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Saturday, 30 January 2010


Indonesia is certainly proud of its plurality of cultures and religions. It is indicative of vitality, richness and the eagerness to grow into a pluralist democratic society. Besides its six official religions: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism, Indonesia is home to hundreds of traditional belief systems.

Recently, the plurality and differences in Indonesia have been threatened by hardliner group. In this case Ahmadiyah become victims of religious violence and they suffered from destructing, hijacking, torture, and any kind of atrocities. Ahmadiyah must suffered because its belief differ from the mainstream Islamic believe and the hardliners whose intolerant doctrine pop up in Indonesia.

Therefore, the most of the other existing religions harbor the fear that the treatment meted out to Ahmadiah, might be repeated in their case as well. These fears have been confirmed by the reports of attacks on the churches and places of worship of Christians and other sects for the past several years. In this case, I will examine Ahmadiyah accused and infidel and heretic compared to the Islamic sects existing in the Islamic today. Then, I also want to point out the Islamic toleration preaching exampled by the prophet and his companion to overview the Muslim practice in the real world.

1. Ahmadiyah and Islamic Sects: Comparing views

Following a spate of well-orchestrated attacks on individuals, properties, mosques and schools of the Ahmadiah sect, and demands by several Islamic organizations to the President of Indonesia to have it banned, Ahmadiah leaders issued a statement containing “12 points of explanations”. The 12 points included among other matters, an acknowledgment of Prophet Muhammad as the last prophet, which has long been a bone of contention. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, its founder was recognized as the last of the prophets. This development amounts to forcing a minority religious group to change its basic tenets so as to comply with the demands coming from a majority group.

Compared to other sects in Islam, like Syiah, Druze, and many Thariqats of ahlu sunnah, Ahmadiyah fundamentally and basically is not fault and deviant from Islamic sources. The Claim of Ahmadiyah on the doctrine of the end of the prophet is based on the prophecies by the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet Muhammad prophesized that before the end of the world there would be a prophet and Messiah sent by God, named as Isa al-Masikh and Imam al-Mahdi, in which both would save humans from destructive morality and lead them to the true Islam. This doctrine spread out widely among the Muslim community, not only among Ahmadiyah, Syiah, and Druze, but also among ahlu sunnah. And almost the sects in Islam received the doctrine taking for granted as part of their belief.

Therefore, there are many interpretations on doctrine of the prophet and Imam mahdi as messiah coming in formerly the end of the world. Differing from mainstream Muslims, Ahmadiah followers believe their sect founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, is a prophet who was prophesized by the Prophet Muhammad and carrying on the teachings of Prophet Muhammad himself. The Other muslim sect like Syiah consider that the coming Messiah like Imam Mahdi and Isa al-Masih just come from the circle of Prophet heredities. So, they do not receive the interpretations on the coming Messiah excludes the Prophet heredities. Therefore, until today, Syiah consider messianic doctrines as a part of believe structures, and they are still waiting for and looking forward to coming’s messianic person from the circle of the Prophet descends.

Like other sects, Ahlu sunnah also has and receive the same doctrine, messianic person. Although they also receive it as part of believe, but they have different interpretation on it. They believe that Allah will send the messiah in the end of the world, but they reject to account and figure out a certain person that will place on the position. They argue that the Prophet Muhammad did not give detail on it, and the Prophet just indicated as Isa al Masih and Imam Mahdi. So, among the Ahlu Sunnah, the concept of messianic doctrine is still debatable, and they have not come to the point exactly yet.

Finally, there are many moderate Muslims from Ahlu sunnah considering Mirza Ghulam just an ulema, and have urged the government not to ban the group, and to condemn the violence perpetrated against Ahmadiah followers. But, their voice hardly ever listened or heard by group of Muslims and the government in Indonesia. Why do we neglect their voice and just consider the hardliners?

2. The Toleration on Differences between the real and the ideal

Ahmadiah was banned -- under pressure from radical groups -- it was possible that hardliners would also demand the government ban other minority faiths. In recent years, properties belonging to sect members, including mosques and houses in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, and Sukabumi, West Java, have been attacked and destroyed by religious mobs. A videotape has surfaced showing a sermon by the secretary-general of a radical Islamic group, urging his supporters to kill Ahmadiah followers. If the court can prove that any attacks were conducted based on ulemas' sermons, they could probably be tried for instigating crimes. Nevertheless, none of the masterminds of the attacks have ever been arrested. Some of the people who were arrested were just ojek drivers who were paid to attack Ahmadiah members.

Although the MUI, which released a fatwa declaring Ahmadiah heretical, condemns violence, many radicals claim the attacks are justified by the religious edict. While the declaration was the climax for a series of demands by the majority Muslim community over a long period of time, it triggered a series of attacks on the sect, resulting in this subjugation. The worst is yet to come. The MUI was asking the government to follow Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in banning Ahmadiah and declaring its followers non-Muslims. Factually, Pakistan is not Indonesia; even our Constitution is not based on religion. Furthermore the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and Indonesia has ratified several UN conventions that protect the economic, social and cultural rights of Indonesians, as well as civil rights.

To make matters worse, the ministry under pressure from the Ulema Council issued a decree establishing a monitoring team to oversee the implementation of the 12 points. This literally means that the Ministry for Religious Affairs, succumbed to pressure from the majority religious groups to suppress the freedom “of thought, conscience and religion - “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” Article 18 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Indonesia is a party. The ministry not only accepted the 12 point explanation but also conceded to the majority compulsion to appoint a Committee to Oversee the Implementation of 12 points.

If we rifer to the early Islamic teaching by the prophet Muhammad and his companion, the brutality action of condemning and banning to Ahmadiyah is contrary to the basic principle of Islamic teaching on toleration and differences. Since, differences of religious views and believe is one of fundamental discourse assured by Islam, the Prophet gave the great example to the case. The prophet Muhammad recognized the differences of religious views among his Companion and followers. He never accused and attempted the companion and the followers because of their differences views on the certain religious matter, even the prophet would appreciated them, and never blamed on them at all. Then, the differences among the companions and the followers after the prophet death also spread out and developed in the right tract. The Companion and the followers also never accused and blamed the others because of their views and believe.

If we look up the holly Quran as the source of Islamic views and knowledge, I don not get a verse at all recommending Muslim people to accuse and blame the other as infidel or heretic, even assault and torture to the other people who have a different believe and view. On the other side, the verses of Holy Quran support the fundamental right of human such as a freedom in which they can live in diversities like ethnic, religion, social background, race, and political views.

Therefore, we call on all people concerned about the continued diversity of Indonesia to work together to defend pluralism in the country. "We should not only care about the Ahmadiah issue, but also the nation as a whole, as it is under threat."