An important piece of news was just released out of Indonesia, a country which in recent years has witnessed a disturbing spike in violence against Christians and members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. The article outlines a statement made by an executive board member for Nadhlatul Ulama during a recent hearing on religious violence that took place in Indonesia’s House of Representatives.
Nadhlatul Ulama (“NU”) is Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization and an enduring cultural institution. Founded in 1926, it represents tens of millions of Muslims, exerting enormous influence across the archipelago through its massive network of scholars, religious schools and social services. NU’s recent statement, described in the article I have translated below, is an important message for Indonesian Muslims to take to heart:
The Indonesian Ulema (Muslim Scholars) Council declared explicitly that Amhadiyya is heretical because its doctrine deviates from established Islamic belief. The same cannot be said, however, of Nadhlatul Ulama.
The Advisory Chairman of Nadhlatul Ulama’s executive board, KH Masdar Farid Mas’udi, has stated that Ahmadiyya may not necessarily be heretical. Whether or not this is the case, he said, is not a matter for humans to decide.
“Whether [Ahmadiyya] is heretical or is not, God knows best,” Mas’udi remarked during a hearing between Commission VIII of the DPR and religious leaders in the House of Representatives in Senayan, Jakarta, early on Friday (2/17/2011).
According to [Mas'udi], religion should form the basis for a more peaceful life. To realize this ideal, religious figures and leaders must play a role in preserving harmony.
“The leaders of religious communities have a responsibility to promote harmony. They are the people who determine the character of their community,” he explained.
[Mas'udi] urged the government to pursue the perpetrators of violence and vigilante justice who wrap their deeds in religious garb. He also suggested that these perpetrators be given harsher sentences.
“As far as violence in the name of religion is concerned, I believe it deserves to be punished twice over: both for injustice and (additionally) for sullying the name of the religion the perpetrators claim to represent,” he added.
[Hery Winarno for Detiknews.com]