Rabu, 30 April 2008


About Fitna Movie

By: Ulil Abshar-Abdalla

Islamism may not compatible with the culture of enlightenment. But I don’t think that Islam oppose it although not everything is parallel with each other. I believe that Islam can absorb the values of European enlightenment. We have to remember that the history of European enlightenment is closely correlated with Islam. Several Muslim thinkers had even been the inspirations for the European humanists in 16th and 17th century.

Concerning Geert Wilders and his film Fitna?, we have to realize that this incident does not reflect the position of western society in general. On one hand, we find people such as Wilders who deeply hate Islam. On the other hand, we find Cardinal Rowan William, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who sparked a religious and political storm in the United Kingdom when he raised the prospect of Islamic law to be recognized within British family law.

Suspicion and negative assumption against Islam has been prevailing among western society, just as Muslim society has toward the Christian and the West. However, I observed that the western society has gradually inclined toward the more positive outlook upon diverse cultures. Here, I talked about the general tendency.

Of course, there is also some negative predisposition and there will always be. However, looking back at the history of western society, the indication is very much different as compared to their viewpoint beyond a century ago for instance. Nowadays, western society has begun to abandon their euro-centrism although they sometimes failed in some points. We must remember that the western society has been going through very complicated and difficult roads to reach today’s condition.

I observed that Wilders phenomenon is a reflection of insecure feeling vis-a-vis the new cultural attacks from the outside of Europe. Wilders said that a European society must defend the enlightenment and reject the ideology of Islam and Islamism. I think that his opinion is true in some degree. We must distinguish between Islamism and Islam. Islamism may not compatible with the culture of enlightenment. But I don’t think that Islam oppose it although not everything is parallel with each other. I believe that Islam can absorb the values of European enlightenment. We have to remember that the history of European enlightenment is closely correlated with Islam. Several Muslim thinkers had even been the inspirations for the European humanists in 16th and 17th century.

Wilders incident is also reflection of the religious illiteracy among western society. Because of the extensive secularization, western society did not obtain sufficient education and information about the rich tradition of major religions of the world. They immediately amazed to find some of the Holy Book verses that oppose their rationalism. That is why Wilders has issued very harsh statement about Islam. In fact, the Holy Book of every religion contains of problematic statement as compared with the modern sensibility, if they were only literally comprehended.

To me, Wilders stands in the similar position with the fundamentalists everywhere: which is to understand religious text apart from its context, and to ignore the complexity of history of religious text interpretation. The different among both of them is only one: while Wilders cursed those literally comprehended religious texts, the fundamentalists tightly embraced it for 24 hours.

Kamis, 24 April 2008

Islamic Radical

Islamic radical movements in Indonesia

By Azyumardi Azra

The root causes of radicalism among Muslims in modern times are very complex. This complexity has become even greater lately because of the numerous driving factors that are working to influence the socio-historical course of Muslim societies as a whole.

Looking at the whole history of radicalism among Muslims, I would argue that radicalism among Muslims is more political than religious. In some instances, the original motive may have been religious, but it soon became very political.

The idea of establishing an Islamic state (dawlah al-Islamiyyah) is one of the most crucial issues that is on and off among certain groups of Muslims in Indonesia. Certain groups among the moderates, such as the Masjumi party under the leadership of Mohammad Natsir, for instance, have also attempted to transform Indonesia into a dawlah al-Islamiyyah.

It is important to point out that the attempts were carried out through legal and constitutional means, more precisely, through the legislature. But the idea failed to materialize, mainly because Islamic parties had been involved in quarrels and conflicts among themselves.

At the same time, however, there remain individuals and Muslim groups who are keeping alive the idea of establishing an Islamic state here. Depending on the political situation, these people can operate underground or openly in trying to achieve their goal. They may also collaborate with certain elements of unhappy military officers or even with other radical groups which, in terms of ideology, would seem to be incompatible; this awkward collaboration can be called a "marriage for convenience".

Therefore, one should be very careful in his/her analysis and perspective of radical groups; some of them could be genuine, motivated mostly by religious reasons, but some others could be "engineered" radicals sponsored by certain individuals and groups of people for their own political ends.

The fall of president Soeharto after more than three decades of power unleashed the then idle Muslim radicals. The euphoria of newly found democracy, and the lifting of the "anti-subversive law" by president BJ Habibie, provided very good ground for the radicals to express their extremism and radical ideas and activities in a more visible manner. The lack of law enforcement because of the demoralization of the National Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) created a kind of legal vacuum that has been used by the radical groups to take the law into their own hands.

Some of the most important radical groups should be mentioned in this account. They are the Lasykar Jihad, formed by the Forum Komunikasi Ahlussunnah Wa al-Jamaah under the leadership of Ja`far Umar Thalib; the Front Pembela Islam (FPI/Islam Defenders Front) led by Habib Rizq Shihab; the Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia (MMI/Council of Indonesian Jihad Fighters) led by Abu Bakar Baasyir; Jamaah Ikhwan al-Muslimin Indonesia (JAMI) led by Habib Husein al-Habsyi; and Hizb al-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI/Indonesian Party of Liberation).

It is important that some of these groups have been either disbanded by their own leaders -- like Lasykar Jihad -- or have been idle or have been lying low after the arrests and trials of a number of the perpetrators of the Bali and Marriott Hotel bombings.

It is important to make clear, however, that though these radical groups, to a certain degree, tend to be violent, there is no clear evidence that they have also been involved in terrorism. Most of -- if not all -- terrorist activities in Indonesia have been conducted by individuals or groups of individuals that in one way or another have a certain connection or links with Azahari and Noordin M. Top.

It is clear that all of these radical groups mentioned above are independent and have no connection with established organizations like Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Muhammadiyah and the like; nor are they affiliated with Islamic political parties. This indicates that the radical groups do not trust other established Muslim organizations, either socio-religious or political in nature.

There are at least two categories for these radical groups: the first is radical groups that are basically homegrown, including Lasykar Jihad, the FPI and some other smaller groups.

The second category is Middle Eastern-affiliated or oriented groups, like JAMI, which has its origin in al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun in Egypt, and Hibz al-Tahrir, which was initially founded in Jordan by Syaikh Taqi al-Din Nabhani in the 1950s.

Despite this distinction, all of these radical groups have a very strong Middle Eastern-oriented ideology, which they believe to be the most genuinely Islamic worldview.

A series of terrorist bombings in Indonesia, beginning in Legian, Bali, in October 2002, followed by the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta in 2003, the bombing near the Australian Embassy in Jakarta (Sept. 9, 2004), and most recently the second Bali bombings, is certainly a sad human tragedy in contemporary Indonesia. In fact, the bombings reflect a new phase of violence and terror in the country.

Worse is the fact that the perpetrators of the Australian Embassy and the second Bali bombings were suicide attackers, reminding one of the Palestinian suicide bombers. It is difficult for Indonesian people in general to believe that individuals among them are increasingly becoming so ruthless and inhumane in the name of jihad.

But now, after intensive police investigation, the first Bali, Marriott Hotel, Australian Embassy and second Bali bombings, for several reasons, could be seen as a "blessing a disguise".

First, police have been able not only to catch the alleged perpetrators of the bombings, but also to uncover some fresh evidence on the networks of terrorists in Indonesia and Southeast Asia in general. The revelation of the networks has been crucial for establishing the fact that networks of radicals have been working in Southeast Asia.

Second, the revelation of the terrorist networks by the police in so convincing a manner has silenced most of the skeptics, who from the first Bali blasts have maintained that the bombings were simply a Western plot to discredit Islam and destroy the image of Muslims in the country.

The disclosure of networks of radicals has apparently showed people that this "conspiracy theory" does not ring true. The statements by Amrozi, Imam Samudra and their accomplices, involved in the Bali and other bombings, make it clear that the bombings were motivated both by "genuine" radicalism and hatred against the U.S. and other Western powers. The fact that the perpetrators have shown no remorse for the innocent victims has further strengthened the idea that they were motivated by their own terrorist ideology rather than by anything else.

Third, the revelation of the terrorist networks points to the fact that there are indeed terrorists among Indonesians, who happen to be Muslims and who are more than happy to use violent means to achieve their ends. Before the police disclosure, there had been widespread reluctance among Indonesia's Muslim leaders to admit there were Islamic terrorists here misusing the teachings of Islam to justify their terrorist activities.

The events following the second Bali bombings, however, have seen some shift in the attitude of Muslim leaders. They agree that the bombings were not part of a legitimate jihad, as asserted by the suicide bombers, and that it is prohibited to conduct jihad in such a way and, similarly, it is also prohibited to be a suicide bomber.

Furthermore, Muslim leaders agreed to disseminate, on a large scale, the teachings of true jihad among Muslims across Indonesia in an effort to help prevent terrorist groups from recruiting new members and carrying out attacks and suicide bombings. They also acknowledged that terrorism was being carried out by Muslims using heretical Islamic teachings.

There is no doubt now is the time for Muslim leaders in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, the majority of whom are moderate, to sincerely admit that there is a serious problem of radicalism, not to mention terrorism, among certain Muslim individuals and groups.

Therefore, it is time for moderate Muslim leaders to make more clear that a literal interpretation of Islam will only lead to extremism, which is unacceptable to Islam, and that Islam cannot condone, let alone justify, any kind of violent or terrorist act.

Furthermore, moderate Muslim leaders should not be misled by the claims and assertions of the radicals. The radicals are shrewd not only in abusing Islamic doctrines for their own ends, but also in manipulating Muslim sentiment through the abuse and manipulation of the media, particularly television. The claims that the arrests of certain radical leaders means the suppression of Islam and the "ulema" (Muslim religious scholars) are very misleading.

Similarly, the claims that police investigations in Indonesia of certain pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) in the search of the perpetrators of the bombings is the initial step toward hostility and suspicion of all pesantren are even more misleading.

I suggest that one of the most important root causes of violence and terrorism in present-day Indonesia is the almost complete absence of law enforcement and, worse still, impunity. In fact, the law enforcement vacuum has been an important raison d'etre for certain radical groups to take the law into their own hands through unlawful activities such as raids on discotheques, nightclubs and other places the radicals believe cause social ills.

Above all, the future of moderate and peaceful Indonesian Islam is dependent on the fair, objective, proactive attitude of the moderate majority to respond to any developments among Muslims in the region. A reactionary and defensive attitude is not going to help in the efforts to show to the world that Islam is a peaceful religion and that Muslims are peace loving people.

Again, it is time for the moderates to be more assertive and lead the way to reestablish the peaceful nature of Islam in Indonesia and Southeast Asia in general.

Selasa, 22 April 2008

Learning about Islam


A. A Special Way of Life.

When we mention the name, Islam, what do we mean when we say it? When I say I am a Moslem, what am I trying to tell people? If we do not know what those things mean, then we might as well say nothing at all!

The word Islam comes from a language called Arabic. Arabic is the language that people speak in Arabia. Find Arabia on the map!

Islam means two important things. First, it means to surrender, submit or give in to someone. Who are we surrendering to? You guessed it: Allah. In Islam we surrender to Allah. What does that mean? It means that we try to do what Allah told us to do, and we try to stay away from what He told us to stay away from. We do not go against His rules; we surrender to them.

The second meaning of the word Islam is to find peace. If we always disobey our father and make him mad at us, can we say that our day will be easy? No, it will be hard because there will be nothing but arguing and yelling. May be, we will also be punished and that makes us afraid.

In the same way, if we disobey Allah and do not care about Him, then our life will be filled with fear, anger and trouble. We will feel lost inside and might behave badly to the others. When we listen to our parents, we know we will be safe. When we listen to Allah, we will be safe in other way as well. This is the peace that Islam brings to our hearts. We do not worry or fear things as much anymore.

B. Who is a Moslem?

What is the same between the two words “Islam” and “Moslem”? Look real hard at those two words and compare them. Do you see how they both use some of the same letters? Which letters are the same in both the words?

If you looked very hard, you will see that both of the words have the letters “S”, “L”, and “M”. In Arabic, every word is based on what they call “Root Letters”. Root letters are the basic meaning of something from which you can make other similar words.

For example, pronounce the root word: “SLM”. This word means both surrender and peace. To make it mean surrender more, we add a few vowels and we get “Islam”. To make it mean peace more, we different vowels and we get “Salam”. Salam means peace without surrender being thought of.

That’s way Arabic is so wonderful. If you can learn the root letters of any word you can make lots of other words out of it. Your Arabic teacher can show you more about this. So what about the closeness of the two words: “Islam” and “Moslem”? How are they related?

In Arabic, you can oftentimes make any verb or adjective into a person or thing by adding the prefix “Mu” in front of it. If we have the word “Islam” meaning to surrender and find peace, what would a person be called who is doing this? That is Moslem.

So a Moslem is a person who surrenders to Allah and is finding peace. The more you surrender to Allah, the more you follow His ways, the more peace and good feelings you will get.

C. How do We Find out How Allah wants Us to Live?

Allah made us so that we could obey Him. He is not going to make you love Him, however, because He wants you to come to Him by yourself. Just like we cannot force other people to believe as we do, Allah will not force us to believe in Him.

We have learned before that the best way of living our life is to follow Allah. This is called Islam. But now that we know it, how do we find out what Allah wants us to do? How can we learn to love Allah and obey Him? Allah did not leave us alone without any help. Let’s see what He gave us to help us learn to love Him.

First of all, Allah made us with the ability o feel love inside. We can love people, animals or even other things like games, jobs or ideas. But there is one other thing our love does. It makes us realized that we need something else in this world beside our selves.

The people who listen to their hearts the most eventually see that the greatest love of all is when we love Allah. So Allah put in us the good feelings that would eventually lead us to look for Him. This is called our fitrah, or basic natural way.

Some people obey their fitrah and go and look for Allah while other people ignore Allah and keep on loving only what they can see around them. Oftentimes their hearts become clouded in ignorance, pain and anger because they reject what their hearts want most.

We know our love can bring us closer to Allah. We know it can make us want to be nearer to Allah, but that still does not solve question: “How can I know what Allah wants me to do?”

Allah took a care of that, too. He chose different people long ago, from all races and colors, and gave His messages to them. These people who received messages from Allah are called Messengers. In Arabic the word for messenger is “Rasul”.

These Messengers obeyed Allah and taught other people whatever Allah gave to them. Sometimes Allah even gave some of the Messengers whole books, so people far and wide could read them and learn how to follow Allah’s ways.

The last book Allah gave is called the Qur’an. The name of the Messenger who brought it was Muhammad, peace be upon him. Because the Qur’an is the last message from Allah, it covers everything important for us.

When we read the Qur’an and do what it says, then we can say we are following what Allah wants. This is how we come closer to Allah.


1. What does the word Islam mean?

2. What are the three root letters of the word Islam?

3. What does the word Moslem mean?

4. What thing within us makes us want to come closer to Allah?

5. How do we know what Allah wants us to do?

6. What is a Rasul?

7. What is the name of the last message Allah sent to the world?

Our Different World


A. People are Different.

There are all kinds of people in our big, blue world. There are tall people, short people, skinny people and strong people. But those differences are only about how we look at. Are there other things that make one person different from another? Let’s see if we can answer that question.

In addition to all the physical differences there are also differences in how people behave and in what people believe is right and wrong. If one person steals and another person is honest, would you say they are same? Of course not! If one person drinks alcohol and another says it’s wrong, are they different too? Indeed they are!

What about other differences? Is it possible for one person to be different from another in their beliefs and way of living? Does a person’s religion make them different from others? As you will see, people can be very different in what they believe and in how they live their lives.

B. Different Beliefs.

A Belief is an idea that a person feels is true. Any belief can be true or false. If a person believes in a false idea and does not know it’s a false, then it may still be real for them. Just because we believe in something does not always make it right. The value of our beliefs must be tested for truth.

Many people have different beliefs about why they are alive in this world. Some people believe we are here to have fun and take whatever we want. Other people believe we are here to be good and to do nice things to every living creature.

Sometime a person’s beliefs may include spiritual concepts or ideas. Spiritual means anything having to do with the hidden world of our soul or an after-life. The word soul means the hidden spirit inside your body. When people talk about spiritual things in our country, they usually say they are talking about religion.

C. Islam is not a Religion

In English, the word Religion means a group of practices and beliefs that a community follows so they have something in common. It doesn’t matter if the religion is true or not. All that matters is that all the people do the same things. People in North America and the rest of the world follow many different religions and belief system.

Islam is not a religion, however, because it teaches people more than just to follow or believe in something. We do have beliefs to follow, but it does not stop with just praying or going to a church once in a week or a year. To get the heaven, and live a good life, Muslims must not only believe in God, but they must also follow His teachings as best as they can. Islam is a part of our lives every day.

As a Muslim, or follower of Islam, we learn that our whole life is for God, whom we call Allah. Allah is the Creator of the universe. We pray to Allah and believe in Him, and when we are not praying, we remember our Creator in other ways by living by His rules.

So we can see, Islam is not a religion but a way to live our life every day. Our beliefs become our life and our life becomes our beliefs. This is what makes a Muslim different from all the other people of the world.

D. How do I Live with Different People?

Even though there are so many different kinds of beliefs among the people of the world, Islam teaches us that we must respect others. Allah created everyone in the world, and He wants people to accept His way of life, called Islam.

But a Muslim is never allowed to force someone else to become a Muslim. This is not the Islamic way. Everyone must choose to accept Islam or reject it.

It is important for us to remember that a person’s beliefs are real to them. It’s what gives a person their feelings of value inside. A person’s heart is like a fortress, or strong castle.

If people are going to change their beliefs to something else, then the way the new beliefs are introduced must be very careful and planned. Otherwise, the fortress of their heart will keep them from understanding.

In a world of different kinds of people and different beliefs it is important that we respect the rights of others to believe in whatever they want to. This is what Islam tells us to do respect others first and then you can tell them about your beliefs.

Questions to Answer!

1. What are some things that make people different from each other?

2. What is religion?

3. Why do we say that Islam is not a religion?

4. Who is the One who made the universe?

5. How should Muslims deal with people who have different beliefs from us?