Sufism and the spirit of capitalism

Hasan, Sudirman (2009) Sufism and the spirit of capitalism. UIN-Maliki Press, Malang. ISBN 979-24-3058-x

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Abstract

Sufis commonly organize their religious activities through what is known as the tarekat. The tarekat is one way to acknowledge the existence of God in terms of rituals and spiritual experience. Many Sufis in the past focused very strongly on the inner life, the search for God, often neglecting the world, such as Rabī’a al-Adawiyya, al-H{allāj, and Abū Yazīd al-Bust}āmī. However, there are some Sufis, for instance Inayat Khan, promotes the inner unity of all religious ideals and establishes an inspired worldview surrounding it. In other words, Muslims should keep the two essential aspects of life in balance: spiritual growth and worldly achievement.

The activities of the Tarekat S}iddīqiyya in East Java, can be considered as one of the active tarekats. This group has numerous economic and social welfare programs, three of which have been the focus of this study. Specifically, the motivations behind and the manufacture of fresh water by the Maaqo Corporation, the cigarettes production by the Mufasufu Corporation as well as the handicraft production from pandanus by the Sanūsiyya Foundation are investigated. The other active tarekat is the Shādhiliyya order. The Shādhiliyya followers in Kudus, Central Java, have high-working motivation. They have a business network among adherents who are mostly involved in garment industry.

To understand the motivation behind their worldly activities, particularly, economic actions of the S}iddīqiyya followers, Weber’s thesis has been chosen to apply. John Calvin, who introduced Calvinism, as described by Max Weber, showed a close relationship between religion and economics. He used Protestantism as his basis of arguments. The divine transcendence of God and humankind is separated by unbridgeable valley, which excludes the possibility of people to contact with God. Therefore, they had to turn their attention to the outer life. Weber explained that the Christian ascetic left their monastery and got involved in economic activities. An individual has to believe that God chose him; otherwise he/she would be eternally in hell. The best indicator that they were chosen would be if one worked actively in a calling. Hence, it can be concluded that the religious motivation plays a significant role in encouraging people to get involved in economic activities.

To apply Weber’s theory in the S}iddīqiyya economic programs, it is essential to explain the differences between tarekat’s teachings and murshid’s statements. Tarekat’s concepts focus primarily on the way to approach God by reciting tahlīl (lā ilāha illā Allāh) and some wirids (recollections). The activities are mostly concerned with the life in the hereafter. So it is plausible that there is no worldly teaching in tarekat, including the S}iddīqiyya.

On the contrary, there are a set of economic concepts in murshid’s statements, showing his preference for particular earthly activities. For instance, the murshid of the S}iddīqiyya, Mukhtār, has an interest to enhance the economic level of the followers. He introduces several economic concepts based on the Qur’ān and Hadīth, such as, his statement that people should actively make a living since they must continue their lives.

There are some reasons behind the S}iddīqiyya economic activities. First reason why this tarekat gets involved in social welfare programs the teaching of murshid about the interpretation of Qur’anic verses. Thus, the murshid ordains all murīds to be active in any angle of social life, particularly economic activities. The second economic motivator for S}iddīqiyya followers is their overall philosophy reflected in their motto “wud}ū’, s}alāt, and masyarakat (ablution, prayer, and society)”. Prayer in their conception has two meanings: prayer is considered as a means to prohibit people from doing bad and dangerous things (known as al-fakhshā’ wa al-munkar) and prayer is regarded as a blessing for all humankind and the universe (known as rahma li al-`ālamīn). The third reason is the concept of ekonomi t}ayyiba (t}ayyiba economy) which was introduced in the first congress of the S}iddīqiyya organization in Yogyakarta in 2002.

There are two main factors encouraging the S}iddīqiyya to take part in economic programs: external and internal factor. Internal factors refer to values, leadership and membership whereas external factors include business opportunities, government support and availability of raw materials. After deeply observing the object and analyzing the data, it can be concluded that all factors above may play significant roles in the S}iddīqiyya economic programs. However, the level of their contributions tends to differ. Nevertheless, the most influential aspect behind the S}iddīqiyya economic activities is the role of the murshid since there has been no economic agenda applied by the tarekat before having permission as well as guidance from the murshid. In this sense, Weber’s thesis discussed above is supported by the case of the S}iddīqiyya since there is a relationship between the religious beliefs of the S}iddīqiyya followers and their economic behaviors.

Taken together, the different components of this contribute to existing theoretical and empirical research on religious organization and social behavior. However this is only one dimension of the tarekat that warrants future research. In the future, taking the political role of the murshid as a major concern can widen discussion about the Tarekat S}iddīqiyya. The leader of a Sufi order has much power and influence. He might instruct his santris to affiliate to a certain party in general election. Nevertheless, he is not easily influenced by a politician’s short-term interest that promises a huge donation. Thus, a comprehensive study on this aspect of the tarekat will be a valuable contribution in understanding the Islamic worldview.

The associations between certain Sufi orders’ economic activities and their entrepreneurial motivations have not been sufficiently examined. This is especially problematic because, although it is commonly accepted that Sufism’s ultimate goal is detachment from worldly affairs, there is a significant evidence indicating that some Sufi orders engage in certain economic activities, one of them has been the focus of this book, namely the Tarekat Siddīqiyya. The main possible answer to their involvement in economic activities is the role of murshid and murīd in interpreting the religious values, for instance the murshid’s understandings of several Qur’anic verses or the creativity of murīd to introduce economic concepts as the spirit of capitalism in order to motivate them in increasing their welfare.

Item Type: Book
Keywords: Sufism; The Spirit Of Capitalism
Divisions: Graduate Schools > Magister Programme > Graduate School of Al-Ahwal Al-Syakhshiyyah
Depositing User: Imam Rohmanu
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2017 08:59

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