To garner votes for Indonesia's upcoming elections, politicians and parties have approached the country's two most influential Muslim organisations for endorsements.
But both Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah say they will stay neutral in campaigns for national and regional legislative elections– set for April 9th– as well as for the July 9th presidential polls.
"We are politically neutral and we encourage our members to be leaders and cadres in this upcoming election," Muhammadiyah Chairman Din Syamsuddin told Khabar Southeast Asia.
At 101 years old, Muhammadiyah is Indonesia's oldest Islamic organisation. It and NU – which came into being in 1926 – each count tens of millions of followers.
"NU will not support any political parties or candidates in the elections of 2014. We leave it as a personal choice of each citizen," NU board member Malik Madani told Khabar Southeast Asia.
"We do not want to get involved in political-support decisions. Although NU members are spread among many political parties, we want to remain neutral," Malik added.
On January 8th, Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) party chief and presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto visited both NU and Muhammadiyah leaders to talk to them about his platform.
"We want to assure [them] that we have communality with its followers, including those who are Muhammadiyah members," Prabowo told Khabar.
"We consider NU and Muhammadiyah to be important organisations and their leaders are important figures," he said.
Malik acknowledged some candidates had met with NU officials.
"Prabowo was not the only one. Jakarta's Governor Jokowi was also here," Malik said, using the popular nickname for Joko Widodo. "He was conducting a meeting with NU leaders on the implementation of the National Conference in Jakarta."
Nationwide sharia 'unlikely': commentator
The decision by both organisations to be neutral in the elections was a wise move, West Jakarta Muslim leader Muhammad Ansori Hakim said.
"It is good that they decided to be neutral, to avoid conflict," he told Khabar.
Asked about how some Islamic-based parties were campaigning for nationwide implementation of sharia law as part of their platforms, Ansori said this call was unlikely to become a reality.
"At least not in the near future," Ansori said, basing his assessment on the Indonesian constitution, the five principles of Pancasila, and the country's motto of "Unity in Diversity."
There always is a religious dimension to Indonesian electoral campaigns, but religion does not dominate successful platforms, he noted. All parties should consider doing more to improve tolerance across the country, Ansori added.