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.

Indonesian Muslim Feminists: Islamic Reasoning, Rumah Kitab And The Case Of Child Brides

Written by Nelly van Dorn-Harder, Professor at Wake Forest University, North Carolina. Published by Institute on Culture, Religion & World Affairs, Boston University, USA.


Indonesian: not Arab!

Indonesia is a vast country with numerous languages, cultures and ethnicities. It should not surprise us that discussions about Islam reflect the complexity of the country. In spite of this diversity, authorities on Indonesian Islam agree that several distinctive features set it apart from Middle Eastern Islam. According to Azyumardi Azra, Indonesian Islam is firmly embedded in local cultures, and the state is democratically governed under the common ideological platform of the Pancasila model that in principle sanctions the full legal presence of Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, and Bahai communities.1 Furthermore, a distinctive feature is that for nearly half a century the majority of Indonesian Muslim leaders have allowed women to hold religious and secular leadership roles. This development is also discernible in various mainstream Muslim organizations of which Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah are the largest, and “can be seen as a perfect representation of Islamic-based civil society.”2

Simply put, the prevalent opinion is that Indonesian Islam is not Arab and never will be. Yet, when in 1998, the Suharto regime fell and the country’s political system became more democratic, Islamic movements whose main goal was to align Indonesian Islam more closely with interpretations from Middle Eastern Arab countries started to influence the country’s public life. The new-found democratic freedoms not only allowed for a pluralization of Islamic ideals, but also led to a fragmentation of religious authority. Communal boundaries were redrawn and relatively small numbers of extremist Muslim thinkers disproportionately influenced the creation of new laws and Islamic regulations. New political and religious actors emerged, all presenting new possibilities for what Hoesterey and Clark referred to as a glorious Islam “in the abstract.”3 In this crowded landscape, women, their bodies, roles, and rights became the symbolic bearers of how the abstract should be translated into reality.4

This new religious reality begs the question as to how Muslim feminist activists belonging to the mainstream organizations of NU and Muhammadiyah negotiated some of the sweeping changes in religious attitudes. While feminism comes in many forms, in this context I refer to Muslim feminists; women and men for whom the key to women’s liberation is found in re-interpreting the Qur’an and other Islamic sources (for example the Tradition or Hadith) from the perspective of gender equality. Their reference point is the belief that the sources for women’s liberation are the Muslim holy texts, but that these have been misread and abused to subordinate women.5 In Indonesia, feminists, Muslim or not, fight several battles against multiple forms of injustice perpetrated against women. Among others, they address issues connected to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women such as human trafficking, women’s reproductive rights (including FGM, Female Genital Mutilation)6, polygamy, unregistered or secret forms of marriage (nikah siri), child marriage (pernikahan di bawah usia, or pernikahan dini), and women’s public and private leadership roles.7

In this essay I focus on the strategies developed against the practice of underage or child marriage by the non-governmental organization Rumah Kitab (Rumah Kita Bersama). The rationale for this choice is that the practice of child or underage marriage touches on several of the main priorities of the Muslim feminist agenda as it includes the issues of secret marriage and polygamy. Furthermore, in Indonesia and many Muslim majority countries it is a brazen infraction of state marriage laws that impose a minimum age for women and men. Underage marriage is a form of violence against women, it threatens a girl’s (reproductive) health, and is often performed in secret as by necessity
it remains unregistered. In many instances the child bride enters a polygamous union.

According to the 2015 report by Coram International, 7.8% of Indonesian brides were 12-14 years old and 30.6% were 15-17 at the time of marriage (according to Indonesian law, the minimum age for girls is sixteen and for boys, nineteen).8 These numbers are higher than the numbers given by Unicef in 2014 that estimated 21% of Indonesian women between the age of 20-24 to be married before the age of eighteen of whom 3% were under the age of 15.9 The practice is mostly driven by socioeconomic factors such as poverty and local customs. For example some areas perform so-called “hanging” marriages (kawin gantung): a girl child is officially married but sexual relations are postponed until she has reached maturity. Child marriage is also supported by rigid gender norms that normalize male violence against women. Certain radical Muslim groups have promoted the practice as proof of Islamic correctness and a means to protect the bride’s honor. Some groups even present the practice as “cool.”

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How Indonesian School System Segregates Believers

The article was originally published in Magdalene, written by Amrina R. Wijaya.

I used to attend an all-Muslim school in my early years. There we did many things “Islamic”: the girls were obliged to cover their hair and once a week we were taught about the history of the Prophet and the glory of the Islamic civilizations.

Since everyone was of the same faith, I had never seen anyone at school making gesture in the shape of a cross across their chest before the class started. It was also a foreign idea for me back then to imagine that there were people in this world who are actually prohibited from savoring beef-based dish. Islam is the only religion we understood.

Attending a religious school was a good thing to some extent, because it exposed me, as a believer, to good Islamic values at such early age, which laid the foundation for me to later develop and rethink them as I grew older. But, on the other hand, being surrounded by people of the same faith has blinded me, and others, to religious multiculturalism we encounter in real life.

We were told over and over again that our religion was the truest of all that some of us became very disdainful and irrationally scared of getting dirty, whenever encountering a term not in our religious dictionary. The word Christianity used to be akin to the F-word for us, and making fun of Jesus would be considered appropriate.

Later I found out from my other friends who attended more heterogonous public schools that faith-related mockery also existed outside the walls of religious schools. One time, a friend of mine was told that she would burn in hell unless she converted.

In reality, diversity should not be a foreign concept for most Indonesians. People as young as schoolchildren have been exposed to diversity, from their neighborhood and from schoolbooks. This raises the question: why do the schoolchildren – who are supposedly pure hearted and innocent – treat other adherents like they were aliens, and declare that hellfire awaits them?

One of the main reasons, I believe, lies in an education system with a curriculum that focuses on “knowing the what’s” instead of “understanding the why’s and how’s”. When it comes to religious diversity, schoolchildren know that there are Muslims and Christians and Buddhists, they know the name of other religions’ houses of worship, but they have no idea why their followers wear different religious symbols, or how all faiths believe in respecting men of all kind.

Religious subjects are still taught exclusively to its adherents – thanks to our constitution on national education system – keeping “the others” outside their reach and creating an even bigger gap among different believers.

The perpetuation of this segregation of believers is (unintendedly) supported by the local school system (in which ironically only reflects the fact that is a “normal” practice in society!). We see how most state schools in Indonesia are very Muslim-dominated, that prayers are often led in the Islamic way – rather than a universal one – to which the minority groups have to conform.

This condition would likely justify the dominance of a certain faith and perpetuate the underrepresentation of minorities. Today we also see that there are many faith-based groups in junior and senior high schools, and despite the common ground of love and peace they all agree upon, the discourse of tolerance is only taught and spoken of within their walls.

These groups create many religious events whose participation is restricted to a certain faith – retreat night for Christians and prayer gathering for Muslims, for example – but, strangely, no faith-based events open for all believers as an arena to understand each other. In practice, they are never seen to be “in contact” with other faith-based club members in promoting interreligious tolerance.

Being so used to be segregated by beliefs, it is no wonder that schoolchildren tend to magnify the theological differences each other has than to pose similarities such as on the ideas love, respect, and peace – aspects that are way more important in creating an inclusive social life. This “us-versus-them” point of view is what catalyzes intolerance that later leads to “othering” and faith-based mockery.

In her article “A Case for Pluralism in the Schools”, published in The Phi Delta Kappan magazine, social scientist and professor in multicultural education Christine Bennett wrote: “… we are greatly in need of a curriculum that builds understanding of each of our cultural orientations and fosters intercultural understanding.”

The implementation of the curriculum she argued for can take many forms: from reducing the dominance of a certain faith in schools, arranging school trips to different religions’ houses of worship, or engaging believers of different faiths in an interfaith event.

Nevertheless, this idea of interfaith understanding among schoolchildren, of course, still faces many criticisms. Many claim that introducing the values of one faith to another is never a good idea, fearing it would erode “religious purity”. People are afraid that by being tolerant and exposed to other beliefs, children will stray too far from their own religious teaching.

But refusal to understand other beliefs creates a mental state that the late Gus Dur calls “mental banteng” (the bull mentality). It’s a condition in which believers of a faith build walls around them and are very defensive of foreign ideas. People with this mental state are highly reactive to any kind of new ideas, and their close-mindedness is a peril to social integration. This is not what we expect from our young generations.

To deny multiculturalism in Indonesia is to deny fact. Instead of constantly being told about the differences between religions, children should hear more about how they are more alike. Focusing too much on religious differences only fosters and strengthens the sense of “other” between believers. Religious multiculturalism and pluralism should be cherished and embraced with love by children, like the colors of the paper rainbows on their classroom windows.

Launching on Fiqh on Child Marriage Book

Fikih Kawin Anak: Membaca Ulang Teks Keagamaan Perkawinan Usia Anak-Anak (Fiqh on Child Marriage: Rereading Religious Texts on Marriage in Childhood) book was launched on Thursday, October 8, 2015. The event was opened by the Director General of Islamic Community Guidance, Ministry of Religious Affairs, (Dirjen Bimas Islam) Prof. Dr. H. M. Machasin, M.A. with remarks by the Chairperson  of the Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board (PBNU), K.H. Sulthon Fathoni, M.Si. Present were senior women’s activists, such as Ibu Saparinah Sadli, Ibu Syamsiah Ahmad, Ibu Tini Hadad, and Ibu Zumrotin K. Susilo, and also male activists, such as K. H. Husein Muhammad, a former commissioner of National Commission for Women (Komnas Perempuan). The event was also covered by Kompas in its Friday, 9 October 2015 edition.

The event was attended by a wide range of participants, not just activists, with a good balance of males and females. Rumah KitaB distributed 237 copies of the book at the launch, and interestingly, the chairperson of NU’s tanfiziyah (board) Prof. Makruf Amin, asked for 20 copies, because PBNU will be holding a fatwa session to support the government’s effort to raise the marriage age.

There was quite a  dynamic discussion on how to interpret the texts on child marriage in the launch of the book “Fiqh on Child Marriage: Re-reading Religious Texts on Marriage in Childhood”.

peluncuran fikih kawin anak

peluncuran fikih kawin anak peluncuran fikih kawin anak


In the introduction, the Director of Yayasan Rumah Kita Bersama, Ibu Lies Marcoes, M.A., explained that the purpose of this study is to complement social studies on child marriage, in which there is always a religious element used in justifying the practice. In the Constitutional Court’s rejection of the judicial review proposed by women’s activists seeking to raise the marriage age, and in other social/ political experiences that seek fulfillment of women’s reproductive health rights, it is always the case that religious arguments are used as an important foundation by both those supporting these efforts and those opposing them.

Thus, it was no exaggeration when Ibu Badriyah Fayumi, Lc, M.A., one of the resource persons, a female ulama who is highly respected for her excellent mastery of the classical religious text, said that if only the Constitutional Court justices had read the book Fiqh on Child Marriage, their opinions could well have been different and they would have understood and agreed that the marriage age needs to be changed in line with the needs of the current era. First, because the book has very strong religious references; second, because the book also contains data on the dire social and health consequences of child marriage; and equally important, the book examines the political practices of progressive efforts to raise the marriage age in Muslim countries elsewhere in the world.

At the book launch, the Director General of Islamic Community Guidance, Prof. Dr. H. M. Machasin, M.A. said that normatively, it is almost impossible for child marriage to satisfy the requirements for building a strong, healthy family with a proper vision. Fiqh cannot be applied as static law, because from the very beginning it has always been useful to seek solutions to social/religious problems relating to religious law, with a wide range of opinions. The problem is that it is always difficult for fiqh to resolve this diversity of opinions, and therefore the presence of the state is needed to build legal unification. Many efforts have been undertaken by the state, including the Marriage Law and the Compilation of Islamic Law (KHI). Both of these are political products and represent a compromise between fiqh and efforts to moderate Islamic law. Logically, both of these (the Marriage Law and KHI) can be reexamined when a new compromise is needed, for example with regard to raising the marriage age. And in his opinion, this book is an effort to provide a reference as a basis for why child marriage needs to be reexamined.

At the book launch, Rumah KitaB presented three resource persons, all of whom hold important positions, in MUI, PBNU and Muhammadiyah. Dr. Moqsith Ghazali, M.A. is from NU’s reconciliation commission and also a member of MUI; Ibu Badriyah Fayumi, Lc, M.A. is in a very strategic commission in MUI, the fatwa commission; and Ustadz Dr. Fahmi Salim, Lc, M.A., is in MUI’s dakwah (outreach) commission, and also holds a position in Muhammadiyah, with a very conservative and textualist perspective. Nevertheless, with their respective approaches, they appreciated and agreed with the efforts made by Rumah KitaB in offering to reexamine the texts related to child marriage.

Their suggestion was to prepare a very short version of the book, like a policy brief, as a handy reference for judges and decision makers, such as KUA (Religious Affairs Offices), in rejecting the practice of child marriage.


Islam and Indonesia’s New Social Orphans

This article was originall published in Jakarta Globe.

Every Ramadan, Muslims talk not only about fasting but also about helping orphans. Indeed, for those who are unable to fast and cannot make up for this later in the year, feeding orphans or the poor is seen as an equivalent deed.

In the Koran there are many verses that command us to uphold our prayers and to fast, followed immediately by a social obligation to help the poor: “Perform the prayers, pay zakat.”

But who exactly are these “orphans” and, considering the dramatic and ongoing changes in our social structure, isn’t it about time to review this concept?

Parents out of the picture

Generally, the Indonesian term yatim piatu is used to refer to children who have lost both parents — yatim is a child without a father, while piatu means a child without a mother. This interpretation is based on the assumption that parents are the sole source of both life and protection. However, the structure of society and the factors that cause children to become “orphans” have changed considerably in recent times.

Changes in our living space have altered the extended family structure throughout Indonesia. Traditional economic resources have been destroyed, but the economic resources that have replaced them — such as oil palm plantations, mining, oil and gas extraction and the cement industry — do not recognize a social or communal role of protection.

And so children and teenagers become social orphans: they have no parents, as their parents are absent, but they also receive no protection from the extended family because it — also — has become powerless.

Sadly, the functions of traditional communities have become inadequate as a means of help, and in fact create social pressure to preserve the only remaining form of defense: the self-respect of the (otherwise ineffective) extended family.

Historical context

At the time the religious commands about helping orphans and the poor were revealed, parents were the source of protection, backed by their tribe or clan. In a traditional agrarian society, the functions of social protection and support, support from nature, and other mechanisms of protection, as documented in the moral guidelines in the Koran, were quite effective in aiding orphans and the poor.

In the social structure of historical Mecca and Medina, these functions grew and expanded in a communal society that depended on the strength of the clans, in which the tribal leaders carried out these protective functions. Islam then established rules, not merely as normative ideals (in the period when the Prophet Muhammad was still in Mecca) but also as explicit regulations for the procedure and its implementation (during the prophet’s time in Medina).

The Koran describes in great detail how these protection mechanisms are to be organized, such as the obligations to pay zakat fitrah (annually at Idul Fitri, the end-of-Ramadan celebrations), zakat mal (charitable donations), payments of fines for religious violations and it even presents specific calculations. This, at the time, was considered adequate to provide for orphans and the poor.

The problem is that in the modern socioeconomic structure, the term “orphans” should actually apply not only to those whose parents are no longer alive, but also those who have effectively lost their parents — such as children and adolescents whose parents are working in other provinces or as migrant workers abroad. These are children whose parents are alive but who have lost their entire social support network.

At the same time, the social functions of the extended family or clan can no longer be relied on, due to the interventions of corporations, the state and the wider context of economic globalization. The protective powers of parents and relatives have been eroded by same social changes that create these new social orphans.

Consider, for example, regions where many parents have gone away as migrant workers, such as West Nusa Tenggara, East Java, West Java, and West and South Kalimantan. The rates of child marriage in these regions are extremely high. The cause is obvious: children grow up without substitute parents who are able to safeguard their growth and development.

Religion of justice

We can explore the changes in Indonesians’ living space further by looking at statistics. School dropout rates and maternal and child mortality rates are all higher for residents in regions that undergo significant changes in their living spaces: from natural forests to oil palm plantations, from irrigated rice field agriculture to the tourism industry, from natural beaches and coastlines to iron-sand mining sites.

These changes in the structure of society, in power relations, and in living spaces create a multitude of social orphans. They have generated massive wealth for some and massive exploitation for others. These changes have also altered social relations to become more exploitative and oppressive. In this changing social structure, the meaning of the term “orphans” thus has to be expanded as well.

The protection of orphans needs to be seen in a new perspective.

What we need are ideas rooted in religion and society that recognize the concept of social orphans. Only then can we seek a solution through the injunction to fast and provide for those in need. Without this, Islam will merely be a set of rituals that has lost its essence as a religion of justice that defends the poor and the weak.

Aisyiyah’s Challenges in the 2nd Century

Born in 1917, the oldest women’s organizations in Indonesia, Aisyiyah, is going to be a hundred years old. This is an important achievement, considering other organizations born at the same era or even afterwards many have been collapsed.

A number of milestones have been recorded as Aisyiyah’s contributions to the nation. A number of annotations also should be delivered as a sign of love for Aisyiyah.

With the establishment of Aisyiyah alone has proved Muhammadiyah’s ijtihad in translating the values of progressive Islam. Through the examples shown by Kiai Ahmad Dahlan, Muhammadiyah firmly demonstrated the importance of women within organization and educating people. Starting from the establishment of Sopo Tresno association that taught women how to read, write, and recite Al Quran, then the association changed into Aisyiyah, Muhammadiyah showed its attitude against colonial politics that restricted access to education for Muslims and women.

Aisyiyah’s Contributions

Through Aisyiyah, within Aisyiyah, and together with Aisyiyah, Muhammadiyah has offered a progressive perspective that allows Muslim women to have a choice that is justified by syar’i to have roles in the realm of domestic and public spheres, dakwah, and tajdid. Aisyiyah’s movement is manifested in the strengthening and renewal of religious, educational, health, social services, and organizational disciplines.
All activities are driven by the members who are willing to practice good deeds and worship under the command of an organization that is tiered from the center to its branches throughout Indonesia. Using their own way, they are trying to translate the dakwah principles that keep people from ignorance through the real dakwah action by helping the duafa-mustadh’afin.

Together with the development of the country, Aisyiyah showed its achievements that were harmonious with the development of the era. In the New Order era, when a great number of Islamic organizations collapsed and did not pass “litsus”, Muhammadiyah and Aisyiyah survived as urban and middle-class organizations. Many of people reckoned it was because of their accommodative stances against the state’s will. In fact, it was not that easy because Muhammadiyah and Aisyiyah needed to keep the ideology and faith of its members. At that time, it was not easy as well to be different from the views of the country that insists on imposing the ideology of Pancasila as the single interpretation of the New Order.

Similarly, that happened to women’s issues. At that time, the state insisted on carrying the ideology of “Ibuism” that positioned women solely as a companion to the husband. This ideology was widely penetrated in the form of state’s version of coercive Keluarga Berencana (Family Planning). Among the difficulties to oppose, Aisyiyah chose to hold on to the principle of “Amar Makruf Nahi Munkar” (choose virtues, refuse wrongdoings). On the full support of Mr. A.R. Fachruddin, Chairman of Muhammadiyah at that time, Aisyiyah thrust the concept of “Sakinah Family” as a different perspective against “Kekonco-wingkingan” ideology that the New Order created.

Although it seems simple, the concept of “Sakinah Family” was based on the idea of responsibility that must be carried out by each individual, no matter what his/her position within the family was. This role will have to be accountable before God. The role of mothers in this concept was to protect family members.

Critically, this idea was interpreted as a form of Aisyiyah’s submission to the will of the New Order. On the other hand, this idea was suspected as an effort in the process of family Islamization. At that time the country was so phobia against Islam. In fact, the idea of “Sakinah Family” gave different basis because its basic concept was a matter of responsibility of the afterlife. Later on, when the country was more open to Muslims, the idea was adopted by the country in order to boost family planning program.

Losing Basic Rights

Right now, Aisyiyah’s effort in giving a decent place for women within organization has demonstrated outstanding achievements. Aisyiyah has managed to build valuable social capital, which is spread all over the country. Various types of Aisyiyah’s divine struggles include educational institutions, which are built from the level of early childhood/kindergarten (Aisyiyah Bustanul Atfal) up to the college level, including non-formal education.
The number of the educational institutions is approximately 24,000. They set up thousands of social welfare institutions (orphanages), homes for the elderly, and safe shelter for victims of domestic violence. In health sector, Aisyiyah works from bottom to top; they provide skilled workers in healthcare, hospitals, maternal child health centers, and polyclinics. The number is thousands with various capacity in delivering service; large, medium, and small.

Despite of Aisyiyah’s track record, this organization is dealing with issues that require a new tajdid attitude in their movement to face the second century. The extent of the problems faced is larger and more fundamental. Globalization has affected households, even up to the relationship between husband and wife. Relations carried on in the idea of “Sakinah Family” are no longer suitable in viewing the issues. It is because of changes in the living space due to the loss of people’s access, particularly poor people, half of them are women, over land and economic resources.

Ownership and land use transfer into giant extractive industries, forest clearance for coal and oil, demolition mountains to cement, as well as fishing by giant dredger, have clearly changed the resilience of families and people of the villages. Changes in living space cause millions of women migrate as low-skilled labors in the city, but they are rarely connected with religious organizations. Millions of women are losing their basic rights with vulnerable physical and reproductive health conditions.

Likewise, thousands of female workers have little protection. They need to be addressed with an approach that also understands the new forms of exploitation in the era of globalization. It shows humanitarian problems that are caused by changes in living space, and economic power relations should be seen as a problem of the people and not women solely.

Along with socio-ecological changes, the structures of social relations in urban and rural areas are also changing. The role of officials and religious leaders more as the servants of the corporations. Or they are eliminated by the exploitation and expansion of giant industries. When there is a “void” in leadership, the positions are filled with new players who do not understand the context of Islam and nationality. They conduct a new interpretation that is discriminatory against women, but use a more conservative and radical religious authority. Child marriage as well as exclusion of women from public sphere in the name syar’i are rampant. They are presumably two major issues that require consideration, not only for Aisyiyah, but also for Muhammadiyah.