Ahmadiyya, commonly viewed as a “heretical” Islamic sect in Indonesia, has been regularly attacked by Muslim hardliners in recent years. However, it is almost forgotten that in the 1920s Ahmadiyya journals supplied overseas news to Indonesian periodicals and contributed to broadening their horizons.
Bintang Islam is one of the periodicals which obtained information from Ahmadiyya journals. It was published in Surakarta from January 1923 until December 1931. Its editors were influential figures in Muhammadiyah, a modernist Islamic association established in 1912. Ahmadiyya, born in British India in 1889, broke into the Lahore and Qadiyan factions in 1914, each developing independently. A Lahore faction mission arrived in Java in March 1924 and was warmly welcomed by Muhammadiyah, which was eager to modernize Islam. Numbers of young Muslims came to learn from the Lahore mission.
At first Bintang Islam just published only articles on Hedjaz affairs and Khalif problems as overseas news. However, gradually its coverage was broadened, encompassing a wider part of the world. Information on Muslims in European countries was often quoted from Ahamdiyya journals, and in its advertisement corner we can find enthusiasm for English learning. However, Ahmadiyya’s purported heresy was becoming recognized, and in July 1928 the Muhammadiyah central board declared that it was forbidden to teach any knowledge or view of Ahmadiyya in the Muhammadiyah circle. Following this declaration, Bintang Islam ceased using Ahmadiyya journals as a news source. Additionally, the chief editor died in February 1929, and Bintang Islam became less attractive to readers, ending publication.