Washington International Law Journal


Arskal Salim


This article attempts to trace the influence of the colonial legacy in the formation of zakat (alms) policy in modern Indonesia. The article argues that the influence of the Dutch Islamic policy has gradually diminished as the process of Islamization of Indonesia has deepened. As early as the 19th century, Snouck Hurgronje played a key role in developing the Dutch zakat policy, which focused on the colonial government preventing the payment of zakat from being compulsory. During the first two decades after Indonesia's independence in 1945, the zakat policy as derived from colonial times continued without much change. However, by the late 1960s, the New Order regime was leaning to familiarize and manipulate the institution of zakat. In contrast to an assessment made by some scholars that President Soeharto's policy on Islam was consistent with Snouck Hurgronje's advice on Islamic affairs, this paper contends that Soeharto was not a skilled disciple of Snouck Hurgronje at all. While Snouck Hurgronje attempted to prevent the colonial apparatus from being involved in encouraging Muslims to pay zakat, Soeharto, on the contrary, engaged himself in the task of zakat collection and thus made himself religiously responsible for organizing it properly. Indeed, the level of Muslim devotion regarding their zakat obligation increased overall during the time of the New Order era, indicating an opposite effect to that advocated by Snouck Hurgronje.

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