Friday, October 29, 2010

The nation’s dignity

The nation’s dignity

Al Makin, Yogyakarta | Tue, 10/26/2010 10:14 AM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post
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Each epoch has its own spirit to define what “dignity” is. Throughout the history of this nation, the term renders many meanings.

Our first president Sukarno, one of those who laid the foundations of this country and incited the people’s spirit to love this nation and have more self-confidence, had good taste and therefore set a high standard for the nation’s self-esteem. For Sukarno, no matter how much it costs and what should be at stake, the nation’s honor and pride are the prime priority.

Sukarno’s fame rests in his brave (sometimes without forethought) decisions such as pulling Indonesia out of the UN in 1962. Various powerful slogans — such as anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism, anti-neo-colonialism and “go to hell with your aid” — added flavor to his many burning speeches.

Sukarno’s emotional campaign “crush Malaysia” clearly showed how thick his rhetoric of anti-imperialism was.

Just imagine, what Sukarno would do, when facing today’s Indonesia-Malaysia tricky relation in regard to the border disputes and issues related to Indonesian migrant workers. Imagine how harshly he would condemn the neighbor and how ruthlessly he would deliver his speech.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono seems to be president at the right time. His wisdom is shown in that he did not incite the people’s hostility toward Malaysia. Instead, he cooled the tension down.

He tried as much as possible to call upon people to use reason and consider that Malaysia is Indonesia’s close neighbor.

Many interests are sacrificed, when the crisis is not handled prudently. That is what he sought to convey in his TV appearance.

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The right to build mosques and churches

The right to build mosques and churches

Al Makin, Yogyakarta | Fri, 10/15/2010 9:31 AM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post
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Mosques and churches, in which believers pray to God for a happy life in this world and salvation in the world to come, can also cause tension and conflict. In this archipelagic country — with a boast-worthy diversity of ethnicities, faiths, ideologies, political parties and social organizations — mosques and churches of minority groups are under attack.

Ahmadiyah’s mosques and the churches of the Batak Protestant Church (HKBP) in Bekasi are cases in point. Ironically, those who attacked those places of worship, such as the FPI (Islam Defenders Front), also pompously voiced their disagreement in public statements. They question the rights of minorities to build places of worship that they perceive as a threat to their mosques.

Worse still, the government, e.g., the religious affairs minister, makes that disagreement its main concern and shields the mosques of the majority — which are in fact “safe and sound” as nobody dares to disturb them.

The mosques and churches belonging to minority groups are then further discredited, while some of the perpetrators are roaming free and looking for vulnerable people who can be turned into radicals. Through the public media, schools and mosques, the younger generation can become the prey of radicals.

True, some, such as Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and those who stabbed the HKBP leaders, were jailed for their roles in spreading hate, causing disorder and breaking the law. However, their ideologies are far from diminishing in this country.

Nevertheless, you may wonder why the “majority” is so scared of the “minority”. Common sense and logic are turned upside down. Who is intimidating whom? Who are the perpetrators and who are the victims? The minority or the majority? Which one is increasing? Mosques or churches? Ahmadiyah’s mosques or the Muslim majority’s mosques?


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Representing the Enemy, Musaylima in Muslim Literature

This work claims that Musaylima served as a prophet for his own people in Yamama in more or less the same way as the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca and Medina. However, unlike Islam, Musaylima's religious movement did not survive.

Here, a complete story of Musaylima - his claim of prophethood, qur'an (reading), religious activities, followers, opponents, and defeat - is reconstructed. A critical reading of the sources that contain the accounts of Musaylima is performed. Additionally, this study reveals that the remaining fragments of Musaylima's qur'an bear substantial similarities to the early Meccan verses of the Qur'an - in terms of diction, style, and pattern.

To formulate the findings of this study, there was more than one prophet in the sixth-seventh century of the Arabian peninsula, as Umayya b. Abi alt, Abu 'Amir, Tulayha, Sajah, Aswad, and Musaylima claimed prophethood. There was more than one qur'an, as Musaylima also revealed his own qur'an. It is possible that other prophets also did so. There was more than one mosque (masjid), since the followers of Abu 'Amir established their own, as did those of Abu Qays. So did the followers of Musaylima. There was more than one Abrahamic Hanif monotheistic movement in the Hijaz and around the region, as some figures assumed the same mission.

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Monday, October 04, 2010

World’s most powerful book

World’s most powerful book

Al Makin, Yogyakarta | Tue, 09/28/2010 10:11 AM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post

I found the expression “Der Koran — Das mächtigste Buch der Welt” — which means “The Koran, the most powerful book in the world” — in the German magazine Der Spiegel No. 52, year 2007. As many said, the phrase, which lampoons the way in which the Koran is still predominantly regarded in “conventional” Muslim theology until today, is indeed provocative.

Of course, this Holy Scripture — like any other scripture belonging to any other religion — literally can do nothing to defend itself from any “blasphemous acts” that befall it.

The believers, who always serve as the guardians of the truth contained by the scripture, will keenly and earnestly do anything to “inflict punishment” upon those who intentionally harm the one-and-half-millennium-old book’s reputation.

One verse in the scripture says that God has sent down the scripture, the content and “truth” of which He Himself will always guard. In fact, believers feel that they are entrusted by God to take any necessary action, whenever its authority is questioned.

No scripture in the world has so high a status in the theological system, which has survived until today, as the Koran, whose every letter, word, sentence, verse and chapter is protected by angels.

Every believer must hold that a change had never occurred in the content and language of the scripture for 15 centuries. For them, it is simply the greatest miracle revealed by the Prophet Muhammad.

The expression evoked by Der Spiegel is relevant in order to recall the way the threat of burning the Koran by Terry Jones and his group was cancelled, substituted instead by tearing a few pages of the Koran — rather like in the movie Fitna produced by a controversial member of the Dutch parliament, Geertz Wilders, with the sound of the tearing of a page of the Koran. These are the boldest “blasphemous acts” they could possibly commit.

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Disbanding Ahmadiyah costs the freedom of the nation

Disbanding Ahmadiyah costs the freedom of the nation

Al Makin, Yogyakarta | Fri, 09/17/2010 10:48 AM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post

By the end of Ramadan, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali promised to bestow a “controversial gift” on Indonesians, a gift that would displease proponents of tolerance, peace and common sense.

That is, after Idul Fitri he will take serious steps to disband Ahmadiyah. The arguments supporting his statement sound obsolete and unfounded. That is, the group violated a 2008 joint ministerial decree and the outdated 1965 anti-blasphemy law. The public knows where these “weak laws” lead us.

As a politician of the United Development Party (PPP) and a former cooperatives and small and medium enterprises minister, Suryadharma Ali’s maneuver is not mindless. Genuine motivations behind his effort should be explained.

However, as he will unlikely explain what has really provoked him to lash out at the religious minority, we can only guess.

Take a political drive as the first clue to this puzzle.

As a politician, he needs popularity to enhance the number of voters for his party. To become the center of the media’s attention is of great benefit to him. He is now popular. As soon as you type his name into Google, his statement about disbanding Ahmadiyah will appear in various online publications.

As a party that targets conservative voters, the PPP, which was established in the early years of Soeharto’s government, faces the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) as a serious competitor in the political race.

However, the PKS is seemingly building its image as an “open political party” that “makes room” for the values of pluralism and nationalism. This party has seemed to have learned the lesson that Indonesians are not fond of leaning too far to the right. PKS leaders want to swing the party to the middle, at least in the eyes of the public.

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