Islam has very specific funeral rites for the dead, chief among them being the funeral prayer that is performed by a congregation and, ideally, in a mosque. But one elderly woman who passed away recently was allegedly not allowed to receive the sacred rite in a mosque due to her political beliefs.
One of the most outrageous consequences of the blasphemy allegation against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama is that some mosques in the city have put up banners stating that they would not perform funeral prayers for Ahok’s supporters, who they label as hypocrites for “defending” a blasphemer. Photos of these banners went viral online some time ago, but it’s only very recently that a mosque has been reported for actually refusing funeral prayers for a dead Muslim.
Last week, a 78-year-old resident of Setiabudi, South Jakarta named Hindun bin Raisman passed away. Before she died, she was among the millions who voted in the first round of the Jakarta gubernatorial election on February 15. Because she was unable to walk at the time, election officers went to her house so she could cast her vote, which is when her family said they began receiving scorn from locals.
“When she cast the vote she did it openly and many people could see [her choice]. I thought, isn’t voting supposed to be done in private? But because mother was sick, I didn’t think much of it, as long as she was able to vote,” said Hindun’s daughter Neneng, as quoted by Liputan 6.
Locals saw that Hindun voted for Ahok.
“That turned out to be problematic. Our family was accused of being infidels because we all chose Ahok, even though mother didn’t actually know anything [about the election], she just picked randomly,” Neneng said.
Soon after Hindun passed away, her family wanted to perform a funeral prayer for her at a local mosque with the expectation that neighbors would come and pray for her too.
But the local mosque was reportedly among those that put up a banner denying funeral prayers for “hypocrites” and the mosque’s imam allegedly refused to perform the funeral prayer for Hindun at the mosque. Instead, he did it at her house, which is situated only a few meters away from the mosque.
“[The imam] Ustadz Pii (Ahmad Syafii) said, ‘there’s no point [praying for her at the mosque] as there’s nobody there, pray for her at home instead’, even though mother’s many children and grandchildren wanted to pray for her,” Neneng said.
In the end, only Hindun’s family and four of her neighbors prayed for her at her home, led by the mosque’s imam.
Syafii denied that the incident had anything to do with who Hindun voted for in the election, but rather because there was no one to carry her body to the mosque and that they were pressed for time as Hindun’s grave digger was supposedly about to finish his shift.
Regardless of the explanation, the incident was met with widespread condemnation, including by Islamic organizations such as GP Ansor, the youth wing of the largest Indonesian Islamic organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama.
“We have instructed our members that if no locals take proper care of their dead [neighbors], let us take care of them and pray for them,” GP Ansor Chairman Yaqut Cholil Coumas said yesterday, as quoted by Liputan 6.
Reflecting on the incident, GP Ansor also held a two-day forum this weekend to officially declare their opinion that Muslims have their right to vote for whoever they wish, Muslim or otherwise, and that this is protected by the nation’s constitution.
Surprisingly, even the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), who have been at the forefront of the movement to criminalize Ahok for his alleged blasphemy against Islam, condemned what happened to Hindun after her death.
“It is mandatory for Muslims to take care of the dead among them, such as wrapping them in a white sheet, bathing them, and praying for them. If a whole village does not take care of a dead Muslim [in that village], then everyone there are sinners,” said FPI Spokesman Slamet Maaruf, as quoted by Liputan 6.
“If [the deceased] is a Muslim, whatever his/her political views were shouldn’t matter, fellow Muslims must take care of them.”