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Jakarta Post

NU calls for end to word 'infidels' to describe non-Muslims

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, March 1, 2019   /   04:46 pm
NU calls for end to word 'infidels' to describe non-Muslims President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (far left) delivers a speech during the national meeting of the Nahdlatul Ulama clerics at Miftahul Huda Al-Azhar Islamic boarding school in Citangkolo, Banjar, West Java, on Feb. 27 (Antara/Adeng Bustomi)

Clerics from Islamic mass organization Nahdlatul Ulama have urged Muslims to refrain from using the word kafir (infidels) to describe non-Muslims.

“The word ‘kafir’ hurts some non-Muslims and is perceived to be theologically violent,” cleric Abdul Moqsith Ghazali said at the Bahtsul Masail forum during the NU’s clerics national meeting in Banjar, West Java, on Thursday as quoted by NU’s official website, nu.or.id.

As an alternative, Moqsith and other clerics agreed to use the word muwathinun (citizen), to demonstrate that Muslims and non-Muslims have equal status as citizens in a country.

“Labeling fellow Indonesian citizens who participate in constructing the nation as ‘kafir’ seems unwise,” he continued, saying that some groups still disputed the citizenship status of non-Muslim Indonesians.

Moqsith, who was the meeting’s chairman, said the NU’s standpoint on the usage of the word kafir would not be included in the meeting’s official recommendation, as such recommendations usually pertained to government policy.

The labeling of people or groups as kafir has been an issue in recent years, with conservative Muslim groups using the word to denounce groups they consider heretical such as Shia and Ahmadiyah adherents.

The word was also prominent during the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial campaign, when many groups urged Muslims to not vote for then-governor Basuki “Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, with the slogan “tolak pemimpin kafir” (reject infidel leaders).  (kmt)