Shari`ah Takes Root in Indonesia

With the blessing of the federal government, an increasing number of Indonesian provinces and districts is adopting new regulations to implement Shari`ah, to the irk of many of the country's leading parties.

Shari`ah Takes Root in Indonesia

As many as twelve villages in Bulukumba regency, South Sulawesi province, are formulating pilot projects of so-called Muslim Village, where all aspect of life must meet Islamic law.

The villages are even ornamented by Arabic letters – not languages – to change every Malay and Indonesian alphabetic in naming streets, health clinics, mosques, schools and others.

"Those are Indonesian languages but written in Arabic letters, like calligraphy," Fahirmal Fahim, a head of a village in Bulukumba, told

"It is very nice in term of aesthetics and Islamic spirit," he said.

Over the past three years provincial governments have passed at least forty five Shari`ah-based regulations in twenty five regions across Indonesia.

The regulations address Muslim dressed rule, ability to read and understand Qur'an, management of Zakat and banning liquors or alcohol-contained beverages as well as prohibiting gambling, prostitution and sex outside marriage.

The federal government has found ways to help a number of regions, which feel very strongly about applying Shari`ah to have right to implement it locally and exclusively in their territories as long as it does not contradict the state constitution.

"We cannot do negative thinking to those parties who want to implement Shari`ah," Interior Minister Muhammad Ma'ruf told reporters last week.

He said the limited-implementation of Shari`ah in certain provinces and regions across the country has legal basis to fulfill public service in the country.

"Implementation of Shari`ah must become an umbrella for the people unity," Ma'ruf asserted.

Indonesia is the world's most populous with a population of 220 million. It has 32 provinces and 341 cities and regions.


"I worry if the trend continues to spread then Indonesia will disarray," Muzadi told IOL.

The new local regulations on Shari`ah and the support of the federal government is drawing rebuke from nationalist groups and even Muslim organizations as threatening the nation ideology Pancasila – the principle that adopts multi-religions and local cultures.

"We prefer to build Islamic values into our common law," Hasyim Muzadi, Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), told IOL.

He said the NU, the biggest Muslim organization in the country, is campaigning not to impose Shari`ah textually but adopt the spirit of it for the sake of Indonesians' unity and mutual interest.

"Indonesia was established based on multi-ethnic and multi-religion spirit. I worry if the trend continues to spread then Indonesia will disarray," Muzadi asserted.

Safii Maarif, former chairman of Muhammadiyah, the second biggest Muslim group, agreed.

He believes Shari`ah is unnecessary to implement because it will be overlapping with the existing criminal law.

"We have already a higher legal basis so it is no point to impose such law," Safii told IOL.

"The government must be more attentive in accommodating those parties who want to impose Shari`ah," Helmi Faishal Zaini, an MP from the Nation Awakening Party (PKB), told IOL.

He said the implementation of Shari`ah on regional and provincial level is against the 1999-passed Regional Autonomy law, which stipulates that provincial government have only authority to rule the region from managerial point of view without determining foreign politic, monetary and religious policies.

Fifty-six members of the 550-seat House of Representative have recently vocalized opposition to the implementation of Shari`ah on regional and provincial level.

They sent a memo to the house speaker demanding that the legislature ask the government to annul Shari`ah-based decrees.

The lawmakers were members of the three biggest parties; the Golkar Party, the Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P) and the PKB, which was born from the womb of the Nahdlatul Ulama.


Yet, the implementation of Shari`ah on regional and provincial level is being supported by the Islamic United Development Party (PPP) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the fourth and fifth biggest parties respectively.

"The decrees are needed to fight against prostitution and gambling that conventional law cannot do," Lukman Hakim, an MP from PPP, told IOL.

He insisted that the existing conventional law doesn't seem effective in putting a lid on immorality and preventing crime.

"A good law must be able to prevent people from committing crimes," he added.

Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni reaffirmed that the government remains committed to let regions implement Shari`ah as long as not contradicting the higher regulation.

"We have been adopting law from many sources. Why don't we cast doubt on our Dutch-based criminal law," he asked.

The minister added that the implementation of Shari`ah on regional and provincial levels can actually strengthen the existing law.

Todung Mulya Lubis, an expert, said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has no option but to support the implementation of PKS-backed Shari`ah.

"Otherwise he will lose support from the party," Todung told IOL.

The PKS, an Islamist party, had given significant support for Yudhoyono when he was running for presidency in 2004 and has been backing up the government policy in parliament.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16