Prof Dr H Haedar Nashir, MSi
Muhammadiyah is known as an Islamic movement with a character which tend to be in the middle position of one spectrum, according to the term it is called wasithiyah or moderate. In the academic world it is known as the modernist or reformist Islamic movement. In essence, these terms indicate the religious views and ideological nature of the Muhammadiyah movement which is intermediate between various extreme poles.
Muhammadiyah’s middle character is certainly compared to other different movements. On one hand there are other Islamic movements that are on the “right line”, which are often called the “conservative”, “traditionalist”, “fundamentalistic” and “radical” groups with religious ideology and movement orientation that tends to be strict and / or conservative. On the other hand there are “left” groups that tend to be known as liberal or even secular movements.
Muhammadiyah is among these Islamic movements that tend to be extreme. There are other Islamic movements that are in line with Muhammadiyah which are classified as middle or moderate movements. Muhammadiyah’s central position is certainly not absolute and is more of a main or main line, because to some extent the movement shares some understanding with other Islamic movements that are eclectic or dynamic.
The moderate attitude in religion according to Muhammad Az-Zuhaili (2005) is to be in balance, istiqamah, fair, and easy; and stay away from ghuluw or extremes. According to Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi (2007), being moderate in religion is being in the middle, not exaggerating or subtracting, walking straight (ash-shirat al-mustaqim) and rejecting extremism.
Muhammadiyah as a middle or wasithiyah movement has the following characteristics. First, the understanding of Islam in Muhammadiyah refers directly and originates from the Al-Qur’an and Sunnah Maqbulah, by developing a mind that is in accordance with Islamic teachings along with ijtihad. In understanding Islam, Muhammadiyah uses the Bayani, Burhani and Irfani approaches. Meanwhile, the view adopted for tajdid is purification (purification) and development (dynamization). Thus, the religious view in Muhammadiyah is not only deep and comprehensive, but also has its middle character because it is not trapped in one dimension.
Second, in the view of aqidah and worship adheres to pure Islamic or purification (tandhif al-‘aqidah wal worship) by freeing oneself from the practice of shirk, khurafat, and bid’ah as understood by ahlu-salaf (al-firqah al-najiyah min al- salaf). However, in this religious understanding Muhammadiyah is different from the purification movements which are often referred to as Salafis, because Muhammadiyah holds to a moderate nature and are not ghuluw or extreme, and adhere to the principle of tolerance (tasamuh) so that they do not claim to be the most Islamic or the holiest (tazakku). Aspects of worship or following the Prophet and staying away from bid’ah, so that it does not exaggerate or diminish what the Prophet has guided based on the strong arguments of tarjih output.
Third, in the field of morality, Muhammadiyah follows the uswah of the Prophet’s hasanah and do not adhere to situational morality (norms of behavior can change based on the will and development of society). Whereas in the field of human relation, islah or tajdid dynamic was developed as widely as possible in accordance with the principles taught by Islam. The concept or standard of bid’ah is not applied in organizing human relation, for example, even though there was no example for certain things at the time of the Prophet, it is not considered a bid’ah because it is completely human relations as the hadith of the Prophet antum ‘alamu bi-‘umuri dunya-kum as contained in Masalah Lima concerning Qiyas or Ijtihad. Because there is an understanding of other Islamic groups that denounce organizations and other matters concerning actual life practices according to the times.
Fourth, in the nation and state affairs, Muhammadiyah, apart from being based on the basic values of Islamic teachings as in the views of reformism or Islamic modernism, it also fully uses ijtihad. For Muhammadiyah, politics and state affairs are al-‘Aumur al-dunyawiyyah or something that we deal with daily in life, so that reforms can be developed, including creation and innovation, as well as developing many alternatives. Muhammadiyah, for example, considers that there is no single format in terms of the form of a state that is defined by Islam, such as the necessity of the concept and the existence of an Islamic state. The Islamic State or Islamic State varies in form and actualization according to the ijtihad of Muslims in a place or country.
According to Muhammadiyah, Indonesian which is based on Pancasila can be called an Islamic state or Darussalam because the five principles of Pancasila are in line with Islamic teachings and Muslims participated in formulating and ratifying it as the basis of the state on August 18, 1945. Therefore Muhammadiyah designated Indonesia as a Pancasila State as Darul Ahdi Wa Syahadah. Muhammadiyah also does not take the approach of practical political struggle as contained in the Khittah, practical politics is the duty of political parties and not the task of social organizations, while Muhammadiyah carries out a more proactive national political function according to the Denpasar Khittah 2002.
In the decision of the 47th Congress on strategic issues, Muhammadiyah invites Muslims to prioritize moderate diversity. It is stated that recent developments have shown signs of increasing extreme religious behavior, including the tendency to kafiri (takfiri). Among Muslims there are groups that like to judge, instill hatred, and commit acts of violence against other groups accusing them of being heretical, infidel, and liberal. The tendency of takfiri is contrary to the Islamic character which emphasizes compassion, politeness, tawasuth, and tolerance. The attitude of being easy to judge on other parties is caused by many factors, including a narrow religious perspective, poor insight, lack of religious interaction, exclusive religious education, politicization of religion, and the influence of political and religious conflicts from abroad, especially in the Middle East.
Observing the destructive potential of takfiri groups, Muhammadiyah invites Muslims, especially Muhammadiyah’s members, to be critical by trying to stem the development of takfiri groups through a dialogue approach, open da’wah, enlightening, educating, and polite social interactions. Muhammadiyah views differences and diversity as sunnatullah, mercy and intellectual treasures that can enrich thought and broaden horizons that encourage progress.
Unity is not uniformity but synergy, mutual respect and cooperation with the bonds of faith, the spirit of ukhuwah, tasamuh, and fastabiqu al-khairat. In an open society and national life, Muhammadiyah invites Muslims to develop a moderate religious attitude (wasithiyah), support and strengthen each other, and not weaken and negate other different groups.
Muhammadiyah is not in the position of an extreme, radical, fundamentalist, liberal or secular Islamic movement. Its position in the middle or called wasithiyah or moderate, this is the distinctive character of Muhammadiyah as an Islamic movement. Of course, the character of wasithiyah or moderate can be shown a variety of images, aka not single and one faced. An Islamic movement always has many links, so that the middle position in terms of aqidah, worship, and morals has its own distinctive character which appears to have a purification dimension; while in muamalah-dunyawiyah it is dynamic. Puritan and dynamic are also not one color, so they are multidimensional.
In the formation of the ummah, the wasithiyah view refers to, among other things, the basic concept of Ummatan Wasatha as well as Syuhada ‘ala al-Nas as contained in Al-Baqarah 143 and is a characteristic of Khaira Ummah (Qs Ali Imran : 110) strongly adheres to the Muhammadiyah character. More specifically, the characteristic of Muhammadiyah wasithiyah is not just being religious with a moderate attitude such as peace, tolerance, ukhuwah, and building ihsan in social relations as a form of rahmatan lil-‘alamin.
At the same time the diversity of wasithiyah must also progress, because the character of rahmatan lil’alamin from Islam itself must give a positive value, namely to build a life that is full of progress in all aspects so that a superior or ultimate civilization is born. Thus, Muhammadiyah is a progressive moderate Islamic movement. The principles of progress as contained in the Second Century Muhammadiyah’s Statement of Thought must be inherent in the wasithiyah character of Muhammadiyah!
Source: SM Magazine 14th Issue 2017