Dutch Colonialism and Indonesian Islam

Contacts and Conflicts 1596-1950. Second Revised Edition


This book tells the story of the contacts and conflicts between muslims and christians in Southeast Asia during the Dutch colonial history from 1596 until 1950. The author draws from a great variety of sources to shed light on this period: the letters of the colonial pioneer Jan Pietersz. Coen, the writings of 17th century Dutch theologians, the minutes of the Batavia church council, the contracts of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) with the sultans in the Indies, documents from the files of colonial civil servants from the 19th and 20th centuries, to mention just a few. The colonial situation was not a good starting-point for a religious dialogue. With Dutch power on the increase there was even less understanding for the religion of the muslims . In 1620 J.P. Coen, the strait-laced calvinist, had actually a better understanding and respect for the muslims than the liberal colonial leaders from the early 20th century, convinced as they were of western supremacy.

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Dr. Karel Steenbrink (b. 1942) studied christian theology and islam at the University of Nijmegen. In 1970-1971 he was a student at an Islamic training-college in Indonesia. He was the first non-muslim to hold a teaching post at the State Academies of Islamic Studies of Jakarta and Yogyakarta from 1981 until 1988. At present he is a member of the staff of the Interuniversity Institute for Missiological and Ecumenical Research (IIMO) at Leiden. In addition he is the chief editor of the magazine BEGRIP [Understanding] which aims at improving relations between christians and muslims. Twenty years of intensive contacts with muslims have taught him that improving these relations is no simple matter which can be tackled lightheartedly. Yet he also projected the starting-points for an islamic-christian theological study group. In the concluding chapters of this book he outlines some historic and at the same time topical backgrounds for the need for such a theological study group.
Forword by Dr. H. Abdul Mukti Ali 1. Starting-Points and Explorations 2. The First Encounters: Muslims as Respected Heretics 3. The Theological Homefront: Muslims as Detestable Heretics 4. Company Directors in “Natural Hostility” Towards “Untrustworthy and Fanatic Muslims” 5. The Advisors Holle, Hurghronje and Hazeu: Tutors to “Members of a Backward Religion” 6. The Age of Mission (1850-1940) and the Muslims: Between Anticipation and Accommodation 7. Indonesian Reactions to the Christians’ Arrival 8. Muslims and Christians in Independent Indonesia 1945-2005 Bibliography Index