‘Aisyiyah Reposition in the Reform Movement Problem

Wawasan 2 Mar 2021 1 87x
Abdul Munir Mulkhan

Abdul Munir Mulkhan

By: Abdul Munir Mulkhan

Muhammadiyah movement was born in the atmosphere of World War I, Europe’s turbulence, in the midst of the ongoing conflict in the Islamic world between the Wahabi movement and the Turkish Empire before the last Islamic sultanate was collapse. Nusantara region was in the grip of colonial rule amid the conflict between the Islamic empires. While the trace of Diponegoro War was keenly felt, poverty widely spread in an atmosphere of public despair. All is entirely coincided with the growth of national consciousness and pervasive nationalism.

In the chaos atmosphere of socio-cultural-political and religious above, Kiai Ahmad Dahlan built a great tradition of Islamic social movements and good deeds. A ritual model of approach to God, not just through formal ritual like salat prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, and tithes, but by empowering the citizens of the nation who are suffering and oppressed. From this, the maal and fitrah tithes for orphans and the poor are developed, the sacrificial meat is distributed to those who suffer, orphanages are built, hospitals and schools are free of charge for the new generation to have access to modernity.

Various activities in the empowerment of the people above, supportes by the generosity of philanthropy movement, the idea of Kiai Dahlan, as the realization of ‘ta’awanu ‘ala al-birr wa al-taqwa’ (cooperation of goodness as a fulfillment of obedience to God). Through this way, the Moslems cooperate to donate part of their property beyond the obligation of alms, donate their labor, opportunity or authority to empower people through hospitals, schools, and skills training.

Kiai Dahlan, a gentry (palace courtiers), gave the da’wah and instantiate how to collect and divide the possesions (alms, donate, fitrah, thithe, sacrifice) to the public interest, schools, and hospitals. The orphanage was built and managed by modern management. The goal is that all levels of people directly understand the religion. Al-Quran has been translated, khutbah, lectures or religious speech were held in public places, in villages, in the market, and on the side of the road. Through the Governor General, Kiai Dahlan proposed to build a mosque, a place of worship in public places, railway stations and bus stations.

No lag, women were driven to the public sphere for intelectuality and generosity. Women are driven out of the house in searching for knowledge, performing various social actions and civic movements, for the empowerment of the people. Muhammadiyah as a social movement is the religious movement with the first and biggest civil action in the world (of Islam).

‘Aisyiyah (women’s Muhammadiyah organization) was officially established in January 5th 1922 (in embryonal since 1917), or 1335 H. As the association, the name has been used for a long term for a women association that is less well organized. The group named Ngaisyiyah (dialect of Jogja in pronuncing ‘Aisyiyah) moved women to take non-domestic action.

Kartini has not emerged as a leader of women in the archipelago, Paulo Freire has not passed kindergarten, when feminism was still debated in Europe. Kiai Dahlan motivated the women to work in the public domain. Nyai Dahlan (Siti Walidah) at the equivalent position to Kiai Dahlan, was invited out of town, rather than with or on behalf of Kiai, but in her own name. In the ulama meeting in Solo, taking place in the foyer of the Sultanate Great Mosque, Nyai Dahlan was invited and came by herself.

When residents of Negari Ngayogyokarto and its surrounding migrated for employment to the city of Yogyakarta, Muhammadiyah and ‘Aisyiyah collect them to give religious knowledge and work skills. Jogja city became a magnet for the surrounding area because it was relatively more secure and promised a more prosperous life. Then the pengajian Wal ‘Ashri and Kuliatun Muballighin showed up, which grew into the School of Da’wah of Muhammadiyah, later it is the forerunner of University of Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta.

Unfortunately, it then developed a sexual-based division of labor; ‘Aisyiyah (for women) and Nasyiatul ‘Aisyiyah (for girls), Muhammadiyah Youth (young men), and Muhammadiyah (adult men). In the 80s Kuntowijoyo delivered a criticism about such symptoms, other than criticism about Muhammadiyah as a cultural movement without culture.

In 2003, the idea of repositioning ‘Aisyiyah was approved by Tanwir Mataram 2004. Unfortunately this idea was rejected by Malang Congress. The argument is that ‘Aisyiyah did not have to take care of public areas, just take care the household domestic. This argument is contrary to the facts about the number of active women in the public sector, by becoming principals, regents, governors, rectors, ministers and other high officials. The problems is how Muhammadiyah and ‘Aisyiyah address these social thought and fact?

In the age of a century, Indonesian Being Islamic tradition is originated from Muhammadiyah; the establishment of Musque in the public space, and religious community (majleis taklim) and pilgrimate, philantrophy, sharing sacrificial meat, modern schools, modern science studies in college and the teaching of Islam in schools. Muhammadiyah pioneering makes people can fulfill their needs in: health, education, religious practice, until the fulfillment of self-esteem to face the progressive colonial. At the same time, people feel that they receive protection, the mobility needs of social and religious as well as a sense of security.

However, now it feels that the cultural distance between the association and the people is increasingly wider. The civil function of a movement has been taken a lot by NGOs, professional institutions (lawyers), traditional institutions, parties. Religious function has begun to be taken by Salafi groups, Tarbiyah, unified Islam. While the secular functions (education, health) have begun to be taken by traditional groups like Islamic boarding schools (pesantren), when these institutions have also begun to open up to develop social and civil roles.

When making contact with the wider community in various social status, the members of this movement has begun to berpirau. Many members of nation with various religious social backgrounds entered Muhammadiyah schools from elementary to college, which grew rapidly after the independence day. From the hospital, young doctors with various socio-religious backgrounds joined too.  They were ‘forced’ to gain recognition in this movement by bringing the ‘tradition’ having supported them, so it divides the members of Muhammadiyah into four types: Al-Ikhlas, Kiai Dahlan, Munu, Marmud.

Pemirauan (categorization) of Muhammadiyah members are explained in my research report on the south side of Jember, East Java, District Wuluhan (Mulkhan, 2000, 2013). The four types of Muhammadiyah members can be described briefly as described in the following. Al-Ikhlas is the type member of Muhammadiyah with the mindset and life based on tarjih fatwa. Kiai Dahlan is the type of al-Ikhlas that is more tolerant because trying to bulid relationships with the wide community. Munu (Muhammadiyah-NU) is the member which mindset and organization are Muhammadiyah but the tradition lives are NU because he come from the NU family. Marmud (Marhaenist Muhammadiyah) is the member which mindset and organization is Muhammadiyah but his daily life is in abangan tradition.

Now, after a century, many citizens of this nation get benefit of social services from this movement. Ironically, many Muhammadiyah activists are still sectoral, thinking that anyone who utilizes his social services follow the tarjih fatwa and becomes the member of Muhammadiyah. When having the opportunity to occupy strategic positions in the structure of this movement, such sectoral sentiment appears like a kind of ‘blue blood’ movement. When women who used to be nunut kamukten (advantaged) by their social charity and gender equality, more loudly voicing their true identity, Muhammadiyah and ‘Aisyiyah are too puritanical, keeping their image, reluctant to appear in a public straightly, full of confidence when bringing the ideas of reform.

It seems that while the ‘blue blood’ Muhammadiyah members enjoy their ‘blue blood’ of modernity of tajdid, they forget doing tajdid and ijtihad. They tend to be satisfied with what has been burned into them, but they feel incontestably when the modernity ‘followers’ are more expert in performing critical actions and ijtihadi, in addition to having the legality of modernity and academic degree.

In the past, the knowledge base (especially the yellow book) of Nyai Muhammadiyah or ‘Aisyiyah and Nyai pesantren (NU was not born yet) were relatively equal. Untill the 1980s ‘Aisyiyah is at upper position than Nyai pesantren. Today, many foreign graduates are from the pesantren, capable in Arabic and English, accompanied by aggressive social identity searching, although sometimes just a project. While ‘Aisyiyah is too much in keeping the image, mriyayeni, too nyufi, full of rules and protocol.

Many female doctors and professor are from the pesantren and it makes ‘Aisyiyah feel incontestably. This is such an unimportant attitude, since the emergence of the pesantren women is another proof of the succes of Muhammadiyah in spreading the reform ideas. The problems is, what is new and interesting for the public from what has been done and developed by ‘Aisyiyah? Are all of these social facts clearly realized, or seen as a threat? How should this movement develop new strategies to meet the public necessities such as at the beginning of its birth? The answer to the problems is the agenda of the second century of this movement if it still want to be a reformer.

Souce: SA Magazine (Special Edition) May 2014

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