Sufism as a Category in Indonesian Literature and History
It is unfortunate that historians, as a rule, do not follow the example of social anthropologists in devoting some part of their monographs to a discussion of the theoretical problems involved in the material they have been handling. This is not of such importance in the history of Europe, where much can be taken for granted on the part of the reader. But when the European historian turns to the study of Asian history, and writes in the same way as he would were he writing the history of a European people, merely substituting an Asian set of names and places, then the result frequently lacks interest, and may even be a distortion of the general picture of the past that he wishes to relate. This holds as well for continental S.E. Asia and the island world of Indonesia as elsewhere. And it is not only in these countries that peoples, newly conscious of their traditions as national traditions, are dissatisfied with the histories written for them by foreigners. The requirements of a new type of history are formidable, and very little work has been done on the theoretical ground work involved. The aim of this paper then, is to attempt to progress a little further in the elaboration of such a historiography, and to apply the results to a segment of the data available relating to Indonesia's past.