In Central Java, NU to open dialogue with Ahmadiyah followers

NU leader says government should be neutral in matters of religion, and urges dialogue with such groups.

By Rochimawati for Khabar Southeast Asia in Yogyakarta

November 27, 2013
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Indonesia's Ahmadiyah community, deemed "deviant" by some Muslims, faces many pressures in East and West Java, but Central Java has chosen a middle way.

  • Ahmadiyah elder Alil Bakar Basalah (middle) leads a women's prayer group (Lajnah Imaillah) in Yogyakarta on October 25th. Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo has said he will not ban the group in the province. [Rochimawati/Khabar]

    Ahmadiyah elder Alil Bakar Basalah (middle) leads a women's prayer group (Lajnah Imaillah) in Yogyakarta on October 25th. Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo has said he will not ban the group in the province. [Rochimawati/Khabar]

Governor Ganjar Pranowo indicated people in the province should be able to practice their faith. And local Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) leaders say they will approach the minority group through dialogue.

"The governor suggests not disbanding Ahmadiyah. If at some point people argue that their teaching is not in accordance with Islam, he suggests assisting the group instead of alienating them," said Abu Hafsin, chairman of the NU regional board (PWNU), following a meeting with Ganjar in Semarang on October 17th.

"I agree with the governor's statement. The state should be neutral and separate from religion," Abu Hafsin said. "Conducting dialogue among religious followers is good; it prevents possible conflict from occurring in society."

He himself does not recommend banning Ahmadiyah congregations in Central Java. "If anyone should be considered deviant, they must be nurtured, not disbanded," Abu Hafsin said.

The NU is prepared to guide the Ahmadiyah if the group does not practice the correct teachings of Islam, he added.

"So far we have frequent dialogue and communication with Ahmadiyah leaders in Central Java," he stated.

Ready for dialogue

Syaiful Uyun, an Ahmadiyah preacher from Central Java, said Ahmadiyah followers are ready to engage in dialogue if requested to. "We are ready to have conversations with them. Even with NU comrades, we often do," Syaiful told Khabar.

Ahmadiyah followers in Central Java – about 15,000 people concentrated in Wonosobo and Banjarnegara regencies – can carry out their worship safely, Syaiful said.

"Until now, we are safe to pray and worship in our mosques," he said. Although present in Indonesia for decades, the Ahmadiyah have come under increasing pressure in recent years, especially since a 2008 government decree that allows Ahmadiyah Muslims to practice their religion while imposing stiff penalties if they attempt to spread their ideas.

Ahmadiyah followers "are asked to sign a declaration that they will not conduct Ahmadiyah activities," Syaiful said.

While the Ahmadiyah object to the decree, they respect and obey the rules, Syaiful said. But they hope Indonesian civil society can embrace tolerance. "All elements in our society will respect the decision made by our leaders," he said.

Protect minority groups

Many local Muslims believe that minority groups should be able to practice their faith freely.

The state must protect minority groups, according to M. Syukron, a member of Gusdurian community in Semarang. They are NU members who embrace the pluralism advocated by longtime NU leader and former president Abdurrahman Wahid.

"In the case of Ahmadiyah, we are not defending a particular group, but as a country with laws, we have an understanding of the freedom of speech. Moreover, [freedom of] religion is a matter of human rights," Syukron told Khabar Southeast Asia.

Hairus Salim, director of the Institute for Islamic and Social Studies (LKiS) in Yogyakarta, said the conflict between Sunni and Ahmadiyah is triggered by different interpretations of Islam.

"There is a movement whose teachings may be different from that of the majority religion in Indonesia. As a result, Ahmadiyah followers are considered deviant. However, it is the duty of government to protect the minorities," he said.

Reader Comments
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    • ujang
      January 6, 2014 @ 08:01:03AM
    • Ahmadiyah is a religion just like Shi'ite which uses Islamic symbols to trick Muslim people. Ahmadiyah and the Shi'ite do not want to respectfully concede that they are a religion outside of Islam, unlike the Sikh which is a hybrid of Hindu and Islam.
    • eko dani
      January 6, 2014 @ 05:01:29AM
    • It would be much better if Ahmadiyah did not call themselves Islam if there are fundamental differences in principles to the Al-Quran and Sunnah; they could live in peace without prolonged disputes. I also advise those figures of authority who have no deeper understanding to refrain from giving their comments or take action. This will complicate matters. We are a lawful country and we should abide by all regulations which has been determined by laws.
    • sudiono
      December 30, 2013 @ 08:12:09PM
    • The point is whatever causes unrest among the faithful and causes problems for the country should be eradicated! Do not waste time thinking.
    • Respati
      December 30, 2013 @ 07:12:39AM
    • This is my personal opinion. Stating something as being heresy or not heresy, right or wrong has always been weighed by one's own faith and beliefs, filtered through a limited material logic informed by the "interests" that pertain to one's existence. If such is the case, let us prove it by making an effort to do good unto ourselves and others. Could personal virtue become a social virtue?
    • grandong
      December 23, 2013 @ 08:12:51PM
    • Because there are two versions of Ahmadiyah in society, the MUI and Ahmadiyah. There's a need to consult directly in goodwill to the original source, in this case preachers of Ahmadiyah.
    • yans
      December 22, 2013 @ 10:12:17PM
    • I think that all the opinions in this column are right but we must be able to distinguish between the heretical and the not, that is the point, and not about having all these opinions. It is not even that way in our laws. The government must be firm in dealing with the Ahmadiyah issue and I am of the opinion that Ahmadiyah is heretical.
    • syehk rama
      December 22, 2013 @ 09:12:36PM
    • Fellow Muslims should not fight.
    • wofur
      December 22, 2013 @ 04:12:37PM
    • Ass. Wr. Wb. In entering this new Messianic year, we as Muslims should pray more and carry out Dzikir Qulub. Ruh Dalam Hospital
    • Andi Rustianto
      December 21, 2013 @ 09:12:56PM
    • We as Muslims must all be careful when taking action, do not let the excuse of avoiding conflict hinder us from upholding Islam Ahlusunnah Wal Jamaah when it is damaging the pure Islamic religion. We have to bee firm and wise. Let us return to the guidance of the Prophet in facing these detractors of religious norms, especially of Islam.
    • Neneng
      December 21, 2013 @ 03:12:27AM
    • Humanize humans in a humane way if you claim to be human. Thank you.
    • gus inul cepu
      December 20, 2013 @ 04:12:03AM
    • Get back to the the Aswaja if you still insist on making peace with other kinds of Islam, or else separate yourself from Islam and declare an Ahmadiyah religion that is not a part of Islam and everything will be alright. There is another that causes unrest, the imported Wahabi cult and its cronies, slaughtering our fellow Muslims on the other side of the world. We need to be wary of them.
    • m. soleh
      December 18, 2013 @ 01:12:21AM
    • While Ahmadiyah claims to be Islam. "It would be inappropriate for Muslims to tolerate their belief that there are prophets after Prophet Muhammad SAW. If they want peace, they first have to remove the label of Islam from their worship.
    • nelvi yuliana
      December 17, 2013 @ 10:12:50PM
    • Hopefully true Islam will remain glorious.
    • FARIDA
      December 17, 2013 @ 09:12:14AM
    • Let us carry out the the true Islamic sharia by staying true to the Qur'an and the Prophet's Sunnah. May we become the Prophet Mohammad's people and always receive His wisdom. Amen.
    • muslimin
      December 17, 2013 @ 06:12:50AM
    • Be careful.
    • Muhammad Dharmawan
      December 15, 2013 @ 10:12:47AM
    • -Light Above Light- Know thyself and you will come to know your Creator! Take a notebook and pen and write down every thought exactly as they come to us, exposed feelings, the words of an affected heart, movements both intentional and unintentional as they happen in detail, accurately and in detail for 5 minutes and the next 5 minutes! And the answer: we cannot and do not know! Why? What about writing in detail everything from birth to death? So what creature do you perceive to be able and to know (about it), both upon itself and on all creatures that exist in the past, present and future? If no creature is able to write their detailed and accurate thoughts that flash, words of an affected heart, feelings that are exposed, the movements that happen to himself either the past or the future? What about Allah, the Creator of every creature - perhaps He too does not know? If such is the presumption, who knows all (about them all in detail) and controls all living things and all things in this universe? To whom does everything belong, besides Allah SWT? What makes the human so great when he does not know everything that has happened and will happen to himself besides error, ignorance and arrogance? Think for a moment Ji.
    • samsi
      December 28, 2013 @ 08:12:50PM
    • Human beings are but 1/1000 (more) the size of a dust particle in the air, nothing.
    • Aep Saepudin
      December 14, 2013 @ 10:12:26AM
    • God willing, things will improve and of course, we need to continue to learn.
    • akwan
      December 13, 2013 @ 10:12:40PM
    • Ahmadiyah should be disbanded because they are heretics who lead people astray.
    • L.Burhanudin
      December 12, 2013 @ 05:12:40AM
    • How can we expect Muslims not to be disturbed by Ahmadiyah which claims to be Muslim but is in violation of fundamental Islamic tenets. If Ahmadiyah did not equate themselves and did not consider themselves as Muslims then Muslims would not have any objections. Remember, do not call yourself a Muslim if you believe that there are prophets after Prophet Muhammad SAW.
    • grandong
      December 23, 2013 @ 08:12:13PM
    • This is just like the fatwa by Jewish clerics that there are no prophets after Moses and that those who claim to be a prophet after Moses must be destroyed. What prophet came after Prophet Moses? Prophet Harun A.S. Dis. of course. And the Prophet SAW's dying words to His son Sayyidina Qosim mean that should he grow into an adult He (Qasim) will become a good prophet.
    • Mahmud
      December 12, 2013 @ 04:12:02AM
    • It is impossible for a Muslim who is well versed in the Sunnah to be tolerant of Ahmadiyah, for they differ greatly. Ahmadiyah is not Islam so it is not possible unless Ahmadiyah concedes to not use the name 'Islam'. Only then will committed Muslims be tolerant.
    • andi
      December 12, 2013 @ 04:12:29AM
    • Islam is a religion of blessing, its followers have never spread hatred and violence, they love peace. As for the takfiri-wahabi, they are heathens, enemies of both the Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims because they spread teachings of violence and murder. Wassalam.
    • wahid mustofa
      December 12, 2013 @ 01:12:00AM
    • Tolerance is all well and good when it comes to our actions, but when it comes to worship we must stay firmly true to the principles of Islam. That being the case, deviations should be erased.
    • armain
      December 11, 2013 @ 11:12:59PM
    • As long as Ahmadiyah does not destroy the Islamic sharia taught by the Prophet, Central Java will protect them but if they throw Islam into chaos we will take firm action.
    • Hj. Ir. Upik Rina SA
      December 17, 2013 @ 08:12:40PM
    • What is there to talk about? How can Muslims not be unnerved by Ahmadiyah, carrying around the name Islam when their teachings are at odds with the core Islamic teachings. If Ahmadiyah did not equate themselves with Muslims then Muslims would not mind. Remember, do not call yourself Muslim if you recognize prophets after Muhammad SAW.
    • arif
      December 11, 2013 @ 07:12:41PM
    • Let us keep a clear head and be sincere because we have the Prophet's example and none has come after.
    • Rialis
      December 11, 2013 @ 02:12:54AM
    • Let us put the utmost effort into learning about the tenets of Islam according to the Prophet SAW. This way there won't be jarring differences that may cause unrest. Truth be told, there are no new understandings regarding Islam because Allah has approved of Islam brought to us by the Prophet and is declared to have been perfected so there are no new opinions outside of the Prophet SAW's Sunna.
    • YUSUP
      December 10, 2013 @ 10:12:56PM
    • How about those who claim to be Muslim but do not want to pray together because the imam is of a different kind of Islam and their prayers are not considered valid. Is this Muslim majority considered Islam by them? Let us study this so that we are not deceived.
    • ferry
      December 9, 2013 @ 09:12:06PM
    • I agree that groups, organizations and individuals have the right to worship according to their religious teachings that do not infringe upon or change existing religious principles. If you are conducting worship and do so according to the existing principles they should ask for the approval of existing principles, especially those with identical or similar names because it may compromise the principle. It is like secretly adding water from a tainted source to a glass of fresh water, they may both be clear but are different, especially if contaminated by unseen bacteria and causes illness, right? If one asks for approval then the source of the water will be known and be contained in a separate vessel so as not to mix. As with the example above, if we know that the source is the same then adding identical compounds will not cause contamination. If it is from a different source, especially if it brings about illness, then it should be cleansed and filtered etc. Okay, except if it is an entirely different element like oil (another religion) because they won't mix on their own. I hope that readers understand and sincerely accept my statements as bearing no ill will, only towards our mutual benefit. Pardon me, I am only adding to the comment by jeremi which could be dangerous if incomplete.
    • fikri
      December 9, 2013 @ 05:12:48PM
    • I hope things would get better.
    • ali
      December 5, 2013 @ 09:12:00PM
    • Allah knows more, and God willing, knows best.
    • Annotarre
      December 12, 2013 @ 04:12:57AM
    • This opinion is spot on, I agree. But, do not take on the role of Allah and call it the will of the majority group, which sometimes act with cruelty. For example, their actions towards Ahmadiyah and the Shi'ite, or other minority groups.
    • ryan danu
      December 5, 2013 @ 07:12:43AM
    • Dialogue is the best way.
    • mustahal
      December 4, 2013 @ 11:12:51PM
    • Solve all problems using peaceful means, not violence.
    • Ahmad Agni
      November 30, 2013 @ 08:11:37PM
    • Hopefully this news will bring motivation in the future.
    • yeremy
      November 30, 2013 @ 01:11:05AM
    • I support the ahmadiyah movement, this is a country of constitution. Each individual has the right to exercise his religious practices and teachings without pressure. If that is not the case then this is not a country that has achieved independence.
    • yusar
      December 11, 2013 @ 10:12:08PM
    • I agree. Support Ahmadiyah as long as it is not at odds with Islamic teachings. Also, is it true that an Ahmadiyah mosque is cleansed after being used to pray? If it is, are Ahmadiyah teachings right? Is it not against Islamic teachings?
    • m. soleh
      December 18, 2013 @ 01:12:50AM
    • If Ahmadiyah want peace and worship peacefully, they should admit that they are Ahmadiyah and not bring Islam into it, problem solved. But, if they still invoke the name of Islam, do not expect Muslims to accept it even to the end of days. The principle of Islam is absolute, that the Prophet Muhammad SAW is the last prophet.
    • han
      December 21, 2013 @ 05:12:31AM
    • You support Ahmadiyah because you are ignorant in matters of Islam.
    • Dien
      November 29, 2013 @ 02:11:46PM
    • It's useful to add to my knowledge.
    • eva
      November 28, 2013 @ 11:11:01PM
    • Great, I hope this matter is resolved quickly.

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