Powers of The Imagination: The Case of Hikmatul Iman

Artikel ini diambil dari halaman 175-183 tesis Ph.D Dr Ian WIlson di Murdoch University, Australia yang berjudul “The Politics of Inner Power: The Practice of Pencak Silat in West Java”. File PDF tesis ini tersedia di perpustakaan online Murdoch University. Terjemahan artikel ini dan penjelasan lebih lengkap bisa Anda baca di Kekuatan Imajinasi: Kasus Hikmatul Iman.

Powers of the Imagination: The case of Hikmatul Iman

Whereas the theory and practice of inner power in Margaluyu and Nampon were developed within the context of traditional pencak silat practice, the inner power of the Hikmatul Iman school, founded by Dicky Zaenal Arifin in Bandung in 1988, came as an unexpected divine gift. His experiences were situated in the context of representations of martial arts and the supernatural in popular culture.[1] Dicky’s unusual abilities first surfaced as a young boy. He was able to see supernatural beings such as jinn and ghosts, as well as sometimes having lucid premonitions in the form of visions or dreams. He did not share these experiences with his family, and thought little of them until he was in his early twenties.

One day in September 1988, whilst engrossed in reading his favourite silat comic ‘Tiger Wong’, the light in Dicky’s bedroom suddenly became extremely dim. Looking up he saw a translucent figure, which he described as being similar to a hologram, performing martial arts movements as well as breathing techniques. Focusing his eyes upon this holograph-like vision, he realised that the figure was in fact himself. Overcome with panic at this unexpected apparition he jumped to his feet, at which point the hologram disappeared. Yet the experience was not yet over. Dicky then became aware of a powerful energy pulsing and surging through his body, generating alternating sensations of extreme heat and cold. This was followed by a feeling of an immense and excruciating pressure that was seemingly coming from both inside and outside of his body. This was accompanied by apocalyptic visions of bizarre other worldly creatures, erupting volcanoes spewing molten lava, and the world shattering and splintering into tiny pieces. At a loss as to what to do, Dicky then remembered one of the movements performed by his hallucinatory double that he was later to name ‘one water’ (Ind: air satu). Dragging himself to his feet, he repeated the movements three times, at which point the force pressing upon him dispersed and was replaced by a sense of an immense overflowing of power within him. He knew that he could control this power at will. The vision often returned to him in the following days, and Dicky soon found that he could will it to appear. Each time he carefully observed and noted down the seemingly endless array of martial arts movements and breathing techniques, the likes of which he had never seen before.

After nearly two weeks of learning from the hologram, his room was filled with a brilliant white light, out of which appeared a human figure wearing a white cloak. The figure immediately paid homage to Dicky, introducing itself as Muhamad Jibril, the war commander (Ind: panglima perang) of the Mabut kingdom of Muslim jinn. The jinn chieftain said that he, along with 101 other kingdoms of Muslim jinn, submitted to Dicky and were prepared to assist him in the jihad fisabilillah, the holy war to convert non-Muslims. Sharpening eyes his upon the jinn, Dicky then saw that its form was in fact like that of a white haired gorilla. In the following days countless kingdoms of ‘infidel jinn’ (Ind: jinn khafir) appeared before Dicky and expressed their desire to become Muslim. After converting to Islam under Dicky’s guidance, the jinn bestowed upon him numerous powers, a process that has continued up until the present. Some of these powers include:[2]

  • Ilmu Kidang Kancana: The ability to run at extreme speed, as if pushed by a powerful wind.
  • Rubah Wujud: This ilmu is to be used when facing a black sorcerer. If they change their form into that of a dragon, one who has this ilmu will be able to change into a giant, a black hawk or another equally terrifying form.
  • Kilat Api: When facing a powerful opponent, one who has mastered this ilmu will he able to shoot a blast of scorching wind from their hands.
  • Tali Gaib: a supernatural rope with which to tie up disruptive non-Muslim jinn (Ind: jinn khafir), especially jinn thuyul.[3]
  • Beset: To make an opponent believe they have been cut in two. The opponent will hallucinate that their body has been sliced in half and feel pain as if it had. However in reality their body will remain intact. The method requires that the opponent attack in a state of emotional distress (ie. anger, fear) at which point one simply slices ones hands through the air as if slicing them down the middle. This needs to be done at a distance of around one to two metres from the opponent.
  • Sapujagat: This ilmu reflects back any black magic directed at oneself, and is done by slamming the palms of the hand on the ground. It can also be used for healing those affected by sorcery.
23. Dicky Zaenal Arifin, the head of the Hikmatul Iman school, leaps over a boulder. Photo courtesy of Dicky Zaenal Arifin.

Discussing the ‘status’ of his unique experience, Dicky described it as maunah, an Islamic term for a form of assistance direct from Allah, without the aid of intermediaries such as angels, that is bestowed upon ordinary human beings.[4] Despite his special abilities as a child, Dicky had never studied martial arts or inner power. He was however immersed in popular representations of silat via comics and movies.[5] Seven months after these experiences, Dicky formally established the Hikmatul Iman martial arts foundation with the explicit aim of “spreading Islam, with the minimum of islamising those who claim to be Muslim but do not cony out its ritual obligations”.[6] Hikmatul Iman is popular amongst university students in Bandung, with branches at most of the major campuses. The overall age of members is much younger than most inner power groups, with even the most senior members being only in their mid-thirties. The eclectic combination of Islamic piety and fantastic claims of supernatural power, as well as Dicky’s own youthfulness, perhaps draw youth to the school.[7]

Within the Hikmatu Iman self-defence school a significant theoretical and practical distinction is made between inner power and metaphysical energy (Ind: tenaga metafisik). As mentioned earlier, according to Dicky, inner power is the energy produced by the metabolism of the chemical element Adenosine Tri Phosphate. In everyday life he believes only 2.5% of the energy stored in the body is utilised. The other 97.5% is stored as a ‘reserve’ in the nerves at the pit of the stomach. When one breathes normally, the oxygen is just sufficient to aid circulation of the blood, quicken the metabolism and supply the brain functions. The breathing techniques taught in Hikmatul Iman “circulate the breath to all parts of the body, ridding it more effectively of carbon monoxide”.[8] This is done by tightening the muscles at the point of exhalation. This activates and releases the energy stored in the body, producing ‘energy waves’ through the muscles and blood cells.

There are two types of waves, ‘hot’ (positive energy) and ‘cold’ (negative energy). An example of these waves working together is the hot and cold flushes accompanying a fever. It is part of the body’s mechanism for fighting illness. The inner power techniques taught in Hikmatul Iman deal exclusively with the ‘hot’ energy. Through regular practice hot energy can be concentrated in the pit of the stomach and directed to various parts of the body at will. The sensation is said to be that of a warm wind within the body. According to Dicky, an increase of 2.6% will enable one to break five steel files, or kill a horse with a single blow.[9] Potentially one’s access to this energy will increase as one’s training progresses: “imagine, if we could awaken all the reserve energy in the body humans would be able to do anything imaginable”.[10]

24. Hikmatul Iman students perform the 'wind jurus' at a training session in Padjajaran University, Bandung. Photo courtesy of Dicky Zaenal Arifin.

Whilst inner power is a form of energy existent within and produced by the body itself, metaphysical energy is drawn from external forces. Dicky divides metaphysical energy into four categories. The first is metaphysical energy sent down by Allah. This is further subdivided into three types, tenaga metafisik mukjizat, tenaga metafisik karamah and tenaga metafisik maunah.[11] The second category of tenaga metafisik is that bestowed by angels in order to assist those “fighting in the path of Allah”.[12] The other two categories consist of tenaga metafisik provided by jinn and other supernatural beings. Power derived with the assistance of jinn always involves ‘conditions’ of some kind, for example giving offerrings, or prohibitions on certain actions. In Dicky’s opinion the majority of traditional ascetic practices for obtaining metaphysical powers fall into this category, and hence are in conflict with Islam. For example, when performing an ascetic retreat one is unable to carry out the five obligatory prayers. Excessive fasting is also viewed as a form of self-torture, and hence not condoned by Islam. The use of prayers and Asmaul Husna is only acceptable when the intention is become closer to Allah. If one recites simply in order to obtain powers then this is heresy (Ar: bi’dah).[13]

In present times there are many of our brothers and sisters who do excessive recitation of prayers in order to obtain supernatural powers. However in fact, the Prophet never gave this example. In Islam, whoever performs a religious matter incorrectly or to excessive will end up losing their way.[14]

The human body itself is believed to have metaphysical energy surrounding it. It is believed to be ‘wrapped’ by an electro-magnetic field, commonly known as an aura. The energy potential of the aura is said to be increased by absorbing energy from nature. One exercise for doing this involves holding one’s hand above the head in the shape of a ‘parabolic antenna’, and visualising a ball of energy accumulating in the palms.[15] The aura is also said to ‘thicken’ through doing regular breathing exercises. The electromagnetic energy of the aura can be utilised for a variety of purposes such as creating an energy shield around the body, curing disease, influencing other’s opinions and becoming invisible. Alongside of inner power and metaphysical power, silat and weapons techniques devised by Dicky are also taught. The techniques can be practiced as physical exercises, or filled with inner or metaphysical power.

Dicky operates a healing clinic from his home.[16] Starting at six each morning, people line up to seek his assistance with a variety of different problems. Senior students spend most of their days at his home and help with treating the up to 200 people who visit each day. Such clinics perform an important social function in a society with little or no subsidised public health care. During the economic crises of the late 1990s the formal health sector has become increasingly inaccessible to low-income families, with the cost of medicine and consultation fees rising dramatically. For many, inner power became a cheap alternative to conventional medicine, and a last resort when other methods have failed. Local NGOs working on public health issues were quick to realise the potential of ‘alternative healing’. Practices such as inner power training are seen as a cheap and accessible therapeutic tool for those living in the overcrowded and polluted city environment.

Dicky has close contacts with an organisation working with intellectually disabled children. According to Dicky, by transferring energy into the children he stimulates the nervous system helping with the regeneration of damaged cells. If someone is not physically capable of coming to the clinic due to illness, a relative brings a photo, which Dicky uses as an ‘energy link’. There is no set fee for the service, though most discreetly leave an envelope containing anything between 1000 to 50,000 rupiah (20 cents to $10 Aus.) under a small mat in the reception room. Locals also benefit from the clinic, with becak drivers and food and drink vendors doing brisk trade at the front of Dicky’s home. Aside from physical ailments, people seek assistance with personal problems such as a wayward child or a troubled marriage as well as ‘metaphysical’ disturbances such as spirit possession and haunting.[17] One student brought their masters thesis and had Dicky fill it with ‘positive energy’ in the hope that it would influence the examiners.[18] The actual success of Dicky’s skill is hard to gauge, however word of mouth has ensured the continuing popularity of the clinic which has remained constantly busy since it first opened five years ago.


1. The following account is derived from numerous interviews with Dick Zaenal Arifin conducted in Bandung throughout 1999.

2. The following are taken from a list of 768 types of ‘metaphysical power’. See Dicky Zaenal Arifin, `Tenaga Metafisik’, unpublished ms., date unknown.

3. Thuyul are mischievous spirits that take the form of a young child. It is a common belief throughout Java that professional robbers employ their assistance in order to steal.

4. Dicky Zaenal Arifin, interview, 11/06/99,Bandung. On several other occasions Dicky used the term anugerah. There are two other categories of divine assistance within Islam. Karamat refers to miracles, powers or charisma conferred by Allah to his wali (representative, saint) whilst mu’jizah is a miracle bestowed upon a prophet.

5. Dicky is an avid comic collector and has a huge collection, most of them Indonesian translations of Chinese martial arts serials.

6. Interview with Dicky Zaenal Arifin, 11/06/99, Bandung.

7. Students from the Bandung Institute of Technology have set up a popular website and chat forum for Hikmatul lman members and the general public that provides updates on the school’s activities. See http://www.hikmatul-iman.com/index.

8. Ibid.

9. Interview with Dicky Zaenal Arifin, 1/06/99, Bandung.

10. Ibid.

11. Dicky Zaenal Arifin, 1997, pp. 20-23.

12. In relation to angelic derived metaphysical power, Dicky refers to Surat Al-Anfal verse 9, in the Quran, which states, “Remember ye implored, the assistance of your Lord. And he answered you: ‘I will assist you with a thousand of the angels, ranks upon ranks’ “.

13. Dicky Zaenal Arifin, 1997, pg. 26.

14. Ibid, pg. 27.

15. Interview with Dicky Zaenal Arifin, 12/06/99, Bandung. This is a popular theme in martial arts comics and cartoons, such as the Japanese cartoon serial Dragonball-z.

16. More recently Hikmatul Imam have started a rehabilitation program for drug addicts that combines inner power training with hypnosis and herbal remedies.

17. According to Dicky, since the financial crisis hit Indonesia in 1998 he has seen a huge increase in the number of educated professionals suffering from some form of spirit possession. Prior to the crisis instances of possession were almost exclusively confined to those from lower socio-economic groups. In Dicky’s opinion the increase was the result of stress brought on by rising unemployment and cost of living coupled with an unstable social and political environment. Interview, 15/06/99, Bandung.

18. The author has resisted the obvious temptation to do the same!

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