Senin, 22 Oktober 2007

Post-dogmatic Indonesia

Ahmad Amir Aziz, Mataram

Muslims here and around the world have just celebrated Idul Fitri to mark the end of Ramadhan - the holiest month in the Islamic year. Through fasting, contemplation and charity, Muslims renew their commitment to honesty, piety and integrity. They should have asked themselves what they achieved and changed as they completed their month of fasting. Unfortunately, many Muslims look to have passed this ritual without achieving significant change. Their behavior, attitude and outlook remains the same, regardless of whether or not they fasted. Fasting has had no impact on many people, meaning that to some, religiosity stops at the dogmatic level.
However, we must say that Ramadhan does offer Muslims a great opportunity to improve their character. This attitude is taken by those who really care for Islamic values in a social sense, those who like thinking about and sympathizing with others, those who like helping others and those who emphasize their relationship with other human beings (hablum minan naas).

The Koran sees social welfare as a basic value in a sane and peaceful human society and refers to working toward overcoming human problems. It inspires Muslims to relate their taqwa to social realities, and to love fellow human beings who should be treated as part of an extended human family.

However, among Muslims tolerance seems to be sometimes lacking. One such example is a case in which a group of Lombok residents were driven from their homes because they belonged to what was considered a heretical sect by Islamic authorities.
It is important to note that today we live in a post-religion era in which religion has become merely a sub-culture that sometimes moves us ahead and sometimes drags us back. It has been displaced by more powerful strengths, like secularism and globalization.

Religion in the modern world should be based on an awareness of the importance of finding a balance between science, human rights and faith, rather than only seeing the differences between them. We hope many religious leaders in the country are working to facilitate democracy, peace, freedom of religion and other human rights.
Put simply, religion is peace and peace is religion. Without peace there is no religion. Likewise, without religion there is no peace.

Religious communities need to produce something very substantial, which will prove helpful in the construction of a peaceful world. This is possible, as all religions have the same vision when it comes to peace. Anyone who has studied Hinduism will agree that Hinduism is a philosophy of peace. Some scholars, such as Arnold Toynbee, have pointed out that the concept of Hinduism itself generates a spirit of mutual coexistence.

Buddhists also believe in non-violence, saying that, "the killing of a sensation is sin and to save a sensation is virtue". This means that according to Buddhism, violence is not simply bad in the moral sense, but a sin which is even worse than bad behavior.

Christianity is also a religion of peace. This is one of the reasons the religion has gained such great popularity around the world, with the largest number of followers out of all religions. As we know, Jesus Christ once said, "I tell you not to resist an evil person. Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also".
Islam is a religion of peace too. Even its name connotes peace. The root word of Islam is "silm", which in Arabic means peace. One of God's names is Salam, which means peace. The Prophet of Islam is described as Rahamah, another name for peace. According to the Koran, paradise is a divine haven of peace. It is only those who have proven to be peacemakers in this world who will be allowed to enter God's Paradise.

All religions condemn violence. We believe violence has no place in society.
Dialog has become a tool to foster better understanding between different faiths and to promote a peaceful coexistence. Dialog is important to understand what it means to believe in a particular religious tradition and to understand the beliefs of others. With dialog, religious communities can join together to overcome social problems.
They may eventually understand that humanitarian activities are equal to, or perhaps even more important than, the vertical dimension of ritual. We hope in a post-dogmatic society, members of all religious communities will seek a mutual understanding of peace in the country.

The writer is a lecturer at the State Institute for Islamic Studies (IAIN) in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara.

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