Citation for Darul Islam

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Weatherbee, Donald E. . "Darul Islam." In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford Islamic Studies Online. May 18, 2022. <>.


Weatherbee, Donald E. . "Darul Islam." In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. Oxford Islamic Studies Online, (accessed May 18, 2022).

Darul Islam

Darul Islam (popularly called DI) is the name given to the Islamic insurgent movement in West Java, Indonesia, that challenged the legitimacy and authority of the newly independent Republic of Indonesia between 1948 and 1962. Led by Sukarmadji Maridjan Kartosuwiryo (1905–1962), the Darul Islam's military forces, officially known as the Indonesian Islamic Army (Tentera Islam Indonesia, TII), from its bases in West Java's Sunda highlands sought to give effect to the proclamation (August 7, 1949) of the Islamic State of Indonesia (Negara Islam Indonesia) with the charismatic Kartosuwiryo as its head (imam). Acting in loose alliance with armed Islamic dissidents in Aceh led by Daud Beureuʿeh and in South Sulawesi led by Kahar Muzakkar, the Darul Islam movement initially enjoyed great support among the villagers and rural Muslim leaders (kiai and ʿulamāʿ) of West Java. That support fell away, however, as its national resistance to the Dutch in the 1950s became opposition to the independent Indonesian state, and as its military actions turned into wasting rural terrorism. Its lasting legacy was to stress for a generation of Indonesian political leaders the need to limit ideologically Islamic opposition to secular nationalism and the pluralist state, and to awaken military leaders to the security problems created by Islamic extremism.

Kartosurwiryo, expelled from medical school in 1927 because of his radical nationalism, became politically active in close association with H. O. S. Tjokroaminoto, the leader of Sarekat Islam (Islamic League). Kartosuwiryo became imbued with Tjokroaminotoʾs conviction that a truly independent Indonesian state had to be based on Islamic principles. In 1930 Sarekat Islam became a political party, the PSII (Partai Sarekat Islam Indonesia), but was soon replaced as the mainstay of nationalism by the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI), whose ideological umbrella covered more of the Indonesian population see SAREKAT ISLAM. Kartosurwiryo and his followers were dissatisfied with the 1945 compromise on the eve of the declaration of independence, even though most Muslim politicians in the established Nahdatul Ulama and Masjumi parties felt that this settled relations between Islam and the state. This was the Jakarta Charter (Piagam Jakarta) by which the orthodox Muslim leadership submitted to a religiously plural state for the sake of national unity in return for the understanding that Muslims would be obligated to follow Islamic law. This was a minimal Islamic claim on the political system, but it was never incorporated in the constitution or enacted as law. For Kartosuwiryo and others who by 1945 were operating on the radical fringes of establishment Islamic politics, this was a betrayal. Their unhappiness was sharpened by growing concerns about the influence of the political left in the nationalist ranks. Kartosuwiryoʾs alternative vision for Indonesia and his demand for a full Islamic state were elaborated in his 1946 ideological tract Haluan Politik Islam (Guide to Islamic Politics). He wrote that only through the creation of the Darul Islam could the well-being of Indonesian Muslims be assured and salvation in the eternal world attained.Although his own theological credentials and even his knowledge of Arabic have been called into question, Kartosuwiryo founded an Islamic school called the Suffah Institute at Malangbolang, near Garut in West Java. The Suffah Institute was an interesting mix of the tradition of the pesantren (the traditional Indonesian Islamic school) and political indoctrination. In addition to inculcating students with a mystically tinged militant Islam, the Suffah Institute also became a center for military training from which the Hizbullah and Sabilillah armed organizations recruited. Although ideologically distant from the Republic of Indonesia, the Muslim military forces in West Java cooperated with the Indonesian National Army (TNI) in the campaigns against the Dutch. The final political break with the Republic came after the 1948 Renville Agreement, which ceded West Java to occupying Dutch forces during a cease-fire and then to what was considered the Dutch puppet state of Pasunda in the shortlived federal Indonesia. In accordance with the Renville Agreement, the TNIʾs Siliwangi Division withdrew to Central Java, an act viewed by Kartosuwiryoʾs forces as betrayal and abandonment. Kartosuwiryo mobilized his supporters under the banner of the Islamic Indonesian State in pursuit of a jihād to liberate the land from the Dutch. When the Dutch broke the Renville Agreement in December 1948, the TNIʾs Siliwangi Division marched back into West Java, where on January 25, 1949 they encountered elements of the TII, and a firefight ensued. The ideological and political differences between Kartosurwiryo and the Republicʾs leaders had evolved into war.At the outbreak of hostilities the DIʾs military strength was about four thousand men; its political agents operated down to the village level through traditional channels of communication. Large areas of West Java surrounding Bandung, its largest city, paid allegiance to the DI. Although Kartosuwiryo was moved by the ideal of an Islamic state that could be brought into existence in the political chaos of national revolution, more complex motivations stirred many of his followers. The Darul Islam revolt had some of the characteristics of a peasant revolt as well as those of a search for meaning when traditional social structures had broken down. Whatever the cause, however, Kartosuwiryoʾs Darul Islam forces were no match for the political pressure of the government, which played upon the increasing hardships of life for villagers in DI territory; nor could the DI withstand the military force that the government could bring to bear against it once a military solution was deemed necessary. In the end, the DI was reduced to terrorism, extortion, and rural banditry, becoming an armed plague upon the countryside rather than a model of Islamic politics. It lost its appeal to the kiai and ʿulamāʿ, who turned to the government for protection. Kartosurwiryo was captured on June 2, 1962 and most of his remaining followers surrendered. He was tried for armed revolt by a closed military tribunal in August and executed by firing squad on September 12, 1962.



  • Abuza, Zachary. Political Islam and Violence in Indonesia.London, 2006.
  • Boland, B. J.The Struggle of Islam in Modern Indonesia. Rev. ed. The Hague, 1982. Basic work on Islamic politics in Indonesia which situates the Darul Islam in the full spectrum of Indonesian Muslim political parties and movements.
  • Bowen, John R.Islam, Law, and Equality in Indonesia: An Anthropology of Public Reasoning. Cambridge and New York, 2003.
  • Dijk, C. van. Rebellion under the Banner of Islam: The Darul Islam in Indonesia. The Hague, 1981. Emphasizes the socioeconomic basis of rural rebellion.
  • Horikoshi, Hiroko. “The Dar ul-Islam Movement in West Java, 1948–1962: An Experience of the Historical Process.”Indonesia20 (1975): 59–86.
  • Jackson, Karl. Traditional Authority, Islam, and Rebellion: A Study of Indonesian Political Behavior. Berkeley, Calif., 1980. A not fully successful effort to use social science survey research techniques to explain West Javanese villagersʾ differing attitudes toward the Darul Islam revolt.
  • Nieuwenhuijze, C. A. O. van. Aspects of Islam in Post-Colonial Indonesia. The Hague and Bandung, 1958.
  • Siapno, Jaqueline. Gender, Islam, Nationalism, and the State in Aceh: The Paradox of Power, Co-optation, and Resistance. London, 2002.
  • Soebardi, S.“Kartosuwiryo and the Darul Islam Rebellion in Indonesia.”Journal of Southeast Asian Studies14, no. 1 (1983): 109–133. Draws on Indonesian language studies, including Pinardi's 1964 biography, Sekarmadji Maridjan Kartosuwiryo.

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