Jakarta – The East Java branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has issued a letter advising Muslims against using greetings from other religions, calling the practice a form of bid'ah (heresy).
In a letter dated Nov. 8, East Java MUI chairman Abdusshomad Buchori recommended that Muslims, especially policymakers, only use greetings of their own religion.
"For Muslims, it's enough to say assalamu alaikum," he wrote. "That way, Muslims can avoid from syubhat [doubtful] actions that can harm the purity of their religion."
It is common for government officials to open official speeches with a litany of traditional religious greetings, including assalamu alaikum for Muslims, shalom for Christians, om swastiastu for Hindus and namo buddhaya for Buddhists.
Abdusshomad said that Muslims should refrain from following the practice, because the greetings were effectively prayers from different belief systems.
"For example, the Muslim greeting assalamu alaikum means 'may Allah give you salvation.' This expression is a prayer that is addressed to Allah, the One Almighty God," he said. "The Buddhist greeting namo buddhaya, means 'Homage to Buddha,' an expression that cannot be separated from Buddhists' beliefs about Siddharta Gautama."
Om swastiastu, he continued, was also a prayer that meant "may Sang Hyang Widhi [the Hindu deity] give you goodness and happiness."
"Muslims using greetings from all religions is a new practice that amounts to bid'ah [heresy] that was never practiced in the past and at the very least contains an element of syubhat [doubt] that should be avoided," Abdusshomad concluded. (kmt)