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Sharing Experience, RIA FM Sunday, February 27, 2011

Last Sunday, I went to a local radio station. RIA FM is a local radio station in Solo which is quite famous. They agreed to have me as their guest in one of their English radio program. During the one hour show, there were some questions from listeners that I found interesting to share here.

Q: "What is your most interesting experience when you were in USA?"

When joining SUSI RPA2011, I found so many interesting programs. However, there were two most significant program that I chose. Firstly, I said that this program gave me the opportunity to interact with many religious group that I never had interactions with. In this program, my group and I were brought to various houses of worships in Philadelphia and Florida. We were introduced to different kind of Churches denominations (i never heard the word 'denomination' before I joined the program :D ), Synagogues from two (and three for my self) denominations, Buddhist temple, and Bahai community, a religion coming after Islam that I never knew before.

We also joined the worship practice, but remember that we were there as observer. We observed how each religion conducted their services. For me, this experience is very valuable because I will never have the same experience here. I will never knew how Protestants really conduct their services. I think it is also very significant program so that we can respect each religion. Based on my observations, there is no services sermon that preached about violence or hatred.

Another interesting experience was when I in a Reconstructionist Jewish family, Peter Handler and Karen Singer. One touching moment was when they offered me meals. They knew that as Muslim, I am obliged to have 'halal' food. They had no such meat at home. Therefore, Peter and I and also my other friend, Gun drove looking for halal store for about an hour. It really was amazing to see how they appreciate my belief. I was so relieved to know these people.

Q: "How is your view on religious pluralism?"

I really appreciated this  listener because she asked a crucial question. Pluralism (Pluralisme in Bahasa Indonesia) is a very controversial issue in Indonesia. I plan to post something about it sometimes in the near future. What I can say by now is that, pluralism is labeled 'haram' or forbidden by the Indonesian Uelama Council by giving definition that pluralism leads to a belief that say all religion are right. In responding the question, I gave my own definition of pluralism. Pluralism that I studied means how each different aspect of society, given it religion, ethnic, culture or even gender, can interact peacefully in harmony. Pluralism that I studied does not  lead to unifying all religions. It leads to a stage larger than tolerance i.e. cooperation of each different aspect of society in making peace and harmony. The cooperation is, once again I emphasized, not in the theological sphere but in sociological sphere. In theology, I always believe and refer to a very famous verse in Al Qur'an:
(Al Kafiroon: chapter 109, verse 6)  لَكُمۡ دِينُكُمۡ وَلِىَ دِينِ
 "Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion" 
By this verse, I can say that I can be a good and devote Muslim, you can be a devote Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist or Jewish... But by becoming a devote Muslim does not stop me from being friend with people of other religion. It does not stop me from cooperating with them. And my relationship is based on respect, respect to other's belief.  This is in my opinion of what pluralism is all about.

read my post on my extended view of redefining Religious Pluralism here



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