Wed, 14 May 2003

Muslim forum undecided on teachings of new sect

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Muslim Ummat Forum (FUI) in West Kalimantan is still evaluating whether the teachings of a new Muslim sect which has raised confusion among locals, promotes heresy or not.

Sect leader Muslim cleric Abdul Madjid has been arrested by the local police on the grounds that he has indirectly encouraged his students and followers to commit crimes.

"So far, FUI has yet to draw any conclusions because it has gained information from only one source -- the police. We need an explanation from the cleric and his students, too," FUI secretary-general Haitami Salim said after a meeting with the local police here on Tuesday.

A number of FUI executives and lecturers of the Islamic Teaching Institute (STAIN) in the city met with the local police chief to offer themselves as mediators in handling the alleged dissemination of new misleading teachings in the province.

"If the cleric's disciples give a similar explanation to that of the police, we must conclude that what Abdul Madjid has taught is heresy and, thereby, we condemn it as blasphemous," Antara quoted Haitami as saying.

During the meeting, local police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Affan Riswanto explained that the police had found an evidence that the cleric had encouraged his students to commit crimes.

Affan also said that according to the detainee, giving financial contributions to the leader was mandatory for the students.

Haitami said he could do nothing more because the police had evidence of crimes committed "and therefore we cannot force the police to accept our offer (to mediate)."

Abdul Madjid was arrested after police received a complaint from four disciples who said they have been forced to cut their relations with their families to become a follower of the cleric.

Haitami further said that the police had the authority "to judge" whether a religious teaching encouraged people to commit crimes, or caused conflict, problems, or confusion among the people.

Such a case also occurred in Indramayu, West Java, last year, when locals were confused by the mission of Al-Zaytun Islamic Boarding School which allegedly supported the idea of an Islamic Indonesian State (NII).

Haitami said that according to the police's explanation, Abdul Madjid has won many supporters in the province and had disseminated his teachings without textbooks, guidelines or support from FUI.