Islamic Education and Fundamentalism

“You must be kidding me. I know no conservative from UIN”, said a Malaysian feminist as I introduced myself, “I am from UIN of Sunan Kalijaga, and I am religiously conservative.”

For one familiar with academia of UIN/IAIN/STAIN (State Islamic Universities), it seems easier to him/her to associate UIN with liberalism than conservatism. Donald Rumsfeld may have reasons to suspect Islamic learning (madrasah) in Pakistan; it’s difficult, however, to bring the case into Indonesia.

It is true that, seen from the educational, economical, and even ideological background, UIN academia is, say, bloody religious minded.

Most of UIN students graduated from madrasah or pesantren. UINs are the only higher education accessible for santri because the education they received in pesantren is not accommodated in secular system of education.

Many UIN students come from a family whose philosophy of life finds religious education more important than professional education. “Religion is foundation of life. Learning religious knowledge, then, is learning about life. If you well understand the life, you can go trough it safely, worldly as well as next in the hereafter” they said.

Demographically, they come from rural areas. TV may have changed aspects of life; still villagers are traditional in many ways. And in Indonesian Muslim’s case, traditional means religiously committed. Born in religious family, brought-up in traditional community, educated in Islamic learning from the elementary to college, they become neither radical nor fundamentalist. Instead, they are moderate and even secularized.

Most liberal Muslims are the very product of Islamic education. The prominent secular Muslim, the late Nurcholis Madjid, was alumnus of IAIN of Jakarta. Progressive Islamic communities, such as LKiS in Yogya, or liberal JIL and JIMM in Jakarta, were students of IAINs.

The only anomaly so far is Agus Puryanto, who died accompanying JI’s number two, Dr Azahari, in Malang. He was registered as a student of STAIN of Surakarta. But, he was not really STAIN affiliated: failed in many classes and didn’t finish his study. In addition, he was not alumnus of pesantren.

I myself graduated from STAIN of Surakarta two years before he enrolled. I would argue that he may have been radicalized by radical Islamic communities easily found in Surakarta, not by STAIN. His case, hence, is merely a happenstance and may be neglected. He is only one of hundred thousands of UIN/IAIN/STAIN academia.

The relevant question remains: how does Islamic education produce liberal and secularized Muslims much more than secular education? First of all, religious education of UIN is not monolithic. Students get used to deal with many religious notions and fatawa (edicts). They find religious teaching not as absolute as many lay Muslims do. The bulk literature of Islamic law, for example, clearly represents that the absolute Word of God (recorded in a single scripture) has been being interpreted and became less-absolute.

Secondly, religious education makes them religiously independent. They are not committed to a single religious notion. Say, if Osama bin Laden interprets the Quran in a violent way, IAIN academia would easily find different interpretation. While the Indonesian Council of Ulama prohibited Muslims from congratulating non-Muslim festival, IAIN academia may embrace different edict from different source. Believe me, it is very difficult to convince the academia to follow one fatwa because they are, in fact, trained to produce fatwa.

Thirdly, one with religious background doesn’t experience crisis of identity. He is confident enough to deal with modernity, secularism, and non-religious ideas without being concerned of losing his identity. By contrast, a lay Muslim, lack of Islamic knowledge and education, would have problem to deal with apparently non-Islamic values. He may have no ability to distinguish which value is compatible with his religion and which value not.

Last but not least, one would not be “liberal” Muslim without having credential as a Muslim. To put it in Clifford Geertz’s classification, if one is a santri (devoted Muslim) he can be attributed with any adjective: liberal santri, radical santri, and the like; but if one is abangan (Muslim without credential as a Muslim), he will never be any santri, because he remains abangan.

Therefore, Islamic education, as far as Indonesia is concerned, brings about moderatism and liberalism, not radicalism and fundamentalism. Tiny number of terrorists graduated from Islamic education had been radicalized not by their religious education, but their experienced violence, such as wars in Afghanistan or Mindanao.

After all, if the Western powers want to bring Muslim world into what they believe as a modern, civilized, and peace world, who do they think are able to communicate those issues with Muslim world? I believe, they must not non-Muslim westerners, but educated Muslims who can speaks in both ways — like those graduated from higher Islamic education system.

Post a Comment

Lebih baru Lebih lama