The Form of Ikhtilaf in Indonesia and its Solution

When we talk about Muslim ummah, ikhtilaf ummah would be one of hot issues that never stop to be discussed. In one of Hadiths Rasululllah PBUH, the difference in ummah is mercy. Such diversity can be overlooked from various fields. However most of people tend to modestly see and relate these with al-masail-fiqhiyyah and furuiyyah.

Most of people may ignore the problem of ikhtilaf and relegate it to the position of intellectual diversity. They may argue that it is not their business. Let the Fuqaha work hard to come to the solution, right, and proper.  What else are Fuqaha supposed to do? Most of lay people are ignorance and have no interest to interfere their decision and would only like to be muqallid. And if any difference among majority and traditions arose there would be anychaos and expulsion on both sides. As Sayyid Rashid Ridha has stated that; “the fanatics, devoted to their school of thought, do not look into ikhtilaf as mercy. They extremely abide by only the teaching of their school denying their followers to take the views of other mazhabs, although they are in their need for their good. Many of them vilify one another (see Al-Ghazali’s book Ihya Ulum-addiin). They may go so far as to look down into the devoted follower of other mazhab.[1]

Eve there is ikhtilaf in Ilmu Kalam, in which many people read different information which are argued by ‘competing’ mazhab. Such as Imam Ahmad b. HanbalVs. Ahmad B. AbiDuad about Mu’tazilah Vs. Asy’ariyah; Al-Ghazali Vs. his critiques; Ibn Taymiyya Vs his opponents; the MugitsulKhalaq of Imam Haramain As-Syafi’I Vs. the InqadulHaq of Al-Kautsari who endorse the Hanafi School of thought; the As-ShawaiqulMuhriqah of Ibn Hajar Al-Haitsami As-Syafi’I Vs. Al-Hafidz Al-Kautsari (represented and written by Muhammad Amir Al-Kazimi As-Syafi’i), and many others.

And this is analogues to the condition of Muslim ummah in Indonesia.  The Bhinneka TunggalEka (Unity in Diversity: Indonesia’s National Slogan) leads the ikhtilaf discourses in Indonesia more appearable,as the socio culture of Indonesian becoming background of it. We can analyze it by the presence of many Non-Government Organizations which have difference backgrounds. Some of these various non-government organizations are based on tradition, modernization, the returning to Islam kaffah movement, the tasawwuf movement, indeed there are some movements and groups that been set by the political, the economical and the ruler needs and conditions.

Moreover, the ikhtilaf would lead to the internal and the social conflicts. What is more that it becomes the ‘unwholesome’ debates among scholars and intellectuals. The condescension on other’ understandings drive people to illegitimate and deviate each other. Besides, the strong influence of Yahudi and Nasrani in spreading the ideology of Secularism, Pluralism, and Liberalism.  And such ideology steers to materialism and refrains from the teaching of religion.

The above matters have weakened the Muslim brotherhood and sisterhood. In this manner each of them emphasizes their own egos and competes against other groups/firqah. Furthermore, it has dismissed Muslim ummah then put them as the blameworthy and fitna object of Muslim enemy. Here Muslims are placed in the difficult situation,whereas Muslims themselves, teachings, and thoughts are harmful. Indeed Islam should be reduced, destructed and reformatted in accordance with the need and the aspire of Muslim enemy.

Such circumstances are worsened by the imagery and negative news release of Muslims. Imperialism and hegemony (and in media in particular) dominated by Yahudi posit Muslim ummah including in Indonesia in weak condition.

In Indonesia, these states of affairs are associated with the socio-history of Muslim Ummah themselves. The history when Islam arrived in Indonesia, the difference understanding of religion among santri and abangan, the development of politic and economic, the changing policy of ruler, and the social and the thought of Muslim abroad. Some debates among teachers and students also arose.

For example: Sheikh Hasyim Asy’ari had ever written a book title Tanbih Al-Anam then later was objected by his teacher in the Tanbih Al-Aghnam; the difference in perceiving and practicing the teaching of tasawwuf. It could be seen by the dichotomy of tasawwuf falasafi and tasawwuf sunniwhich exist on competing discourse just as practical (realized or not realized) by Muslimin Indonesia. However, in my opinion, the ikhtilaf essences of these differences are not real. In its substance, it all direct to the slaving/ibadah to the Al-Mighty.

Now what we have to do regarding ikhtilaf? We need other strategy to perform da’wah.  As has been stated by JalaluddinRakhmat: the assumption of tolerance (by recognizing other groups existence and accept them as they are); the assumption of expansion (by considering the differences are actually assets and mercy; and the assumption of adab (by not practicing the Fiqh of our school when we presume that the practice would bring conflict in the community) would be an alternative solution in releasing the critical situation that resulted by ikhtilaf.[2] And I think this offer of new paradigm that preferring moral over Fiqh would face obstacles.

Such conditions drive us to thoroughly leave the old approach which could create a fragile Muslim world. Thus we have to strengthen our ability and skills in every fields of life. Under the guidance and advice of honest and piety scholars

Likewise, our faith as Muslim ummah must be strengthened for the reason that our brotherhood/sisterhood will always be tighten if return to the basic guidance- Al-Qur’an. To the same extent, this guides us to deepen our understanding of Islam and accepting the rising ikhtilaf. In place of ikhtilaf is sunnatullah. And Allah will guide those people as he wishes.

Being a Muslim ummah – through various ways and dialogue in particular- we have to unify our vision and mission. As stated by Al-Ghazali, our view of life would be better if we accept the ikhtilaf sincerely and tolerantly through: avoiding ma’shiyat and dhar-dunya, practicing Riyadhah, regularly reciting sincere dzikr, having positive thinking, and implementing sharia in our life.

Badrah Uyuni Saifuddin Amsir

Wallahu A’lam.




[1] See JalaluddinRakhmat. Working Toward Rapprochment: A New Paradigm. A Paper presented in International Conference on Upholding Solidarity and Unity in the Muslim World. Jakarta, December 18-20, 2009.

[2] ibid

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