Wednesday, January 13, 2016

An escapist view of extremism

Photo: Andris Randling on flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrenggo/
Yes, Indonesia’s mass Islamic organisations are tolerant and democrats. But no, that doesn’t mean their culture can be exported to counter extremism.

Can the solution to Islamic extremism be found in the importation of a more tolerant and democratic culture to the Middle East? This is the question at the heart of recent discussions in the pages of The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and The Boston Globe about Islam Nusantara (Islam of the archipelago).

Islam Nusantara is the name given to the theology of the world’s largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) of Indonesia. NU supports democracy, is largely tolerant of religious minorities, and does not seek state implementation of Islamic law. Promoters of Islam Nusantara argue that exporting this aspect of Indonesian Islamic culture can provide the antidote to the disease of Islamic extremism and militant jihadism plaguing the Muslim world.

It’s an instinctively appealing idea. It’s also wrong. The idea that Indonesian culture can be exported is a fiction born of a threefold misunderstanding about NU, the barriers to strengthening democratic values in the Middle East, and the origins of Islamic State (IS).

The term Islam Nusantara was coined in the early 2000s to refer to NU’s theological mix of Sunni Islam, Sufism, and local religious practices like the veneration of the nine saints of Java (the Walisongo). These practices are born out of the structure of NU.

NU is a coalition of Islamic preachers and prominent Javanese families that came together in 1926 to oppose the influence of Islamic modernism, the movement from Egypt launched by Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, Muhammad Abduh and Muhammad Rasyid Ridha to strengthen Muslims through the promotion of science and a return to the foundational sources of Islam. Instead of reforming Islam, NU seeks to retain its mix of classical Islamic jurisprudence, Sufism, and local traditions rooted in the pilgrimage sites of Java.

Today NU’s opponent is still Islamic modernism as well as its distant cousin, Salafi jihadism. And despite what proponents of Islam Nusantara say, NU’s tolerance is selective.

Its tolerance of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Confucians stands in stark contrast to its longstanding intolerance of Ahmadi Muslims and communists. The reason for this discrepancy is that Christians and the other accepted minorities have been important allies for NU in its struggle against Islamic modernism, while communists and Ahmadis are seen as a threat to NU and the Indonesian nation.

Certainly it is important to counter the idea that Islam and IS are the same. And it is true that NU’s tolerant culture has been crucial for the success of Indonesian democracy. But exporting a partial aspect of Javanese traditionalist Islam without the institutional, familiar, or local structure that supports it is unlikely to have much influence. This is indeed why NU has not spread beyond Indonesia in the 90 years since it was founded.
wayang-arab-480

NU’s beliefs are compatible with democracy. But as survey researchers have long known (and reported repeatedly here, here and here), so are the views of most of the world’s Muslims. The barriers to democracy in the Muslim world are political and economic, not cultural.

IS was born in the same conditions in which the Taliban and Hamas were born, in places where there is no meaningful political representation or political order. The prolonged civil war in Syria and failed reconstruction of Iraq created a power vacuum that IS filled.

By contrast to the situation in Iraq and Syria, an environment of sustained political engagement provided the context in which the political aspects of Islam Nusantara were developed.

In the 1920s NU’s religious theology was accompanied by a political vision for an international Caliphate and Islamic state. But Indonesia provides strong evidence that if you allow Islamic organisations to participate in the political process they will moderate their demands and become part of the system rather than seek to overthrow it.

Over the course of the 20th and early 21st centuries, Indonesian Islamic organisations like NU that have participated in crafting the policies of the state have implicitly or explicitly moderated their views.

Their leaders have shifted from being pan-Islamists who seek a global Caliphate, to Indonesian Islamists who aim to create an Indonesian Islamic State, to Indonesian Muslim pluralists who actively work with other religious and ideological groups and promise to safeguard their rights, to post-Islamists who view Islam as complementary to other ways of organising politics and society. They have moderated through participation.

While there are exceptions to this trend, most notably the “new Islamists” who generate dramatic headlines but possess little electoral or social influence, the overall trend toward moderation is clear — include Islamists in the political process, and over time their ideologies and tactics will moderate toward support for democracy. This is the opposite of what has happened in Iraq and Syria, where despots with foreign backing have coopted Islamists or actively oppressed them.

The idea of exporting a more tolerant culture is a prime example of what the anthropologist Mahmood Mamdani calls “culture talk”; the predilection to define Islamic cultures according to their ‘essential’ characteristics in order to sort good Muslims from bad Muslims rather than discussing the specific conditions under which extremist movements emerge. It is a shallow and escapist way of thinking about the problem of Islamic extremism.

An example may help illustrate the problem of culture talk. What if we turned the logic of exporting culture around? Since Britain has almost zero gun violence, and the United States has an epidemic of gun violence, perhaps the problem could be solved by importing British culture to the United States?
Such a solution may be appealing at first glance, but it’s a fanciful way of thinking about a problem that would be better addressed through normal policies. In the case of IS, that means supporting more representative political institutions and equitable economies, and reducing support for militarism in the Middle East.

Jeremy Menchik is assistant professor in the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. His book Islam and Democracy in Indonesia: Tolerance without Liberalism, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2016/01/14/an-escapist-view-of-extremism/

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Indonesia’s Islam Nusantara: A challenge to Islamic State?

Azis Anwar Fachrudin

, Yogyakarta | December 18 2015 | 4:43 PM

The 90-minute film Rahmat Islam Nusantara (promoted in English as The Divine Grace of East Indies Islam) has attracted international attention, along with the idea of Islam Nusantara, after a piece about it appeared in The New York Times. Sharing the theme of Nahdlatul Ulama’s (NU) national congress several months ago, the film always intended to share the idea of Islam Nusantara, Indonesia’s unique style of Islam, with a global audience.

The filmmaker wants the international community to see that there are traditional interpretations of Islam that are friendly to local cultures, which are not found in any of the other Muslim-majority countries.

Indeed, being home to the world’s largest Muslim population, the concept of Islam Nusantara basically conveys the message that Indonesian Islam, despite being miles away from the birthplace of Islam, should not be treated as a peripheral tradition while “Arabic Islam” is at the center of the Muslim world.

This is one of the problems of today’s international discourse on Islam.

Instead, particularly in today’s context where the international image of Islam is tarnished by the bombings and beheadings committed by the Islamic State (IS) movement and political chaos in the Middle East, Islam Nusantara has the power to change people’s perceptions.

Islam has been a major force in the democratization process since the Reform era in Indonesia, and
in this respect Indonesia is an answer to the classic question of whether democracy is compatible with Islam (or, to be more precise, Muslims).

The report in The New York Times, along with positive responses from other international media, were right in their the premise that Islam Nusantara is a challenge to the Wahhabist interpretation of Islam.

Indeed, NU was initially founded as a response to Wahhabism: it tried to preserve local Islamic cultures that are legitimate under NU’s Sunni Islam, but considered degradations or violations of the tauhid principle according to the Wahhabists.

In this respect, Islam Nusantara is indeed a challenge to IS, as the group’s theology exemplifies Wahhabism.

The radical group’s destruction of the tombs of respectable Muslim scholars and saints, its rigid interpretation of tauhid/monotheism, its narrow definition of what a real Muslim is and should be, the ease with which it declares other Muslims infidels — these are all manifestations of Wahhabism.

Thus, Islam Nusantara can lead the theological battle against IS. What Indonesian Muslims perhaps need is more confidence that now is a good time for Islam Nusantara to be further exposed to a global audience via stepping up institutional initiatives.

A critical factor that should be taken into consideration is that some violent acts of IS are not ramifications of, or unique to Wahhabism; they have precedence in the canonical books of fiqh the opinions of classical Muslim jurists.

In this regard, good examples are the death penalty for apostasy and homosexual acts (some add heresy and blasphemy as capital offenses), cutting off the hands of thieves, stoning adulterers, killing or enslaving captives of war and other Islamic laws regarding crime and punishment (hudud wal-jinaya).

These punishments are not unique to Wahhabism. Some of them are even stated explicitly in Islamic scripture; and have been deemed permissible by many Muslim jurists in the pre-modern era.

This is why for many Muslims, it is sometimes not easy to say that some of the violent acts of IS are un-Islamic.
____________________________________

One could propose a reform of Islamic teachings, particularly in regard to legal issues.

I myself was engaged in a discussion of Islamic issues with some young NU intellectuals and activists a few weeks ago, and we found it difficult to claim that the aforementioned punishments were un-Islamic, simply because they have precedence in classical Islamic law.

Therefore, to delegitimize them would require a relatively new and sophisticated approach to the Islamic philosophy of law.

Just take the example of slavery Muslims can say whatever they want about Islam’s good treatment of slaves or Islam’s gradual movement toward the abolition of slavery. Yet one cannot find any explicit statement both in Islamic scripture and the classical books of fiqh that prohibits slavery. Even the “Open Letter to Baghdadi” signed by hundreds of the world’s leading Muslim scholars (which seems to have received less exposure in the international media) could not provide explicit scriptural support for the prohibition of slavery.

What we can see in these Islamic jurisprudential issues is that, at least on a practical level, some of the stipulations of Islamic law that were normal in the pre-modern era are no longer considered so in the 21st century, even by many Muslims themselves.

And on a theoretical level, these stipulations can still be found in the books of fiqh that are studied by most Muslims around the globe, including in the Indonesian archipelago.

The theological and legal schools of thought embraced by NU’s followers are basically similar to the majority of Sunni Muslims around the globe: Ashariyah/Maturidiyah theology and the four Sunni jurisprudential schools of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali.

This is why we have Muslim modernists or reformists who are attempting to reinterpret some Islamic teachings that are in opposition with the zeitgeist of the 21st century.

So, the primary question is: how does one delegitimize the violent acts of IS and say that they are un-Islamic? I do not think that the ideas of Islam Nusantara are enough to combat IS on this point.

There must be something more than a theological battle.

One could propose a reform of Islamic teachings, particularly in regard to legal issues. Others could propose a revision or even abrogation of some Islamic teachings.

At the end of the day, if we are to carry out an ideological fight against IS based in Islamic theology, a reinterpretation of some Islamic teachings grounded in a well-developed philosophy is a must.
_______________________________________

The writer is a graduate student at the Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS), Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, and contributor to the book Islam Nusantara (2015) published by Mizan. The views expressed are his own.

- See more at: http://m.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/12/18/indonesia-s-islam-nusantara-a-challenge-islamic-state.html#sthash.dF69eiuJ.dpuf

Indonesia’s Islam Nusantara: A challenge to Islamic State?

The 90-minute film Rahmat Islam Nusantara (promoted in English as The Divine Grace of East Indies Islam) has attracted international attention, along with the idea of Islam Nusantara, after a piece about it appeared in The New York Times. Sharing the theme of Nahdlatul Ulama’s (NU) national congress several months ago, the film always intended to share the idea of Islam Nusantara, Indonesia’s unique style of Islam, with a global audience.

The filmmaker wants the international community to see that there are traditional interpretations of Islam that are friendly to local cultures, which are not found in any of the other Muslim-majority countries.

Indeed, being home to the world’s largest Muslim population, the concept of Islam Nusantara basically conveys the message that Indonesian Islam, despite being miles away from the birthplace of Islam, should not be treated as a peripheral tradition while “Arabic Islam” is at the center of the Muslim world.

This is one of the problems of today’s international discourse on Islam.

Instead, particularly in today’s context where the international image of Islam is tarnished by the bombings and beheadings committed by the Islamic State (IS) movement and political chaos in the Middle East, Islam Nusantara has the power to change people’s perceptions.

Islam has been a major force in the democratization process since the Reform era in Indonesia, and
in this respect Indonesia is an answer to the classic question of whether democracy is compatible with Islam (or, to be more precise, Muslims).

The report in The New York Times, along with positive responses from other international media, were right in their the premise that Islam Nusantara is a challenge to the Wahhabist interpretation of Islam.

Indeed, NU was initially founded as a response to Wahhabism: it tried to preserve local Islamic cultures that are legitimate under NU’s Sunni Islam, but considered degradations or violations of the tauhid principle according to the Wahhabists.

In this respect, Islam Nusantara is indeed a challenge to IS, as the group’s theology exemplifies Wahhabism.

The radical group’s destruction of the tombs of respectable Muslim scholars and saints, its rigid interpretation of tauhid/monotheism, its narrow definition of what a real Muslim is and should be, the ease with which it declares other Muslims infidels — these are all manifestations of Wahhabism.

Thus, Islam Nusantara can lead the theological battle against IS. What Indonesian Muslims perhaps need is more confidence that now is a good time for Islam Nusantara to be further exposed to a global audience via stepping up institutional initiatives.

A critical factor that should be taken into consideration is that some violent acts of IS are not ramifications of, or unique to Wahhabism; they have precedence in the canonical books of fiqh the opinions of classical Muslim jurists.

In this regard, good examples are the death penalty for apostasy and homosexual acts (some add heresy and blasphemy as capital offenses), cutting off the hands of thieves, stoning adulterers, killing or enslaving captives of war and other Islamic laws regarding crime and punishment (hudud wal-jinaya).

These punishments are not unique to Wahhabism. Some of them are even stated explicitly in Islamic scripture; and have been deemed permissible by many Muslim jurists in the pre-modern era.

This is why for many Muslims, it is sometimes not easy to say that some of the violent acts of IS are un-Islamic.
____________________________________

One could propose a reform of Islamic teachings, particularly in regard to legal issues.

I myself was engaged in a discussion of Islamic issues with some young NU intellectuals and activists a few weeks ago, and we found it difficult to claim that the aforementioned punishments were un-Islamic, simply because they have precedence in classical Islamic law.

Therefore, to delegitimize them would require a relatively new and sophisticated approach to the Islamic philosophy of law.

Just take the example of slavery Muslims can say whatever they want about Islam’s good treatment of slaves or Islam’s gradual movement toward the abolition of slavery. Yet one cannot find any explicit statement both in Islamic scripture and the classical books of fiqh that prohibits slavery. Even the “Open Letter to Baghdadi” signed by hundreds of the world’s leading Muslim scholars (which seems to have received less exposure in the international media) could not provide explicit scriptural support for the prohibition of slavery.

What we can see in these Islamic jurisprudential issues is that, at least on a practical level, some of the stipulations of Islamic law that were normal in the pre-modern era are no longer considered so in the 21st century, even by many Muslims themselves.

And on a theoretical level, these stipulations can still be found in the books of fiqh that are studied by most Muslims around the globe, including in the Indonesian archipelago.

The theological and legal schools of thought embraced by NU’s followers are basically similar to the majority of Sunni Muslims around the globe: Ashariyah/Maturidiyah theology and the four Sunni jurisprudential schools of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali.

This is why we have Muslim modernists or reformists who are attempting to reinterpret some Islamic teachings that are in opposition with the zeitgeist of the 21st century.

So, the primary question is: how does one delegitimize the violent acts of IS and say that they are un-Islamic? I do not think that the ideas of Islam Nusantara are enough to combat IS on this point.

There must be something more than a theological battle.

One could propose a reform of Islamic teachings, particularly in regard to legal issues. Others could propose a revision or even abrogation of some Islamic teachings.

At the end of the day, if we are to carry out an ideological fight against IS based in Islamic theology, a reinterpretation of some Islamic teachings grounded in a well-developed philosophy is a must.
_______________________________________

The writer is a graduate student at the Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS), Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, and contributor to the book Islam Nusantara (2015) published by Mizan. The views expressed are his own.
- See more at: http://m.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/12/18/indonesia-s-islam-nusantara-a-challenge-islamic-state.html#sthash.dF69eiuJ.dpuf

Indonesia’s Islam Nusantara: A challenge to Islamic State?

The 90-minute film Rahmat Islam Nusantara (promoted in English as The Divine Grace of East Indies Islam) has attracted international attention, along with the idea of Islam Nusantara, after a piece about it appeared in The New York Times. Sharing the theme of Nahdlatul Ulama’s (NU) national congress several months ago, the film always intended to share the idea of Islam Nusantara, Indonesia’s unique style of Islam, with a global audience.

The filmmaker wants the international community to see that there are traditional interpretations of Islam that are friendly to local cultures, which are not found in any of the other Muslim-majority countries.

Indeed, being home to the world’s largest Muslim population, the concept of Islam Nusantara basically conveys the message that Indonesian Islam, despite being miles away from the birthplace of Islam, should not be treated as a peripheral tradition while “Arabic Islam” is at the center of the Muslim world.

This is one of the problems of today’s international discourse on Islam.

Instead, particularly in today’s context where the international image of Islam is tarnished by the bombings and beheadings committed by the Islamic State (IS) movement and political chaos in the Middle East, Islam Nusantara has the power to change people’s perceptions.

Islam has been a major force in the democratization process since the Reform era in Indonesia, and
in this respect Indonesia is an answer to the classic question of whether democracy is compatible with Islam (or, to be more precise, Muslims).

The report in The New York Times, along with positive responses from other international media, were right in their the premise that Islam Nusantara is a challenge to the Wahhabist interpretation of Islam.

Indeed, NU was initially founded as a response to Wahhabism: it tried to preserve local Islamic cultures that are legitimate under NU’s Sunni Islam, but considered degradations or violations of the tauhid principle according to the Wahhabists.

In this respect, Islam Nusantara is indeed a challenge to IS, as the group’s theology exemplifies Wahhabism.

The radical group’s destruction of the tombs of respectable Muslim scholars and saints, its rigid interpretation of tauhid/monotheism, its narrow definition of what a real Muslim is and should be, the ease with which it declares other Muslims infidels — these are all manifestations of Wahhabism.

Thus, Islam Nusantara can lead the theological battle against IS. What Indonesian Muslims perhaps need is more confidence that now is a good time for Islam Nusantara to be further exposed to a global audience via stepping up institutional initiatives.

A critical factor that should be taken into consideration is that some violent acts of IS are not ramifications of, or unique to Wahhabism; they have precedence in the canonical books of fiqh the opinions of classical Muslim jurists.

In this regard, good examples are the death penalty for apostasy and homosexual acts (some add heresy and blasphemy as capital offenses), cutting off the hands of thieves, stoning adulterers, killing or enslaving captives of war and other Islamic laws regarding crime and punishment (hudud wal-jinaya).

These punishments are not unique to Wahhabism. Some of them are even stated explicitly in Islamic scripture; and have been deemed permissible by many Muslim jurists in the pre-modern era.

This is why for many Muslims, it is sometimes not easy to say that some of the violent acts of IS are un-Islamic.
____________________________________

One could propose a reform of Islamic teachings, particularly in regard to legal issues.

I myself was engaged in a discussion of Islamic issues with some young NU intellectuals and activists a few weeks ago, and we found it difficult to claim that the aforementioned punishments were un-Islamic, simply because they have precedence in classical Islamic law.

Therefore, to delegitimize them would require a relatively new and sophisticated approach to the Islamic philosophy of law.

Just take the example of slavery Muslims can say whatever they want about Islam’s good treatment of slaves or Islam’s gradual movement toward the abolition of slavery. Yet one cannot find any explicit statement both in Islamic scripture and the classical books of fiqh that prohibits slavery. Even the “Open Letter to Baghdadi” signed by hundreds of the world’s leading Muslim scholars (which seems to have received less exposure in the international media) could not provide explicit scriptural support for the prohibition of slavery.

What we can see in these Islamic jurisprudential issues is that, at least on a practical level, some of the stipulations of Islamic law that were normal in the pre-modern era are no longer considered so in the 21st century, even by many Muslims themselves.

And on a theoretical level, these stipulations can still be found in the books of fiqh that are studied by most Muslims around the globe, including in the Indonesian archipelago.

The theological and legal schools of thought embraced by NU’s followers are basically similar to the majority of Sunni Muslims around the globe: Ashariyah/Maturidiyah theology and the four Sunni jurisprudential schools of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali.

This is why we have Muslim modernists or reformists who are attempting to reinterpret some Islamic teachings that are in opposition with the zeitgeist of the 21st century.

So, the primary question is: how does one delegitimize the violent acts of IS and say that they are un-Islamic? I do not think that the ideas of Islam Nusantara are enough to combat IS on this point.

There must be something more than a theological battle.

One could propose a reform of Islamic teachings, particularly in regard to legal issues. Others could propose a revision or even abrogation of some Islamic teachings.

At the end of the day, if we are to carry out an ideological fight against IS based in Islamic theology, a reinterpretation of some Islamic teachings grounded in a well-developed philosophy is a must.
_______________________________________

The writer is a graduate student at the Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS), Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, and contributor to the book Islam Nusantara (2015) published by Mizan. The views expressed are his own.
- See more at: http://m.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/12/18/indonesia-s-islam-nusantara-a-challenge-islamic-state.html#sthash.dF69eiuJ.dpuf

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Islam Nusantara: Dari Ushul Fiqih Hingga Pemahaman Kebangsaan

Bedah buku Islam Nusantara: Dari Ushul Fiqih Hingga Pemahaman Kebangsaan. Puslitbang Kehidupan Keagamaan Badan Litbang dan Diklat Kemenag, Selasa 13 Oktober 2015.




Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Khitah Islam Nusantara


Oleh Ma’ruf Amin

Akhir-akhir ini Islam Nusantara jadi wacana publik. Tak hanya di kalangan warga Nahdlatul Ulama (nahdliyin), tetapi seluruh masyarakat Indonesia ikut memperbincangkannya.

Seolah-olah ada anggapan bahwa Islam Nusantara adalah hal baru. Hal ini wajar karena Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) adalah ormas terbesar bangsa ini. Jika terjadi perubahan di dalam organisasi ini, pengaruhnya segera dirasakan oleh seluruh negeri. Karena itu, bentuk apresiasi publik seperti ini sangatlah positif, baik bagi NU maupun bagi negeri ini.

Sebagai tema Muktamar NU 2015 di Jombang yang digelar beberapa waktu lalu, Islam Nusantara memang baru dideklarasikan. Namun, sebagai pemikiran, gerakan, dan tindakan, Islam Nusantara bukanlah hal baru bagi kita. Islam Nusantara adalah Islam Ahlussunnah Waljamaah al-Nadliyyah. Mengapa di sini perlu penyifatan al-Nahdliyyah? Jawabnya adalah karena banyak kalangan lain di luar NU yang juga mengklaim sebagai pengikut Ahlussunnah Waljamaah (disingkat Aswaja), tetapi memiliki cara pikir, gerakan, dan amalan yang berbeda dengan NU.

Negara Islam di Irak dan Suriah (NIIS) pun mengaku sebagai pengikut Ahlussunnah Waljamaah, tetapi sepak terjang mereka selama ini sangat ditentang NU. Karena itu, Islam Nusantara adalah cara dan sekaligus identitas Aswaja yang dipahami dan dipraktikkan para mua’sis (pendiri) dan ulama NU. Islam Nusantara adalah cara proaktif warga NU dalam mengidentifikasi kekhususan-kekhususan yang ada pada diri mereka guna mengiktibarkan karakteristik-karakteristik ke-NU-an. Karakteristik-karakteristik ini bersifat peneguhan identitas yang distingtif, tetapi demokratis, toleran, dan moderat.

Tiga pilar

Pada dasarnya ada tiga pilar atau rukun penting di dalam Islam Nusantara. Pertama, pemikiran (fikrah); kedua, gerakan (harakah); dan ketiga, tindakan nyata (amaliyyah/amaliah).

Pilar pertama, pemikiran, meliputi cara berpikir yang moderat (tawassuth). Artinya, Islam Nusantara berada dalam posisi yang tidak tekstualis, tetapi juga tidak liberal. Tekstualis dimaksud adalah berpikir secara kaku pada nash (al-jumûd al-manqûlãt) sebagaimana yang terjadi pada kaum Wahabi di dalam memahami teks-teks Al Quran. Salah satu pernyataan Imam al-Qarafi, ulama ahli usul fikih, menyatakan jika ”al-jumûd ‘alã al-manqûlãt abadan dalãl fi al-din wa jahl bi maqasidihi”, pembacaan yang statis (tanpa tafsir) penafsiran pada hal-hal yang dalil-dalil yang selamanya adalah kesesatan di dalam agama dan kebodohan tentang maksud-maksud agama. Liberal dimaksud adalah cara berpikir yang bebas tanpa mengindahkan metodologi yang disepakati di kalangan ulama yang dijadikan pegangan berpikir di kalangan NU.

Pilar kedua adalah gerakan. Artinya, semangat yang mengendalikan Islam Nusantara itu ditujukan pada perbaikan-perbaikan. Tugas Islam Nusantara adalah melakukan perbaikan-perbaikan (reformasi) untuk jamiah (perkumpulan) dan jemaah (warga) yang tak hanya didasarkan pada tradisi, tetapi juga inovasi. Reformasi Islam Nusantara adalah reformasi menuju tahapan yang lebih baik dan secara terus-menerus. Jadi, posisi Islam Nusantara bukan hanya mengambil hal yang baik saja (al-akhdh bi al-jadid al-aslah), karena istilah mengambil itu pasif, tetapi juga melakukan inovasi, mencipta yang terbaik dan terbaik. Prosesnya terus-menerus. Inovasi pun tak cukup, juga harus dibarengi dengan sikap aktif dan kritis.

Pilar ketiga adalah amaliah. Islam Nusantara sebagai identitas Aswaja NU menekankan bahwa segala hal yang dilakukan nahdliyin harus lahir dari dasar pemikiran yang berlandaskan pada fikih dan usul fikih; disiplin yang menjadi dasar kita untuk menyambungkan amaliah yang diperintah Al Quran dan Sunah Nabi. Dengan cara demikian, amaliah Islam Nusantara itu sangat menghormati pada tradisi-tradisi serta budaya yang telah berlangsung sejak lama di tengah masyarakat. Tradisi atau budaya yang di dalam usul fikih disebut dengan ’urf atau ‘ãdat tidak begitu saja diberangus, tetapi dirawat sepanjang tidak menyimpang dari nilai-nilai ajaran Islam. Praktik keagamaan demikian inilah pada dasarnya yang dilakukan Wali Songo dan kemudian diwariskan para pendiri NU kepada kita semua.

Penanda Islam Nusantara
Ada lima penanda Islam Nusantara. Pertama, reformasi (islahiyyah). Artinya, pemikiran, gerakan, dan amalan yang dilakukan para nahdliyin selalu berorientasi pada perbaikan. Pada aspek pemikiran, misalnya, selalu ada perkembangan di sana (tatwir al-fikrah), dan karena itu, pemikiran Islam Nusantara adalah pemikiran yang ditujukan untuk perbaikan terus. Cara berpikirnya adalah tidak statis dan juga tidak kelewat batas.

Kedua, tawazuniyyah, yang berarti seimbang di segala bidang. Jika sebuah gerakan diimplementasikan, maka aspek keseimbangan juga harus dijadikan pertimbangan. Tawazunniyyah ini menimbang dengan keadilan.

Ketiga, tatawwu’iyyah, yang berarti sukarela (volunterisme). Satu hal yang harus dipegang dalam kesukarelaan ini adalah dalam menjalankan pemikiran, gerakan dan amalan, nahdliyin tidak boleh memaksakan pada pihak lain (lã ijbãriyyah). Artinya, orang NU harus memperhatikan hak-hak orang di luar NU. Secara internal, warga NU juga tak boleh bersikap fatalistik (jabbãriyyah), harus senantiasa berusaha dan berinovasi menegakkan tiga pilar Islam Nusantara di atas. Dengan kata lain, tidak ada pemaksaan, tetapi bukan tidak berbuat apa-apa.

Keempat, santun (akhlaqiyyah), yaitu segala bentuk pemikiran, gerakan, dan amalan warga Islam Nusantara dilaksanakan dengan santun. Santun di sini berlaku sesuai dengan etika kemasyarakatan dan kenegaraan serta keagamaan.

Kelima, tasamuh, yang berarti bersikap toleran, respek kepada pihak lain. Sikap toleran ini tidak pasif, tetapi kritis dan inovatif. Dalam bahasa keseharian warga NU adalah sepakat untuk tidak sepakat.

Secara konseptual, kelima penanda Islam Nusantara tersebut mudah diucapkan, tetapi sulit direalisasikan. Sulit di sini berbeda dengan tidak bisa melaksanakan. Misalnya, sikap Islam Nusantara dalam menyikapi dua arus formalisme keagamaan dan substansialisasi keagamaan berada di tengah. Kedua arus boleh diperjuangkan selama tidak menimbulkan konflik. Prinsip yang harus dipegang dalam hal ini adalah kesepakatan (konsensus), demokratis, dan konstitusional.

Ijtihad

Hal penting lain yang ingin penulis sampaikan adalah persoalan ijtihad. Apakah model ijtihad Islam Nusantara? Ijtihad Islam Nusantara adalah ijtihad yang selama ini dipraktikkan oleh NU. Prinsipnya, Islam tak hanya terdiri pada aspek yang bersifat tekstual, tetapi juga aspek yang bersifat ijtihadiyah. Ketika kita menghadapi masalah yang tak ada di dalam teks, maka kita menganggap masalah selesai, artinya tidak dicarikan jawaban.

Islam Nusantara tidak berhenti di sini, tetapi melihat dan mengkajinya lebih dulu lewat mekanisme-mekanisme pengambilan hukum yang disepakati di kalangan nahdliyin. Hasil dari mekanisme metodologi hukum ini (proses istinbãt al-hukm) harus dibaca lagi dari perspektif Al Quran dan Sunah. Mekanisme metodologi hukum yang biasa dipakai nahdliyin di sini misalnya adalah maãlahah (kebaikan).

Ilustrasinya, jika sebuah amalan tak ada di rujukan tekstualnya, tetapi ia membawa kebaikan di tengah masyarakat, hal itu justru harus dilestarikan: ”idhã wujida nasssS fathamma masslahah, idhã wujida al-maslahah fathamma shar’ al-Lãh—jika ditemukan teks, maka di sana ada kebaikan, dan jika ditemukan kebaikan, maka di sana adalah hukum Allah”. Ini uraian singkat dan pokoknya saja. Pembahasan lebih lanjut akan dilakukan di ruang yang lebih luas.

Pada akhir tulisan pendek ini saya ingin mengatakan Islam Nusantara harus lebih digali lagi sebagai perilaku bangsa agar tidak ada lagi hal-hal yang tidak kita inginkan justru terjadi.

MA’RUF AMIN,

RAIS AAM NAHDLATUL ULAMA

Tulisan ini dimuat di Kompas Cetak, 29 Agustus 2015 –

http://www.arrahmah.co.id/opini/khittah-islam-nusantara-oleh-kh-maruf-amin-13378

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Metode Bahtsul Masa’il NU

 Abdul Moqsith Ghazali July 15, 2015 605 Views

IslamLib – Tak bisa dipungkiri mengenai terlalu dominannya fikih-madzhab Syafii di lingkungan NU. Ini menurut (Alm.) Kiai Sahal Mahfudz, bukan karena para kiai NU menolak aqwal di luar fikih Syafii, melainkan karena keterbatasan referensi fikih non-Syafii yang dimiliki para kiai NU. Namun, pada hemat saya, masalah sebenarnya bukan terletak pada apakah kita pro-Imam Syafii dan kontra imam madzhab lain, tapi pada apakah kita pro-para ulama Syafiiyah dan “kontra” Imam Syafii.

Betapa sering disaksikan, ketika berbicara mengenai fikih Syafii misalnya, para kiai lebih suka merujuk pada buku-buku karya ulama Syafiiyah seperti Imam Nawawi dan Imam Rofii ketimbang pada buku-buku fikih karya Imam Syafii seperti al-Umm, al-Imla’, dan lain-lain.

Dengan perkataan lain, para kiai lebih menyukai hasil interpretasi ulama Syafiiyah ketimbang langsung merujuk pada buku-buku fikih karya Imam Syafii sendiri. Karena itu, tak ayal lagi sekiranya para santri pondok pesantren mengetahui fikih Syafii via penjelasan para ulama Syafiiyah bukan dari buku-buku Imam Syafii secara langsung.

Bahkan, di lingkungan ulama Syafiiyah sendiri, seperti dianjurkan Syatha al-Dimyathi, para kiai NU secara formal telah bersepakat untuk bersandar pertama-tama pada pendapat yang disepakati Imam Nawawi dan Imam Rofii. Pertanyaannya kemudian; dimana posisi pendapat ulama Syafiiyah lain seperti Imamul Haramain, Imam Ghazali, Ibnu Daqiqil ‘Id, Zakaria al-Anshari, Khathib al-Syarbini, dan lain-lain.

Atas dasar itu, sebagian intelektual NU secara terus terang berkata bahwa NU sebenarnya bukan bermadzhab Syafii tapi bermadzhab Nawawi atau Rofii (bukan syafi’iyyul madzhabtapi nawawiyyul madzhab; bukan Syafi’iyul madzhab tapi syafi’iyatul madzhab).

Tentu saja pandangan ini tak sepenuhnya benar, karena tak dijumpai perbedaan tajam antara pendapat Imam Syafii dan pendapat ulama Syafiiyah. Dalam banyak kasus fikih, ulama Syafiiyah cenderung menyetujui, mengelaborasi dan menambahkan argumen fikih Syafii. Penting dikemukakan, sebagian kiai memang kerap memperlakukan para ulama Syafiiyah secara tak sejajar.

Padahal, tak menutup kemungkinan, argumen Imam Nawawi dalam suatu kasus kalah kuat dengan argumen yang disuguhkan Zakaria al-Anshari dalam kasus yang sama. Begitu juga sebaliknya pada kasus yang lain. Karena itu, seperti kurang arif, jika kita mengunggulkan pendapat Syaikhani (Nawawi-Rofii) dalam semua perkara fikih dan “menomor-sekiankan” pendapat ulama Syafiiyah lain dalam semua masail fiqhiyyah.

Namun, menarik dicermati. Walau secara de jure NU telah menyepakati, pendapat yang disepakati Imam Nawawi-Imam Rofii berada pada level puncak, dalam prakteknya secara de facto tak terlampau jelas demikian. Bisa disaksikan, ketika bahtsul masa’il terselenggara, para kiai NU tak terbebani untuk pertama-tama mencari pendapat yang disepakati Syaikhani, lalu Imam Nawawi, Imam Rofii, dan seterusnya.

Dalam penelusuran ta’bir, para kiai bisa memungut ta’bir kitab secara bebas, berselancar dari satu kitab fikih ke kitab fikih lain. Tak terlihat ada sekat psikologis yang menghalangi para kiai untuk berpindah-pindah kitab fikih walau masih dalam rumpun kutub Syafiiyah. Karena itu, keputusan dalam Muktamar NU Surabaya yang cenderung mengglorifikasi Imam Nawawi-Imam Rofii perlu diubah untuk disesuaikan dengan asas kesetaraan yang telah lama berlangsung dalam bahtsul masa’il NU.

Melalui Munas NU di Lampung tahun 1992, para kiai NU juga mengintroduksi kemungkinan melakukan ilhaq al-masa’il bi nadha’iriha. Ilhaq ini sengaja diajukan konon untuk menghindar dari melakukan qiyas yang nota bene merupakan domain para mujtahid, sementara para kiai NU merasa belum berada di level mujtahid itu. Dan kita tahu, dalam ilhaq, yang dijadikan mulhaq bih adalah aqwalul ulama, sementara aqwalul ulama itu sendiri adalah hasil ijtihad para ulama yang terikat dengan ruang dan waktu.

Artinya, berbeda dengan qiyas yang maqis ‘alaihi-nya adalah sesuatu yang tetap-tak berubah (tsawabit), maka mulhaq bih di dalam ilhaqadalah sesuatu yang dinamis dan berubah (mutaghayyirat). Pertanyaannya, bagaimana sesuatu yang rentan terhadap perubahan bisa dijadikan sandaran dalam merespons soal-soal fikih yang terus berkembang? Karena itu, ada tawaran, yang dilakukan para kiai NU itu seharusnya qiyas bukan ilhaq. Persis di sini sandungannya. Jika kita mendorong penggunaan qiyas, maka kita akan berhadapan dengan keengganan para kiai untuk berqiyas.

Telah lama dikeluhkan, bahtsul masail NU lebih banyak merupakan aktivitas untuk mencocok-cocokkan kasus-kasus hukum (waqai’ fiqhiyyah) dengan ‘ibaratul kutub.Keluhan ini dibangun di atas kesadaran bahwa sekalipun kasus hukum yang ada sekarang tampak serupa dengan kasus lama yang sudah ditangani para ulama lampau, hakekatnya tetaplah kasus lama dan kasus baru itu berbeda.

Sebab, konteks zamannya sudah beda dan manusia yang menjadi obyek hukumnya pun juga beda. Untuk mengukuhkan kesadaran itu, maka dikutiplah perkataan al-Syathibi, “Setiap perkara yang datang adalah perkara baru (umurun musta’nafah)”, karena sesungguhnya tak ada perkara yang berulang.

Untuk menghindari bahtsul masail hanya merupakan kerja pencocokan ibaratul kutubitu, para kiai menyelenggarakan halaqah di PP Watucongol Muntilan Magelang pada tanggal 15-17 Desember 1988 dengan tema “Telaah Kitab Kuning Secara Kontekstual”.

Poin-poin yang dihasilkan dalam halaqah tersebut, di antaranya adalah; [a]. memahami teks kitab klasik harus dengan konteks sosial-historisnya; [b]. mengembangkan kemampuan observasi dan analisis terhadap teks kitab; [c]. memperbanyak muqabalah (perbandingan) dengan kitab-kitab lain, baik dalam lingkup madzhab Syafii maupun di luar madzhab; [d]. Meningkatkan intensitas diskusi intelektual antara pakar disiplin ilmu terkait dengan materi yang tercantum dalam kitab klasik;
[e]. mampu menghadapkan kajian teks kitab kuning dengan wacana aktual dengan bahasa yang komunikatif. Poin-poin itu tentu cukup brilian. Tapi, ntah karena sibuk atau apa, sebagian kiai tak suka melakukaan penelaahan kitab kuning secara kontektual.

Lebih maju lagi, melalui Munas Lampung tahun 1992, NU mengajak audiens ulama NU untuk melakukan istinbath jamai dengan tetap bertumpu pada manhaj (ushul fikih) imam madzhab. Ini terutama untuk menangani kasus-kasus fikih baru yang belum pernah ada zaman dahulu. Namun, sampai sekarang belum dirumuskan perihal mekanisme istinbath jamai tersebut.

Apakah istinbath jamai itu sama belaka denganijtihad jamai seperti disuarakan para ulama non-NU selama ini? Belum juga terjabarkan mengenai manhaj siapa yang akan menjadi pegangan? Apakah dimungkinkan melakukan “talfiq manhaji”? Ataukah, jika secara qawli kita melakukan “al-tamadzhub bi madzhabin mu’ayyan”, maka apakah secara metodologis kita juga perlu “al-tamanhuj bi manhajin mu’ayyan”. Di sinilah, kita memerlukan kajian khusus untuk memilih satu metodologi dari beragam metodologi yang sudah ada.

Inilah pokok-pokok pikiran yang bisa menjadi renungan akademis kita bersama, sebelum kita merumuskan Metode Bahtsul Masail NU secara final di arena muktamar NU nanti di Jombang Jawa Timur 1-5 Agustus 2015. In sya’a Allah. In uridu illa al-Ishlah ma istatha’tu wa ma taufiqi illa bi Allah.

Tulisan ini pernah dipresentasikan dalam halaqah terbatas yang diselenggarakan Lembaga Bahtsul Masail (LBM) PBNU, Jakarta, 5 Pebruari 2015.

http://islamlib.com/lembaga/nahdlatululama/metode-bahtsul-masail-nu/

Ini Susunan Pengurus PBNU 2015-2020

Detik, Sabtu 22 Aug 2015, 18:42 WIB
Ini Susunan Pengurus PBNU 2015-2020
Rina Atriana - detikNews

Jakarta - Pengurus Besar Nahdlatul Ulama (PBNU) mengumumkan susunan kepengurusan baru periode 2015-2020. Duduk sebagai ketua umum yaitu Said Aqil Siradj dan bertindak sebagai wakil ketua umum Slamet Effendy Yusuf.

Said Aqil dalam sambutannya mengatakan, pengurus NU yang baru juga menjaring dari Indonesia tengah dan timur. Tokoh-tokoh muda yang punya peran besar diberikan kesempatan.

"Kami juga memberi perhatian kepada Indonesia timur dan Indonesia tengah. Menampung aktivis-aktivis di muktamar dulu," kata Said Aqil dalam konferensi pers pengurus baru NU di Kantor Pusat PBNU, Jl Kramat Raya, Jakarta Pusat, Sabtu (22/8/2015).

Said Aqil menjelaskan, ia akan menjaga NU agar tak ikut terlibat dalam politik praktis. "Kita kawal NU tak ikut politik praktis," tegasnya.

Berikut susunan pengurus PBNU hasil rapat tim formatur secara lengkap:

Mustasyar

KH. Maemun Zubair
Dr. KH. Ahmad Mustofa Bisri
KH. Nawawi Abdul Jamil
KH. Abdul Muchit Muzadi
Prof. Dr. KH. M. Tholhah Hasan
KH. Dimyati Rois
KH. Makhtum Hannan
KH. Muhtadi Dimyathi
AGH. Sanusi Baco
TGH Turmudzi Badaruddin
KH. Zaenuddin Djazuli
KH. Abdurrahman Musthafa
KH. M. Anwar Mansyur
KH. Habib Luthfi bin Yahya
KH. Sya'roni Ahmadi
KH. Ahmad Syatibi
KH. Syukri Unus
Dr. H. M. Jusuf Kalla
Prof. Dr. Chotibul Umam
Prof. Dr. Tengku H. Muslim Ibrahim
KH. Hasbullah Badawi
KH. Hasyim Wahid
KH. Thohir Syarqawi Pinrang
KH. Hamdan Kholid
KH. Saifuddin Amsir
KH. Zubair Muntashor
KH. Ahmad Basyir
KH. Ahmad Shodiq
KH. Mahfud Ridwan
Prof. Dr. KH. Nasaruddin Umar, MA.
Prof. Dr. H. Machasin, MA.
KH. Adib Rofiuddin Izza
Habib Zein bin Smith
Dr. Ir. Awang Faroeq Ishaq

Rais Aam

Dr. KH. Ma'ruf Amin

Wakil Rais Aam

KH. Miftahul Akhyar

Rais

KH. Mas Subadar
KH. Masdar Farid Mas'udi
KH. Ahmad Ishomuddin, M.Ag.
KH. A. R. Ibnu Ubaidillah Syatori
KH. Dimyati Romli
KH. Abdullah Khafabihi Mahrus
KH. Khalilurrahman
KH. Syarifuddin Abdul Ghani
KH. Ali Akbar Marbun
KH. Subhan Makmun
KH. M. Mustofa Aqil Siroj
KH. Cholil As'ad Samsul Arifin
KH. Idris Hamid
KH. Akhmad Said Asrori
KH. Abdul Hakim
Dr. KH. Zakki Mubarok
Prof. Dr. Maskuri Abdillah
KH. Najib Abdul Qadir

Katib Aam

KH. Yahya Cholil Staquf

Katib

KH. Mujib Qulyubi
Drs. KH. Shalahuddin al-Ayyubi, M.Si.
Dr. KH. Abdul Ghafur Maemun
KH. Zulfa Musthafa
Dr. H. Asrorun Ni'am Shaleh
KH. Acep Adang Ruchiyat
KH. Lukman Hakim Haris
KH. Taufuqurrahman Yasin
KH. Abdussalam Shohib
KH. Zamzami Amin
Dr. H. Sa'dullah Affandy, M.Ag.

A'wan

KH. Abun Bunyamin Ruchiat
Drs. KH. Cholid Mawardi
KH. TK Bagindo M. Letter
Prof. Dr. H. M. Ridlwan Lubis
KH. Mukhtar Royani
KH. Abdullah Syarwani, SH.
KH. Eep Nuruddin, M.Pd.I.
Drs. KH. Nuruddin Abdurrahman, SH.
KH. Ulinnuha Arwani
KH. Abdul Azis Khayr Afandi
H. Fauzi Nur
Dr. KH. Hilmi Muhammadiyah, M.Si.
KH. Maulana Kamal Yusuf
KH. Ahmad Bagja
KH. Muadz Thohir
KH. Maimun Ali
H. Imam Mudzakir
H. Ahm,ad Ridlwan
Drs. H. Taher Hasan
Dra. Hj. Sinta Nuriyah, M.Hum.
Dra. Hj. Mahfudhoh Ali Ubaid
Nyai. Hj. Nafisah Sahal Mahfudh
Prof. Dr. Hj. Chuzaimah T. Yanggo
Dr. Hj. Faizah Ali Sibromalisi, MA.
Prof. Dr. Hj. Ibtisyaroh, SH., MM.
Dr. Hj. Sri Mulyati

Ketua umum

Prof. Dr. KH. Said Aqil Siroj, MA.

Wakil ketua umum

Drs. H. Slamet Effendy Yusuf, M.Si.

Ketua

Drs. H. Saifullah Yusuf
Dr. H. Marsudi Syuhud
Prof. Dr. M. Nuh, DEA.
Prof. Dr. Ir. Mochammad Maksum Machfoedz, M.Sc.
Drs. KH. Abbas Muin, Lc.
Drs. H. Imam Azis
Drs. H. Farid Wajdi, M.Pd.
Dr. H. Muh. Salim al-Jufri, M.Sos.I.
KH. Hasib Wahab
Dr. H. Hanief Saha Ghafur
KH. Abdul Manan Ghani
KH. Aizzuddin Abdurrahman, SH.
H. Nusron Wahid, SE., M.SE.
Dr. H. Eman Suryaman
Robikin Emhas, SH. MH.
Ir. H. Iqbal Sullam
H. M. Sulton Fatoni, M.Si.

Sekretaris Jenderal

Ir. H. A. Helmy Faishal Zaini

Wakil Sekretaris Jenderal

H. Andi Najmi Fuaidi, SH.
dr. H. Syahrizal Syarif, MPH., Ph.D.
Drs. H. Masduki Baidlowi
Drs. H. Abdul Mun'im DZ
Ishfah Abidal Azis, SH.I.
H. Imam Pituduh, SH. MH.
Ir. Suwadi D. Pranoto
H. Ulil A. Hadrawi, M.Hum.
H. Muhammad Said Aqil, Spd.
Sultonul Huda, M.Si.
Dr. Aqil Irham
Heri Haryanto

Bendahara Umum

Dr.-Ing. H. Bina Suhendra

Bendahara

H. Abidin
H. Bayu Priawan Joko Sutono, SE., M.BM.
H. Raja Sapta Ervian, SH., M.Hum.
H. Nurhin
H. Hafidz Taftazani
Umarsyah HS
N. M. Dipo Nusantara Pua Upa

(rna/dhn)

http://news.detik.com/berita/2998570/ini-susunan-pengurus-pbnu-2015-2020

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Like JIL, Islam Nusantara has marketing problem

Ary Hermawan, Tucson, Arizona | Opinion | Tue, August 11 2015, 6:19 AM

One of the main reasons the “Islam Liberal” project is a total failure is that its advocate, the Liberal Islam Network (JIL), is doing a terrible job at marketing itself.

Islam Nusantara, the new propaganda stick launched by Nahdhlatul Ulama (NU) to contest the upturn of Salafism/Wahhabism, must learn from JIL’s mistake, as it is facing a similar problem: It is a hard sell.

Consider JIL. I have no doubts its activists have the intellectual authority to write and speak about Islam, but there is no question the name Islam Liberal merits a PR disaster. It’s probably a cool name for an elitist intellectual circle; an interesting topic for discussion in university colloquiums. But it is too much to swallow for the average Ahmad, the Muslims on the street.

A Muslim? But — liberal?

Does not Islam mean submission to the will of God? If that’s the case, does not the term liberal Islam sound like an oxymoron? JIL will have no problem refuting this argument, but who will listen?

Religion for the masses should be like pop music: easy to digest, simple and sweet. JIL is prog-rock. It’s all harmony and poetry for the snobs; it’s tedious and befuddling for the rest of us.

More than a decade after JIL cofounder Ulil Abshar Abdalla wrote his combative op-ed piece, “Menyegarkan Kembali Pemahaman Islam” (Refreshing Islamic Understanding), people are still highly suspicious of the group.

Its infamous acronym is often spoken in the same sentence as the PKI, the acronym for the now defunct Indonesian Communist Party.

This is bad, because the PKI — historical correctness aside — is public enemy number one, the big bad wolf in the nation’s collective paranoia, an easy scapegoat for all kinds of calamity.

Even so, the PKI is actually still better than JIL at self-promotion. The party got its notoriety after decades of massive and systematic propaganda by the New Order regime.

The governments after Soeharto had nothing whatsoever against JIL. That the group is now being equated with the PKI tells us a lot of how inept its proponents are at winning the hearts of the Muslim population.

The JIL brand is so unpopular that Islamists are using it to smear Islam Nusantara, and that is enough to make people uneasy about it.

JIL activists, of course, openly support the NU initiative. So they made it too easy for the Islamists to label the concept as nothing short of “JIL incarnate”.

To be clear, I believe JIL stands for the kind of Islam that is best for Indonesia. Islam that promotes democratic values: pluralism, civil liberty and secularism. The challenge is how to embed these values into society.

We have learned that the term Islam Liberal has become a liability not only for the group itself but also the overall liberal Islam movement, which was launched by Nurcholish “Cak Nur” Madjid in the early 1970s and over the years supported, at least tacitly, by a number of elite clerics and intellectuals within NU and Muhammadiyah.

Compared to Islam Liberal, Islam Nusantara is definitely more benign. But it is still problematic for a number of reasons.

First, it is still considered a new thing. In Islam, or any religion for that matter, novelty is always looked upon with suspicion. Its supporters need to make clear there is nothing really new about Islam Nusantara.

 If anything, it is merely a new way most Indonesian Muslims could identify themselves. It does not represent a new Islamic denomination, or a new school of thought.

As a matter of fact, as historian Azyumardi Azra points out, it denotes the centuries old mainstream interpretations and practices of Islam in the country (the Shafi’i school of law, the Ash’arite theology and Ghozalian Sufism). It’s the type of Islam that made Indonesia what it is today — a secular nation based on Pancasila.

But that is not an easy job, especially in the age of social media where every second, hoaxes are spreading like wildfire, and facts and common sense are drowned out by a cacophony of millions of online comments.

Second, it reeks of inconsistency. Theoretically and historically, Islam Nusantara is open to local and foreign influences. It accepts differences in how Muslims everywhere express and practice their beliefs. But its exponents often come off as anti-Arab to the point of being racist and xenophobic.

I’m aware that many supporters of Islam Nusantara are in no way anti-Arab and in fact fluent in Arabic, but their strong criticism of Salafism/Wahhabism often turns into an opposition to or excessive distaste of anything Arab.

This runs counter to what Islam Nusantara stands for, which is moderation and inclusivity.

Supporters of Islam Nusantara must walk the talk.

Third, most people are intuitively obsessed with “the one true Islam” that is beyond time and space, let alone national borders. Many Indonesians are not even aware they are a Shafi’i or a Ghozalian. They only know that they are Muslim, with no additional adjectives.

To say they are Muslim Nusantara is odd if not redundant. This is why the Islam Nusantara concept is a hard sell. This is why the Islamists, be they Salafists or Qutbists, have little problem in selling their ideology, which they claim as “the one and only true Islam”.

If simplicity is an important factor that makes an idea marketable, Islam Nusantara obviously has a little marketing problem here. But time will tell whether this brand will last and finally take a deeper root in Indonesian society. Its emergence is highly relevant and worthy of support today as the country is facing a huge tide of religious extremism and violent sectarianism.

Certainly, the Islamists will attack the concept relentlessly on social media, while average Muslims are still skeptical if not suspicious of it.

That said, its proponents must work hard to unspin the spin and to clarify misconceptions about Islam Nusantara.

They should remember that their main goal is not to win a pointless debate with the Islamists, but to get the support of the whole Muslim community. They can only do this by engaging them and affirming their tolerant beliefs and not alienating them by unnecessarily issuing incendiary statements or belittling their understanding of Islam as superficial and unsophisticated just because they grow a beard and dress like an Arab.
___________________________

The author is a staff writer at The Jakarta Post.
Paper Edition | Page: 6
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