When Fuqâha Triumphs Over Scientists
Rabu, 5 September 2007
Oleh: Uzair fauzan (anggota Perkumpulan Lafadl Initiatives)
The increasing need for acquisition of technology and modern sciences has been making traditional institutions of religious education losing more and more admirers. These institutions are often regarded as something backward, providing no contemporary knowledge needed for the current life, and thus producing generation who does not have enough compatability compared with those graduated from modern one. However, bahtsul masa’il meeting held in Jepara yesterday provided example that that is not the case. In the event, graduates from pesantren, Indonesian style of traditional moslem boarding school, proved to be in the supremation of logics over leading scientists from Jakarta.
Bahtsul masa’il, literally means discussing problems/issues, is a forum in the organization of Nahdlatul Ulama (the largest traditional moslem organization in Indonesia) to discuss social-contemporary issues exclusively from the perspective of fiqh (Islamic law). For NU followers, it is such a significant forum where they can have fatwa or hukm on certain (important) issues based on the agreement of majority of ulama’. In the organization of NU itself, it exists from national up to sub-district level. It even has its own special body, called Lajnah Bahtsul Masa’il (Body of Bahtsul Masa’il, commonly abbreviated as LBM) within NU structure. Since it is very related with fiqh which is considered quite significant in moslem’s daily life, the forum is usually prepared well. Days before the commencement of forum, issue(s) to discuss and questions to be answered are already distributed, attached to the invitation letter. This is intended to give opportunity for participants to study the case and collect ta‘bir, or reference or quotation from great ulamas to support their arguments. In the forum itself, there will be a moderator and a secretary who will write down all the discussion traffic, mustasyar team consisting of several leading old kyais, perumus team who will formulate the hukm agreement, and participants whose job is to give comments on the discussed issue and submit their takbir to the committee.
Yesterday, to commemorate NU’s Harlah (NU’s anniversary), Pimpinan Cabang Nahdlatul Ulama (Board of NU at district level) Jepara held two important formal events related with the government’s proposal of nuclear power plant which is planned to build 35 kilometer away from the district capital (besides these formal events, there was also a mass protest of thousands of villagers marching from the village of the planned sites against the proposal). Those events are a public discussion with distinguished speakers officially coming from Ministry for Energy and Mineral Resources, Badan Tenaga Atom Nasional (BATAN, National Agency for Atomic Energy), Agency for Monitoring Atomic Energy representing pro-nuclear party, and individuals and academics such as George Junus Aditjondro, Iwan Kurniawan, and Budi Widianarko representing the contra-party; and bahtsul masa’il which is held afterwards. Public discussion with those distinguished speakers was held first with supposed aim to provide basic informations needed for discussing the nuclear issue from fiqh perspective. However, the information seemed to be insufficient for them, and this is where the forum became interesting.
For these fuqâha (fiqh specialists), information provided by the scientists, either from the pro party or from the contra, is not quite firm to be a base for making fiqhiyyah decision on the questions provided in the forum. In answering the question of whether, from a fiqh perspective, PLTN, an abbreviation stands for Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Nuklir (nuclear power plant) is a maslahah (a goodness) or mafsadah (badness), it is clearly showed that these pesantren graduates are working hard to discern the issue, and not easily convinced by high technical explanation from the scientists. From the standpoint of both scientists, who were invited again to give additional explanation at this forum, the PLTN issue seems to be already clear. For the sourceperson from BATAN, PLTN means maslahah because it will provide additional energy so to prevent energy crisis in the country in 2020s. While for the anti-nuclear, PLTN means mafsadah because it could make disastrous impacts such as what happened in Chernobyl. But for these fuqâha, who try to make reliable hukm, the issue was not as clear as the scientists see. The scientists from both parties looked struggling hard to give rational, sensible, and easy-to-discern explanations to gain religious support for their position. And it is very hard to do so, especially if the fuqâha have their own logics of thinking.
Despite the agreement that the principle of dar’u al-mafâsid muqoddam ‘alâ jalb al-masôlih (leaving things disastrous is more urgent than making goodnesses) should reign, those fuqâha are arguing about the degrees of both maslahah and mafsadah and questioning the factuality of scientists’ explanations. Though there are some participants who tended to arbitrarily pick up religious reference to support his argument, nearly all participants were working hard to find firm logical foundations complemented with religious reference to make decision. To satisfy their logical foundations, the forum was even going back and forth from participants to scientists for some clarifications. The forum process proves that the issue seems to be more complex, not as necessarily maslahah or mafsadah as the scientists think.
In the head of these fuqâha, maslahah is divided into three levels, which are maslahah tahsiniyyah (tertiary maslahah, the lowest level), maslahah hajiyyah (secondary), and maslahah dlaruriyyah (urgent maslahah; this has to be done soon, otherwise, there will be disastrous impacts). As long as it is not dlaruriyyah, something which is considered of having maslahah must not be done at all costs. In this case, after hearing scientists’ explanations, PLTN is believed to do have maslahah, but not necessarily maslahah dlaruriyyah, because there are still other available energy resources to supply power. On the other hand, on the reason that there is not yet precedent of PLTN (it will be the first of its kind in Indonesia), some participants said that mafsadah scientists believed to be inherent in it is still included as mafsadah mauhummah (still predicted), not mafsadah muhaqqaqah (proved or empirical mafsadah). While all the participants agreed that PLTN has maslahah, disagreements were still arising from the identification of its mafsadah. In identifying this, participants seemed to be divided into the materialist group and the immaterialist. The materialist think that to judge PLTN’s mafsadah, there must be factual, visible and sensible impacts on human (body), while the other think that mafsadah should not only be looked at the (human) body but also at the social unhappiness. This disagreement stopped when KH Aniq (mustasyar of the forum from Pati), concluding from the implicit agreement from the pro-nuclear party that PLTN has dangerous waste, showed that PLTN’s waste is something muhaqqaqah.
After discussing for more than three hours up to midnight, the forum finally reached an agreement that, from a fiqh perspective, PLTN is not allowed (“tidak diperbolehkan”) to build in Jepara. For some, that agreement is the most favourable decision at the moment and is believed to contribute in reducing current social unrest. However, that agreement is not the only important thing to see in the forum. The dynamics of the forum showed something which is not less interesting: graduates from pesantren managed to maintain their thinking quite independently, relatively free of interests. They even proved that the quality of pesantrens are not as low as most people think they are.