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What is Religious Freedom?

Two religiously afflicted issues has happened in recent months, in different parts of the world. First, in Indonesia where The Jakarta court sentenced governor Basuki “Ahok” Purnama to two years’ imprisonment for blasphemy against Islam. In short, Ahok was charged because he said Muslims were being deceived if they believed in Al-Maidah:51, which is a verse in the Qur’an that forbids Muslims to choose a Non-Muslim leader. This issue divided opinions in religious, legal, and political aspects. In the end, Ahok was accused and sentenced for blasphemy.

At the other part of the world, in the USA to be specific, issue of blasphemy also took place. Bernie Sanders had an issue with Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. To be brief, Vought once wrote in an article that Muslims are condemned because they have rejected Jesus Christ as the son of God. Sanders did not take this very well and object Vought as a nominee. Sanders said “In my view, the statement made by Mr. Vought is indefensible, it is hateful, it is Islamophobic, and it is an insult to over a billion Muslims throughout the world,”

A minor yet funny thing from this, is that the sides that are objecting towards blasphemy, and demanding more tolerance are actually two opposite sides. In Indonesia, the ones that are against Ahok and his alleged act of blasphemy are known as the more conservative ones. Whereas in USA, Bernie Sanders, is well-known from the American left, democrat party, and representing the so-called more progressive people.

So how did this come about? How can two different sides with different values, be similar in their cause?

From what I see, the root cause of this is that both sides have used the notion of tolerance, anti-discrimination, and religious freedom and played it for their own will. What we need to understand is that the terms “tolerance” “discrimination” and “freedom” are such abstract terms and can be easily manipulated by anyone. You can see it everywhere right now, and it comes to a point where disagreeing with someone can be easily misinterpreted as an act of hate, discrimination, and intolerance. But it shouldn’t be that way.

A disagreement should not prevent peaceful coexistence and should not be equaled as hate. On the contrary, acknowledging that people have differences is a fundamental part of peaceful coexistence. From the two examples above, what we are seeing is not an effort to understand and discuss these disagreements, but an attempt to throw something so important, such as religion, under the bus and shut down any chance of fruitful discussion. If this is the definition of religious freedom, than this is only pushing us to be more ignorant towards each other, and that of course, does not help to cool down the tensions that is already happening right now.

Religious freedom is, in my opinion, the ability to choose independently on what you believe in, and the only way to reach that is through a spiritual journey of seeking the truth.  If saying that “anything other than my belief is wrong” is now forbidden, than I am afraid we are getting things wrong. We are not allowing the process of truth-seeking for every individual by preventing them to discuss publicly on differences of faiths. If we go by the current norms now and say all religions are the same, then how, by any means, would a person get to the truth? at the end this will lead to the abandonment of religion at large.

Back to the case, Was Ahok wrong to say that the Quranic scripture was a lie? After all, he is a Christian, meaning anything other than christianity for him, personally, is a false belief.

Was Russel Vought wrong to say Muslims are condemned? Isn’t it just an act of expression of his personal belief?

what Ahok and Vought did, in a theological sense, was expressing their religious beliefs. But we also need to take note in the way they convey the message. In Islam we call this as adab. that is beyond my capacity to discuss but as far as I know, Islam talks at length about adab, and is something we take very importantly.

My references:

http://muslimmatters.org/2017/06/23/bernie-sanders-and-the-mirage-of-religious-freedom/

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2017/06/19564/

http://arcoftheuniverse.info/religious-freedom-includes-right-to-say-you-are-wrong

 

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Thank You

I still remember vividly when you taught me how to write a paper.

I was stressed out because it was the first paper assignment in my campus life. I had no experience on writing, let alone an academic one. It was h-1 deadline and my paper was still blank. I didn’t how and where to start.

Then you said “try starting with writing the outline first”. “The key is to just write. Don’t think too much, just write what’s in your head. Then it will flow and you can correct it later on.” 

Simple advice yet a very crucial one. To this date still, i always kept that advice with me whenever i write. 

And here i am now, just finished my undergrad thesis and completed my thesis defense, with great results, Alhamdulillah. Thank you. I hope I made you proud up there.

Masjid Istiqlal

12.27 a.m.; 27 Ramadhan.

Are we closed-minded?

It’s tough now if you want to defend Islam. They’ll say we’re not open-minded, stubborn, not catching up with modern civilization. Although even their claims are not strong enough, lets focus on this accusation.

just hold that thought for a minute. Are we really that closed-minded?

Look at the current state of this world. We’re living in a world where islamic values are being scrutinized, both by the media, public figures, and scholars. 

Content on the news and social media are all celebrating freedom and all sorts of secular values, framing it with humanist jargons.

Also take a look at the public school and universities where we are encouraged to be critical whilst there still remains minimum content of religion in our education system.

by that depiction, I think it’s fair to say that we’re the ones that are open-minded. We’re the ones that are reluctant to follow the mass opinion. We’re the ones who are open to other values and principals beside what the media tells us to believe. We’re the ones who are open to learn other things besides what out education system has given us. If anything, they’re the ones that are closed-minded, following what they’ve been hearing and learning all along.

Just think about it.

Kebaikan Tak Pernah Samar

Pada saat yang benar menjadi samar, dan yang salah menjadi wajar, kita kadang kembali bertanya dimana garis batas kebaikan dan keburukan.

Jika argumentasi relativisme kembali berdengung, semua menjadi kabur, yang awam menjadi bingung, seolah semua bisa di justifikasi, asal ada alasan kuat.

Sayangnya, alasan kuat dibenarkan dengan banyaknya pihak luar yang meng-iya-kan, walau pihak dalam, hati, memberontak penuh kekesalan. 

Padahal Rasulullah sudah menjelaskan, bagaimana cara kita mengidentifikasi kebaikan, juga keburukan.

Dari an-Nawas bin Saman radhiyallahu anhu dari Nabi shallallahu alaihi wa sallam, beliau bersabda, Segala kebaikan adalah akhlak luhur, sedangkan dosa adalah segala yang meragukan dirimu dan kamu tidak suka jika orang lain mengetahuinya. (HR. Muslim) 

Serta dari Wabishah bin Mabad radhiyallahu anhu, ia berkata, Aku telah datang kepada Rasulullah shallallahu alaihi wa sallam, lalu beliau bersabda, Apakah engkau datang untuk bertanya tentang kebajikan dan dosa? Aku menjawab, Benar. Beliau bersabda, Mintalah pendapat hatimu. Kebaikan adalah segala yang menenteramkan jiwa dan menenangkan hati, sedangkan dosa adalah segala yang meragukan jiwa dan meresahkan hati, meskipun orang-orang memberikan fatwa yang lain kepadamu . (HR. Imam Ahmad bin Hambal dan ad-Darimi; hadits hasan)

Islam tak pernah samar, selalu memberi kejelasan. Bahwa apa saja yang meresahkan hati dan meragukan jiwa, biarpun manusia mewajarkan, adalah dosa. Sebaliknya, segala yang menentramkan jiwa dan menenangkan hati, maka dekatilah, karena disitu letak kebaikan.

Di kala manusia membuat standar nya sendiri, disitulah kita harus kembali, tanya kepada hati, untuk mengetahui kebenaran yang hakiki.

No Such Thing as a “Non-Practising Muslim”

The Rise of the Term “Non-Practising Muslim”

Islam is the only religion that Allah SWT will accept. It is because of its teachings, moral values, simplicity in its concept, and its own characteristics that stands out from other religions that it appeals to many people. Thus it has the most followers in the world. Also, Its differences from other religions is very clear. Furthermore, Islam is arguably the most practicing religion there is, because there is a daily five times prayer. This is something we as muslim should take very much pride of, because it shows that we love our God and Islam, and we show our gratitude and remember Him everytime of the day. Lastly, from the concept of God to the concept of everyday life, Islam teaches all of these aspects. The job we, as muslims, have to do is just to learn more about our beloved religion through the Qur’an so we can act like a proper muslim.

But the reality right now is totally different. Religion has become distant to a person’s character. They believe that religion has nothing to do with our personalities and character. Since the beginning of secularism–the system which differentiate the role of religion and the state, people tend to become more liberalist. They believe  that day to day life problems which happens between people should be regulated by the state in which they use pure logical thinking (but the validity of logical is still questionable) and discussion through various representatives. This leads to a perspective that religion should only be between you and God, and that’s it. Since religion can not interfere in helping people to have better behaviour or character, its role thus hae been less powerful. It comes to a point, like right now, where religion is merely an addtional identity to add up in your identity card.

Because of that, there is this rise the word “non-practising muslim”. It is largely known and used in the west, like in United States or countires in Europe. These people identify themselves a muslim but publicly state that they do not practice daily prayer. It is either because of their lack of knowledge or their own ignorance about the importance of this daily prayer, that they can proudly declare themselves as a muslim. However, that is problematic.

Why is the Term Problematic?

When something have a lesser to no significant role in your life, you tend to ignore it. That is what is happening to religions right now, not only Islam, but all of the religion. But like i said before, Islam is arguably the most practicing religion there is, because there is a daily five times prayer. That’s why, it becomes less problematic for other religions if their followers do not practice their compulsory act, because there’s not a lot to do anyway. This is totally different from Islam, where we as muslims do our compulsory act five times a day from Fajr to Isya. Coming back to my point, when Islam have a lesser role in your life, you will tend to ignore it, thus you will also ignore it’s compulsory act which is Shalat.

It’s probelmatic because Islam have in length strecthed how important and useful the practice of Shalat is towards a muslim. It also have explained numerous times in the Qur’an of the punishment that we will get if we do not practice this compulsory act of worship. For several examples, Shalat is the second pillar of Islam after syahadat, Shalat is compulsory for muslim meaning that you will be sinning if you do not practice this act, and lastly Shalat is the first thing that you will be questioned in the afterlife, so if your not practicing shalat, how can you answer that question? Moreover, after giving numerous examples on how Shalat is extremely important for a muslim, how can a person declare that he/she is a muslim if they do not practice this compulsory act?

Beside that, when a person declares he is a muslim by saying the syahadat, then he must obey God and must listen and follow what the Qur’an says. In which, in one verse of the Qur;an, at Al Baqarah:208, Allah SWT tells us that the moment we declare ourselves as muslim, we must enter Islam completely and perfectly.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ

O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.” (2:208)

The word “completely or perfectly” here means that you can not take some of the aspect of Islams and disobey the other aspects of Islam, but you have to follow all of them, which is good for all of us. Because of that, we can not be a muslim but not practice our daily prayers. It just does not work that way.

Implication

This phenomenom is also a alarming reminder for us muslims as a community or ummah. The growing term of “non-practising muslim” implicates that there is this abundant lack of understanding of how Islam works, or more philospically, of what Islam is. It shows that they merely see Islam as an identity, and nothing else. And it is our job, as an ummah, to remind them what Islam really is and how it works, so that they fully understands what it is to be a muslim.

Religion and Politics

i wrote this because i felt an urge to clarify what i believe is right, and what people right now is misudernstanding.

terkait kasus yang lagi hangat2nya sekarang, kayaknya udah banyak banget yang ngasih pendapat yang wise dan dengan perspektif yang berbeda-beda.  disini saya gak mau bahas panjang lebar terkait kasus tersebut, tapi ini akan lebih fokus ke perspektif yang lebih luas, yaitu apakah agama dan politik bisa disatukan atau tidak? ]

ada beberapa statement yang menurut saya agak problematic jika tidak di cerna secara baik-baik.

kurang lebih bunyinya begini:

“mereka memperdagangkan agama untuk kekuasaan.”

“ini akibatnya ketika agama dicampuradukkan dengan politik”

statement yang simple, tapi cukup misleading kalau tidak dicerna secara hati-hati. umumnya, orang yang membaca statement itu pertama kali pasti bacanya dalam kontoasi negatif, ya gak? iyalah agama kok diperdagangkan sih, kan di Al-Qur’an aja udah di state gak boleh.

but hold on a minute, coba kita cerna sekali lagi bacaannya dan memasukkan dengan konteks yang ada di realita kehidupan sekarang. kita ambil contoh gausah jauh-jauh, kehidupan sehari-hari aja. individu.

First, we must agree upon one definition: agama. apa itu agama? jawabannya pasti beragam, ada yang jawab ideologi, pedoman hidup, dan seterusnya. but one thing’s for sure, agama itu provides value. memberikan kita arah, tujuan, dan aturan untuk sampai ke tujuan tersebut. dan misal saya hilangkan label “agama”, maka setiap agama kurang lebih adalah pemahaman. sama seperti nasionalism, liberalism, dll. All of them are the same in a way that they have certain principle and values. the difference is some values can go hand in hand and some can’t.

Second, what does it mean by saying “memperdagangkan sesuatu buat kekuasaan”? okay, tadi kan saya bilang ambil contoh kehidupan sehari-hari aja biar lebih mudah di mengerti. lets say mau ada pemilihan ketua himpunan mahasiswa. waktu kampanye ini, mereka sedang “berdagang”, yaitu menukar apa yang mereka punya dengan harapan dibalas dengan vote para pemilih. para calon ini menawarkan apa? banyak dan gak terbatas. ide, gagasan, prinsip, dan value. bahkan kadang popularitas, sense of humor, dan ketampanan juga bagian dari apa yang mereka tawarkan.

Nah, mari kembali ke poin pertama, agama dan pemahaman lainnya adalah sama dalam artian masing2 memberikan value tersendiri yang ditawarkan ke para pemilih. if that’s the case, berarti bukankah sah jika ada yang “memperdagangkan agama untuk kekuasaan?”. Kan mereka “menjual” ke publik, value yang mereka yakini adalah yang paling benar. same case as liberals imposing liberal values, nasionalist imposing nasionalis values, and religious people imposing religious values. how is that any different?

intinya, berhati-hatilah dalam membaca statement. cerna dulu. dan jangan anti-diskusi kalau sudah bawa agama. takutnya, agama yang seharusnya jadi pedoman kita dalam hidup, malah dibuang jauh-jauh dari tempat yang mengatur cara kita hidup– our government.

to end this, let’s see what Gandhi had to say about this issue:

politik-religion-gandhi