New Book Explores Non-Muslim Leadership in Predominantly Muslim Societies

In this June 14, 2015, photo, residents of Bukit Duri, South Jakarta, hold up a sign saying they refuse to accept any activities carried out by the Ahmadiyah community, a Muslim minority sect. (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

By : Sachi Kondo | on 5:36 PM August 23, 2015
Category : News, Human Rights, Religion

Jakarta. A newly-launched book is calling on Indonesian Muslims to embrace egalitarianism in elections of the country's political leaders and to be more open to non-Muslim candidates; anyone with clean, corruption-free track records.

Fikih Kebinekaan” ("The Jurisprudence of Diversity") was written by Islamic scholar Wawan Gunawan Abdul Wahid, in response to many Muslim preachers' sermons that declared voting for non-Muslim leaders was haram, or forbidden in the religion.

Such a declaration is often accompanied by calls to elect only Muslim leaders  — irrespective of their track records, or if they have engaged or been suspected in corrupt activities.

Wawan, also a member of Indonesia's second largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, describes the book as a “synthesis of jurisprudence focusing on religious diversity in a society.”

Syafii Maarif, former chairman of Muhammadiyah and the founder of Maarif Institute foundation, writes in the prologue: “I hope this book can act as a guide — academically and morally — to strengthen diversity in Indonesia, as well as to contribute Muslim intellectuals to international discourse.”

The book was endorsed by the Muhammadiyah and Maarif Institute, and launched during an event in Jakarta last week presented by Wawan, Muhammadiyah secretary-general Abdul Mukti, and Bukhori Yusuf, the secretary of the shariah council of the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Wawan said the book focused on the concept of egalitarian for the people — meaning that equality among them should exist regardless of what they believed.

Furthermore, it explores the relations of the majority and the minority in a society, calls against any discrimination of the latter, primarily in terms of leadership, emphasizing that the minority should be allowed to possess equal rights as the majority.

Wawan explained that people within a society typically had different understanding of religion. In addition, he said that the way person expresses and interprets a religion also differs from one individual to another. Therefore, the differences should result in relatively high tolerance in matters of religion.

“The word umat means an entity that live together, who have the same goals and obligations, therefore having equal rights,” Wawan said during the discussion.

Abdul added that each country adopted different ideologies, hence the factors of choosing a leader, for example, varied everywhere. In Indonesia, the democratic system allowed the people to choose and be chosen.

He said the people should take public morality into consideration when electing a leader because one of Indonesia’s strongest enemies was corruption, therefore religions should not be an issue as long as the candidates were free from any means of corruption.

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