Starting from a light conversation with a high school friend who stated "Be careful that the influence of pluralism is on the rise, especially at UIN which is known as the basis of LIN (Liberal Islam Network)." After that statement, I made a light question, "Where is the danger of pluralism?" He explained at length which in essence states that the notion of pluralism makes us think that all religions are the same and what makes it very dangerous is the position of goodness which is placed on the value of tawhid which is the basis of Islamic teachings.
The discussion got more interesting when we gave each other arguments for and against pluralism. Yes, to be honest, I support pluralism. There is a difference in the operational definition of pluralism between the two of us. A discussion will be difficult to find common ground if there are differences in operational definitions. Pluralism is considered as an understanding that generalizes all religions, considering all religions to be true. This is a widespread understanding among Muslims, which makes people allergic when they hear the word pluralism.
Pluralism comes from the word plural which means plural, diverse, or in short, more than one. So that pluralism has a definition as an understanding that accepts diversity, whether it be ethnicity, race, religion, or others. In this paper, the emphasis is on the diversity of religions. So, pluralism is an understanding that considers religious diversity to be something that is natural and cannot be changed. Moreover, we live in Indonesia which has various kinds of diversity from ethnicity, language, culture, to religion.
Like it or not, pluralism is a necessity because differences are inevitable, including religious differences. Pluralism is not an understanding that generalizes all religions. In short, adhering to pluralism means respecting any existing religious differences. We certainly have to even have the obligation to believe in our religion as the truest because if we don't believe our religion is the most correct, why embrace a certain religion? But beyond all that, we must respect the opinions of adherents of other religions who believe that their religion is the most correct.
After all, we have no right to force the beliefs of others to follow our beliefs. If indeed the unification of belief in God's will, surely it would not be difficult for Him to make all humans worship Him through one religion alone. I think that difference or diversity is the will of God, seeing from the perspective of God's omnipotence, it is certainly an easy act to create just one belief on this earth.
Muslims who are allergic to pluralism think that pluralism injures the value of monotheism because it equates God in every religion while the true God is only Allah SWT who is worshipped by Muslims. In fact, in my opinion, understanding like this is what searches for the value of Tawheed. Because with the understanding that God in other religions is different from the God of Muslims, it means believing there are many Gods. I consider every religion to teach goodness as a form of worship to God. Then is God different? Certainly not. I believe that religion is only a means of worshipping the One God. The worship rituals are different, but what is worshipped is still the same.
Whether he is called ar-Rahman, Allah, Yahweh, Elohim, Tengri, Tien, Dyaus, Anu, Taranis, Brahman, or other names He is still the same. God exists before words, so it is human beings who make the title to the Creator according to their language. Isn't this a value of monotheism? Believing that God is only one, not two or even three, no matter what it is called in every religion. God is still God whatever it is called. In my opinion, people who adhere to pluralism have a stronger unity than those who are allergic to pluralism.
Those who are allergic think that pluralism was spread by those who are liberal to reduce the monotheism of Muslims. This is one of the weaknesses of Muslims, busy looking for enemies and scapegoating others for the decline of Islamic civilization. They think that other groups are trying to overthrow Islam. It is only the adherents of their religion that can undermine a religion. Other people or other groups of course will not be able to. It is evident from the Quraish who tried to overthrow the religion of Islam in the early days of its spread, but as long as the Muslims themselves did not destroy it, Islam would not be damaged.
They believe in conspiracy theories that say that the world hates Islam and will destroy it. They do not want to introspect themselves, drowning in the romanticism of the triumph of Islamic civilization in the past. Don't they know that the glory of Islamic civilization was triggered by the advancement of science? One of them said that the only system that can advance the Muslim community is the caliphate and the implementation of the Shari'a. Don't they know that the Khilafah system in the past also had many flaws? What makes a civilization advanced is not a government system, but the people who run the system. As long as those who run the government system are good people with integrity, of course, the civilization will advance regardless of the system.
The history of fundamentalism and liberalism in Islam is indeed very long, it is certainly not enough and I cannot explain it here. I thought my friend was a fundamentalist. Apart from discussing pluralism, which he discusses, we also discuss the role of reason in understanding religion. He considers the role of reason to be minimized in understanding religion because we only have to obey and submit to the texts written in the holy book.
This is very contrary to my beliefs. In my opinion, reason as God's most valuable gift should be used maximally as a form of gratitude. The truths of reason certainly will not contradict religious truths, because the truths are certainly not contradictory, instead, they reinforce one another. To understand scriptural texts, we need to understand contextuality which of course cannot be separated from space and time. If it is true that Islam is the religion of all times, of course, the texts must also be applicable in every era.
If we only interpret these texts textually, we will forget the dimensions of their contextuality. This only makes them dead and out of date. Therefore, it is necessary to renew the interpretation so that it is by the times and is suitable as human guidance in every age. To understand the contextuality of a text, we need to study its history. It is impossible not to maximize the role of reason in interpreting a text, therefore I think that the role of reason is vital in understanding religion.
I am not someone who holistically understands religion, therefore I will continue to learn and continue to seek knowledge about religion. This article must also contain errors that are inevitable considering I am only a human where the wrong place and forget to be. I open wide space to criticism and suggestions because the understanding of something is not possible to find the final word. We have to be progressive in understanding something.
It is important to adapt and change with times, even religion needs to do this. I wish Muslims understood this. Human values are more important than any religious values.