MUHAMMADIYAH.OR.ID, YOGYAKARTA – The interface of culture and religion necessitates a nuanced perspective. Haedar Nashir, President of Muhammadiyah, acknowledged that an overly restrictive interpretation of culture might lead to the perception of many impermissible aspects. Nevertheless, he underscored that vibrant culture can, in fact, enhance religious observance.
The intersection of culture and religion requires a nuanced perspective, according to Haedar Nashir, President of Muhammadiyah. He recognizes that an excessively restrictive interpretation of culture may lead to the perception of many impermissible aspects. However, a vibrant culture can actually enhance religious observance.
For example, the Indonesian Muslim tradition “Syawalan” is not considered a form of worship, but it does not violate religious principles.
“Other similar customs are visiting one another, exchanging greetings, and Javanese traditions like ‘sungkeman‘ and ‘hand-kissing,'” mentioned Haedar in the Joint Annual Coordination Meeting of the Muhammadiyah Institute for Art and Culture (LSB) and the Muhammadiyah Institute for Sports Development (LPO) held at Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta (UMY) on October 27.
Haedar argues that the compartmentalization of ‘ubudiyah’ (worship) and ‘muamalah’ (interaction) contradicts the religious concept, creating a false dichotomy. Such a distinction can trap Muslims in extreme viewpoints, he warns.
These conflicting views regarding the compatibility of religion and culture should not be the basis for division.
Within the Muhammadiyah framework, substantial art and culture are considered permissible (‘mubah‘). The exception arises when cultural practices cause individuals to lose sight of their connection to God.
Substantial art and culture are permissible (‘mubah‘) within the Muhammadiyah framework, except when individuals get far from God.
“The realm of art is permissible. It becomes prohibited when it causes people to distance themselves from God, often due to the manner in which cultural art is practiced, rather than the inherent nature of art and culture. Importantly, many forms of art and culture serve to strengthen one’s connection with God,” said Haedar.
Religion, Haedar contended, is inherently absolute and, as the Muhammadiyah Tarjih Council for Islamic Thought and Judgment covers the areas of faith (‘aqidah‘), worship (‘ibadah‘), and ethics. Indeed, Muhammadiyah rejects situational ethics.