By Musdah Mulia
The Trivialization of Religious Interpretation
Religion radicalism symptom as a part of religious study can be seen through many approaches. Robert N. Bellah through ‘Beyond Belief’ gave three approaches in looking at religious study, i.e. (1) to study religion as a main theoretic problem in understanding social attitude, (2) to analyze the relationship between religion and various social life areas and (3) by studying the role and religious organization.
On the first part, we can see the relationship between religiosity radicalism as social phenomenon that has relation with “theoretical knowledge” that being reproduced therefore become a kind of reconciliation in radicalism group.
In this regard, actually there is hermeneutic process between interpreter and historicity of social contact with religion text. Dilemmatic of process those three things becomes the part of creative process in raising the divine meaning according to the context and objective necessity of the people.
In this interpretation area, text no longer has sacred value because it has placed in humanity condition between interpreters. Here, the interpretation of the religious text has relative that same with the position of the interpreter who has different position with absolute essence that he interpreted; that is the Lord, the creator of the Devine.
In the context of doctrine or instruction that had to look for, find out and absorbed so it can be the referent of (social) action is basic substance of doctrine message, historicity, and the context to which the text purposed. It may create a text that seems to emerge contradiction, may found its explanation. For example, the word jihad or holy war on behalf of God or religion usually becomes the energy to burn people’s spirit to use religious violence or radicalism.
Therefore, we can criticize again when religion is more dominant to be moved through the interpretations that prefer to kill the space for all human race to live together, why? Because religion is existed to protect the continuity of human live therefore the difference between religions then not always give way for killing other human being. Each religion has the same humanity message and duty (Huston Smith; 1986)
By the openness on this interpretation area, it will give space for the creation of religious tolerance. On the contrary, the stagnation of creative process on the interpretation towards religious text will make an interference and trivialization of interpretation that will affect on the appearing of radicalism, extremity etc. It happened because the interpretation of text is changed into an ideology to certain group importance by denying the possibility of other interpretation that more closely to the objectivity of the truth.
In this relation too, as Bellah said, religion role is related to sociological life of other area. Religion experiences that become an ideology power in religious community have given us many evidences. How religion can be oriented to fight for and support the power just like what had happened in Sudan, Libya, etc. Ironically, the experiences in Indonesia precisely have shown that the role of religion was under pressure. State’s intervention to the discourse and religion institution nowadays had succeeded in drowning the transformative vision of religion.
Borrowing Max Weber’s term, ethic dimension of religion is sunk; on the contrary, the magic dimension of religion is shown up. We often see this reality on New Order era. Religion is reduced only on ritual ceremony, religious figure were just like lady in-waiting that given instruction to always support the desire of the power men. People have no freedom in interpreting religious discourse critically because they will not only face with State’s agencies but also “religion” apparatus that is religion elite who has sold their idealism to the regime. Therefore, in this context, by looking at the role of religion organization like MUI (Indonesian council of religious scholars) and other organizations, their own interest rather than helping their people difficulties.
If we related religion radicalism with structural crisis on power level, we can read them in way that is more transparent. It means that radicalism symptoms is very related to the power in getting capital political position or other social status by doing the trivialization of interpretation to burn the spirit of a conflict.
Conflict is made into a political bargaining means, as if natural law is prevailed here because they fight for the conflict and those who did the ‘hunting’ were not only the elite but also the society themselves even though the elite at last become the one who enjoy the result of this hunting because they were the scene director. This condition emerge the commodity of religion conflict because between the mass who had “poisoned by conflict virus” have a dependency to the elite who were taking advantages from the dynamic of the conflict.
The phenomenon of religion conflict in these last decades in Indonesia invites sociologists to make a deep research, either local sociologists (Sumartana: 1998, Nugroho: 1998, Madjid: 1999) or foreign sociologists (Hefner: 1999, Lidlle, 1999). Generally they gave the analysis towards the appearance of religion conflict in Indonesia as an effect of religion’s hyper politicize as the instrument of New Order regime’s power. The conflict on the level of power structure can be easily moved to the field of conflict in society by burning the religion grudge. Society who experienced social fragmentary loses their endurance to prevent the conflict from themselves.
In relation with these, State was failed in facilitating various religion groups with their multi-discourse. State is not clean with its subjective importance, which, in many cases precisely taking the advantages of different ideology of religious groups.
The appearance of religious groups, specially that have a ‘radical’ attitude in certain context is the reaction of their anger towards State’s role who were “failed” in drape over and give protection to its citizens.
Therefore, States and its citizen together prop up the seeds of radicalism. It means that the State is fail in implementing law justice as and effort to protect its citizen. Religion radicalism might represent that it was an effort of self-protection because the state cannot handle this problems. This indication is still contain a superficial meaning because its interpretation’s characteristics is sectarian and do not put the public importance forward and inclusive in crating social society’s relationship.
The best ways that has to be used in facing this various radical and intolerant diversities are: First, by doing a critical action towards religious interpretation that has an extreme sense by look back to the substantive meaning of religion. The effort to support widely the public debate of religion interpretation could minimize the contradiction interpretation o a verse or religious text. This way can also reveal the covered importance behind the interpretation that has burnt the hostility spirit rather than unity.
Second, it needs to reconstruct religious tradition that put forward the spirit of non-violence, tolerant though enclosed with critical attitude.
Third, state must able to play its role in facilitate, become the media and giving law protection fairly in the social life of society therefore various religious consciousness and religious expression could enrich social discourse and creativity space beside spreading the beauty enchantment rather than the aroma of hostility and violence. State must not be the part that supports religious politicizing through arousing religion symbols that elicit the grudge and the arousing of religious radicalism.