Sunday, June 17, 2012

Impact of Cheng Ho's Islamic Recognition

Impact of Cheng Ho's Islamic Recognition

Islam will not decrease in degree, even though there is a role for Chinese people in it. Here people forget that Chinese Islam is older than Java. Chinese people have known Islam when Javanese people lived in a world of idols and occultism. (Soemanto Al Qurtuby in the Seminar Discussing Chinese Contributions in the Islamization Process in Indonesia, March 19, 2005).

Class magazine National Geographic expressly stated Cheng Ho is a Muslim Chinese. Of course the statement departed from data support, not just a legend.

The National Geographic Society has a reputation as a scientific and non-profit organization involved in more than 8,000 explorations and research since 1888. However, in Indonesia, Cheng Ho's Islam still became a controversy, both in the Chinese community and in Islam. Cheng Ho's Islam seemed to be received half-heartedly.

Just look, none of the Chinese Muslims were invited to sit on the Cheng Ho 600 Year Committee. Also from the many programs that were designed, those with an Islamic nuance were only nasyid competitions and one seminar. Not at all prominent compared to these programs, just as simple as a patch. Even more awesome, a letter from the reader tells of the eviction of old Chinese Muslim tombs (Liem Wa Tiong, Oei Kiem Liang, Ang Tjin Kien, Tan Dinar Nio, Henry Tan, etc.).

The tombs were back in the back Sam Po Kong. The reader's letter also complained about the demotion of the calligraphy board "Me Zheng Lan Yin" (free translation: Contemplating and practicing the teachings of the Qur'an). The board was revealed after the visit of the Beijing Mosque High Priest to Sam Po Kong. During the visit, the Chinese cleric stated that the calligraphy confirmed Cheng Ho's Islam.

Two poles

How about the Indonesian Islamic community? Until now, the role of Chinese Muslims was never clearly recognized in the process of entering Islam into the archipelago. From the beginning, what was taught in school history books was the Arabic and Indian / Gujarat theories. The book that raised the role of the Chinese in the Islamization of the Archipelago was even banned from circulating with the potential reason to disrupt national stability. As a result, let alone acknowledged a role in the Islamization of the Archipelago, even the presence of Chinese Muslims in Friday prayers until now is still something that is considered strange. Islam and Chinese are considered two poles opposite.

Of course the picture is a black-and-white picture. Thankfully we still have a gray area. Lie Pek Tho, Thay Kak Sie Temple Foundation Chairman and Chairman of the 600-year-old Cheng Ho Committee, in an interview without saying: "He (Cheng Ho -net) Muslims. Followers are also mostly Muslims. So he also spread Islam ".

Likewise on the side of Islam, Habib Lutfi bin Ali Yahya, Chair of the Central Java MUI, not only mentioned Cheng Ho. He could even mention the names of Chinese scholars (many of whom used Muslim names) which he said had a role in the development of Islam in the archipelago. Because of the obscurity (or obfuscation) of history, even among Muslim Chinese their names and roles felt strange.

Hanafi School

Chinese entered Indonesia in waves. Before Cheng Ho, the remnants of the Kublai Khan (Yuan Dynasty) Mongolian army who lost against Raden Wijaya had settled in the Majapahit region (1293). They helped support Majapahit's glory through the transfer of knowledge about gunpowder, maritime and trade.

In the book of letters to his daughter, Indira Gandhi, Glimpses of World History, Jawaharlal Nehru said, "In fact the Chinese expedition finally made Majapahit's empire in Java stronger. This was because the Chinese brought firearms to Java. And it seems that with these firearms successive victories came for Majapahit." The Mongol Laskar were recruited from various regions: Hokkian, Kiangsi and Hukuang.

About a hundred years later, Admiral Cheng Ho's fleet sent by Emperor Yong Le (Ming Dynasty) stopped at various places in the archipelago. In these coastal cities Cheng Ho formed the first Islamic community in the archipelago, including Palembang, Sambas and Java. That is, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, Hanafi Muslim Chinese existed in the archipelago. They were mostly Yunnan people who migrated to the Archipelago at the end of the XIV century, and the remnants of the Mongol army which inhabited the Majapahit region.

A theory says, due to changes in the Ming Dynasty's foreign policy, relations between the Hanafi center in Campa and the Archipelago were finally cut off. Many Chinese Muslims converted to belief. Many Chinese mosques then turned into temples. Then Sunan Ampel (Bong Swie Ho) took the initiative to carry out the Javanization process. He left the Muslim Chinese community in Bangil and moved to Ampel with the newly converted Javanese. With his very strong leadership, Bong Swie Ho formed a Javanese Islamic community on the north coast of Java and the island of Madura. This is the forerunner of the Islamic community in Java.

The defeat of Sunan Prawoto (Muk Ming) of Demak in the struggle for influence with Arya Penangsang of Jipang resulted in the destruction of the entire city and Demak palace. The remnants of Demak forces who fled to Semarang were destroyed. Similarly, the Semarang shipyard and many non-Islamic Chinese in Semarang. This incident made the majority of the Chinese community in Semarang angry and did not sympathize with the Jipang forces. This is the beginning of the ebb and flow of the Muslim Chinese community in Semarang. They finally returned to Confucianism and Taoism.

Waves of Chinese immigrants entering the archipelago were no longer dominated by Muslim Chinese. They came, for example because of the need for Dutch colonizers to mine tin in Bangka. Coupled with politics devide and impera the Dutch colonialists, all of them gave the impression of the distance between Islam and China. Chinese people are increasingly considered foreign in the archipelago complete with everything stereotype the negative. The role of Chinese Muslims in the spread of Islam in the archipelago, as evidenced by folklore, various documents and historical relics, including ancient Chinese Muslim tombs, became opaque.

Especially after the New Order ruled with its ambiguous policy of integration. As long as it is labeled Chinese, the place is in dark corners in the life of the nation. But on the other hand, some Chinese people who are big entrepreneurs are overwhelmed with various facilities.

Balanced Society

Thank us when the reform era arrives with all its climate of openness. There is no more repressive atmosphere. Government power is balanced with the role of private entrepreneurs and social control of the community. Three elements are needed in a balanced concept of modern society. Even though it had to be a victim of the May 1998 riots, the Chinese people were affected by the climate of openness in the reform era. His civil rights were restored, free to express his customs again.

In such an atmosphere, celebrating Cheng Ho's 600 years of voyage became very possible. Sam Po Kong, Cheng Ho's retreat, was restored on a grand scale. Organized various events during the week. And long before, red lanterns perched on the main streets of Semarang. A thing that dreams will not happen in the era of all those labeled Chinese is taboo.

The question is: how come everything is ready? It doesn't feel like it yet. Cheng Ho's value goes far beyond just his tourist attraction, and his warning is included in the tourist calendar. Sucking guests from home and abroad, as well as sucking up their pocket. If it were just that, it would mean removing Cheng Ho's role, which had triggered city towns in the archipelago to become metropolises. It also means ignoring the nature and attitude it has: entrepreneurship, risk taker, inovatif, leadership, tolerant, universal, loyal to superiors, but at the same time in the greatness of his power he is able to recognize his smallness before Allah SWT. Love God, and therefore spread his faith to everyone.

Not too much to say, Cheng Ho is a balanced human being in the world and the hereafter.


Accepting and acknowledging Cheng Ho as a whole meant recognizing his Islam. acknowledging the role of Chinese ulama in the process of entering Islam into the archipelago. And this will make a tremendous contribution in the new Indonesian frame. Overturning Arab and Indian / Gujarat theories about the process of entering Islam into the archipelago. Bringing the Chinese closer to their compatriots. Reducing the psychological gap that has existed so far.

Accepting and living the values ​​of Cheng Ho as a whole will contribute to the fostering of community social capital. Even recognition that departs from honesty and openness will increase international trust. Enhancement trust will trigger cooperation, networking, and progress for our business.

People tend to trusted it will be easier to bring in capital and investment because buyers and investors are protected from the effects of fraud committed by the other party. In addition, the community is trusted encourage business confidence and certainty, as well as the ease of recruiting professional personnel.

Commemorating Cheng Ho's 600-year voyage could be just a moment of fun, echoing a matter of weeks and then vanishing. But it can also be a turning point for something far more strategic. The choice is all of us.

By: AM Adhy Trisnanto

Muslim Chinese & Marketing Communication Practitioners.

Fimadani/The Truth Seeker Media

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