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Religious Intolerance A Betrayal Of Islam
Updated:2006-04-21 14:49:22 MYT
Islam is a very tolerant religion, but a significant rise in religious extremism and intolerance throughout the world, including Indonesia, makes us wonder what kind of Islam we are facing today. Religious intolerance has entered a new boom period.
Indeed, when we learn of the fatwa (edict) issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), Indonesia’s highest Islamic authority, the limits of tolerance are reached.
The MUI fatwa in July 2005, a revision of a 1984 ruling, which declares the Islamic religious sect Jamaah Ahmadiyah heretical, along with Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni’s statement that the Ahmadiyah congregation should find a new religion or renounce their beliefs, is an example of the lack of tolerance.
Following the issuance of the verdict, some hardline groups declared the blood of the Ahmadiyah congregation halal (permissible). There is no justification in the Koran for slaying fellow Muslims. Instead the Koran forbids the killing of believers (An-Nisaa: 92).
Not only was Adam created with rights, but the entire cosmological universe (the heavens and the earth) was similarly created with haqq, an Arabic term that can mean “right,” “truth” or “justice.” The idea that all created things possess rights that are part of their ontological nature is fundamental to the Islamic conception of justice.
The Koran strongly guarantees all fundamental human rights. These rights are so deeply rooted in our humanness that their denial or violation is tantamount to a negation or degradation of that which makes us human.
The first and most basic right emphasised by the Koran is the right to be regarded in a way that reflects the sanctity and absolute value of human life.
Each person has the right not only to live but also to be respected, not by virtue of being a man or a woman, but by virtue of being a human being. Following this right is the right of free choice, without which divine judgment would be meaningless.
In addition, for faith to be true and reliable it must be a voluntary act, born out of conviction and freedom. So, then, compulsion and external interference would be the antithesis of Islamic faith. In fact, even the Prophet Muhammad was strongly admonished by God not to compel people to follow the truth of revelation.
The Prophet himself let a Christian, who was not sure about Islam, to keep his original belief and return to his home safely. Thus, the principle of the freedom of conscience is firmly established in the Koran and the Sunnah.
Islam as a religious belief has been distorted and betrayed in the Ahmadiyah case, and the MUI and the religious minister let the extremist-fundamentalists degrade Islam not only by legitimising the totalitarian rule they seek, but also by silencing “moderate” Muslims.
Indeed, religion must remain a faith. If it is politicised, then we have Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu fundamentalists slaying one another while justifying their violence in the name of religion.
Why has Islam been betrayed? In the case of Ahmadiyah, are they really so threatening that we have to destroy them? Please, “stay away from takfir (condemning others as non-believers).” This is really a tragedy.
God is most of all communicable. God has manifested and revealed himself in various ways to different people in their respective situations.
Since human beings are not generic but unique, the expressions of response to the firman (Word of God) will be many and varied, rather than one and the same; people’s capacities to experience and express the ultimate reality are diverse and conditioned. The spark of divine creativity animates every culture, and God can be worshiped and encountered in myriad ways.
Leave God for God’s sake. Stop speaking in God’s name. The Koran says, “no one can know the soldier of God except God.”
This verse is a negation of authoritarianism–it denies any human being the claim that he or she is a soldier of God endowed with God’s authority.
In addition, there is no concept of “church” in Islam, and that no person, or set of persons, embodies God’s divine authority and thus no authority can issue a religious edict and expect it to be accepted universally by all Muslims.
In Islam, the principle of ijtihad (thorough exertion of a person’s mental faculty in finding a solution to a case of law) was used right from the beginning, and every mujtahid (a person who applies ijtihad) is correct.
According to the Hadith, if the mujtahid is correct in his or her ijtihad, he or she receives two bounties, and if he or she is wrong, he or she receives one. In other words, one must try without fear of failure; one is rewarded for the success and the failure.
The idea conveyed and constantly reinforced as part of the Islamic ethos is that Islam rejects elitism and emphasises that truth is equally accessible to all Muslims regardless of race, class or gender. It is this notion of individual and egalitarian accessibility to the truth that results in a rich doctrinal diversity in Islam.
Let us learn from the story of Moses and the shepherd, by Rumi, a mystic. Moses once heard a shepherd praying as follows: “O God, show me where Thou art, that I may become Thy servant. I will clean Thy shoes and comb Thy hair, and sew Thy clothes, and fetch Thy milk.”
When he heard the shepherd praying in this senseless manner, Moses rebuked him, saying, “O foolish one, though your father was Musulman, you have become an infidel. God is a Spirit, and needs not such gross ministration as, in your ignorance, you suppose.”
The shepherd was abashed at his rebuke, and tore his clothes and fled to the desert.
Then a voice from heaven was heard, saying, “O Moses, wherefore have you driven my servant? Your office is to reconcile my people with me, not to drive them away from me. I have given to each race different usages and forms of praising and adoring me. I have no need of their praises, being exalted above all such needs. I regard not the words that are spoken, but the heart that offers them. I do not require fine words, but a burning heart. Men’s ways of showing devotions are genuine, they are accepted.”
So, religious leaders, your office is to reconcile God’s people with God, not to drive them away from Him. Your office is to “call people to the way of God,” to let them share and benefit from the Supreme vision of religious truth, which they have appropriated.
Hold the fatwa, the fundamentalists in the illegal opposition may use it to justify the slaying of others!
By Mirza Tirta Kusuma