The primary role of Islamic religious leaders (Ulama) is to create peace and harmony among people. Sadly, this respectable role often ignored and abused, as many Ulama often behave like the military. Ulama often sponsor violence with excused to guard the purity and uphold the Islamic teaching by justifying violent acts of one religious group to another. This worrying situation has become the topic of this edition.

In the column Sorot, Fawaizul Umam asserts that the influence of Ulama could be detrimental, especially if the influence is spread through semi official religious institution, such as the Indonesian Ulama Assembly (MUI). Fawaiz notes the recent numbers of violence and disintegration often ignited by the religious decrees (fatwa) passed by the Ulama on behalf of the MUI. Further, this situation is worsen with the absent of the government in preventing religious violence.

To examine the root of violence in Islam, in the Renungan column, Dr. Mafthukin Rasmani describes the political background of conflict post the death of Prophet Muhammad, marked the first major political break up within Islam, with the establishment of Shiah and Sunni groups. Dr. Mafthukin suggests, we should always examine critically the political history of Islam to avoid larger conflict among Moslem.

To respond on the increasing demand for the establishment of Islamic state, in the column Eksplorasi, Dr. Sahiron Syamsuddin questioning the validity of the demand with two fundamental questions. First, whether Islam has required Islamic state as the only system to establish government; second, whether Islamic state will enhance or create further development of the nation and the state? In his explanation he emphasizes the important of embracing and establishing Islamic principle, more than formalism of Islam.

In the column Kunjungan, Dr. Nur Syam says, the Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah should be in the front line in protecting Islamic teaching that emphasis local wisdom to enhance pluralism and democracy as developing local wisdom has been the main agenda of the Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah. To complete the reference on the important to protect local wisdom, the column Resensi reviewed Ronald Lukens-Bull’s book, A Peaceful Jihad. This book has confirmed Dr. Nur Syam’s idea on the important to protect and embrace local values. Ronald Lukens-Bull explains the role of Islamic boarding schools (pesantren) in compromising modernity. His book also challenges the earlier arguments on the role of pesantren in supporting progressive Islamic discourse in Indonesia.

To commemorate Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, in the column Tokoh, Siti Nurjanah describes the political role and political tragedy of Benazir Bhutto and the Bhutto’s family. Ms. Bhutto is the fourth political victims of Bhutto’s family who lost their life in the mid of their political carrier. However, the assassination of Ms. Bhutto does not mean the end of the Bhutto’s involvement in the politic of Pakistan. New Bhutto will soon arise to promote democracy; and to combat military and radical Islam in Pakistan.

Indonesian people should soon realize the important to protect and establish Islamic teaching that emphasis local wisdom, to prevent Indonesia from falling into the same political situation as in Pakistan. Unfortunately, seeing the recent political and religious development in Indonesia, it would not be impossible if violence and political tragedy happened in Pakistan could soon happen in Indonesia.


Author details: Siti Nurjanah is Direktur Eksekutif of CRCS