Two senior Muslim clerics have a simple advice to Indonesians: You cannot and should never claim a monopoly on religious truth, according to The Jakarta Post Online report on Saturday.
Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) cleric Mustofa Bisri, affectionately known as Gus Mus, and Quraish Shihab, one of the few experts on Quranic exegesis in Indonesia, appeared together on Mata Najwa TV talk show on Thursday evening to express their concern over growing religious intolerance and extremism in the country.
They said they believed the problem was rooted in the attitude of some people who claimed to have the only true interpretation of Islam.
“God never asks what is five plus five because there will be one answer. What God asks is what makes 10? It can be seven plus three or eight plus two and etc. Therefore, truth is diverse,” Shihab said, adding “our mistake in understanding religions is to believe that there is only one truth, our version of truth.”
The scholar further said that imposing the truth that one believed on others would trigger social friction, a situation with which Indonesia was currently struggling.
Gus Mus concurred. He recalled a past argument when two of them were discussing their contradictory opinions on the need to translate the Quran.
“I disagreed with him (Shihab) back then when he said that the Quran as it is because nowadays people are saying we should return to the Quran, by which they actually mean (we should) return to the Quran according to their interpretation,” he said.
The two clerics reminded the audience that the essence of Islam is moderation.
They also brought the issue of Kafir (infidels) into discussion, criticizing a narrow-minded translation of the word that has been used as a political tool against non-Muslims.
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