Peace and togetherness, not identity politics, as “fundamental” Ramadan ideals 2023

When Indonesians celebrated the first day of Ramadan on Thursday, messages of peace and harmony were prominent, with some religious organizations remarking that this “momentum” could promote tolerance across identity groups prior to the general elections of next year. On the eve of Ramadan, President Joko “Jokowi”

Union and harmony, not partisan politics based on individual identity

Widodo used social media to greet the Islamic calendar month, characterizing it as one “of grace, rewards, and forgiveness.” Ma’ruf Amin, the vice president and previous chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), noted that Ramadan requires more than just fasting. On his official Twitter account, Ma’ruf remarked, “This month should be an opportunity for us to strengthen our attitude, particularly in terms of self-control.”

Indonesia, the country with the world’s biggest Muslim population, will see over 220 million of its residents celebrate Ramadan, the beginning of a religious fasting practice that concludes each day with iftar and shortened work hours for government employees. Several leaders have voiced the hope that this year’s Ramadan will serve as a reminder of togetherness and tolerance among Indonesia’s varied population, given that the 2024 general election campaign season will begin in just a few months.

Throughout past campaigns, identity politics have been utilized extensively, with several political and religious crossovers producing polarizing and controversial labels. In 2019, several mass organizations, such as the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and 212 Rally Alumni, demonstrated against “blasphemer” candidates, claiming that it was “haram” to support anybody who was not supported by the ulema’s consensus.

Peace and unity, not identity politics

“To begin with, let us not be divided, both as Muslims and as Indonesian people. […] Ahmad Jaidi, the chief of the MUI’s Education and Regeneration division, stated on Wednesday that we should be together so that we can understand each other and not allow political concerns to exacerbate rifts. Haedar Nashir, the leader of Muhammadiyah, echoed these thoughts in a video message, stressing that accepting diversity is an integral aspect of practicing Islam.

“Prophet Muhammad taught us that the act of fasting should encourage restraint in the face of wrath, hostility, and strife. This may be used to our daily lives when we encounter differing viewpoints, including political disagreements. […] As Muslims, we must be agents of togetherness and combat division, he said. The campaign cycle for the 2024 elections will formally begin in November and run around four months until early February of the following year.

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