Ahmad Dahlan, the Enlightenment and the Changemaker


MUHAMMADIYAH.OR.ID, BANDUNG—Sidney Hook in The Hero in History argued that human beings historically has two types, ‘eventful man’ and ‘event-making man’. The ‘eventful man’ refers to ‘man in an event while the other refers to ‘man who creates an event’.

The event-making man tends to have high freedom and capability so that an event doesn’t like them, but they aspire to make a change and coin new history. The founder of Muhammadiyah, K.H. Ahmad Dahlan was considered in this category.

“Other Islamic scholars might adapt to existing conditions and traditions, Ahmad Dahlan’s movement was the anti-thesis of surrounding reality such as ignorance, poverty and colonialism,” said Desvian Bandarsyah, a teaching staff of Universitas Muhammadiyah Prof. Dr. Hamka at the ‘Gerakan Subuh Mengaji‘ on Sunday (8/1).

In responding to the reality, Ahmad Dahlan systematically, predictably, and calculatedlye mapped out his da’wah by establishing an organization to prevent evil and to do good as God’s command in surah Ali Imran verse 104. Since then, Muhammadiyah has founded charitable institutions such as schools, orphanages, hospitals, and Islamic boarding schools.

“Ahmad Dahlan believed that everything will only go well and steadily by founding schools and educating people instead of establishing a political party as done by many figures at that time, “mentioned Desvian.

Quoting Nakamura, Muhammadiyah is a multifaceted Islamic movement. It seemed doctrinal, but seeing it closer it is a theological systematization emphasizing moral-ethical aspects of the Al-Quran and Sunnah. The reflection of the understanding leads to the ethos of advancing the people and nation.

“Kiai Dahlan and Muhammadiyah have presented Islam as a system of human life in all aspects. Thus, Muhammadiyah views Islamic teachings as not only mere creed and worship but also a whole package that concerns morality and muamalah,” said Desvian.