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Muhammadiyah celebrates
100 years

In high spirits: Several students from Muhammadiyah educational institutions run in the rain carrying the organization’s flags. They had just performed at the centennial anniversary celebration of the nation’s second-largest Islamic organization at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on Sunday. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)
In high spirits: Several students from Muhammadiyah educational institutions run in the rain carrying the organization’s flags. They had just performed at the centennial anniversary celebration of the nation’s second-largest Islamic organization at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on Sunday. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)

Heavy downpours around the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Senayan, Central Jakarta somewhat dampened the jubilation of those attending the centenary celebrations of Muhammadiyah, the country’s second-largest Muslim organization.

Many of the audience sat in the venue in wet clothes and several programs did not proceed as
scheduled.

Despite the disruption, however, the organization remained upbeat about its ongoing role: To remain consistent in making a positive contribution to the country and to enhance its role in the global arena.

“We still have many items on our agenda, but the rain makes it impossible for us to proceed,” Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin said, referring to a musical performance by Dwiki Dharmawan.

“The rain is actually a symbol of God’s blessing to Muhammadiyah on its 100th birthday,” he added.

At one point, Din braved the rain and hopped into a black Toyota Alphard to greet spectators via the car’s sunroof.

Earlier, Din had managed to hold a teleconference with leaders from Muhammadiyah’s provincial chapters, although it ended abruptly due to a technical glitch caused by the rain.

In his speech, Din said the celebration’s tagline, “The Sun will Never Stop Enlightening the Nation”, was aimed at bolstering the spirit of Muhammadiyah to remain relevant amid the increasingly fast dynamism in Indonesia, as well as the region and the world.

“Muhammadiyah has survived for so many years amid both internal and external challenges. Today, we must reinforce our spirit to help improve Indonesia in areas, such as education, social service, the economy, people’s empowerment and many more. We will never tire of carrying out our programs in any kind of situation,” Din said.

Muhammadiyah would also continue to widen its contribution outside Indonesia, he said. “Muhammadiyah realizes that our dedication cannot be limited only to Indonesia. In the past, Muhammadiyah has been involved in peace processes, such as in the Philippines and Thailand,” Din said.

In his speech, Din also expressed his appreciation for the government’s commitment and activity in supporting the struggle of the Palestinian people for statehood.

“I appreciate the government’s active campaigning for Palestine via the UN and other international forums,” he said.

Dozens of the country’s top figures and foreign ambassadors were present at the event. Among them were former vice president Jusuf Kalla; Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo; former governor Sutiyoso; Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan; Regional Representatives Council (DPD) speaker Irman Gusman; Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum; People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) chairman Wiranto; and noted media mogul and NasDem Party founder, Hary Tanoesoedibjo.

In his speech, Kalla conveyed his admiration for Muhammadiyah, which he said “had positively touched all Indonesians at all levels”.

Hasyim Muzadi, former chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), also congratulated Muhammadiyah for its significance during its 100 years of existence. “I hope we can continue to strengthen the unity of the Islamic world, both in Indonesia and around the world,” he said.

Din said he had invited President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Boediono but the two had not been able to attend. “This is the third time the President has not attended but it is our fault for not getting in line with the President’s agenda,” he said.

Yudhoyono has been in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, attending the ASEAN and East Asia summits.

As a social organization, Muhammadiyah has never formally engaged in political activities. But, some observers suggest there are covert ties between Din, as well as Muhammadiyah, with certain political figures and groups.

Din was among high-level Islamic figures who stood as petitioners at the Constitutional Court in challenging the constitutionality of the state’s oil and gas regulator, BPMigas. Last week, the court ruled in favor of the petitioners and disbanded BPMigas, causing a massive blow to Yudhoyono’s administration.

The formation of the National Mandate Party (PAN) in the wake of political reforms in 1998 was initiated by senior Muhammadiyah figures, and the party’s members were also dominated by Muhammadiyah followers, but the organization has never claimed to be officially affiliated with PAN.

Muhammadiyah was established by Ahmad Dahlan in Yogyakarta on Nov. 18, 1912 during the Dutch colonial era. Today, with about 30 million followers throughout the archipelago, it remains one of the most influential organizations in Indonesia.

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