Banten sect Jellyfish Kingdom ruffles MUI's feathers
Ivany Atina Arbi
The Jakarta Post
The Serang Police and the local chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) in Banten are investigating a religious cult called the Jellyfish Kingdom, which locals believe to be “heretical” for their beliefs that Prophet Muhammad was a woman.
Along with Serang’s MUI and local neighborhood leaders, the police visited a house reported to have been hosting the Jellyfish Kingdom’s activities in Kampung Sayabulu, Serang subdistrict in Serang, Banten, on Monday.
“We’re following up on reports from residents who were upset with the group’s activities in the past two months,” Serang Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Komarudin said Tuesday as quoted by tempo.co.
“We have confiscated several documents relating to the activities of this group, as well as people who claim to be the leaders of the Jellyfish Kingdom,” said Komarudin.
Indonesia only recognizes six mainstream religions — Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism — and does not criminalize the other less mainstream religions. Law enforcement, however, has taken action against cult leaders claiming to be new prophets — such as Lia Eden and Ahmad Musadeq — based on edicts issued by the MUI.
Most of them have been convicted of blasphemy.
The police got documents on the structure of the group, which hosted activities every Thursday night. Their activities would last from night to morning.
Police have questioned the leaders of the Jellyfish Kingdom, identified as Nurhalim and couple Rudi and Aisyah. However, they have yet to charge these people with anything, said Komarudin.
“We’re just taking preventive measures so the residents will not do anything we don’t want,” he said. “Whether this group is heretical or not, we will let the MUI, as the authority, handle the matter,” he said.
The secretary of the MUI in Serang, Amas Tajudin, told local media bantennews.co.id that after meeting with the group's leaders for “mediation” he found several things that led him to conclude the group was heretical.
“We concluded they are not Islam. They have spread [teachings], in the name of the Quran, and this upset society and I can say Islam is tainted [by them],” Amas said as quoted by the local media on Monday.
He said Aisyah told him she was Ratu Kidul, a mythical figure who is the queen of the Southern Sea, who was the believer of the Sunda Wiwitan faith. Aisyah also recognized the Quran as the holy book and Allah as God.
“During the mediation, Aisyah said God had a tomb. She believes Muhammad was a woman. And the funniest thing is that [she believes] we kiss Hajar Aswad [the Black Stone] because Hajar Aswad looks like female genitalia, and the Kaaba is not the kiblat [the direction of prayers] but a place of worship.”
MUI secretary-general Anwar Abbas called on the MUI Banten to convince Jellyfish Kingdom followers to abandon their beliefs or face legal action.
"If they refuse to change, we will report them to law enforcement," he told The Jakarta Post.
Neighborhood unit head Surya Mihardha told the local media that he received reports from some residents about the sect’s activities. The sect’s leaders, Rudi and Aisyah, had lived in the house for two years, along with their followers.
“Most of the followers come from outside Serang, like from Central and East Java,” Surya said. (ahw)
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