Hilal and Halal: How to manage Islamic pluralism in Indonesia?

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 30 May 2012


Seminar Room B, Coombs Building, Fellows Road, ANU


Nadirsyah Hosen (Faculty of Law, University of Wollongong)


Indonesia Project
+61 2 6125 3794
The main aim of my presentation is to examine the tension amongst the Indonesian government and Islamic organisations in dealing with the plurality of interpretation within Islamic tradition and at the same time maintaining the unity and harmony of the Muslim ummah. I provide two case studies here: first, the issue of determining the first and the end of Ramadan and also 10 Zul Hijjah (for Ied al-Adha). Due to different methods of hisab (astronomical calculation) and ru’yah (sighting a new crescent), Islamic organisations (Muhammadiyah, Nahdlatul Ulama and Majelis Ulama Indonesia) have produced different fatwas. At the same time, the Government should make announcement on which dates to begin or to end fasting. The questions are: which fatwas the Government should choose? What are the reactions of Islamic organisations that have different views with the Government decision? There is also tension in the society in celebrating different dates of Ied al-fitri and Ied al-adha. Second, in the case of halal certificate, Department of Health, Department of Religious Affairs, Department of Industry and the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) together with the Parliament are still examining who has the authority to investigate all the ingredients, to issue the fatwa, and to put halal label in the product. Currently, MUI issues a halal certificate based on the voluntarily application from the company. This might be considered as an unofficial law. Once the Parliament passed the bill, the practice might become compulsory. This will give effect that a particular interpretation of the halalness of meat and non-meat products will become the official law. How about other non-official interpretations? There is also a competition between Department of Religious Affairs and the MUI as the first thinks it falls into its authority, whereas the latter insists that a halal certificate is a written fatwa which falls into its ‘jurisdiction’. This question of authority reflects the tension and dilemma of the role of the Government, particularly the Department of Religious Affairs, in trying to regulate and facilitate Muslims affairs.

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