I stumbled on an article about congratulating Indonesia’s first Doctorate candidate in Ushul Fiqh from Islamic University of Madinah. Then I thought: first?
Is he really the first scholar of Ushul Fiqh in Indonesia? Or maybe he is the first the modern sense of Ushul Fiqh doctorate and in the past hundreds of years Indonesia have many more scholars that is educated in Ushul Fiqh without doctorate (because doctorate degree have not been invented yet).
But then again, if he truly is the first Doctor in Ushul Fiqh, doesn’t that mean Indonesia do not have enough scholars? Maybe that is what explains the general ignorance of religious matter throughout the archipelago.
I think Indonesia is a fairly religious nation. However, the understanding about religion is only limited to superficial and ritual stuffs. The people do not really understand the religion due to the language barrier, geographical distance to Middle East, and also geographical barriers within archipelago itself that prevents fast propagation of information (religious information or other type of information for that sake).
As a result of those constraints, we are falling really behind for the required Islamic knowledge that will qualify as for Jannah in the afterlife. This is a big problem, far bigger than any worldly problems. Maximum consequence of worldly problem, left untreated is one death per individual. But for matters regarding afterlife, neglect can mean dying a billion death for a single individual in Hell (or even for eternity)
Can we assess the condition of Islam in Indonesia? Analysts, usually from Singapore or Australia, usually try to analyze Islam in Indonesia due to geopolitical interest. For these small countries (5.6M and 24.1M population respectively), it is imperative for their security to keep updated on the conditions of their giant neighbor ten times their collective size (261.1M population). But usually they fall short of generalizing Islam as “just another religion”. The metrics used are only the population of people that identify as Islam, or some other simple metrics.
Of course we cannot assess “iman” or “taqwa” or anything along those lines because that is Allah’s rights to assess those. But we can use other metrics as a proxy. Taking inspiration from healthcare’s doctor per capita, can we do the same like ‘ulama per capita? We can compare Indonesia’s UPC(‘Ulama per capita) with those of Middle Eastern countries, South Asian countries, or even Malaysia and see where we stood. Then we can granularize further based on province. Jakarta’s UPC should be really high, Western Indonesian provinces should be higher than Easter Indonesian provinces. We can granularize further and see which ‘ulama hailed from reputable institution from Middle East or Indonesia as a percentage of total ulama. Then see the correlation for the Indonesian citizen profile: Islam KTP, barely pious, moderately pious, or super pious.
US data scientist working for government find that the proportion of youth as a percentage of total population is the biggest predictor on the possibility of revolution in Arab states.
Of course those variables are spawned arbitrarily without further thought here. But it is worthy to be given robust definition in a paper what does it mean by “ulama” and “pious”. These variables should have actionable value too. For example, we can know whether the number of well educated ‘ulama can impact a population’s piousness or not. If it can, then we can deploy more ‘ulama to regions where we have low UPC. Maybe in regions with bad infrastructure, it will correlate better with ‘ulama per square kilometer. Or in other case, maybe the number of ‘ulama does not correlate very well to piousness at some region where there is a big division between Muslim and non-Muslim population (i.e. deploying more ulama just exacerbate the conflict). Then the proposed solution can be deploying ‘ulama that can bring the narrative of religious harmony instead of rough ‘ulama that is very strict on wala’ wal bara’ (at least for the beginning. Loyalty and anti-loyalty still is important nonetheless). We can do some RCT (randomized controlled trial) on any other combination.
What a fertile ground for social research and dakwah. Of course I will need more people to implement this approach. I alone cannot do this by myself. I will need people with both strong affinity to Islam and very strong technical skills in various fields to pull this through.
More clueless foot soldiers/jundi will not solve the problem. We need a lot of supreme commanders that understand the big picture.