Islamic Lifestyle

Indonesia to start program for religious preachers to strengthen national unity

JAKARTA – Indonesia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs will launch a program for preachers aimed at strengthening national unity.

The program will include preachers from the six officially recognized religions: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Catholicism, and Protestantism.

“The main goal of this program is to promote the concept of nation and moderation in Islam,” Kamaruddin Amin, the ministry’s director general for Islamic education told Salaam Gateway with specific reference to Islamic preachers.

Kamaruddin stressed that attending the three-day training under the program is not mandatory.

“This program is voluntary. It’s not a professional certification like for university lecturers or school teachers,” he said.

It will target 8,200 Islamic preachers this year: 200 under central government supervision and 8,000 under the ministry representative offices in the regions.

Preachers earn their certificates after completing the program. They will be called “certified preachers” by the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

The ministry will act as coordinator and facilitator, working with institutions and non-governmental organizations including Lemhanas (National Defense Institute), BPIP (Agency for Pancasila Ideology Education), BNPT (National Agency for Counter Terrorism), MUI (Indonesian Ulema Council), and the two largest Islamic organizations Nadhlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah.

Collaborations with organizations of other religions include with the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI), Bishops Conference of Indonesia (KWI), Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI), Indonesian Buddhist Association (Walubi and Permabudhi) and  The Supreme Council for the Confucian Religion in Indonesia (Matakin).

“At the end of the day, we want every Islamic preacher to be able to increase their competence and capacity,” said Kamaruddin.

“They have to master mass psychology, public speaking, the concept of “wawasan kebangsaan”, moderate Islam and preaching methods that can keep up with the times,” he added. “Wawasan kebangsaan” refers to the way Indonesia achieves its national goal of unity in the areas of politics, economics, socio-cultural and defence.

Indonesia has more than 50,000 Islamic preachers, and 10,000 Muslim wedding officiants.

(Reporting by Yosi Winosa; Editing by Emmy Abdul Alim

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