Liberal Muslims Locked Up

May 20th, 2006, in News, by

Two men are in a police cell because of their liberal interpretation of Islam.

Ahmad Fatoni, 40, and Widi, 27, are being held in custody in the Lasem police station in central Java. They were accused of holding unorthodox views on Islamic beliefs by a group called the “Forum Silahturahim Santri Lasem”, some sort of pious mens’ organisation.

It appears the two men, and their interesting opinions, attracted quite a following among young people.

Most of their followers came from outside the district.
(Kebanyakan pemuda yang nyantri berasal dari luar daerah.)

said a village official, Ali Masrudin.

The two men believe that the Quran is not the direct word of God but a human creation. If the basis for the belief in the prophethood of Muhammad is the Quran alone then it must be admitted that there is the possibility of an error, humans being prone to such things, they say.

There could be mistakes [in the Quran.]
(Sehingga kemungkinannya ada salahnya.)

said Ahmad Fatoni.

He added that Muhammad was not the final prophet, and is not the leader of Islam, rather this position belongs to God.

For me the leader of Islam is God not prophet Muhammad.
(Bagi saya pemimpin Islam, ya Allah, bukan Nabi Muhammad.)

Village officials had warned Fatoni on several occasions to shut his mouth but they were ignored, said Ali Masrudin.

The end for Fatoni came when a group of upstanding citizens grabbed him, and Widi, and bundled them both off to the police station. Citizens’ arrest stuff.

Fatoni’s wife, Kusmiyati, says:

I’m sad, why are differences of opinion in Islamic teachings objected to.
(Saya sedih, mengapa beda pendapat dalam menafsirkan ajaran Islam dimusuhi.)

The unraveling of Islamic orthodoxy is going to be a long, violent, and painful process, much worse than that which occured in the case of Christianity. The consequences for Islam are also more dire. Christians can still carry their faith without believing that the Bible is the literal word of God. For Islam, the literal truth of the Quran may be a live-or-die matter.

Ahmad Fatoni and Widi are of course fortunate that they live in Indonesia, a place where the maximum punishment for blasphemy is five years locked up. In other places they would meet a much worse fate. Nevertheless it is worth remembering cases like these, whenever one hears the phrase “moderate Islam” spoken of in a discussion of Indonesia. Moderate yes, to some extent, liberal, not yet.

5 Comments on “Liberal Muslims Locked Up”

  1. R. Patterson says:

    I have read portions of the koran as well I have read about the life of mohamad. The koran does not seem true, that is it cannot be proved as can the Bible both by fulfilled prophecy and history. Mohamad does come across as a less than perfect man and prophet. His life is there to be read and studied and his life does seem to be a little sordid in the eyes of some. Regards, R. Patterson

  2. Tree Grower says:


    ‘the Bible can be proved by fulfilled prophecy and history’ –we’ve yet to see them prove it.

    exactly what sort of proof is that ? What that the world was created in 7 days ? Woman created from the rib of man ? JC rose from the dead ? Can’t recall the Bible saying anything about dinosaurs, microorganisms, events such as the Toba Volcanoe eruption that may have led to homo sapiens-sapiens preeminence, not to mention DNA.

    Evolution’s the biggest clincher. Scientists have been trying to debunk this theory for 150 years and the evidence only gets stronger.

    Oh that’s right, the Bible’s supposed to be allegory and myth.

    So why give the Muslims a hard time ?

  3. halim firdaus "forum shilaturrahmi santri Lasem secretarist" says:

    I’m Forum Shilaturrahmi Santri Lasem Secretariest

    Thanks for,
    The All personal forum shilaturrahmi santri lasem says : “thanks for this news”.
    we always run at holy Islamic. Allahu Akbar

  4. David says:

    Hmm, so why exactly did you take those two men to the police station?

  5. Rockstar says:

    mr grower, as far as I know (I lived there for 26 years), the one that gives Muslims a hard time is Muslims himself.

    second, I dont inted to argue with you about this religion thingy, but your statement is just absurd. Bible don’t say anything about microorganism, because it was written thousands years ago. Do you expect with such a limited knowledge the writer would say.. oh yea so God created a t-rex and 1,382,573,192 types of microorganism.. ?

    I always believe in one thing, let them teach whatever they want to teach, at the end only the Righteous will prefail, history has proved this hundred of times.

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