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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Polygamy has been quite a boring topic for me actually (you can check how many posts I have written for this topic in this blog of mine). But still this time, I will write something about it again. If I don’t come up with a new ‘finding’ in this article, I do apologize. :)

What inspired me to write this article is the hot debate in one mailing list I join about this topic. JIL (Jaringan Islam Liberal or Liberal Islam Network) is one big Islam organization in Indonesia with very progressive policies and support pluralism and gender equality highly. (Check its site at Therefore when it was found out that one member of the mailing list was a polygamist, some feminist members were upset with this. They opined that JIL was not consistent to fight the gender inequality because letting a polygamist join the mailing list. They believed that having more than one wife is a violent act toward women and children and JIL is therefore absolutely against it.

To defend his polygamous ‘attitude’, the ‘culprit’ (LOL) gave excuse that the verses in Alquran are indeed multi-interpretable. There is no absolute truth of one interpretation, including in polygamy (mostly polyginy). He was supported by some other members saying, “Why should we bother with this case if the women themselves do not mind being the second, the third, or the nth wife.” As one organization that supports pluralism highly, JIL is not supposed to be ‘narrow-minded’ by believing in only one interpretation of Surah Annisa 3 (and some other verses related to it): the practice of polygamy is HARAM.

The ‘opposing’ side responded that human beings were created with brain so that they will use it to THINK. When many facts show that polygamy indeed engenders more problems and violence to women and children rather than positive sides (such as giving aids to the second wife, either in financially, or sociologically, etc) brainy human beings are supposed to take a wise interpretation: polygamy must be condemned and crushed from the world (the latter perhaps is very impossible to happen though).

One thing (quite) hurtful to some people is that in the past, the ‘culprit’ showed his contempt of the practice of polygamy, especially when one polygamist in Indonesia (quite popular public figure) proposed an idea to have POLYGAMY AWARD to encourage men to have more than one wife. He condemned this shameful award because having more than one wife was not an ideal thing, and award was something mostly related to the best thing. And in fact, eventually, he himself also married another woman while his first wife was still healthy, alive. FYI, referring to the Compilation of Islamic Law in Indonesia, a man can marry another woman under the following condition:

  1. The wife cannot get pregnant to give the husband children
  2. The wife is invalid so that she cannot serve the husband in bed
  3. The wife is incapable of doing household chores, especially to serve the husband

My blog visitors can find out my view on polygamy by reading all posts of mine on this topic in this blog. As an additional point, I agree with one member saying that some ‘high profile’ of Indonesian public figures who are polygamists have got social punishment. Instead of making polygamous act accepted more worldwide (especially in Indonesia) by encouraging other men to follow their steps (such as PW who launched a tabloid named POLYGAMY a year ago, and in his chain restaurant he also provided one drink in the menu named POLYGAMY juice), their businesses even underwent loses. To me, it shows that although Indonesian (conventional Muslim) people get difficulty to separate religion from their daily routines, and they easily get ‘blurred’ in viewing things when ulemas influence national issues—such as easily condemning Al-Qiyadah as deviant religious sect, in term of polygamy, there are still many Indonesian people who are against it. My last year worry—that the giving of POLYGAMY AWARD and the launching of POLYGAMY tabloid would fool around Indonesian conventional Muslim people easily—did not come true. At least, until today.

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the picture was taken from this link.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Naivete

To be raised in a very strict religious family and sent to Islamic (although only) elementary school is one of my big burdens in this life, I assume. The bigger burden is when I successfully (I suppose so) gave myself ‘enlightenment’ to get rid of the blind Islamic teachings and doctrines (you can read my post I entitled “My Spiritual Journey” in this link (in English) or in this link (in Bahasa), I still (have to) live surrounded by those people who are blindly indoctrinated. The most recent case of Al Qiyadah even showed that the majority of Muslim in Indonesia—not only those living around me—is still blindly indoctrinated.

When I involve myself in the lively discussion (especially about religion) with my cyber friends in one mailing list, I feel my burden get lighter. However when I keep in touch with people around me—with their judgmental eyes when looking at me—I always feel like thumped to a very hard rock! And since I lack masculine soul—I don’t like direct confrontation—I would rather be quiet.

Referring to Sobrino, one liberal theologian from Latin America, (cited by one member of JIL), three important aspects in enlightenment are: human agency, critical (and intellectual) thinking, and public reasoning. I somewhat doubt if people around me—and also Muslim people in Indonesia generally—will really be enlightened so that they will respect what other people believe if they keep thinking that religion is not dialectical. Their reasoning has been silenced and will always be dumb with the government (plus the media)’s strong support. When their reasoning is silenced, how can they think critically? That means their role as an agent does not function well either.

And I must say that I am really impatient to wait a miracle to come so that I will really live humanly and peacefully, without being judged unfairly.

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P.S. :
Read this link too :)


I have recently been wondering what America would be like now if it had not been ‘colonized’ (instead of ‘rediscovered’) by Columbus at the end of the fifteenth century; if the welfare of people in England had been good after that, if Puritans—and some other so-called ‘deviant’ religious sects—had been welcome well by the country so that they did not need to escape from their homeland.
Todd and Curti in their book “Rise of the American Nation” (1972: 24-25) mentioned five reasons for many English people—as well as other Europeans” to migrate to the New World:

Conflict over religion
Search for religion freedom
Search for political freedom
Widespread unemployment
Economic ferment

The first and second reasons can be categorized into one similar problem, and so can the fourth and fifth reasons; while the third reason shows the hostility of the citizens toward the government. King James I (1603-1625) and King Charles (1625-1640) ruled without Parliament because they believed in “the divine right of kings”. (1972:25)
The recent condition in Indonesia reminds me of the not conducive situation in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth century. The somewhat chaotic situation in adhering religion in Indonesia lately—due to the most contemporary so-called deviant Al Qiyadah Al Islamiyah and some other sects such as Ahmadiyah before—in fact is not far cry from the ugly condition in England several centuries ago. This is also accompanied by the rising poverty line due to widespread unemployment and the soaring prices of anything. The difference is it (still) happens in Indonesia in this “modern” time while “modern countries” are supposed to support tolerance and freedom to choose which religion to adhere. It shows that Indonesia fails to fulfill one of the tenets to be a modern country.
Lately, some newspapers (I read) have headlined Al Qiyadah—that is categorized deviant sect unfairly by the government. The way the newspapers write the news and even in the editorial—the dictions, the tone, etc—shows that they also take side to the government and Al Qiyadah becomes the culprit. That means the government is strongly supported by the media (forgive my limited reading because I don’t read a lot of newspapers published in Indonesia) to dictate the majority of Indonesian citizens’ attitude.
Coincidently not long ago one mailing list I join—RumahKitaBersama—talked about adhering a religion and practicing its teachings blindly—one of its longest thread if I am not mistaken. One of its discussion is about the arrogance of Muslims’ claim that Islam is the most perfect religion, the last one that complete its two ‘older siblings’—Jewish and Christian. I threw a question, “When Christian was believed by its adherents to complete Jewish, this upset the Jewish. When Islam is believed by its adherents to perfect Christian (and Jewish)’ teachings, this offended both religions. Will one day a new religion emerges, and it is said to complete the previous three Abrahamic faiths, will Muslim get angry?” The answer was: “the new religion perhaps will not have time to grow since it will easily and quickly be labeled ‘deviant’ and killed afterwards.”
And there it was: out of the blue Al Qiyadah emerged and its prophet Abussalam alias Ahmad Moshadded became a new celebrity.
When Professor Kenneth Hall—my guest lecturer when I was studying at American Studies Gadjah Mada University—said that the social life of Indonesia was left behind America around 50 years, can we say that Indonesia is left behind England several centuries in the not conducive situation in adhering religions?
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