Rejectionism in America

When we talk about Islamic state, there are many interpretations related to that concept. According to Salem Ghandour, the guest speaker during the weekly Wednesday Forum on April 13, 2009, the ideas with regard to Islamic state in reference to the Qur?an and Hadith are narrow-minded. The Prophet Muhammad himself during his time did not claim of establishing an Islamic state. This narrow-mindedness is greatly influenced by Arabic countries, especially by the imams from al-Azhar in Egypt.

To show the differences between interpretations, Salem begun the forum by asking ?what Islamic state is? to two participants. The first participant answered that Islamic state is a state that holds Islamic law in its system. Substantially, Indonesia is an Islamic state, he said. The second participant emphasized more on governance that dominates pluralism under authority of Islamic state.

For Salem, when we try to explain what Islamic state is, most of us use western-democratic lenses in which they are so different. Besides, if we merely refer to the two of Islamic laws, the Qur?an and Hadith, that is narrow-minded. The two laws only cover the contexts 1400 years ago and they do not talk about specific things as we experience nowadays.

However, Salem considered three religious interpretations which are considered to be touching the concept of Islamic state, those are: ijthisan, ijtihad, and jihad. Generally, these interpretations talk about how to consider and help people?s life.

In relation to the life of Moslems in America, Salem raised the issue of ?Rejectionism? which is popular in their communities. The basic idea of rejectionism is resistance to domination of al-Azhar thoughts in America, because Moslems in America think that the thoughts of al-Azhar are not relevant to their contexts. Imams in al-Azhar only emphasize Arabic traditions which are claimed as Islamic traditions. The emergence of Moslem youths in America is also part of the reason why rejectionism is present in America.

Based on this background, the Moslem communities in America, especially their imams and scholars, prioritize more on Islamic spirituality than traditions which have been dominated by Arabic countries. ?This is the most important thing,? Salem said. The idea of Islamic state is also not a substantial problem there.

At the end of his presentation, Salem showed a book entitled ?Islamic State? written by Now Feldmen. For Salem, Feldmen showed that the idea to have an Islamic state is a destructive myth. There will be much blood to shed just to implement that idea.

Salem added that the Prophet Muhammad himself during his time did not claim of establishing an Islamic state, he respected rules and pluralism that were held at that time. ?This should be done by us, as Moslems,? he continued.

With reference to the life of the Moslems in America and Salem?s point of view of Islamic state, self-criticism should be made in every Moslem community.

This is also a lesson for every Moslem community in other countries that have their own contexts and social responsibilities which are different from that of the Arabic communities which are mostly homogenous.

In Indonesia for example, with its diversity, is the concept of Islamic state urgent and needed? Of course we can guess various answers that will be given. So what?


This post is also available in: Indonesian


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