Muhammaddiyah, the Fatwa & Paradox of Modernity

“Why does Muhammadiyah enthusiastically release fatwas (religious verdicts) lately?”

Ask a friend of mine in a milis responding the new fatwa of the Majelis Tarjih and Tajdid (MTT – Council of Legal Affair and Reform) on bank interest. The fatwa was one of Council National Meeting (Munas Tarjih) outcomes in Malang, East Java, 1-4 April 2010. Like previous Muhammadiyah fatwa on banning cigarette, the latest fatwa also stirred up pros and conts.

This brief posting will not address to the pro and cont issues about the fatwa. It rather would like to see beyond the fatwa from theory of modernity noting the phenomena as both the paradox of Muhammadiyah and, in a broader scope, the paradox of modernity. Continue reading “Muhammaddiyah, the Fatwa & Paradox of Modernity”

Local Culture, Local Wisdom & Local Stupidity

Many people assume local culture is the symbol of backward, barriers for development and in contrast to modern culture. To be a modern (rational, engaged in secular institutions, and disenchanted with the world) one should drop all that connected to the local. Through their purified wings, world religions in fact involved in negating –or even destroying– local cultures, blaming them as unauthentic and source of heresy.

But it was in the twentieth century when modernity was the dominant narrative of cultural explanations. The Coming of a new millennium has been stimulating criticism to modernity and all derivative explanations about it. New perspectives, theories, paradigm or even ideology have been appearing such as post-modernism, multiple-modernities, and post-traditionalism, which are appreciative to local expressions. Having been tired by the aridity and linearity of modern life, people are now searching for alternatives that are softer, more spiritual, and more flexible than ever before. They find such things in local knowledge. For these purposes, local culture is now seen as a source of wisdom instead of obstacles. Continue reading “Local Culture, Local Wisdom & Local Stupidity”

Islamic Cleric among Indonesian “Modernist” Muslims

…it would be a problematic to generalize the norm of Islamic Clerics among Indonesian Modernist Muslims. The ‘faces’ of modernist Muslims are changing just as other institutions where polarization is one of the characteristics. The clerical authority among reformist Muslim in Indonesia is now, especially after reformation era, more multipolar and more plural than ever before.

Muslims ScholarsMuhammadiyah did play important and significant role in establishing and maintaining clerical authorities among the modernist in the Old Order and the New Order, especially in the urban area as well as national political landscape. Muhammadiyah had special “relationship” with the two Presidents of Indonesia, Soekarno, and Soeharto. Both of them openly declared that they were Muhammadiyah cadres.

In the New Order era, almost all the minister of religious affairs are from the modernist Muslims wing, such as Mukti Ali, Munawarir Sadzali, Tarmidzi Tahir, and Malik Fadjar. The leader of MUI at the New Order era was also mostly from Muhammadiyah backgrounds, such as Hamka, E.Z. Muttaqin, and Hasan Basri. Muhammadiyah Bureaucrat also dominated in the Department of Religious Affairs (DEPAG). Continue reading “Islamic Cleric among Indonesian “Modernist” Muslims”