Reading the Roots of Heretical Discrimination in Indonesia

Haris Fatwa Dinal Maula May 13, 2022

Reading the Roots of Heretical Discrimination in Indonesia

The topic of why socially Muslims tend to be more lenient towards other religions than Muslims themselves who have different sects is still an interesting discussion. This issue can be seen, for example, in the gestures of our society to accept the presence of Christian neighbors rather than Shiites in their villages.

This article will target this topic with a perspective that emerged from the phenomenon of the explosion of netizens due to the presence of a gay couple on Deddy Corbuzier’s podcast some time ago, the video has now been taken down.

There is one quote that is echoed by netizens in their rejection of LGBT in Indonesia, namely ‘ we tolerate differences, but we do not forgive deviance ‘. This quote was also mentioned by Gus Miftah in one of his podcasts on Deddy Corbuzier regarding the same issue.

The jargon has actually reflected our social attitude towards the communities in society. We already understand a little about the character of our society and how they view Islamic sects that are outside the mainstream. I take the most concrete examples, Ahmadiyah and Shia. Both sects have been declared heretical and deviant by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

In Indonesia, since its independence, it seems that these two groups have never been given the space to breathe. Conflicts and religious discrimination that occur in Indonesia are often heard involving these two sects of Islam. However, it seems that this attitude is not only happening in Indonesia, but also on an international scale. In New York, the Ahmadiyya also experienced discrimination. The fate of the Ahmadiyah in Indonesia seems to be better than in America, because here the Ahmadiyya community still gets moral support from several other Muslim brothers. This is different from America, where non-Muslim communities also seem to ignore this discriminatory behavior.

If you refer to the netizen’s quote, then the discrimination seems to make sense. However, the phrase ‘do not tolerate deviation’ does raise new questions. Why is that so? Why doesn’t society condone all forms of deviance? In my opinion, this can be explained in the phenomenon of ‘ majority fear ‘, in which the majority group will feel psychologically threatened by the presence of a small group that on paper does not have as much power as the majority group but seems to be undermining the values ​​of the majority.

Ahmadiyah, for example, is positioned as a party that threatens the principles of Islamic values ​​that are already firmly believed by the majority of Muslims in Indonesia. In 2018, the Ahmadiyah settlement in East Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, was attacked by a group of people for allegedly spreading Ahmadiyah doctrine in the local area. The attack caused the houses of the Ahmadiyah congregation to be destroyed and forced them to evacuate to a place provided by the local government.

The same thing happened to Shia in Indonesia in the form of an attack on a group of Shia congregations in Sampang Madura in 2012. The Shia leader in the area, Tajul Muluk, was convicted of blasphemy after the Sampang Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa that the Shia teachings led by Tajul were heretical.

In other words, there is a status quo which, if disturbed, will cause a commotion in the community. The status quo has grown with traditional, cultural, and religious values ​​in our society since this country was founded, even though it is still called Nusantara. Islamic values ​​do dominate the formation of these values, and that is very reasonable because in terms of quantity, Islam has power.

There are several other points of view that can be used to look at the issue of discrimination between Ahmadiyah and Shia in Indonesia, for example on stigmatization, labeling by conservatives, and the politics of religion. However, universally, our society does not seem to be able to agree with all forms of deviance, be it sexual deviance or in this case, deviance of belief.

However, what needs to be emphasized is that maintaining values ​​and teachings does not necessarily violate human rights. Education and literacy may be one solution for how we can deal with things more wisely. Feeling uncomfortable about the presence of a form of deviation is a natural symptom experienced by human psychology, but responding to it are options that you can consider doing or not. Do not let the birth of horizontal conflicts actually come from our own hands. Reckless hands that are solely controlled by emotion.

Haris Fatwa Dinal Maula

Haris Fatwa Dinal Maula

Activist of Religious Moderation at the Islamic Institute, CRCS UGM Student, Yogyakarta


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