Throughout history, we have witnessed strife, war, destruction, conquering, and violence. Not prosperity, peace, or development. We do not even know if the future will usher in a new era of peace and tolerance, or whether we will revert to a culture of conflict in all its manifestations.
Domestic political struggle and social instability in many nations, as well as racism, genocide, and war, demonstrate that the spread of peace and tolerance concepts, as well as the establishment of such a culture, is critical for the survival of every human being, family, organization, state, and society. The establishment of a culture of peace and tolerance is essential for the salvation of humanity, as a culture of intolerance leads to a shared grave. Consequently, a culture of peace must be created through the spiritual enrichment of each individual and the whole community. As a result, the concept of peace will affect the spiritual and moral values of every individual. These values will also govern each individual’s thinking and attitude, as well as their creative abilities and other actions. Civilization can only be perpetuated, peace and harmony achieved, and chances for human progress developed with this culture.
Being (King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue) KAICIID Fellow Network, on one occasion, I felt privileged to accept an invitation to participate in a regional consultation meeting session for the Asian region organised by The Network for Religion and Traditional Peacemaker, where we met, discussed, and listened from different grassroots religious actors. This forum was designed to dig deeper into the various roles of religious/traditional leaders in peacebuilding, which would later be used as advocacy materials at the UN level to engage traditional actors more in peace initiatives.
Certainly, this discussion was not arranged for no purpose, since the approach to the peace process to far has frequently been limited, focusing only on elite negotiating, political dispute resolution, and cessation of hostilities, rather than delving into underlying issues and searching for structural causes of conflict. High-level discussions between conflicting parties can sometimes be exclusive, relatively ineffective engaging all relevant actors, or incapable of having a long-term peace-building impact. These numerous remarks lead the process of constructing peace to be long and uneven, primarily due to a lack of political commitment, sometimes even giving the idea that there is a conflict reserve, so that one day this potential conflict would resurface, especially when there are demands from some of the other stakeholders.
Before the epidemic, I had the opportunity to conduct a study that allowed me to delve into the field, stay in touch from pesantren to pesantren, and one of the main themes in my interviews with various pesantren administrators related to the Kyai’s political beliefs, which I associated with societal disintegration as a legacy of the presidential election and the remnant of the feud in the general public that has not yet been healed as it was before. Aside from pesantren leaders’ favoritism for specific politicians, religious leaders’ function as societal role models, and the ambiguous struggle among supporters, they nonetheless try to position themselves as intermediaries for the community without exacerbating the problem.
This leads to the conclusion that the role of religious actors and/or traditional leaders in creating and building peace is critical. In terms of their various roles, they can be identified in a variety of ways, including mediation in conflict resolution, public support for the peace process through peace campaigns or education, interfaith dialogue, community-based peace building, and participation in formal governance and decision-making structures.
The access religious/traditional leaders have to grassroots actors and decision-makers has a significant impact on their uniqueness. Their engagement in governance is frequently visible in the provision of social services, justice, education, conflict resolution, and security guarantees, particularly in areas where the government’s presence is minimal. This is especially true when it comes to religion, which may be used to foster peace both spiritually and socially. Through spiritual principles such as tolerance and coexistence, religion can be used to help establish peace both spiritually and socially. Religion can be viewed as soft power, which can assist in the creation of positive connections between religious leaders and decision makers, including conflict parties.
Consequently, if by being religious we actually make enemies of other people, we may need to reconsider our sincerity in religion, or our religious studies may need further broadening. This reminds me of a conversation I had with an inmate in a terrorist prison. I asked him, “Are you sure you won’t join the same network after you’re released?” “Would you like to go if someone invited you again?” ‘Don’t want to, will be cautious,’ he said. “How do you know the religious doctrine you’re interested in aren’t all part of the same network?” He paused, puzzled, and shook his head. “Uncle, only practices religion that is comfortable, worships in comfort, if you follow or are invited to religious teaching and more brothers and a more tranquil heart, please continue, but if you take part in studies and you feel more and more that has to be despised, then please don’t continue,” I said while reciting the wirid. I am grateful that this convicted terrorist has returned to the Republic of Indonesia.
However, this peacebuilding work is once again dominated by men, Indonesia has adapted UNSC Resolution 1325 through Presidential Regulation Number 18 of 2014 concerning the protection and empowerment of women and children in social conflict (P3AKS). This Presidential Regulation was issued in the Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare No. 8 of 2014 concerning RAN P3AKS 2014-2019 in its implementation. The Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture will then issue Regulation No. 5 of 2021 on RAN P3AKS (National Action Plan for Empowerment and Protection of Women and Children in Social Conflict) 2020-2025. As a commitment to implementation at the regional level, regional heads in the region have passed it in the form of Governor Regulations concerning P3AKS Working Groups (Pokja) for the implementation of Regional Action Plans (RAD) P3AKS.
As part of this policy, the legal framework for combating violent extremism is contained in Regulation of the Terrorism Law Number 5 of 2018, Presidential Regulation Number 7 of 2021 concerning the National Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Violent Extremism Leading to Terrorism (RAN PE) 2020-2024. The three primary pillars of RAN PE include: (1) the preventive pillar, which encompasses readiness, counter-radicalization, and deradicalization; (2) the law enforcement pillars, protection of witnesses and victims, and development of the national legislative framework; and (3) the international collaboration and cooperation pillars. RAN PE attaches importance to the concepts of human rights; rule of law and justice; gender mainstreaming and fulfillment of children’s rights; security and safety; good governance (good governance); numerous participation and stakeholders; and diversity and local wisdom during the process and implementation.
Women have a crucial role as agents able to navigate sociopolitical crises and as game-changers in efforts to prevent potential violence or conflict in their local environment. Within this rests the need of women’s active participation in peacebuilding, as violence and all its manifestations have an impact on the many perspectives, perceptions, and emotions of women, which can only be adequately articulated by women themselves. In addition, gender mainstreaming is essential for describing the intersectionality of perspectives, assuring gender analysis as a lens for understanding issues, incorporating women’s groups and recognizing women’s leadership, and for sensitizing peacebuilding efforts to include a women’s perspective.
The widespread intolerance that has expanded in the public sphere, as well as the growth in female actors in the cycle of violence in the name of religion, is one of the important topics discussed in the religious discussions of the Indonesian Women’s Ulema Congress (KUPI) – 2, which will be held from 24-26 November 2022 at Hasyim Asy’ari Islamic Boarding School Ari Bangsri Jepara. Some of the primary issues discussed during the 2nd Indonesian Women’s Ulema Congress (KUPI) were: Marginalization of Women in Protecting the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia from the Dangers of Violence in the Name of Religion; Waste Management for Environmental Sustainability and Women’s Safety; Protection of Women from the Dangers of Forced Marriage; Protection of Women’s Lives from the Dangers of Pregnancy Due to Rape; and Protection of Women from the Dangers of FGM/C without Medical Reasons. The site of the KUPI-2 event, which will take place in Jepara, is a not only a site; instead, Jepara is where Raden Ajeng Kartini initiated the struggle for women’s emancipation.
An intriguing quotation from R.A. Kartini’s God and Religion in Kartini’s Inner Struggle (Tuhan dan Agama dalam Pergulatan Batin Kartini), Th. Sumartana: “Religion does save us from sinning, but how many sins do we commit in the name of religion?” These remarks continue to be relevant for our collective reflection today. Wallahu’alam Bisshowab.
By Kamilia Hamidah, Lc., MA is a Lecturer in Islamic Community Development at the Mathali’ul Falah Islamic Boarding School Institute (IPMAFA). Pati is the Founder of Madrasah Damai.