MUI Allows Religious Leaders to Advise, But Not Threaten, During Governor Runoff

By webadmin on 02:03 pm Jul 29, 2012
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Lenny Tristia Tambun

Reports of Islamic preachers or speakers who direct the vote of their followers in the second round of the Jakarta gubernatorial elections in prayer houses are being taken seriously by the Indonesian Council of Ulema.

But some members of the body known as MUI found no problem with religious leaders telling followers how to vote, so long as they do not issue threats.

MUI deputy chairman Ma’ruf Amin said that it is only natural that preachers during Friday prayers or other Islamic activities would direct their followers because the leader should know best which pair has values that are in line with his followers.

“If an ustadz [Islamic preacher] advises his students on how to vote, that is not a problem. The students can still choose to follow the advice or not, it is up to them. If the directive only goes that far, it’s not a problem,” Ma’ruf said in an interview with BeritaSatu on Saturday.

But he said what would not be tolerated were threats to the community if they didn’t follow the ustadz’s advice.

“An example of a threat is that if people don’t choose a specific pair then they will no longer be allowed to worship at that prayer house, or other threats of that nature,” he said. “That is something we forbid.”

Ma’ruf continued that advice to choose a certain pair of candidates is in line with Islamic teachings, and is not a violation of the electoral laws against campaigning on divisive racial, religious and ethnic issues, known collectively as SARA.

Instead, he said that such advice was meant to educate the Islamic community about which leader is the most suitable from a religious perspective.

However, Ma’ruf advised the Islamic community to choose the pair of candidates who would lead Jakarta toward a better future.

Miftah Rais, head of the As Syukur Mosque, said that his preachers had never encouraged community members to vote a certain way, nor had they defamed the names of any candidates, practices he said he disagreed with.

However, the Central Jakarta mosque does ask that the Muslim community choose a leader whose religious views are compatible with the teachings of the Koran.

“We only recommend this, it is up to them if they choose to follow or not. But surely it is our duty to ask the community to vote for a leader who has the same faith,” Miftah said.

Incumbent governor Fauzi Bowo visited the mosque some time ago and was endorsed by Miftah, who said that Jakarta needed a leader who was special, who was a Betawi native and who was “berkumis,” that is, who had a moustache, though the Miftah said it was an acronym for “berkah, kuat imannya dan istiqomah” (“blessing, faith and strong-willed”).

“Let us pray that Foke [Fauzi Bowo] will again be chosen as the governor of Jakarta,” he said.