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Book Reviews: These are the reasons why my lecturer asked me to read Kuntowijyo’s works


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One of the scholars who influenced me through his works was Kuntowijoyo (1943-2005). A former lecturer of History at UGM, Yogyakarta. I collect several works by Kunto. One of the often discussed concepts is the Prophetic Social Sciences (ISP). The book Paradigma Islam [Islamic Paradigm] is one of the most frequently referenced works. Kunto is a versatile scientist. I say all-rounder because he writes about various problems in his community. I always wait for Kunto’s opinion. There used to be a particular tabloid that published Kunto’s writings, namely Tabloid Adil, published in the city of Solo.

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Almost every week, I wait for Kunto’s writing. The daily Kompas and Republika also often publish Kunto’s articles. Several opinions and papers were published as books. Kunto is one of the most prolific writers, despite experiencing one disease. I heard him typing slowly on the typewriter. His wife, a lecturer at UIN Sunan Kalijaga, always accompanies Kunto wherever he becomes a resource person.

I attended a seminar where Kunto presented his paper. The audience eagerly awaited Kunto’s thoughts. His wife read his paper. Everyone in the audience listened carefully to each of Kunto’s writings. If someone asks, it will be recorded and answered through his wife. His character is very modest. He is an Indonesian academic that has contributed to his country. He can master the tradition of Western thought, often refers to the Qur’an and Hadith, and has a message in every of his writing. When reading Kunto’s writings, one of my favorite things is the clarity in presenting each argument. Since I was an undergraduate student, I kept newspaper clippings where Kunto’s opinion was.

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Kunto’s presentation of language is straightforward. Easy to digest. They are sometimes capturing phenomena with figurative language. Apart from being a historian, he is also a writer. Many short stories were born in Kunto’s hands. One of his most frequently read works is the Khutbah di Atas Bukit. Kunto’s books always offer rationality that does not rule out religion. Because of this, some scholars in Yogyakarta still respect and mention Kunto’s various thoughts. Prof. Amin Abdullah once told about the figure of Kunto and the figure of Prof. Amen in the eyes of Prof. Kunto. Likewise, Heddi Shri Ahimsa-Putra wrote a remarkable book on Kunto’s thoughts about Prophetic Social Sciences.

Source: https://ugmpress.ugm.ac.id/

Kunto’s figure is still very much remembered, even though he passed away on February 22, 2005. One of the most exciting books to discuss current conditions is Muslim Tanpa Masjid [Muslim Without a Mosque]. This book is a collection of Kunto’s writings on socio-religious phenomena. He said that a generation would understand Islam from digital devices. This book was published in 2001. What Kunto wrote in 2001 has now become a symptom of a new generation of Muslims. The phenomenon of learning Islam from cyberspace is one of the symptoms of Muslims without mosques.

Likewise, Kunto put Islam as science when he talked about science. His work on Ilmu dan Islam [Science and Islam] is among the most detailed works in explaining complex concepts in scientific development. I often refer to this work to understand that Islam is a Science. Although this work is thin, it is precious if science addicts read it. Therefore, it is not surprising that when searching for scientific paradigms at PTAIN, especially at UIN Sunan Kalijaga, Kunto was among those invited to discuss his thoughts on science.

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An essential lesson from Kunto is the way I understand history, much of which is colored by Kunto’s work. Prof. Minhaji recommended Kunto’s book on history. He said that you need to read Kunto’s works if you want to study history. It was this advice that got me drunk, Kunto. His book on Ilmu dan Metode Ilmu Sejarah [Historical Science and Historical Methodology] is mandatory reading for me, even though I am in the Faculty of Sharia.

Looking at history critically and being able to present its results to this day is an essential lesson from Kunto. This is the power of Kunto’s historical analysis. He understands the past and how to analyze it so that it “sounds” in the present. The study of this model does require attention to various works of literature and extreme diligence. Kunto’s writings always inspire me. Sometimes the additional information from Kunto’s reference can straighten my understanding of the topics presented.

Finally, I hope some scholars make Kunto an object of study in Indonesia. She is the most sparkling pearl that Indonesia has ever owned. So my thirst for Kunto’s thoughts was so dry and thirsty when I knew he had passed away. He has gone too soon.

Kamaruzzaman Bustamam Ahmad

Kamaruzzaman Bustamam-Ahmad (KBA) has followed his curiosity throughout life, which has carried him into the fields of Sociology of Anthropology of Religion in Southeast Asia, Islamic Studies, Sufism, Cosmology, and Security, Geostrategy, Terrorism, and Geopolitics. KBA is the author of over 30 books and 50 academic and professional journal articles and book chapters. His academic training is in social anthropology at La Trobe University, Islamic Political Science at the University of Malaya, and Islamic Legal Studies at UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta. He received many fellowships: Asian Public Intellectual (The Nippon Foundation), IVLP (American Government), Young Muslim Intellectual (Japan Foundation), and Islamic Studies from Within (Rockefeller Foundation). He is based in Banda Aceh and can be reached at ceninnets@yahoo.com.au

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