Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tolerance in comparison

Few days ago read the news about Hasyim Muzadi making a controversial speech. He is the former general chief of of Nahdatul Ulama (PBNU, a well-known Islamic organization in Indonesia). His speech is now widely spread on net, BBM and alike. His speech is more or less about countering stigma saying that Indonesia is less tolerant country in terms of religion. He told us in the video that he had traveled to lots of countries and he never found a country as tolerant as Indonesia, meaning that Indonesia is the world most tolerant country in terms of religion. No one doubts his experience and Islamic knowledge as is the prominent figure that has already been doing da’wah (spreading Islam) for decades. Generally speaking, everything we say and have in mind is influenced by many things. We are aware that experience has great shares in shaping our way of thinking. Even it is the most influential one. I do realize that I am influenced by the experiences I got within the period of my life; I am now 25 years, married, and still studying at master degree. Compared to Hasyim Muzadi, I visited only once in my life to the overseas country i.e. USA, Arizona state. It was in 2008 I flew there and stayed for about 8 weeks in the city of Tucson, Arizona. Although it was in Ramadan, my daily activities there in the USA were mostly common to me. In terms of religion I got no any harassment or such from people there. I think was respected enough by people of American which are non Muslim and of course I got much appreciation and brotherhood feeling from Muslim brothers and sisters. I was also several times invited by non Muslim families to have dinner in their house. Sometimes we got ifthar (breaking the fast) together and had sharing afterward. To me, those experiences somewhat erased the stereotype that American are racists. There were only two mosques within that city though and I only came to one of them called ICT (Islamic Center of Tucson). Compared to the number churches (both catholic and protestant) and synagogues for sure the number of mosque was too small. This is of course normal as the number of Muslims is few. One peculiar thing I found there was that, the Mosque didn’t have any minaret with loud speaker on it. It was really strange because in Indonesia I always find that the mosque and loud speaker cannot be separated. Loudspeaker here is used for resounding adzan – inviting people to pray (five times a day). Adzan was only resounded in the mosque and it couldn’t be heard from outside. Wishing to find the answer why this happened asked one of the Muslims in the mosque. He remarked that the city’s law doesn’t permit adzan to be sounded outside the mosque as it is deemed to disturb people who live around the mosque. But well then I asked myself, why can bell in synagogues be rung? Does it also disturb people around it? Well, I just couldn’t complain anybody since I was just a temporary student at one of universities there in Arizona. There I tried to be very tolerant though I couldn’t have something common- hearing adzan outside the mosque. Connecting my experience in Arizona with the situation prevailed in Indonesia which is deemed less tolerant; I am sure that what Hasyim Muzadi stated in his spread video is correct. I am all with him. People cannot judge that Indonesia is a less tolerant country in terms of religion. They must see this case comprehensively, at least do comparison with other countries and then they can make objective valuation. All in all, Muslims is and Christians in Indonesia must live harmoniously by respecting to each other. To me, this can be manifested in the act showing; Christians are given right to make churches as needed. At the same time Muslims also have to be given right to establish mosque for them to pray. This must be also applied in any country which adhere the principle of democracy such as USA, England and so on. I certainly sure that is the really mean of democracy in terms of religion life. In other words, this is what we called the tolerance we’ve been pursuing for long.

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