Counter Narratives Against the Jihadists

THE radical jihadist movement never dies. The organization’s name changes frequently but the substance of their struggle remains: consistently, the mission to create and maintain an Islamic state, the caliphate (khilafah) and sharia law, thoroughly. This mission inevitably leads them to reject all ideas about nation-state systems and democracy by labelling them as “thâghût”, because according to the jihadists, any state that does not thoroughly appy sharia law is “thâghût”.

The early ideologues and creators of the jihadist concept, such as Abu al-A’la al-Maududi and Sayyid Qutb, used the term “jahiliyah system” for nations that do not apply sharia law. Their loyal followers refer to it as the “modern jahiliyah system”. The use of the term “thâghût” first emerged from Abdullah Azam, a conceiver and commander of the jihad in Afghanistan. The term “thâghût” is also used by people who consider themselves followers and students of this ideology in Indonesia.

The term “thâghût” that is bandied about by the jihadists is a claim with very serious consequences; not simply labelling others as kafir but also insisting on radical, revolutionary, and thorough change by all means necessary, including violence such as bombing, in the name of jihad.

They justify their actions through a hadith about the leader of the end of times. The hadith seems to give them hope to reestablish an Islamic caliphate. It is stated in the hadith that after the fall of dictatorial Muslim leaders, the caliphate ‘alâ minhâj al-nubûwwah will rule on the earth once again.

The jihadist claim about a caliphate ‘alâ minhâj al-nubûwwah drew responses from many quarters, including Islamic scholars and young leaders. On 31 July – 3 August 2016, scholars and young leaders from NU, Muhammadiyah, Nadhlatul Wathan, Mathali’ul Anwar and Al-Khairat gathered at the Hotel Rancamaya Bogor, facilitated by the Wahid Foundation (WF), to respond and create a counter narrative against the jihadists and to create a narrative of peace.

These Indonesian Islamic scholars and leaders declared that “thâghût” is all practices that exceed the limits and are substantially oppose and reject the law of Allah and His Messenger. If something does not reject the law and realized it in a substantial way, it cannot be labelled as “thâghût”. Thus, the Indonesian goverment cannot be labelled as “thâghût”, because the substance of Indonesian laws does not go against Islamic values.

The teachings of Islam, which derive from Al-Qur’an and Sunnah, give religious scholars the authority to engage in ijtihad to formulate laws that are relevant and beneficial for the nation and the state as long as they do not conflict with these two sources.

On the same note, Islam does not specify any particular system of governance and gives us the freedom to adopt any system of government as long as its substance is not contrary to the values of Islamic sharia .The attention is on substance, not form, as stated in the principle “al-‘ibrah bi al-jawhar, lâ bi al-mazhhar”.

Islamic perspective on the substance of goverment is a succession of leadership that can manage the various needs and welfare of the people. In fiqh it is stated, “Tasharruf al-imâm ‘alâ al-ra’îyyah manûth bi al-maslahah”: If there is no leader, there will be disintegration and chaos. The person chosen as leader must be someone who upholds morality and justice.

The Islamic caliphate as a system is no longer relevant and can be replaced by the nation-state system. Moreover, the caliphate system is the result of ijtihad from the past, and there is no obligation to follow such. Al-Qur’an does not explicitly mention any obligation to uphold the caliphate system; all that is mentioned is the syura system, “Wa amruhum syûrâ baynahum.”

From their claim, the jihadist movement feels that their rising strength is because they act in accordance with the Hadith stating that a caliphate ‘alâ minhâj al-nubûwwah will emerge on earth, and it is time to establish and uphold the caliphate based on this hadith. Actually, based on serious study and intensive discussion, the Indonesian Islamic scholars and young leaders concluded that there are seven versions of the hadith. In six of them, the quality of the sanad (chain of transmission) is not shahîh because the credibility of two of the narrators is questionable. Thus, there is only one shahîh hadith, and even then its contents do not describe leadership at the end of time as is found in any other hadiths.

There are many qualified shahih hadith of the Prophet whose content completely contradicts this hadith. Among these is a hadith which states that the caliphate is only valid for 30 years after the Prophet’s death. Meanwhile, the meaning of the hadith concerning leadership at the end of time is the caliphate of Umar ibn Abd al- Aziz of the Umayyad clan. Other hadiths talk about the end-time leadership, with content on the descent of Isa al-Masih and Imam Mahdi. These hadiths are predictive, and in no way constitute a command to enforce the caliphate.

Meanwhile, the phrase ‘ala minhaj al-nubûwwah means the ways undertaken by the Prophet way to substantially improve justice. According to Mulla Ali al-Qari, what is meant by ‘ala minhaj al-nubûwwah is the leadership of Isa al-Masih and Imam Mahdi (the Messiah) who will arrive at the end of time and will bring justice based on the ways and methods used by the Prophet Muhammad, not the ways proposed by the propagandists for an Islamic caliphate such as ISIS, HTI and the like.

The Indonesian Islamic scholars and youth leaders also corrected the meaning of jihad, which has been reduced by radical jihadists to mean simply qitâl (wars or killing). Citing the view on jihad from a book by Sayyid Bakr ibn al-Sayyid Muhammad Syatha al-Dimyathi, “Hâsyiyah I’ânah al-Thâlibîn Syarh Fath al-Mu’în”, jihad is not synonymous with war or killing. Jihad also means disseminating the faith, teaching the knowledge of sharia (interpretation of the Qur’an, hadith, fiqh, etc.), protecting all civilians – whether Muslims, dzimmy (non-Muslims that live peacefully) or musta’man (non-Muslims that have a peace treaty with Muslims) – from all kinds of threats and dangers, advocating kindness and prohibiting all kinds of evil, answering greetings, and promoting peace among humanity.

Given the broad range of meanings of jihad, war is not the primary objective of jihad, since jihad in the sense of qitâl (killing or war) is only a means, not an objective. The right way of jihad is without war or coercion.The objective of jihad is to achieve guidance, such as inviting humankind to follow the right path without engaging in war. This way is clearly better than going to war, so that humankind will sincerely and willingly accept God’s guidance. War as jihad should only be done in emergency situations, such as in self-defence, and is not allowed in time of peace.

Besides narrowing the meaning of jihad by identifying it with war, the radical jihadists also regularly label many of their fellow Muslims as kafir. This is ironic because kafir means an attitude of denying the divinity of Allah and rejecting everything that comes from His Messenger. And the consensus of Islamic scholars is that any person who has testified to the divinity of Allah and the prophethood of Rasulullah SAW is considered a Muslim and cannot be declared kafir. Muslims can not label other Muslims as kafir. Thus, a person who declares another Muslim a kafir, is himself a kafir.[MA]

Why Indonesia, the World’s Biggest Muslim Democracy, Should Accept Its LGBT Citizens

By: Yenni Kwok

An alarming rise of anti-LGBT sentiment in Indonesia belies the ideal image of the world’s biggest Muslim democracy

In his overseas trips, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has one favorite topic to discuss with his fellow leaders: Islam and democracy in his country. Indonesia “is a country where Islam and democracy can go hand in hand,” he said during a speech at the U.K. Parliament in April. In his visit at the White House last October, he told President Obama that Islam in Indonesia is “moderate,” “modern” and “tolerant.”

Indonesia prides itself not only for being a country with the world’s biggest Muslim population, but also for its tolerant brand of Islam. Its two largest Muslim organizations, the traditional Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the modernist Muhammadiyah, which have a combined membership of some 80 million, are touted as examples of moderate Islam.

But recent events belie the ideal image of the world’s biggest Muslim democracy. In recent months, Indonesia has seen an alarming rise of anti-LGBT sentiment, which Human Rights Watch, in its August report, calls “an unprecedented attack” on the rights of sexual minorities that was stoked by the government. Since January, people from across all sections of Indonesia life, from government officials, politicians, local media, Muslim leaders to even psychiatrists, have joined the chorus of homophobic condemnation, including calls to criminalize and “cure” LGBT people from mental illness.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla told the U.N. Development Program not to carry out LGBT community programs in the country. Defend the Nation, a paramilitary training program that claims some 1.8 million participants, declared homosexuality as one of the nation’s enemies, along with communism and illegal drugs. There were controversies over gay emojis. A transgender Islamic boarding school in the city of Yogyakarta was forced to close down in February after years of existence, following intimidation from hard-line Muslims. And the mainstream Muslim organizations (the NU and Muhammadiyah) issued statements saying that LGBT “lifestyle” is “incompatible with human nature.”

The parliament and the Constitutional Court are the latest battlegrounds with attempts to legally persecute sexual minorities. Indonesian lawmakers are pushing for an anti-LGBT bill, saying it is necessary to protect society from what they term “the LGBT propaganda.” An Islamic pro-family group called the Family Love Alliance has submitted a judicial review to the Constitutional Court, asking the justices to revise the penal code and criminalize gay sex (as well as consensual heterosexual acts outside of marriage). During the latest hearing on Tuesday, Justice Patrialis Akbar signaled his agreement with the expert witnesses who argued the ban would be in line with moral and religious values, saying: “We are not a secular country.”

Founding father Sukarno, however, envisioned Indonesia as a secular, not Islamic state. There are no laws that penalize homosexual acts — except in Aceh province, which implements Shari‘a — but nor are there laws that prohibit discrimination against sexual minorities. This means the LGBT community faces an uneasy balance between disgruntled tolerance and daily prejudice. Anthropologist and Muslim feminist Lies Marcoes says that sexual minorities have long existed throughout the archipelago. “The problem, I believe, is not cultural, but how LGBT has become a political commodity to discriminate,” Lies tells TIME, adding that “since the reform [era], the public space has become more conservative.”

The fall of President Suharto in 1998 ushered in democracy and reform in Indonesia, yet women and religious minorities have become vulnerable to administrative and mob attacks. Hundreds of regional policies have been enacted in the years since that discriminate against minority groups. These include regulations on building houses of worship, night curfews on women and imposing Islamic dress codes. If there’s a lesson to be learned: discriminatory policies have emboldened hard-liners. Religious minorities, such as Christians, Ahmadi and Shi‘ite Muslims, have been driven away from their homes and houses of worship.

There were high hopes when Jokowi, as the current President is widely known, won the election in 2014. A humble, moderate Muslim politician who has a record of working with members of other faiths, he was seen as a figure who would defend pluralism and tolerance in this diverse nation. Two years on, however, human-rights issues have been put on the back burner. When his government revoked thousands of “problematic” regional bylaws in June, they were all regulations that affected businesses — there were none that discriminated against women and religious minorities.

On Aug. 11, on the day HRW released its scathing report, Jokowi’s spokesperson, Johan Budi, said that although the rights of LGBT citizens are protected, “there is no room in Indonesia for the proliferation of the LGBT movement.” His comments were alarming. First, freedom of assembly is a constitutional right. Second, while other democratic countries are advancing LGBT rights, Indonesia seems to be moving in the other direction.

Budi’s comments prompted a response from the Obama Administration. “We encourage Indonesia, which rightly prides itself on diversity and tolerance, to respect and uphold international rights and standards by ensuring equal rights and protections for all of its citizens,” said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau.

With democracy besieged in much of Asia and the Muslim world, Indonesia seems like a rare beacon. When it comes to the treatment of its LGBT community, however, the country faces two options: uphold its democratic credentials or pander to the intolerant voices. The biggest Southeast Asian country — with its national motto of Unity in Diversity — can be a true pioneering model of democracy if it embraces and is inclusive to its minority groups, including sexual minorities. Otherwise, Indonesia’s — and Jokowi’s — impressive claims simply ring hollow.


The Irrationality of Religion

Again, acts of terrorism have occurred in Indonesia – the first time this has happened in Indonesia during the month of Ramadhan. It seems that the one who carried out this attack believed he would receive grace from his God. Ramadhan, according to the Al-Quran and hadith in many classical texts, was basically provided specifically as a medium of spiritual training and character building which Muslims can use to become a better person, with humanity and high morals. This is why in the month of Ramadhan, various kinds of rewards (pahala) are provided to those who perform the fast sincerely. But apparently, these criminal acts were intended for the purpose of worship, which is completely contradictory to the actual intent and purpose of Ramadan in Islamic shariah.

Explosions were heard at the Solo City Police Headquarters (Mapolresta), just twelve and a half hours after the Minister of Religious Affairs, H. Drs. Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, announced that 1 Shawwal 1437 H would fall on Wednesday, July 6, 2016. The next day, July 5, 2016, at 7:15 am local time, one day before Eid, an unsuspicious, skinny bearded man, 31 years old, head of RT 001 RW 012,[1] Sangkrah Village, Pasar Kliwon, Surakarta, [2] blew himself up in the Mapolresta Solo Police. One person was killed: the perpetrator himself. Meanwhile, an innocent person was slightly injured, a member of the Mapolresta Solo Provost. Who was this perpetrator? The National Police Chief, General Badroddin Haiti, offered a tentative conclusion that the people responsible were the ISIS network within Indonesia.

The orders used to always be delivered by Bahrun Naim. But now there are new orders from an ISIS spokesman who says that throughout Ramadan it is advisable to commit acts of terror,” reported the National Police Chief, General Badrodin Haiti, at Mapolresta Solo, Jalan Adi Sucipto, on Tuesday July 5, 2016.[3]

Personally, Nur Rahman had a good relationship with his neighbors, since he often helped those within his community. But ever since August 2015, these actions were never seen again.[4]

Two days before that , on 4 July 2016, Saudi Arabia was shaken by three nearly simultaneous terror attacks in three different cities: Jeddah, Madinah and Qatif. In Jeddah, an explosion occurred near the office of the United States Consulate.[5] The one responsible was identified as Abdullah Qaizar Khan, who was working as a private driver. Qaizar Khan, aged 35 years, had lived in Jeddah with his wife and hisas parents for 12 years.[6] One person was killed, the attacker himself, and two local security personnel were injured. The attack in Jeddah was confirmed by a spokesman of the Saudi Ministry of Home Affairs, General Mansour al-Turki, who said that the explosion was nearer to a masjid than it was to the U.S. Consulate.[7]

Following that attack, on the same day, another suicide bombing occured at the parking area of Masjid Nabawi, Medinah, a mere 300 meters from the grave of the Prophet Muhammad. This shocked thousands of Muslims who were praying at Nabawi Mosque during the last 10 days of Ramadan. This attack instantly killed four security personnel and injured several others. Another suicide bombing also occured at a mosque in Qatif; it is suspected that more than one person carried out this attack.

Previously, a terror attack had occurred at the Istanbul airport on 28 June 2016, the 23rd day of Ramadan 1437H. This attack killed 41 people and injured 239. Of the 41 who were killed, 13 were foreign citizens: five Saudi Arabians, two Iraqi, one Chinese, ne Iranian, one Ukrainian, one Tunisian, one Jordanian, and one Uzbek. Turkish citizens were the majority of the victims killed in this attack, with a death toll of 23.[8] The attackers were made up of three men dressed in black, armed with guns and bombs for suicide bombings. A Kurdish militant group claimed to be behind this bloody tragedy.

In Bangladesh, a group of ISIS militants armed with swords and hand grenades attacked a police checkpoint while many citizens were conducting their Eid prayers in Kishoreganj, around 140 kilometers from the capital city of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, 7 July 2016, the second day of Eid.

Two policemen and a female citizen were killed in the attack. One of the culprits was shot dead, and four other suspects were held after a hand grenade was thrown at the police post right outside of the praying area. Since the beginning of the 19th century, hundreds of thousands of people have used the field of Sholakia Eidgah to conduct their Eid prayers. Islam is the majority religion in Bangladesh, a country with 160 million citizens. This attack occured less than a week after the massacre of hostages at a cafe in Dhaka, in which 20 hostages and two policemen were killed. Most of the victims were stabbed with swords. [9] The total death toll during the hostage incident was 28 people, 6 of whom were the perpetrators, two policemen, while the rest were the hostages, who were mostly foreign nationals.[10]

In Thailand, a number of terror acts also occurred. Four bomb blasts occurred during Ramadhan. On July 5, 2016, an explosion occurred in Pattani, a Muslim-majority province in southern Thailand. The blast killed one policeman and wounded three others. The explosive was hidden in a pickup truck loaded with gasoline. The blast also spread to a nearby police station located at the Ko Mo Kaeng train station, in the town of Nong Chick, on Tuesday morning. Two other explosions occurred at different times in Monday, July 4, 2016. These explosions came from two M79 grenades which exploded at different times. The first blast occurred in front of the mosque in the center of Moo 2 village, Bannang Sata. Four residents were injured and one person died on arrival at Yala Hospital. A short time later, a second grenade exploded on the roof of a house not far from the mosque. The house, owned by a 60 year old man named Mayaki Benmuslim, was also damaged. However, there were no deaths or injuries. The day before, Sunday, July 3, 2016, a bomb attack near Pattani central mosque killed a policeman and three residents were injured. [11]

Exactly one day before Eid, on 5 of July 2016 , a few hours after the Mapolresta suicide bombing in Solo , ISIS uploaded a video containing a declaration of war addressed to the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia. The video contained these statements:

” We declare that we are no longer citizens of your country (Malaysia and Indonesia) , and we have been freed , ” the man said while showing a bearded man holding a Malaysian passport . “With His permission of His presence, we will come to you with a military force that cannot be overcome. This is God’s promise to us. .” [12]

A number of bomb blasts also occurred in Iraq and Syria, where the American/ Russian coalition is battering ISIS. A total of 800 deaths were caused by ISIS attacks around the world during Ramadhan, including the 49 killed in a the attack on gay night club in Florida.[13]

It is such a contradiction: Ramadan, Islam, Allahhu Akbar, God’s Promise, is all religious terminology which they have twisted and used as a reason to kill. They seem to think that in Ramadan all actions are considered as worship, even killing. Yet this is completely contradictory to their true meaning, and it also violates the most fundamental religious teachings. Anger, hatred, jealousy, envy, even merely bad intentions are forbidden during fasting month of Ramadan – let alone killing. One must take a deep breath before reading another article covering the actions of ISIS. The religious terminology that they understand is not only contradictory to the context of Islamic teachings, but also completely irrational. And this irrationality of religion arises from the irrational teachings of radicalism.

One of the main causes of radicalism is rooted from a mistaken understanding of a hadith of the Prophet in the book Arba’in Nawawi, also contained in the book al-Saheeh Bukhari number 25 and in book Saheeh Muslim number 22, narrated by Ibn Umar, Abu Hurayrah, Anas ibn Malik, Ibn Mas’ud, Abdullah ibn Umar ibn ‘Ash, which reads:
> ”Umirtu an uqâtila an-nâsa hatta yasyhadu an Lâ ilâha illallah wa anna muhammada al-rasûlullah, wa yuqîmu al-shalâta wa yu’tu al-zakâta”, which means “I was ordered to kill people until they testify that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah , until they establish regular prayers and practice regular charity .”

They take this to mean the unbelievers non-Muslims) shall be fought until they convert to Islam and live by its beliefs and practices. They believe that infidels should be forced to convert to Islam, or if not then they should be fought and killed. This completely mistaken understanding of this hadith has caused extraordinarily cruel murders as practiced by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and in various locations around the world. We recall the murder of 20 hostages in Bangladesh because ISIS separatists believed that they could not read the Qur’an,[14] as well as the thousands of victims of the Yazidi sect who are being used as sex slaves, on the grounds that this is permitted as they are non-believers.

In its actual context, this hadith of the Prophet was addressed to the time when the non-Muslim Quraish tribe of Mecca were threatening the security of the Muslim minority in the peninsula. The word “umirtu” was used. This shows clearly the form of the verb fi’il madhi, a verb in the past tense mabni majhul. In Matan Alfiyah of Ibnu Malik, verse 242, it is explained that Maf’ul bih replaces Fa’il in all its consequences. As an example: “Nîla khairu Nâ-ili; the best gift has been obtained.” [15]

The verb form “umirtu” comes from mabni maf’ul with dhamir: “انا “, ana, or I, comes from the verb form “Amarani” meaning “has commanded me”, becomes, “Umirtu”, I was told, what was initially an active verb is turned into a passive verb. The word ‘I’ or I, or in this case the dhamir “انا” implied in the verb that indicates the first person, in this case, the Prophet Muhammad himself said it, referring to himself. By law, the order fell specifically on the Prophet Muhammad himself, and if is made specific to the time of the incident, the word “umirtu” legally fell only to the Prophet, and only in the time of the Prophet. The one who gave the order is Allah. Thus, the order was not addressed to the people of the Prophet Muhammad, either directly or indirectly. However, bizarrely, most hardliners interpret the word “umirtu” as “we were told.” This is a huge mistake, and violates the rules of Arabic literature.

The word “uqâtil” means, I killed. The verb form using the form fâ’ala – yufâ’ilu – Mufâ’alatan, according to the book Alfiyah Ibn ‘Aqil, one of the most respected classical texts in the schools of Arabic literature, a verb with this form means “mutual conduct,” meaning there are two parties doing the same thing. The word “uqâtilu” here means I killed in the field of battle. This means there are special situations and special areas, in situations of war when people are trying to defeat each other and kill each other to achieve a victory that guarantees the safety of themselves and their members. This is not a one-sided situation, in which one side is passive. So the word “uqâtil” is used in a combat situation, where there are two sides attempting to kill each other. In contrast, the word “aqtul” means “I killed”; it is used in times of peace, in which the victim acts passively. So because it uses a “mufâ’alah” form, the meaning of “uqâtil” is used in context of the war that occurred in the time of Prophet Muhammad. It cannot be dragged into another meaning that is not in line with the norms of Arabic literature. Hardliners interpret the word “aqtul” to mean “I will kill; I will continue to kill long as the infidels have not converted to Islam”, because the meaning they use uses fi’il mudhari which is muta’addi, which means “hal” (Current) “Mustaqbal” (will) and aims dawâmah (constantly), which has a subject and object, or a substitute for the subject (passive form). This is a fatal error in the use of Arabic grammar.

Therefore, it is completely inappropriate to use this hadith to legalize murder and terrorist perpetrated against innocent people acts in an entirely peaceful situation, especially since the hadith certainly does not contain a legal message addressed to the community. This hadith is a sentence that told the people the news in those days, in the days of the Prophet, that the Prophet was given the command by Allah to fight against the Quraish infidels of Mecca, because at that time the lives of the Muslims were in danger. Obviously, advocacy was not an option for Prophet Muhammad at the time. Keep in mind here that the Prophet Muhammad never started the war in the first place. All the wars of the Prophet Muhammad were always defensive; the defense of human existence from external threats, not to pose a threat and create destabilization, let alone to perform conquest for the purpose of disseminating the message of Islam, as is understood by those who worship the caliphate.

This hadith it is very popular among Muslims worldwide. If teachers misinterpret its meaning, this is clearly very dangerous: there would be severe consequences, destabilization of security, and acts of terror against humanity, although Islam actually exists to ensure the universal values ​​of humanity. They are changing the very rational face of the religion into something very irrational. Allah SWT has said,
“Do not the Believers know that, had Allah (so) willed, He could have guided all mankind (to the right)?” (Q.S. Al-Ra’d, verse 31).

Women in Religious Court

Women’s access to justice requires a broad horizon of knowledge which understands the reasons why women sue for divorce. Many people have asked, including the Minister of Religious Affairs, Lukman Syaifuddin, when we went to report the results of research by Rumah KitaB on child marriage last April: Why is the number of women who file for divorce so high?

This is the story of Nurani (not her real name). We met her by chance in the hearing room of the Religious Court (Mahkmah Syariyah) in Lhoksukun, North Aceh, in April 2014. It was 10 in the morning, and the waiting room at the Lhoksukun Religious Court was already packed. Four long rows with five seats each were already filled. Extra seats had been provided, but they were all filled as well.

Most of those waiting were women, nearly all of whom were still young. There were only three men: two were there for an inheritance case, and the other was an elderly man who was being sued for divorce by his wife, also quite elderly. The rest were women who were suing for divorce.

In fact, nearly all the people sitting in the waiting room were women in pursuit of a divorce. One woman, escorted by her daughter who was also an adult, was there for a divorce hearing. According to the daughter, her mother could no longer bear to face her father, who had severe anger issues and often physically beat her mother.

Squeezed in among the many people waiting for their hearings was Nurani. She is from the Mantang Baru village in Lapang Lhokseumawe district. Nurani had just turned 17 years old. She was eight months pregnant at the time.

Nurani was suing her husband for divorce because he did not fulfill his responsibilities. She is the first daughter, the second of three siblings. Her parents are farmers and fishers. She had come to court with her mother. Though he was not at sea at the time, Nur’s father did not accompany his daughter since he felt socially awkward. Nur’s older brother is married and lives with his wife in another town, while her sister Nurlela, 13 years old, had only graduated from elementary school and was working as a nanny in Malaysia.

Nurani had completed her education up until the second year of junior high school, but as she went into her third year, she fell seriously ill. Every night she threw a tantrum and ran a fever. Many believed she was sick due to a curse. Nurani is quite beautiful; many were attracted to her, and she told us she had had to refuse men who wanted to go out with her more than a few times.

Eventually she was cured by a local shaman. This shaman forced Nurani into marrying him. He claimed that if she did not, she would stay ill due to her curse. Not long after her treatment process, they were married with the promise that he would pay jeulame for their household furnishings plus a dowry of 10 mayam (1 mayam = 3.3 grams) of gold, of which only 3 mayam had been paid.

> On the second day after the marriage, Nurani was brought to the home of her in-laws. She felt as if she was being treated as a house-maid. For two months, Nurani lived at her in-laws’ house. Entering the Haj season, she had an excuse to go home for meugang, to celebrate Idul Adha. Before she went, Nur tried to collect the dowry she was owed by her husband, as well as the jeulame. Not only was she not paid, she was sent away with curses from her husband and her in-laws, two months pregnant.

After she had been at home for a few days, the village chief (known in Aceh as geucik) came with a message from her husband that he had divorced her. Nurani continued to demand her jeulame and the rest of her dowry. She went back to her in-laws’ house to make her demands, but instead, her ex-husband slapped her. And there was another woman at the house: his new wife.

And so, eight months pregnant, Nurani went to court along with her mother. She demanded an official divorce so that her marital status would be clear. If home is truly heaven for women, it does not make sense to others if they sue for divorce. This phenomenon of an increasing number of women in the religious courts is a clear indication of how many men are not fulfilling their responsibilities as husbands.

When Jihad Became Synonymous with Evil

It seems as if acts of terrorism will never stop haunting humankind. Terrorists can appear anywhere, anytime, unexpectedly, and can target anyone. They seek to ignite “Global Jihad” to oppose all those who do not share their ideology, whatever their religion. And yet the language they use is the language of religion: Jihad. Are they really trying to set in motion a modern Islamic Crusade?

Definitions of Jihad throughout History

 “Jihad” is derived from the root word “mujahadah”, which means “going to war to uphold the religion of God” (al-muqatalah li-iqamati al-din). The order for Jihad in the context of war (qital) was only given after Prophet Muhammad SAW migrated to Madinah. Before that, Muslims were ordered to be accepting of whatever treatment they received from the unbelievers.

Muhammad bin Qasim, in “Fath al-Qarib”, explains that the legal status of Jihad is fardhu kifayah, a collective obligation. However, if “enemies” invade and attack Muslim countries, Jihad is no longer fardhu kifayah, but instead becomes fardhu ’ayn, an obligation for all individuals. In this context, Jihad is meant to “protect” and “preserve” the Muslim community. Jihad is shown to those who attack and war against the Muslim community (kafir harbiy). Conversely, Jihad is not aimed at those unbelievers who choose peace with the Muslims and live among them in harmony, such as kafir dzimmiy (natives), kafir musta’man (travelers), or even kafir mu’ahad (countries which have established diplomatic relations).

Within the context of Indonesia, Jihad in the sense of war was proclaimed by the organization Nahdlatul Ulama in the form of “The Jihad Resolution” of 10 November 20145, when Indonesia faced the Dutch colonialists who sought to regain their control over the country. At that time, the religious teachers, scholars and students, and the whole community, all rushed into the field of battle to do jihad and defend their religion and the homeland.

Nevertheless, as Prophet Muhammad SAW stated, Jihad in the sense of war against “enemies of Islam” falls under minor Jihad (jihad ashghar). The true jihad (jihad akbar) is “to war against desire (lust)” (mujahadah al-nafsi). This is because the real enemy, which exists within everyone, is their passions. Once, as they were returning from the field of battle, the Prophet SAW said to his companions, “Raja’na min al-jihad al-ashghar ila al-jihad al-akbar” (“We are returning from the ‘lesser jihad’ to the ‘greater jihad’” – meaning the battle against one’s passions).

According to Abu Bakar in “l’anah al-Thalibin”, Jihad (war) is only a means (wasilah) to reach a goal (maqashid), which is to provide guidance/ direction. Abu Bakar said that if this goal can be reached without going through Jihad, this is the better way. Meanwhile, Zainuddin al-Malibari, in “Fath al-Mu’in”, is more interested in elaborating the definition of Jihad as not only limited to the context of war. He stated that “Daf’u dhararu al-Ma’sumin min al-muslimin wa al-dzimmiyyin wa musta’man al-ja’i” (“meeting the needs of the poor, whether Muslim, dzimmiy, or musta’man”) also falls under the category of Jihad. A broader understanding of Jihad is to provide basic necessities, health and education.

This is the true spirit and meaning behind Jihad. The true Jihad is the jihad that is not based on hatred and hostility, and is not meant to destroy humanity.

The Prophet Muhammad SAW actually did not like solving problems through war. In other words, waging war was not what the Prophet SAW intended. Evidence of this is that in the eight battles in which the Prophet SAW took part, only one person died by his hands, Ubay bin Khalaf. Before he left for the field of battle, Muhammad SAW always ordered his troops not to kill those who were in the middle of prayers, children, the elderly, those not involved in the war, or even damage trees or kill animals.

The Hijacking of the Definition of Jihad

In recent events, the word Jihad appears with a single definition which seems to be synonymous with violence. The image of Islam in recent times is always associated with the acts of violence carried out by a certain group of terrorists. Jihad is seen as a way to carry out hate, hostility, and merciless killing.

Yet Muslims have long been familiar with Jihad. Jihad has had a variety of meanings and uses. This means that Jihad is not always interpreted as meaning “going to war in the path of Allah” (even in the proper way as of described above).

The term Jihad has been hijacked by a handful of people to fulfill their political ambitions. They use the name of Islam and the Muslim community to wage war against the West. In fact, the majority of Muslims prefer to live in peace, friendship, and mutual respect and appreciation for those of other beliefs and nations. This can be proven by the lifestyle of Muslims in all countries with a Muslim majority. But due to the acts of a handful of people, the religion and lives of Muslims are tarnished.

Therefore, in order to “re-neutralize” the definition of jihad, Muslims need to take back the true meaning for themselves. Muslims must not be trapped by the negative image and politicization carried out by terrorists in order to achieve their political goals. Muslims also need to prove to the rest of society that Jihad is not for violence or treating humankind as enemies.

Terrorism is the common enemy of the Muslim community, and must be eradicated through collective action. No religion on earth is against humanity. A religion that goes against humanity is an enemy of mankind itself. Wallahu a’lam bi al-sawab.

More Than 7 Percent of Indonesian Muslims Support Radicalism: Survey

The article was originally posted on The Jakarta Globe.

Bogor, West Java. A survey released Monday (01/08) revealed 7.7 percent of Indonesian Muslims are prone to radicalism — a statistic equalling 11.5 million people.

The survey, conducted by the Wahid Foundation and Indonesia Survey Institute (LSI), was conducted March 30 to April 9 and involved 1,530 Muslim respondents across 34 provinces. The survey used a random sampling method and has a margin of error of 2.6 percent.

The results found 72 percent of Indonesian Muslims do not tolerate and refuse to participate in radical acts, such as attacking houses of worship belonging to other religions, protests or conducting “unauthorized sweeping” on venues not complying with Shariah law.

While 7.7 percent of respondents said they are willing to perform radical acts, 0.4 percent said they had participated in acts already, the survey found.

“The figure is worrying us. With 150 million Muslims in the country, it means 11.5 million people are prone to radical acts meanwhile 600,000 other have done such things. Although it is not a factual number, we must pay more attention to this,” Wahid Foundation research manager Aryo Adi Nugroho said during the press briefing in Bogor, West Java.

The survey also included recommendations to the government, lawmakers and local administrations.

Wahid Foundation director, Yenny Wahid, urged the government to develop learning modules on tolerance, peace and citizenship in more creative way in schools and universities.

The group also demanded the National Police probe and prosecute persons responsible for intolerant acts, including forms of hate speech and discrimination.

Yenny, the daughter of former president Abdurahman Wahid, said local government must stop supporting intolerant and radical groups by providing funding or use of government buildings.

However, the survey also showed irrefutable support of democracy and the 1945 Constitution.

The majority of respondents — 74.5 percent — said democracy is still the best option for Indonesia. When asked about the state ideology of Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution, more than 82 percent agreed the two remain the best foundation and ideology.