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MUI to formulate edicts against ‘liberal thoughts’
Rendi A. Witular, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) will formulate several edicts to put an end to what it terms “deviant secular and liberal Islamic thoughts” during its four-day national congress that opened here on Tuesday.
According to the council’s edict committee, the edicts will represent the MUI’s determination to win the “war of ideas against liberal Islam”.
“Secularism and liberalism, two Western-influenced thoughts that have developed in Indonesia, have brought chaos to the principles of Islamic teachings,” the committee said.
During his opening speech, MUI chairman Sahal Mahfudh said the council was being tested by the “emergence of creative attitudes among a handful of worshipers”.
“Although the MUI tries to position itself in the middle of all Muslim groups in Indonesia, the council is also required to take a firm stance in dealing with religious deviation,” he said.
He was referring to certain groups that he alleged deviated from Islamic teachings.
Some young Muslim scholars here have used the momentum of the reform movement to campaign for a more liberal interpretation of Islamic teachings, which they say have been monopolized by certain institutions.
Some Muslim scholars recently criticized an old edict issued by MUI banning Ahmadiyah. The MUI labeled the Muslim congregation, which recognizes its founder Ghulam Mirza Ahmad as a prophet, as heretical. Mainstream Muslims believe Muhammad is the last Prophet.
During the congress, the edict committee will recommend that the MUI reaffirm the 1980 ban on Ahmadiyah’s teachings.
The committee also has asked for clarification on which forms of interfaith prayers are permissible under Islam and for the reavowing of a 25-year-old ban on interfaith marriages.
In addition, committee members are deliberating possible edicts on women leading prayers in mosques, intellectual property rights, television shows that are heavy on mysticism, the appropriateness of the death sentence and a recent government decree on the compulsory sale of private land for public use.
Meanwhile, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged the MUI to intensify its campaign against acts of violence that tarnished the image of Islam.
“There is no violence in Islamic teachings. We are disappointed with voices that link violence and terrorism with Islam. Therefore, I urged the MUI to campaign against such acts and to prevent people from committing such acts,” said Susilo in a speech during the opening of the congress.
Susilo also called on the MUI to issue edicts that would help the government implement difficult policies.
“The government needs support from the MUI in peacefully settling the separatist violence in Aceh, as well as help persuading the public to reduce fuel consumption during our problems with the fuel supply and fuel subsidy,” he said.
The government plans to sign a peace deal with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) on Aug. 15 in a bid to end decades of conflict in the province that has killed more than 15,000 people. But some elements of the deal, particularly the plan to allow GAM members to set up political parties as vehicles to contest local elections, have been opposed by lawmakers.
Sahal acknowledged that ending violence within the Muslim community and maintaining unity and friendship would be a challenging task.
“The MUI should be able to act strictly against any violence and actions that are against the law, as well as eliminating poor attitudes and ethics within society that eventually could become the root for corruption,” he said.