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In the Name of God بسم الله

Indonesian Shias

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How Saudi Arabia's religious project transformed Indonesia


“We came to the palace to enforce the law,” said the cleric Rizieq Shihab, to rapt silence. “Desecrators of the Qur’an must be punished. We must reject the leaders of infidels,” he said, referring to Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the Chinese-Christian governor of Indonesia’s capital city, who is known as Ahok. “If our demands are not heard, are you ready to turn this into a revolution?” “We’re ready!” screamed the crowd, breaking into huge applause. “God is great!”, they shouted. There were cries of “Kill Ahok!”



But Shihab is not enjoying the fruits of his labour in Indonesia. He lives, instead, in Saudi Arabia. After the Jakarta gubernatorial election, he became embroiled in a sexting scandal; when an arrest warrant was issued, he fled to Mecca. Though it is almost 5,000 miles away from Indonesia, the kingdom is a natural choice of refuge for Shihab, because his Saudi ties date back three decades. He graduated from the Islamic and Arabic College of Indonesia, or Lipia, a university in Jakarta built, funded and fully subsidised to this day by Saudi Arabia. His studies at Lipia paved the way for further education in Riyadh, where he forged enduring networks with Saudi clerics.



The influence of Shihab’s organisation and vision is just one example of how Saudi dawa has shaped modern Indonesia. Another is the Bali bombings of 2002, which killed 202 people, mostly tourists, in what was at the time the world’s most deadly terror attack after 9/11, and which woke Indonesia up to the danger of terrorism within its borders. The attacks were planned by a circle of al-Qaida-affiliated jihadists based at the al-Mukmin Islamic boarding school in Central Java, which was founded with an initial endowment from the Saudi king in 1972.

Beyond such flagship investments, an equally pervasive legacy of Saudi proselytisation in Indonesia has been the rise of virulent religious intolerance. In addition to the commonplace harassment of Christian groups and the show trial of Ahok, its most prominent Christian politician, Indonesia is also now a country where there is a national “anti-Shia” league and mobs have driven Ahmadiyya Muslims from their homes into refugee camps.



Arabisasi was one of the first Indonesian words I learned after I moved to the country in 2016. It’s a neologism meaning, as you might expect, “Arabisation”. But the concept was used in reference to a whole class of developments in Indonesia: the rise of political Islam, blasphemy prosecutions

Regardless of how true or false this was, the phrase itself pointed to a generalised anxiety over “Saudi money”, in Indonesia and the world. It seemed to explain how a tropical archipelago supposedly famous for its tolerance was, by the time I got there, caught up in a culture war over everything from the acceptability of Santa hats to dating, a safe haven for hardline Islamists, and even the home of a few hundred people who joined Islamic State.



Iran-Funded Center a Lifeline for Jakarta’s Marginalized Shia Minority


They listen to a live or streaming sermon in Bahasa Indonesia or Farsi and pray, often tearfully. 

Over 99 percent of Indonesian Muslims belong to the Sunni denomination, but that belies Shia cultural influence in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. (Sunni and Shia are the two major Muslim denominations, which diverged early in Islamic history over a debate on the rightful successors to the prophet.)

Shia Islam may have been the first strain to reach Indonesia, through Arab traders who reached Aceh around the 12th century, and Shia traditions like ancestor worship and feast days for saints are still observed in pockets across Indonesia, even by Sunnis. 

But most of Indonesia’s roughly one million Shia are concentrated in the Jakarta metro area, and the ICC is a nexus of their community.



Ali Hussain Alatas, the ICC’s secretary, is a Hadrami, Yemeni diaspora who have lived in Indonesia for centuries, often as prosperous traders. He grew up in Central Java and studied for five years in Qom, Iran, the global center of Shia scholarship.



Growing Intolerance

In 2012, an East Java branch of the National Ulama Council issued a fatwa against Shia Muslims, calling them deviants, and the same year, several Shia were driven out of their homes. There has been a trickle of anti-Shia violence since then, and in 2014, a “National Anti-Shia Alliance of Indonesia” was founded in Bandung, West Java.

“Our goal is to provide information to Muslims throughout Indonesia about the Shi'ite heresy… and awaken Muslims who have been affected by Shi'ite heresy to return to the true teachings of Islam according to the Qur’an,” said Athian Ali Muhammad Da’i, a Javanese cleric who leads the Alliance. 

When pressed for reasons why he felt Shi’ism posed a threat to Indonesia, he listed contract marriages, which he claims have created an epidemic of HIV and fatherless children in Iran, and a “culture of self-harm” during the Muharram mourning rituals, which he said were “so inhuman, even animals do not do it.”



Culture Wars

Just a five-minute walk from ICC is LIPIA, the Saudi-funded university that opened in 1980 and is a major outpost of Saudi proselytization in Indonesia. This makes a narrow strip of Warung Jati Barat Road a microcosm of the Muslim world’s arch-rival spheres of influence.

Alatas said the ICC’s location was just a coincidence, but went on to denounce “Wahhabism,” a sometimes derogatory term for the Saudi brand of Salafism.

“There is growing intolerance against our community, when Islamic radicalism arising from Saudi Wahhabi beliefs is the real threat,” he said.

He claimed that LIPIA students sometimes come to discreetly browse the ICC library, perhaps, he said, seeking an alternative to the puritanical ideology taught at LIPIA. 



Iran’s imprint on modern Indonesia is negligible compared to that of Saudi Arabia, whose institutions have supported some of the nation’s most prominent conservative politicians and independent figures, like Habib Rizieq Shihab, leader of the thuggish Islamic Defenders Front.

The growing popularity of Saudi Salafism has often been linked to intolerance against Shia and Ahmadiyya, another Muslim minority group, in Indonesia. But it’s not quite so simple: several mainstream, so-called “moderate” Indonesian organizations like Nahdlatul Ulama embrace anti-Shia rhetoric too.



“Being Shia in Indonesia… sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard,” said Rohma, a 40-something Indonesian woman who cleans ICC during the day. She converted to Shi’ism after working in Saudi Arabia for five years, during which she developed a distaste for Salafism and eventually the Sunni faith in general.

“I like the Shia tradition,” she said. “It is simple, I believe in it, and I like these people here… for me, it is worth it.”


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On 10/24/2021 at 9:57 AM, Haji 2003 said:

While rumours abound that Saudi Arabia may legalise alcohol in certain areas, like the KAFD and Red Sea tourism projects, there is speculation that the UAE could decriminalise homosexuality and change its working week from Sunday to Thursday, to Monday to Friday.



'Beverages With Less Than 40% Alcohol Are Halal, Can Drink Them': Pak Cleric's Comments Invite Ire









Alcoholic drinks market booming in Muslim Gulf

Thirsty Thursdays: Top 7 Non Alcoholic Beers in Saudi Arabia - Don't Stop  Living The Saga of Buying Alcohol in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait - رصيف 22

The Saga of Buying Alcohol in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

How Alcohol Is Smuggled in Saudi Arabia
Around 250,000 Saudis cross the King Fahd Causeway every week to spend weekends in Bahrain, according to official data. Many of the Saudi visitors head to the less strict neighboring country to spend time in nightclubs.

But the 400-km road trip to Manama is not the only way for Saudis to have a drink; liquor is available in several Saudi areas close to Bahrain. Mansour Abdulaziz, a pseudonym for a Saudi man who smuggles alcohol into his country, said the eastern city of Khobar is one of the most renowned Saudi places for booze. There are usually no more than eight customs officers at the Saudi side of the King Fahd Causeway, whether in the morning or at night. Since they cannot afford to thoroughly search all vehicles entering the monarchy, they would only stop drivers who raise suspicions. Many smugglers build on the approach of the understaffed customs officers, including Abdulaziz. 

"The most important thing is that you're not drunk," Abdulaziz speaks of his experience with Saudi customs. "Be normal and don't be tensed." Some alcohol smugglers resort to other tricks. In 2016, Saudi customs posted via its Twitter account photos of seized alcoholic drinks and explained some of the tricks smugglers resort to. Some smugglers hide wine bottles in fuel tanks, others cover beer cans with stickers of non-alcoholic brands.

Cheerful Drink: Made in Saudi Arabia
Speaking to Raseef22, young Saudis say they acquire alcohol in water bottles and consume it at home or in private camps; they would completely avoid wandering around or talking to strangers while drinking or afterwards. Ragheb said alcohol vendors are extremely cautious; he has to order his favorite drink in advance to make sure it would be available. While dealing with each other, customers and traders would use a code so no one would tell what they are talking about; Saudis have given alcohol many names, such as "my friend" and "hot water". The "cheerful drink" is used to refer to an alcoholic beverage that is made in Saudi Arabia. 







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1 hour ago, Ashvazdanghe said:

For Adendum to my post about Shia Islam in southeast  Asia.

Conversion by coercion in Indonesia

Shias 'forced' to adopt Sunni Islam as intolerance raises fears over religious freedom among minority groups

Ryan Dagur

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

Attack on Indonesian Shia family injures three

Pre-wedding celebration wrecked by hardline Sunni mob



Members of a Shia community have declared their conversion to Sunni Islam, the religion of the majority of Indonesian Muslims, in an event facilitated by the Sampang district government and witnessed by ulemas.

This conversion on Nov. 5 came more than eight years after they were forced to live as internally displaced people after their houses were burned down in sectarian mob violence.  

Closely guarded by 550 security force personnel, the 273 members of the community read out a statement declaring that Shia was heretical and they were willing to be punished if they continued to worship the Shia way. 



No going home

Muluk said he and the others in the community hope that by becoming Sunnis they can return to their homes and farms. "We were driven out because we were Shia. Now, there should no reason to reject us," he said.

However, they cannot return just yet.

Sampang district chief Slamet Junaidi said that to be able to accept them again, permission still had to come from the ulemas.

"If the ulemas are convinced and accept that Tajul Muluk and his community converted of their own free will, I am sure the problem will be over," he said. 




Tajul Muluk, the head of the Shia community, claimed that the conversion was of their own free will. "If we continue to be like this [as Shia], life will not be good," he said.

Media reports said that before the event, the Sampang district government had communicated with Muluk several times to prepare for their conversion. 

At least 21 of the residents reportedly refused to convert. However, Muluk denied the reports, saying that “we did not force nor were we forced by anyone.” 



The Shia residents protested against the persecution, including making a 15-day bicycle journey to Jakarta to publicize their cause in 2013. However, there was no permanent solution.

Their request to convert to Sunnism was in response to a long-standing offer by the government. Former religious affairs minister Suryadharma Ali said after the attack in 2012 that converting to Sunni “was the only way to end the conflict.”



Ahmad Nurcholish of the Indonesia Conference on Religion and Peace said that pressuring residents to give up their faith or die sets a bad precedent, which aggravates the position of other minority communities. 

"As Sunnis, we should respect the beliefs of our Shia brothers and sisters. I disagree with the conversion, where only Sunnism is then considered righteous,” he told UCA News. 

"I am worried that this will set a bad precedent for the resolution of similar cases." 


Attack on Indonesian Shia family injures three


More than 100 thugs calling themselves Troops of Mojo, Kenteng and Mojolaban gathered outside a house in Surakarta in Central Java province on Aug. 8 to protest again Shias holding a traditional Javanese pre-wedding ceremony called a midodareni.

The ceremony involves the families of the bride and groom saying prayers to wish them a happy life together.



Shouting anti-Shia slogans, the protesters claimed the family’s celebration, attended by about 20 people, was a Shia Muslim activity, not a traditional Javanese ritual, and demanded that it be halted.
At least three family members suffered injuries after being pelted with stones as they tried to flee the house.
Pasar Kliwon subdistrict police chief Adhis Dhani told reporters that investigators were searching for those responsible.



Sholahuddin Aly of the Ansor Youth Movement — the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia — said several group members had met with local police to voice their concern about the attack.


In Indonesia, leaders should not fan sectarian tensions


The statement that “Shia is not Islam” is not merely a claim. It is dangerous as it could evoke a mission of “jihad” and the taking of life. If the propagandists also campaign for conservative Islamic jurisprudence, where Shias are considered as having left Islam and therefore guilty of apostasy, their blood is permitted to be shed. The declaration could then be taken as a declaration of war — and Indonesia would be threatened by civil strife, as has happened in Iraq, Pakistan and recently Syria.

Many statements have been made to discredit Shias — claims that have not been confirmed by reliable scholars from either side.

“Substantively, differences between the Shia-Imamiyah and Ahlus-Sunnah do not refer to the matter of creed [‘aqidah], but only in matters of the Imamah [political leadership of the Ummah],” Sheikh Wahbah wrote.

In the 1950s, the scholar Sheikh Mahmud had already issued a fatwa on the permissibility of worship based on the Shia-Imamiyah sect. It was once reported that the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar Ahmad Tayeb conducted prayers with a Shia cleric.

In 2005, the Taqrib Project was confirmed in the Amman Declaration. This declaration included country representatives throughout the Islamic world, including from Iraq and Iran. Indonesian representatives included Hasyim Muzadi, a former chairman of the country’s largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama. The declaration explicitly recognized Shia as a legitimate school in Islam, a statement reasserted to address sectarian conflicts in Iraq in the Mecca Declaration in 2006, and the Bogor Declaration in 2007 in Indonesia.

However, unity and brotherhood is better than division. The Koran has many verses about peace and reconciliation.


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