Wednesday, 05 September, 2012 | 10:00 WIB
Could It All Be Over a Woman?
TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:The number of Shiites has been growing over the past eight years in Sampang, Madura. This began after local cleric Tajul Muluk returned from teaching and working in Saudi Arabia. He opened the Misbahul Huda Islamic boarding school in the hamlet of Nangkernang, located within the Karang Gayam village of Sampang. Enrollment at the school steadily increased. Roies Alhukama, Tajul’s younger brother, initially helped develop the growing Shiite following in Sampang.
These two men are the children of Kiai Haji Makmun, an influential figure and religious figure in Omben. In 1983, Tajul and Roies were students at the Bangil Islamic boarding school in Pasuruan, East Java, which follows Shia Islam. Kiai Makmun had a total of eight children. Iklil Almilal was the first, Tajul Muluk came second, and then Roies. According to Iklil, his father had a friend in Iran who would often send newspapers to him from there. “My father admired the leader of the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini,” Iklil said.
In 1991, these two brothers returned to Sampang. Eight years later, Tajul headed for Saudi Arabia. Roies stayed in Sampang. Tensions between mainstream Sunni Muslims and the Shiites began growing when Tajul started gaining more students. The ulema or religious figures of Sampang, most of whom are Sunni, began to feel uneasy. Kiai Haji Abuya Ali Karrar Sinhadji, administrator of the Daarut Tauhid Islamic boarding school, Proppo, Pamekasan, has been the most outspoken against him. He is a cousin to Kiai Makmun.
Tajul, who had returned to Indonesia, was invited to celebrate Maulud, the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, in 2005 at the home of Haji Sabi’i in Omben. This event turned into a public hearing against him. “Tajul was asked to not spread Shia teachings,” said a Tempo source. “Tajul said to Kiai Karrar, ‘You are not acting like kiai, but hooligans.’"
It was believed at the time that Tajul had insulted the clerics. Intimidation against Tajul grew stronger. In February 2006, thousands of people surrounded the Nangkernang neighborhood. Roisul, Tajul’s younger brother, was in the front line of Shiite residents who stood ready to fight the Sunnis who had surrounded them. The authorities were able to prevent a clash.
Tempo visited Karrar’s residence in the hamlet of Banyubuluh, Lenteng Village, Proppo District, Pamekasan, on Thursday last week. Two students said that the kiai was not at home. “He is in Surabaya,” one of them said. Kiai Haji Bukhori Maksum, Chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) in Sampang said that Tajul’s presence had made the residents of Sampang uneasy. “In short, Tajul’s teachings must not be allowed in Sampang,” he said.
This conflict took an unexpected turn for the worse – because of a love story. In 2009, Abdul Latif, a student at the Misbahul School, asked Tajul to help him propose marriage to a young girl named Halimah, a student of his who had not yet graduated elementary school. At that time, Roies had also asked Halimah to work at his home. Tajul obliged his request, asking Halimah to marry Latif. However, his younger brother surprisingly lashed out and said that Tajul had “stolen someone’s wife”.
As it was later discovered, Roies also wanted to marry Halimah. Failing this, Roies said he was leaving the Shiite community. Speaking to Tempo at their place of refuge, the Sampang Sports Center, on Tuesday last week, Halimah disagreed she was the reason for this Sunni-Shiite conflict. “Don’t make my family the scapegoat,” she said. Roies also said that all this had nothing to do with Halimah. Speaking to Tempo, last January, not long after Tajul’s home, the mosque and the school were burned down, Roies said that he disliked Tajul for the lengths the latter would go to against the Sunni community in Sampang.
Sunudyantoro and Musthofa Bisri (Sampang)