Islamic Violence

Jul 29th, 2006, in News, by

A small percentage of Indonesian Muslims have carried out violence in the name of Islam and a large percentage say they are prepared to do so.

The Center for Islamic and Social Studies (PPIM), Pusat Pengajian Islam dan Masyarakat, carried out a survey on religion and violence in which was given the following results:

  • 0.1% have helped forcibly close illegal churches;
  • 14.7% were prepared to help forcibly close illegal churches;
  • 1.3% have committed “intimidation” against those considered to be blasphemers of Islam;
  • 18.1% support the murder of Muslims who converted to other faiths;
  • 20% supported the Bali bombings;
  • 40% were prepared to commit violence against those blaspheming Islam;
  • 44% were prepared to wage jihad on threatening non-Muslims;
  • 61% supported the waging of jihad on threatening non-Muslims;

The survey was conducted in March 2006 and was done with 1,200 Muslims in 30 of the country’s 33 provinces. The results were given during a seminar called “Agama, Budaya Kekerasan dan Demokrasi”, Religion, Culture of Violence, and Democracy at the State Islamic University in Jakarta.

Referring to the 0.1% figure PPIM researcher Jajat Burhanudin said:

The percentage looks very small but it is very high in its real figure when you note that 85 percent, or 200 million, of the country’s 230 million population are Muslims.

This condition has helped terrorists easily recruit new comrades and makes the country a fertile ground for sectarian radicalism.

Interestingly, for its honesty and openness, he said that a simultaneous study on the reasons for the results found that Islamic teachings themselves, and what he called “Islamism”, made the most significant contributions to violent behaviour, both in the domestic and public spheres.

The more Muslims give their support for certain Islamic teachings legitimizing the use of violence, the more violence will happen.

He noted that between 30 and 58% of respondents approved of amputation of the left hand for thieves and the stoning to death of rapists, as well as other tenets of sharia law, and opposed the election of non-Muslims for president. (see also Support for Sharia & Islamic Radicalism.)

Simplistic understanding of Islamic teachings and the introduction of so-called “yellow books”, detailing Islamic law and regulations in Islamic boarding schools, contributed to the emergence of hardline groups, the issuance of sharia by-laws and created hostility towards non-Muslims, he said.

He advised:

To end this, the government must take strategic steps to campaign for pluralism among the people and enforce the law to ensure legal certainty.

Others however were not so glum in their reading of the results, in terms of Islam’s share of the blame. Azyumardi Azra said the roots of the violence could not be blamed entirely on Islam, but also on the vengeful nature of some native cultures and common social and political problems, such as poverty, unemployment and political instability.

The country’s self-image of kindness, tolerance and hospitality must be questioned because local cultures are very close to violence.

However he did seem to admit that Islamic holy texts such as the Quran did sometimes advocate violence. Azyumardi, who is the rector of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Ciputat, Tangerang, suggested the need for the reinterpretation of those Islamic teachings that could be construed as promoting violence and the development of democracy through a campaign for pluralism and tolerance.

Besides, the country is in dire need of a strong government to create political stability and good governance and ensure the rule of law, while the development of democracy should not end with the general elections and local elections.

He warned that religious radicalism would become a dangerous threat unless good governance was in existence, laws were enforced and old religious doctrines were reformulated.

33 Comments on “Islamic Violence”

  1. Hassan says:

    oh c’mon, what a poor article. the title is offensive and the survey ressults is misleading. here, let me lay it out for you:

    # 0.1% have helped forcibly close illegal churches; –> 99.9% did not do that, so the majority didn’t.
    # 14.7% were prepared to help forcibly close illegal churches; –> 85.3% were not.
    # 1.3% have committed “intimidation” against those considered to be blasphemers of Islam; –> 98.7 have not intimidated blasphemers.
    # 18.1% support the murder of Muslims who converted to other faiths; –> 81.9% didn’t support it.
    # 20% supported the Bali bombings; –> 80% DID NOT SUPPORT THE BALI BOMBINGS, or any other bombing I think.
    # 40% were prepared to commit violence against those blaspheming Islam; –> 60% is the majority voice.
    # 44% were prepared to wage jihad on threatening non-Muslims; –> 56% weren’t prepared.
    # 61% supported the waging of jihad on threatening non-Muslims. –> on this topic i admit it should’ve been 100% support. the 39% should’ve had more commitment on defending Islam. that is considering jihad = DEFENDING the religion against it’s enemies. DEFENDING is the key word.

    so the author of this article should have considered the majority voice before making any conclusions, as represented on the title “Islamic violence”. if he’s consistent and fair, he should’ve based his arguments on the majority voice, which is NON VIOLENCE!

  2. O. Bule says:

    “61% supported the waging of jihad on threatening non-Muslims…”

    That’s frightening. The only reason for waging a war is defense, and as long as someone or some group is merely threatening, and not attacking, they can not morally be attacked in defense. The key is that they have not not committed agression by attacking first, so any attack made against them is agression, and not defense.

    The concept of Jihad is a very dangerous one, which allows extremists to motivate their dupes into acts of murder. Moslems need to clean their own house first before waging “Jihad” on anybody else.

    O. Bule

  3. Parinduri says:

    What does “Islamic violance” really mean? Is it violance that is accordance with Islamic teaching?

    Or, do you intend to call “violence in the name of Islam” “Islamic violance”?

    All I can say is that Congrats! You’ve just added one more seach result for “Islamic violance” to the now about 69,400 on Google.

    And you expect me to thank you for that, I guess.

    Secondly, what do you think about the questions asked to respondents?

    Not that I am an expert on devising questionnaire (and I don’t know the actual questions are), it seems to me that the questions beg the answers.

    Maybe it’s like “Are you going to help close ILLEGAL churches, if the police does not do anything about it?”

    Or, “Are you willing to wage jihad if non-Muslims THREATEN Muslims?”.

    Do note that, I am not implying anything about my answers to any of those issues. I just doubt whether the survey accurately captures what they are trying to measure.

  4. mad-muhaa says:

    80% did not support Bali bombings or any other bombing. That’s unacceptable in this age. A full 100% MUST NOT support ANY bombing, if we are to live decently.

  5. Spikeplot says:

    bro mad muhaa, nicely said man, when are these radical Muslims is ever going to wake up and realise that violence is not the answer, and they have the cheek to insult other that they are the immoral one.

  6. Rockstar says:

    I seriously don’t care and don’t trust statistic that much.
    But I condemn every living individual who laugh at ones misery/tragedy in the name of religion.

    Take 9/11 for a good example. Thousand of innocent people died and I know a lot of people rejoiced for this terrible tragedy.

    There is always a time to laugh, but this is not one of them.

  7. Anonymous_aloy says:

    I was indeed surprised by the result. We could always ask Patung about the tone of his/her writing, but I would also direct my questions to Jajat Burhanudin of the PPIM who did the survey. Maybe the survey design is wrong, the sample not representative, the questions are poorly written and poorly asked, and so the survey is deeply flawed (and thus useless).

    But in the meantime I find it useful to ask myself a question: am I in denial? Maybe Indonesia is indeed becoming radicalized and not as tolerant as I want to believe. Maybe I’ve circled myself with people who are tolerant, have no violent aspirations, not disenfrachised, and that is why I was surprised with the result. But circle of friends and acquaintance do not constitute a representative sample.

    I have always been an optimist with regards to the idea of plural Indonesia, but now I have doubts. I still remember being shocked by a similar survey done by LSI (the official LSI report is here). At that time, I too, was wondering about the survey’s validity because the results seem to contradict what I know about Indonesian Muslims: moderate and tolerant.

    And by the way, I do think 20% supporting Bali bombing is 20% too many. I also thought about the fact that 80% are against it, but I decided that saying anything positive about this 80% only shows how deep in denial I was.

  8. Tony says:

    Since some Indonesians are Muslims only on paper, in order to identify the alleged relationship between Islam and violence it would have been helpful to ask the surveyed people whether they attend mosques and religious schools regularly. What I mean is:”the more religious the more intolerant or viceversa”?

  9. Hassan says:

    mad-jee (I know what you were implying by your moniker, believe me) and spikeplot, your comments are both hillarious and silly. it’s simply impossible that 100% of Indonesian Muslims (80% of 220 million people) MUST have only one oppinion. when in recent history that anybody anywhere had 100% oppinion on anything. example, I don’t think that 100% Americans were against the Iraqi war, or 100% of Indonesian were against Israel invasion in Lebanon, or 100% of Arabs were against abu ghraib, or 100% of germans hated hitler. heck, I think that not even 100% of the world population were against the two world wars and even the holocaust. think again dudes, people have the right of having their own oppinions and if the majority is against and DOES NOT support the Bali bombings, then that’s the mainstream oppinion, that’s enough to conclude that Muslims in Indonesia are against the Bali bombings or any other bombings. peace.

  10. Of course, it’s frightening that the survey find that 20% of the sample support the Bali bombing. (Only a couple of months ago, LSI finds that 89 percent of the people in Indonesia believe that suicide attacks against civilian targets are never justifiable; which probably means that many Indonesians agree suicide attacks may be justifiable).

    But, what is the point of saying that many Muslims are willing to “wage jihad on threatening non-Muslims”? As I said, don’t you think that the question in the questionnaire may beg the answer?

    And by the way, the survey finds that “0.1% have helped forcibly close illegal churches”. Nobody seems to realize that 0.1% of 1200 (the size of the sample) is 1. That’s right: ONE.

    So, after finding that ONE in 1200 Muslims in their sample helped close ilegal churces, they conclude that “the percentage looks very small but it is very high in its real figure when you note that 85 percent, or 200 million, of the country’s 230 million population are Muslims”.

    What a heroic conclusion! And nobody seems to care about the standard error of the estimate either. And Patung goes on to write a blog post titled “Islamic Violence”.

    It’s just beautiful!

    Btw, here is an interesting article in NYTimes

    It comments on religious intolerance in a US’ city without boasting loaded worlds like “Islamic Violence”.

  11. David says:

    “New survey shows support for religious violence” – An ABC AU report
    Interview with Jajat Burhanudin here –

  12. I’ve just listened to the interview, but he never refers to Islamic Violance. He says religious violance all the time.

    My point is simply this: You can comment on Muslims problems by attaching negative values to the entire Muslims and Islam itself. Or, you could choose to criticize us Muslims more symphatetically, without resorting to loaded words like Islamic Violance.

    Besides, how do you interpret Islamic Violance? Is it “kekerasan Islami”? It just does not make any sense. And, by painting an ugly picture of Islam, you may fail to engage moderate and liberal Muslims.

    Secondly, regarding the survey: (1) The conclusion about the 0.1% figure that “percentage looks very small but it is very high in its real figure when you note that 85 percent, or 200 million, of the country’s 230 million population are Muslims” is rubbish. (2) And that some of the questions in the questionnaire may beg the answer.

    Jajat Burhanudin may be an expert, but he is certainly not a good statistician. He forget to consider the standard error of the estimate (the standard error is also about 0.1%, which means the estimate 0.1% is not statistically different from zero); and based on very weak result, he make heroic conclusion.

    Again, it’s not that I am saying we Indonesian Muslims do not have problems. We DO have many problems. But, this kind of ignorance just make me sick.

  13. psykz says:

    actually.. when i counted that .1 % .. it counts as .. 200,000 peoples..
    that is actually quite large.. dominance over one vote which I believe is the most unthinkable action..
    I think that is what the survey tries to emphasize..
    u can compare that to the size of 2 – 4 villages.. or even like 10% of population in mongolia.. *total of 4 mil peoples*
    u basically attacking other religion.. close down churches.. would they want their mosques to get closed down forcibly also?

    subjects to surveys; in my opinion, i see them as neutral surveys, no oppressing of any sort. the survey is to see certain focused perspective on certain target clusters of understudy.. it is afterall a survey…

    in regards to statistics, I believe the 85% of population is no longer correct tho.. maybe they should resurvey the population again..

  14. Hassan says:

    psykz: the key word here is that the churches were ILLEGAL, without the consent of both the local authorities and residents. the police and the people closed ILLEGAL buildings all the time. i.e. illegal prostitution sites, stores that sells illegal materials (porn, etc), illegal gambling sites, and so on. you see, as long as the church were built LEGALLY then it’s ok, and there would be no forcible closings by anyone. so basically if the Christians sticks to the law, then no worries.

    BTW, i heard that in the west they were closing illegal mosques as well, where the local residents had objected it’s oppening. don’t use double standard, mate.

    and dont fret the 0.1% and translate that into 200,000 people, the survey only used 1,200 samples, and as Rasyad A. Parinduri mentioned, 0.1% of 1,200 is exactly ONE person. maybe that one had some issues. I would trust the credibility of this survey if it had involved a whole lot more people.

  15. Andrew says:

    There is a HUGE difference between LEGALLY closing down illegal church, and ILLEGALLY closing down illegal churches. What they do is the latter, they take matters into their own hands. Why is it so easy to build a mosque anywhere you want? I’ve never heard of any mosque being closed down in any way – where is the fairness?

    In a small town where I grew up, they built a mosque across the road from a church that has stood for 20+ years, and EVERY SUNDAY, during the Sunday service, the mosque blasts its loudspeaker to the direction of the church (OBVIOUSLY, intending to disturb the service.) What kind of behaviour is this?

    It is alarming to see that wherever there’s a large Moslem population, there’s chaos and violence. A lot (I never say ALL) of issues on the face of the earth has something to do, or started with Moslem killing another human being, Moslem or non.

    Now, I don’t claim that ALL Moslems behave this way, nor do they even endorse this behavior, but it is disconcerting to see that very few of them raise their voice to dissociate themselves with the violence. IF Islam is a religion of peace, good Moslems should actively distant themselves from their “brothers” and let their position be known by the rest of the world.

    All those Moslem terrorists who tortured, beheaded, & killed others have succeeded in giving Islam a VERY bad name. Given all their actions so far, I can understand if the rest of the world generalizes the situation and assume that Islam endorses terrorism.

    I have a lot of good friends who are Moslems, a fact that prevents me from making generalized judgement against Moslems, yet given so many bad things that happen in this world, unconsciously I sometimes can’t help generalizing. If even I feel that way, what would people with no Moslem friends feel about it?

  16. Rockstar says:

    Hassan, those are great articles, I havent read them all but I will on my spare time.
    I’d like to echo this sentiment. It is true. Hassan does make a point, no matter how you look at it having a church without a permit it’s illegal. Even in the bible Jesus told us to obey the law. So in this case the gov has all the rights to close them down.

    but I agree to what andrew said too.
    I think there is something wrong with the fairness here.

    “BTW, i heard that in the west they were closing illegal mosques as well, where the local residents had objected it’s oppening. don’t use double standard, mate.”
    The case is not only for mosques, getting a permit to build a church isn’t very easy here. I know this because the church that I used to go to, wanted to buy a building and turned it into a church, and they are having some issues with the permit.

    And there’s the case where this church was sold to a gorup of Iranians who planned to turn it into a mosque, they got the permit really fast.

  17. chacha says:

    Muslim or non Muslim in this world why can we just live in peace for our next generation and our sake . no such word in the Quran said kill inocent……and every human being. got it?

  18. Molisan Tono says:

    it’s the majority issue…

    Hassan wrote me once about “majority” while i expose to him what about minority.

    in Indonesia, Minority s nothing. everthing must go to majority. and the majority is Islam. now, talking about fairness… believe me, you won’t get it here. this is corrupted country. you ask Christian to follow the rules… now, my question to you…. Does Islam follow the rules?…I guess not…. why? hey, it’s majority issue dude.

  19. Andrew says:

    A moral question for Hassan:

    Do YOU support Moslem militants blowing up planes and buildings full of innocent people? Does YOUR RELIGION support that action?

    and then, answer this one:
    Do YOU condemn such an action?


    The morning after 9/11 attacks, I was in an elevator with a few people when I heard a middle-aged woman say: “it served them right” – she’s referring to the U.S.

    Very disturbing. NOTHING justifies the killing of thousands of innocent people – not my religion for sure, I don’t know about yours.

    Well, I guess what she said would be used against her in the court of God. I hope her life is spared.

  20. Hassan says:

    -Rockstar: it happened to Muslims too in western countries, they had difficulties opening mosques. a Muslim community in greece had waited to build a mosque for 25 years and they hadn’t manage to till this day, because the orthodox Christians protested it and said that greece is a Christian country, even though greece is actually a secular nation. so you see, this situation happens to minorities EVERYWHERE.

    -Andrew, I had said this once on this website and I’ll say it again: please separate religion from politics, or separate the religion from the followers, judge a religion based on the crimes of the followers.

    I’ll give you an illustration:
    if you look at history, from the Catholic inquisition, the crusades, the hundred year war between the french and english, the imperialism era, world war I and II, the holocaust, the vietnam and korean war, we can come to the obvious conclusion that Christian were and are responsible for at least 80% of violence in this planet in the last millenia (that’s a thousand years). can i then conclude and GENERALIZE (as you put it) that Christians are violent and are the root of all evil in the last 1000 years? no! why? it’s ignorant to genelize and stereotype millions of people of a certain religion into ONE single category.

    empathy is in order here, generalizing 1,4 billions Muslims as terorists and violent is as evil (and hurtfull) as calling all Christians as troublemakers and the butcher of mankind in this millenia, or even calling all Indonesian Chinese as ‘cheapskates’ or ‘corrupt manipulators’ just because most of the BLBI criminals who escaped to Singapore and China were of hokian ethnicity.

    about the 9/11, ok some people who happened to be Muslims blew up and killed several thousand innocent people, that’s regrettable. but we must also remember that in 1945, some people who happened to be Christian Americans blew up hiroshima and nagasaki that killed 140.000 innocents. how about that? violence commited by Muslim had been highlighted in the last decades but we must not forget that the history of humanity is full of violence, and mostly ARE NOT done by Muslims.

    that is why, we must strive for empathy and willingness to understand other people and religion, ease off on the prejudice and hatred toward others. no religion, including Islam, condone killing innocent people. there is a verse in the Quran that translate “whoever kills another human being without just cause, it is as if he had killed the entire humanity”.

    lastly, unfortunately we Muslims in Indonesia and anywhere else, DO NOT have a telephone line to Al Qaeda and the likes, it’s not like we can say: “hey osama, don’t kill those people” or “hamBali, please don’t bomb our own country, twice”. those crimes were commited by criminals, who used our religion as a mask (or justification) to cover their intentions. they do not represent us (the follower), or Islam (the religion).


  21. Bradlymail says:

    Indonesian Muslim,must have open minded,flexible,tolerance etc.we must love our non-Muslim neighbours,set our own examples to others.therefore others will respect us.we do not need to be so radical and extreme towards others.

  22. Hassan says:

    amen to that Bradlymail. I just don’t agree on the ‘flexible’ part. you shouldn’t be flexible when it comes to your faith. you must be strong and full of conviction.

  23. Miss Indo 07 says:

    Hassan said:

    you shouldn’t be flexible when it comes to your faith. you must be strong and full of conviction

    I reckon it’s not including forcing other people who have a different religion to you to also do what your religion says.

  24. Saracen says:

    What’s required is not a re-interpretation: those who use the Koran for violence have themselves re-interpreted wrongly. What should be done is that people should return to the original interpretations of the Koran that condemned such senseless violence.

  25. Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    Saracen, you seem to know about ‘original’ qu’ran. Would you kindly let me know which islamic countries has the right interpretation. Even if I return to the original interpretation, how would I know it is the correct one?

  26. Sputjam says:

    The easiet to understand, that is the correct translations in the koran.

    verse 55:17/55:21/55:32/55:40
    And We made the Qur’an easy to learn. Do any of you wish to learn?

    If you come across a verse or messages that is indescribable, then there is a high probability that it is wrongly translated.

    Or this message –

    Why do they not study the koran carefully? If it were from other than God, they would have found many contradictions therein.(verse 4:82)

    So if the message contradictory, wrong translation again.

    But in the end, God guides whom He wills as stated –

    You cannot guide whom you love. But it is God who guides whom He wills; and He is fully aware of those who deserve the guidance.(verse 28:56)

    Of course , when it comes to matter pertaining faith, then I have the koran as evidence in the existence of God. But of course, if you have evidence that God does not exist, then it is for you to prove it.

  27. Saracen says:

    Aluang, none of the Islamic countries has a correct interpretation of the Koran because at the moment, they pervertedly use religion for their own selfish political agendas. However, if you want to know what the real Koran is, I suggest you go to this website and use Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation, as I have found it to be the most reliable, personally. It also comes with the correct commentary as attested and agreed upon by Islamic scholars.

  28. Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    Dear Saracen, so it is highly probable that we will never get the right interpretation.

    But hey, I think Indonesia had got it right all along. Our Kejawen Islam had been very peaceful and tolerant until the great Satan, America stirred some hornets’ nest. Now America is bribing us to get on their side, and the Islamists trying to make us more Islamic because we are not sharing their jihadi view. I want my people to stay out of this Satan vs Islamists conflict, and concentrate on nation building.

    By the way, thanks for the link, I have bookmarked it. Will use it when I needed to refer to some verse. 🙂

    Saracen, what about hadith? Which one is more sahih?

  29. Dragonwall says:

    There are many good Indonesians and similar to those with Islamic believes. If they are aware of the misdemeanor caused by others who acted on their own accord then the more those righteous clerics should take the initiative in eradicating and making them an outcast. Send them to an island of no return and rehabilitate them to ensure that they do not continue such despecable nuisance.

    he never refers to Islamic Violance

    Isn’t that in referrene to radical islamic violence that was going on all these while?

    Or are we saying that the Christians were also the one? Not forgetting that if no one started the quirking there won’t be a clash. Like the incident in Kalimantan Sanggau Ledo. It started with someone killing another over a girl, then a huge civil commotions started to erupted amidst tension that had been ongoing for a prolong period.

    So when never refers to islamic violence is being subtle and naming the source would be more directed to the problem.

  30. Israel Sayão says:

    This is actualy an interesting topic, but i do believe that this survey and what is being done now in indonesia is not very bright, turning islam illegal is not gonna change anything, because if we think about it those responsibly for the acts of violence are already illegal, i´ve posted two articles that talk about the Laskar Jihad, that is the true responsible one for the persucution and massacre of christians, now the muslim population does not have much to do with them, it is not rational nor usefull to punish the muslim population, but yes go after groups that use religion as an excuse to murder, they should be caught and punished by the police, that is the governments duty, i am a christian and know of people who have suffered throught persecution in indonesia, people who nearky died, who ran away from the Holy War Warriors who chased them and wielded deadly machetes, this is true, the persecution is real, but it is the responsibility of the government to punish murderes and not begin a persecution of muslims, which will only gain more angry muslims to the false idea of a military attack, that will only defeat themselves, this unorganized jihad is ruining the muslim society, the great Saladin was a true mastermind, he united the muslim people and then was able to protect his people and lands, yet not attack the enemy, i believe that if all muslims unite, and would grow economicaly they would attain much greater power than if few radicals continue attacking random enemies, i believe the muslim people must stop them, for the majority is not doing this, but the few who are, are progressivly ruining the the view of islam to the rest of the world, they should unite, grow economicaly and gain political power, that would be inteligent and alot more effective.

    The radical, which might be the wrong term, because they might not even actualy be using what the koran realy teaches, but the illegal groups that exterminate other people should be stopped, this would not only benefit the people suffering but the muslim people as a whole would be benefited, for they would no longer be viewed as terrists, or radical, irracional people, but what they realy are, the arab world was and is one of the worlds greatest centers of culture and science, that has been attacked constantly, and devided, if reunited these people could do so much more, the secret is unity, and gain power where it will make a diference, bombs dont have real power, true power is in politics and economy, that is what the muslim society must try to achieve, may God bless the Arab world, like it is written in the Bible, that Ishmael and his descendents, would all be blessed, all descendents of Abraham, the Arab world has been blessed by God and will be blessed alot more.

    November 1, 2005

    In what one Indonesian human rights activist describes as the latest attack in an ongoing terror campaign against Christians of Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, three teenage girls en route to school through a cocoa plantation were beheaded Saturday morning, apparently by Muslims.

    Laskar Jihad

    March 8, 2002 Printer-Friendly Version

    Indonesian militant group Laskar Jihad has regularly received attention over the past two years for their unrelenting attacks on Christian populations on the islands of Moluccas and Sulawesi. More recently, the Muslim organization has been scrutinized for its possible links with other international terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.

    May God Bless the Arab people!

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