REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, By, Ahmad Syafii Maarif
Before the age of 20 years in mid of 20th century, I participated in 1955 election to support a political party in Bantul, Yogyakarta. I felt excited, though I only knew a little about political party. At that time, almost all public spaces, including mosque had been used to spread political influence of a party, which was the favorite to be the winner. The result, mosque turned into a place to campaign, particularly by parties which had Islamic ideology, while other could not campaign in any mosque though majority of its members were Muslims.
Islamic party leaders in the first election was very good in using religious arguments that people only voted for parties with Islamic ideology and forbidden for other parties, based on Congress of Ulama in 1953 in Medan, North Sumatra. No doubt, the mosque had been directed to support the party with Islamic ideology. I guessed it was okay to do. That was true that party without Islamic ideology should not be selected by Congress. I never thought about other party members who were not authorized by the Congress also consisted of Muslims who prayed in mosque. They were very disturbed by Friday sermon (khutba) which always underestimated their party.
Now we are in 2014. There are some interesting phenomenon associated to qualitative santrinisation - the process of forming the soul as Islamic students - seen on campuses, political parties, offices and other places. A number of mosques now are no longer sufficient to accommodate worshipers in line with demographic explosion which is worrying. In internet, I failed to take comprehensive data about number of mosques in Indonesia until today as there was no a valid number statistically. Chairman of Indonesia's Mosque Council (DMI), Jusuf Kalla said that number of mosques and prayer rooms in Indonesia reached 850 units, a mosque with 700 worshiper's capacity. We still need hundreds of thousands mosques to meet number of Muslims who highly increase in Indonesia from time to time.
Let us count easily; if there are about 600 thousand mosques used for Friday prayers with an average of 200 Muslims per mosque, then the total number reaches 120 million Muslims out of 207 million Muslims in Indonesia. Ladies and gentlemen, you can imagine, if a political party puts its campaign in mosque every Friday, the mosque is not being a convenient place anymore. Conflict will be difficult to avoid like before. I think the wisest choice is to protect mosques of any political interests, make the God's house as a shady and comfortable place for all Muslims, free from whatever party they support. Islamic preachers must learn to become statesmen in their own environment, refrain from partisanship. When number of statesmen is increasingly deficit right now, who knows they are appearing from the mosque circle.
In the Quran (al-Tawbah: 107-108), it is explicitly said that the mosque was built on the basis of piety, not to pursue worldly benefits that could bring discord. This verse can be used as a reference and guidance in collective life of Muslims, not other sources. It means, the greed of political power should not be carried out into mosque as it would surely make a mess and problems which are forbidden by Quran as written at Âli ‘Îmrân: 103, 105, 112.
In the months of election, Muslims must prioritize Quran teachings rather than short political interests. The mosque aims to foster piety of people, to keep away from God's wrath by getting closer to Him. The mosque must free from any political campaign.