Thursday, February 19, 2009

Are there any Indonesian prophets?

Al Makin , MONTREAL | Fri, 02/13/2009 10:16 AM | Opinion and Editorial The Jakarta Post

Agus Imam Solichin – like Lia Aminuddin (the founder of the Salamullah Eden community), Ahmad Moshaddeq (the founder of the “deviant sect” al-Qiyadah al-Islamiyah) and many other Indonesian “false prophets” – claimed divinity and founded a weird religious cult.

Solichin declared himself the reincarnation of Sukarno, a prophet and finally God. To magnify his claims, Solichin took the following grandeur titles Satria Piningit Weteng Buwana (the knight hidden in the belly of the earth) and Agus Nata Sukarno Putra (Agus, the son of Sukarno in charge). What bold and eccentric claims!

In the beginning, Solichin behaved like an ordinary Islamic sect leader. He advocated that his followers perform Islamic rites, encouraging them to prayer five times every day and to fast during the month of Ramadan, among other things. However, it seems that he could not control his wild mind and confidence. He demanded his followers conduct sexual intercourse in front of him, as reported by some media.

Déja vu as it may sound; Agus Solichin was faced with no different end from those of Aminuddin and Moshaddeq. His claim upset people, particularly religious leaders. Solichin then sought police custody, for the sake of his own safety. The MUI (Indonesian Ulema Council) and Bakor Pakem (the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society) denounced Solichin’s cult. In court, Solichin is likely to face two separate charges: Sexual harassment and blasphemy.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Repositioning the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI)

Al Makin , Montreal | Tue, 02/03/2009 3:38 PM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post

In the past few years, the authority of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) in the eyes of Indonesian Muslims has been steadily tarnished by at least two causes: The outdated language used by the MUI in pronouncing edicts, and the apparently awkward position of the MUI in modern democratic Indonesian society.

Before dealing with these two causes, it is worth recalling here how the MUI took part in the New Order government's game.

During the New Order, the MUI served as a bridge in connecting the secular government and the Indonesian Muslim community (ummah). In this way, the MUI played a critical role as a translator of the government's intentions, by explaining certain secular agenda in plain religious terms to the people.

Thus the government's propaganda enjoyed at least two privileges: additional religious legitimacy from the MUI's religious authority, and the government's messages were easily understood by the ummah owing to the MUI's simple justifications.

Take the family planning program as an illustration. For the most modest Muslims who lived in many rural villages in Java, reducing the number of children in their families, as requested by the program, meant distrusting God's mighty ability to feed them (risqi).

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Obama's oratory: Recalling the sway of Sukarno

Al Makin , Montreal | Tue, 01/27/2009 1:25 PM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post

Now that the number of US presidents stands at 43, a comparison of their characteristics and leadership styles is possible. Prior to and after the inauguration ceremony, many US columnists have related President Obama's qualities to those of his predecessors, ranging from Lincoln, Roosevelt and Kennedy to Clinton.

Indonesia, however, has had only six presidents, whose educational backgrounds and leadership styles differ significantly - a fine intellectual and orator, a military strategist, a religious scholar, a scientist, a passionate mother, and a harmonizer.

Many people feel deep down in their hearts that, all in all, Sukarno's preeminence remains unmatched by those who succeeded him.

Not only was he the founding father of this nation, he also made numerous eloquent speeches that communicated clearly to even the most down-to-earth in his audiences. His powerful charisma rested especially in his oratory. He spoke with a stirring and thunderous voice.

Similarities can be drawn between Obama and Sukarno.

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