I want to start this essay in the final round of a scientific essay competition in 1999. At that time, I presented a paper on the Development of Islamic Thought in Indonesia at STAIN Surakarta. The jury asked my opinion about Gus Dur’s Islamic thoughts. I said that Gus Dur was born beyond his time and can think five steps more than usual.
The legacy of Gus Dur’s thoughts can still be seen today. He is a National Teacher (Guru Bangsa). Interestingly, Gus Dur positioned NU in front of the state authorities. He is very critical. Defending minorities. Human rights defender. He has a great sense of humor. Every expression always invites controversy.
Students in Yogyakarta, at that time, really idolized Gus Dur. Gus Dur’s books and articles have always been a “mandatory reading list” in every student discussion. This was because Gus Dur’s way of thinking was always critical of state policy. In a talk show, Gus Dur said that his biggest enemy was Pak Harto, but he still visited Pak Harto’s house during Idul Fitri when he was no longer president.
Gus Dur’s spirit of critical thinking is the main thing. He memorized the yellow book (Kitab Kuning) tradition in the pesantren by following the development of thought in the West and always dressing like a santri. He says that he has no enemies, although there are enemies because friendship (silaturrahmi) is a way out of the absence of enemies for Gus Dur in his life.
Today, NU is very close to the state authorities. NU sometimes becomes the mouthpiece of state policy. NU’s best cadres are in the Ministry of Religious Affairs. There are also those involved in the government cabinet. Not a few are in parliament and become leaders in several provinces. There are also NU people who become diplomats. NU later became part of Jokowi’s government package.
Sometimes the election of the chairman of NU is like the party’s chairman because whoever becomes an essential person in NU will become an important person in this republic. It is safe to say that NU is no longer outside the power of Jokowi’s era.
The relationship between NU, PDIP, PKB and the president’s central circle created a vacuum in Gus Dur’s experience outside of power during the Suharto era. The results of research studies by Indonesianists mention how NU is via a vis with the state in the New Order era.
The “empty” space outside the palace where there are no longer “critical notes” from internal NU thinkers against the Jokowi era seems unlikely to follow in Gus Dur’s footsteps, even though there are many communities interested in Gus Dur’s thoughts in this republic. They are all vying to show their loyalty to Jokowi and his allies. Critical thinking is no longer “mushrooming” toward the Jokowi Era from the NU circles because all of them are behind the rulers. The factor of “our people” or “our carriage” will determine a person’s fate if they want to anchor their hopes in the center of power in this republic.
When I was in Yogyakarta, NU youths prioritized being critical of the authorities. They defend the oppressed people. Whenever there is oppression, many people wait for opinions or writings from Nahdhiyyin writers. Even though they still wear a sarong, they are nestled behind the country’s ruler. This might be understood as the success of NU after decades of outside the palace. Over the past ten years, the image of NU as a close friend of the ruling regime has reversed the view that NU does not want to get involved in practical politics.
This success was undoubtedly after 2001 when Gus Dur was overthrown by the Central Axis (Poros Tengah). If we still want to use that term, the dream of collaborating with moderate Muslim groups has not yielded maximum results for NU. This organization is more comfortable collaborating with PDI-P, even though they have a bitter and dark history. The experiences of NU and PKI are historical facts that can be put aside. The experience of Amien Rais through Poros Tengah, who appointed and impeached Gus Dur, could be a historical fact as well. However, Megawati’s close relationship with NU is also a “new history” that its members will probably continue to remember.
Therefore, when someone speaks “as he pleases” with a “mimic” without feeling guilty, he sees it will be supported and praised by the authorities. It is natural to be rude to brothers and sisters in the faith if only non-believers can make good friends for the benefit of this country which is the thesis that we want to build to understand the history of the last ten years.
As much as Gus Dur hated Pak Harto, he was still open to being a best friend to Pak Harto. Nevertheless, hating the “right-wing” is still too challenging to meet and sit at one table because “coffee prices” are so high in the restaurant menus the rulers of this republic served. Therefore, the open-minded attitude that is continually promoted seems to be very closed when there are different interests in front of the leaders of this country. Meanwhile, Gus Dur closed his open attitude with openness. This is why I miss Gus Dur!