Tue, 15 Aug 2000

Application of syariah law

As a comment to The Jakarta Post's interview with Irfan S. Awwas, chairman of Mujahidin Congress organizing committee, I would like to say that the suspicion and fear among non-Muslims of the idea to apply syariah law in Indonesia is understandable.

I can point out at least two things which make me fear the idea. One is the massive mobilization of Laskar Jihad in the troubled land of Ambon, which has proven to have added more killings in the region. Second is the sight of some hundreds of people wearing Muslim outfits and crying out loud the words "Allahu Akbar" while burning down several places alleged as pubs, karaoke venues and bars on local television a while ago.

The two examples above, describing what some people who claim to be defenders of Islam do to society when nobody is around to do anything about it, made me ask myself whether I can believe in what Irfan S. Awwas said: "...there is no need for non-Muslims to worry about the application of the syariah as a positive law here... Islam fully guarantees the freedom of all followers of other religions to practice what they believe in...". Like it or not, the application of syariah law in Indonesia will have an impact on those who are non-Muslims, and drawing the line is not as simple as he said.

I am a Muslim myself, but I am not familiar with what is called syariah. I have never known what it is, what's written in it, and how it is going to affect my social life. To have some people forcing the law will affect all my activities and life while I live in Indonesia, and not only mine but many others as well just because we are Muslims. This is a very scary thing. What if, in order to avoid having to follow the syariah I decided to change my religion only on my ID card but not in my heart. Will I then be guaranteed to have the freedom to practice what I believe?

Instead of forcing the inclusion of syariah into the Indonesian law, why not start to show people what Islam or Muslims can do to reduce the violence and criminality in this country. Proof can speak better than any words so that everybody can stop having fears and suspicions. I would prefer to keep on believing in my God and stay a Muslim in a peaceful country rather than practicing my belief under force in a troubled country full of political, economic and religious unrest.