Did we, as ummah, or Muslim community, pass the test of Ramadan this year?
Looking at the events of recent weeks, especially media headlines and the most shared news on the internet, we have not just seen many hungry people persevering through their fast, but also a lot of angry people.
Whatever happened to restraint — in action, speech and thoughts — a chief virtue that supposedly comes with fasting, during the holy month of Ramadan?
When Ramadan started on May 6, we all assumed — or hoped — that the political tensions that followed the April 17 general elections would ease, and that we would quickly bury the hatchet, particularly our competing leaders and politicians.
Admittedly, we saw some of the most brutal verbal exchanges during the election campaigns, thanks primarily to the widespread use of the internet.
Brutal though the words may have been, but this year’s election was largely peaceful — that is, until May 21, when the General Elections Commission (KPU) announced the results of the simultaneous presidential and legislative elections. Over the next two days, violence erupted in the streets of Central Jakarta near the KPU and the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu).
Restraint went out of the window for these two days as protesters clashed with police, resulting in eight deaths and hundreds of injured. The protests were noisy but peaceful during the day, but turned violent at night, when several protesters refused to comply with the police order to disperse according to the law saying that all street protests must cease at 6 p.m.
Police tolerated some protesters who requested an extension to allow them to break the fast and observe prayers. Violence broke out soon after, however, as if the call for restraint during Ramadan was only valid during the daytime.
A fiercer, 24-hour battle was being waged on the internet, with an even more brutal exchange of words between the supporters of the competing politicians. This battle was inevitably filled with tons of hoaxes as well as messages of hate, including some reserved for the police.
We learned from the police that they uncovered plots to launch terror attacks, to assassinate political figures, deploy snipers and to cause general chaos for the objective of bringing down the government.
For some, the issue had clearly gone beyond the elections and the street protests were being used for individual political agendas. Those behind the rioting couldn’t care less that it was Ramadan. And the police, assisted by the military, were simply doing their jobs to maintain order and security, even if their actions may have seemed repressive at times.
But it is the lack of restraint among a handful of politicians and their band of loyal supporters that has made this Ramadan almost devoid of spirituality.
The large volume of hoaxes and hate speech that has gone viral during the last two weeks of Ramadan has raised serious questions about the depth of our own religiosity: Is religion just skin-deep?
This is a nation that professes to be religious, and it is certainly looking more and more religious alongside the global trend toward growing conservatism — at least outwardly.
We have seen some messages of hate and violence couched in religious terms, contradicting the very essence of love and peace that underpins Islam and almost all religions. You cannot get more blasphemous than spreading hate in the name of God.
That these online messages went viral during Ramadan tells us that, while most people were able to restrain their mouths, they failed to restrain their fingers. Consciously or not, they are part of the machine that is creating more hatred and greater polarization in society.
Indonesia’s claim as being the third largest democracy and the largest Muslim-majority democracy in the world has been undermined by its failure to live up to the ideals and values of democracy and of religion, particularly Islam, the faith of nearly 90 percent of the population.
As a nation, and an ummah, now we have to back to the drawing board and take another look at our commitments to democracy and our faiths.
We will know whether we have passed or failed the test of Ramadan after Idul Fitri. If violence erupts again, then we have flunked.
- Shocked Dundee councillor sees ‘angry’ man kick over beggar’s cup then go in shop
- How is Ramadan 2019 announced and why is the religious festival dependent on the moon?
- When is Ramadan 2019, what date does the holy month start and finish and what does Ramadan Mubarak mean?
- China's Muslim 're-education centres' are run like 'concentration camps', Amnesty researcher says
- Norway Rules 'F**k Jews' Remark by Muslim Rapper is Not Hate Speech
- Who is Ercan Ramadan ex Towie star who’s dating Vicky Pattison
- Indonesian 'Gay Muslim Comics' Instagram Page Banned After Government Request
- Christian pastor's death prophecy for Ghana's Muslim leaders prompts attack on church
- ‘Muslims love Jesus. So why does everyone think we hate Christmas?’
- Opinion: Celebrating Valentine’s Day isn’t straightforward for some Muslims – here’s why