Tangled: Indonesia’s Twisted Tale of Religion

The Alis are making headlines this year.


Suryadharma Ali, the Religious Affair Minister. (Taken from Republika News)

After Marzuki Ali’s recent commotion on Indonesian housemaids, Suryadharma Ali, Indonesia’s very own Religious Affairs Minister, proved to the world that he is indeed an incompetent like what most people think.

Among the plethora of questions in the stories of Indonesia’s religious freedom under the rule of our no-so-competent president, I have just one to ask: What the heck does a Religious Affairs Minister do anyway?

While I think it’s interesting that some governments make their own posts, like Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew who holds the “Mentor Minister” seat, it is an incredible waste of our taxpayers’ money to be spent on a post that is taken by a man like Suryadharma Ali who obviously has failed to do his job.

I am sure that one of the jobs by a Religious Affairs Minister is to handle, maintain and encourage harmony in a multi-religion country like Indonesia, but with all that is happening, that seems to be not the case.

Regarding the attacks and killing of Ahmadiyah, Suryadharma Ali has repeatedly denounced the violence, but on many occasions he points the blame to the victims for poking the faith of the majority. He also said that disbanding Ahmadiyah would solve the dilemma.

This was said to an audience of big Islamic organizations such as MUI, Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah, and hardliner such as Hizbut Tahrir, which they all agreed upon to.

This is major bigotry, irony, and hypocrisy combined, especially coming from these Islamic leaders.

When the Indonesian public had an outcry and called on the disbanding of the FPI, Indonesia’s Islamic organization who often resort to violence, other Islamic organizations like MUI, Muhammadiyah and Hizbut Tahrir told the public that “disbanding an organization was not a good way to solve things”.

But disbanding Ahmadiyah will help solve things? Why? Because it’s convenient to do so?

If something is a deviant to Islam is worth disbanding, why is Ahmadiyah alone in this picture? Help me understand how is FPI not a deviance to Islam?

Apparently according to them, Ahmadiyah is regarded “deviant” due to the suggestion that they do not believe the prophet was Muhammad, but instead another man.

FPI, on the other hand, believes Muhammad was the last prophet but does not believe the Islamic tenet of peace and kindness. They believe bamboo sticks, rusty sharp objects, stones, or any object ready-to-hurt as their way or preaching Islam to the world.

”]Islamic leaders from MUI, NU, and Muhammadiyah have often said, too many times, that true Muslims are the ones who love peace. If these organizations believe in such basic tenet of Islam, why are they objecting the disbanding of FPI who obviously runs against this belief? Is it simply because they believe in the same prophet? Is the “measure” of deviance restricted to the belief system of the prophet?

If Ahmadiyah was to be disbanded simply for the reason of deviance, I believe in every respect of equality and fairness that FPI along with other organizations of violent records to be treated the same.

Government should also look upon the effectiveness or even purpose of the Department of Religion, and especially the leader they choose to elect as minister.

Departemen Agama/Department of Religion Logo

Quoting from The Jakarta Globe, Suryadharma told the audience of major Islamic organizations, and hardline Hizbut Tahrir:

“We [the government] do not have the right to disband Ahmadiyah. That right lies in the hands of esteemed ulema. We, the government, only have the right to regulate and control, not to disband or excommunicate.”

I’m sorry, what?

The right to disband Ahmadiyah lies in the hands of esteemed ulema? How is it the right of the ulemas to disband a religious group? And by the way, esteemed is the last word I would describe these ulemas.

Let me get this straight, a WHOLE department dedicated to dealing with religious affairs, paid for by the people of Indonesia, have no power to disband a religious group? (Not that they should).

What exactly are the people of Indonesia paying for?  Religious harmony? Oh wait, they can’t do that too.

And I don’t know what the government is regulating, or controlling, because nothing seems to be either regulated or controlled. Ask the followers of Ahmadiyah, they know.

Another stretch of irony, head of Muhammadiyah (yes one of the groups who agreed Ahmadiyah was a deviant sect) Din Syamsuddin, gave a positive note that “pluralism is God’s will”.


”]Quoted from The Jakarta Globe, Din Syamsuddin said:

“People who do not want to live side by side in peace with others who are different from them, and who then try to expel or even kill others because of the difference, do not pass God`s test.Islam is a religion of love that aims to bring peace to the world and all human beings.Let us spread good deeds on earth and avoid destructive acts,”

Seriously, what are they doing?

One Response to “Tangled: Indonesia’s Twisted Tale of Religion”
  1. Jon Miller says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

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