Thursday, March 12, 2015

Indonesia and Australia: Dr. Ibrahim Abu Mohamed and Bali Nine

I really don’t want to jump into the issue of the impending execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (Bali Nine). These two Australian criminals might fail at their attempt to carry their drugs over to Australia but they have successfully created yet another row between the two neighbors. Neighbors that should have a good relation but somehow always manage to end up bickering over something.

I made my view on death penalty clear in my article Upholding Justice through Capital Punishment on December 21, 2014. And although I’m not one of those who strongly urge the government to execute those two ASAP, I’m one of those who warn our President against listening to Tony Abbot (outside pressure on our law enforcement).

Most people I know react negatively to what he said about Aids for Aceh. The most level headed ones are in agreement that what could we expect from a Westerner, they even have phrases like ‘There’s no free lunch’, ‘You owe me one’ and ‘Take and give’. It’s probably a second nature for them to expect something for every single thing they do for you.

As a Muslim we are taught to never mention any good deeds that we have ever done. Our good deeds are done for Allah, so it’s enough for us that Allah is the one who knows about it. No boasting since it’ll erase the rewards for those good deeds. We are even forbidden to take back any gift that we have given to other people if somehow those gifts end up back into our hands. That’s how Islam taught us.

With zero interest in this latest row I certainly never imagine myself to wanting the government to stop the execution for these two Australians. I have no feelings for them or any of those who are about to be executed for that matter, although I’m touched by Raheem (the Nigerian convict) who has stated that if his execution is going forward as planned he’ll donate his kidney.

But this morning I do feel something regarding the execution of the two Australians. I feel ashamed. Not because of Tony Abbot, he deserves those small coins as a reminder of how a good person should be and how a savvy politician should be.

I feel ashamed because of Dr. Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, the Australian Grand Mufti. His reminder of how Islam sees those who repent was very powerful. Not that I don’t know about it, but that’s how things are when it comes to religion, we know a lot but practice very few.

What Dr. Ibrahim said put me to shame. His statement makes me see a stark contrast between how beautiful Islam really is and how very few Muslims could show the beauty of their own religion through their actions.

Yes, Allah allows us to be severe when we are dealing with criminals. It is in our right to do so, however, forgiveness is always better and preferred by Allah.

Al Maidah (5;45)

And We ordained therein for them: Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal. But, if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it shall be for him an expiation. And whosoever does not judge by that which Allah has revealed, such are the Zalimun.
Allah’s punishment is the most severe there is. We could never imagine how harsh it is. But, the most important fact about Allah that we should know is His Mercy will always precede His Wrath.

Allah explains in Al An-Nam:

Your Lord has written mercy for Himself, so that if any of you does evil in ignorance and thereafter repents and does righteous good deed, then surely Allah is Often Forgiving and Most Merciful.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, said to his companions at one occasion: ‘Do you want Allah to love you and be merciful to you?’ When they said: ‘There’s nothing more we want than that.’ He said: ‘Then love and show mercy towards His creatures.’

As it is now, there is no way that those two Australian convicts could be spared. Jokowi has said repeatedly on so many occasions, even this morning after GKN at JCC he once again stressed that all those drug lords will be dealt with accordingly to our law. And yes, there are pressures from outside but he will not be swayed. He could not let our young people get destroyed by drugs.

Seeing Jokowi this morning and watching how he interacted with those three young people on stage it was plain to see that he is an incredibly good person. Most politicians strive to look modest, humble, kindhearted, easy going, approachable and nice.

But Jokowi doesn’t even try. That’s what he is.

He impressed everybody with how he reacted when one by one those young entrepreneurs corrected his mistakes. This is something that we could never imagine happen with our former Presidents except perhaps with Habibie.

He managed to further impress everyone when he called those three young entrepreneurs back to the stage after they left turning their backs on him, saying that they might not want to shake his hand, but he sure wants to shake the hands of these bright young people.

It is easy to see that Jokowi is a good guy. He even forgave that ignorant tukang sate who uploaded his sex tape on Facebook, an action which had angered millions of people, so much so that those who tried to defend that tukang sate were having a hard time defending him amidst public’s anger. Seeing how he could forgive that young man it is not beyond him to forgive those Australians.

The problem is, after repeatedly saying that the execution will be held ASAP Jokowi couldn’t back down now. He has officially refused to pardon them with a Presidential Decree. It’s as official as it could be. Moreover, he makes a serious stand against drugs abused. A move which is approved by all Indonesian people.

To make matter worse, Tony Abbot’s incident which ruffled so many feathers here (not merely in Jakarta, which where it counts, but all over Indonesia) has made it impossible for Jokowi to pardon those two Australians even if he wants to. He would be seen as cowering in front of the despicable Tony Abbot. This is something Jokowi could not afford, not now not ever.

However, the arrival of Dr. Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, the senior Islamic cleric from Australia with his powerful message has opened a new chapter. It’s impossible for any Muslims to deny the truth in what he conveys.

The problem is, I don’t think Dr. Ibrahim is meeting the right person. He met with our Minister of Religious Affairs when he should be meeting with Jokowi himself.

Dr. Ibrahim should try to find a way to have a meeting with Jokowi and having a heart to heart conversation. He should also call the Indonesian Muslims for clemency (not only the President, because the execution is supported by most Indonesians). And last but not least Dr. Ibrahim has to meet as many Indonesian Ulama/Kyai (clerics) as possible.

His call for clemency has a real chance to be heard unlike that of Tony Abbot and other Australian politicians, because despite our news and TV stations which continuously giving air time to the hardliners, most Indonesian Muslims are not hardliners.

Just like how his powerful message touched me, other Muslims who sincerely love Allah and Prophet Muhammad more than anything else Insya Allah will also be touched by the reminder that love and forgiveness are the most powerful foundation of Islam.

Jokowi might have a new legal headache if he decides to overturn his own decision and I sympathize with him I really do, however, every Muslim cleric could easily tell him that there is no shame in it. It is not a show of weaknesses if you decide to change your mind after realizing that there is actually a better option available for you.

Jokowi’s decision to finally show clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran would not be seen as a weakness by other Muslims as long as he makes it clear that he does it in the name of Islam.

This move might increase his status as a better Muslim in the eyes of those who always doubt him. It will also strengthen his image as the ‘new kind of President’ because this is something that I’m sure no former Presidents would even consider.

But fortunately for those criminals we are taking about Jokowi who doesn’t really care for ‘the normal/proper thing’. Their fate now is depending solely on Allah’s Mercy.

If Allah decides to give them another chance, a second chance to be a better person Jokowi will find the strength and courage to face the headache that will accompany his clemency.

Seeing how tired he was this morning, I feel very sorry for Jokowi. May Allah have mercy on him and guide our President into the right path.

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