Islam, Muslim and Indonesia

Responding to the attrocities of Bali bombing, my good friend Nadirsyah Hosen says this in his blog:

“I strongly condemned a recent terrorist attack in Bali. All moderate Muslims must speak out loudly to confront evil ideology behinds this violent movement.”

Now, who is the so-called moderate Muslim?

First, If you, reader of this 50-cent-piece, are a westerner or a non-muslim, let me tell you something: the so-called “moderate muslim” is not what, entirely or partially, you think like moderate Christian or secular Christian or leftist, or whatever.

Second, please remember that this term strictly for Indonesian Muslims. Muslims are not monolitic entitities–Islam is–, hence, different countries could lead to different meaning and interpretation on what fundamentalist, conservative, secularist, moderate and liberal Muslim are all about.

What’s not

1. Moderate Muslim is not the one who’s intentionally not observing the principle-5-pillars of Islam such as 5-times prayer every day, paying alms, doing haj once in life-time, fasting one-month long during ramadan, etc

2. Moderate Muslim is not the one who’s intentionally doing things which is in Islam considered as major sins such as adultery (fornication), drinking alcoholic beverage, gambling, killing, theft/robbery, etc.

So the different between moderate and fundamentalist (militant, extremist, you name it) Muslim are only this: while the former considers Islam as a spiritual/moral guidance; the latter regards it as as both (a) spiritual/moral guidance and (b) political movements. The point (b) is getting more emphasis. That’s why, the extremist Muslim is sometimes not necessarily religious in nature. Hence, violence to militant Muslim is justified if necessary just like any other political movement (left, right, center) of any culture and religious preference.

Moderate Muslim consist of:

(1)Traditional Muslim in the literal and terminology sense of the term. For example, those Muslims in rural area of Indonesia who mostly belong to NU (Nahdlatul Ulama) socio-religious movement can be put into this category. They are ‘traditional’ in terms of education, way of life, and their attachment to the traditional-cum-religious values and customs.

They don’t know and don’t care about politics, global affairs, relation between Islam and the West, etc. But they will be furious if, for example, somebody a country destroys Mecca in Saudi Arabia or degrades Prophet Muhammad personality because it’s strongly related with their daily religious life and activities.

These kind of Muslims represent the majority of Muslim Indonesian.

(2) Conversative Muslims. They are just like traditional Muslim. Only in terms of education they are more advanced and they belong to urban population and mostly prefer to be under Muhammadiyah socio-religious movement. The second largest religious organisation after NU.

This conservative Muslims have a full awareness of global relation between Islam and the West; about US occupation in Iraq; occupation of Israel upon Palestinian land; etc. Yet, this group dont want to indulge or involve in violence whatsoever. History of post-independence Indonesia never witness any violence carried out by those two groups in the name of religion or others against non-Muslims or their fellow Muslims.

NU and Muhammadiyah represent two group within the moderate Muslims community you can see and meet in the crowd in your day-to-day life whenever you visit Indonesia. We call them SANTRI

Apart from these two, there are one group called “Abangan” which means a non-practicing muslim. A muslim whose Islamic identity only in his/her ID card or may be in his/her conviction and belief in God and Prophet Muhammad but no more than that. You can find them in the bar, discotheque, singing naked in a hotel or become a nude model in some half- or full-porn magazines or a nude-porn-film-star and anything like that.

Having said that, none of the moderate Muslims (traditional or conservative) ever despise this group (Abangan) and disregard it as non-muslim. The Abangan still a Muslim. They are part of Muslim Indonesia which are unique and heterogeneous in nature.

It’s a bit difficult to identify them as they are ever changing. An abangan now, could be a SANTRI tomorrow. It’s important to note though that abangan is not an official name like NU or Muhammadiyah. Now, many of this group identify themselves proudly as Liberal Muslim or Islam Liberal in Bahasa Indonesia.

In the lowest of the low, lay the tiniest yet most dangerous group: the militant, radical, extremist Muslim. Those who tend to use violence for whatever reasons. They have no future in Indonesia as far as the government understand how to alienate and marginalise them from the masses. Government should see very clearly and act accordingly who belong to the militant and who dosn’t to prevent further proliferation of extremism.


8 thoughts on “Islam, Muslim and Indonesia

  1. a condense brief review on Islam in Indonesia…but you miss the discussion about Ahmadiyah, Shia, Sunni, and other Islamic sects..

  2. Pingback: Imdad Robbani

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