Khairil Azhar , Jakarta | Fri, 08/28/2009 9:33 AM | Opinion
It is argued that the enactment of sharia law would end terrorist bombings. But would that not create a new threat to peace? Because there is no guarantee that enacting sharia law would create a more just society. An old proverb says “because of an over-expectation that rain will come, the water in the bucket is wasted”?
I am a Muslim. My grandpa was a cleric and ran a madrasa, a traditional Islamic school. I went to a well known madrasa and have learnt Islamic teachings my whole life. I now teach Islamic teachings myself, to students as well as my collegial friends. But I have never found anything in the Koran that says sharia law must be imposed, as the terrorists demand.
My mother recites the Koran almost everyday and she enjoys her safe and peaceful life in the village. Does she not deserve to enter paradise for her jihad as a real mother? Will she go to hell because she chooses to live relatively far away from her neighbors because she seeks to avoid improper interaction with others in her life? Sorry, I have never found a single Islamic doctrine which says that she is an unbeliever for not participating in the jihad for sharia law.
The issue of sharia law has appeared over and over again in the long history of Indonesia, with its great diversity. Interestingly, before and after the Proclamation of Independence, most of the efforts to enact sharia law were linked with efforts to make Muslims economically, politically and legally equal with the supposedly superior colonialists and then later with the “westernized people” in the independence era.
One of the best examples from the pre-independence era was the Paderi War, which took place in West Sumatra in the 18th-19th centuries. This war took place as the society experienced great economic, political and cultural change. In this changing society, the Paderis wished to drive out the colonialists and to establish a society based on sharia law where local traditions dominated.
One of the impacts of the strict implementation of the religious law was that the Paderis fought against the people whose tradition had been violently offended. Even many of the traditionalists crossed over and fought with the Dutch. As the local society divided the Paderis failed to achieve their dream.
Another example was the debate related to the making of Pancasila, the five tenets that make up the national ideology of Indonesia, which includes the belief in One God Almighty, that humanity that is just and civilized, that Indonesia is a unitary whole, that democracy should be guided by the wisdom of representative deliberation and that all Indonesians should enjoy social justice.
Some argued that the first principle should require “the belief in One God Almighty and obligate Muslims to conform to sharia law”. But the founding fathers omitted the second part after much deliberation.
However, the omission has since been the source of never-ending debate. To this day some Islamic political parties utilize this issue to gain support, as they claim that the omission has inhibited the endorsement of sharia law in Indonesia.
After the Independence era, religious-based conflicts were mostly related to the formation of an Islamic state ruled by sharia Law. The first was the rebellion led by Kartosuwiryo, who founded the Darul Islam (Islamic State), mostly in West Java, in the 1940-1960s. Kahar Muzakkar led a similar rebellion in Celebes in the 1950s.
In modern Indonesia, the latest example came with the negative campaigning of the Islamic parties in this year’s election. Some parties inappropriately utilized religious symbols to attack their competitors while others called for the enactment of sharia law.
The Muslims who endorse sharia law are basically trapped in the symbolist hole: They are more
concerned about the sharia law label vis-à-vis westernized and secular law.
Many of them are actually dependant on the explanations given by their religious teachers and don’t bother learning the texts themselves. They tend to be blind to the basic principles of the Islamic legal philosophy, including the notion of brotherhood and social solidarity, the notion of an ideal law, the condemnation of antisocial behavior or even the presumption of innocence.
If some of them learn by themselves, they often use translations from Arabic sources that are not appropriately adapted to Indonesian circumstances. Or if they are written directly by an Indonesian, the sources used are typically one sided or more related to peripheral things of the religious teachings.
Moreover, the radical figures inspiring the efforts to enact sharia law seem to think of sharia law as a panacea for every ill suffered by Muslims.
They tend to avoid seriously thinking about the thousands of particular problems that each need their own solution.
Consequently, they aren’t successful in improving the quality of life of poor Muslims, for instance. With their chosen shortcuts, new disasters are created, and not justice at all.
The writer graduated from the Sharia Faculty at Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic State University in Jakarta.