National

Muhammadiyah celebrates
centennial with introspection

Muhammadiyah, one of the country's largest Islamic organizations, celebrated its Islamic calendar centenary on Wednesday in Yogyakarta with a pledge to use the moment for internal evaluation, introspection and retrospection to perform better in the future.

Speaking in front of some 25,000 activists and supporters of the organization at a ceremony at Mandala Krida Stadium, Muhammadiyah's chairman Din Syamsuddin called on leaders within the organization to strengthen perseverance to improve the management and performance of the movement.

"We have to be thankful by continually praying for the sustainability and development of the organization," Din said.

Being 100 years old, older than the state, Din said, Muhammadiyah should not lose confidence and character in maintaining itself as an independent movement of civil society.

"We have to improve togetherness both within the organization, within Muslim society as well as within wider society," he said.

Din also called on the organization's business entities to improve their function as beacons of progress and superiority. "We must use this momentum as a stepping stone for the establishment of new business entities of superiority and make them centers of excellence," he said.

Muhammadiyah was established by Ahmad Dahlan on Dzulhijjah 8, 1330 according to the Islamic calendar, or Nov. 18, 1912. Nov. 25 this year coincided with Dzulhijjah 8, 1430, or 100 years according the Islamic calendar.

"Since its establishment, Muhammadiyah has never stopped performing its humanitarian and nation building functions in the social and global spheres," chairman of Muhammadiyah's Yogyakarta chapter Agung Danarto said at the ceremony.

The functions, among others, have manifested through the establishment of thousands of educational institutions from pre-school up to universities, hundreds of hospitals and health centers, orphanages and even banks.

Such contributions, according to Agung, were proof that the Islamic organization worked toward benefitting the wider community.

During the colonial era, Agung said, Muhammadiyah struggled for Indonesia's independence despite the political pressure it experienced. During the independence and the New Order era it kept performing social and religious activities despite a difficult political climate.

It also kept developing its business activities during the New Order era despite the authoritarian regime. "Now in the post-reformation era, Muhammadiyah makes use of political openness by conducting revitalization and improving the quality of its business entities and preaching activities," Agung said.

The Wednesday ceremony was also intended as a warm-up event for the upcoming centennial congress of the organization to be held in Yogyakarta on from July 3 to 8 next year.

Participants at the ceremony came from as far as Central Java's cities of Purworejo, Banjarnegara, Magelang, Purworejo, Klaten, Sukoharjo and Surakarta, and half of those who attended had to be seated outside the stadium due to the venue's limited capacity.

During the ceremony, Din also announced the making of a movie about the life of Muhammadiyah's founder, Ahmad Dahlan, by Indonesian box office movie director Hanung Bramantyo and producer MVP Pictures, a subsidiary of Multivision Plus.

Entitled Sang Pencerah (The Enlightener), according to Hanung, the movie would start production by February next year and would premiere in June 2010, prior to the centennial congress of Muhammadiyah.

"I have dreamt of making this movie since I was still a senior high school student. Only now, after directing 12 movies, I have the opportunity to realize my dream," said Hanung.

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