Merry Christmas

Mar 16th, 2007, in News, by

A Muhammadiyah university lecturer was fired for recommending the saying of "Merry Christmas".

Radio Netherlands claims that Mohammad Shofan, a lecturer at Muhammadiyah "Gersik" (Gresik, East Java presumably) UMG university was dismissed by the university council because he had written a paper titled "Natal dan Pluralisme" (Christmas and Pluralism) in which he stated that saying "Merry Christmas" is a form of respect to Jesus, Jesus being a prophet honoured in the Quran.

The saying of "Merry Christmas" did not necessarily mean that the speaker accepted the god-head of Jesus. In support of this Shofan claimed that Muhammadiyah figures such as Amien Rais, Syafii Ma'arif and Din Syamsudin were known to sometimes wish Christians "Merry Christmas".

Muhammadiyah
Muhammadiyah Logo.

The local leadership of Muhammadiyah in Gresik took a different view saying that Shofan had upset the Muslims of the town and that saying "Merry Christmas" did in fact mean one accepted that Jesus was God. They demanded that he be dismissed from the university and he duly was.

After he was fired Shofan was advised by Muhammadiyah national leader Din Syamsuddin to seek the advice of Professor Syafik Mugni, the East Java head of Muhammadiyah. Syafik was of the opinion that the Christmas greeting was no problem but he personally had no authority over the Muhammadiyah university in Gresik.

Syafik also said that the pluralistic and tolerant attitude of Muhammadiyah leaders like Amien Rais, Syafii Ma'arif and Din Syamsuddin was often not shared by more junior members of the organisation. He also wasn't sure whether the "Christmas and Pluralism" article was the only reason for Shofan being sacked. ranesi


32 Comments on “Merry Christmas”

  1. avatar Orgindo says:

    Another example of Indonesian closemindedness.

  2. avatar aJ says:

    I did a little research on this and found out a blog website which is actually defending the decision to sack the person.

    http://muhammadiyah-gresik.blogspot.com/2007_02_01_archive.html

    I’m truly lost for words. It is just amazing to think how strangely peoples mind can work.

  3. avatar Robert says:

    Please, someone tell me that the event in the article is not true. The event is too ridiculous to talk about. Another disgrace.

  4. avatar Agusto says:

    It is very easy to understand the devout Muslim minds, check the koran and voila! This is what it said “Let not the believers take disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers”(3:28) because “Don’t take Jews or Christians for friends. If you do, then Allah will consider you to be one of them” (5:51) and “Allah has turned some Christians and Jews into apes and swine” 5:60

    To understand Islam you have to dig deep into the koran, hadith and sunna! This kind of incident is nothing compared to apostasy in islam!

  5. avatar Madesh says:

    I think some people might have thought that to keep fighting each other as sparring partners would make this nation become tougher and stronger.
    What an idiot.

  6. avatar John Orford says:

    I for one agree with UMG university’s stance on this issue.

    It’s a well known fact that in Catholic theology that when you are greeted with a “Merry Christmas”; you are automagically baptised and become a 100% gold card carrying member of the Catholic church (you also get good discounts with that said gold card on holy wine and bread).

    Well done to the UMG guys! Smart theologians they must be!

  7. avatar Julita says:

    John Orford, you must be from the West? You seem to take over the role of Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. If you don’t know don’t post something rubbish, sorry friends!

  8. avatar Mohammed Khafi says:

    This kind of intolerance seems to be becoming more prevalent, and has no place in Islam, which clearly states that:

    “Say: We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered.” 2:136

    Unfortunately there are others who appear to be not only intolerant but trying to sow seeds of hate as well, one good example being Augusto, who has the cheek to comment about Muslim intolerance when showing his own in every comment he makes!

    Peace

  9. avatar Bas says:

    “It is just amazing to think how strangely peoples mind can work.”

    This is Indonesia. I have seen and heard things 1000 time more ridiculous that in this country. But yes, this is really amazing.

    For my part I am now practising Pramoedya Ananta Toer views about Indonesians: If you don’t know where is the truth or what to do. About anything. Just ask an Indonesian. And do or believe the exact opposite of what he or she says. You can’t be wrong with that. It’s 99% accurate. At least it’s working fine for me in my business and everyday life.

    Another good thing to know is you must lie if you expect people to believe you (and be bad if you want to been seen as a good person). That’s key principle for being successful in this country.

  10. avatar Orgindo says:

    Just going back with my friend. We talked about how it will be scary if Indonesia change her law to Islamic law. Maybe we should start to research on how to get asylum?
    LOL, but after all, we are Indonesian anyway. 😉

  11. avatar Tommy says:

    It’s a common misunderstanding.
    When our Muslim elders forbid us to greet “Merry Chrismas”, it was not because they afraid moslems would covert to Christians, but they knew it’s an act of foolishness.
    Who can proof that Jesus was relly born on December 25? Isn’t the date of birth taken because it was the same day of annual festival in roman time hundreds years after Jesus.
    Read again the history of the mixed-religion of Christianity-Roman-Pagan. You will find that many things that are now attributed to Jesus, are not actually his. But they were made so in order to make the Romans could accept that Christianity was the modern form of their ancient religion.
    So.. December 25 was not Jesus’ date of birth. It’s Sun God’s.
    That’s why we moslems are forbidden to greet ‘Merry Chrismas’. It’s foolish, because no evidence in history books, not even in the bible can tell us when Jesus was born.
    It’s like you saying “Happy Idul Fitri” on Dzulhijjah 13.
    You can be laughed at….

  12. avatar Ihaknt says:

    Tommy, there is a HUGE difference in being laughed at AND getting fired for what you say! If you think it is foolish then firing them for it is even stupider! What ever happened to musyawarah and mufakat?

  13. avatar Andrew says:

    Julita, I think John Orford was just trying to be sarcastic of the situation.

  14. avatar Ihaknt says:

    Andrew, let’s hope so. It’s too confusing these days. 😉

  15. avatar Mohammed Khafi says:

    Tommy said:

    When our Muslim elders forbid us to greet “Merry Chrismas”, it was not because they afraid moslems would covert to Christians, but they knew it’s an act of foolishness.

    This is the first time I have heard this excuse, I would have thought foolishness was almost a prerequisite for the believers of Hadith and Sunnah!

    Peace

  16. avatar Aluang anak Bayang says:

    Dear Muslim brothers, it is very difficult for anyone to accept that Islam is a tolerant religion. Very difficult.

  17. avatar Mohammed Khafi says:

    Aluang anak Bayang Said:

    it is very difficult for anyone to accept that Islam is a tolerant religion. Very difficult.

    Only if you have not read Al Quran and/or not understood it’s message. Most mainstream Muslims follow what they are told and taught, unfortunately these teachings bear little similarity to the goodness and tolerance to be found in Al Quran.

    Peace

  18. avatar Robert says:

    Mohammed Khafi said:

    Most mainstream Muslims follow what they are told and taught, unfortunately these teachings bear little similarity to the goodness and tolerance to be found in Al Quran.

    It would be good then if Muslims would learn Arabic so they can read the Quran in the original language and become independent of interpretations given by Indonesian Muslim clerics.

  19. avatar Mohammed Khafi says:

    Robert Said:

    It would be good then if Muslims would learn Arabic so they can read the Quran in the original language and become independent of interpretations given by Indonesian Muslim clerics.

    Unfortunately Robert, is is not as simple as that, Al Quran was given in Classical Arabic, even many native Arabic speakers cannot understand the nuances of the classical text. A good example is the Arabic word “Awrah” which in modern usage (tainted by traditions), means all the parts of the body to be hidden, for a male from the knees to the midriff, and for a woman according to the strictest interpretation everything apart from one eye!
    In Classical Arabic, the language of Al Quran, it means the external genitals in this particular application, but can also mean things like one eyed or defective!

    Another interesting example of the differences are in the word “Nikah”, to us in Indonesia it means marriage, but if you were to go to any of the present day Arabic speaking countries in the Gulf and say to a man ‘Nikah Bok” , he will be very insulted because you have just told him to go and have sexual intercourse with his father, but using the ‘F’ Word!

    Another word used and abused is the word “Khimar” this is actually in the verse in Al Quran which is interpreted by the mainstream as the instruction for women to wear Jilbab:

    “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what appear thereof; that they should draw their khimar over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.” 24:31

    In fact as been demonstrated in some of the comments on Indonesia Matters, in the Indonesian translations of Al Quran in many cases the word is translated to another Arabic word “Jilbab”, I ask you, why translate from one Arabic word to another unless you are trying to deceive? The word khimar in Classical Arabic, actually means cover, any sort of cover, it could even be a table cloth, or a curtain.

    The verse is actually telling women before they go out to cover their breasts, not even a mention of hair being covered, but it is twisted to make it suit the Arabic Traditions.

    Another problematic one is the phrase “Ma malakat aymanukum” which means “that which your right hands possess” which in the translations from Islamic sources, becomes captives or prisoners of war, or slaves in general. This gives a problem because Al Quran says it is alright to have sex with this class of person!

    Now, knowing how strict Al Quran is with Adultery and Fornication, this doesn’t make sense, unless some how this class of person were considered somehow subhuman, and inconsequential.
    Classical Arabic meanings of the word however, give us a little more light on the matter, Ma malakat aymanukum also means those who you have guardianship over, have an agreement to protect and provide for or have a contact with, this last one knowing the restrictions on sex outside of relationships, gives us the clue to possibly the real meaning, protecting, providing and contracted to marriage! It would appear a more logical solution that you can have sex with a somebody if you are engaged to them to be married or have an agreed commitment toward marriage, a far more pleasant interpretation than being able to have sex with slaves and servants I think.

    Although I think there are some here who would prefer to be able to keep the old interpretation, as it gives them access to sex without having to bear the extra costs to take another wife!

    Peace

  20. avatar Dimp says:

    Hi Robert,

    It would be good then if Muslims would learn Arabic so they can read the Quran in the original language and become independent of interpretations given by Indonesian Muslim clerics.

    And then they will start perceiving Arabic as just another foreign language not as a holy language.

  21. avatar Ihaknt says:

    Robert, as peaceful as your message sounds…GET REAL!! Indonesian Muslim clerics are not trustworthy, I don’t believe anything coming out from their mouth. And it’s a guarantee that if that ever happened, ABB will take over. And the cycle begins…again!

  22. avatar Janma says:

    Actually, in this case it is not just some ridiculous islamic act of intolerance, things like that can happen anywhere…. america is full of fundamentalist Christians who are bigots and unbelievable intolerant….. they fired an art teacher because some kids on a field trip with her to an art gallery saw a nude sculpture!

    Quote:
    FRISCO, Texas — An award-winning Texas art teacher who was reprimanded after one of her fifth-grade students saw a nude sculpture during a trip to a museum has lost her job.

    The school board in Frisco has voted not to renew Sydney McGee’s contract after 28 years. She has been on administrative leave.
    UNquote….

    Say no more!
    she got fired…. unbelievable no?

  23. avatar Dimp says:

    Hi Janma,

    This just shows that idiocracy and ignorance know no boundaries.

  24. avatar Robert says:

    Mohammed Khafi,

    Thanks for the explanation. I was under the impression that when Indonesian Muslims would learn Arabic it would solve a lot of issues concerning interpretation. As you clarified with your examples, it isn’t that easy after all.
    When I read your post I realized that here in Western Europe even among immigrants who do speak (modern) Arabic, interpretation of the Quran is an hot issue. In debating programs on television, and in magazines one of the most used words is interpretation. Even when people master the language, they will still explain the Scriptures in different manners. Unfortunately.

    Dimp, Ihaknt,

    I thought learning the Arabic language would be a short cut to solving a lot of problems concerning to interpretation. Apparently there are some barriers (clerics, attitude towards foreign language) which I didn’t take into account.

  25. avatar Janma says:

    If you can’t understand the quran without being an Arabic scholar then what is the point? Then it should just be for Arabs, leave the rest of us alone.

  26. avatar Ihaknt says:

    Robert honey, there is no such thing as short cut in this case, UNFORTUNATELY. Just like learning any language, it doesnt really get “in” you unless you live in the country that speaks it itself. Take English for example. If you didnt live in a country that speaks it, you wouldn’t understand many jargons, phrases, slanks, etc. Arabic is the same. Translating word per word will make anything sound stupid. Try to translate a sentence from English to Indo (and vice versa) word per word. Not make sense right? Hence I said I dont believe in any of these clerics say, to me they are as bad as the groups they are fighting with. Munafik, narrow minded, power hungry people. And I know believe more and more that they (not just limited to the clerics, but anyone) translated whatever word per word.

  27. avatar Dimp says:

    Hi ihaknt,

    You can always fake it….. just keep nodding, pretend that you understand. Of course this won’t work if you keep on opening your mouth saying something stupid, or in our case posting something without thinking.

  28. avatar Ihaknt says:

    Dimp thinking hurts sometimes. Too lazy laaah.

  29. avatar Dimp says:

    Only if they don’t have the brain capacity then it will hurt. Thus you can see a lot of people lacking this brain capacity just post without thinking.

  30. avatar Mohammed Khafi says:

    Janma said:

    If you can’t understand the quran without being an Arabic scholar then what is the point? Then it should just be for Arabs, leave the rest of us alone.

    But it can be understood Janma, the vast majority of it is simple plain language and can be translated into whatever language is necessary. However the clerics and Ulammah will not tell anybody this because their livelihoods are at stake. Islam is the only religion which is not supposed to have any clerics, anybody can lead prayers and all people are enjoined in Al Quran to read the message and take what they can understand. Unfortunately the clerics who should not be there in the first place will insist that they are necessary to peoples understanding, despite the fact that God says his message is simple. Some of the clerics will write pages and pages of explanations for just one word, just to justify a point which is not there in the first place.

    Peace

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