Indonesia: Head of an Islamic school tells third world theologians how to preach

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A Muslim cleric said this week that good preaching and right conduct are essential for guiding humanitarian action and fostering respect for people of different faiths.

KH Masrur Ahmad, 49, head of the Al Qodir Islamic school in Yogyakarta, made his comments during a visit by members of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT).

“Good preaching that leads to good actions either individually or collectively has become the foundation of teaching to Muslim students here,” he said.

Indonesia: Head of an Islamic school tells third world theologians how to preach

He said the school follows the tradition of the Nahdlatul Ulama, the country’s largest Islamic organization, which upholds pluralistic and modern views of society and respects religious differences.

EATWOT, an international ecumenical organization founded in Tanzania in 1976, aims to promote new theological models for religious pluralism and peace.

Representatives visited the Al Qodir school as part of activities for their five-yearly General Assembly meeting, held this year in Yogyakarta, which ends on April 28.

Ahmad, who helped establish interfaith movements in response to the Merapi volcanic eruption in 2010, said his approach to preaching differs from other clerics.

“I preach not to ask people to follow my beliefs. Preaching should not be about which religion is better, but about doing good things for other people.”

Agustine Nunuk Prasetyo Murniati, a theologian at Sanata Dharma Catholic University and a coordinator for EATWOT Asia, said the activities of this year’s General Assembly were crucial to the process of dialogue that lies at the heart of the organization’s mission.

“These are theologians who are also change makers in their respective countries,” she said.

The organization’s members come from South Africa, Philippines, Brazil, Thailand, Latin America, Chile, India, Kenya, Myanmar, and Indonesia.

Bambang Sugiharto, Yogyakarta
Indonesia (April 26, 2012)