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The attached translated article from a supplement published on Saturday June 1, 2002 by the Indonesian newspaper Republika, titled "Islamic Jihad Groups," should be read by everyone who is seeking to better understand Muslim thinking in light of the September 11 terrorist attack on America, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the justification of radical Islam's support for "jihad" violence.
Islamic Jihad Groups
Saturday 1 June 2002
There are two main groups who color
the face of Islam in Indonesia.
Firstly: those who support the implementation of sharia law.
Secondly: those who oppose it.
The pros and cons of implementing Islamic sharia law, have been debated throughout the history of independent Indonesia and even shadowed the Body for the Preparation for the Independence of Indonesia (BPUPKI) 28 May-1 June 1945. At that time Ki Bagus Hadikusumo promoted Islam as the basis of the constitution. Muhammad Yamin suggested nationalism, humanitarianism, religion, social justice. Soepomo proposed an integrated understanding (unity and family).
Meanwhile Soekarno suggested Indonesian nationalism, internationalism (about humanitarianism), agreement or democracy, social welfare and religion. Soekarno then compressed all into one principle: communal cooperation.
The Committee of Nine which was formed by the BPUPKI on 22 June 1945 proposed a constitution for the nation that was known as the Jakarta Charter. This Charter was composed of :
1. Belief in the Lord with, 'an obligation for Muslims to implement Islamic
2. Humanity which is just and civilized
3. Unity of Indonesia
4. Society led with wisdom through consultation and representation
5. Social justice for all Indonesians
This Committee of Nine whose members were nationalist and religious figures (Masyumi) were Muhammad Hatta, Muhammad Yamin, Soebardjo, AA Maramis, Abdul Kahar Muzakkir, KH Wahid Hasyim, Soekarno, Abikoesno Tjokrosoejoso and H Agus Salim.
On 18th August 1945, Mohammad Hatta reported that a Japanese commander had been sent by the people of East Indonesia to request that the seven words in the first principle of the Pancasila in the Jakarta Charter version, be removed. If not, the people of East Indonesia would separate themselves from Indonesia.
On the suggestion of Hatta in the meeting of the Committee for the Preparation for the Indonesian Independence (PPKI) on 18 August 1945 the basis of the nation was changed in the number one principle, so that it became: Belief in the one Lord. The seven words, "with an obligation for Muslims to implement Islamic law", were omitted.
In the Temporary Basic Laws of 1950, the formulation of the constitution was changed again to become: Belief in the one Lord, humanitarianism, nationalism, social welfare and social justice.
In 1955 after the elections which were won in order by PNI (the National Party of Indonesia), Masyumi, Nahdlatul Ulama and PKI (the Communist Party of Indonesia) a long debate took place about the constitution in the Constituent Board. The Islamic groups in the debate which went on from 1955-1959, again proposed Islam as the constitutional base of the nation. However the nationalists, communists and non-Islamic people did not want Islam as the constitutional base.
Apart from this debate, the Constituent Board was able to obtain 90% agreement about the Constitution. There was only 10% that remained debatable and that included the basis of the nation. Neither groups that wanted Islam nor those who wanted the Pancasila as the basis of the nation could clearly obtain the two thirds majority from the members of the Constituent. This was the percentage required for an agreement about the constitution. They then agreed to form a small team in an effort to reach a compromise.
However, before they could reach a compromise, under the influence of the military, President Soeharto on 5 July 1959 issued a Decree dissolving the Constituent and returning to the Basic Laws of 1945. In his speech, Soekarno declared that the Jakarta Charter of 22 June 1945 was the soul of the National Laws of 1945 and was a chain of unity in the Constitution.
Since then, the 1948 National Laws again became the foundation of the Indonesian state, including the time when President Soeharto was in power for 32 years. President Soeharto even made the 1945 National Laws and the Pancasila sacred. Among other things he made the Pancasila to be the only basis not only for any political party, but also for every community organization including Islamic organizations.
The struggle to implement Islamic sharia law has not only been conducted by formal procedures, but through debates in parliament and in official institutions. In the time of President Soekarno, several groups in the community were listed as wanting to implement an Islamic state, such as NII (Negara Islam Indonesia - The Islamic Nation of Indonesia) and DI/TII (Darul Islam/Tentara Islam Indonesia - Darul Islam/The Islamic Army of Indonesia).
In the Soeharto regime, similar efforts took place. This time not by establishing an Islamic state but only by rejecting Soeharto's efforts to make the Pancasila sacred, that is, his efforts to make the Pancasila the only legitimate basis for political party life and for community organizations.
When these groups openly rejected the Pancasila, Soeharto confronted them repressively by employing the army. Victims fell, as in the events of Tanjung Priok, Lampung and several other incidents. Some leaders of movements were arrested and put into jail, including AM Fatwa who is now the Vice President of the House of Representatives.
During the New Order Regime, debate about the implementation of sharia law was tightly covered up. Soeharto used the House of Representatives to support his policies. This can be seen for instance, with the introduction of Parliamentary Law No II 1978 concerning the Guide for the Practice and Implementation of the Pancasila.
During the last four years together with the fall of Soeharto from power and the introduction of reformation, the Pancasila has been removed from its sacred status. Among other things this can be seen in the abolition of Parliamentary Law No II 1978. It can also be seen in the abolition of the Pancasila Moral Education studies.
Since then Islamic groups - both political parties and community organizations have openly taken Islam as their basis. They want the implementation of Islamic sharia law in the life of the nation and the state, fighting for the seven words in the Jakarta Charter to be restored as included in Chapter 29, verse 1.
This has been made possible because in a constitutional democracy it is the right of every citizen of the nation to fight for opinions and lifestyles at the constitutional level. The dictates for the change of the constitution can be found in the 1945 National Laws Chapter XVI Chapter 37 Verses 1 and 2, then in the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia 1949 Chapter 190, and in the Temporary National Laws 1950 Chapters 140 and 141.
The recent rise of groups often called militant movements, like Laskar Jihad, Front Pembela Islam, Laskar Mujahidin, Hizbut Tahrir, and others, are also within the framework of implementing Islamic sharia law. They are pressure groups for the amendment and the restoration of the seven words of the Jakarta Charter in the National Laws of 1945.
At the level of political parties (MPR - the upper house of parliament) there are several Islamic parties who desire the amendment of the 1945 National Laws Chapter 29 verse1. They are PPP, Partai Bulan Bintang, PAN, and Partai Keadilan. PP and PBB want a change with the restoration of the text of the Jakarta Charter, that is Belief in the one Lord with responsibility to implement Islamic sharia law by its adherents.
The Reformation Fraction (a coalition of PAN and PK) have suggested the changing of the text of verse 1 to become Belief in the one Lord with the responsibility of everyone to implement the teaching of their own religion. The President of the Justice Party, Hidayat Nurwahid calls this proposal the Jakarta Charter based on the concept of the Madinah Charter. He says that the implementation of Islamic sharia law only applies to the Islamic community. Other religions are as it were set free from the requirement to obey or not obey their religions. That gives an impression of injustice.
On the other hand, the groups that reject the amendment to the National Laws of 1945, Chapter 29 Verse 1, include not only non-Muslims, but also leaders of Islamic Social organizations or leaders who are of the Islamic religion. The leaders of the two biggest social organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah are included in this group.
It is not clear yet, whether apart from wanting to avoid a split, there are any other reasons behind this rejection. For example, although the majority of Indonesians follow the Islamic religion, they are really not yet ready for the implementation of Islamic sharia law. Or, in the language of Soekarno, the Islamic religion in Indonesia is only skin deep, a thin layer on the beliefs of the Islamic people of Indonesia.
In other words, the Islamic people of Indonesian even though they are the majority are not yet ready to implement Islamic laws. They are still at the stage of Islamic dakwah (teaching), not yet of Islamic ijabah (approval). To make an analogy with Islam in the time of the Prophet Muhammad, the Islamic community in Indonesia is still in the Mecca period of Islam, not yet in the Madinah period.
From the time the first revelation came down until the flight to Madinah, for 13 years in Mecca, what the Prophet did was teach, expand the faith of the community, teach them to submit and only worship the one God. The laws of Islam had not yet been laid down. That is the reason, for example, still permitted them to drink alcoholic drinks. He only forbade them to be drunk while they were praying. ( Koran 4:42).
Most of the verses that came down to him in Mecca, used the words, Ya ayyuhannas… (Woe to you all of mankind). Filled with calls to faith, threats and rewards together with stories of the former communities which contained teaching and advice on how to live a decent and polite lifestyle.
Only after the flight to Madinah, the Prophet laid down the laws. Alcohol was forbidden, especially drunkenness. Also regulations were laid down which later became known as the Madinah Charter, which ordered the life of the nation and the state. Under the umbrella of the Madinah Charter, the non-Muslim community - the Jews and the Christians - were given the freedom to practice their own religions.
For the Islamic people they also had to live under sharia law. Their life was ordered by Islamic laws. Therefore the verses that came down in Madinah were more specific,, most of them using the words Ya ayyuhalladzina amanu… (Woe to the believers…) followed by prohibitions and commands with their sanctions.
The question arises, "when will the Islamic community of Indonesia attain to the stage of Islam ijabah, Madinah Islam, which submits to the religious regulations"? As long as sharia has not yet been implemented as regulations which enforce obedience, militant groups will continue to arise to struggle and fight for it.
These troops in Arab style uniforms are growing like mushrooms. Opposing ghozwul fikri (slander) created by the Jews and Christians, they are fighting to establish Islamic sharia law. Are they a threat to the non Islamic community?
The throb of house music all of a sudden disappeared. Enthusiastic movements on the dance floor changed to a mass of trembling bodies. This was accompanied by an attack by troops in white uniforms. In Arab style uniforms, armed with clubs and sabers, they turned upside down the interior of the cafe. It has been recorded that not only was Jimbani Cafe attacked. News Cafe and Salsa Cafe were also left in a mess.
What kind of troops are these that make the guerilla attacks in the centers of night-life? They are the Front for the Defenders of Islam (FPI), which was formed on 17 August 1998. The troops led by Habib Muhammad Rizieq, became the center of media attention in 2000. This was accompanied by the intent of their attack on the night entertainment which they accused of being thick with immorality and iniquity. With the slogan "Movement against Immorality," this group claiming, to have a strength of 15 to 17 million followers in 17 provinces, diligently makes guerilla attacks in various places throughout the greater Jakarta metropolitan area.
Their intent shows two sides of the coin. On one side- this is seen especially by their detractors - has caused the face of Islam to lose its friendliness and to change and become cruel. Islam is seen to be radical. "We cannot respect a group which demonstrates violence," threatened Armando, a resident of the capital. The Governor of Jakarta, Sutiyoso at the moment is angry at the action of FPI. "From where do they get their authority: If they were just participating, I would agree with them, he said as Gatra quoted.
On the other hand, FPI has become popular, as a society police force, which takes firm action. For supporters, especially those who have lost patience with the work of the military, FPI has become their hope for establishing law and order. Undoubtedly these days a popular slogan is: "It's better to report it to FPI than to the police." The meaning is that organizing it with the FPI is not complicated, does not empty the purse and is immediately acted upon.
Even so, according to Habib Rizieq, FPI does not act arbitrarily. Before they do anything, for example, they first of all send a letter of warning. After several warnings if they continue to be stubborn, these troops then take action. So firm action is taken only after softer and procedural methods have failed. Regretting that these things had not been exposed in the media, Rizieq confessed that, especially at the grass roots level, many were fed up with the immorality so that they had complained to the FPI. 'The FPI movement mostly occurs as a result of community requests, not from our own desires," said Rizieq.
FPI does not move by itself. Becoming a phenomenon that has accompanied the collapse of the old Order, civilian militias have grown up in various areas in Indonesia. This was also mentioned by the Chairman of the Mujahidin Council of Indonesia, Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, the growth of groups like this were the result of pressures experienced under the New Order. Feeling bridled under the government of Soeharto, Abu Bakar expressed, that the motivation for the presence of these movements is because of their desire to establish Islam in the nation and government. They want Islamic sharia law to become the official law of the nation. "The rise of these Islamic elements is an indicator that there is an awareness of carrying out Islamic sharia law," he stated.
The weakness of the post Soeharto government is increasingly triggering the presence of these community "police". Its incompetence and inability to establish law and order, its closing its eyes at immorality, has made them feel called to take over their role.
Ayip Syafruddin, Chairman I of the Communication Forum of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah added that, in the beginning of the reformation era, an effort arose to marginalize Islam through demonstrations that were masked as democracy. These efforts were quickly reacted to by Islamic activists in order to preserve the existence of Islam. According to the spokesman of Hizbut Tahrir in Indonesia, M Ismail Yusanto, even BJ Habibie, a stepping stone for the future development of Islam, was also destabilized. Both Abu Bakar and Muhammad Rizieq did not agree that the rise of the militant movements were a result of the failure of NU and Muhammadiyah to bring into line the ranks of Islam. "No matter how big an organization may be, it is not possible for them to deal with all the problems by themselves," was Rizieq's evaluation. Therefore all the organizations must divide up their responsibilities.
With this motivation, undoubtedly when these organizations are accused of wanting to establish an Islamic state such as was dreamed of by Darul Islam/the Islamic Army of Indonesia in the 1960s, both Ayip and Abu Bakar reject that idea. Evaluating what appears to be a phobia against Islam, Abu Bakar considers that a type of accusation in order to weaken the Islamic community. That is ghozwul fikri (slander?) which has been organized by Jews and Christians to weaken Islam," he claimed.
In this connection Ayip stated that his organization preferred the way of peace. "We prefer to take the way of bringing the substance of Islam down to the grass roots," he stated while expressing his view that the empowering of the teachings and values of Islam in the constitution would become an important problem for Islamic activists.
But, would not the implementation of a constitution with an Islamic spirit disadvantage non-Muslims? Abu Bakar explicitly stated that they would be better off, except for corruptors and individuals who prioritize their fleshly lusts. This was because the teachings of Islam make no room for iniquity and immorality. "Even the heathen will not be worse off, because they will be permitted to carry out their beliefs. They will even be treated very well. According to the Koran, as long as they do not interfere with the progress of Islam they must be treated well and with justice," stated the Leader of the Al Mukmin Ngruki Islamic Boarding School, Sukoharjo.
Interview with Prof Dr Azyumardi Azra Ma
The birth of apparently militant Islamic community organizations does not bother Prof Dr Azyumardi Azra MA. The rector of IAIN Jakarta even considers their presence legitimate. "With all the pluses and minuses, their existence has given new wind to the games of politics and democratization. Their existence is no different to that of the NU or the Muhammadiyah," stated the historian and Islamic cultural expert. Following is an interview by Hery Sucipto of Republika with this writer of a dissertation on "Priestly networks in the Middle East and the Islands of the Archipelago in the 17th and 18th Centuries: Investigating the roots of the renewal of Islamic thought in Indonesia" and who is also known as an observer of the social-religious scene.
Recently there has been a flare up of radical Islam. According to you what is the real definition of radical?
Indeed we should not be naïve concerning this phenomena or symptom of the existence of movements like this. But in my opinion, in relation to trends, world-views, ideology or religion and its movements, we still need other qualifications, which in their turn will express the complexities and intricacies of their existence. For example, if a person uses the typology of a 'radical' Islam or 'liberal' Islam we need to qualify the meaning of 'radical' or 'liberal' at what level? It could very well be that a certain 'radical' Islamic movement is only radical at the level of speech but not at the level of action.
How do you see the birth of Islamic movements that are identified by other groups as radical Islamic movements?
Yes, the presence of Islamic movements like FPI, Laskar Jihad, I think is quite normal. Especially in the climate of reformation, everyone has the right to form an organization. The tendency towards radical or conservative trends or even of liberal trends is not only the monopoly of Islam, but is also present in other religions.
According to you what is the background to the birth of these Islamic movements?
There are several factors. Firstly, there are internal factors (in Islam
itself). This factor is based on the fact that in Islam or in the Muslim
community itself, it is considered that deviations have occurred from the
religious practices and norms in the Islamic community. The result of these
deviations has encouraged them to carry out movements with the aim of
purification and return to the authentic form of Islam. In the wider context,
practically their movements are carrying out amar makruf nahi munkar (doing good
deeds and preventing evil deeds). Nevertheless, conceptually, they believe that
Islam will always suffer contamination, purposely or not, in its teachings.
Therefore what is needed, is mujaddid (renewers) to carry out change and
purification of religion. The basis for believing this is the hadiths, that
every one hundred years a renewer of the religion will arise. Theologically this
belief does exist.
Meanwhile there are external factors, such as the environment of the wider society in the form of social, economic or political situations which are considered to be unfavorable. This then seems to threaten the existence of Islam and the Muslim community. In today's language perhaps, there is globalization which has arisen in the form of fashion, loose lifestyles and other things, which threaten the values of religion, not only of Islam but also of other religions. So there is a type of cultural imperialism that comes with globalization. The most obvious impact is on the culture and political dimensions. From this there then arises a counter culture that is stronger both in Islamic circles and in other religions. Only then people call these groups radical religious groups because they are opposing what is happening. In my opinion, radicalism is a movement of a certain group which wants to bring about total change or purification, and sometimes is carried out without compromise.
How long have these groups been within the borders of our homogenous society?
The presence of these groups is not new. For example, Hizbut Tahrir was established in 1952 by Sheik Taqiyuddin An Nabhani in the Middle East and spread to Indonesia in the 1980s. That has been quite a long time, even though their activities were carried out secretly (an underground movement) because the situation at the time did not allow it.
Meanwhile other groups, like Laskar Jihad, Majelis Mujahiddin and others, have arisen since President Soeharto stepped down. With reformation, they saw that social and political disorientation had happened in the community and with it the collapse of state authority and law enforcement. Sociologically, things like that are born. Understanding that when the authority of the state is no longer present and also law enforcement is absent in the community, they or whatever group there might be, try to take over that authority as an effort to restore law and order as a teaching of amar makruf nahi munkar (doing good and preventing evil) that they believed in.
If that is so, their existence could be described as competition with the government?
Yes, within certain limits I would say that. That means, they would take that authority after seeing that there was no longer any trust in and establishing of the law by the government. For example, the presence of the Laskar Jihad in Ambon, Maluku is because the central government did not function as the military should, in establishing the law and providing security and protection for the people.
In the wider context, what is really the main goal of the groups which are designated as radical movements? Do they want to establish an Islamic state as certain groups accuse, or is there some other purpose?
As far as I know, some of the groups have this aim, but some others have no specific goals, are more sporadic and have no ideology. Nevertheless on the other hand we should not be naïve that there are other groups whose background is of a certain theological and ideological nature. But there are also those that are just practical, like Laskar Jihad and Islamic Defenders Front. They are just practical, in the context of amar makruf nahi munkar (doing good and preventing evil). For example they conduct sweepings of entertainment places and drug dealers and other places of iniquity. I do not consider FPI or Laskar Jihad to have any deep ideological nature, like for example HT. The same applies to the Majelis Mujahiddin, a movement more practical and theological. Now in this context I do not see the FPI, the Laskar Jihad or the Majelis Mujahiddin having a comprehensive and holistic framework. This is different to HT which has a clear flavor and motive, with a firm and holistic framework. Their motive is ideological, that is to establish an Islamic state in the form of an Islamic caliphate.
According to you, is the existence of these radical groups and movements dangerous to the democratization of Indonesia?
In this era of reformation everyone is free to have an opinion and express it, including being free to form movements or organizations. Now in this context, I think the existence of FPI, HT, Laskar Jihad and the others, is just normal. Apart from the view of some people that they are fundamentalist or radical groups and therefore are called anti-democratic, which is another problem. It's fair enough to take that view. However, in my opinion their existence is a legitimate dynamic which must be appreciated in the same way as other moderate or liberal groups. As long as the existence of these radical groups are within the bounds of law enforcement and the order of law, I consider there is no problem. Further, the rise of radical groups, is not only a monopoly of Indonesia, they are also in other nations and also in other religions than Islam. For example in democratic countries like America, there are also movements and groups like these.
Different but the same. So it is with the militant groups and the NU and Muhammadiyah. "We are brothers even though our strategy for struggle is the different."
Are the militant groups any different to NU and Muhammadiyah? Both the head of the Muhammadiyah, Prof Dr Syafii Ma'arif, and the head of NU, Salahudin Wahid, conclude that there is no basic difference. Even though the impression is given that they are different, according to these two men, the difference is only in the strategy for struggle. There is no difference in principles, for example in sharia or in akidah.
Syafii and Salahuddin gave as an example, the difference in perception about the Jakarta Charter, that is, belief in One Lord with responsibility for all Muslims to follow sharia law. According to Syafii, in his meeting with the Laskar Mujahidin (Jihad Warriors) in Solo, they felt disappointed with Muhammadiyah for not supporting the restoration of the Jakarta Charter in Chapter 29 of the Constitutional Laws of 1945.
"So the differences only involve strategies of struggle," stated Syafii. "Once again, despite differences of opinion and of strategy, we are still brothers."
Salahuddin conveyed similar sentiments. He proposed that many people outside NU have misunderstood this organization which had been founded by clerics. "People think NU has rejected Islamic sharia law. In reality, the goal of NU in its constitution is the establishing of Islamic teaching in Indonesia by following the way of Ahlus Sunnah Waljamaah (the four mazhab priests).
According to Salahuddin, NU's rejection of the Jakarta Charter is not a rejection of sharia law in Indonesia. The Jakarta Charter is one of the ways to achieve this end through the constitutional laws. "What NU wants, is that Islamic sharia law becomes accepted both culturally and politically."
As Syafii and Salahuddin also said, do not let this difference become antagonism. "Our desires are equally good. Let us now race towards goodness, or fastabiqul khairat."
This NU public figure who is also the brother of Abdurrahman Wahid believes that through approaches all misunderstandings and prejudice can dissolve. "Let us not magnify our differences, but let us together look for similarities."
Salahuddin said that he disagreed with the Laskar Jihad, FPI, Laskar Mujahidin or other groups, being often labeled as radical movements, as sources of evil or conflict in the community. Even concerning the Commander of the Laskar Jihad, Jafar Umar Thalib, Salahuddin called upon certain parties not to condemn him as guilty before he was proved guilty by the law.
These two leaders of the biggest Islamic organizations in Indonesia also stated that the presence of Laskar Jihad, Front Pemuda Islam and various other militias in Indonesia, were of a domestic nature. In connection with that both Salahuddin and Syafii firmly denied any connection between these militias and international terrorism, especially any connection with Al Qaeda. "Even in the USA there are radical domestic groups," said Salahuddin.
Syafii sees the recent rise of hard line groups to be motivated more by psychological dissatisfaction towards and confusion about the law enforcement military. As proof of this, even in the era of reformation, corruption, collusion and nepotism continue on. The people still experience injustice. Immorality in its various forms is still continuing to spread.
This condition is made worse when nationalism and state ideology are just lip service and written words. Nevertheless they are betrayed by the behavior and actions of officials. On this basis, Syafii believes that the presence of these groups is more of a domestic nature, as a correction of the failures of the government or the state.
Syafii expressed his concern that if there is no significant change in the implementation of law and order, the process of democratization, and improvement of the economy, even more radical groups will arise. Not only religious groups, but also other groups in the community. Such conditions would give rise to the increasing crime and wickedness, especially since at this time there are 40 million unemployed with high potential to carry out various evil actions.
Also Salahuddin did not disregard the possibility that the rise of these hard line groups was the result of the failure of the military forces to deal with the various problems that have emerged in the homeland. The problems of prostitution and gambling are on the increase and are among the targets of such groups.
The grandson of the founder of the NU, Hasyim Asyari and the son of the former Minister of Religion Wahid Hasyim, were aware that the weakness of law enforcement was caused by, among other things, the limited number of military men. Nevertheless, according to them, that could not become an excuse for failure to enforce the law. This is especially because up until now there are police figures who receive funds because they become backers (protectors) of gambling and prostitution.
With these sorts of conditions, Salahuddin is able to understand the rise of hard lines groups that are anti-immorality. Nevertheless he rejects their actions of playing the judge. He asks these community groups who want to wipe out immorality - prostitution, gambling, drugs - to continue to work with the military.
Concerning the presence of the Laskar Jihad in Ambon, Salahuddin also is of the opinion that they are there because of the weakness of law enforcement. According to him, if from the beginning, the military had acted firmly, the conflict would not have spread and continued to grow.
In such circumstances, the presence of the Laskar Jihad in March 2000 was very much waited for by the Islamic community in Ambon as a balance of power. The members of the Laskar Jihad, not only trained young people, but they also gave contributions of food and medicine.
According to Salahuddin, the number of members of the Laskar Jihad and other militias which have arisen recently, are really not very large. Only, due to the exposure by the print and electronic media is such that it appears as though they are very large. Meanwhile overseas, as a result of the news that has been spread, it is as if Indonesia has become a nest of terrorists. Remembering that they are very vocal, and furthermore they wear specific clothing and beards.
According to Syafii and Salahuddin, whatever certain groups may think of them, these groups which are marked as hard liners, are still part of the Islamic community. Muhammadiyah and NU will continue to carry out communication with them and get close to them.
Concerning this, these two leaders of the biggest Islamic community organizations in Indonesia, confessed that they have several times met with the leaders of these movements, among others having visited Ja'far Umar Thalib in jail and had discussions with Ayip Syafruddin, chairman of the Forum Komunikasi Ahlus Sunnah Waljamaah. "I have even visited Habib Rizieq Shihab, chairman of the FPI," said Salahuddin. Meanwhile Syafii confessed that he had held dialogue with the leaders of the Laskar Mujahidin.
According to Syafii and Salahuddin, dialogues like this will continue to be carried out in the future. The two leaders of Muhammadiyah and NU hope that the militia groups will be more active in promoting the friendly, polite and tolerant form of Islam. "Even though we have different opinions and different strategies, Muhammadiyah considers that they are legitimate. It must be understood that we still continue to be brothers in our differences," stated Syafii repeatedly.
Syafii added, up until the present the atmosphere of their meetings have been conducted have gone well. Among them are even some who have said, "Apparently we still have fathers who are kind and care for us."
In relation to the appearance of Islam which is friendly and rahmatan lil alamin (shows mercy to all mankind), was also brought forward by Salahuddin to Ayip Syafruddin. According to leaders of the NU the appearance of fierce and violent Islamic groups will give rise to negative impressions of Islam.
"I even said to Ayip, there are indeed many people who are not satisfied with Malino II. But what is important is how we can achieve reconciliation in which the Islamic community is not disadvantaged. And Ayip agrees with that. We must be aware that the problem of law is not only a national problem, but also an international problem. Islam is for reconciliation," stated Salahuddin.
Touching on the split between NU and Muhammadiyah that arose around the time of the fall of Gus Dur, Syafii and Salahuddin stressed that such a thing must not be allowed to happen again. "We must not be disturbed by present political considerations. The brotherhood of NU-Muhammadiyah must remain strong. In the coming elections we must not allow any breakdown of brotherhood, because the elections are only for the present political importance," affirmed the Chairman of Muhammadiyah.
Salahuddin said, the NU will continue to conduct approaches not only with Muhammadiyah, but also with other Islamic organizations. NU also does not want relationships with Muhammadiyah to be ruined by problems of the general elections in 2004. For that, according to Salahuddin, if necessary a treaty could be made between Muhammadiyah and NU approaching the coming elections.
Salahuddin proposed that the commitment PB-NU that the Islamic community in Indonesia should no longer be divided. Between the Islamic groups, there must continue to be unity in ukhuwah Islamiyah. Let there be no longer the problem of furu'iyah become a disturbance, especially by accusing each other as heathen.
By Ahmad Sumargono
General Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement of Indonesia (Gerakan Persaudaraan Muslim Indonesia)
A week after the tragic incident of 11 September 2001 which brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Centre New York, the Arabic and Middle East Muslims in America, Europe and Australia were stricken with great terror. Terrorist acts against Muslims developed after the President of America, George Bush - based on the results of FBI investigation - accused Osama bin Laden with Al Qaidah as being behind the bloody tragedy and at the same time being identical with Islam.
Bush denied that the terrorist movement he was accusing was an accusation directed against Islam. According to him there was no relation with religion. Bush even went around to visit some of the Muslim communities in America. Among other things, he gave a talk at the Islamic Center Washington. Even so, Bush openly carried out maneuvers and international anti terrorism propaganda with the threat "either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."
International world efforts to war against terrorism, have been carried out since the establishing for the Convention for the Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism in 1937, until the signing of the more or less eleven conventions between 1963 and 1999. The latest was after the 11th of September 2001 events when Indonesia took part in the signing of the Resolution of the UN Security Council No 1373 dated 28 September 2001, concerning the freezing of terrorist assets, international cooperation to fight against terrorism and the formation of the commission for observing its implementation.
The recent spread of international anti-terrorist propaganda cannot be separated from the events of 11 September 2001 that happened to impact the USA. This propaganda has given rise to the impression that nations which have been very dependent on the USA and its allies, have given a very spirited and excessive response. Some political groups in our country fear this overly enthusiastic response could sacrifice our self worth, our independence and our national interest.
Coincidently, a large number of the nations that depend on America and its allies are Islamic nations or nations with an Islamic majority, including Indonesia.
Until now the Islamic nations or nations with an Islamic majority are still arguing about the definition and criteria of terrorism. Especially in light of the actions and policies of the American government, which give the impression of steering opinion to the belief that the bombers of the World Trade Centre New York are an Islamic group (Osama bin Laden) and have even acted very inhumanely towards the nation and the innocent people of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the USA up until now has not yet been able to prove the involvement of Osama bin Laden. Thus the Islamic world considers America and its allies have conducted invasion and terrorism (have caused the mass loss of life by carrying out bombing and terrifying people who have no connection with the events of 11 September 2001).
The emergence of an action that is considered to be a terrorist crime can be considered a system and strategy of "war." An example is what is happening in Palestine between the Arab fighters on one hand and Israel as the colonialist power on the other hand. The suicide bombs of the Palestinian Arabs have been declared by Islamic scholars to be martyr bombs in the cause of jihad in confronting the Israeli imperialists. However the USA and its allies consider suicide bombing as a terrorist action. On the other hand, USA does not consider that Israel, who has conducted the bombing and destruction of the area occupied by the Palestinian people and even kidnapped the President of Palestine, Yasser Arafat, is terrorist.
It is in this context that we speak about the problem of terrorism among the people of Indonesia who are majority Muslim. This is a very sensitive issue because the Islamic community consider that the stigma of terrorism is put forward in order to force Islam into a corner. Apart from that the impression is also given that the policies taken by the Indonesian Government, like the arrest of Ja'far Umar Thalib, the formulation of the International Anti Terrorist laws, all appear to be imposed purely as part of the process of carrying out the wishes of America. This is all connected to the dependence of the Indonesian economy on America and the nations who are its allies, to force us to support the American version of international anti-terrorist propaganda.
The political attitudes and views of the West (America and Europe) towards the Islamic world, are very much influenced by secularist views which reject all forms of religious involvement in politics and government. This secularist understanding has developed as a new ideology which then was formulated into the political life systems of the Western world.
That is the reason America and its allies have never liked nations which indicate any involvement in religion, for example, Algeria where the Islamic party FIS won the elections and then was annulled by the secular military; Turkey in the Erabakan government which is considered to be the shape of fundamentalist Islam has been eliminated by the secular domestic and international groups. And it can be certain that the invasion by America and its allies to Afghanistan has been dominated more by the West's fear of the Islamic government of the Taliban who are firmly carrying out Islamic sharia law in its government system, compared to the involvement of Afghanistan in the events of 11 September 2001. The problem is that Afghanistan for a long time has become the target of Western fear and operations being regarded as a nation that resolutely carries out sharia Islam and is opposed to secularism.
Why then do we suspect that Indonesia will be the next target? The reason is none other than that Indonesia is considered to have very great potential in implementing the values of Islamic teaching through its political and government systems.
This analysis is based on events which are developing in Indonesia since the reformation for example: the Islamic community in Indonesia is the largest in the world, there is a high feeling of solidarity among Muslims in Indonesia, the religious conflict in Ambon and Poso, the birth of Islamic warrior troops, the strong opposition against secularism and the Jews. The demand for implementation of Islamic sharia law for Muslim adherents has become not only a project but a reality that is a constitutional demand. These things have become indicators to the West that are the cause of their anxieties towards Indonesia. That is the reason the Office for the Handling of Terrorism said to the Paul Fujimura on Thursday 23/5, "The Al Qaidah terrorist group which has been forced to leave Afghanistan by the coalition troops, has now got new headquarters in Indonesia." The US Department of External Affairs then hurriedly denied the statement of Fujimura but the details of the statement indicate that truly the potential still remains. The unfounded accusation has been made against Osama bin Laden and has never been proved right up till this present time.
The reason is that basically they have never held to values of truth, but they have made up justifications for their accusations by stigma and paradigms, forming opinions that are false, creating the impression that Islam as a religion spreads violence and is frightening. All these false accusations are not true but are wicked slander. May Allah SWT always protect the nation of Indonesia.
Muslims have been terrorized
Arabic and Middle East Muslims in America, Europe and Australia have been terrorized since the President of America, George Bush accused Osama bin Laden with Al Qaidah as being behind the bloody tragedy and at the same time identical with Islam.
Anti Terrorism was directed against Muslims
Bush openly carried out maneuvers and international anti terrorism propaganda with the threat "either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."
The Dangers of Anti Terrorism
The spread of international anti-terrorist propaganda has given rise to a very spirited and excessive response that could sacrifice our self worth, our independence and the national interest.
American Terrorism in Afghanistan
The Islamic world considers America and its allies have conducted invasion and terrorism (have caused the mass loss of life by carrying out bombing and terrifying people who have no connection with the events of 11 September 2001).
Israeli Terrorism against the Legitimate Palestinian Martyrs
The emergence of an action that is considered to be a terrorist crime can be thought to be a system and strategy of "war". For example what has happened in Palestine that is among the Arab fighters on one hand and Israel as the colonialist power on the other hand. The suicide bombs of the Palestinian Arabs have been declared by the Islamic scholars as martyr bombs in the cause of jihad in confronting the Israeli imperialists, while the USA and its allies consider suicide bombing as a terrorist action. On the other hand, Israel who has conducted the bombing and destruction of the area occupied by the Palestinian people and even kidnapped the President of Palestine, Yasser Arafat, is not considered terrorist by the USA.
Ja'far Umar Thalib as Target of Anti terrorism
Policies made by the Indonesian Government, like the arrest of Ja'far Umar Thalib and the formulation of the International Anti Terrorism laws, appear to be imposed purely in the process of carrying out the wishes of America for economic reasons.
Anti Terrorism is based on Secularism and fear of sharia law
The political attitudes and views of the West (America and Europe) towards the Islamic world are very much influenced by secularist views that reject all forms of religious involvement in politics and government. The invasion of Afghanistan by America and its allies has been dominated more by the West's fear of the Islamic government of the Taliban who are firmly carrying out sharia law in its government system, as compared with the involvement of Afghanistan in the events of 11 September 2001.
Indonesia the Next Target of Anti Terrorism
Why then do we suspect that Indonesia will be the next target? The reason is none other than that Indonesia is considered to have very great potential in implementing the values of Islamic teaching through the political and government systems.
This analysis is based on the events which are developing in Indonesia after the reformation like:
These things have become indicators to the West that are the cause of their anxieties towards Indonesia.
The Wicked Slander of the Anti Terrorists
They basically never hold to values of truth, but make up justifications for their accusations by stigma and paradigms, forming erroneous opinions creating the impression that Islam as a religion spreads violence and is frightening. All these false accusations are not true but are wicked slander.
In the era of post-reformation many new Islamic groups have appeared. They used to give the impression of "hiding" but now they are waving their flags. Among these groups there are those who in Western terminology are considered to be "hard-line." For example, the Front for the Defense of Islam (Front Pembela Islam) and the Laskar Jihad. FPI activists often carry out sweeping of places of iniquity. While the Laskar Jihad has sent "jihad troops" to Maluku. Nevertheless Dr Azymuardi Azra sees this phenomena as an expression of lack of trust in the ability of the military forces in dealing with the conflict and iniquity. Certainly their strong attitude cannot be considered to represent the face of Indonesian Islam. Because, the majority of the community is in NU and Muhammadiyah. If these two large community organizations can be considered as mainstream, then these other groups could be considered to be outside the mainstream. They include, among others:
The Salafy Movement (Gerakan Salafy)
This movement has its roots in Muhammad bin Abdul Wahab who is known for his movement, Wahabi. In principle, the Salafy movement indeed is no different to the Wahabi movement that is very tight in the matter of tauhid. Its leader is Nashrudin Al-Albani, an expert in the hadiths.
The Salafy Movement developed in Indonesia from the beginning of the nineties. They also established Salafy Islamic boarding schools which taught books written by the Salafy leaders.
The Salafy congregations in Indonesia then divided into two groups. One group bows to the Salafy movement in Kuwait - its current leaders being Abu Nida and Yazid Jawash. And one other group follows Saudi Arabia. The priests in this group include Ja'far Umar Thalib. From the Salafy community was born the Communication Forum of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah (FKASWJ). At the same time, Ja'far Umar Thalib also pioneered the formation of the Laskar Jihad.
Communication Forum ASJW
The Communication Forum of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah (FKASWJ) was established on 14 February 1999. Nevertheless, according to one of its chairmen, Ayip Syafruddin, as an institution FKASWJ has only been effective. The pioneers of this movement are the small groups in various Salafy boarding houses in Indonesia. FKASWJ now has about 15,000 members.
The main aim of this forum is to oppose the marginalization of islam. Post reformation, they see many movements which are trying to again marginalize Islam in the name of democratization. To anticipate this, and at the same time fill the gap of reformation in order to establish amar makruf nahi munkar, the FKASWJ was formed.
On 6 April 2000 FKASWJ held a mass meeting tabligh akbar in Senayan, and at the same time declared Laskar Jihad as an autonomous organization. The formation of Laskar Jihad cannot be separated from the initiatives of Ja'far Umar Thalib, an activist of the Salafy Movement.
Beforehand, the FKASWJ concentrated in the areas of teaching and social work and advocacy to defend the interests of the Muslim community. This organization has many divisions. For example, it has divisions of health and education. The health division gives a lot of social help to victims of floods, natural disasters and conflict.
FKASWJ now manages hundreds of educational institutions beginning with
kindergartens, primary schools right up to Islamic boarding schools which are
scattered throughout Indonesia. In Maluku alone this organization manages about
175 Koranic Education Schools and 20 clinics.
The formation of Laskar Jihad was pioneered by Ja'far Umar Thalib. Returning from the Middle East in 1993, Ja'far established the Ihya'us Sunnah boarding school in Yogyakarta. This school referred to the teaching of Salafy which was pioneered by Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab in Saudi Arabia.
In 1999 Ja'far conducted a mass meeting in Solo. A mass meeting was also conducted in Yogyakarta on 30 January 2000 in the course of dealing with the case of the slaughter of the Muslim community in Maluku. He then declared a resolution for jihad with a deadline of three months. Seeing that there was no clarity about the conflict in Maluku, on 6 April 2000, in a mass meeting in Senayan, Ustadz Ja'far together with his followers made a declaration that they would leave for Ambon and officially established the Laskar Jihad Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah.
This group then carried out a National Joint Exercise of the Laskar Jihad in Bogor. Several months later he sent 29 people to Ambon. At present we do not know for certain the number of members in the Laskar Jihad.
Front Pembela Islam
The Front for the Defenders of Islam arose almost at the same time as the fall of the Old Order regime and the birth of the reformation movement. Led by Habib Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, FPI has carried out many actions of defense in the interests of Islam and its people. The troops of FPI in a number of cities (Jakarta, Tangerang, Solo) have conducted many movements of nahi munkar in the form of sweeping places of iniquity, prostitution, gambling, alcohol and drugs.
The background of the birth of this organization according to the General
Chairman DPP FPI Habib Muhammad Rizieq, is the similarity of vision and mission
of a number of preachers who during the Old Regime had become the targets of
intimidation by the authorities. They saw heresy, immorality and wickedness
would never fade except through the approach of amar ma'ruf nahi munkar.
They felt there needed to be a movement which was bold in a frontal way to confront all of these things. Therefore the activities of FPI that are most dominant are not economic or intellectual development of the community, but physical reaction in a frontal way against the practices of denial and immorality. And this is the dominant flavor of the FPI movement.
The aim of FPI, says Habib Rizieq, is to struggle for a society that is religious, a society that upholds the values of religion. This aim can only be attained if amar ma'ruf nahyi munkar (doing good and preventing evil) is established. As yet there is no firm figures showing how many members there are in FPI.
This organization (Jamaah) is a teaching movement pioneered by Sheik Muhammad Ilyas Kandahlawi in India, 1867. This Jamaah emphasizes that every follower give some of their time to share and to spread teaching while avoiding the forms of political parties and politics.
Their method of teaching includes among other things, awareness of the
responsibility of each one individually to conduct teaching in the community.
Every member brings simple equipment for their basic daily needs, enough food
and money. Their simple lifestyle is their chief feature. A teacher must be able
to become an example and be consistent with his teaching. They believe, if
individuals are improved, automatically iniquity will disappear.
In Indonesia, Jamaah Tabligh has developed in a number of cities. Nationally their centre of activities is located in the Jami Mosque in Kebun Jeruk, Jakarta.
Hizbut Tahrir (HT) or the Freedom Party was established by Sheik Yaqiuddin An-Nabhahani in 1953 in Al-Quds, Jerusalem. Its main ambitions were the formation of the worldwide Islamic nation through three stages of struggle (marhala), that is, through forming cadres (marhalah at tatsqif), socialization (marhalah tafaul maa al ummah) and seizing of power (marhalah istilaam al hukm).
This group came into Indonesia in 1982 through Abdurrahman Albagdadi, an HT activist who lived in Australia. At the time Albagdadi was invited by Kiayi Mam Abdullah to share in developing the boarding school Al-Ghazali, Bogor. Albagdadi quickly interacted with the activists of the Al-Ghifari mosque, IPB, Bogor. His ideas greatly influenced the activists and spread to other campuses.
In 2001, the international conference of Khilafah Islamiyah was successfully staged in Istora Senayan and was attended by several HT figures from overseas like sutadz Ismail Al-Wahwah (Australia) and Ustadz Syarifudin M Zain (Malaysia). Now, Muhammad Al-Khaththah is the chairman of HT Indonesia and the name of the group has been changed to Sabab Hizbut Tahrir.
Ikhwanul Muslimin or Jamaah Tarbiyah is the largest Islamic movement in the modern era. Its main mission is to invite the Islamic community to return to Islam as described in the Koran and the Sunnah of the Prophet and to call for the establishing of Islamic sharia law in real life. This movement endeavors to dam up the flow of secularism in the Islamic world.
Its founder was Sheik Hasan al-Banna (1909-1949). It was pioneered in 1928, but its founding as a movement was officially declared in 1941. Apart from Al Banna, Ikhwanul Mulimin has produced many leading thinkers. Among others these include Sayyid Quthb (1906-1966), Yusuf Qardhawi, Said Hawwa, Muhammad Al Ghazali and Mushtafa as-Sibai.
In Indonesia the teaching movement Ikhwanul Muslimin emerged in the Tarbiyah congregations which grew prolifically in the campuses and young professional groups in the 1980s. There are those who say that these teachings are the ones that color the movements and steps of the Justice Party which has promoted itself as the party of Islamic religious teaching.
The teaching mission of the Ikhwanul Muslimin was then given inspiration by Habib Husein Al Habsyi who proclaimed Ikhwanul Muslimin Indonesia on January 2001 at the hotel Bumi Wiyata, in Depok. The form the relationship between Ikwanul Muslimin in the Middle East and in Indonesia takes, is not yet clear.
Firm and strong. This is the character of those who put their life on the line for the establishment of Islamic sharia law. Some of them have passed days behind iron bars, others are ready to become the targets of those in authority. This is the portrait of the leaders of Islamic movements in this country.
Ja'far Umar Thalib
Commander of the Laskar Jihad
He is a wanderer. In his wanderings he always has spread the Islamic religion. Whoever would have thought that in his wanderings today, he has ended up behind bars?
Born in Malang 29 December 1961, Ja'far Umar Thalib took his turn attending various school rooms in his thirst for Islamic teaching. He had not yet completed his education as a State Religious Teacher in Malang, when he chose to attend an Islamic Boarding School 1983-1985. After that he attended the Institute of Islamic Knowledge and Arabic Language in Salemba, Jakarta in 1986.
From there he continued his wanderings to Kunar, Pakistan. There he studied the teaching of Sheik Jamil Rahman. This spiritual leader of the Taliban influenced his thinking. As a result, although he had previously been infatuated with the Ikhwanul Muslimin movement, he crossed over to the Salafy understanding which was taught by Jamil. He not only took studies, Ja'far also took part in guerilla warfare with various jihad troops like Hikmatyar, Sayyaf, Rabbani in the Afghanistan battle field in 1987-1989.
Returning from Pakistan in 1994, this father of eight children established the Islamic boarding school Ihyaus Sunnah in KM 15, Kaliurang, Yogyakarta. Based in this boarding school he was active in developing Salafy teaching. At one mass meeting in the Manahan Stadium in Solo on 14 February 1998, he initiated the Forum Komunikasi Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah which has 500,000 members. He became an advisory board member.
When the Ambon conflict broke out - after previously having written to President BJ Habibie asking him to stop the conflict - FKAWJ initiated a jihad resolution on 30 January 2000. That month he sent his troops to the Maluku area of conflict.
Known for being firm and strong in holding to principles in accord with Islam, he is known not only for his vocal abilities, but for also being consistent with what he preaches. One example is that he was not reluctant to punish his staff who broke the laws of Islam. On 27 March 2001, he stoned to death one of his recruits who was caught in adultery in Ambon.
His boldness in opposing the authorities has resulted in him being targeted by the officials. He was even arrested by the police at the Juanda airport in Surabaya on 4 May 2001. However Ja'far, who was put under house arrest, was set free by the State Court in South Jakarta. He returned to his activities in establishing Islamic sharia law. Jafar also criticized Megawati who was chosen as a woman president.
This man who kept going in and out of the area of conflict was finally 'trapped' by his strong positions. He was accused of committing provocation in one of his sermons in Ambon on 26 April. Police arrested him at the Juanda airport in Surabaya on his return from Ambon.
His body is now imprisoned but what power can quench the fire of jihad that burns in his bones?
Abu Bakar Ba'asyir
Chairman of the Jihad Council of Indonesia
His body has begun to become frail. But the spirit of jihad in this man, aged 64, is still burning. "Compromise about the oneness of Allah and polytheism can never take place and will always be opposed until the day of doom," he said reflecting his strong character.
An attitude like that has caused him to be dragged into prison during the time of Soeharto. He was accused of opposing the Pancasila and wanting to establish an Islamic state and a Jihad command. The Sukoharjo State Court sentenced him to nine years in jail. After an appeal, the Central Java Court lightened his sentence to three years and ten months. The supreme court then let him out on parole as he had been incarcerated longer than the sentence.
In order to avoid the snare of the law, this man with his whitening beard, moved to Malaysia together with Abdullah Sungkar who had experienced the same fate. "I and Pak Abdullah were pursued by Benny Moerdani," he acknowledged and was quoted in Gatra. There he was active in carrying out Islamic readings.
When Soeharto stood down, he returned to the homeland in 1999. Unluckily, the Malaysian Government chased him in turn. He was accused of being in a plot with a group of hardliners in the neighboring country. The Police Headquarters Team examined him as a result of the accusation that he was involved in the Al Qaidah network.
He lives simply in the Al Mukmin Ngruki Sukoharjo Islamic boarding school in Central Jawa and his ambitions is in accord with his motivation to bring about Islamic elements. With the spirit of Islam he believes that the government will become good - no longer will be a country for corrupt and evil men.
Habib Muhammad Rizieq
Commander of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI)
He has freed himself from the vanity of this world in order to establish sharia Islam. Such is the life of Habib Muhammad Rizieq bin Husein Shibab. The Commander of the Islamic Defenders Front gives the impression of firmness of attitude in defending his religion. Born in Jakarta 24 August 1965, he was indeed born into a family of freedom fighters. His father, Huseing Shihab, was given the death sentence by Holland. He was accused of betraying the secrets of Holland to the army of the republic. However this head of the Arab Scouts in Jakarta succeeded in fleeing even though he was shot in the foot.
The warrior blood of his father was inherited by Rizieq. Together with FPI, he was persistent in fighting against iniquity. So also when Israel attacked Palestine, he campaigned to send Jihad volunteers. Indubitably, his name has rocketed to fame, together with the activities of FPI, because of their raiding of night entertainment centers in the capital. Despite his tumultuous life, this alumni of King Saud, Saudi Arabia, has dropped anchor together with his four daughters in a simple house in Tanah Abang Jakarta. This is in the gaps of his busyness in teaching in the Madrasah Aliyah Jamiat Khiar in Jakarta.
Commander of the Laskar Jundullah
He is now cooped up in Camp Crime in the Philippines. Accused of bringing in explosive material, Agus Dwikarna together with Tamsil Linrung, is being held by Philippine police. Recently Tamsil and Abdul Jamal Balfas were set free but Agus is still being held on a charge that has changed to: having a special relationship with the Al Qaedah network.
When the enemies of Islam targeted Agus, they had plenty of reason. He has firmly fought for Islamic sharia law. This quiet, deep man suddenly changes when he is leading Laskar Jundullah.
Born in Makassar 11 August 1964, Agus from the time he was a student at the Faculty of Technology in the Muslim University of Indonesia, has been an Islamic student activist. He joined with the activists of the Islamic Students Group (Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam, HMI) MPO. At that time he was famous for his opposition to the first principle of the Pancasila.
Other than commanding the Laskar Jundullah, the husband of Suriani, became the Chairman of KOMPAK (The Committee for Handling Crisis) in South Sulawesi. Through this organization, he provided donations of basic foods, clothing and medicine to the areas of conflict in Ambon, Poso and the Middle East. This father of five children is indeed known as a philanthropic businessman.
M Ismail Yusanto
Spokesman for Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia
As the spokesman, he is the number one man in the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia. His contact with ideas and thought of Hizbut Tahrir occurred in 1985. Reading books containing the main ideas of Hizbut Tahrir soon became part of his every day life. Ismail who was born in Yogyakarta 40 years ago, immediately felt an extraordinary attraction. "I discovered things I had never known before," said this graduate of Geology Technology UGM.
Education in the Islamic religion and life in an Islamic boarding school is not something strange for him. He was born and raised in a family which was strongly traditionally NU. "My parents are from Majenang Cilacap and were NU people," said this father of two children.
Reciting and reading the yellow books has been his custom since a small boy. The NU ideas which tended to be traditionally classic, he knew well. On the other hand the environment of the place he grew up in influenced him not a little. Yogyakarta as a centre of Muhammadiyah has influenced his ideas. He absorbed the more modern ideas of Muhammadiyah.
Nevertheless this relationship did not satisfy him. There was something lacking in these two community organizations. Other than that, neither of them had political ambition and they were also unbalanced in other areas.
"I really felt it, because people who tend to rely on classical treasury usually are incapable of accommodating modern thought. And on the other hand those who plunged into modern ideas did not have classical roots, explained Ismail. His thirst was satisfied when he came to know Hizbut Tahrir.
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