zaterdag 6 september 2014

Lukman Hakim Saifuddin

After the terrible period of SDA, Suryadharma Ali, now a fresh new minister gets a much better record. He is from a NU dynasty, because his father Saifuddin Zuhri was leader of a pesantren (and wrote a nice humorous book, a novel rather than a treatise) and the 9th minister of religion in Indonesia. But Lukman Hakim studied in Gontor, which is not really a NU based institution. From 2004-2014 he was a parliament member for PPP. He received positive reviews, but will he be acceptable for PKB as the next minister of religion?  Anyway he was a PPP partisan and that is different from PKB.
On 15 July, only one month after being appointed (on 9 June 2014), he invited Ahmadiyyah and Shi'a representatives for an infar  meal in his house, besides Sunda Wiwitan (a reconstruction of the original Sunda religious traditions) and Parmalim (Batak traditionalists). Since then he also has made a good name in blaming ISIS, the terrorists of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and proposing that Bahai should have some status as a religious community. This is complicated, because what is then the definition of religion?

Berkas:Lukman Hakim Saifudin.jpg 
Not everything is OK with his statements. A few days ago he celebrated 50 years of marriage law of 1974 and defended his position that mixed marriage should not be allowed in Indonesia, because religion must be dominant in the definition of marriage law. Besides, who should be dominant in a mixed family: the religion of father or mother? Well that sounds perhaps reasonable, but reality is different: there are mixed couples and they have to be accepted anyway: you cannot exclude or deny them.One Anbar Jayadi has made a case against the ban on mixed marriage with the MK Mahkamah Konstitusi, stating that the ban on mixed religious marriage is conflicting with the Indonesian Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion.

                While completing the text for my talk in Nagoya and Tokyo, next month, there was an interesting message from Dr. Machasin, prominent advisor to the new Minister of Religion, Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, who took the position after SDA, Suryadharma Ali has to leave the function on 27 May 2014 due to suspicion of corruption. This fresh new minister declared on 20 September 2014 that one of his duties should be to give more attention to those people who do not follow one of the six major religions. Examples given are Baha’i, Taoism, Kaharingan (local renewal of Dayak religion), Jewish religion. 

Sahiron Syamsuddin and the Mutashabihat of Muhammad Shahrur

The Arab root of sh.b.h. has the meaning of ´to make equal or similar´or ´to resemble´.
It is used in Sura 4,153: shubiha lahum, it seemed to them as if they had crucified him, Jesus. This verse is also a first example of mutashabihat, or verses which have a dubious meaning. One may interpret this as if the Jews saw the body of Jesus, but it was in fact fake, it was a different body that was substituted for the 'real Jesus' and in fact it was someone else (Pontius Pilate? Judas? Simon of Cyrene?). We also may interpret this in the sense of the pride of Muslum in/after the battle of Badr who claimed that 'they had killed the enemies', but Qur'an 8:17 says: you did not kill them I have killed them.

A second meaning of mutashabihat is related to the idea of antropomorphism: God lookes like human beings, talks, sees, sits on a throne and is great.
 A third meaning is about verses or short phrases that are similar in wording and are put twice, sometimes even three times in the Qur'an. I even found a website, quite practical that gives many examples of this practice: Then we may ask why these doubles phrases are so frequent in the Qur'an?
Dr. Sahiron Syamsuddin 
I mention these possibilities, because Dr. Sahiron Syamsuddin of the UIN of Yogyakarta is now translating with some of his PhD Students my book on the Jesus Verses of the Qur'an. Sahiron himself hold a PhD from the University of Bamberg (2006). The title of his dissertation is Die Koranhermeneutik Muhammad Sahrurs und ihre Beurteiling aus der Sich muslimischer Autoren, W├╝rzburg: Ergon 2009. In this book he studies the theories of the Egyptian scholar Muhammad Shahrur, from Damascus, a Syrian, born in 1938 who studied between 1958 and 1964 engineering in Moscow and later for some time in Dublin (1968-9). He specialized in soil mechanics, and foundation engineering. He taught between 1972 and 1998 in Damascus University. In the 1980s he published also some articles and in 1990 his first book on Qur'an interpretation. His vision is that a modern reader should not forget his modern science, but also apply his own knowledge and vision in the interpretation of the Qur'an. This is the general idea of hermeneutics: meaning is the result of communication between the sacred text and the reader. He applied this in the mathematical results of reading about inheritance (sura 4:11-12), on polygamy but also on the story of Noah and the technical details of the construction of the vessel that should rescue Noah's family. It is a quite detailed and complicated book: much about general theories, but also some clear examples. I trust that the translation of the book on Jesus will be clear and helpful as well.

woensdag 3 september 2014

The inter-religious harmony of VOC regulations and treaties

These days I am busy reading about Frederick de Houtman for the CMR project, the bibliographical history of Christian-Muslim Relations.
One of the major issues in the contribution on De Houtman will be the treaties he coined with Muslim rulers in the archipelago, especially in Ambon (26 August 1609) and another of 1 July 1620).