The Jakarta Post
A 42-year-old East Java man named Tuhan ('God' in Indonesian), who has been in the spotlight after his unusual name attracted media attention, should not bow to calls from any religious institution to alter his name, a cultural observer has said, as the word in dispute stems from a local dialect and has no blasphemous meaning.
The Indonesian Ulema Council's (MUI) East Java chapter earlier urged the local administration to instruct Tuhan, who is married to Husnul Khotimah and has two daughters, to change or lengthen his name, citing fears of public misunderstanding.
Speaking to The Jakarta Post on Wednesday, Antariksawan Jusuf, an expert on the traditional Osing community in Banyuwangi regency, Tuhan's hometown, however, said the MUI should understand the word 'Tuhan' from a local perspective to avoid confusion.
The offending word, Antariksawan said, came from maftuhan, which means 'open' in the Osing language. Members of the tribe, however, tend to abbreviate names according to speech. Thus, maftuhan is often shortened to
'We must be careful not to equate a word in a traditional language with a similar one used in another language, including Indonesian,' Antariksawan said.
'The same is true for members of the Javanese community who give their child a single name, such as Siti or Budi. That is the reason why Tuhan's parents named their child from the word maftuhan.'
Tuhan was born and lives in Licin district, which is, according to Antariksawan, home to a large number of members of the Osing community.
Tuhan is usually called Tohan in his village, as the Osing language pronounces the letter U as O.
'The same goes with mulih, which means return home. It's pronounces as 'moleh'. When people say muliho ('Go home' in Indonesian), it becomes 'moleho',' said Antariksawan, the author of a book written in the Osing language entitled Nawi bkl Inah.
Earlier this week, MUI East Java chapter head KH Abdusshomad Bukhori 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 confusion.
He cited as an example the name Ghofur, another word for God, and which means providing forgiveness. However, he said, the name had to be preceded by Abdul to become Abdul Ghofur, which means 'God's merciful slave'.
'[Tuhan] should add another name to his name, or better still, change it altogether. As God's slave, the name is unethical,' he said.
Antariksawan, however, said members of the Osing community used the words 'Pengeran' or 'Gusti Allah' to refer to God.
'A majority of Osing people are Muslims, but they still practice the Hindu Majapahit culture, such as the kebo-keboan tradition,' he said, referring to a ritual held by farmers to thank the earth for the harvest and pay tribute to the buffalo for their help in the rice fields.
Tuhan, who works as a carpenter, said that he was reluctant to change his name, as suggested by the MUI, adding that he wanted to keep the name given to him by his parents.
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