Outcasting Opposition is un-Islamic and Against Local Wisdom

6-11 May 2017, Aceh hosted national meetings on agriculture and fisheries
sources. Back in February this year, President Joko Widodo decided that the
national agenda meetings would be held in Aceh, which has led numerous
governors and agriculture and fisheries businessmen to flock to Aceh. The agenda
is supposed to be a stepping stone for the improvement of Aceh’s agriculture
and fisheries sources. Unfortunately this prospective event lost its significance
due to the spotlight upon offensive religious related attitude towards one the governors
namely Cornelis MH from West Kalimantan who was scheduled to attend the event.
came down the streets against him on Saturday, 6 May 2017, demanding that Cornelis
leave Aceh immediately. This was fulfilled the day after, when the leader of
the protestors, who claimed to be from Islamic Defender Front, visited the
hotel where he was staying and demanded that he be removed immediately. This was
deemed as retaliation against the governor’s speech at Pontianak weeks before, where
he had made anti-Islam remarks. The 24 second long recorded video speech, which
went viral on social media, was delivered during a meeting with indigenous non-
Muslim tribal communities in Kalimantan.
Due to the impact of his speech, Pontianak officials prohibited the entry
of ‘Ulama’ from religious organizations such as Muhammadiyah and FPI, two days
before his expel from Aceh. The governor had claimed that the action against
these religious preachers was as a result of a response to a petition letter sent
by the representatives’ body from the 12 West Kalimantan Dayak indigenous communities
requesting the prohibition of theIslamification agenda of the representatives
of these organisations. 
the ongoing criticism towards the decision of the West Kalimantan government,
the request for the governor to leave Aceh further increased the heat of the
debates on intolerance narratives on the social media.
incident in Aceh has elicited various responses, mainly focusing on whether
Acehnese themselves justify such actions. The disagreement with the ousting was
emphasised relying on local customs on hospitality towards a guest. No official
statement has been released on this matter, since the provincial government has
been cowardly silent about it. However, the majority of population subtly
approved of the move, believing that ‘expelling the religious opposition’ to be
very much local wisdom.
answer the initial question about the Acehnese response, it is essential to
elaborate upon the socio-religious understanding of the Acehnese people.
Despite the passage of 12 years since Aceh attained freedom from the 30 years
conflict, the conditions in Aceh have not improved significantly. Poverty, poor
education, including in religious ones, highest levels ofcorruption, and bad
governance still hamper the progress of the Acehnese society. Ironically, the implementation
of a narrow interpretation of Islamic law is seen as the answer to such
problems. This means that the Acehnese are still not alert to adjust their
belief system into the real world, a world where Islam no longer a ruler on
their own world. Values of modernism and post modernisme lude the larger part
of the population of Acehnese, alongside an absence in consciousness on
concomitant central-periphery democratic ideology that has run in every
province in Indonesiafor the last 20 years.  
If we
want to identify one mostly clear oblivious reason for social changes in this
society in the last 12 years, full access to social media would take the most
votes. Social media has played the role as both schools and libraries. Through this
medium, images and narratives from other war torn countries, mostly inhabited
by Muslims, create insecurity and defensive attitude within the general Muslims
societies, including the Acehnese. Furthermore, in the last 7 years, increasing
attention has been concentrated into the narratives of 19th century Aceh
history which in some aspect play vital role in the skewed understanding of religious-local
values. Despite its overwhelming positive points, this arguably has been one of
the impacts from the abscence of profound studies on historical primary colonial
narratives and images of Aceh which derived from the digital free access
archives. The colonial period is remembered as the most painful period of the
Acehnese which fuelled the anti-Muslim rhetorics and violence. Despite the
truth it bears, the psychological impact of this remains up to this day. Most
of the Acehnese reject anti-Islam remarks. Their participation in the events
related to defending Islam is effective, as seen in the anti-Cornelius
Against the Local Values
most of the Muslim societies in Indonesia, particularly for Aceh, local values
bear a union of Islamic and customary law (adat) which is recognized by the
orientalist Snouck Hurgronje who conducted ethnography studies in Aceh for 9
months between 1888-1889. In traditional folklores such as Narit Maja which believed
to have been written during colonial period, Narratives on Tueng Bila is presented. Tueng Bila literally means fetching a protection.
The condition where Tueng Bila is encouradged were after five reasons. One of
them is insult against al Quran, Allah, the prophet Muhammad SAW and the messengers.
Despite being accused for intolerance, some Acehnese intellectuals have used
this scholarly immature label on Acehnese characteristics to justify the
inappropriate action towards the governor Cornelis. What is missing in the
justification above is that, the idea of tuengbila was propagated during
the colonial period, referring immediately to resistance of colonial policies
in Aceh which opposed the crystallization of Islamic values into colonial
administration and politics. What I mean here is that the attack towards Islam
was directed immediately towards affecting the Acehnese values and society. In
this kind of condition, one can perhaps understand that tuengbila was
the only ideal solution for that period of time. But what happened currently in
Aceh speaks of almost an entirely different thing. First of all, the
provocative remarks and actions by the governor in West Kalimantan were against
a particular national Islamic organization, delivered among the majority
non-Muslim inhabitants. When he came to Aceh, his intention was the fulfilling of
national duties. He came in a peaceful manner. Thus, tuengbila simply
should not fall in action and should not be justified.
person who comes in no intention of other than fulfilling national duties
should be regarded as Jamee (guest). Guests should compulsorily be treated and
respected, as is encouraged in Islamic tradition. The guest has to be respected
in the matter of fulfilling whatever they need, while being appropriately
assisted by courteous attitude. Thus, chasing out a guest from the region is
against local etiquette.
Against Islamic Views
It is
ironic that the case is not only against the local wisdom, but also against the
Islamic view. Al Quran gives numerous verses that prioritize tolerances for
such non-Muslims. For example, Surah al Mumtahinah verse 8 reads: “Allah does
not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you
on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah
loves those who deal with equity
”. This verse expresses a clear intonation
on the command to behave fairly and kindly towards other people. In this
respect, the governor did not insult the Acehnese’s beliefs nor did he cause
people to be driven from their homes when he was in Aceh. Thus, a just and kind
attitude towards him is a religious obligation.
If in
fact he clearly did the opposite, then the verse 9 of the same surah is the
action that must be taken. Verse 9 of surah
al mumtahinah reads: “It is only
as regards those who fought against you on account of religion and had driven
you out of homes and helped to drive you out, that Allah forbids you to
befriend them. And whosoever will befriend them, then such are the Zalimoon
Surah al Maidah verse 8 reads, “And Allah, may He be exalted, says: “O you
who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah and be just witnesses and let not the
enmity and hathred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: That is nearer to
piety, and feal Allah. Verily, Allah is well-Acquainted with you with what you
” In this verse, the sentence “just witness” holds the key in responding
to such sensitive issues such as clash for religious reason. It also encourages
one to be just to others who hate and have enmity and dispense justice.
Aceh’s History Encouraged for being Kind and Just
moral direction towards this religious sensitivity is not only displayed in
local wisdom and Islamic views but is also reflected in history. Aceh’s historyhas
taught us on how to treat non-Muslims and enemies amidst the warring conditions.
For instance, Hikayat Aceh highlights on how Sultan AlaaddinRiayat Shah
al Mukammil (1589-1604) treated his Portuguese guests named Don Davies and Don
Tonis, who had been sent for trade agreement. Although Aceh and the Portuguese
wereat war over trade, politics, and religious driven interests in the Straits
of Malacca, the Sultan did not mistreat the guests right away. Instead he welcomed
them with appraisable ceremonies accompanied by entertainment and the beauty
skill of the elephants. He indeed gave opportunities for the guests to deliver
what they came for, justly and kindly.
the reign of the 4 four queens (1641-1699), more Dutch delegations visited Aceh
for the purpose of trade. In 1641, the Sultanate of Aceh could not possibly ignore
the advance of the Dutch after taking Malacca from the control of Portuguese.
Although the Muslims were oppressed during the Portuguese period, their
conditions under the Dutch were not much better. However, Aceh did not reduce
its welcoming tradition towards these Dutch delegations.
ideal attitude toward guests by the Acehnese is displayed through the Aceh treatment
toward a Hadhrami figure believed to be a descendant of the prophet Muhammad
SAW, named Habib abdal-Rahman al-Zahir, who betrayed the Acehnese in their
resistance against the Dutch and escaped to Jeddah with a particular monthly
pension gifted by the colonial masters. Unlike the other royal man named
PanglimaTibang, the Acehnese did not kill him for his betrayal. This perhaps is
triggered by the local custom of not harming a specific guest who bore the prophet’s


religiously motivated case from Aceh has been added the list of racial
intolerance cases in Indonesia. Although some reflections have been penned down
here, there will be no guarantee that it will stop the increasing tendency of
further divisions among the believers. Nor would it protect the fragile union
of diversities among them, but government firmness and prompt response in
dealing with such issues would definitely bring about significant changes. The
government needs to equally reflect and implement laws and initiatives on
religious issues on numerous diverse media and public practices which enhance
positive energies for a prolonged state of harmony between Muslims and non-Muslims in Indonesia. 


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