Jakarta – The Gowa Police in South Sulawesi have declared a man a suspect of money-laundering and spreading heretical teachings after he claimed to be a prophet and mahaguru (grand master).
The man, identified as Puang Lalang, reportedly established the Tarekat Tajul Khalwatiyah Syekh Yusuf cult.
Gowa Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Shinto Silitonga said Puang had obliged people who registered for cult membership to pay up to Rp 50,000 (US$3.50) to obtain "heaven cards".
Cult members were also obliged to pay zakat (alms) equal to their body weight, based on 1 kilogram costing Rp 5,000, and 2.5 percent in zakat mal (income-based alms).
"The motive is to spread deviant teachings through baiat [pledges of allegiance], conveying his doctrine to followers and promising them salvation in this world and the hereafter," Shinto recently said as quoted bykompas.com.
The police have accused Puang of establishing the cult for personal financial gain as he manages the cult's funds himself. Police also said that Puang claimed he was able to prolong ones' life by 15 years.
Puang faces multiple charges under the Criminal Code and the Money Laundering Law and could face five to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
The Gowa Ulema Council (MUI Gowa) declared the group heretical in 2016, according to tribunnews.com. (sau)