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Ahmadiyah, diversity and the nation
Moh Yasir Alimi, Semarang
Again and again, Ahmadiyah followers have been attacked. In the latest violence targeting the Islamic sect in Cikeusik, Banten, three people were killed and many others injured. This barbaric attack has wounded our basic sense of humanity and revealed the extent of our nation’s diversity consciousness.
“Diversity consciousness” is something a nation needs to develop and nurture so that it can unite the many ideological orientations present within it. Diversity consciousness is what we need to keep our plural nation strong and blessed by God.
It was only with diversity consciousness that our founding fathers were able to create this nation, and it is only with diversity consciousness that we will be able to maintain this nation and achieve our dreams.
Without it, a nation will persistently be hijacked and weakened by groups of people who impose their own ideologies. Without it, democracy will be ineffective and a nation will hardly be able to compete in the global world order.
Diversity consciousness should therefore be protected through any means, legal apparatuses, discourses and weapons alike, like God shielding the veins in a human body with skin, bones, tissue and the intellect.
That is why the government needs to ensure that diversity consciousness is respected and that stern measures are taken to restore it when diversity consciousness is violated. The government also has to ensure that no groups attack others because they have different views and that no regulations provoke violence.
From the perspective of diversity consciousness, it is tragic that the violence against Ahmadiyah was “provoked” by state rules (a joint decree bt three ministries) and statements by an institution funded by the taxes Indonesians pay. Since the enactment of the joint ministerial decree (SKB) and the fatwas of the the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) that declared the sect deviant, the violence against Ahmadiyah has increased.
This is particularly true in Makassar, West Nusa Tenggara and West Java. In Central Java, East Java and Yogyakarta there are also concentrations of Ahmadiyah followers, but in those provinces religious life has continued to be peaceful.
Perhaps there are larger concentrations of Ahmadiyah followers in the former provinces than in the latter. The history of the religion and the role of civil society and political and religious leadership are factors that have influenced why these regions have different attitudes to Ahmadiyah. The SKB and the MUI fatwas are newer issues, aggravating the radical responses in West Java, West Nusa Tenggara and Makassar.
After the SKB, the perpetrators believed they were justified in committing violent acts against Ahmadiyah. The SKB contains content that can be used to rationalize hunting down the sect’s followers. The question now is whether Ahmadiyah followers are allowed to conduct religious gatherings in their own mosques, preach to their own members and publish material for their own believers.
MUI representative Amidhan said in a discussion on national TV on Monday that followers of Ahmadiyah were not allowed to publish materials, conduct seminars, give speeches or even assemble.
According to Amidhan, the violence in Cikeusik, Banten, erupted because Ahmadiyah members had gathered in the home of one of their members, which was a violation of the SKB.
Such a statement is heartless. I cannot imagine how such a statement could come from an ulema who is considered an inheritor of the Prophet. A prophet, as Muhammad PBUH said, is sent to beautify the character of humans. What materialized from Amidhan’s statement was anger, not any prophet-like character.
This angry front proves that the MUI is out of touch and spiritually impoverished. The body may know very well the legal text of the Koran, sophisticated Islamic jurisprudence and the laws regarding food, but it has failed to discern the basic tenets of Islamic spirituality.
It is a very basic spiritual teaching that people can become fierce, cruel or insensitive to the grief of others when their heart is empty of Allah, the Merciful and the Compassionate. These people may pray five times a day, but those activities are more politically motivated than religious, more lahir (outer) than batin (inner).
The MUI’s angry front also reminds me of Pharaoh’s clerics who fought the prophet Moses by creating magic snakes. It is said that Moses defeated the clerics because, with the help of God, he created a bigger snake that ate the little snakes of the religious clerics.
Ahmadiyah followers are regular people. They are neither Moses nor a chosen man who can create a giant snake. It is the state that should be the giant snake eating the little snakes in their various contemporary forms as people, religious institutions and rules.
The time has come to evaluate the decrees and fatwas that overturned the democratic principles of Indonesia, black ideas that have weakened our national imagination and bankrupted the diversity consciousness of our nation.
The writer is a lecturer at Semarang State University (Unnes) and former coordinator of Majelis Kataman Quran Canberra.