Misguided Khilafah

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Tight scrutiny over the content on jihad and khilafah (the idea of a world Islamic state) in schools shows how dark a view the government is holding against radicalism. The strategy does not touch the root of the problem and is yet ineffective in stemming the growth of radicalism among youngsters in schools.

    The policy is stated in a circular signed by the Director of Curriculum, Equipment, Institutions and Studentship in Madrasah (Islamic Schools) Ministry of Religion Ahmad Umar. In the letter dated December 4, 2019, the religion ministry stated that all exam materials in madrasah containing khilafah and jihad content have to be withdrawn. The ministry claims the aim of the policy is to maintain religious moderation and to prevent radical thinking.

    The government also plans to delete all material on jihad and khilafah in the fikih (Islamic Jurisprudence) subject and only insert it in Islamic history. Religion Minister Fachrul Razi considers there is nothing wrong with discussing khilafah in the history of Islam. To him, the problem lies in the instructor.

    Instead of providing enlightenment on the dangers of radicalism, it would seem the government is placing jihad and khilafah as topics that are taboo to be discussed and studied. The government instead should encourage teachers and students alike to think freely. Tight oversight towards learning materials is not the solution.

    Content on jihad – literally meaning “truly fighting (for a cause)” – for example, not only talks about war and making enemies of adherents of other religions. Jihad can also be looked upon as meaning to really and truly love humanity, as one of the tenets of Islam. By studying the ins and outs of jihad, madrasah students can avoid wrong interpretation of jihad.

    The ministry’s action in scrutinizing materials on jihad and khilafah in the madrasah curriculum is shallow at best and does not touch the roots of radicalism, often equated with fundamentalism and terrorism. There are other matters that make young people of school age find it easy to accept radicalism, i.e. education at home, the teacher’s background, and exposure to social media.

    Indeed the natter of misguided teachings starts with the government and the House of Representatives through Law No. 20/2003 on the subject of the National Education System. Article 3 on national education aims to nurture the potential of the student to grow into a believing person who adheres to God’s laws, is just and so on. With this aim, all matter pertaining to education, including the curriculum, learning methods, even the student’s garb, is aimed at increasing faith and religious adherence.

    This article, in the end, has become a gateway into radicalism through overblown religious indoctrination with intolerance tendencies. Thus, the student feels he or she has the right to label another youngster a kafir (unbeliever) simply for dressing differently to them. This matter cannot be resolved only by scrutinizing the subjects of jihad and khilafah. It would be better if the religion ministry puts more weight on teaching tolerance to madrasah students.

    The government has also to quickly put back into the equation the very core reason for education, which is to create intelligent students. One of the features of intelligence is respecting others who think and believe differently from them. The matter of faith and adherence to God’s Word does not need the intervention of the state. If the government is incapable of returning to the core reason of education, for sure radicalism and an intolerant attitude will be the order of the day for most students.

    Read the Complete Story in this Week's Edition of Tempo English Magazine