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Jakarta Post

East Java man'€™s divine name upsets local clerics

  • Indra Harsaputra and Haeril Halim

    The Jakarta Post

Surabaya/Jakarta   /   Wed, August 26, 2015   /  04:49 pm
East Java man'€™s divine name upsets local clerics My name is God: A man, whose name is Tuhan (God), shows his identification card and driver’s license to journalists in Kluncing village, Banyuwangi, East Java, on Friday. Local Islamic organizations have asked him to change his name, a move that has turned into a big controversy.(Antara/Budi Chandra Setya) (God), shows his identification card and driver’s license to journalists in Kluncing village, Banyuwangi, East Java, on Friday. Local Islamic organizations have asked him to change his name, a move that has turned into a big controversy.(Antara/Budi Chandra Setya)

My name is God: A man, whose name is Tuhan (God), shows his identification card and driver'€™s license to journalists in Kluncing village, Banyuwangi, East Java, on Friday. Local Islamic organizations have asked him to change his name, a move that has turned into a big controversy.(Antara/Budi Chandra Setya)

The name of a 42-year-old Muslim man from Banyuwangi regency, East Java, is causing great offense to the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

The MUI'€™s East Java chapter has urged the regency administration to instruct the man, named Tuhan ('€œGod'€ in Indonesian), who is married to Husnul Khotimah and has two daughters, to change or lengthen his name.

'€œHe should add another name to his name, or better still change it altogether. As God'€™s slave, the name is unethical,'€ MUI East Java chapter head KH Abdusshomad Bukhori said.

He said that in Islam, using the name Tuhan was not a problem, as long as it was preceded or followed by another name, so as to prevent any misinterpretation.

He cited as an example the name '€œGhofur'€, which is actually another name for God, and which means providing forgiveness. However, it needed be preceded by '€œAbdul'€, so it would become '€œAbdul Ghofur'€, which means '€œGod'€™s merciful slave'€.

MUI'€™s recommendation that Tuhan should change his name has attracted many comments in social media, including from popular stand-up comedian Pandji Pargiwaksono who has tweeted his suggestion that Tuhan could change his name to '€œSaya Tuhan'€ (I am God) or '€œYa Tuhan!'€ (Oh My God!) or '€œOh Tuhan Mohon Ampun'€ (Oh God Forgive Me).

Not only did it call for a name change, Abdusshomad said the MUI would send a letter to the regency'€™s registry office to withdraw Tuhan'€™s identity card so that he would not be able to access any public service until such time as the name was amended.

Separately, Aan Ansori, from the Anti Discrimination Islamic Network, said the MUI'€™s request was an over-reaction.

'€œEvery person has the freedom to choose a name, as long as it is not contrary to public order. The bearer of the name has not violated any laws,'€ said Ansori.

Ansori added that a name was the right of any child and was guaranteed by law, such as in Article 53 of Law No. 39/1999 on basic human rights, and Law No. 23/2002 on child protection. Political Islam analyst Ahmad Fuad Fanani of the Maarif Institute for Culture and Humanity, lashed out at the MUI for demanding the authorities revoke Tuhan'€™s ID card.

Fuad said that any citizen in a democratic country like Indonesia had the constitutional right to choose any name they saw fit to be used as their official identification name and such a right should not be interfered with by any state or non-state institution such as the MUI.

'€œEast Java MUI has stepped out of line by demanding this. He [Tuhan] received the name from his parents and so far there have been no complaints about it [so why should the MUI do so now?],'€ Fuad told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Tuhan, who lives in Kluncing village, Lilin district, Banyuwangi, and works as a carpenter, remains defiant in the face of the MUI'€™s demand.

'€œAlthough the MUI has asked for his name to be changed, my brother-in-law, Tuhan, is still holding on to the name given by his parents,'€ Untung, Husnul Khotimah'€™s brother, told the Post on Tuesday.

Untung said Tuhan'€™s family was devout and mingled happily with other members of the community from other religions and ethnic groups.

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