The Jakarta Post
Hasan Al Banna, a cleric from Cirebon stationed in London by the West Java provincial administration under the English for Ulama program, said Muslims’ biggest challenges were radicalism and Islamophobia.
“Radicalism and Islamophobia are global problems,” Hasan said during a teleconference in Jakarta on Tuesday as quoted by kompas.com.
Hasan was among five clerics sent to the United Kingdom to spread positive messages from the Indonesian Islamic community. Before embarking on the program, Hasan and his friends prepared to answer questions on Islamophobia.
“People who are not Muslim do not read the Quran and do not know about Prophet Muhammad,” he said. He added that non-Muslims only saw the attitude and ethics shown during the dialogue.
“Until now, Europe only sees Islam from the Arab side. This is a challenge for us [to show] that Indonesia is the biggest Islamic community in the world,” Hasan said.
The English for Ulama program deploys Indonesian clerics to spread positive Islamic messages of rahmatan lil alamin (blessing for the whole universe) through moderate Islam.
“Indonesia, especially West Java, has been a good example. We have different ethnic groups and a very plural [society], which makes our country a good example, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil said during the event.
Ridwan said the clerics sent to the UK were chosen through tight selection from prominent Islam organizations, such as Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah and the Islam Union.
“From hundreds of applicants, we selected 30 who took part in language training with the British Council. Due to a limited budget, we were only able to send five to the UK,” Ridwan said. (gis)