Jakarta – The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has begun a program to standardize and train Islamic preachers to ensure that they promote moderate Islam instead of far-right or far-left Islamic thought.
The council implemented the certification program for da'i (Islamic teachers) on Monday.
MUI executive Muhammad Cholil Nafis said the council had invited Islamic teachers who regularly delivered sermons to convene and unite their visions on dakwah (preaching).
"The MUI will later recommend them as da'i," Cholil said on Tuesday as quoted by tempo.co.
The preachers, he said, were expected to promote moderate Islam or the concept of al-wasatiyya – often translated as "middle Islam" or the "common ground" – as taught by the Prophet Muhammad and his companions.
"Islamic [teachings] that are neither extreme-right wing nor extreme-left wing," Cholil said.
The certification is part of the MUI's attempt to curb the spread of radicalism through sermons at mosques, as the council has previously raised concerns about the rising phenomenon of preachers using sermons to spread radicalism, which is indicated by hate speech towards religious minority groups and support for the notion of an Islamic state.
A 2017 study conducted by the Association for Pesantren and Community Development, in cooperation with non-governmental organisation (NGO) Rumah Kebangsaan, found that 41 of the 100 mosques in ministerial offices, state agencies and state-owned corporation complexes in Jakarta had radical teachings espoused during Friday prayers.
Of the 41 mosques, 21 were at state-owned company buildings, eight at state agencies and 12 at ministry buildings, according to the study.
Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim majority country, has consistently promoted moderate and peaceful Islam that embraces tolerance and diversity in forums both at home and abroad.
The country's two largest Islamic organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah – executives of which are also within MUI ranks – have won praise from scholars and public figures for spearheading the promotion of Indonesian Islam, which differs from what extremists try to portray.
Choli, an NU cleric himself, said the MUI would also teach the preachers about patriotism, asserting that the Indonesian Constitution was compatible with Islamic principles and that the consensus was already final and binding.
"The preaching method we have approved is the method that strengthens Islamic faith as well as fostering unity in Indonesia," he said. (ami)