CAIRO - A proposal conditioning government certifications for Muslim scholars (Ulema) in Indonesia as part of efforts to curb radical ideas is inviting strong opposition from the country's largest Muslim organization, The Jakarta Globe reported on Monday, September 10.
The government is overstepping their authority by trying to dictate these things, Said Aqil Siroj, chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, told Antara news agency.
Kiai [local elders] or Ustadz [Islamic preachers] are titles that are not given out by the government.
In a lecture last week, a proposal has been floated conditioning government certifications for Muslim scholars.
Irfan Idris, the director of the Deradicalization of National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), argued that government certification would help uproot radicalization in Indonesia.
He said the method has been implemented in Singapore and has effectively worked to curb radicalism.
With a certification program, the government could monitor the role of ulema and prevent the fostering of radical movements, Irfan said.
Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) is the biggest Muslim organization in Indonesia, with estimated members of 30 millions.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim state with Muslims making up around 85 percent of its 237-million population.
The south-eastern Asian archipelago has cracked down on militant groups following a terrorist attack in the resort island of Bali in 2002, which left more than 200 people dead.
In just over two years, 33 terrorism suspects have been killed, mostly in shootouts with police, and nearly 200 have been arrested.
The security operations have proved success, with no civilians have died in terror attacks in the past two years and a half.
No Terror Buds
Nahdlatul Ulama rejected any links between Muslim scholars and terrorism.
Terrorism is not rooted in Islamic culture, Siroj said.
So if terrorists exist, it is not solely because of the ulema lacking in promoting religious deradicalization.
Islam takes an uncompromising position against terrorism.
In 2008, thousands of Muslim scholars from across India denounced terrorism as a violation of Islamic teachings, calling it the biggest crime as per Qur'an."
Another Britain-based Muslim scholar, Sheikh Tahir ul-Qadri, issued a 600-page fatwa in May 2011, condemning suicide bombings, kidnappings and the killing of innocent people as absolutely against the teachings of Islam.
In Indonesia, the Ministry of Religious Affairs also sees no link between Islam and terrorism.
The Ministry publishes pamphlets promoting the correct nonviolent interpretation of jihad as a spiritual struggle for self-improvement and other Islamic concepts that have been hijacked by extremists.
Siroj highlighted the important role played by Muslim scholars, mainly members of long-established organizations such as NU and the Muhammadiyah, in fighting radical ideologies.
I have always said that Islamic organizations and ulema that support the Pancasila ideology (urging belief in one God, justice, the country's unity, democracy and social justice) as the foundation of the nation should be supported, he said.On the contrary, organizations that subvert Pancasila should be dissolved, let alone be considered for certification.