Reasons why Britain bombed Surabaya


Darul Aqsha


“10 November ’45, Mengapa Inggris Membom Surabaya?” (“10 November ’45, Why Did Britain Bomb Surabaya?”)
By Batara R. Hutagalung; Millenium Publisher, Jakarta; (Oct. 2001), first edition, xiv + 472 pp; Rp 59,900,-

THIS book analyzes the simultaneous sea, land and air campaign by British forces against the defenders of the East Java capital of Surabaya in November 1945.

To this day, it remains a bitter memory for older Indonesians.

In the author’s opinion, there are two main reasons why Britain, which did not hold colonial authority over Indonesia, launched the invasion.
First, there were psychological and emotional reasons at play, since Britain was victorious in World War II. Second, the British were bound by a treaty with the Dutch stemming from the conference at Yalta on Feb. 11, 1945, and the Postdam Declaration, which took place on July 26, 1945.

The objectives of the treaty were “to reestablish civilian rule, and return the colony to Dutch administration,” as well as “to maintain the status quo which existed before the Japanese invasion”.

They can be found in a letter dated Sept. 2, 1945 by the Allied Forces’ Supreme Commander South East Asia Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten. British assistance was also in line with the Civil Affairs Agreement between the Dutch and Britain in Chequers, Britain, on Aug. 24, 1945.

The author also outlines the violations committed by British troops. They include infringements upon the sovereignty of the fledgling nation of Indonesia, human rights abuses — including crimes against humanity and forced displacement — and war crimes.

Apart from its thorough dissection of this bloody chapter of Indonesian history, this book carries something else of equally important historical significance: an official apology from the British government. It was expressed by British Ambassador to Indonesia Richard Gozney in the name of the British government during a seminar on the Battle of Surabaya in Jakarta in October 2000.

It was a sympathetic act — one which has yet to be offered by the Dutch who, as a colonial power, ruled Indonesia for centuries.–

The Jakarta Post
Sunday, December 30, 2001




‘Quranic Agroforestry ‘

buku kebun al-quran

Vera Salim

WHEN one tries to follow through what has been contemporarily written about scientific proofs in the Quran, one can’t help but being reminded of the 109th ayah in Surah Al-Kahfi:

“If the sea were ink for (writing) the words (*) of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it as a supplement.” [* The Saheeh International edition of the translation of the Quran explains the “words” (al-kalimaat) of Allah as the words of Allah’s unlimited knowledge or words describing His attributes and His grandeur or praise of Him Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.]

Scientific Proofs?
Indeed, there’s no aspect whatsoever of our existence that is not encompassed by the Quran in one way or another. Attempts at explaining the ayaat of Al-Quran from just one perspective – say, a scientific approach – that people have already carried out are but a speck of dust in the unlimited oceans of Allah’s knowledge.

We hold in awe some experts’ attempts at explaining, say, the proofs of embryology or oceanology in the Quran. For instance, there have been many discussions about the verses of “two seas.” In Surah Ar-Rahman (55): 19-20, Allah says: “He released the two seas meeting (side by side); Between them is a barrier [so] neither of them transgresses.” Also, Surah Al-Furqan (25): 53 where Allah says: “And it is He who has released (simultaneously) the two seas (i.e., bodies of water), one fresh and sweet and one salty and bitter, and He placed between them a barrier and prohibiting partition.”

Early Muslim scholars such as Ibn Kathir of 7th century Hijrah Syria, or even the much later scholars such as Muhammad al-Tahir ibn Ashur of Tunis in the 20th CE century, have explained what the “two seas” mean.

Thanks to the Internet, we can read their scholarly explanations any time. Their works will continue to benefit themselves and us, InsyaAllah, in understanding Allah’s Words. However, we understand also that the painstaking endeavors of the scholars do not scratch even the surface of Allah’s knowledge. The commandment that we ponder the Quran remains on our shoulders.

Even in Farming
It is through this perspective we should view current attempts at obtaining the huda (guidance) and mau’izhah (instruction) from the Quran for any life aspects, from politics to social building and even farming. The farmers and agriculture experts of today should, for instance, read Kitab Al-Filahah by Abu Zakariyyah Yahya ibn Muhammad or Ibn al-‘Awwam.

Ibn al-‘Awwam hailed from Ishbilia (Seville) in Muslim Spain in the 6th century Hijrah. The book Kitab al-Filahah became a more comprehensive and encyclopedic work on agriculture and agronomy because Ibn al-’Awwam cited quotations from the earlier sources wherever he could. He followed in the footsteps and benefited from the work of agricultural scholars of fifth century Muslim Spain such as Muhammad al-Tighnari or Ibn Wafid of Toledo and Abu ‘Umar Ahmad.

About 100 years after these pioneers, Ibn al-’Awwam collected information supplied by them and from other sources in his Kitab al-Filahah which is more comprehensive and up-to-date. It gained wider publicity and was considered so important that Ibn Khaldun also referred to it in the Muqaddimah. Don’t forget, Muslim Spain was one of the most glorious periods of the Muslim world. These past scholars’ treatises made Al-Quran their main source of instruction at all levels of their studies.

The Garden of Al-Quran
There is today the beginning of a wave to return to Al-Quran as our main instruction in agriculture; one of the proponents of this wave is Muhaimin Iqbal of Jakarta, Indonesia, whose sustainable farming scheme iGrow won a prize in the recent StartupIstanbul competition in Turkey and was written about in Forbes by Federico Guerrini.

Iqbal coined the term “Quranic Agroforestry” and culled from the knowledge he has gained from years of farming as well as studying the Quran both theories and practices that he wrote about in his book, Kebun Al-Quran (The Garden of the Quran).

In the book, he explains various aspects of farming from the Quranic perspective, from how to revive the dead or barren land to how the fruit date prevents starvation as mentioned in the hadith of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to how Islamic farming actually is multicultural farming!

Here’s a small excerpt from the book:

“We see green everywhere, but why is it not enough? This is because the green (the trees) are planted simply for the sake of making things green or for the sake of logging, or fruit harvesting.

(When it comes to the question of food insecurity), our search for answers often results in some vested interests’ gains. This quest has not given maximal returns to the whole community.

What if we now seek the guidance of Allah about what to plant? Does Allah give detailed guidance? We must believe that Allah provides detailed answers about every question, including food security, such as in the following ayah:

‘And within the land are neighbouring plots and gardens of grapevines and crops and palm trees, (growing) several from a root or otherwise, watered with one water; but We make some of them exceed others in (quality of) fruit. Indeed in that are signs for a people who reason.’ [Ar-Ra’d (13): 4]

So there are plots, plants or gardens that thrive next to each other. Some exceed others in producing foods for humans. All we need to do is identify what plants should be placed next to one another and which will give optimal yields for humans.

Agricultural experts know that multicultural farming – as opposed to monocultural – provides the best yields but also is better able to withstand diseases.”

Underlying the idea of multicultural farming is the knowledge that each plant variety obtains the maximal photosynthesis with only 1/10 of the sunshine it receives. Iqbal then refers to the food forestry in Morocco that has existed for thousands of years in which different varieties of plants grow together. This is similar to today’s sustainable plants composition that is known as permaculture, whose description can be found in the illustration 1 from http://www.spiralseed.

“Compare (these farming schemes) with what Al-Quran specifically says about certain plants,” Iqbal writes. “The first plant as the canopy is date palm plants. The low tree can either be olives (zaituun), pomegranate (rummaan) or figs (tiin). The number 3 plants are various fruit plants or sweet flowers that are known as raihaan in Surah ArRahman (55) ayah 12.

The plant number 4 is various herbal growths, the number 5 plant can be ginger as found in Surah Al-Insan (76) verse 17. The plant number 6 in the illustration depicts various shrubs as found in Surah ‘Abasa (80) verse 31. The last plant in the illustration is grapes and other vines as indicated in Surah AlAn’am (6) verse 141,” Iqbal writes.

Ultimately, the answer to food insecurities affecting the world today, Iqbal argues, lies in a people’s Iman (faith) and Taqwa (consciousness or fear of Allah). Iqbal cites:

“And if only the people of the cities had believed and feared Allah, We would have opened (i.e., bestowed) upon them blessings from the heaven and the earth; but they denied (the messengers), so We seized them for what they were earning.” [Surah Al-A’raf (7): 96]

Allah knows best.

Islamia/The Brunei Times

Friday, 4 December 2015


Bill Saragih: “It’s a true business”

Bill Saragih

Bill Saragih

WHAT’S in a name? It’s money. Oops, not really. But for veteran jazz musician Bill Amirsyah Saragih, a name has a lot to do with business. That is why he changed his name to Bill Simatupang.

“Simatupang is Siang malam tunggu panggilan (Waiting for order day and night),” Bill joked during the cocktail party held in conjunction with the 17th anniversary of The Jakarta Post at The Regent hotel in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Bill said he has become “a high-class unemployed man” since he stopped performing at pubs in the city recently and started to take orders from companies, “including state-owned pawnshop company Perum Pegadaian”.

But now he prefers to sing at Chinese wedding parties.

“It’s a true business,” he said. At such parties, he only sings one or two songs, but receives quite a nice sum of money.

One day, he said, after he sang one line of a song at a wedding party, suddenly there was a blackout. Not too long afterward, the family of the bride came to him and handed him a receipt to sign. He could not believe it. “It’s big money,” he said. — Darul Aqsha

The Jakarta Post
Sun, Apr 30 2000

Bill Amirsjah-Rondahaim Saragih (born January 1, 1933 in North Sumatra; died January 30, 2008) was an Indonesian jazz musician. His albums includes songs such as Billy’s Groove and original songs include Anna My Love, which was dedicated to his wife. Bill worked hard all his life to educate and promote music. his passion for Jazz Music was obvious. Bill leaves behind a son Tony and a daughter Tiana. Both reside in Sydney Australia. — Wikipedia

See also:

The Earliest Islamic Epigraphy in the Malay Archipelago

book epigrafiEpigrafi Islam Terawal di Nusantara (The Earliest Islamic Epigraphy in the Archipelago).
Authors: Othman Mohd Yatim and Abdul Halim Nasir. Publisher: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (Malaysia), Second edition, 2007, 113pp.

THIS book explains in details about the important of tombstone and inscription to depict the existence of Muslim community in the Malay world and the history of the spread of Islam in the region.

By this, both of writers unveil various new facts on the Islamic history in various areas in the Malay archipelago that they found. For example, the new findings on the the establishment of an Islamic kingdom in the Malay world which was earlier than Pasai, namely Brunei Darussalam. This book also discusses on the possibility of Islam was spread to Brunei from China.

Besides the aforementioned new facts, the authors of this book also reveal the findings of the inscriptions in several areas of the Malay archipelago and connected them to the written historical facts.

The other interesting studies that both of the authors conducted that is the experiment to use the epigraphic materials for analyzing of the Islamic mysticism order which developed in several areas in the Malay archipelago in the past.

Besides that the element of the Islamic arts had got serious attention from the Muslim community when they carved the inscriptions, while such aspect lacks of getting attention today.
(Collection of The Brunei’s Language and Literature Bureau’s Library)

Islamia/The Brunei Times

An effort to introduce Malay culture, customs and traditions in Brunei

Book_budayaBudaya dan Adat Istiadat dalam Kesusasteraan Melayu Brunei
(Culture and Customs and Traditions in Brunei Malay Literary). Author: Pengiran Dr Hidop bin Pengiran Haji Samsuddin. Publisher: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Brunei Darussalam, 2009, 328 pages. Medium: Malay.

THE book originally from a dissertation of the author at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam in 2006. It studies cultural and customs and traditional aspects in the Brunei Malay literary works in order to see how far issues related to culture and tradition has got attention from Bruneian men of letters to be revealed in their works.

It’s important for educating readers or public to recognize and love their culture and subsequently to realize life based on cultural and religious ethics.

Organised in six chapter commenced by preface, second chapter talks about Malay people and their cultures, third chapter discusses about wedding traditions in literary works, fourth chapter on the coronation ceremony in literary works, fifth chapter touches on Brunei Malay ethics and the last chapter is epilog.

In general, the book describes culture and customs and traditions which are performed by Malay people, especially in Brunei Darussalam. It should be seen as a continuation and wholeness of state, nation, religion and community which has values that must be perpetuated. The book is an effort to introduce Malay culture and customs and traditions in the sultanate to the new generation. — Darul Aqsha

Suparto Brata’s “Saksi Mata”: Common people can be a hero

saksimataSaksi Mata (Eyewitness); By Suparto Brata; Kompas Book Publisher,
Jakarta, January 2002; ix + 434 pp

Suparto is best known as an author of Javanese literature, having written more than 110 works, half of them in Javanese. For his contributions to regional language and literature, he received the Rancage Award in 2000 and 2001, being honored particularly for his acclaimed Trem, a compilation of short stories in Javanese from the 1950s to 2000.

Saksi Mata, first published as a serial in the Kompas daily from November 1997 to April 1998, tells of a smart, brave boy named Kuntara, living in Surabaya during the Japanese occupation of the country in World War II.

The 12-year-old boy is infatuated with an older woman named Rumsari, a daughter of the Surakarta royal family who is distantly related to him and treats him kindly. He calls her Bulik (Auntie) Rum.

Kuntara unexpectedly spies Bulik Rum making love to a stranger in a bunker, who he later finds out is her husband, Wiradad. The couple are plotting to kill the Japanese military officer Ichiro Nishizumi and destroy his arsenal Ichiro had tried to force Prince Prabu, Bulik Rum’s father, to give him his daughter in marriage. However, the prince married Rumsari to Wiradad, a young man who is a chemistry expert and works at an ammunition factory.

However, Ichiro takes Rumsari to Surabaya, making her not only his office assistant but also a sex slave. Rumsari tells Kuntara all about Ichiro, the situation at the office and her plot with Wiradad to kill Ichiro. However, the next day she is killed and it is Kuntara’s task to fight on against the Japanese officer.

Saksi Mata is a sociological novel with Surabaya as its setting, and shows that the most seemingly common people can perform heroic acts. Unfortunately, there are many instances in the novel when the Surabaya dialect, Javanese and Japanese are used but not translated, which is disappointing for readers who are not fluent in those languages.

However, this novel enriches Indonesian fiction by focusing on a difficult period in our history which has long been neglected by writers.

— Darul Aqsha

On the Shelves
The Jakarta Post
Sun, May 05 2002

A book that reflect the wide diversity of contemporary Islamic studies

globalisationIslam In The Era of Globalization: Muslim Attitudes Toward Modernity and Identity (INIS Series No. 38); Edited by Johan H. Meuleman; Indonesia-Netherlands Cooperation in Islamic Studies (INIS); Jakarta, 2001); xxi + 404

The book is a selection of about 70 papers presented at the First International Conference on Islam and the 21st Century held by INIS at Leiden University, the Netherlands, in 1996.

Around 100 Muslim and non-Muslim specialists in Islam from all over the world, including Indonesia, participated in the conference. Scholars whose papers appear in this volume include Azyumardi Azra, Muhammad Hisyam, Muhammad Atho’ Mudzhar and Lik Arifin Mansurnoor from Indonesia, Kees van Dijk, Nico Kaptein and Johan Meuleman from the Netherlands, Mark R. Woodward, Dru C.

Gladney and Riffat Hasan from the U.S. and Lukas Werth from Germany, as well as others from Britain, India and Pakistan.

In general, the papers concentrate on Islam in Asia, mostly Indonesia, but one pertains to Muslim communities of South Asian origin in Suriname, Trinidad and Guyana, while two others address more general topics.

Although most of the papers are based on detailed studies relating to a particular country or region, they share one core theme: how Muslims are facing globalization and modernity, and how they are going about creating an identity for themselves.

The editor defines globalization as “the process leading toward an increasingly strong interdependence between increasingly large parts of the world, resulting in the phenomenon that events and developments in one region influence most other regions”.

This is nothing new in the history of the Muslim community.

For instance, Azra stresses the important role played in its development by the interaction between Indonesia and the Middle East dating back several centuries. Both Van Dijk and Hisyam support a thesis that the various globalizing tendencies were just one part of a dialectic between globalization and local appropriations.

On modernity, Woodward finds different types of Javanese Muslims (traditionalist, modernist and Javanese mystic) who elaborate on their perspectives on belief and modernity. Woodward argues that Indonesian Muslims accept modernity while at the same time continuing to imbue their experiences with meaning and their society with cohesion on the basis of their religion.

He concludes that, for Muslims, the problem of modernity is sociological, not cosmological. As the history of Islamic jurisprudence clearly demonstrates, “sociological components of religion have proved to be far more flexible than cosmogonic truth claims” (p. 140), or, in the editor’s words, “that it is Islam indeed which is more open to modernity than Christianity”.

As a whole, the papers collected in the book reflect the wide diversity that characterizes contemporary Islamic studies, in keeping with the origins of the authors.

— Darul Aqsha

On The Shelves
The Jakarta Post
Sun, Feb 17 2002