Saturday, November 29, 2008

Struggle for the soul of Islam?

Are we seeing a battle for the soul of Indonesian Islam, playing out before our eyes?

Historically moderation has been the keyword, one that espouses tolerance as well as loyalty to one's faith. But with the world going to extremes, I wonder if it's a philosophy that's in retreat, even in Indonesia.

The Jakarta Post has an article on the subject, with the news hook being the passage of the pornography bill, the emergence of shariah law in some areas, and the banning of the sect Jamaah Ahmadiyah, all of which tends towards a stricter Qu'ranic interpretation of the world.

But more interesting than the text of the article itself, is the plethora of reader comments. It's a real kaleidoscope of views, from the 'unity in diversity' crowd representing traditional Indonesian values, to the one-Islam view that hews closer to the Middle Eastern version. It's always a challenge to represent the moderate middle in a cultural debate, but let's hope the cherished Indonesian traditions of tolerance don't disappear in a world gone mad.

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