Indonesian Muslims say violence is sin and heresy - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
November 26, 2005

Indonesian Muslims say violence is sin and heresy

-26/11/05

Senior religious leaders in Indonesia are urging the nationís Muslims not to join extremist organisations who the security forces say are responsible for a series of suicide bombings and attacks on other faith groups.

In a fatwa (religious ruling) last week, they declared such violence to be indiscriminate, sinful and based on heretical versions and false interpretations of Islamic theology.

The decision will be welcomed by Christians and other minority groups, who are increasingly fearful for their safety following a series of brutal religious attacks over the past few weeks ñ including the beheading of some young women.

Indonesiaís Ulema Council (MUI)ís decision to issue a strongly worded denunciation of terrorism was confirmed during a meeting in Jakarta between the Councilís representatives and Indonesian vice-president Joseph Kalla.

The two largest Muslim organisations in Indonesia - the Nahdatul Ulama (NU) and the Muhammadiya organisation ñ have also indicated support for the fatwa, which is indicative rather than binding.

Sources close to the MUI say it is talking to other Islamic groups previously sidelined for their alleged links to radical Islamism, specifically the cleric Abu Bakar Bahshir, presently serving a jail sentence in relation to the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings in which over 200 people died.

ìI think it will have an effect. The fatwa says that terrorism is anti-Islamic and this might make those who associate with Jihad think about it [again],î said Ahmad Najib Burhani, a lecturer in theology and philosophy at the Syarif Hidayatullah State University, interviewed by Adnkronos International.

The aim of the religious judgment is to get Muslims to understand the difference between violent jihadism, which betrays their faith, and ëthe true jihadí ñ a constant spiritual struggle against evil.

A Nahdatul Ulama leader, Masdar Farid Massudi, added: ìIf a boy thinks his life is worthless and his death is worth more, and then blows himself up, the problem is one of deprivation and ignorance, and not only a religious issue. The problem is not limited to the Muslim community. It is also a social problem for society at large.î

Radical groups have recently escalated campaigns to prevent the building of new churches. They are also targeting the influx of Balinese Hindus to major cities such as Jakarta and Yogyakarta.

In April last year shootings of Christians were reported in the Poso Pesisir district on Sulawesi. In May 2004, the World Council of Churches called on the Indonesian government to put an end to religious violence between Muslims and Christians in the Malukus.

The government has often denounced terrorism, buts says it cannot act effectively without support from religious leaders. Indonesia is the worldís most populous Muslim nation.

Also on Ekklesia: Church congregation attacked in Indonesia; Christians remember dead after Indonesia bombings; Muslims condemn Indonesian church attacks; Indonesian president in call for religious tolerance;Christians face proselytism charges in Indonesia; Churches call on Indonesian Government to address Malukus violence; Church agency condemns Indonesian human rights decision]

Indonesian Muslims say violence is sin and heresy

-26/11/05

Senior religious leaders in Indonesia are urging the nation's Muslims not to join extremist organisations who the security forces say are responsible for a series of suicide bombings and attacks on other faith groups.

In a fatwa (religious ruling) last week, they declared such violence to be indiscriminate, sinful and based on heretical versions and false interpretations of Islamic theology.

The decision will be welcomed by Christians and other minority groups, who are increasingly fearful for their safety following a series of brutal religious attacks over the past few weeks - including the beheading of some young women.

Indonesia's Ulema Council (MUI)'s decision to issue a strongly worded denunciation of terrorism was confirmed during a meeting in Jakarta between the Council's representatives and Indonesian vice-president Joseph Kalla.

The two largest Muslim organisations in Indonesia - the Nahdatul Ulama (NU) and the Muhammadiya organisation - have also indicated support for the fatwa, which is indicative rather than binding.

Sources close to the MUI say it is talking to other Islamic groups previously sidelined for their alleged links to radical Islamism, specifically the cleric Abu Bakar Bahshir, presently serving a jail sentence in relation to the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings in which over 200 people died.

'I think it will have an effect. The fatwa says that terrorism is anti-Islamic and this might make those who associate with Jihad think about it [again],' said Ahmad Najib Burhani, a lecturer in theology and philosophy at the Syarif Hidayatullah State University, interviewed by Adnkronos International.

The aim of the religious judgment is to get Muslims to understand the difference between violent jihadism, which betrays their faith, and ëthe true jihad' - a constant spiritual struggle against evil.

A Nahdatul Ulama leader, Masdar Farid Massudi, added: 'If a boy thinks his life is worthless and his death is worth more, and then blows himself up, the problem is one of deprivation and ignorance, and not only a religious issue. The problem is not limited to the Muslim community. It is also a social problem for society at large.'

Radical groups have recently escalated campaigns to prevent the building of new churches. They are also targeting the influx of Balinese Hindus to major cities such as Jakarta and Yogyakarta.

In April last year shootings of Christians were reported in the Poso Pesisir district on Sulawesi. In May 2004, the World Council of Churches called on the Indonesian government to put an end to religious violence between Muslims and Christians in the Malukus.

The government has often denounced terrorism, buts says it cannot act effectively without support from religious leaders. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Also on Ekklesia: Church congregation attacked in Indonesia; Christians remember dead after Indonesia bombings; Muslims condemn Indonesian church attacks; Indonesian president in call for religious tolerance;Christians face proselytism charges in Indonesia; Churches call on Indonesian Government to address Malukus violence; Church agency condemns Indonesian human rights decision]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.