Islamic organizations should make their own list of moderate preachers to promote religious moderation, a renowned Muslim scholar has said following the Religious Affairs Ministry’s release of a similar document.
“The Indonesian Ulema Council [MUI] or other Islamic organizations should make their list, and they should cooperate with Islamic universities in making the list so that the names on it could be academically assessed,” Azyumardi Azra of the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta said as quoted by tempo.co.
He said the preachers should meet certain standards and such requirements were needed to prevent provocative preaching.
Preachers in countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Egypt, he added, must be licensed to give a sermon.
“Indonesian preachers do not have to obtain a permit, but the freedom is often misused,” he said.
The list of moderate preachers released by the Religious Affairs Ministry has stirred public debate, but the ministry defended the move, saying that those who were included had met a series of criteria.
According to Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saefuddin, the list was made to cater to the public’s demand for moderate preachers.
There are three criteria for moderate preachers, according to the ministry, namely competency in understanding Islamic teachings, experience in preaching and a commitment to preserving the nation’s values of unity.
The minister assured that there was not political motive behind the list. (gis/ahw)