Are Indonesians truly tolerance?


It will remain impossible to implement tolerance as a value as long as there are still people who have such beliefs. But that is not just a problem for Islam, but for other religions as well.

Are Indonesians truly tolerance?
Muchammad Tholchah, Jakarta

It is commonly assumed that Islam is a tolerant religion, which is supported by normative evidence based on the Koran and Hadith.

If we look into Islam from a normative perspective, we will find that Islam is absolutely just, right, precise, tolerant and respectful of human rights. However, this approach is not necessarily an effective way to resolve the contemporary problems surrounding Islam because real facts often contradict Islamic teaching.

Etymologically, tolerance means the willingness or an ability to allow something that one does not like or agree with to happen or continue. This means everyone has the right to do anything as long as it does not disturb the rights of others. It also can be interpreted to mean that nobody has the right to force others to do or believe as he or she believes.

During the 32-year rule of Soeharto, he forced Indonesians to attend Pancasila indoctrination classes, which consisted of teaching moral values such as tolerance as the foundation for building a relationship with others. This policy resulted in a “tolerant society”.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, which means one would expect everyday life to be based on Islamic teaching, yet corruption, violence and intolerance are increasing. This can lead people to assume that religion (Islam) has a double face. On the one hand, it teaches peace and respect for human rights. On the other hand, its teachings have become the main support and motivation for committing a crime.

Terrorism and violence can strengthen the assumption that Indonesian Muslims suffer from pseudotolerance. In the past, most people pretended to be tolerant and pluralistic. After Soeharto’s fall they began to express their true feelings. The conflict between Madurese and indigenous peoples in Sambas, West Kalimantan, or the burning of churches showed that many people misunderstood the concept of tolerance. Unfortunately, these people do not, or do not want to, recognize tolerance.

Charles Kimbal, in this book When Religion Becomes Evil (2003), wrote a religion will become evil if followers suffer from several diseases, such as blind obedience and justification of all means. Convicted Bali bombers Amrozi, Ali Ghufron and Imam Samudra suffer from these diseases.

First, they claim their faith and actions are correct and others are wrong (misguidance).

Second, they obeyed the order to bomb a public place because they believed “the instructor” was a smart, right and holy person who had to be obeyed without criticism.

Third, they often say that if people want to secure their lives, both personally and communally, they must apply sharia as the Prophet applied in Medina and Mecca. They insist the traditions of the Prophet must be completely imitated because it was during the time of the Prophet that Islam was practiced in its purest and most ideal form.

Fourth, they would have done anything to gain their objectives and perform their faith, including the use of violence. They believe God will forgive them. Last, holy war, what they call jihad, has to be put into practice in accordance with the concept of amar makruf nahi munkar (do good, prevent evil).

It will remain impossible to implement tolerance as a value as long as there are still people who have such beliefs. But that is not just a problem for Islam, but for other religions as well.

The writer is a postgraduate student of interdisciplinary Islamic studies at UIN Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta

Courtesy: the Jakarta Post

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