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Author: Herman L. Beck

The Muhammadiyah in Indonesia is commonly known not to be very sympathetic towards mysticism in terms of its manifestations in mystical religious fraternities and pantheistic identity mysticism. Although its stance versus these religious phenomena seems to be very clear, many of its members are struggling to determine their attitude towards the issue. The continuing uncertainty about its legitimacy is evident from the questions Muhammadiyah members send to the Suara Muhammadiyah regarding this topic. In this article i focus on the Muhammadiyah’s ‘official’ vision through its first hundred years of existence. My thesis is that its rigidness in rejecting ‘mystical and spiritual’ manifestations is not only caused by its fear of unbelief and heresy, but also closely related to the political and social circumstances in which it is confronted with these ‘mystical and spiritual’ manifestations in the first place.

In: Journal of Sufi Studies
Author: Herman L. Beck

The Muhammadiyah is often mistakenly associated by outsiders with the Ahmadiyya1 according to the writers of the Muhammadiyah sebagai gerakan Islam (Kamal, Yusuf and Sholeh 1994:130-1). In this book, they want to explain to students attending the upper secondary schools of the Muhammadiyah, and also to ordinary members of the organization, what kind of organization the Muhammadiyah is and what it stands for. To define the character of the Muhammadiyah, they deal with, for example, the position of the organization in relation to other Islamic religious groups (Ar.: firqa) and the Islamic law schools (Ar.: madhhab) (Kamal, Yusuf and Sholeh 1994:126-36). The authors regard the differences between the Islamic religious groups as resulting from differences of opinion regarding essential elements of the Islamic creed (Ar.: ‘aqîda). However, in their view, the differences between the various Islamic law schools are connected with divergences of opinion not affecting the basic tenets of Islamic doctrine (Ar.: khilâfiyya). The the authors of Muhammadiyah sebagai gerakan Islam mention the Ahmadiyya while discussing some other Islamic religious groups.

Open Access
In: Religious Identity and the Invention of Tradition
Author: Herman L. Beck

This article focuses on the picture “Moroccans,” by Jacques Kuyper, in Martinus Stuart’s work. Although the picture of the “Moroccans” does not have any special art-historical value, it is interesting as a document-cum-monument that tells a fascinating story about another tipping point with regard to the image of Islam in Dutch history. “Moroccans” conveys a message that a twenty-first-century beholder cannot, or can no longer, grasp at a glance. This message cannot be understood unless the picture itself, as well as Martinus Stuart’s comment to it, is studied, and both are interpreted in their own socio-historical context.

In: Religion and the Arts
In: Religion, Conflict and Reconciliation
In: Modern Societies & the Science of Religions
Author: Herman L. Beck


Sendangsono is by far the most popular place of pilgrimage for Roman Catholics in Indonesia. It has been known from time immemorial as a centre of worship of indigenous religions. However, during the first three decades of the twentieth century the Roman Catholic missionaries Van Lith and Prennthaler succeeded in turning it into a Christian pilgrimage centre focused on the devotion to Maria. By applying the principles of adaptation and inculturation these Jesuit priests turned the place into a West European Christian stronghold amid a hostile, ‘pagan’ environment. However, since the late fifties of the twentieth century a kind of ‘Javanization’ of this Marian pilgrimage site seems to have taken place. The author, architect, and priest Yusuf Bilyarta Mangunwijaya played a crucial role in this process. Partly due to his efforts, Sendangsono became the place where Javanese believers of all persuasions celebrate their ‘shared Javanese cultural values as a Common Bond’.

Open Access