Moderate Islam in Indonesia

Jan 4th, 2006, in News, by

Mohamad Abdun Nasir, a lecturer and researcher in the Mediation Center at the State Institute for Islamic Studies (IAIN) in Mataram, Lombok, writes in the Jakarta Post (I would link to the article but Jakarta Post pages go awol after two days) about moderate Islam in Indonesia. He first posits two dangers, radicalism on the one hand, and liberalism on the other.

Religious radicalism and extremism have proven to be a danger to social stability and order. While liberalism and secularism often trigger fear among Muslims that they are being secularized and cut off from Islamic doctrines that govern the daily lives of Muslims.

While radicalism and extremism obviously fail to create a harmonious inner religious life, liberalism and secularism are seen as going beyond the limits of the normative traditions of the Muslim majority.

Under a secular system Muslims are entirely free to practice and live by their Islamic doctrines except in the case where these violate the law. Probably Nasir knows, and fears, that given a genuinely free choice many would prefer to leave the restrictive confines of the “Muslim majority” and find their own way in the world.

Nasir goes on to detail the failure of fundamentalist Islam to take hold in Indonesia, claiming:

These ideas are met with little enthusiasm by Indonesian Muslims. This shows the majority of Muslims here prefer not to politicize Islam, to change the state ideology or to apply sharia.

And what is lacking in the liberal approach.

Presided over by young intellectuals and inspired by Western-oriented thoughts, these liberal factions often issue controversial Islamic statements and thoughts.

This is an urban, elite phenomenon that cannot effectively reach grassroots Muslims, most of whom live in rural areas.

Evidently some mysterious third way is sought between Islamism and secularisation. Nasir seems to believe this lies in Islam, above all, tackling the problems of corruption and the innumerable social and political problems that plague Indonesia. Probably something similar to the current “social justice” approach of many churches in the west.

Religious moderation is seen as a panacea to the rise of radicalism and extremism. Moderate Muslims will provide the space for dialog and the sharing of ideas among people connected by a collective interest.

It is very soothing to the ear and reasonable but Nasir leaves us none the wiser as to the actual details of it nor the basis in Islamic tradition that must underpin it if it is to succeed.

Islam should not only be a blessing for its followers, but also spread love, peace and mercy for all people.

10 Comments on “Moderate Islam in Indonesia”

  1. Felis says:

    “Probably Nasir knows, and fears, that given a genuinely free choice many would prefer to leave the restrictive confines of the “Muslim majority” and find their own way in the world.”
    And this is exactly what it is.
    Losing control over masses of people, who at the moment are bound together by ignorance and fear.

  2. David says:

    Hi Felis,

    Yes and no. I think it’s one explanation, and it applies with most force to those who move to the cities, they are the ones who are most likely to be tempted by secularism. But one of the great strengths of Islam, especially in the modern, fragmented world, is that it gives its members an unrivalled sense of belonging. You can just sense it sometimes, especially among very poor people, it’s the one thing that allows them to show some pride, and look down on others over.

  3. Felis says:

    “¦world, is that it gives its members an unrivalled sense of belonging
    I wouldn’t argue with that at all.

    “Fear” – I used only a “shortcut” – which meant to cover not only fear from the consequencies of being an apostate but also of being left “alone” with all the dangers of the cruel world.
    This is something which appeals not only to the poor in Indonesia but to many people in the West who are left without any clear sense of direction.
    Especially when the traditional religious structures give way to “moral relativism”.

  4. Ulf says:

    Moderate Islam. Is this a joke? Does “moderate” mean smaller/less powerful explosive devices? Instead of killing a dozen they only kill half-a-dozen?

    Telling Moderate vs. Hard Line Islam apart is like trying to tell the difference between Israel’s left and right wing parties: their only difference is the side they prefer using their wallet on or the caliber of weapons they prefer using when killing Palestinians.

  5. geekgirl says:

    We just need to be fair to all religions. Islam, Christianity, judaism came from one root. If you look at Quran, bible, and torah you’ll find similar stories. Certain books are different from the others on certain stories.

    They all contain both wise and silly passages. It’s the job of the religious leaders to filter and spread only the wise ones and reinterpret the silly ones so that religious followers can learn well from those passages.

    I’ve seen many Muslims who live to the gentlest of a human being, despite them being a fully practicing Muslims and claim to follow as much as Quranic wisdoms as they can.

    And I don’t call those people as moderate Muslims. They are in fact fundamentalists (acting based on Quran), but the outcome is a set of wise & inspiring behaviors.

    To me, moderate Muslims are those who are ignorant of Islamic values, don’t really know what are the contents of Quran, and just do a “play safe” to be at peace with other religions.

  6. David says:

    I grew up as a Muslim but left it after I had found out that it is pure evil. Let me tell you that moderate Muslims are not Muslims at all. They are confused people that have been influenced by western ideals and values. Ask most of these Muslims to read a verse of the Quran, then ask them what it means. I assure you 99% of the time they won’t have a clue. This is because it is common for Muslims to read to the Quran in Arabic for hours on end without understanding a word of it. Then they defend it by claiming what they recognize at a good comes from Islam.

    Once they gain the majority their laws start kicking in because they have the mistaken belief that the Quran is righteous when they dont even know the meaning of Quran. Just look at lebanon, Indonesia, or Mylasia; there were moderate Muslims who want the educated Muslims (mullahs, sheiks, etc) to run the country. The educated Muslims know about Islam hence they are bigotted, sexist and violent. This is the danger of moderate Muslims they blindsight democratic societies by making them believe this pseudo-Islam is the true religion and then use democracy to vote for these dangerous educated Muslims.

    These are a few verses of the Quran:

    Al-Ma’idah (The Table Spread)
    Quran Sura 5:51: O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.

    Quran Sura 47:4: Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah’s Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.

    Al-Ma’idah (The Table Spread)
    Quran Sura 5:38: Cut off the hands of thieves, whether they are male or female, as punishment for what they have done””a deterrent from God: God is almighty and wise.

    An-Nisa (The Women)
    Quran Sura 4:34: “Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in their sleeping places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.”

    Al-Ma’idah (The Table Spread)
    Quran Sura 5:33: “Those who make war with Allah and his messenger will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. That is how they will be treated in this world, and in the next they will have an awful doom.”

    These revelations that violate human rights are just the tip of the iceburg. The peaceful revelations like (sura 2:256) “there is no compulsion in religion” are from when the period that Islam was weak and dependant on the mercy of other religions. As soon as Mohammad gained enough political power he ruthlessly started to move against the Pagan and Jewish tribes. Exemplary character? No, I dont think so.

  7. reyna says:

    David, we know your type. Well, you can say whatever you want about Islam. But you cannot deny the fact that western educated Moslems are increasingly toward Islam as they found that Islam is the right one. And if you think that’s because they don’t know the content of the Koran, you’re absolutely wrong. In fact, they are drawn to Islam when they learn the content of the Koran.

  8. Preacher Of Truth says:

    Allah is cursing Indonesia! Everyday there is a major disaster! This was what Allah has warned against liberalism! If you neglect Allah and the guidance he has given you, you will go astray! Never forget the one who never forgets you!

  9. Dimp says:

    Allah is cursing Indonesia! Everyday there is a major disaster! This was what Allah has warned against liberalism! If you neglect Allah and the guidance he has given you, you will go astray! Never forget the one who never forgets you!

    Don’t actually know how you perceive Allah, but I perceive Allah as caring and nurturing.

  10. Ihaknt says:

    Hey Preacher, if it was for the liberals then it would have happened in Jakarta. This is probably a reminder to you non-brain-users to also be compassionate and tolerant to each other regardless of religions, sex, gender and social status! And also a reminder for the governement to stop being greedy and build the country instead of raking the money in for themselves! The people in Sum-Bar are more religous than in Jakarta why did it happen there?

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