dinsdag 24 januari 2017

Fatwa under discussion

Like every year there was also last December some debate about Christmas in Indonesia, especially related to the public space of the capital and large towns where big shops, restaurants, offices are decorated in 'Christmas style'.
14 December 2016 the Majelis Ulama Indonesia or MUI issued a fatwa forbidding Muslim to spread Christmas decorations, to produce or sell these things. It wass labelled Hukum menggunakan atribut keagamaan non-Muslim or 'A judgment about the use of religious attributes of a non-Muslim origin'. the fatwa used 6 verses of the Qur'an. Quite often the word kafir was used and general statement was that Muslim should not imitate the unbelievers or kafirun.
My good friend Jan Sihar Arotinang, a professor at the Jakarta School of Theology wrote a quite angry letter to the MUI on 17 december 2016. He stated that much of the 'Christmas attributes' have nothing to do with Christianity as a religion, but or often only quite local developments that have sometimes to do with winter in thr northern countries. Surely there is no consensus or agreement about these attributes. Even some are forbidden by some Christian denominations. It may be known by all people that Christmas tree, Santa Claus, wearing clothes with elements of Santa Claus' hat or the moose, are quite recent elements and not essential for anything that has to do with Christian faith.
In the argumentation the MUI often uses the term kafir as if Christians are simply unbelievers, while the status of Christians in the Qur'an described also as 'people of the book' as followers of the prophet Isa son of Mary.
The letter of Aritonang was sent to many people and until today, more than a month later, I receive reactions from many sides. A few days ago, Aritonang complained that he has as yet not received any answer. Some of his Protestant colleagues wrote that we should consider this fatwa as an internal Muslim affair and not react to it. Aniway, it is a social and politcal element in a society that has many more ofthis kind of problems, the most important being now the court case of blasphemy against Jakarta Governor Ahok.

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