Islamism and Communism

Haji Misbach (1925)

Originally published serially in Medan Moeslimin, No. 2-6, 1925.

Translated by Sawyer Martin French [1]

Source: Haji Misbach sang propagandis : aksi propaganda di surat kabar Medan moeslimin dan Islam bergerak, 1915-1926. Yogyakarta: Kendi, 2016

الحكمة ضالة المؤمن حيث وجدها التقطها

Meaning: “Wisdom is the stray thing of the believer. Wherever he finds it, he gathers it.”


Before I lay out my objectives here, I will explain what is contained in the writing that forms the main part [kepalaan] of this work. First off, I apologize to all our Communist readers, especially all of our Muslim friends around the world, that I did not quickly fulfil the promise that was published in Medan Moeslimin No. 14, 15 July 1924. The reason for this delay I will explain below:

After I wrote the report about my journey from Java to Manokwari (Papua) that I sent (published in Medan Moeslimin No. 18-24), I had some hindrances. My oldest son (Masdoeki) fell sick from a harsh bout of indigestion [panas dalam], was unable to sleep for 4 days and 4 nights, and couldn’t recognize his father or his mother. Lots of friends in the village tried to treat him, but their medicines and their words were only superstitions. Only after I had a doctor look at him and treat him could he sleep.

My son recovered, but then his mother fell sick and lost an inordinate amount of blood. After the doctor examined and treated her, alhamdulillah now she’s doing well and is very happy.

Because of this, I hope that our friends, especially the readers of Medan Moeslimin, will be understanding.

Indeed, my writing on the issue of Islam and Communism is important for someone who claims to be a true Muslim and communist—i.e. regularly carrying out what has been made obligatory upon them by the religion of Islam and by communism. In contrast, for those who claim this falsely, like Muhammadiyah and Sarekat Islam Tjokroaminoto, I must explain that these things are considered to be simply poison. These two factions are not leading movements for the true religion of Islam. True, they constantly show off their Islamic-ness, but in reality this is only lip service. True, they follow the rules of Islam, but they pick only the rules that their base desires admire; the rules that they dislike, they easily throw out. They firmly oppose or resist the commands of God, Allah, the All-hearing and All-knowing, and they fear and love the will of the devil that is forwarded by capitalism in this era (may God’s curse be upon them -editor), the evil of which is already evident.

The same goes for those friends of ours who claim to be communists while advancing discourse that seeks to eradicate Islam. I’m willing to say that they are not true communists, or they do not yet understand the true communist position. Similarly, as for those who call themselves Muslims but disagree with Communism, I’m willing to say that they are not true Muslims, or do not fully understand the Islamic position.

People’s movements that truly fulfill their obligations to fight injustices [fitnah-fitnah] that degrade and play with human lives, like what has happened in Europe, those people’s movements necessarily perceive [those who spread] these injustices as enemies.

Therefore, hopefully these friends of ours will read deeply and carefully until they understand the explanation I offer below.

* * *

In the old days, before Karl Marx entered the scene of popular movements, there was not yet the phrase or language of “Communism.” However, rampant oppression and injustice was already widespread. This injustice was caused by the feudal class (the aristocrats or ningrat) and the capitalist class, but the people’s understandings were still closed, not truly understanding the causes of their misery in the world. People felt oppressed and resisted, but their resistance at that time could not yet be rightly organized, as they did not yet truly identify the group that what causing the world’s corruption.

When Karl Marx was a lead journalist, he seriously inspected the conditions of the people. He was very interested in economics and the status of the poor. From this, Karl Marx could clearly see the main elements and sources that caused turmoil in the world. The reasons and sources of turmoil are as follows:

1. Poverty is caused by capitalism. Capitalism is the science of seeking profit while concentrating ownership in the hands of only a few people. Poverty is caused by the exploitation and oppression that results from capitalism. Poverty breaks people’s bodies, and makes them susceptible to affliction by disease. A person who has become poor has had their life wasted away, because they lack truly sufficient housing, clothing, and food. People who have been so broken all roam the streets, and they live in markets, beneath trees, under bridges, and in other such places. Those who are poor and cannot get help are then captured by the police and thrown in prison, where they are do forced labor for 14 days, all because they have no permanent residence.


Among those who are poor, there also appears those who commit crimes, like fraud, theft, highway robbery, home invasion, etc. 

The emergence of all this is extremely difficult to treat, except by eradicating capitalism from the earth. It is the reason why they have no livelihood and no way of finding one.

In this world, prisons and police were created to prevent crime and other things like it. But this effort has failed, shown by the fact as long as there have been prisons, crime and other things like it have not decreased. And it turns out that prisons and police aren’t decreasing, but are constantly multiplying. Send capitalism to its grave!

2. People’s morals and humanity are also broken in the era of capitalism, even if they get high levels of education. Because of this brokenness, they become easily manipulated by capitalism as its tools; whatever capitalism demands of them, they feel obligated to carry out, even though those demands denigrate and harm them. The clear proof of this is in Europe, where millions of lives have been lost because they were manipulated by capitalism, made victims to glorify and support the evil of capitalism that always lusts to spread its unlimited wrath. This wrath seizes economic [markets], industries (factories that produce diverse goods, like goods used for clothing, household items, and other items used for human needs and pleasures), etc.

* * *

Capitalism: the disposition to seek profit that only prioritizes one’s own needs and desires.

Capital: Things that are used to seek or create profit.

Capitalist: Someone who has people and tools to produce profit, which is only for the few. They are the ones who can set prices (raising or lowering them).

Handicrafts that were done in the old days are now constantly becoming rarer, or even disappearing completely under pressure from machines made by capitalists that makes those goods in order to reel in profit quickly and easily.

It’s easy to see that the machines that are made to create all these new things nowadays do not remain the same, but are constantly improved and upgraded in order to increase production and decrease the amount of workers.

For example, a first type of machine can produce 10,000 items per day using 100 workers. Then comes a second, better machine, that can produce 50,000 items per day using 50 workers. So the other 50 are then fired and become people with no livelihood. They are then forced to surrender themselves to a company and compete to do labor. Sooner or later the wages of the working class fall. This continues until the working class’s livelihood depends exclusively on the capitalist class. They are called the “proletariat.”

A capitalist who owns the first type of machine can go out of business—i.e. go under [mati]—under pressure from the advent of the second machine. His going out of business can cause additional people to have no way to eat as well. Even petty food cart salesmen who usually sell to the workers for the first type of machine could go under too.

The misery of these workers and petty salesmen doesn’t only affect them alone, but also involves the fate of their children and wives, the people who depend on them.

Because of this poverty, various conditions emerge that are inhumane and violate religion.

The capitalist class, by constantly producing goods, doesn’t consider the needs of the inhabitants of it’s country, so the goods they produce exceed demand. Some of the goods pile up and can’t be sold within the country, since people don’t need to buy clothing and other goods every day. Because of this, factories that produce these goods close, and hundreds of workers are fired and lose their livelihoods. This clearly further breaks people’s humanity, and many people will violate the prohibitions of religion.

The aspiration of the capitalist class is to continually increase their profit. They don’t want any loss at all. So capitalists must constantly seek to reduce their employees and expenses. They also especially seek another country as a market to sell those goods that pile up and for other newly produced goods. Also, in order to get the raw materials to make the goods in the factories, capitalists need to look for materials in other countries. In order for the capitalist class to sell their goods easily and without any obstacles, they need that country made into a market to be completely subjugated and made into a colony, whether peacefully or violently, through war and killing.

Because of the arrival of machine-made goods that look nice, seem refined, and sell for cheap, indigenous businesses that only produce goods by hand die out. Indigenous independence is reduced or disappears entirely. Poverty in the colony grows worse by the year. (Feel this and remember, Indonesia. -editor)

In looking for colonies as markets to sell their goods or capital, different capitalists often fight wars between themselves fighting over them.

In these wars, it’s not the capitalist class that is consumed by cannons, knives, and bombs, but the poor folk who fall victim to it.

Let us remember that the capitalist class only aspires to increasing their profit, without thinking of the thousands of other people who become miserable. Therefore, the working class is forced to spend all of its time and energy seeking profit for the capitalist class, being so tied up in the rules of the capitalist class.

The capitalist class squeezes its working class without thinking much about nationality or religion, and without thinking much about the religious rules that must be carried out by religious people. For example, take the thousands of train workers (around 60,000 workers in Java -editor). They are forced to abandon the pillars of Islam, prayer and fasting, because their time for prayer is spent being exploited by their masters. The same goes for workers at mechanical factories, harbors, and mines, tens of thousands of whom are forced to abandon their prayers and fasting in order to find the money to fill their stomachs. Without any other options, if they didn’t do this they would fall victims and die of hunger along with their wives and children.

The working classes everywhere, along with sacrificing their energy and thought, they then sacrifice their religion to be destroyed by capitalism.

* * *

The reasons stated above brought Karl Marx to see that capitalism is evil, and led him to think that capitalism can be degraded through historical materialism. Then Karl Marx authored the book The Communist Manifesto in 1847 in Paris.

In the Manifesto, we can see for ourselves the status of Communism.

Karl Marx explains that the emergence of Communism is a seed of capitalism itself that is planted in the hearts of the people, especially the working class.

How can Karl Marx say that Communism is planted by capitalism? It’s because it is from the essence of capital, which is evil to the point that it can plant a seed of hatred and bravery created by capitalism that pushes one to resist capitalism itself.

This seed of hatred and bravery created by capitalism is what Karl Marx calls “communism.”

Some people talk about Communism like a phantom, like it’s terrifying. This opinion is legitimate, because we can say that if we sow goodness, then we will harvest goodness. Likewise, if we sow corruption (oppression, exploitation, degradation, etc.), we will see it’s fruits as “resistance.”

Capitalism is clearly evil because, side from what is mentioned above, it also causes hatred among people and fighting.

In the era of capitalism, money becomes the main staple of people’s lives. So most people come to love money blindly. They are blinded by money so that they forget their humanity. Their bodies and souls are surrendered only to money.

We communists know all of capitalism’s little tricks, so that they can’t be used to manipulate us, as Communism is indeed a phantom that comes from capitalism. However, those who are not communists are easily manipulated and used as tools of capitalism. They see capitalism as good, right, helpful, and praiseworthy.

Indeed we too know that capitalism is clever! It strives with its theories and promises, grand and elegant, so that it can use each and every religion as its tool.

O communist friends of ours, especially the Muslims, look and think carefully about the ideals and attitudes of each of these following movements that claims to be based on religion:

1. Sarekat Islam (SI), “White” branch, led by Tjokroaminoto

2. PPKD (Political Association of Javanese Catholics)

3. Muhammadiyah in Yogyakarta

4. Djamiatoel-hasanah

6. Others with similar attitudes.

II: Islamism’s Explanation of Communism

 فبشر عبادى الذين يستمعون القول فيتبعون احسنه اولئك الذين هداهم الله واولئك هم اولو الالباب

Meaning: “Give glad tidings to my servants who listen to speech worth following. They are the ones who receive guidance from Allah and have reason.”

Before I explain the commands of Islam concerning communists and Communism, I will first explain the true status of Islam, so that all of us who embrace our individual religions can understand, also so that we can know clearly that each person has an opinion about the truth of life in this world, including those who embrace a certain religion and even those who do not.

Hopefully, our friends, the entirety of humankind throughout the world, will receive great guidance to gain salvation for eternity. Amin ya rabb al-Ꜥalamin.

* * *

Know, O brothers and sisters:

Most people in this world follow a religion. These religions compete over which is to be considered true, to the point that war breaks out between the followers of each religion, in order to demonstrate and seize for themselves the claimed truth. This type of event truly is not the objective of religion, but simply the error of humans whose thinking has strayed. The explanation is as follows:

Religion is intended as guidance from God who is powerful over all humans in the world. There is only one such powerful God, and therefore there is also only one true religion. There are not two or three or more gods, and likewise there are actually not two or three true religions.

In the noble Qur’an, in sura Āl ꜤImrān, aya 19:

ان الدين عند الله الإسلام

This means: The only religion that is recognized by God is Islam.

Because of this aya, many people think that Islam is only what was brought by our honored prophet, our master Muhammad s.a.w. Among Muslims there are those who are arrogant and see themselves as uniquely correct, causing followers of other religions to similarly boast about their own religions, and to prioritize their own leadership (i.e. religious competition). This type of condition is truly dark, as made clear by the following:

Religion means guidance from God.

Islam means safety [Selamat].

Therefore the religion of Islam is guidance towards salvation. This is the religion that is recognized by God. The origins of religion are diverse in name, as follows:

Indeed, God sent down religion without a name. At first God made a single human, named “Adam.” The second was named “Hawa.” Now we have the terms, “male and female.” Adam and Hawa getting together led to children and grandchildren, down in generations up until the present. Clearly, the origins of humankind are singular.

During the life of “Adam” and his descendants, God sent down the religion of Adam as the commands of God, in order that they be spread among his descendants. All of his descendants who fulfilled the commands and embraced the religion called the religion “the religion of Adam.” That name was used only because it was the name of the one who led it, like other religions, including:

1. The commands of the prophet Abraham, whose religion is called “[the religion of] Abraham”

2. Buddha Guatama, whose religion is named “Buddhist”

3. Confucius, whose religion is named “Confucianism”

4. The commands of the prophet Moses, whose religion is called “Judaism” because prophet Moses was born in the land of Judea. So the name of the religion was taken from the name of the place of birth of its leader.

5. The commands of the prophet Jesus, whose religion is called “Nasrani,” because prophet Jesus was born in Nazareth. After there emerged the belief among people of that era that the prophet Jesus died on the cross, there were two names of the religion. The first was called “Nasrani,” taken from the place of his birth. The second was called “Christian,” taken from the name of the tool that was used to kill him.

6. The commands of the prophet Muhammad, whose religion is called “[the religion of] Muhammad” or “Islam.” The name Islam is not taken from the land of birth of the prophet that brought it, as the prophet Muhammad was born in Arabia. Rather, the name was taken from its purpose, to obey the commands of God.

The name of the religion is taken from the objective of the religion, or the will of God, because God sent down the religion so that humans could know what is good and bad, what is right and wrong.

God commands doing good and forbids being wicked so that all humans can achieve salvation. Out of the love and affection of God for humans, God commands them to be good while living in this world, for which they will be given multiplied rewards of joy and pleasure in the afterlife, so that they will incline towards being good.

God forbids all humans from being wicked. Whoever commits wickedness is threatened with pain and heavy punishment in the afterlife. This threat makes people scared to be evil and wicked.

Above, I have explained that there is only one true religion, the objective of which is to be a guidance towards the path of salvation for humans living in this world until their arrival in the next. From this, if we think seriously about the fact that God sent down religion to humans, this is an enormous aid from God for the salvation of humans.

God sent down religion as a great aid for humans which is indeed sufficient, many times and dozens of people who have been entrusted as messengers of God.

God, Allah, has the attribute of power, “qudra.” From His power, this world is made up of a variety of colors, compositions [bangoenan], and other characteristics. This power of His we can no longer dispute. God, Allah, first created the prophet Adam and placed him in heaven, knowing the condition of heaven, hell, and the angels.

The prophet Adam (a.s.) was made more preferred and more noble than all the creatures [titah] of God, even the angels.

The angels were commanded by God to submit to the prophet Adam, and they all obeyed except for the devil (Iblis), who refused to submit to Adam. Because of this refusal, he received the wrath of God and was promised severe punishment.

The prophet Adam was told by God that the devil would forever be the enemy of him and his descendants.

The prophet Adam then explained to his progeny all the commands of God. Whether that explanation was believed or not depended only on the one who received it.

The prophets sent by God explain to humans what is acceptable to God using sufficient proof, but there are many humans who do not then believe.

God, Allah, continued to send prophets, from Adam all the way until our prophet, Muhammad s.a.w., in order to explain to all humans the things that are clouded for them, and so that they do not neglect the unseen (that which humans are generally ignorant of, or do not know of before their deaths).

Because of the devil, or humans with satanic thoughts, the one true religion broke up into factions. Beginning in feudal times—in which humans always fight for prominence, power, and grand status—there emerged these conditions, which led to degradation of religion. Religious commands that did not accord with the values of Satan become easily discarded. They choose to simply become hypocrites, professing religion with their mouths but following Satan in their hearts. This can be observed in my explanation below.

Communism in Islam

God, Allah, has created [menitahkan] humanity within a sufficient organizational order, so that each living person knows the condition of humans who follow that order. This is simply because God is powerful, and all that He wills must be. The power of God is evident in the contents of this world:

1. Different types of humans with different appearances.

2. Different types of trees, large and small.

3. Flowers, leaves, and fruits.

4. Different types of stars in the sky, large and small.

5. Different types of birds with diverse songs.

6. Different types of creatures that live in water, whether rivers, the sea, or elsewhere.

There are lands and their contents, the sky with its sun, moon, and stars, fishes and other animals in water, and all that is in it. All of these have their own natures, their own flavors and uses. Humans can create none of these, nor can they even explain their origins and causes. However, if we think seriously about these things, it would no longer be possible for us to deny that all of these things are from the Existent that creates; are they not all from the power of God, Allah?

Above I have explained that God, Allah, created humans with sufficient organization, in that humans live in this world and are given reason and thought. With such reason and thought, humans can progress, and their progress comes through using tools: whether ears to hear or eyes to see the events of this world, which serve as signs towards the path of progress. This progress comes little by little, over time becoming more perfect, like the levels of school children. The children in 1st grade could not manage to study lessons from 2nd grade, just like 2nd graders would not be capable if given 3rd grade lessons.

Humans of the past, in the age of the prophet Adam a.s., had morals that were still like animals, and this was passed down from generation to generation. Children were taught to behave in this way, as it was seen as completely normal by their community. For this reason, God sent the prophet Adam a.s. in order to give a lesson to his descendants and to guide them. That guidance is a gift from God. That guidance is what we call Religion. So religion means guidance from God.

In the time of the prophet Adam a.s., all his descendants referred to his religion as the religion of Adam, meaning the commands of Allah that were spread by the prophet Adam.

After the prophet Adam a.s. passed away and much time had passed, God sent another messenger. This person was from among the descendants of Adam, chosen as someone who constantly upheld justice and whose heart was pure from all evil.

The second leader. God, Allah subhanahu wataala, changed his law [syariat] in order to forward human progress in all things that are beneficial. Because of these conditions and their continual development, humans increasingly progressed (intellectually).

Most humans in our current age accept all forms of progress as good without carefully inspecting its consequences. Certainly such claims of goodness are completely mistaken, since “progress” means advancing knowledge and intellect, and such knowledge and intellect depend on humans’ morals and ethics. Whenever ethics and morals are poor and corrupt, progress brings no benefit to humans; rather it increases corruption and hardship, which can turn into destruction, even threatening safety and order in the world. But as for progress with a good and proper basis, its effect also increases the goodness and righteousness in the world.

This can no longer be disputed, since in the Qur’an, God has declared that knowledgeable people who do not use their knowledge—meaning they can discern between right and wrong, goodness and corruption, but do not utilize goodness and remove corruption or wrong—God is angry with them and they endure a heavy punishment. This can be seen in the attitudes of Muhammadiyah and Sarekat Islam Tjokro, which claim to be based on Islam and the Qur’an, in that both of these organizations that make many false promises, they grow evil as they grow larger. That is the wrath of God becoming evident. Wait and see, eventually they will dig their own graves. Meanwhile all progress based on goodness and righteousness will continue to grow, and their goodness and righteousness will become increasingly evident. This is because God opened the door to send out His noble message.

(They will not be able to take with them to the grave the aid they have requested and received from the enemies of the people and the enemies of Islam. -Redaction by Haroenroesjid)

Humanity’s mind began to open because of the leadership of the second or third prophet, who explained matters of belief about fear and service of God. He also explained the attributes of God, being a King characterized as generous, just, and merciful towards humanity. For this reason God created heaven and hell—heaven in order to reward humans who live properly according to God’s commands, hell in order to threaten humans who live corruptly and badly. Heaven and hell are both for guiding humans’ thoughts so that they easily and happily do good deeds according to God’s commands and avoid being corrupt and disobeying God’s commands. This is also tied to God’s love and mercy for humanity.

God created angels as God’s servants, so that they would carry out God’s commands—which are mandatory for them—such as bringing God’s commands to humanity, which has been selected as God’s messengers. Others are tasked with overlooking humans’ deeds, removing human souls, guarding heaven and hell, etc. The messengers (rasul) of God always convey this information to humanity, starting with the Prophet Adam up until the final prophet.

As for God creating those messengers, aside from conveying matters of faith that are useful for humanity, they also help prevent  humans from falling into darkness and being tempted by the devil. They also contribute to leading human progress. For this reason, the changes in messengers bring changes in sharia (worldly rules for salvation), about faithfulness towards God.

God chooses humans who are raised up to be prophets (nabi) and messengers (rasul). These are not only a few but tens and hundreds of people. Messengers also swear a weighty oath before God, and here below I quote the oath for both prophets and messengers from the Qur’an, juz’ 3, aya 75 (sura Āl ꜤImrān, aya 81), which means:

O Muhammad, recall when Allah requested the oath from all the prophets. (God ordered the following:) All things that I have commanded of you are in the books, and you must carry out the wisdom that you have been given faithfully. In the future there will also be messengers that come to you in accordance with the books you are practicing, and you must believe in and support them. (God continued:) Are you or are you not capable of following my commands? (All the prophets responded:) We are capable of carrying them out faithfully. (God spoke:) If that is so, then you must prove your faithfulness among your people and I will be your friend as a witness.

My dear readers, I suspect, now understand that what we call “Religion” [Agama] is singular, meaning guidance from God. There are not multiple or divided Religions, like has come to be nowadays. Look hard for what has caused the destruction of religion to the point of its current condition. In my opinion, the cause is none other than the ethics of the aristocratic, feudal, and capitalist classes, whose ethics have strayed from the truth, so that the books they write teach us that which is far from the real truth of Religion.

Above I have explained that the different names for Religion are each from the desires of each group, taken from the names of the messengers and their lands of birth. Then the names for Religion which have emerged create a sense of tribalism [kebangsaan] until they are strongly felt, so they do not want to receive advice about the truth from other groups. Because of this, God commanded the final prophet, the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., to name it simply after the objective of Religion. Religion means guidance from God. Islam means to seek general salvation for humans, safe in this world and the afterlife. These names I combine into “the Religion of Islam.”

Next will be told the life of humans under the leadership of Allah’s prophet Adam a.s. Aside from taking fruit from trees that grew on their own, they were also already led to plant what was needed of the things that humans ate.

What they used to cover themselves [‘aurat] was simply taken from leaves and tree bark.

As for marriage, they still had siblings marrying their own siblings from the same parents, because the number of humans was still very few.

At that time there were already humans who disliked obeying the commands of God, so they were without religion. At that time there had already been killings caused by woman. Because of this, humans were then made to separate between kin and other kin.

As time passed, human progress advanced, like farming and cooking tools, tools for hunting animals in forests and the sea, etc. Also tools for fixing clothing. At that time there were not yet rules for buying and selling, as there was not yet money; everything was carried out through bargaining and trading certain goods for others, according to what each prefers. They were all led by their own prophet sent by God.

The population of humans increased as years passed, so they no longer had the same place of residence like when they were few. Rather they had already split into groups, neighborhoods. Eventually people’s relations became increasingly distant, so their feelings of brotherhood and unity disappeared, except for those who were led by prophets and messengers a.s.—they still felt that all humanity was family, originating in a single person, Prophet Adam a.s.

Then demonic morals set out for the destruction of humans, especially their belief in God, Allah, was hounded so that it might change. So there emerged thoughts in humans that drew near to evil. They showed their strength and bravery, conquering each other, from their own kin and neighbors as well as others. They continued like this due to an anger about life and a knowledge that stronger animals oppressed and seized what was owned by weaker animals. Over time clearly people sought property rights [hak milik].

These developments caused the emergence of leaders or heads of the groups or villages that split apart, even though they were still a single family. Each of these groups, with their own leaders, also had their own laws, which were mostly simply about seeking authority. Those people who became leaders were those who were stronger than the others. Each group also had their own customs and beliefs. Some worshipped idols, others the sun, the moon, stars, cows, etc. Because of this, the divisions between groups became wider and stronger, and at that point there emerged a sense of tribalism.

From these divisions emerged intense enmity, wars, and fighting, eventually resulting in the rise of kings. In this age of kings, law and government was called “absolute monarchy,” meaning that in governing there were no limits whatsoever, that all power was in the hands of the king. There was nothing to hold back the will of the king, even if it was to abduct someone’s child, wife, or property. Even in killing people there were no limits. All land was owned by the king alone, and all people where simply workers for the king.

These laws and desires of the kings over time became increasingly deeply felt in the hearts of the people [ra’jat]. These deep feelings of distaste caused a desire in the people to resist the kings and their followers, so there were rebellions that eliminated them.

Thus disappeared the rule of kings (absolute monarchy) and emerged feudalist rule, i.e. that of the aristocratic class [kaoem-kaoem ningrat] (nobles). The conditions in this era were also not beneficial for the people, so eventually the people were able to join together and unite in order to rebel and take down that despotic [sesoeka-soekanja] feudal government. With the fall of feudalism, governments created laws [wet-wet] that eliminated the tyranny of the aristocrats towards the people. However, those laws were also not beneficial for the majority of the people, since the laws were made by the aristocrats, and simply profited and benefitted them. They did not decrease their own status and greatness, which were used to deceive the people.

Since these laws did not benefit the people, around the year 1764[2] in Paris there was a revolution, which eliminated the injustices towards those subject to the laws which brought misfortune to the people. After this, the Republic in Paris was established, which was controlled by the people, meaning that a group of commoners could create a representative and send them to parliament. In parliament only the king’s ministers would decide matters that would then be carried out among the people.

But this parliament was also not beneficial, since only the strong and powerful could get adequate representation [seteman]. The true representatives of the people, who advanced the interests of the people, hardly got much representation, and were even ignored completely.

Even though the Volksraad [Dutch East Indies colonial parliament, 1918-42] in Indonesia only takes the shape of a parliament, or a fake parliament [parleminan]—i.e. it is not a parliament because it cannot enforce what is discussed within it—we already understand how poor it is, since the voice of the people is completely absent.

Representatives who adamantly side with the people are not selected to be their representatives, to the point where today it is filled up just with P.E.B. [Politiek Economische Bond, an elite party] members. In short, if governance through parliament was good, the world would not be as it is today (chaotic, corrupt, people from all nations and religions suffering).

(If you want to know about this topic most clearly, read the book Parliament or Soviet? written by comrade Datoek Ibrahim Tan Malaka. -editor)

At this point we return to our discussion of God, Allah s.w.t., successively replacing his messengers in order to lead the world to goodness. These messengers were taken from groups that were large in number, renowned, and sought truth, so that they would easily follow what was willed by God, Allah. Communities that did not follow true leadership were destroyed. Among of those who did not follow good leaders and were destroyed, below I will explain simply their stories according to what has been explained in our revelation in the Noble Qur’an.

God, Allah, gives guidance to all humanity so that no human would act out of heedless selfishness, far from truth. This aligns with God’s command to the universe and our prophet Muhammad s.a.w. in the Qur’an, juz’ 5, aya 106 [sura al-Nisā’, aya 105], whose meaning is:

I (God) have sent down with book in truth, so that it be used to bring truth to all humans made of the same clay, as all commands given to them are from God. And do not accuse one who in reality is pure, because solely by their speech are humans truly treacherous.

As for the explanation of that aya, I do not need to comment on it here, since you all certainly can understand on your own that we need to have a wide perspective and debate seeking truth using a strong basis.

* * *

Above I have explained that God sends messengers (prophets) to each group of humans in order to provide them with guidance to the true path, far from doubt, so that they achieve salvation in this world until the afterlife.

All that guidance that God, Allah, gave to all humanity is based on truth that is [evident] to human reason, and [truly] God the Most Glorious […], no longer frightened.

[Some of these] commands are written in the Qur’an, juz’ 8, aya 57 [sura al-AꜤrāf, aya 59] […]:[3]

[God, Allah] spoke thusly: “I [have] sent God’s prophet Noah [in order to bring my] commands that [I have sent to his] people.” Noah [said] to his people: “[O] my people, [worship] God, Allah, [you have no] God other than [Allah. I fear that you will] encounter [a severe punishment on the day of] judgement […].” The leaders among his people answered: “As we see it, you have clearly fallen into doubt [kepenasaran].”

Prophet Noah continued speaking: “I have not at all fallen into doubt. Know that I am a messenger from the Lord of the Worlds, from our God for all of you in order to advise you. I understand more of the commands and prohibitions that you do not yet know.

“Are you all amazed to have been given guidance from your God from among your own people, so that he might explain the torturous punishment to you, so that you might fear God?”

“Fear” here means faithfully carrying out God’s commands, which lead to the salvation of humans living in this world and in the afterlife. Fear of God also means do not fear fellow humans who we live alongside.

The guidance from God, Allah, that was brought by Prophet Noah was denied by those from his own people. God, Allah, indeed always has mercy on His servants, as from his Mercy God creates clear evidence so that those who do not believe will be drawn to the commands of God that will indeed give them salvation in this world until the afterlife.

Then, at a later point, Prophet Noah received a command from God to make an ark for himself and his companions. Then God brought great water (an enormous flood) called the powerful flood. All those who denied the commands of Allah died in that flood, but Prophet Noah and his companions were saved.

God, Allah, brought disaster to humans in order to prove the truth, not just once, but repeatedly, as seen in the following explanation: Qur’an juz 8, aya 62 [sura al-AꜤrāf, aya 64]:

“Those who deny my (Allah’s) commands are those whose hearts are blind and will vanish, as I drown them in the flood called a storm. Only Prophet Noah and his companions that boarded the ark with him have I saved.”

When God revealed religion to be led by Prophet Saleh, those who denied him were also brought disaster, as mentioned in the Qur’an, juz’ 8 [sura al-AꜤrāf], aya 76, which reads:

The arrogant who disobey God’s prohibitions, saying: “O Prophet Saleh, if you are truly a messenger from God, then bring a punishment from God that you speak of.” At that moment there came God’s calamity [bala2] in the form of a great earthquake (the ground shaking) with lightning striking over top it. They all fell unconscious and died on the spot.

Likewise with Prophet Lot, as mentioned in the Qur’an, juz’ 8, aya 81 [sura al-AꜤrāf, aya 83]: “I (God) saved Prophet Lot and his companions who believed, except Lot’s wife and her followers, who I punished by raining down stones and turning over the earth. From this you see what happens to those who sin.

These parables mentioned above are meant to remind humans not to fall into acts straying to the ways of Satan and animals, meaning only thinking of one’s own body, far from helping one another. Those who stray only seek their base desires, getting food and profit. They do not care for what is wrong or right, so those who give food are those they fear most deeply.

Guidance is given by the will of God. From the early times until that time comes, those who believe in God and His messengers are always connected, increase in knowledge, and have humane ethics [berkemanoesiaan].

As for those who have not yet received guidance from the prophets a.s., they are of mixed morals and natures. Some have natures like animals in the forest, meaning they fight and amongst themselves, snatching food and women using their strength and bravery. Others use reason and cleverness as their weapon.

In that era, if someone died, some were cruel and severed the neck of the dead and took the head to use as decoration in their home, so that others would call him a brave and strong man. Others even furnished their homes with heads.

There are also humans who live according to the rules of religion that are known, but they deny God, Allah, the Hearing and Knowing, and God’s prophets and messengers. From among them are those who claim to hold power like the God of the prophets. They determine situations and their worldly conditions, using employees like their tools.

The emergence of such rules were a partial cause for the development of royal law. Monarchies in the past, compared to today, was not nearly as at fault [tafaoet] in terms of tyranny, meaning that the kingdom claimed ownership of all land, forests, mountains, etc.

If monarchies of the past were seriously compared with those today, the difference would be caused by the rapid increase in human progress. Monarchies in the past was carried out without limit, whereas contemporary royal governance has been ordered using laws. So that you can contemplate the natures of monarchies from ancient times and compare them with that according to the rules of religion, below I should offer examples of the existence of past monarchies mentioned in the Qur’an.

To be continued

[H.M. Misbach never continued the serial, as he died in exile in Manokwari, Papua on May 24, 1926 at the age of approximately 50, leaving his three children orphaned]


[1] Notes on Translation

My translation was based initially on an edition of the treatise printed in a 2016 anthology of Misbach’s works (Haji Misbach sang propagandis : aksi propaganda di surat kabar Medan moeslimin dan Islam bergerak, 1915-1926. Yogyakarta: Kendi, 2016.), but due to its many gaps (noted by the editors as bracketed ellipses), I sought out the microfilm of the original at Indonesia’s National Library. This copy also posed issues, most notably a torn-off corner of a page in the final section. Another issue is that I am less familiar with the old-fashioned, Dunch-inflected, Malay used in the pioneering native-run papers of this era. The footnotes in the 2016 edition were helpful on some of these points, but this has inevitably resulted in some inaccuracies. In cases where I was unsure, or where the translation required some flexibility, I have included the original Indonesian in brackets. I welcome any suggested improvements, and anyone who wants to cross-check my translation with the original can view my pictures of the microfilm here.

Also, in translating Misbach’s quotations from the Qur’an, I have tried to remain faithful to his text rather than simply use an established English-language Qur’an translation. However, his quotations differ greatly from the genre of Qur’an translation that English readers will be familiar with, as he elaborates freely without differentiating between original Qur’anic text and additional commentary—all getting subsumed within what he simply indicates to be a quotation of the Qur’an (as was common in the period). The ayas that he quotes are listed, and the reader is encouraged to cross-check his translations with the Arabic original or English translations.

[2] This seems to be a simple mistake, and should read 1789.

[3] The lower left corner of this page is torn in the microfilm copy at the Indonesian National Library, so the content in brackets here has been reconstructed through reference to the ayat quoted here.