Proponents of an Islamic sect in Central Java that maintains its founder was a prophet and that fruit offerings can substitute for animal sacrifices now face the threat of blasphemy charges.
Adj. Sr. Comr. Nazirwan Adji Wibowo, the police chief in Karanganyar district, said on Sunday that his office would give the Jamaah Muslimah sect a chance to recant its doctrine during ongoing talks with the local chapter of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), the country’s highest Islamic authority.
“We’re giving the MUI an opportunity to engage this group in further dialogue, and we will take action based on the outcome of that dialogue,” he told the Jakarta Globe by phone.
Jamaah Muslimah has courted controversy over its claim that its late founder, Rohmad, was ordained as a prophet by the Archangel Jibril, or Gabriel.
Mainstream Islamic teaching, however, holds that Muhammad was the last prophet and that anyone claiming to be a prophet after him is a heretic.
The sect has also been criticized for other unorthodox aspects of its doctrine, including the claim that the animal sacrifice Muslims are required to make during Idul Adha, or the Day of Sacrifice, can be substituted with an offering of papaya.
It also contends that going to Mecca to perform the hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is not mandatory and can be replaced by undertaking a pilgrimage to Mount Lawu on the border between Central and East Java.
Badaruddin, a member of the local MUI, said the most egregious of the sect’s claims was the one about its founder.
“The notion that their founder received his calling from Allah through Jibril goes against Islamic teaching,” he said.
“If possible, we’ll try to guide them back to the righteous path. But if they refuse, then it becomes a police matter.”
Jamaah Muslimah, which has around 500 members, was established in 2006 but only came to the attention of local clerics and police recently after its new leader, Suparmin, began extolling his predecessor’s standing as a prophet who had been ordained to lead the faithful for the next 100 years, as reported by Okezone.com.
Zainuddin, the head of the Karanganyar MUI, said the sect’s doctrine was “theologically unacceptable” and that it had “crossed the line.”
“If they want to call themselves a new religion, and not part of Islam, then there would be no problem,” he said as reported by Solopos.com.