Preachers in Politics

May 23rd, 2007, in News, by

Clerics should stay in schools and stay out of politics.

The Jakarta Post reports that Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni criticized Muslim clerics for their involvement in politics, saying it could put the integrity and the good moral standing of Islamic education at risk.

Some Muslim clerics prefer to be involved in politics rather than becoming educators, and as a result, religion-based education in religious schools has become somewhat disorganized.

Speaking at a meeting of Rabithah Ma’ahid Islamiyah (RMI), or the Association of Islamic Boarding Schools, which is connected to the country’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Maftuh said that clerics’ involvement in politics was only justified if they did so to improve the quality of education.

Maftuh Basyuni
Maftuh Basyuni, pressing flesh.

The minister said Islamic boarding schools, or pesantren, played a vital role in providing education for the poor.

A recent survey by the Islamic and Societal Research Centre found that Indonesians trusted Islamic leaders more than any other individual or any institution, including the president.

NU spokesman on Muslim education, Masdar Farid Mas’udi, said he endorsed Maftuh’s call for reining in Muslim clerics and their involvement in politics.

Muslim clerics these days are indeed too preoccupied with politics, which is not their normal domain, and as a result they risk being corrupted by it

Masdar said that as a symbol of morality and wisdom, Muslim clerics should remain in their pesantren and work on improving the quality of religion-based education.

Unlike modern educational institutions where system takes precedence over figures, in traditional pesantren, clerics determine the quality of education.

Clerical involvement in politics was only justified if done for a relevant cause, Masdar said.

Clerics should press for pro-poor policies, for instance, rather than seeking political power.

Muhammadiyah leader Din Syamsudin later said that clerics could not be far removed from politics because in Islam politics was an important part of life that religious leaders had to participate in. Clerics needed to point the country in a morally upright direction and so they were much required in politics, he said.

However he warned against any involvement in fanatical groups or parties which stirred sectarian passions. republika

Nahdlatul Ulama (PBNU) leader Hasyim Muzadi said clerics should be free to become involved in politics provided they were competent to do so. If not they should stay in the schools, he said. antara

Meanwhile on May 21st someone possibly opposed to mixing religion and politics made his feelings known outside the Depok offices of the PKS, Justice Party, by throwing a molotov cocktail at it. A car was burned but no-one was hurt. Depok, near Jakarta, is governed by the PKS.

PKS Depok head Prihandoko said the party had received a number of threatening sms messages recently complaining about the religious nature of the PKS, although he couldn’t be sure if the two things were related. detik

May 31st 2007. Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) leader Muhidin Junaedi complained in Bogor that too many clerics are involved in politics and ignoring their responsibilities elsewhere. He said that a number of Islamic schools in Central and East Java were experiencing a shortage of clerics and students because of this. antara

6 Comments on “Preachers in Politics”

  1. Sputjam says:

    Whether you believe in God or not, this is what the koran says about preachers:-

    9:31 They took their Priests and Monks to be patrons besides God, and the Messiah son of Mary, while they were only commanded to serve One god, there is no god but He, be He glorified for what they set up.
    9:32 They want to extinguish God’s light with their mouths, but God refuses such and lets His light continue, even if the rejecters hate it.
    9:33 He is the One who sent His messenger with guidance and the system of truth, to make it expose all other systems, even if those who set up partners hate it.
    9:34 O you who believe, many of the Priests and Monks consume people’s money in falsehood, and they turn away from the path of God. And those who hoard gold and silver, and do not spend it in the cause of God, give them news of a painful retribution.
    9:35 On the Day when they will be seared in the fires of Hell, and their foreheads and sides and backs will be branded with it: “This is what you have hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you have hoarded!”

    So if Muslims believe that the koran is the word of God, why are they addicted to preachers and imams? Stop going to mosques. There is no such commandment in the koran that says you have to go to mosques, nor do daily prayers.
    You should serve God by doing good deeds, and focus on these deeds. For when you die, you will be judged by your deeds alone. These are God’s messages in the koran.

  2. Jane says:

    Clerics should stay in schools and stay out of politics?
    This argument bugged me. I think the important thing for Muslim is how to get education well. I mean, the education is not only from the school but also from the environment itself. Islamic boarding schools, or pesantren are not the only way of getting the knowledge. For the social scientist, it’s a massive attention. No matter for the students or shcolars or clerics-we should pay attention for the public that related to the development of politic. It’s important thing rather than just make the youth cannot think outside the box. Knowing politic isn’t a matter, that’s why the Muslims should pay attention in this case, but do it with intelligent working.
    I understand why some are still feared with this. Politic means power-power to do many interests.
    I wonder.
    Are we talking about secularism?

  3. Sputjam says:

    Clerics/imams should be abolished. Only fools listen and take them as leaders.

  4. Arema says:

    What is taught in pesantren? Just Islam, or also basic primary school stuff like math, bahasa Indonesia, IPA, and IPS?

  5. Yeah I agree. This is one of the reasons why Indonesian Muslims can’t be better, because their clerics are manipulating them. A lot of clerics have political motivation, shame on them.

  6. Djoko says:

    Acutllay one of the main problems is that most clerics don’t understand enough about politics precisely because they are holed up so exclusively in the pondok most of the time. This generally leads to one of two situations: (a) the Zaenuddin M.Z. situation where he went from being ‘dai sejuta umat’ to being leader of a tiny political party, or (b) being effectively played by political parties – just wait until the 2009 elections and watch how politicians (secular just as often if not more so than Islamic politicians) line up to go visit pesantren, peci on head and sajadah over the shoulder, looking to win pondok leaders over to their side.

    What religious leaders need to do is to learn more about politics in order to become more effective leaders and representatives of their community’s interests rather than thinking of their own political interest (as in case A) or being at the whims of elites political interests (as in case B). I know of some people within pesantren communities who are trying to do this at the moment, but considering just how long pesantren have remained aloof from politics (either imposed or from the outside) its going to take some time before they have people who are effective.

    What is taught in pesantren? Just Islam, or also basic primary school stuff like math, bahasa Indonesia, IPA, and IPS?

    On what is taught in pesantren, its not just religious subjects (thats more of a madrasah set up I think), but also teaches secular subjects. Thus the interesting and unique nature of Indonesian pesantren compared to madrasah in other parts of the world. Of course what is taught in the religious subjects in pesantren (particularly materials, books, scholars and so on) depends on who is running the pesantren (NU, Muhammadiyah, Persis, independent, sufi orders, and so on). Also depends on the financial situation of the pesantren, places like Gontor are famous because they are able to cover a lot of subjects and a nice chunk of national Muslim leaders on both secular and Islamist sides of the divide are alumni from there (I had a list at one stage but not sure where it got to).

Comment on “Preachers in Politics”.

RSS feed

Copyright Indonesia Matters 2006-2023
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact