. In many instances, Dutch missionaries saw a chance for Christianizing the natives given what appeared to them as the natives' weak understanding and practice of Islam, arguing that the Javanese could not be considered Muslims for their “Islam” fell far short of the Islam they knew from the texts edited by their teachers in Delft. More crucially, however, one can see in their writings tangential and certainly unintended evidence of an active engagement with new modes of thinking, with printing, and with Sufi practices imported from the Middle East—practices that were leading some Javanese to label their neighbors ruddy abangan (red ones) while they themselves identified as spotless putihan (white ones). If anything was clear by 1888, it was that Dutch knowledge of Islam was outdated and far too oriented towards texts above contexts.

Keywords:   Indies, Dutch missionaries, Christianity, Islam, Javanese, Sufi practices, abangan, putihan

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