Islam and The Cultural Abundance
Prof. Dr. KH Haedar Nashir, MSi
Among Muslims there are still wrong perception or even resistance to anything called culture. Certain cultures and traditions in a society are often considered synonymous with “TBC” or superstition, bid’ah, and churafat. Occult or idolatrous things are often attached to the collective idioms belonging to the community.
It may be that there are some cultural practices and elements, including traditions, in a society that carry the character of “TBC” when read from a certain religious point of view. However, not all traditions and cultures are identical to “TBC”, even if there are things that are not in line with Islamic views, that is where the importance of preaching lies. Apart from that, this negative perception also often depends on the understanding of Islam plus the meaning of the nature of culture itself.
For Muhammadiyah as an Islamic movement that has a tajdid approach of purification and dynamism, of course it understands very well that on the one hand there are characteristics and aspects of culture that need to be both criticized and changed for the better. On the other hand, it is important to understand culture more precisely as well as to become part of the da’wah as contained in the official thought about Muhammadiyah Cultural Da’wah. At the same time, it is also important to deepen, enrich, and expand Islamic understanding so that it has a comprehensive perspective and is not apologically anti-cultural.
Discussing about culture there are two terms that have the same meaning, namely “Civilization” as if in ‘Kebudayaan’ or simply the term “culture” or what we call ‘budaya’, although some experts sometimes literally distinguish it. However, in general, the term “Civilization” or “Culture” is derived from the Sanskrit language, namely buddhayah or buddhi, which refers to the meaning of human mind or intellect. In English it is called culture, which comes from the Latin Colere language, which is the matter of processing or doing something related to human activities together, which is adopted as the term “culture”. Tradition is part of culture in the form of habits carried out by humans collectively which are hereditary.
Civilization according to Taylor is a whole that includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs, and other abilities as well as habits acquired by humans as members of society (Valentine, 1968). Culture is a system of human knowledge that contains instructions, plans, and strategies consisting of cognitive models that are based on and are enveloped in values that live in the ethos and world view) human collective, which the actors use to interpret and deal with the environment selectively (Suparlan, 1986).
Anthropological culture in everyday life is a mode for action (a model for action) in human collective life, so that what should be processed with what is in fact, both in the form of equality (positive) and difference (negative). Civilization manifests in three forms: (1) the form of civilization as a complex of ideas, values, norms, regulations, and so on; (2) the form of civilization as a complex of patterned behavioral activities of humans in society; and (3) the form of civilization as objects created by humans (Koentjaraningrat, 1987: 5).
With the meaning and position of civilization that is inherent in human life and society, social institutions can be used as a means or media for the cultivation of noble values in the life of Indonesian society, including in the formation of human character Social institutions or institutions are a form of culture as a form of patterned behavior, which is related to a system of norms, personal, and physical equipment, which are used to meet the needs of life (Koentjaraningrat, 1987).
Therefore civilization or culture in that society is basically good for building a noble civilization, which is basically the result of the collective cultivation of the human spirit and mind. Of course there are things that are not the same between one civilization and another, including civilization that have basic religious values and norms that are integrated into the lives of its adherents. Civilization everywhere is open to change and accommodation with other values outside of it, although there are rules that do not always change.
If the majority of society is Muslim, then an Islamic or Islamic civilization will be born, as a form of actualization or objectivation of teachings plus cultural absorption in the collective life of its adherents. In Islamic teachings there is even cultural or civilization uptake such as some of the ways of the hajj rituals, fasting, akikah, and so on. Covering the body is an order of Islamic teachings, but the clothing model is fully cultural or the result of culture in accordance with the collective knowledge system prevailing in a society or nation. The more important thing is not only the dress model, but how the adherents behave in order to be Islamic.
Islam and Culture
The relationship between Islam as a teaching and civilization as a system of human collective knowledge is still an agenda that is never finished to be discussed. All Muslims certainly have one view in terms of the belief that Islam is the main way of life because its essence is a revelation from Allah who is perfect, which cannot be compared equally with culture, ideology, and human-made views of life. However, one thing that is also undeniable is that humans everywhere throughout its history, including religious communities, cannot be separated from culture.
In relation to culture, there are several views and attitudes of Muslims. One party has a negative view or absolutely dedicates anything that is cultural, so that an anti or allergic cultural attitude is born and constantly opposes Islam and culture. This view is often called conservative or fundamentalist groups, who are rigid in understanding civilization or culture plus certain understandings that tend to be textual or puritanical.
The second view is on the contrary, which tends to absolute culture or cultural truth, so that this group not only accepts it as something that is taken for granted (finished goods), even to a certain extent culturing or deifying anything that is cultural in nature. Including in placing tradition as part of culture as it is and more than that spoiling tradition in such a way. Islam and culture, more specifically the tradition, are united, there is even syncretism so that the two are united. This group is often called the traditionalists because of its fanatical nature of defending and worshiping tradition.
The third group of moderate Muslims. Islam and culture have a certain relationship, complement and strengthen each other, even though it is believed that Islam as a religion is above culture. This moderate group believes that Islam not only contains cultural elements but can accommodate culture, as long as culture is one-sided and does not conflict with the principles of Islamic teachings, especially those which are faith and worship. On the one hand, there is a positive and necessary character of culture but there are things that need to be criticized from it. On the other hand, there is also an element of cultural uptake in religion, especially those that are mu’amalah dunyawiyah, so that religion and culture can interact and fill in dynamically.
Herskovits and Malinowski stated that everything in society is determined by its culture. This means that how important culture is to a society, apart from being inseparable, culture has a deterministic nature or a strong influence that determines the character of a society. Therefore it is important to understand the character, nature, aspects, elements, and influence of culture in a society which means understanding the society itself correctly. This is where the importance of Islamic preacher efforts in understanding culture so that there is no mistake in seeing and entering the life of a society and its culture. The rest is how to give Islamic nuance to the culture of a society through cultural ways by means of wisdom, education, and intelligent dialogue in accordance with the Islamic da’wah approach.
Source: SM Magazine Issue 3 of 2018