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politic islam and democracy

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Post by keroncong on Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:49 pm

The voices from political Islam recently seem to have increased significantly, as well as the waves of anti-American mass-demonstrations, since the Washington double- standards policies still applied to many Islamic states, especially in middle-eastern countries. There is strong evidence that political Islam, which has gained momentum since the fall of Soeharto, may continue to exert itself in the era of President Megawati Soekarnoputri and even afterwards. It will thus continue to affect not only the Megawati presidency, but also the course of Indonesian politics as a whole.
The rise of political Islam in post-Soeharto Indonesia is clear from several trends. First, the establishment of a great number of "Islamic parties" that mostly adopt Islam as their basis replacing Pancasila, formerly the sole basis of any organization; second, increasing demands from certain groups of Muslims for the official adoption and implementation of shariah by, among other things, the reintroduction of the so-called "Jakarta Charter" to the Preamble of the 1945 Constitution. The third tendency is the proliferation of Muslim groups considered by many as radicals, such as the Lasykar Jihad (Jihad Troops), the Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defense Front), the Hizb al-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) and the Angkatan Mujahidin Indonesia (the Jihad Fighter Group of Indonesia).
The three developments to some appear to represent not only great challenges for the government, but also to the existence of the Pancasila state. Indeed, the very idea of transforming Indonesia into an Islamic state could bring the future of democracy and pluralism in Indonesia into question. However, despite the recent tendency to cling more closely to political and formal Islam, it remains difficult to imagine that Indonesia would and could be transformed into an Islamic state.
As we know, polemics on the relationships between Islam and politics as well as Islam and democracy have once again come to the fore in Indonesia after the fall of Old Order. This has much to do with the rise of "political Islam", one of the most visible political developments in post-Soeharto Indonesia. Many believe that the rise of political Islam, represented by so many "Islamic parties", will bring serious political repercussions to the future of the Indonesian state, which until today has been based on Pancasila.
Yet, most Muslims love to argue that the Indonesian state is neither secular nor theocratic. For them Pancasila is fully in accord with Islamic beliefs and teachings. The first point in Pancasila, for instance, is simply another reformulation of the Islamic belief in One Supreme God (tauhid).
Despite the fact that the first pillar of Pancasila is belief in One Supreme God, many, if not most, foreign observers perceive this Indonesian basis for the state as essentially secular. This argument is further supported by the fact that Indonesia has not adopted any particular religion -- notably not Islam, as the religion most Indonesian adhere to -- as the official religion of the state.
A number of groups in the past attempted to replace Pancasila with Islam as the basis of the Indonesian state. In the 1950s the Masjumi Party struggled in parliament to do so. Then came the Darul Islam (Islamic State) rebellions under the leadership of Kartosuwirjo in West Java and Daud Bereueh in Aceh, which attempted to establish the Indonesian Islamic State (Negara Islam Indonesia). All these efforts failed.
After Soeharto's fall in 1999, some 40 "Islamic parties" were set up; 20 of them passed the selection to participate in the 1999 general elections. Their prospects were very doubtful. First, these parties have only caused acute political fragmentation, leading to confusion among Muslims at the grassroots level. Open fighting occurred among fanatic supporters of the Islamic parties, even among members of the largest organization Nahdlatul Ulama, who supported different parties. Second, these Islamic parties became trapped in the romanticism of Islamic politics and "illusions" of the support of the country's population, which is 87 percent Muslim. Third, they seemed to have underestimated both Megawati Soekarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), and Golkar, founded by Soeharto. Many leaders believed that PDI Perjuangan would not get many votes because of the gender issue, and doubts about Megawati's capability. The Muslim leaders also underestimated Golkar for its connections with Soeharto. PDI Perjuangan won the largest block of votes, followed by Golkar. So what is the prospect for the Islamic parties, or even political Islam? How viable is the idea of stronger and formal connections between Islam and the Indonesian nation-state?
The 1999's elections confirmed that Islamic parties have never been very popular among Indonesian Muslims. One most important reason is that most Muslims here lean more to "substantive Islam" than "formalistic Islam".. Therefore, there are no convincing signs that the majority of Muslims support the idea of formal Islamic politics. Nobody among prominent Muslim political leaders subscribes to the idea or aims to establish an Islamic state in Indonesia at the expense of Pancasila. Leaders, such as Yusril Ihza Mahendra, Deliar Noer, Ahmad Sumargono, Muhaimin Iskandar, Nur Mahmudi Ismail, AM Fatwa, Salahuddin Wahid and many others, have declared that they and their parties do not aim to establish an Islamic state.
Muslim leaders introduced to the Preamble of the 1945 Constitution ("the Indonesian state is based on the belief in One, Supreme God"), the obligation that adherents of Islam implement shariah. This stipulation is known in Indonesia as "the seven words" of the Piagam Jakarta (Jakarta Charter). Before long this stipulation was dropped, following objections from Christian leaders and "secular nationalists", who argued that the Constitution should not give preferential treatment to any religious group. Furthermore, the Constitution should maintain the integration of national plurality.
And now, groups like the Laskar Jihad, Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and other similar groups, outside MPR, continue to seek the application of Islamic law which stipulated in Jakarta Charter. In the name of Islamic law they have attacked nightclubs, discotheques, and alleged brothels. The rise of these groups seems to have more to do with the government's failure to enforce the law, thus leading them to take the law into their own hands. As long as the government is weak, these groups will hold sway at certain times and places to engage in the principle of "encouraging good, prohibiting evil", (amar ma'ruf nahi munkar) in their own way.
Their demands, absolutely, were unpopular. The reasons for the unpopularity of the demands of such groups are clear: First, hard-line groups are only splinter groups from the vast majority of the Muslim mainstream. The nature of Indonesian Islam, which is basically tolerant and peaceful, will prevent these groups from exerting significant influence. If Indonesia succeeds in reestablishing political stability and economic recovery, the social, economic and political disorientation and radical tendencies of Muslims will tend to decrease. Second, most moderate Muslims continue to support President Megawati, some for the practical reason that she should be given a fair chance to lead the nation out of the crisis. Many have refrained from strong criticism of her, since this would only provoke hard-liners further to question her legitimacy and ability to lead the country.

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