Dr. Nurcholish Madjid's statement explaining pluralism in religions in Indonesia (Kompas, Dec. 10, 1999) has driven me to make some comments. He said: "Why are we different? May God explain to you some day!"
It is a pity if that is the extent of his explanation because the religious people in Indonesia will not understand. The Acehnese still want to separate from Indonesia to establish an Islamic country. The religious war in Ambon between Christians and Muslims is still going on.
Should we expect an explanation from Satrio Piningit (a sort of Robin Hood) who never comes? God gave humans' a brain to analyze and carry out critical thinking about all problems that happen in the world. All matters follow the law of "action and reaction" (or cause and effect).
The explanation should start from the melting point of pluralism itself, which in Islam is Tauhid (the science of God, or what Indonesians call Pancasila). With Tauhid we can examine the Isra Mi'raj (the night journey/ascension) of Prophet Muhammad who traveled through dimensions of space and time from Al Haram Mosque, Mecca (which is the point of direction for Muslims to pray to), to Al Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem, (which is the point of direction for Christians and other religions), to Sidratul Muntaha (Heaven), and back again. This journey can explain the beginning of human beings and religions from the very first time.
Religions come to the world as a cycle that never ends, the next religion will complete the previous one (Koran: Chapter Yassin verses 36, 37, 38, 39, 40).
From the Isra Mi'raj we know that the point of direction for Muslims and Christians are the opposite of each other, that means one of them was created first and the other was created last. That is why there is always the potential for the two religions to have conflicts.
The Madinah Charter in our prophet's history is an agreement between Muslims and Christians not to disturb or interfere with each other. Identical to that problem our founders in Indonesia had also made The Jakarta Charter, so that Pancasila is acceptable to all the people and religions of Indonesia.
Religions are easy to know and understand if we can recognize the symbolic stories. For example: First, there is no difference between Malaikat Jibril in Islam and Angel Gabriel in Christianity. Second, let us review the Christian prayer: Our Father in Heaven above, take us to your Kingdom, and if we look at the Koran, Surah (Chapter) Al Mulk, verse 67, it describes also a Heavenly Kingdom. So the goal of the two religions is really just the same thing. For Muslims that Kingdom is a reward for those who devoted themselves to God (Ar Rahman 55: 49).
In this holy month of Ramadhan and the last Christmas of this century, let us open our hearts to know each other, reconcile and join our people as one to rebuild our New Indonesia.
DR. AGUS UTORO
Serang, West Java