Pertanyaan ini adalah salah satu titik tengkar al-Ghazali dengan filsuf Muslim Aristotelian seperti al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, dan Ibn Rusyd. Ia juga tak khas persoalan Muslim. Di dunia Katolik abad pertengahan ada Thomas Aquinas yang amat dipengaruhi filsafat Aristoteles antara lain melalui tulisan-tulisan para filsuf Muslim itu. Tapi sebagai reaksi terhadap penyebaran filsafat Aristoteles di Eropa era medieval juga muncul Condemnations 1210-1277, yang dikeluarkan para uskup Paris untuk mengutuk sejumlah ajaran Aristoteles, menyatakannya sebagai bid’ah, dan mengekskomunikasi orang-orang yang menyebarkannya.

Pertanyaan itu adalah: apakah waktu (zaman) memiliki permulaan? Continue reading


Salah satu buku daras mantiq yang banyak dikaji (dan kadang dihafal) di pesantren tradisional adalah As-Sullam al-Munawraq fi ‘Ilm al-Manthiq. Judul ini kalau diterjemahkan ke bahasa Inggris menjadi The Ornamented Ladder into the Science of Logic. Buku ini berisi 144 bait nazam (puisi didaktik) karya al-Akhdhari yang hidup di abad 16 di wilayah Aljazair sekarang. Sebagaimana dikatakannya sendiri di bagian akhir, nazam-nazam Sullam digubahnya ketika ia berusia 21 tahun. Continue reading

Ma’ruf and NU factor

Ahmad Najib Burhani’s piece in The Jakarta Post (May 9) on the Ma’ruf Amin factor in Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s reelection made two points worth reexamining: that Ma’ruf failed “to boost Jokowi’s electability in Muslim majority regions”, and that Jokowi’s tight alliance with a particular religious group, in this case Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), is prone to slipping into “practicing favoritism or even authoritarianism”. The former demands critical reviewing, while the latter needs caveats.

Najib’s first point was in response to claims that Ma’ruf was appointed as Jokowi’s vice-presidential candidate to shield the incumbent against sectarian attacks and to mobilize support from NU members. Najib’s refutation of these claims were a bit surprising, given that he himself, in his past commentary on the same issue (published on the ISEAS website), was one of the few analysts who argued that Ma’ruf’s main role was that of a shield rather than a vote-getter. His past view was actually more accurate than his latest. Continue reading

Jokowi and NU: the view from the pesantren

Ulama have been treated like bay leaves (daun salam) during elections. Our mothers usually use bay leaves when cooking to make food smell delicious. But once the meal has been prepared, the bay leaf is the first thing to be thrown away”—Ma’ruf Amin

During visits to pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) in Java and Sumatra, President Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi) running mate Ma’ruf Amin conveyed that metaphor many times in his speeches. “Pak Jokowi is not someone who treats ulama like a bay leaf,” said the former supreme leader of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).

In an attempt to defuse Islamist attacks by winning over NU’s support, Jokowi has relentlessly tried to secure voters in pesantrenNU’s backbone. He managed to shift NU and pesantren leaders who had in 2014 supported his opponent Prabowo Subianto. Significantly, Jokowi devised pesantren empowerment programs in the form of vocational training centres and microcredit schemes. Jokowi has also promised to expedite the passage of the Pesantren Bill, which would increase the legal recognition of pesantren. Media reporting also suggests that fewer pesantren have openly declared their support for Prabowo today than in the lead-up to the last election five years ago.

Read the rest of this article at New Mandala.

Law as a weapon: The “criminalisation of ulama”

The 2019 elections have seen increasing attacks on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo over his “criminalisation of ulama”, that is, jailing Islamic religious leaders. These claims are part of broader efforts to portray the Jokowi government as anti-Islamic.

Presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto has made repeated references to the “criminalisation of ulama” during his campaign events. Former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose Democratic Party has lent its support to Prabowo, also warned publicly against the danger of “criminalising” religious leaders. A member of the Democratic Party even claimed that, in contrast to Jokowi, Yudhoyono had never imprisoned his opponents during his 10-year rule (a statement that is, in fact, incorrect). Jokowi has been forced to address this issue several times, most recently at a Muhammadiyah leadership meeting in Bengkulu in mid-February. “Which religious leader have I criminalised?” Jokowi said. “If a religious leader is innocent and he is imprisoned, only then can it be considered criminalisation.”

Read the rest of this article on Indonesia at Melboune.

Questioning Prabowo’s alliance with Islamists

In the aftermath of Jakarta’s 2017 gubernatorial election, it seemed that Indonesia’s Islamists would be more solid than ever in their support for Prabowo Subianto’s challenge to Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in Indonesia’s 2019 elections. The “212” movement born out of the 2016–17 anti-Ahok demonstrations was institutionalised in the form of the 212 Alumni Brotherhood (or PA212) and the National Movement to Safeguard the Fatwa of Ulama (GNPF-U), both of which have overtly declared their support for Prabowo. In December 2018, PA 212 held the second reunion of the 212 rally, which was attended by Prabowo and key leaders of his coalition parties, along with hundreds of thousands of 212 “alumni” from across Indonesia. Earlier, in September, GNPF-U held an Ulama Conference (Ijtima’ Ulama) where Prabowo signed a 17-point Integrity Pact (Pakta Integritas) containing promises that GNPF-U wanted fulfilled should Prabowo win. Compared to 2014, the Prabowo–Islamist alliance appeared to be even tighter.

But a closer look into recent dynamics between Prabowo and his Gerindra party and Islamist forces reveals that the Islamists are in fact less solidly behind Prabowo than is often portrayed. Jokowi has consolidated support among major mainstream Islamic parties and organisations, and has sought to split the Islamist coalition which drove the 212 movement. Prabowo has ultimately been left more dependent on a narrower base of hardliners, amid intense political competition with Jokowi for the votes of more mainstream Muslims. Moreover, Islamists may have less leverage and bargaining power on Prabowo this time than they had in 2014, something which might have implications for the policy direction a Prabowo administration would take.

Read the rest of this article at New Mandala.