Religion in Indonesia

Mustaghfiroh Rahayu (kanan)

The existence of various religions in Indonesia, even before the declaration of independence, gives a major impact on public policy products. As a religion followed by the majority of Indonesia’s population, Islam becomes the most favorite ‘vehicle’ for many people to slip in variety of teaching, which they consider ‘Islamic value’ in a variety of existing regulations. There are at least three legal products in Indonesia that are allegedly having an excessive tendency of Islamization and an exclusive look that are being discussed in the Legislature, namely: Halal Product Guarantee Bill, Zakat Bill, and Hajj Management Bill. Moreover, the arguments of religion, especially for Islam, also take an important role in the Anti-Pornography Law, Marriage Law and Inter-Religious Harmony Bill.


Overview on the main theme above was raised in the Wednesday Forum on March 21, 2012, and entitled “Faces of Religious Life in Indonesia in 2011”. Presenting Mustaghfiroh Rahayu, one of co-authors of “Annual Report on Religious Life in Indonesia 2011”, the forum examined further the involvement of religion in the process of public policy formation, which unlikely to be avoided because religion has become an important part that is inseparable from the life of Indonesia’s people.


Nevertheless, attempt to control and give constructive advice in the process of forming public policy should be wisely done. Considering that religion remains a sensitive issue, thus the control effort is useful as an ‘alarm’ when indications of rule’s violation to particular interests are turning up.


Mustaghfiroh argues that Marriage Law, Law on Pornography, Zakat Bill, Hajj Management Bill, and Halal Products Guarantee Bill has the potential injustice to the public. There is an impression that the law denies the views of non-Islamic beliefs. In the case of pornography, for example, it seems that government does not do any efforts to consider other religious views about what pornography is. Therefore, the application of these policies also tends to be discriminatory.


Highlighting the issues of Hajj management, Mustagfiroh, who is an alumnus of Florida International University, USA, says that the government seems to be monopolistic. As in the hajj management, the government develops an impression that it is the only agent that can provide the needs of the Muslim pilgrimage ; although in fact, the government’s ability is incomparable with the public interest, which is so high for Indonesians Muslim to perform the pilgrimage. There arises a long line, even years, of pilgrimage applicants that leads to polemic interest costs on the pilgrimage (ONH). The Marriage Law and Halal Products Guarantee Bill also do not lose their complicated, and it potentially stretches the good relations between religious communities.


Therefore, “We need to consider many aspects in determining matters relating to public interest. One of them is a comprehensive understanding about the reality of Indonesia’s diverse society. Not also to forget to involve the wider community as a solution to every problem we are facing. It could be a solution that does not exist in the law, but manifested in the joint ethics in society,” said Mustaghfiroh, who is now a doctoral candidate in Universiteit voor Humanistiek Netherlands. (NAM)

This post is also available in: Indonesian


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