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Religious edicts: Harbinger of disaster
Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post
According to Syahidin, the coordinator of a group of shunned Jamaah Ahmadiyah followers in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, attempts have been made and letters sent to various circles for the group to be allowed to return home.
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) released an edict declaring Ahmadiyah a heretic sect, while a joint ministerial decree called for the group to return to mainstream Islam and the wider community. But how, can Ahmadiyah members return to society if the spiritual guidance pledged by MUI and the government is limited to newspaper reports, Syahidin asks.
“In the local media, ulemas and religious affairs officials have offered such guidance, but in reality they have never come here. We are longing for the spiritual enlightenment they’ve talked about,” said Syahidin.
In 2008, ostracized members of the group, under the direction of West Nusa Tenggara (NTB)’s Ahmadiyah adviser Saiful Uyun, pronounced the Islamic syahadat or creed at the Transito Mosque in Mataram. They also read out a 12-point statement of the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) acknowledging that Muhammad is the last Prophet and Gulam Ahmad is only a teacher.
The congregation celebrates Prophet Muhammad’s birthday and holds regular social events where members donate blood. There are 75 active donors registered with the Indonesian Red Cross in Mataram, who donate blood every six months. All this, however, has been to no avail.
“We’re resigned to it. All we want is to return to our normal lives, go home, take care of our families and send our children to school,” added Syahidin. To show his faith in Muhammad as the last Prophet, Syahidin has even named his fourth child Muhammad Khataman Nabiyiah, who is the younger brother of Transiti Mariam Sudikah also born in the group’s Transito house.
When The Jakarta Post visited the dormitory, Muhammad Khataman Nabiyiah was in the arms of his mother, Senah, while Transiti was holding her father’s shoulders tightly. Senah said, “We’re longing to go home, the children wish to visit the house they have never seen.”
NTB provincial spokesman Lalu Muhammad Faozal said the NTB administration would subsidize the basic needs of Ahmadiyah refugees staying at Wisma Transito (transit house) besides persuading them to observe Islamic sharia law.
According to him, the subsidies include food and heath care for the evacuees still living in Wisma Transito. “As long as they are in the quarantine, they will be subsidized. Meanwhile, guidance for their proper return to Islam will also be provided through spiritual lectures,” he added. The term quarantine was used as their refugee status had ended after two years.
Faozal indicated his administration had been drafting a regulation concerning Ahmadiyah. But at present the guidance by the NTB religious affairs office will continue with its monitoring by the province’s internal affairs office.
“The effect of this guidance cannot be determined in terms of time because it is a matter of faith,” he noted.
Nonetheless, Faozal admitted he had never surveyed the evacuees’ conditions in Wisma Transito, nor had NTB Governor K.H.M. Zainul Majdi, who has already been in office for 18 months.
The governor’s office is 3 kilometers from Transito, or 15 minutes’ drive.
The congregation celebrates Prophet Muhammad’s birthday and holds regular social events where members donate blood.