Jakarta – Respected Muslim cleric Maimoen Zubair passed away in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday while performing haj.
Maimoen, aka Mbah Moen, was a prominent figure in Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Muslim mass organization in the country. He was also the head of the sharia council of the United Development Party (PPP).
PPP secretary-general Arsul Sani confirmed the news of his passing. "Yes, we have received the news from Mecca," Arsul said on Tuesday.
The passing of Mbah Moen was also confirmed by his son Taj Yasin, Central Java's deputy governor.
Maimoen was also the leader of Al Anwar Islamic boarding school in Rembang, Central Java.
In Indonesia's political scene, Maimoen was well known for being close to both candidates of the 2019 presidential election, incumbent Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and contender Prabowo Subianto.
The cleric had met Prabowo in September last year and Jokowi early this year. Shortly after the election results, he had prayed for Jokowi to become a better leader in his second presidential term.
Maimoen was previously under a spotlight for mistakenly praying for Prabowo to become the country's "leader" while welcoming Jokowi at the cleric's boarding school in Rembang ahead of the April 2019 election.
Later, the cleric corrected his earlier statement, stating that the context of his prayer was to wish someone to become a better leader for a second term.
"I am an old person. I'm 90 years old. But with this, I am hoping for the one who sits beside me, Pak Jokowi," said Maimoen in February.
President Jokowi had offered condolences for the passing of Maimoen. "Kyai Maimoen was a charismatic figure who became a reference for all Muslims on fiqh [sharia] values. He was also persistent in emphasizing the importance of unity in diversity," said Jokowi on Tuesday.
Jokowi also said he still keeps the sorban (head scarf) that was given to him by Maimoen back in February.
Other prolific religious figures have also sent their condolences over the late cleric.
"The passing away of Kyai Maimoen is not only a loss for NU but also a loss for humanity. His ideology was a religious shelter for all Muslims and he never stopped praying for all people in the world," said Yahya Cholil Staquf, an NU leader and adviser to President Jokowi.
"In the name of all churches in Indonesia, I would like to offer our condolences on the passing away of Kyai Maimoen. He was an exemplary figure for all religions. During the pre-election process, he delivered his Islamic values with neutrality to all political sides. His departure is a loss for all of us," said the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) secretary-general Priest Gomar Gultom.
The President had communicated with the Indonesian Embassy in Saudi Arabia to arrange a funeral for the cleric. (bry)