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Jakarta Post

NU relaxes ban on non-Muslim greetings

  • Wahyoe Boediwardhana

    The Jakarta Post

Surabaya   /   Thu, November 14, 2019   /   10:55 am
NU relaxes ban on non-Muslim greetings Assalamu alaikum (Shutterstock/-)

Muslims are allowed to use the greetings of other religions in order to preserve unity between Indonesians, according to Syaftudin Syarif, the secretary-general of the East Java branch of Nahdlatul Ulama Muslim (PWNU), on Tuesday.

Previously, the East Java branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a letter advising Muslims to not use greetings from other religions. In Indonesia some officials, including President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, start their speeches with greetings from Indonesia's various religions, including the Muslim "assalamu alaikum", the Hindu "om swastiastu" and the Buddhist "namo Buddhaya".

In a letter dated Nov. 8, East Java MUI chairman Abdusshomad Buchori said that Muslims, especially government officials, should only use the greetings of their own religion.

During a press conference at the PWNU headquarters in Surabaya, Syaftudin said that he agreed that Muslim state officials should only use the greetings of their own religion. However, he also said that they are allowed to use greetings from other religions to prevent any tension from developing between members of different religious communities.

“Saying assalamu’alaikum warrahmatullahi wabarakatuh and continuing it with other greetings like good morning is already enough. However, to prevent any tension under certain conditions, Muslim officials are allowed to add to their greetings other religions' greetings,” Syafrudin said.

Syafrudin added that the East Java PWNU discussed the propriety of the greetings according to Islamic laws.

“So we neither advise nor forbid Muslim state officials to say greetings from other religions during certain events. However, if the condition does not require them to, it would be better to use Muslim greetings instead,” Syafrudin said.

He also added that Muslims had spread peaceful messages through verbal greetings since the Prophet Adam’s time. This tradition was continued until the time of Islam’s last prophet, Muhammad.

Responding to the East Java MUI's advice, Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharani herself said she finds it very difficult to follow it since Surabaya residents are made up of people from various religious backgrounds.

“I always said, I am the regional head here; my people are diverse,” Risma said on Monday. (dpk)