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NU criticizes controversial MUI edicts
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Bandung/Surabaya
More criticism has been levied against the controversial edicts issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), this time from the world’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdhatul Ulama (NU), which has around 40 million members.
NU chairman Hasyim Muzadi asked the council to consider the effects of its edicts in the context of civil society, interfaith relations and nationhood, as “we live in a diverse society and this country is not an Islamic state.”
“Any process of fusing Islamic law with state law must be within the framework of the Constitution and the prevailing regulations,” he told a media conference at NU headquarters in Central Jakarta on Friday.
Hasyim added that the MUI should also define the terms pluralism, secularism and liberalism, which the MUI banned in its edicts, as there seemed to be differing perceptions on these terms.
The MUI recently issued 11 edicts, one of which states that Islamic interpretations based on liberalism, secularism and pluralism “contradict Islamic teachings”.
Joint prayers performed with people of other faiths are also banned, and saying “Amen” to prayers led by a non-Muslim is stated to be haram (forbidden under Islamic law).
The edicts also declare the Ahmadiyah sect to be a heretical movement and its followers to be murtad (apostates), while interfaith marriages are also declared to be haram.
Hasyim said that as joint prayers are a fact of life in a plural society, the only unacceptable thing would be for a Muslim to pray in the name of “another religion’s God.”
He also condemned last month’s attack on Ahmadiyah by a hard-line group, saying that violence was not compatible with Islam, even if Ahmadi beliefs were not in line with Islamic teachings.
“The important thing is to adopt stances having regard to the social context. We’ve been living side by side with other religions anyway.”
While the chairman of the MUI, Sahal Mahfudh was from NU, Hasyim said that the MUI was not comprised of ulema from the NU alone.
“We would ask non-Muslims not to be upset with the edicts as they are only aimed at Muslims, and are not the law of the land.”
Despite the criticisms, the MUI is gearing up to promote its edicts in the regions. Some ulemas in the regions have even started to include the MUI edicts in their sermons.
Preacher Heddy Muhammad in Bandung, West Java, for instance, urged Muslims not to be trapped into liberalism and pluralism as Islam had its own rules set out in the Koran and Sunna.
Meanwhile in Surabaya, East Java, ulema in the two biggest mosques, Al Akbar and Al Falah, said the MUI had not yet forwarded them copies of the edicts or contacted them to explain the edicts.
“Even if they do, we will see first whether the content is suitable or not. If not, we will not promote them,” said Zuhro, who is in charge of the Al Akbar mosque.
Meanwhile, several Islamic conservative groups in Jakarta defended the MUI on Friday, saying that the edicts had not been railroaded through by a few conservative ulemas on the council, as the critics contended, but had rather been based on a consensus.
Gathered at the Al Azhar mosque in South Jakarta, the groups also demanded on Friday that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ban the Islamic Liberal Network (JIL), which is one of the strongest critics of the MUI.