Three Forgotten Things in the Islamic Movements

Three Forgotten Things in the Islamic Movements

Several years ago, through his pithy writing, “Musuh dalam Selimut” (Hidden Enemy, 2005) the late KH Abdurrahman Wahid gave out his opinion related to the infiltration of fundamentalism-subversive movement and organization into religious bodies in Indonesia.

It is from (the realization) of these infiltrations that Gus Dur was not taken by surprise when batches of fatwa (religious injunction) appeared from various religious bodies, which were contra productive and often sparked controversies. Issues such as forbidding liberalism, secularism and pluralism were widely circulated, followed by claimed of digression against religious groups that possess different tenet began to flourish and colored the mass media. What is to be concerned is that during the last four years these trends tend to escalate, with far more horrendous issue of apostasy and infidelity (ta’firi).

“Infiltration” as the keyword hit by Gus Dur is interesting to review, providing the fact that the radical Islam movements—or, as I prefer to call them, scriptualist and simplistic—are continued to happen. Lately these movements even (try to) infiltrate community and social organizations such as Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah. Although present, but the infiltrations hadn’t worked in a systematic way, i.e. controlling the ranks of the organization’s committee in those two massive people’s organization.

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But up to a certain level it is obvious that the radical movements are very much interested in the huge mass potencies of NU and Muhammadiyah; which caused them to try to embrace these two. The newest case is the “piracy” of Nahdlatul Ulama’s logo by Annas (Aliansi Nasional Anti Syiah, or the National Alliance of Anti Shiite) movement headed by KH Athian Ali M Da’i, MA in Bogor; and before that in Tasikmalaya, Cirebon and Purwakarta, had caused an uproar and controversies among members of Nahdlatul Ulama. This is because NU had never hold such agenda; even among those NU members who do not agree with the Shiite teachings. NU never was an organization to wage war toward other parties.

It is a fact that Islamic movements like Annas, Hizbut Tahrir, Front Pembela Islam (Defender of Islam’s Front) or Forum Ulama-Umat Islam (the Ulama and People of Islam Forum) are minor organizations that alienated from the formal politics movement which has no chemistry with the two moderate, gigantic Islamic organizations which are NU and Muhammadiyah. This minuscule resources they have pressed them to rely on militant action in developing promulgations.

Whenever mass power is needed, they are always faced difficulties. Regretfully, their lack of patience in developing networks and social relationship often ends up in a pragmatic way of claiming. This is quite notable, because contrary to their mostly legal-formal interpretation in sharia, their organization skill is nearly zero, where the most basic skill like ethics is often abandoned.

Learning to be great

From these reality of Islamic movements, there is one thing worth to induct as a lesson (ibrah): if a movement wants to be great—regardless the material matters and notable figure’s charisma—there are at least three main pillars to maintain:

First, the spirit of honesty in the community service. We should ask ourselves: what is the main goal for a movement to achieve? What was the motive behind the anti-Shiite, or Ahmadiyah movements, which made the movement so aggressive? Are there any Indonesians who had problems with this? Isn’t the Shiite issue flourish these days triggered by political conflicts in Syria and Iraq? Why drags this to Indonesia? Isn’t it true that the people whose country is involved in war are longing for peace? Why did we whip up war in this peaceful country? Had we implied the real Islam in answering the people’s problem in the Indonesian context, even in the local community context? Did we even think about the value and the disadvantages of those issues for the people?

These are important questions to ponder. When we think even further, related to the basic vision of Islam to answer problems in unemployment, backwardness, and poverty and so on, it is indeed a separate problem by itself.

Second, strengthen the good ethics base, because the nature of promulgation in Islam is for the nobleness of morality. Other than ample threats and repressing statements issued magnanimously, it’s also give a bad impact to common people trying their luck in politics (not in promulgation, because they forget moral and courtesy). Dogmatism lead to extreme behavior like outburst of physical violence from time to time. In everyday life, dogmatism lead to pragmatism, in which one could easily accused opposite factions that possess different opinions as infidels, a little less than Islam, even heathens and apostates.

In fact, this problem of movement and communication occurred from having lack of understandings on religious teachings. Education system in these radical Islamic movements usually is an instant one; what the members got is limited to experiences in the organization, meetings after meetings, and trainings. These things, although quite effective, do not flow through a proper, adequate concoction—something that is differ from the way knowledge achieved in formal school education or informal, religious education in the traditional Islamic school.

Third, it is compulsory to follow the Prophet’s ethics throughout his struggle, which were not rely upon militant movement but to patience—the characteristics of all great religions of the world. Prophetic stories had given out enlightenment to us, providing that in a struggle to reach a noble goal one should be patient to go through long levels that are parallel to one’s ability to absorb knowledge and carried out good deeds.

The greatness of NU and Muhammadiyah, for instance, is owed to this long process fully packed with patience. One point under this “patience” category is the will to “compromise” and adapt in their knowledge and social mission. This has been proved through regeneration in their formal and non-formal education basis (i.e. traditional Islamic school, Islamic-based school and people’s concern).

These are, indeed, very different processes from what those small militant movements do, which largely confined their subject (the people) to merely cadres in promulgation process, the result of brief, instant drill from a course-like base education. With these in mind, it is important for Islamic movements not to trapped inside the instant, pragmatical movements that frantically try to seep, steal, claim and force those who does not/ not yet agree with them as (the) lost, apostates, or even heathens. Allahu A’lam (Only God knows). []

by Kiagus Zaenal Mubarok, Lecturer; International Relationship Program, Padjadjaran University, Bandung