Come Back Home, Buya


I have two academic articles regarding the subject of Prof. Dr. Syafii Maarif, or whom we friendly call Buya. Put all the controversies about him aside, we can say he is a very captivating figure.

“Dari Etika Al-Quran Menuju Masyarakat Demokratis: Studi Sosiologi Pengetahuan Mengenai Ahmad Syafii Maarif” (From Koran’s Ethic to Democratic Society: Study  of Sociology of Knowledge About Ahmad Syafii Maarif) is my 276 pages with appendices research essay that got me pass through Department of Sociology, The University of Indonesia, at the end of 2011.

Then, “Potret Intelektual Muslim: Sebuah Tinjauan Sosiologi Pengetahuan Terhadap Pemikiran Ahmad Syafii Maarif” (Portrait of Muslim Intellectual: A Study Sociology of Knowledge of the Thinking of Ahmad Syafii Maarif) is my first academic writing after I passed my undergraduate  that was published by Journal of Sosiology Society UI, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2013

To produce these two writings, I got the chance to know Buya and several other figures, directly. I also spent my 4th Semester Holiday to be an intern at the office of Maarif Institute.

At that time, only few even recognized Basuki Tjahja Purnama. Even only handful of people who recognized the stellar career of then Mayor of Solo, Joko Widodo. I think the same goes with Buya.

The discourse of the national elites was still circled around the usual figures, if not former student activists, businessmen, or retired Army general. Head of Regional Government was not in our calculation. Only Fadel Muhammad, Governor of Gorontalo, and Gamawan Fauzi, Governor of West Sumatra appeared on the surface.

It was around this situation, I started to immerse myself in Buya’s ideas. “Be careful to use the name Buya, or you may misspell it Buaya (crocodile)” said Buya when for the first time I interviewed him in DKJ office, Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta.

I can only laugh in reply. I’ve never thought that Buya will be actually “crocodile-ed” by the supporters of  the 411 Movement. Buya is accused as defender of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the accused blasphemer of Islam. His status as cleric was openly and publicly questioned.

Even some rumored that Minang people no longer consider him as a Minang. It seems, Buya’s fate is in dismal. He is exiled, as Zainudin in The Sink of Van Der Wijk  by Buya Hamka.

Well, never mind, even Buya maybe has forgotten the way home to Makah Darek, Sumpur Kudus. He is stuck at Nogotirto, Yogyakarta. Minang people has not to worry about it.

We must admit that regarding the development of Islamic ideas in the mainstream Islamic group in Indonesia, Ahmad Syafii Maarif is one of the most referred. If Nahdatul Ulama (NU) had Abdurahman Wahid (Gus Dur), then Muhammadiyah has born Ahmad Syafii Maarif. They are the intersection points of the ideological battles of the two great organizations.

There was even an amusing joke from a friend; “Buya’s mistake is he learned about NU from Fadzlur Rahman far away in Chicago University. Why didn’t he learned from Gus Dur at Ciganjur University?”

As Nurcholis Majid (Cak Nur) at his earlier intellectual phase, young Buya was the admirer of Natsir. For him, the solution for Indonesia is only an Islamic state. He was even actively campaigning for Masyumi Party on that time.

When the New Order was in power, Masyumi was dissolved. He was heartbroken, but felt there was hope. Even after finishing his master degree at Ohio, Buya spent some time as a member of student organization that aimed to create a caliphate in their own country. Most of the members were from Middle Eastern and South Asian countries.

Until finally, Buya met Prof. Fadzlur Rahman. Their meeting was opened with a question; “Prof. Rahman, could you give me a forth of your knowledge? I will convert Indonesia to be an Islamic state.” As a good teacher, Rahman replied, “you could take it all!”

The result of his studying in Chicago, Buya turned to the Ideas of nationalism through his dissertation about the failure of Islamic conception in Konstituante session of 1956. Different from Amien Rais with his ceaseless admiration for Ikhwanul Muslimin,  Muhammadiyah at that time was having this mischief boy, Ahmad Syafii Maarif.

The polemic of Buya’s standing for Ahok must be seen in the larger context, especially, Buya’s position in Indonesian political arena. Along his political career, political wits must implicate in the actualization of the ideas.

Buya’s support for Jusuf Kalla (JK) – Wiranto candidacy during the 2009 Presidential Election, had different meaning with what he did when he supported Joko Widodo – Jusuf Kalla in 2014. For sure, it will be much more different with his involvement in the campaign for Masyumi.

Let’s start with Buya’s involvement in campaigning for Masyumi. Here, Buya looked more partisan. Affiliation of modernist Islam faction was so influential in his choosing of political affiliation.

Meanwhile, his support for JK made him in direct touch with the battle of political elites. Buya’s full support for JK made him face to face against the dominant power.

When supporting the contender of power, Buya was in his traditional position. He always wanted to be with them who balance the power. JK was defeated, this failure gave little impact structurally for Buya’s position.

Support for Jokowi – JK had different impact. Jokowi – JK won, then Buya implicitly considered as part of power holder, but Buya denied this perception.

This is of course a new experience for Buya. Though without any political position, the brand of “Buya Syafii” is already a capable microchip for power to materialize. All his logic will perceived to be connected with the survival interest of those in power.

All this time, Buya was considered as a balancer. Now, Buya is in the realm of power. Before, Buya was the moral guardian of the mighty, now he is in the midst of Machiavellians.

This situation gives their impact on Buya’s position in accusation of Ahok as blasphemer of Sura Al-Maidah 51. Buya then faced the accusation.

Actually, nothing is special about Buya’s defence for Ahok. Buya only believes that Ahok is a good politician, without any intention to offend anything. He even fully supports any legal process on Ahok.

But sitting together with the “inner circle” made the opposition line must be drawn firmly by the “outer cycle” power. The line that was less visible, is now getting bolder. It was on the realm of ideas, now being tested in political battle. If before, nobody got angry when Buya used the word “turban thugs” since Buya and his opponents similarly had no connection whatsoever with the authority in power. Different calculation if he says it now.

Buya is a defender of ideology of nationalism. He is consistent in this way of thinking. It is by chance that his ideas turned into an antithesis of religious vision of the opposition group.

Jakarta Gubernatorial Election must be seen on a bigger context. This competition is a qualification round for 2019 Presidential Election. Maybe Buya doesn’t know that. Or, he just wants to extend his contract with Jokowi’s faction, which he considers to be the most suitable with nationalistic value that he holds.

All this time, the tug of war of interest is between Joko Widodo and Megawati Soekarnoputri. For some cases, Buya seems to take the bullet for Jokowi, for example, on the polemic of electing Budi Gunawan as the Indonesian Police Commander. Buya’s ethical reason was to protect KPK, but the meaning of course was beyond the realm of power.

Right now, more serious political opponents for Joko Widodo is showing themselves. SBY makes his return to politics, through his surrogate, the eldest son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY). Prabowo Subianto is also looming from the distance. Political field is seen less spacious.

I am sure Buya has never changed. It’s us who are not use to see him with his new friends. To be silence will turn to be a problem, but even when Buya talks, for sure he will also bring opponents. Politics is divisive, only dakwah unifies. Hope Buya will prevail against the tides, not drifted by it. Please come back home, Buya.