Fakih Usman

Kyai Hajji

Fakih Usman
Fakih Usman Suara Rakyat 2 Apr 1952 p1.jpg
Fakih in 1952
2nd Minister of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
In office
21 January 1950 – 17 August 1950
Prime MinisterAbdul Halim
Preceded byMasjkur
Succeeded byPost dissolved
6th Minister of Religious Affairs of Indonesia
In office
3 April 1952 – 30 July 1953
Prime MinisterWilopo
Preceded byWahid Hasyim
Succeeded byMasjkur
Personal details
Born(1904-03-02)2 March 1904
Gresik, Dutch East Indies
Died3 October 1968(1968-10-03) (aged 64)
Political partyMasyumi Party
OccupationMuhammadiyah Council Member

Kyai Hajji Fakih Usman (also Faqih Usman; [faˈkɪh ʊsˈman]; 2 March 1904 – 3 October 1968) was an Indonesian Islamic leader and politician with the Masyumi Party. He twice served as the Minister of Religious Affairs: under the Halim Cabinet in the State of the Republic of Indonesia in 1950, and in the national government during the Wilopo Cabinet from 1952 to 1953. In his early years Fakih was criticised by conservative Muslims for his involvement with the modernist Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah, though that group remembers him warmly.

Born to a merchant and his wife in Gresik, Dutch East Indies, Fakih studied with his father and at a series of pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) until the 1920s. In 1925 he became involved with the Muhammadiyah, rising quickly through the leadership until he became the head of the Surabaya branch in 1938. He was also active in local politics. When a group of Islamic organisations formed the Indonesian Islamic Assembly in 1937, Fakih became treasurer. He continued to be involved in politics and Islamic groups during the Japanese occupation and ensuing national revolution. While serving as minister of religious affairs, he oversaw educational and institutional reform, growing in prominence within the Muhammadiyah. He served as deputy chairman of the organisation under several different leaders before being chosen as its chairman in late 1968, several days before his death.

Early life

Fakih was born in Gresik, East Java, Dutch East Indies, on 2 March 1904. His father, Usman Iskandar, was a wood merchant, and his mother, a housewife, was the daughter of an ulama (scholar of Islam).[1] The couple, who were of modest means, had four other children, and the family's lack of a noble background meant the children were ineligible to receive an education at Dutch-run schools.[2][3] Instead, Fakih studied Islam from a young age, receiving much of his instruction from his father.[3] At the age of ten he began studying at a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) in Gresik, finishing four years later. In 1919 he continued his studies at several pesantren outside the city, including ones in rural Gresik and in nearby Bungah.[1]

Work with the Muhammadiyah

Fakih's father helped him become a trader, although Fakih continued to study independently.[2] When the modernist Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah opened a branch in Gresik in 1922, Fakih was one of the first to join.[a] Extremely active in the group, he became the Gresik branch's leader within three years, and under his leadership the group was formally recognised by the central Muhammadiyah administration.[4] Through his work with the Muhammadiyah in Gresik, Fakih became better known. He later transferred to the branch in Surabaya, a much larger city where, in 1929, he was chosen to sit on the city council.[5] He also remained active in commerce, running a construction material trade and shipbuilding shop. During this period he served on the local chamber of commerce.[3]

From 1932 to 1936 Fakih was a member of the Muhammadiyah's regional council, serving concurrently as the editor of the organisation's official magazine Bintang Islam and on the Legal Affairs Committee.[4] As he became more active, Fakih began commuting regularly from Surabaya to Gresik, handling Muhammadiyah business in Surabaya and the wood company in Gresik; this commute was done in Fakih's personal car, a rare luxury at the time. Studying Dutch in his spare time, Fakih continued to improve his knowledge of Islam by studying the thoughts of Muhammad Abduh.[5] However, conservative Muslims disapproved of Fakih's work with Muhammadiyah, giving him the nickname Londho silit ireng ("Dutchman with the black arse"),[5] and often throwing stones at his home.[5]

On 21 September 1937, Muhammadiyah, the conservative Nahdatul Ulama (NU), the merchants' cooperative Sarekat Islam, and several other Islamic groups – which for the past decade had been feuding – united to form an umbrella group: the Indonesian Islamic Assembly (Majilis Islam Ala Indonesia, or MIAI), based in Surabaya.[6] Fakih served as treasurer.[7] In 1938 he was made the head of the Surabaya branch of the Muhammadiyah, replacing Mas Mansoer.[5] Two years later he began working full-time with the MIAI, having been selected as the head of its secretariat in mid-September 1940. To take this position, he resigned as head of the Surabaya branch of Muhammadiyah and as a city council member.[7]

Masyumi and National Revolution

Portrait of Fakih Usman as a member of People's Representative Council of the Republic of Indonesia for the period 1956–1959 from the Masyumi party in the electoral district of West Java

On 9 March 1942 Governor-General Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer and head of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army General Hein ter Poorten capitulated to the Empire of Japan, which had invaded the Indies the month before. As a result, the Indies fell under Japanese control.[8] The Japanese banned all forms of organisations, and the MIAI was disbanded in May.[9] It was reformed on 5 September 1942 following a meeting of 30 ulamas in the Des Indes Hotel in Jakarta, and was recognised by the occupation government as the sole Islamic organisation in the country.[10] At the end of 1943, the organisation was renamed the Council of Indonesian Muslim Associations (Partai Majelis Syura Muslimin Indonesia, or Masyumi).[9] Fakih was made a member of the Japanese-sponsored advisory board, or Syu Sangi In, for Surabaya. He held this position until the end of the occupation,[11] concurrently serving on the Masyumi board.[12]

After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the proclamation of Indonesian independence in August 1945,[13] the Japanese began withdrawing from the nascent republic. The Indonesian republican government, based in Jakarta and including Sukarno as president and Mohammad Hatta as vice president, began to take over infrastructure from the departing Japanese. By September 1945, however, allied British and Dutch forces had begun to enter the archipelago, hoping to reestablish the status quo ante. The British initially focused on Java and Sumatra and attempted to avoid armed confrontations with the Republican forces; the Dutch, meanwhile, spent the first months after the Japanese surrender reclaiming the eastern islands with help from Australia.[14]

Fakih, who had begun making contacts within the republican government, participated in the Indonesian Islamic Conference (Muktamar Islam Indonesia) in Yogyakarta from 7 to 8 November 1945. As a result of these talks, Masyumi was made into a political party representing Islamic interests. Although Fakih returned to Gresik after the conference, he and his family soon evacuated to Malang due to the outbreak of a battle at Surabaya between Republican soldiers and British forces tasked with repatriating Dutch prisoners of war.[15]

In Malang, Fakih worked with Masjkur and Zainul Arifin to start an armed resistance to fight in the revolution against the returning Europeans. He served as deputy chief in command of this resistance, which consisted of the Japanese-trained Islamic units Sabilillah and Hizbullah. After the Dutch[b] launched Operation Kraai in December 1948, Fakih and his family escaped to Surakarta, where he again became active in Muhammadiyah. Fakih, serving as deputy chair under Bagus Hadikusumo, frequently commuted between Surakarta and the organisation's head office in Yogyakarta.[12]

Minister of Religious Affairs

Fakih as Minister of Religious Affairs, 1952

In late 1949 the Indonesian and Dutch governments held a conference lasting several months, which resulted in Dutch recognition of Indonesian sovereignty on 27 December 1949.[16] This led to the formation of the United States of Indonesia (Republik Indonesia Serikat, or RIS), which consisted of sixteen member states. On 21 January 1950 Fakih replaced Masjkur as the Minister of Religious Affairs in the Halim Cabinet, representing the Republic of Indonesia; at this point the republic consisted of Yogyakarta, Banten, and much of Sumatra.[17] Working with the RIS Minister of Religious Affairs Wahid Hasyim, Fakih began instituting a standardised religious curriculum in the public schools and modernising education at religious schools.[18] The two also worked to unite the ministries. On 17 August 1950 the RIS and its member states became a unified republic. Hasyim was kept on as minister of religious affairs, with Fakih appointed director of religious education.[19]

Meanwhile, the different factions in Masyumi were in conflict over the path the party was taking;[20] the NU members thought Masyumi was becoming too political, abandoning its Islamic roots. When the Natsir Cabinet began to collapse, the Masyumi put forth Fakih as a potential Minister for Religious Affairs. This act was controversial because four of the five allocated slots for the party were already filled by non-NU members, and ultimately the NU pulled out of Masyumi, effective 5 April 1952.[21] Fakih had been chosen with a majority of five votes, while the next leading candidate, Usman Raliby, received four.[22]

Fakih was made the Minister of Religious Affairs in the Wilopo Cabinet and sworn in on 3 April 1952, which led to him and his family moving to the capital at Jakarta. He began to work on reforming the ministry,[23] including formalising its mission statement: to provide religious teachers, promote interfaith relations, and to establish the dates of religious holidays. He worked on internal structure, including formalising the ministry's leadership hierarchy and the opening of the provincial and regional branches. The ministry also continued its promotion of religious education[24] and was tasked with handling the numerous Indonesian pilgrims who went on the hajj.[25] The Wilopo Cabinet collapsed on 30 July 1953,[23] following an immigration and land dispute in Medan. Fakih was replaced by Masjkur.[26]

Later work

Fakih delivering a speech at a Muhammadiyah meeting, 1952

Fakih continued to work with the ministry and the Muhammadiyah, serving as the organisation's First Deputy Chair under Ahmad Rasyid Sutan Mansur.[3][26] In 1956 he was one of three Muhammadiyah members who presented their concept of a truly Islamic society, one which emphasised social education.[27] During this time he was more active with Masyumi, and after the 1955 Constituent Assembly election, Fakih was made a member of the Constitutional Assembly of Indonesia. This assembly, meant to reach an agreement for a new national constitution, failed to gain a consensus, and was disbanded by president Sukarno with his decree of 5 July 1959.[28] That year Fakih collaborated with Hamka, Joesoef Poear Abdullah, and Ahmad Joesoef to launch the magazine Pandji Masjarakat.[3] Sukarno later disbanded Masyumi on 17 August 1960 after leading Masyumi members, such as Mohammad Natsir and Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, were involved with the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia;[29] Fakih had been involved in the negotiations with the Revolutionary Government, working with Mohammad Roem.[3]

The disbanding of Masyumi left Fakih with more time to focus on the Muhammadiyah, serving as the Second Deputy Chair under Junus Anis.[29] During a leadership course run by the organisation during Ramadhan of 1380 AH (February/March 1961), Fakih began promoting an institutional identity through his lecture "Apakah Muhammadiyah Itu" ("What is Muhammadiyah?"). This outlined the organisation as one based in dawah, focusing on real-world issues, and willing to work with the government to ensure a prosperous future for Muslims.[30] These concepts were later formulated through 1962 and established as an institutional identity, one which called for Muhammadiyah to work towards creating a truly Islamic society while opposing leftist politics.[31] This, in turn, was followed by refactoring within the organisation to better adapt the new identity.[32]

From 1962 until 1965 Fakih served as the First Deputy Chair of Muhammadiyah under Ahmad Badawi, providing guidance for young religious leaders. During the killings and power shift which followed the 30 September Movement coup attempt, Fakih and several Muhammadiyah members sent a letter requesting that Masyumi be allowed to reform; this permission was not granted.[3][33] For Badawi's second term, Fakih served as an advisor to the chairman, often taking management responsibilities. He was selected as the organisation's chairman at the 37th Muhammadiyah Congress in 1968.[33]

Death and legacy

On being chosen as chairman, Fakih began work to ensure there would be a successor, as his health was failing.[33] On 2 October, at a joint meeting of the board at his home, he outlined his plans for his three-year period of leadership; Fakih also appointed Rasjidi and Abdul Rozak Fachruddin as temporary leaders while he went abroad for medical treatment. Fakih died on 3 October 1968, only a few days after being selected, and was replaced by Fachruddin on the day of his death;[c][34] Fachruddin served as chairman for 24 years.[35]

The street where Fakih lived as a child is now known as Fakih Usman Street.[1] Within Muhammadiyah Fakih continues to be well respected. He is credited with the formulation of the "Muhammadiyah Personality" (Kepribadian Muhammadiyah), Muhammadiyah's institutional identity.[3] Out of respect towards Fakih, the Muhammadiyah continues to record his period as chairman as lasting the full three-year term.[36] Didin Syafruddin, a faculty member at the Jakarta Islamic State University, writes that Fakih was highly dedicated to education, noting that five of Fakih's seven children eventually became doctors;[37] Syafruddin also writes that, owing to a lack of human resources, Fakih was limited in his reforms while Minister of Religious Affairs.[1] Former Muhammadiyah chairman Ahmad Syafi'i Maarif described Fakih as the "tranquil, cleansing water"[d] who served as a calming influence for Muhammadiyah when the organisation was in turmoil.[38]


  1. ^ Established by Ahmad Dahlan in 1912, Muhammadiyah advocated individual interpretation of the Qur'an and sunnah (ijtihad), rather than simple acceptance of interpretations traditionally propounded by the ulama (taqlid); such individual interpretation was believed to promote a greater interest in learning and knowledge (Djurdi 2010, p. xiv). Furthermore, Dahlan and the Muhammadiyah were heavily opposed to the syncretism which had developed in Java, the combination of traditions rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism with Islam (see kebatinan). As the Muhammadiyah sought to purify the religion from such non-Islamic influences, this criticism was highly controversial within traditional communities; said communities had long considered their practices to represent the true Islam. As such, Muhammadiyah was opposed by officials, Islamic teachers in the countrysides, and pious communities who rejected such ideas as deviant (Ricklefs 1993, p. 171). This opposition could involve threats of violence; Dahlan, for instance, received numerous death threats (Kutoyo 1985, p. 110).
  2. ^ The British forces had withdrawn in December 1946 (Ricklefs 1993, p. 224).
  3. ^ Muhammadiyah policy stated that a deceased leader had to be replaced before he was buried (Djurdi 2010, p. 182).
  4. ^ Original: "... air tenang yang menghanyutkan"


  1. ^ a b c d Syafruddin 1998, p. 118.
  2. ^ a b Syafruddin 1998, p. 119.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Muhammadiyah, KH Faqih Usman.
  4. ^ a b Syafruddin 1998, p. 122.
  5. ^ a b c d e Syafruddin 1998, p. 123.
  6. ^ Syafruddin 1998, p. 125.
  7. ^ a b Syafruddin 1998, p. 126.
  8. ^ Adi 2011, pp. 18–24.
  9. ^ a b Syafruddin 1998, p. 128.
  10. ^ Djaelani 1994, p. 98.
  11. ^ Syafruddin 1998, p. 129.
  12. ^ a b Syafruddin 1998, p. 132.
  13. ^ Adi 2011, p. 32.
  14. ^ Ricklefs 1993, pp. 212–217.
  15. ^ Syafruddin 1998, pp. 130–131.
  16. ^ Imran 1980, p. 83.
  17. ^ Syafruddin 1998, p. 133.
  18. ^ Syafruddin 1998, pp. 134–136.
  19. ^ Syafruddin 1998, p. 138.
  20. ^ Syafruddin 1998, p. 139.
  21. ^ Syafruddin 1998, p. 140.
  22. ^ Djurdi 2010, p. 146.
  23. ^ a b Syafruddin 1998, p. 141.
  24. ^ Syafruddin 1998, pp. 142–144.
  25. ^ Djurdi 2010, p. 144.
  26. ^ a b Syafruddin 1998, p. 145.
  27. ^ Basya 2009, A Century of Muhammadiyah.
  28. ^ Syafruddin 1998, p. 146.
  29. ^ a b Syafruddin 1998, p. 148.
  30. ^ Djurdi 2010, p. 169.
  31. ^ Syafruddin 1998, p. 149.
  32. ^ Djurdi 2010, p. 182.
  33. ^ a b c Syafruddin 1998, p. 150.
  34. ^ Syafruddin 1998, p. 151.
  35. ^ Mohammad 2006, p. 100.
  36. ^ Djurdi 2010, p. 271.
  37. ^ Syafruddin 1998, p. 117.
  38. ^ Ramly & Sucipto 2010, p. 211.

Works cited

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  • Basya, M. Hilaly (26 November 2009). "A Century of Muhammadiyah and Modern Indonesia". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
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  • Djurdi, Syarifuddin (2010). 1 Abad Muhammadiyah [A Century of Muhammadiyah] (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Kompas. ISBN 978-979-709-498-0.
  • Imran, Amrin (1980). Panglima Besar Jenderal Soedirman [Commander in Chief General Soedirman] (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Mutiara. OCLC 220643587.
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  • Kutoyo, Sutrisno (1985). Kiai Haji Ahmad Dahlan (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Department of Education and Culture. OCLC 571207832.
  • Mohammad, Herry (2006). Tokoh-Tokoh Islam yang Berpengaruh abad 20 [Influential Muslims of the 20th Century] (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Gema Insani. ISBN 978-979-560-219-4.
  • Ramly, Nadjamuddin; Sucipto, Hery (2010). Ensiklopedi Tokoh Muhammadiyah [Encyclopedia of Muhammadiyah Figures] (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Best Media. ISBN 978-602-96791-1-3.
  • Ricklefs, M. C. (1993). A History of Modern Indonesia since c.1300 (2nd ed.). Hampshire: MacMillan. ISBN 978-0-333-57689-2.
  • Syafruddin, Didin (1998). "K.H. Fakih Usman: Pengembangan Pendidikan Agama" [K.H. Fakih Usman: Development of Religious Education] (PDF). In Azra, Azyumardi; Umam, Saiful (eds.). Menteri-Menteri Agama RI: Biografi Sosio-Politik [Indonesian Ministers of Religion: Socio-Political Biographies] (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Indonesian-Netherlands Cooperation in Islamic Studies, Center for Study of Islam and Society, and the Indonesian Ministry of Religion. ISBN 978-979-95248-3-6.

Media files used on this page

Fakih Usman.jpg
Potret Fakih Usman sebagai anggota Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Republik Indonesia periode 1956–1959 dari partai Masyumi daerah pemilihan Jawa Barat