Indonesia's Yudhoyono speaks out against Islamic statehood

The notion of establishing an Islamic state in Indonesia is contrary to the Pancasila spirit of pluralism, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said.

By Aditya Surya for Khabar Southeast Asia in Bali

May 21, 2014
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Indonesia must ward off efforts to turn the nation into an Islamic state, outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said recently.

  • President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) received the Soekarno Prize, a statesmanship award named after Indonesia's first president, May 7th in Bali. [Muhammad/Khabar]

    President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) received the Soekarno Prize, a statesmanship award named after Indonesia's first president, May 7th in Bali. [Muhammad/Khabar]

A movement to abolish Indonesia's secular government and impose sharia law nationwide would go against the constitution, Yudhoyono warned May 7th in Gianyar, Bali as he received the Soekarno Prize for statesmanship.

"Indonesia is a secular country and that is an important legacy that we have inherited from Soekarno and other Indonesian founding fathers," Yudhoyono said during his acceptance speech at the Soekarno Centre.

Keeping Soekarno's legacy of secularism intact is crucial to safeguarding religious plurality, he added.

"Soekarno's call is not only relevant for the past, but also to answer all of today's questions about religious tolerance in Indonesia," Yudhoyono said.

Respect the constitution: PKB leader

The comments come as the country prepares to elect a new president July 9th and after five Islam-based parties combined for 33% of the vote in last month's legislative elections.

These faith-based parties are joining coalitions for the presidential race but it is unclear whether any of them would push for the implementation of sharia law.

Mohammad Mahfud MD, a leading figure from the National Awakening Party (PKB), said Yudhoyono's speech evoked the moderate approach espoused by former president and Nahdlatul Ulama leader Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur).

"We should learn from the history of Gus Dur. He would rather leave his presidency than work against the constitution," Mahfud, a former chief justice of the Constitutional Court, told Khabar Southeast Asia. "Even though he is no longer among us, Gus Dur's spirit of pluralism is a good example and we should continue this spirit and transfer it to our younger generations."

A unique country

Yudhoyono's speech came around the time that nearby Brunei Darussalam became the first Southeast Asian nation to declare sharia the law of the land.

"I know Muslims are the majority of religious followers in Brunei. But Indonesia has a completely different dynamic than Brunei," Jakarta resident Joko Prasetyo told Khabar. "We are united through different religions, languages, and ethnicities. We realise how different we are."

One does not need to live in an Islamic state to be a good Muslim, Central Jakarta cleric Muhammad Arif Maulana told Khabar.

"Indonesia is a unique country. We should enrich this diversity and not kill it. Islam loves tolerance, and we will be good Muslims by embracing tolerance, helping others in need, and zakat (alms-giving). We can do all of these things here in a secular Indonesia," he said.

Reader Comments
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    • didin wahyu
      June 20, 2014 @ 07:06:37AM
    • Islamic law does not contradict Pancasila, for instance: 1. Belief in the Almighty God: Muslims worship one God, Allah Subhanahu wata a'la. The almighty God, the one God.
    • subhan
      June 20, 2014 @ 06:06:02AM
    • If a country is too small, eventually the world will be ruled by Islam, that is Sunnatulloh (ordained by Allah SWT).
    • abu amri
      June 20, 2014 @ 03:06:18AM
    • If we built a house of gold, how beautiful it would be if it was inhabited by people who are good in the eyes of their Creator and their fellows. It would not befit a good house to be inhabited by the diseased such as those with diseased hearts. Envious, greedy, afflicted with scabies and not even knowing it and will become a source of revulsion for people who see it. Start with yourself and the Creator will judge whether you are worthy of being judged.
    • bachtiar cadek
      June 18, 2014 @ 02:06:02PM
    • Greetings all my Muslim brothers, remember the word of Allah "If you are truly faithful to Allah, the power of the world will be given to you", it seems our hearts must first be cleansed from the false idols that control us.
    • phan ipina
      June 15, 2014 @ 11:06:15AM
    • Man-made laws are bound to be violated by man but no one can break Allah's law. To live as a Muslim we must be willing to be governed by the Qur'an. If you are unwilling to be governed by the Qur'an why claim to be Islam. You don't follow the rules of Islam, but made up laws and not the Creator's.
    • kibuyut
      June 13, 2014 @ 03:06:35AM
    • You are disappointed with MMD because he is on a different side in the presidential election. So, in my opinion you actually have an aversion to differences and you are self righteous.
    • abdullah
      June 12, 2014 @ 05:06:08AM
    • The promises of Allah and the Prophet will come to pass. We are certain that this Earth will be inherited by the faithful. Therefore, the mujahideen will fight to uphold Islam and establish khilafah ala minhaju nubuwa.
    • tony
      June 20, 2014 @ 02:06:54AM
    • Correct, but the struggle of Islam should exemplify how the Prophet fought for Islam.
    • Amin
      June 12, 2014 @ 03:06:15AM
    • Mr. SBY's statement was inhumane. If SBY was asked whether he is a Muslim he would answer that he is a Muslim. If we asked him on whose Earth does he live he would answer that he lives on Allah's Earth. The strange thing is that he is unwilling to live by the rules of Allah who will save him on Earth and when he meets his Creator. Remember, Mr. SBY, Indonesia belongs to Allah, your life is a blessing from Allah, so follow Allah's rules before you are called before Allah. There is one more thing in this statement, that Mr. SBY believes that an Islamic country, Daulah Khilafah, will soon be established.
    • bachtiar cadek
      June 18, 2014 @ 02:06:14PM
    • I, as a Muslim in Aceh, am still skeptical on the readiness of Indonesians to accept the sharia because the reality is that today there are few Indonesians Muslims who remain devout. Most of them love possessions more than they love honor like the Prophet's companions back then (loving the world and afraid of death). Also, the Indonesian Muslims' understanding of Tawhid is currently very fragile, they still laugh at the Prophet's Sunnah, mosques are empty of people worshiping together, they love the sports field more than the mosque. So, I suggest to the true Islamic fighters to invite 50% of Muslims to love Islam to start with, 50% of Muslims to carry out prayer the right way, only then will there be victory in our struggle, here's to hoping!
    • tony
      June 20, 2014 @ 02:06:01AM
    • Are there any countries today that uphold the caliphate country?
    • suhid
      June 11, 2014 @ 10:06:55PM
    • The function of humans, created by Allah Subhanahu wa ta'ala is to serve Him. Whoever does not has deviated form their function as a human being (Surah Adz Dzariyat (51) verse 56). This includes the nation of Indonesia, it should serve Allah. This means that Indonesia must be led by someone who can lead the people to serve Allah SWT.
    • tony
      June 20, 2014 @ 03:06:36AM
    • For Muslim individuals it is mandatory but if we were not able to uphold the Islamic sharia, that is another story.
    • Husaini Algayoni
      June 11, 2014 @ 08:06:09PM
    • Do not ever use Indonesia's laws as a guideline because it would mislead us and lead us to denial. Secularism rejects and denies the Quran and Sunnah. Use the Quran and Sunnah laws as guidelines so we do not go astray and fall into denial.
    • syamsulbahri
      June 11, 2014 @ 08:06:15PM
    • Sooner or later Indonesia will be swept up in a wave of jihad, read here:
    • Husaini Algayoni
      June 11, 2014 @ 07:06:49PM
    • Do not ever use Indonesia's laws as a guideline because it would mislead us and lead us to denial. Use the Al-Quran and As-Sunnah as guidelines. Our leader has said that Indonesia is a secular country, where in fact secularism rejects and denies the laws of the Al-Quran and As-Sunnah.
    • tony
      June 20, 2014 @ 03:06:05AM
    • Have Muslims carried out the laws of Islam perfectly? Because Indonesia is 90% Muslim, we should have seen the results by now. But what results can we see today?
    • Zumbol
      June 11, 2014 @ 06:06:01PM
    • We do not need an Islamic country to implement Islamic sharia. But, use the law of the Quran as the law that applies in Indonesia because the laws made by the people's representatives are not in line with the people's conscience. The people's representatives are not bold enough or are unwilling to make laws to give the death sentence to the corrupt. Murder must be punished by death, rape should be punished by death, stealing up to a certain amount must be punished by the cutting of the hand. The representatives in office most certainly do not have the courage to make laws and regulations as they are written in the Quran on the grounds that it would mean having an Islamic country. That's because they know that those laws will backfire, shooting themselves in the foot. If there is a presidential candidate who is brave enough to implement the law of the Quran in their government, we Muslims will elect them because all we want is Allah's blessings.
    • Urang Awam
      June 11, 2014 @ 07:06:32AM
    • Let the people of the Pancasila do their work, it has been 70 years and there are no results. Let Muslims do their work too and prove that Islam can achieve a society that is just, prosperous, without needing power. This means that Muslims must fix themselves and think on how to cultivate people who are faithful, virtuous, patient, sincere, obedient, building the good and preventing the bad. If this works, didn't Allah promise to give power to one who is faithful and virtuous?
    • tony
      June 20, 2014 @ 03:06:45AM
    • Agree.
    • M.Khairul Alfatih
      June 11, 2014 @ 01:06:05AM
    • Return to the Pancasila and 1945 Constitution. The first principle: Belief in the almighty God. Can a person who is unwilling to carry out their religion be said to be of the Pancasila? Carrying out Islam is the way of upholding the first principle for its followers.
    • asamson
      June 15, 2014 @ 08:06:53AM
    • It is clear that the first Principle has been obfuscated, what it originally said was a country "founded on belief in the almighty God and the obligation to carry out Islamic sharia for its followers". The opening of the Constitution reads "Of the blessings and grace of the Almighty God" but the implementation is made into something hazy, pardon me, a cleric was also involved by saying "our country is unique, it is not a religious country and it is not a secular country". Even if you didn't go to school you would know that the statement is confusing, raw and forcibly limits the implementation of Islam because this statement is made to be a foundation so don't be surprised if most of the clerics are by-invitation or made-to-order. If our country was an Islamic country or a Sultanate then, Allah willing, the clerics would embody religion.
    • mualief
      June 9, 2014 @ 06:06:23AM
    • I agree with asamson.
    • andi
      June 5, 2014 @ 10:06:32PM
    • The majority of Muslims in the world are in Indonesia, Indonesia is host to the most debauchery. Allah be forgiving, Islamic country or not, what matters is that Muslims as individuals must abide fully to religion.
    • vivi
      June 11, 2014 @ 07:06:40AM
    • The important thing is that all the religions in the world are good, there is no religion that is not good. The problem is that some worshippers tend to overact. We must uphold tolerance. Why should we rely on our respective religions when we will all die in the end? So, my argument is that all religions are equal before Allah.
    • kibuyut
      June 13, 2014 @ 03:06:56AM
    • That's right.
    • tony
      June 20, 2014 @ 03:06:39AM
    • That's wrong. Religions are good for their respective followers.
    • madrais
      June 5, 2014 @ 06:06:42AM
    • Do not follow neighboring countries (Brunei) because different countries have different histories.
    • ocoy
      June 2, 2014 @ 09:06:49AM
    • How about a Christian country? So that we can progress and rise up from dilapidated conditions.
    • asamson
      June 4, 2014 @ 08:06:52AM
    • You're playing the fool, Christians came into this country as invaders and robbers.
    • vivi
      June 11, 2014 @ 07:06:40AM
    • Christianity are not the criminal and nor are they invaders. It is people who deem other religions to be corrupt who are the most corrupt. I pity you, your way of thinking is shallow and outdated.
    • mamat
      May 29, 2014 @ 03:05:25AM
    • Islam is a blessing for all of creations. Blessing for nature and all within it. This does not mean that when Islam is in power it becomes intolerant. Islam is more than that, it is more tolerant than other religions, more tolerant than man-made laws because "al-islam ya`lu wala yu`la `alaih" which means that there is no matter that cannot be resolved by Islam because Islam is the last religion God put on Earth so that the legality of its laws surpasses the laws of past/other religions. Islam has perfected past religions. Try reading again the history of Prophet Muhammad and compare it to the predecessors. Also, where is the proof that the law in place is capable of resolving issues in this country? Indonesia has been independent for 70 years, we have only taken the people of Indonesia to the gates of Indonesian independence. The most important thing that the younger generation must carry out are the mandates of the proclaimers and the reality is no one has been able to do so. Why? The answer: Islam has been abandoned by its followers, Islam is nothing but a shield to achieve ambitions.
    • Embas Achmed
      June 12, 2014 @ 05:06:50AM
    • Exactly right, I strongly agree.
    • tony
      June 20, 2014 @ 03:06:20AM
    • Correct.
    • raup
      May 29, 2014 @ 02:05:55AM
    • Indonesia is fit to become an Islamic country because Islam respects other religions and other religions will be protected if Indonesia is made into an Islamic state. Here's to hoping, Amin.
    • vivi
      June 11, 2014 @ 07:06:53AM
    • I think all religions are right. You are too backward in your thinking. Don't show off, bro, keep your stupidity in check and keep it to yourself.
    • bachtiar cadek
      June 18, 2014 @ 02:06:44PM
    • Who could be a candidate for a just Islamic king for all faiths today? We should develop the Islamic boarding schools first and give rise to charismatic clerics as we had in the past, not professors and doctors who are afraid of sharia, okay?
    • yusri abdi
      May 28, 2014 @ 07:05:32PM
    • I agree that Indonesia should not be made into an Islamic state and I propose a revision on the laws pertaining to: 1. Theft, burglary and corruption 2. Pertaining to extramarital sex and rape 3. Murder and abuse The laws for these three cases should be based on the laws set forth in the Al-Qur'an because it would be a positive deterrent for those who mean to do those things and those who have yet to do those things. The ladies and gentlemen in the House of Representatives should consider the positive aspects of applying this law in the name of peace and order in the Republic of Indonesia. The term Secular is not the best choice.
    • yuseph
      May 28, 2014 @ 06:05:39PM
    • The Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia is founded on the various interests of tribes, religions, races and customs. Consequently, Pancasila is a product of a social contract by the people at a national level which must be understood, agreed on, and carried out and not brought into conflict with religion.
      May 28, 2014 @ 06:05:05PM
    • As a native son of Papua, I agree with the article above. The Constitution must be upheld from Sabang to Merauke. Indonesia does not belong to any one religion but all religions that exists between Sabang and Merauke. This is because Indonesia was fought for by and taken from the hands of the Dutch and Japanese, not fought for by Islam but all the religions in Indonesia. Therefore, what the article above is saying is that all of those people have ownership of the homeland and love the nation of Indonesia. Remember, all Muslims across Indonesia, from Sabang to Merauke, take care to not be influenced by Islam in the Middle East because it is chaos over there and it is very worrying. Their situation should not be compared with Islam in Indonesia. Shalom Alaikhem!
    • erwin
      May 28, 2014 @ 09:05:16AM
    • Hey, all my friends from across Indonesia, do not change the legacy of our beloved country's founders. If there are those out there who wish to turn Indonesia into an Islamic state, we as citizens must carry out our the legacy.
    • wan mohamad nor
      May 22, 2014 @ 09:05:31PM
    • Syariah laws is a top priority for a muslim. Human made law will never stop evil
    • reywempie
      May 22, 2014 @ 09:05:28AM
    • Yes, good, religion is not meant to be made into an issue but to be carried out according to God's commandments.
    • asamson
      May 22, 2014 @ 08:05:06AM
    • Pardon me, let's not get into too much theory. If you wish to fight for minorities, it's easy, restore Islam to be in line with the culture and history of this country, that is, the sultanates (the bloodline of the Prophet who are righteous, trustworthy, who spread the word of Allah and intelligent). The non-Muslims will automatically be protected because it is fair and wise. Islam is complete and included within are education, social values, virtue, economy, strategy/politics etc. Do not equate religion with social, political, moral and economic principles but rather it encompasses everything. Islamic professionalism is not one we know today which caters to human desire and human rights which follows human laws. Human rights should adhere to the culture and history of the country which is Islam, etc. The system in this country can be summed up in an analogy: it is a person who is human from their neck to their toes but has a robot for a head made by the US which can be either replaced every five years or kept through democracy (a plot) of quantity in order to get rid of the true leaders who have certain traits and have been ordained by Allah SWT. We should select leaders from those who have been approved by Allah from our hearts and we can elect the best leader through democracy of quality. Therefore, we can have a true leader and not one with a robot head that cannot feel the pain and suffering that happens from the neck down because the head and brain is created by humans (the US).
    • ocoy
      June 2, 2014 @ 09:06:17AM
    • You think you know everything. Try the other way around, the people who were using their brains to think, now try using your backside for speaking. Allah willing, it can be more meaningful. Amin.
    • bachtiar cadek
      June 18, 2014 @ 02:06:23PM
    • What? Even fellow Muslims are fighting like this, how do you expect to establish an Islamic country? Would the Prophet SAW teach us to do this?
    • asamson
      May 22, 2014 @ 08:05:23AM
    • Pardon me, in the times of the Majapahit kingdom of Hindusm/Buddhism, Pancasila was used a the instrument for tolerance, it was then perfected by the sultanates, who were of the same bloodline, which were led by Islam. The system that was implemented is not widely advocated but from the kingdoms through to the sultanates people behaved in a way that was superior to the Pancasila of today. For example: around Sunan Kudus and S. Ampel there are temples and many non-Muslims who live in peace and comfort. After the presidents, Pancasila is no longer in line with our culture and history and only used as a weapon for the interests of minorities and rulers to oppress, force and deceive the majority who abide by history, using tolerance as an excuse. The Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia is an absolute which has absolutely lost its heart. Unity in Diversity and Pancasila should be led by one leader and that is Islam. Also, the Pancasila is carried by the brainless garuda bird (unless it has Allah written on its head, or the birds of Ababil which carried out the commands of their God by bringing festering rocks of hell), flying without direction following its instincts. Meanwhile, religion is complete in its virtue, economics, justice etc. Yet, it is equated with social issues,and justice and others. If you want Pancasila at the forefront it is easy. Your religion is complete, there is tolerance, justice, strategy, economics, etc. And don't just seek the praise of people by talking about economy, justice, social issues outside your already complete religion. Be obedient to your religion and carry it out in its entirety. Do not belittle and deflate your religion, belittling your religion, confine your religion etc. The Pancasila of today shapes people, whose religion is strong into ones with raw religion. Many have even lost their minds, for instance those who like to dance about.
    • Tania Tatsuko
      May 21, 2014 @ 01:05:51PM
    • The country of Indonesia is a country of Unity in Diversity. It's principles are the Pancasila and the Constitution of 1945. Therefore, it cannot be made into an Islamic country even though the majority of its citizens are Muslim.
    • rahmat
      May 23, 2014 @ 10:05:56PM
    • It turns out that the ones championing Pancasila are traitors to Pancasila itself. For example, the 1945 Constitution are being trampled by the filthy feet of corrupt officials and legislators by making government regulations and laws that are secular and capitalistic which are blatantly anti-Pancasila and against the 1945 Constitution, namely the MINERBA law, the Oil and Gas law and so many others that we cannot list them one by one because they involve the entire hierarchy from the most lowly employees to the highest positions. Let us think honestly and look at the reality of how the system is today and the history of the great Islamic civilization. There are no words or ideas in Islam to spread the slander that is running rampant today. Remember that Allah's law is above the man-made law which are rife with temporary interests and harm. Remember that Allah's threat is very painful.
    • camat
      May 29, 2014 @ 03:05:59AM
    • Why is Islam feared? Is Islam terrorism? We have narrow minds and thinking. To avoid prejudice, open and learn about Islam and other religions, make a comparison between the ways of thinking for the laws of each religion. We should know that the country of Indonesia is a land created by the almighty God. Indonesia's independence back then was indeed the fruit of Unity in Diversity, Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution, that is true. Those who carried them out were truly people with morals, who were law abiding so that the almighty God gave us independence. We are not at war, we are fulfilling independence towards dignity and a formidable Indonesia. Indonesia has been independent for 70 years but we have not achieved anything. Why? Because ours is a halfhearted law, and its implementation is halfhearted. Islam has been abandoned by its followers and therefore God has not given us a life that is peaceful, prosperous and always forgiven.
    • fairmindedman
      June 7, 2014 @ 11:06:17AM
    • Bro,what do u mean by the majority are muslims? who is a true muslim? Make a comment on Islam or their prophet,u are dead meat! No one can practise Islam. Everyone puts an outward show.Show me the one who is peace loving,tolerant,forgiving and is full of humility.if Allah is so great and Islam is the final order, why so such chaos,hunger,crime,corruption,confusion,lust etc etc etc.
    • abdullah
      June 12, 2014 @ 06:06:12AM
    • Bro, the ones who drove away the invaders were not the military or the police of the idolaters but the mujahideen and the original constitution of Indonesia was for an Islamic country but Sukarno betrayed it.
    • tony
      June 20, 2014 @ 03:06:21AM
    • This is not right.
    • Helena
      May 21, 2014 @ 06:05:17AM
    • What Yudhoyono says about diversity is always nice but also normative and yes, that is what he is supposed to say. In practice, SBY has never been firm in dealing with people who cause trouble in the name of religion. He allows one religious group to be abused by another religious group. The country does not stand by everyone, it sides with the majority group. With his great authority SBY is rendered powerless because he is held hostage by his coalition partners. To me, the legacy of SBY is indifference. On the issue of Mahfud MD. He identifies himself as the successor to Gus Dur and I used to believe in him because his actions were apparently praiseworthy. But now? After being let down because he was not appointed as Jokowi's running mate he has turned to the axis of Prabowo and his cronies who, should they win, have the potential to destroy the pluralism of this nation. If he were still alive, Gus Dur would not have taken such a ridiculous step. Personal disappointment can dissolve one's ideology in an instant. It is truly disappointing. It turns out that MMD is no better than those thugs who violate human rights. So thin is the boundary between ideology and pragmatic interests. It is still hard to believe that someone like MMD would agree with Gerindra's political manifesto which would make them an authority with the right to judge whether the religious teachings a person follows are right or wrong. If they win, the country will play God, with the right to judge someone's beliefs. I do not know anymore whether I will still pray for MMD who I have always considered sensible. God, I ask for your guidance.
    • tony
      June 20, 2014 @ 03:06:27AM
    • Getting along.

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