Ahmadiyah from a Christian’s view

Matias Sinaga ,  Surabaya   |  Fri, 05/09/2008 9:38 AM  |  Opinion

Numerous articles promoting Islam as a tolerant, non-violent and peace-loving religion have decorated the pages of magazines, tabloids and newspapers, both locally and across the globe, since the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, an attack that has religion as its background.

This development didn’t stop right there. Locally, several organizations that have tolerance, non-violence, pluralism, love, and peace as a theme have been founded, many of which were established by Muslim intellectuals alone or together with other people of different faiths and religions.

A friend was gave me a sticker with the words “Republik Damai” (Peaceful Republic). The sticker was given to me as a token of appreciation for my support of the founder of the group’s candidacy for East Java governor. Its founder, whom I know and admire only from his articles in the media, is a Muslim intellectual and academic. I hate to categorize people based on their religion but this categorization came from the media and in this context it is inappropriate.

Following what has happened to Ahmadiyah and its followers, however, people may become doubtful. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. We now ask, is peace-loving Islam still in existence? Is it just a cry in the desert? Or is it merely a howl in the jungle where mob law applies?

Ahmadiyah’s followers had been victims of attacks long before their sect was declared deviant. But their suffering and persecution escalated since the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI)’s fatwa (religious edict) was issued. The suffering of this minority group then can be seen as an authorized crime; that is, a crime that is justified or even made legal after its subject (of uproar), having been examined, is declared wrong or deviant through an edict. The MUI is certainly ignorant of its edict’s implications.

Regarding religious edicts, this same institution was once used by the New Order regime to produce edicts based on which the government could take the “necessary” actions. If in the New Order under the late president Soeharto it was mainly for political reasons, for the endorsement of government regulations in particular, now in this era reformasi (reform era) known for its freedom of speech, it is for religious purposes.

If in the New Order, the substance of any religion was left to the authority of that religion, now it has become the government’s business. And this became worse as the MUI dropped this hot ball on the government, claiming that it is the latter’s responsibility, a path contrary to the New Order’s faith and practice.

The government then assigned a government panel, the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs, to asses the Ahmadiyah issue. Instead of assessing the offenses conducted by organizations that harassed Ahmadiyah, the board came up with a recommendation siding with the violent parties. It then turned the ball over to the President.

If there is anything to talk about, Islam organizations have to accommodate a dialogue between the conflicting parties. Dialogue is an antidote to tension and disruptive forces. Dialogue is the way of peace. The two largest Muslim organizations in this country, Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), we believe, have the capacity and power to do so.

But is very unlikely that Ahmadiyah will get the protection it needs.

The writer is a teacher and a Christian.

Source: thejakartapost.com

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