Islam and TheJakartaPost.com: When Discussing Islam is a Good Way of Getting Money and Prestige

By Irfan Nugroho
I am a vivid reader of TheJakartaPost.com, and one section that I love to read is Opinion Section. From the section I can both learn how to write well and know fascinating insight on the recent news around the globe.

However, I must ease myself off when I found one or two writing discussing Islam on that section. And the worse one is that of the high frequency of such an opinion, which unfortunately discussed Islam from the perspectives of non-Muslim westerners and anti-Islam movement.

The last time I read about an opinion from a Netherlands Ambassador to Indonesia on what Islam actually is. On the same day, there was another opinion about Islam too; but this one was from an anti-Islam movement that is called Jaringan Islam Liberal-JIL (Liberal Islam Network).

I read Mr. Ambassador’s first before jumping to the JIL-er’s opinion. I descried there is a correlation between Mr. Ambassador’s opinion and the JIL-er’s one. Not only the correlation lay on the same issue –Islam; but also, it appears that the JIL-er’s opinion has indirectly proven that Mr. Ambassador’s opinion is 100% correct.

Mr. Ambassador wrote about his very lack insight about “terrorism” and Islam. He stated that he never found any verse in the Quran calling for people to carry out the Jeehad. I’m not going to focus this writing about his lack view on the meanings of the Jeehad, however. This writing is to spotlight on the secret Mr. Ambassador unveiled through his opinion.

On his opinion Mr. Ambassador told that the easiest way of getting academic funds is by undertaking research as well as holding seminar on Islamic issues, especially Islam from the perspectives of non-Muslim westerners and anti-Islam movement. Doubtlessly, Islam has been an interesting topic after the 9/11, and is because Islam alone develops fast and widely in Europe and America, in which this situation is often viewed as a threat for anti-Islam movement.

Sure everyone who knows that fact will get themselves active in discussing Islam, even though they’re not Muslims. They get money from speaking about Jeehad, as if they are experts in Jeehad but they never engaged in the Land of Jeehad.

They talk about Islam, but it is seldom to see those people practice the Islamic teachings well. They shout for Islamic movement but in fact, they live ordinary life, not as Islamic movement activists. They deliver criticism over Islam on mass media; thus they get paid for it.

This is the same as what the JIL-er did through his opinion “The True Position of Islam in Politics,” on the same day when Mr. Ambassador’s opinion was published on TheJakartaPost.com.

The JIL-er wrote about the political strategies of Partai Keadilan Sejahtera-PKS (Prosperous Justice Party) in term of winning the hearts of Indonesian nationalist voters in the 2009 General Election. Poorly, he offered very very short argumentation to support his view about this topic; that of assuming the PKS’s effort ended in failure as PKS is still “fundamentalist” thus couldn’t attract Indonesian nationalist voters.

So why does such writing appear on TheJakartaPost.com? Just because he is good in English, perhaps, thus his opinion was chosen to publish. Or perhaps, it’s just because TheJakartaPost.com’s preference; that of preferring Islamic to non-Islamic issues.

On the face of that, I want to assume that the JIL-er wrote such an opinion because he was in need for money and prestige. The JIL-er got paid as his writing was published on TheJakartaPost.com. Consequently, some people might acknowledge him as an Islamic politics expert – even though the fact shows different thing, he is not master in Islamic politics at all.

Finally, it is, perhaps, true that discussing Islam on mass media is a good way of getting money and prestige. You get paid from writing Islamic issues; thus people know you as if you’re an expert on that case. In addition, we must also remember that apparently, TheJakartaPost.com, and many other mass media, prefers Islamic to non-Islamic issues.

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