Tafsir in the socio-political context of Indonesia
: a case study of Ahmad Sanusi’s Qur’anic interpretation as a medium of struggle during the colonial period in Indonesia

  • Lutfi Lutfi

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This research examines two seminal works of Ahmad Sanusi, Malja’ al T{a>libin fi> tafsi>ri kala>mi robb al ‘a>lamin (in Sundanese) and Tamsiyat al muslimi>n fi> tafsi>ri kala>mi robb al ‘a>lami> n (in Indonesian Bahasa), exploring how Sanusi interprets the Qur’anic teachings and employs two books of his tafsir as a medium in his struggle against colonialism, using three key concepts: justice, self-esteem, and unity. This study shows that Sanusi’s ideas on anticolonialism referred to the usage of religious languages and terms as medium of resistance to the colonialist group which consisted of the Dutch colonial government, indigenous bureaucrats and religious bureaucrats who supported colonial government, and to evoke a sense of nationalism for independence and sovereignty. This research employs three research methods – Hermeneutics, Semiotics and Historical, for the analysis of Sanusi’s two books of tafsir. Hermeneutics provides an understanding of the social, political, and cultural context of the production of the text; Semiotics uncovers the meaning of the text through textual context and intertextual method; and the Historical method provides the historical context in which Sanusi developed his anti-colonial ideas. Sanusi’s two two books of tafsir are the centre of the analysis. This primary dataset is further complemented by collecting Sanusi’s interpretations related to language and cases related to his resistance. These are then analysed by categorizing the key messages and themes identified in his interpretations in a logical and coherent manner. This research makes three key conclusions. Firstly, Sanusi’s idea of anticolonialism is to free Indonesian people from any form of oppression and render them free to determine their own destiny without being dictated by other nations. Secondly, Sanusi provided three specific strategies to achieve Indonesian independence: integration of knowledge, integration of world- life and the afterlife, and thinking independently. Finally, Sanusi’s criticisms toward the Dutch colonists and local bureaucracy, especially religious bureaucrats, uses religious languages such as Kafir (infidel) referred to the Dutch colonial government and Munafik (hypocrite) referred to indigenous bureaucrats and religious bureaucrats who support the colonial rules to illustrate his position of being oppressed by the authorities of his time.
    Date of Award2023
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorTahmina Rashid (Supervisor), Bethany Anne Turner (Supervisor) & Ernest Koh (Supervisor)

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