Saturday, May 19, 2007

Religious Adherence Requires Symbolism and Morality

The_jakarta_post Hari ini saya menerima email dari Raditya, Alumnus PPI Sunway College, bahwa tulisan saya di The Jakarta Post bertajuk 'Religious Adherence require symbolism and morality' (14 Mei 2007) menarik perhatian beliau sebagai pembaca.

Pesan artikel di atas jelas bahwa kita tidak bisa menanggalkan simbol-simbol keagamaan, tetapi sekaligus menjaga pesan moral yang ada di dalamnya. Jika jilbab dianggap sebagai simbol wanita muslimah, maka sekaligus ia juga menampilkan makna yang ada di balik secarik kain itu. Keduanya berjalin kelindan. Adalah tidak elok seseorang menggunakan jilbab, tapi masih menyisakan 'tubuhnya' dinikmati oleh orang lain. Sebab, jilbab itu pada hakikatnya menutup aurat, dengan kata lain kehormatan.

Jika, kita menegaskan bahwa shalat jamaah itu mempunyai keutamaan, maka kita juga akan merawat hubungan sosial di luar masjid karena sebagai muslim kita harus memupuk kebersamaan. Adalah aneh jika seorang hamba rajin berjamaah, tetapi hidupnya menyendiri. Sepertinya, Surga telah ada digenggamannya.

Di luar kabar artikel ini, saya juga ingin berbagi dengan teman-teman bahwa Anda bisa menulis untuk koran The Jakarta Post sesuai dengan disiplin Anda karena saya yakin bahwa teman-teman di sini banyak yang jago dalam bahasa Inggeris.

Wassalam,
Ahmad Sahidah

Untuk bacaan lebih lanjut tentang gagasan di atas bisa dibaca di http://www.thejakar tapost.com/ yesterdaydetail. asp?fileid= 20070514. F05.

atau selengkapnya di bawah ini:

Religious adherence requires symbolism and morality
Opinion and Editorial - May 14, 2007

Ahmad Sahidah, Penang , Malaysia

It is necessary that religious text is related to its context. This statement is actually recurrent of old postulates concerning the close relations between them. The Koranic text, for example although written in Arabic, does not mean Islamic principles should be based on the artificial application of Arabic stuffs, including how to dress in daily life. We shouldn't be confused between the message of the text and the form of its realization.

For Indonesians, it is natural we appreciate the religious related text in the terms of local specifics. We often understand scriptures differently when we find them in different time and space. Logical consequence of this condition springs a different belief and commitment. Each group prefers their own point of view and ignores the others. These insights imply a complex social and cultural communication. On the one hand, human relations stress equality and egalitarian attitudes. While on the other, they impose the narrowness based on subjective revelation interpretations.

According to Louis Dupre in his book Religious Mystery and Rational Reflection: Excursions in the Phenomenology and Philosophy of Religion, the diversity also appears in religious acts. The later does not exist without the symbolical expressions. As a Madurese Muslim, I have performed some rituals in terms of my traditional views. Religious acts themselves illustrate religious experiences that reveal religion does not only relate to thought but also experience.

Edward Schillebeeckx, a Dutch theologian, asked how historical figures, living in a remote culture, initiative a universal experience and even elicit new experience? Especially when fully estranged from the religious culture in which the message was delivered. Although this question is related to Jesus, it is applicable to other figures who declare the message of prophecy and truth.

He expressed two things related to the above question. Firstly, revelation can be received in and through human experience. Experience is an essential part of the concept of revelation. Secondly, the whole experience contains elements of interpretation. The past experience can be directly comprehended by contemporaries, because it presupposes different things. This statement shows us clearly that distortion and bias of religious text occur easily. The fair and pure treatment of the text and experience in themselves would essentially introduce a true apprehension.

The most theoretical and practical norms of scriptural religions (Judaism, Christian and Islam) are derived from what they call a revelation that brings the uniqueness of personal, cultural and socio-political aspects of prophets. This interacts with the prevailing culture and the later colors each cosmology and social moral of religions.

There are at least two responses to the above issues: understanding the revelation through rational inquiry and faith acts. And this is found in the search for the meaning of life. The second is exclusively given in a divine revelation. The two distinguished sides appear simplistic, but in fact reflect a reality of religious thinking existing in society. These two responses cannot be separated and should be complementary. Achievements of textual interpretation inevitably vary either externally or internally. Pluralism is not a jargon for rulers to create societal order or underestimate conflicts in the different religious communities -- religions have an obligation to play their role in endorsing peace, harmony and co-existence.

Unfortunately, a political drive undeniably becomes a trigger for competing in religious symbols in order gain power. The internal religious scholars strongly criticize the use of religion as a bumper or vote-grabber, because of the apparent conflicts on a massive scale. The choice of inclusive views is not just a tactic. Inclusive views are a necessity because of the variety of people and the actualization of religious teachings. Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, Islamic theologian and philosopher, was correct when he said the role of ulema and government was completely different. The first is responsible for planting moral values and the second bears the duty of manifesting the rules in the society. In summation, the ulemas play a moral role not a political role -- and given this, they may also solve tension between groups in a more effective way.

The writer is a PhD candidate of Islamic civilization, University of Science Malaysia, Penang. He just finished writing his dissertation entitled The Relation between God and Man in the Koran: A Study of Toshihiko Izutsu's Semantic Analysis Through A Hermeneutical Approach. He can be reached at ahmadsahidah@gmail.com.

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