President Soekarno, Ahmadis, and His Tolerance

Analysis    | 10 Nov 2015 | Read 1247 times  
President Soekarno, Ahmadis, and His Tolerance credit: w

In remembering the name of the first President of Indonesia, Ir. Soekarno, we will find a lot of attitudes to follow. One of them is the tolerance on the things that are at odds with us. As Indonesia’s motto, Unity in Diversity, different but remains as one. That Indonesia is made up of diverse religious, ethnic, linguistic, cultural backgrounds but nevertheless constitute a unity: the Unitary Republic of Indonesia.

Etymologically, tolerance means the attitude of approving of, recognizing, and respecting the beliefs of others without requiring approval. In Arabic, tolerance has the same meaning as tasamuh, which means to permit, to facilitate each other. The Indonesian dictionary defines tolerance as to be or to tolerate (appreciate, let, permit) arguments (opinions, views, beliefs, habits, behaviors, etc.) which are different or in contrary from a person’s stance.

As President Soekarno that showed his tolerance on Ahmadiyah group.

Soekarno and Ahmadiyah

In November 1936, the public was struck with a statement that Soekarno was part of the Ahmadiyah sect. The newspaper ‘Pemandangan’ even wrote that Soekarno had become one of the preachers of Ahmadiyah teachings by establishing an Ahmadiyah chapter in Celebes.

 “... that Pemandangan already stated an entrefilet that I had set up a chapter and became a propagandist of Ahmadiyah in Celebes,” wrote Soekarno aimed editor scenery, November 25, 1936. He wrote the letter from Endeh.

This makes President Soekarno became the main talk for the people. Are these things true?, that was the big question at the time. Seeing how the people reacted to this and because he was not part of the Ahmadiyah, he responded with a clarification that he was not an Ahmadi.

 I am not a member of Ahmadiyah. Therefore it is impossible for me to set up a chapter of Ahmadiyah or became a propagandist. Especially “for Celebes area”, while I was not allowed to leave just a few miles away from Endeh!

Not only firmly stated that President Soekarno was not part of Ahmadiyah, but he also said that he was in contrary to what Ahmadiyah group believed in. President Soekarno refused to recognize Mirza Gulam Ahmad as a prophet and to worship him.

 “I do not believe that Mirza Gulam Ahmad is a prophet and not yet believe that he is a mujaddid”, as Soekarno stated in the same letter.

However, although President Soekarno openly rejected part of Ahmadiyah and what the Ahmadiyah group believe in, President Soekarno still appreciated them. In addition, President Soekarno appreciated and thanked Ahmadiyah, which he said provide benefits in science. One thing that is rarely done by present-time leaders: Rejecting the idea of a group, but still respect the opinion of the group. This is a form of tolerance that we should adopt. 

Soekarno’s Appreciation for Ahmadiyah

“To Ahmadiyah I shall be grateful,” wrote Soekarno.

Ahmadiyah’s contribution to the world of ideas through writings and books enriched the knowledge of President Soekarno. For the book Het Evangelie Van Den Daad, President Soekarno without doubt called it a brilliant book. He thought it was very beneficial for all Muslims. Ahmadis were considered to have modernism, caution against hadith, had systematische aannemelijk making van den Islam, systematic sensible publication of Islam.

 “But there are books from Ahmadiyah that I got a lot of benefit from”, said Soekarno.

Some of the books he mentioned were Mohammad the prophet by Mohammad Ali, Inleiding tot de studie van den heiligen qoer’an also by Mohammad Ali, Het evangelie van den daad by Chawadja Kamaloedin, and De bronnen van het christen dom.

President Soekarno as the Most Tolerant Indonesian President

The tolerance shown by President Soekarno should be adopted by anyone. He was willing to explore and understand the thing he considered in contradiction to what he believed in, instead of stating accusations and hatred. He was especially able to appreciate the things that really should be appreciated.

In December 2012, the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI Network) stated that President Soekarno was Indonesia’s most tolerant president of all the government of the Republic of Indonesia with a score of 82 per cent, followed by President Abdurrahman Wahid with 81 percent for his appreciation for the diversity of religion, and the lowest was President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with 41 percent , For tolerance for diverse ideologies, Soekarno was considered as the most tolerant, as many as 85 percent of respondents agreed on it. Then Gus Dur came in second place with 83 percent and the lowest with 21 percent was President Suharto.

This is similar to what was stated by Evelyn Beatrice Hall in Voltaire biography: I do not agree with your argument, but I will defend your right to argue.

To end this article, I would like to include Soekarno’s speech in the Assembly of the Committee for Preparatory Work for Indonesian Independence (BPUPKI) on 1 June 1945:

 “All of you with your brothers and sisters with the same nationality, and your brothers and sisters as Muslims, all have agreed that this is not the purpose of our country. We want to establish a country for all, not for one person, not for one group, not for the upper class, not for the rich people, but a nation for all.”

We declared independence of Indonesia, which we should all support. A nation for all! Not Christians for Indonesia, not Muslims for Indonesian, not Hadikoesoemo for Indonesia, not Van Eck for Indonesia, not the rich Nitisemito for Indonesia, but Indonesia for Indonesia, a nation for all!

The Republic of Indonesia is not owned by a group of people, does not belong to a religion, does not belong a particular tribe, does not belong to a particular tradition, but it belongs to us all.”

Abdul Afif

*Abdul Afif is an Economics and Development Studies student at Faculty of Economics, Universitas Padjadjaran. Afif is also one of the founders of Studium Veritatis, a study and discussion club that promotes openness and fairness. He is a member of the youth networks in Youth Freedom Network (YFN) and Global Charter Team, Students for Liberty (SFL). Afif can be reached via email: [email protected] and twitter: @abdoelafif