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Postby Laurent » Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:44 pm

The propagation of Islam in Cambodia: dynamics of religious changeBy Bjorn Blengsli
Written by The phnom penh post
Friday, 11 August 2006
photos, Bjorn Blengsli
A young woman follower of the Muslim kaum mustora, or "the veiled ones," faith sits contemplatively in a schoolhouse in Kampong Chhnang province.

Members of Cambodia's 321,000-strong Muslim community say they find themselves increasingly subjected to outside influence as mounting aid from Middle Eastern and Malaysian donors is now generally earmarked for development, religious education and proselytizing.

Muslim leaders also report that in religious schools, Islamic thought is often presented in a manner that ignores the rich diversity of opinion that has characterized Islamic scholarship over the centuries.

State-sponsored Islamic education does not exist in Cambodia. Nevertheless, all 414 Muslim villages in the country have religious schools that teach religious induction courses. Many of these schools use a basic textbook, called muqadimma, which is a 64-page book that covers a selection of Surahs (Quranic verses) including prayer and ablution instructions. These schools are where children experience their society's religious traditions for the first time. This tradition, however, is often a contemporary interpretation and often a product of conflicting discourses within their local communities.

The Khmer Rouge killed most Muslim scholars and left the Muslim societies in Cambodia in limbo. But soon after the fall of the regime, Cambodia's Muslims started the process of redefining what makes them Muslims.

Neofundamentalism is not a structured movement, and the term includes both militant and conservative groups. However, there are no signs of militancy in Cambodia where increased globalization has led to the initial phase of a re-Islamization and acculturation process. What some scholars are calling an "Islamic revival" is led by neofundamentalist groups such as the Salafi/Wahhabi and the Dakwah Tabligh or Tablighi.

The Tablighi typically launch short-term campaigns led by teams of missionaries. They avoid entanglement in politics, push for the closure of mixed-sex schools, prefer not to interact with non-Muslims and promote the veiling of women.

In Cambodia, the Salafi/Wahhabi presence is a result of increased funding from the Islamic Development Bank, the influence of the Muslim World League, (Rabitat al-alam al-Islami) and organizations in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait that are funding a growing number of religious schools in Cambodia. Awarding scholarships and pilgrimages to Mecca is providing Cambodia with new Salafi/Wahhabi recruits.

Such neofundamentalist activity is seen by some as an attempt to keep Islam in step with the modernization of Cambodian society.

In spite of the Tablighi's missionary work, the most important tool for religious induction is the ongoing school development. Most of the new schools are madrasah, and in a few instances Thai and Malaysian-style pondok schools that offer a more advanced study of classical Islamic texts.

This religious propagation can be considered as a gradual altering of Cambodian Islam - in order to make it useful as a political instrument.
Ignoring differences

Today there are 32 advanced religious schools (including the Salafi teacher-training center in Phnom Penh) that teach a higher level of Islamic understanding than the basic village Quran schools. In many of these so-called advanced schools, the Islamic educators do not teach pluralistic views of Islam, and this may exacerbate internal divisions in the Cambodian Muslim community. These schools are mostly funded by Cambodian and foreign individuals, as well as large overseas organizations and groups.

Most of the schools deliberately ignore differences among various sects and schools of legal interpretation of Islam. The schools teach a monovocal, reified "Islamic Law" that lacks the flexibility of older styles of doctrine. This has caused an overwhelming majority of the country's Muslim students to believe there is only one correct interpretation of Islam, regardless of to which religious tenet they belong.

This lack of exposure to alternative views may encourage Islamic integralism, undermine critical thinking, and could leave students susceptible to Islamist ideology.
Post-UNTAC and
pre-September 11

Only one of the current so-called advanced schools was established prior to the UNTAC era and only three established after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the US. Among these is the newly reopened Umm al-Qura school in Kandal province. The school was closed in the aftermath of the arrests of suspected terrorists in May 2003.

The school is now called Cambodian Islamic Center and is fronted by, among others, the country's spiritual leader, Okhna Sos Kamry and Secretary of State for the Ministry of Cults and Religions Zakaryya Adam. Kamry bears the title mufti and is the Muslim equivalent to the Venerable Tep Vong, the country's leading Buddhist cleric.

For the moment, most of Cambodia's advanced religious schools teach a purely religious curriculum. Young Muslims attend after they finish their secular education or after public school classes. Most of these schools are run by an organization called Sjil Meunaga Ugama Annikmah Al Islamiah (SMU). Its work in Cambodia was initiated by The Charity Muslim Development of Cambodia.

SMU is supported by many of Cambodia's most prominent Muslims. It prepares students for standardized Islamic tests necessary for advanced study at Islamic universities in the Middle East. Before Cambodian students attend these programs, they must pass a final exam after four years of religious coursework in Cambodia and continue for two more years in Malaysia.
Post-September 11 and current rejuvenation

The period after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington was a difficult time for Muslim development in Cambodia. Immediately after the strikes, the Ministry of Cults and Religious Affairs placed restrictions on where and how Cambodian Muslims could interact with foreigners, and what subjects they were allowed to preach during Friday sermons. Three days later, Prime Minister Hun Sen nullified the document, claiming it infringed upon the right to freedom of religion allowed the Muslims in the country.

But the subsequent bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali, and the terrorist trials of December 2005, nearly paralyzed further Muslim development.

Nevertheless, during this period the Kuwait-sponsored Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS) never stopped spreading their Salafi/Wahhabi message through their network of madrasah schools. Nor did the ultra-orthodox Dakwah Tabligh movement stop increasing their proselytizing groups, and throughout the post-9/11 period the SMU network gradually educated more students in Islamic law and Quranic exegesis.

Extensive research conducted by myself and two assistants has revealed that 2006 has been the most productive year for Muslim development in Cambodia in more than a decade.
Middle Eastern propagation

Okhna Sos Kamry, Cambodia's Muslim spiritual leader or "mufti."

Research has shown that many Cambodian Muslim males have a better knowledge of Arabic than Cham. It also indicated that their opinion of Middle Eastern countries, especially Saudi Arabia, is favorable. This is good news for the Muslim Senator Vann Math, also know as Math Marawan, who is a central figure in the current Muslim rejuvenation.

At the moment, Math is the biggest contributor to Islamic society in Cambodia. In 2006 and 2007 his Cambodia Islam Association will inaugurate nine new Muslim schools, where religious teachers must have a bachelor's degree from Saudi Arabia. These schools are all funded by the Islamic Development Bank. In addition, he has brokered a deal with the Kuwait-based World Islamic Humanitarian Organization, which will build 40 new mosques and three new boarding schools based on the RIHS model.

Math is also a member of the Muslim World League supported by the Dakwah Council of South East Asia and the Pacific. It is likely, but not yet confirmed, that he will open a Muslim World League, or Rabitat, office in Phnom Penh.
Increased transnationalism

Our research suggests that the Salafis/Wahhabis have outlasted their "post-terrorism" trauma and are not only regaining, but increasing their former strength. With 13 new schools opening in 2006 and 2007, the Salafi/Wahhabi influence will dramatically increase from the 34 percent of all Muslim schools in 2006, to 51 percent in the next 18 months. All Salafi/Wahhabi schools offer both secular and religious education.

But there are more new players. The Libyan Islamic Call Society has established itself in Cambodia through a local Muslim NGO and is presently sending Muslim students to Libya. The group has also bought land intended for a large boarding school in Phnom Penh's Prey Prah district. An example of increased Muslim activity is last year's Hajj, when 1,174 Cambodian Muslims made the pilgrimage to Mecca.

In Cambodia, present developments are apolitical and non-confrontational, but it would be surprising if, in the future, politicization is avoided.

* Bjorn Blengsli is a Norwegian anthropologist and consultant for the National Bureau of Asian Research. He has been researching the Muslim community in Cambodia since 2001.

Cambodia's Muslims
by the numbers

Muslim population: roughly 321,000.
In Phnom Penh: roughly 24,000.
Mosques in Cambodia: 244 (up to September 2005).
Muslim villages : 417.
Muslim schools per village: 3 to 7.
Cambodians who made the Hajj in 2005: 1,174.
Attendance at the April 2006, Tablighi meeting in Trea village, Chhraich Chhmao district, Kampong Cham province: more than 20,000.
- Bjorn Blengsli

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/ ... ngsli.html
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Postby Laurent » Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:20 pm

Written by Bjorn Blengsli
Friday, 21 September 2007
Can a non-political movement be exploited by terrorists?

Muslim Ulema take a tea break during the three-day annual religious gathering of the Kingdom's Dakwah Tabligh movement in Trea village on April 20.

Seemingly oblivious to the overcrowded ferry, a pious looking Muslim says quietly:
"O Allah let it be auspicious for us. Let us enjoy the fruits of this village ..."

Fervent believers press on, eager to get off the passage boat from Stung Treng town on the Mekong 30 Kms upstream from the provincial capital of Kampong Cham. Their destination is Trea village, Cambodia's largest Muslim settlement and the yearly Jama'at Tabligh gathering which each year attracts more than 20,000 Tablighi adherents.

Kampong Cham is not only Cambodia's most densely populated province, it is also the one where as many as 43 percent of the Kingdom's Muslims live. The province is the site where Muslim rebellions of the past were ignited, and where today's new religious sects battle the religions of old. It is probably also the place where Cambodia's Muslim future will be decided.

Mainstream Sunni Shafi'i adherents, Tablighi missionaries, hardcore Wahhabi'is are all present. Although they are seen as heretics by most Muslims, a small Ahmadi community has built a mosque in neighboring Kratie province where they struggle to establish themselves. As recently as 2006, the author could document villages where stick fights and weapons had been used in fights between different Muslim groups mostly in Kampong Cham, but also in other provinces. Usually the fights erupt in villages with large Jama'at Tabligh and Salafi communities. They fight over which sect should be in charge of Friday prayer, which sect the village religious leader, or hakem, should belong to and so on. However, in the Trea village cluster, the Jama'at Tabligh seems to be in control, even though a new Wahhabii mosque has recently been built.
Behavior and faith

Muslim girls, referred to as Kaum Mustora, attending religious instruction at the Trea school for girls.

On my way up from Kampong Cham to Stung Treng on April 20, 2007, I see packed minivans and private cars and buses. From the Stung Treng ferry berth hundreds of pious looking Muslims form a queue eager to cross the Mekong and attend the Tablighi gathering in Trea village. Having successfully crossed it, I see impatient people waiting for their turn to perform the ritual wash in the river. Some younger kids play around and some even dare go for a swim. This ritual cleansing is a mandatory physical and mental purification which Muslims call wudu. Today, however, they also have to "exhibit" their faith through their best Muslim dress and be sure to use Arabic terms such as akh (brother), Jazakallahu Khayran (May Allah reward you for the good) bismillah (In the name of Allah), when they encounter visitors in the village.

Allahu Akbar resounds from the Trea mosque which is the largest in Cambodia. The crisp call to prayer carries to the other side of the Mekong River. The euphoria is palpable and people hurry up from the ferry berth to the village. The hill is steep in the dry season and I breathe heavily when I enter Trea's main street. Enthusiastic groups of respectable looking Muslims dressed in colorful cloaks and cotton buttons with matching sarongs, hurry towards the praying area. All have prayer caps, and some even carry their prayer mats on their heads to avoid the baking hot sun.

Just outside the mosque I sit down for a while. One of the few Khmer families in the village has transformed their front yard into a small café where they sell various refreshments. I can see that Trea's main street is transformed into a large bustling market with make-shift coffee stalls and booths selling Muslim dresses, noodles, coffee, cigarettes and other items.
The Markaz

Trea village is the Jama'at Tabligh headquarters in Cambodia. Tablighi headquarters are called Markaz, but during the gathering the Markaz is considered the mosque and its surrounding areas.

Inside the enclosed compound, Tabligh members organize communal meals for Muslims from overseas and Cambodia.

Ash-hadu ana Muhammad-rasulullah, the muezzin is in the middle of his second call to prayer. I go for a stroll outside the mosque area, but I am met with hostility and anger when I try to take pictures of some of the participants. I don't bother, this is not something new in the Tablighi dominated Trea village where sometimes the term kafir (a derogatory term used to describe an unbeliever) is used to describe outsiders like me.

Though a non-violent movement, the Tablighis propagate an extremely literalist understanding of Islam.

It may be described as narrow and literalistic, with a disdain for religious tolerance and democracy. The Tablighis also see non-Muslims as "aberrant" and doomed to eternal perdition in Hell.

Another reason why the Tablighis don't like outside interference is that they keep their activities secret.

As a result they shun media attention and do not issue statements. This lack of transparency means that little is known about the movement's structure.

As far as the author knows, the movement's leader Imam Suleiman Ibrahim hasn't agreed to an interview since we met in Takeo at RCAF Colonel La Lay's house in 2004.

It looks as though the movement teaches people to exclude themselves from the rest of Cambodian society, tells them that they don't fit in, that the modern world is an aberration, an offense, in other words some form of blasphemy.
Praying, bayaan and niqab

A young Tabligh man gets ready for prayer.

The mosque area is temporarily enclosed. A huge cloth shields the praying and living areas from non-participating delegates including visiting journalists, researchers and the few Khmer families living close to the compound. The mosque area also includes the Al Hida Yah School, which was the first post-1979 hafiz (recitation) school built in Cambodia.

Unlike when smaller dakwah groups visit a village and have to invite people to listen to their bayaan (sermons), this time the lectures are meticulously organized and there are bayaans with both Cambodian and foreign speakers after morning and noon prayers. However, it looks as though the foreign alims (sing. of ulama, i.e. Muslim scholar) are more popular than Cambodians.

The mosque area is getting crowded and the muezzin continues in faultless Arabic: Ash-hadu an la ilaha illallah". It is the last adhan (call for prayer), and it tells the participants that they must get ready for congregation. Only men are allowed to participate though I can see a few niqab dressed girls rushing home in time for prayer. It is only the glimpse of colorful sarongs underneath the black dresses that distinguish them from orthodox Muslim women in other parts of the world. Their black niqab dresses leave only a slit open for their eyes. I find it quite dramatic that a mechanism for modesty and an indication of sexual propriety, however debatable, is not confined to the wardrobe of adult women. It is my belief that if Muslim parents send their girls to school in a full niqab it has lost its spiritual significance and instead become a marker of separate identity politics.

Foreign scholars

Of the more than 20,000 Muslims in attendance, around 200 foreign Muslim scholars participate in the gathering. A policeman in charge of security tells me that 124 Muslim missionaries come from Thailand, 32 from Malaysia, five from Singapore, 18 from India, and unknown numbers from Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and so on. The numbers I have are, however, unreliable official numbers, and there is a distinct possibility that the numbers of both Cambodian and foreign participants are higher.

As a researcher and a kafir I am denied access to the main prayer and bayaan areas, but after sharing some sweet coffee and indulging in a discussion with one visiting Malay amir (group leader), he agrees to help me slip into the enclosed area where the foreigners stay. My difficulties obtaining information, he explained, were that most participants believed I was American and America is considered the enemy of Islam.

The amir told me that all Muslims should perform all daily prayers in the mosque because a prayer with the congregation is granted a reward 27 times more than a prayer performed alone, and all good Muslims should conduct missionary work 40 days each year and three days each month and they should not forget Allah for a single moment. I am told that the path to the afterlife is easy. That is, as long as I convert and follow the only true way. If I choose to conduct dakwah (missionary work) 70,000 angels will see me off, and all of them will bless me with Allah's mercy.

When I enter the foreign compound I see several "debate" groups with names like Thai Sunna, Saudi Jama'at and so on. I am being told that the Saudi's, even though they disagree with the Tablighis on several topics, do support them with money. However, the biggest funders of the Dakwah Tabligh in Cambodia are, according to my informants, sources from Pakistan.

Anyway, the conference rooms are all packed with eager participants who all are instructed to keep silent while the alims speak. These alims indoctrinate the participants with quotes from the Quran and Hadith, such as:

"When your children are seven years old, instruct them to perform the prayer, but when they are ten years old, beat them to perform the prayer."

One of the participants suddenly stops, looks me in the eyes and asks;

"You are not a Jew, are you?"

Surprised, I tell him that I am not and I can see him relax.

"You see, amongst the Jews there are Zionists and they kill Muslims, but we, my brother, we are allies against Shaytaan (Satan). Remember, in the beginning we were all Muslims. However, some people forgot or started to practice religion the wrong way. Our greatest enemy is culture, culture is infused with the tricks of Shaytaan and it must be eradicated in order for us to practice a clean un-polluted religion."
Globalized Islam

Looking at the broader picture, today hundreds of Cambodian Muslims study abroad, the majority in Thailand and Malaysia, but some other countries where Cambodians also study include Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. These students belong to what I would like to call a new community. This community is based on a personal, individual and voluntary adherence, and not to an inherited cultural legacy. They are a product of a globalization within the Islamic community which ignores cultural context and propagates individualization of faith, deculturalization and deterritorialization. This globalization promotes a reconstructed identity based on the homogenization of patterns of conduct. However, this mono-vocal Islam is not necessarily agreed upon and when Saudi students learn that mixing of sexes, observing birthdays (including Muhammad's), Mother's day, national holidays and so on is strictly haram (forbidden) under Islamic law, students from Pakistani schools are taught orthodox and fundamentalist dogmas from different school curricula. Nonetheless, they have in common a strong critique of the traditional Cambodian Muslim belief systems.

Students from Trea are among those who go to Pakistan for advanced religious studies. Schools include the Abu Bakar University in Karachi. This is the school where Rusman Gunawan, the brother of the terrorist Hambali attended at the same time as the school had Cambodian students. Cambodians have also been identified as students at one of Pakistan's leading Deobandi schools, Jamia Binoria. The latter school is also located in Karachi. According to the International Crisis Group, some teachers from the Jamia Binoria school are associated with banned organizations such as Jaishe Mohammad and Sipahe Sahaba. According to Michael Renner at the Worldwatch Institute (July 21, 2006), both of these groups are considered jihadi groups responsible for cross-border violence in Jammu and Kashmir (the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir). They are both banned by the Pakistani government.

Newly qualified or home on holiday, the students from Pakistan and India work as translators for the Pakistani and Indian ulama at the gathering in Trea. Students from other countries such as Egypt, southern Thailand, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia either participate as translators, logisticians or conduct other necessary tasks. Besides confirming the names and location of the schools they had attended or attend at the moment, the students from Pakistan and India refuse to discuss other topics. I am not taken aback; I often experience avoidance and what easily may be mistaken as secretiveness when I speak with young Muslims educated abroad. However, even students from Saudi Arabia are willing to sit down and talk about their journeys and who funded them, the school compound and their living quarters, the school's curricula, and the god fellowship with their fellow students.

International pundits seem to think that zealous Muslims are being recruited for terrorist activities. Though criticized by many, Senior Fellow, Alex Alexiev at the Center for Security Policy, wrote in the Middle East Quarterly (Winter 2005) that Tablighi involvement in future terrorist activities at home and abroad is not a matter of conjecture; it is a certainty. He also claimed that terrorists recruited new activists at the Pakistani Tabligh headquarters which are located in Raiwind, near Lahore. He is supported by French intelligence officials who have expressed fears that the Jama'at Tabligh may be the antechamber of fundamentalism. Muslim scholars like the Indian PhD Yoginder Sikand, strongly contest these accusations. He and other scholars cannot deny, however, that Jama'at Tabligh propagates seclusion and not inclusion, and that they teach a mono-vocal and fundamentalist version of Islam.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Cambodian Dakwah Tabligh movement wants to advocate a good religion. But, in order to understand how the Dakwah Tabligh and other so called fundamentalist or neo-fundament- alist groups envision Cambodian Islam in the future, these groups should be looked into. Most of what is known about their potential for extremist propagation comes from research conducted abroad. Maybe the Cambodian branches of movements like Dakwah Tabligh are as peaceful and non-political as some Muslim pundits say, but in order to know for sure we should at least learn more about what the future religious educators are taught while they study abroad. What I do know after almost three years of research in Islamic schools, is that Cambodian Islam is indeed changing.

Norwegian anthropologist Bjorn Blengsli studied religion and epistemological change among the Cham Muslims in Kampong Cham from 2001-2003. As an independent consultant for the National Bureau of Asian Research, he studied Islamic radicalization and Islamic education in Cambodia from 2004 to the end of 2006.

M. Blengsli can be reached at: bjbleng@yahoo.noThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Postby Laurent » Sun Aug 10, 2008 8:34 pm

Menyambung Benang Merah Hubungan Indonesia-Kamboja (1)
Jumat, 14 Maret 2008 05:03

Phnom Penh, NU Online
Indonesia memiliki hubungan khusus dengan Kamboja sejak masa perjuangan kemerdekaan 1953 hingga penyelesaian perang saudara 1978. Selain masalah politik, Indonesia juga memiliki peran besar dalam bidang kebudayaan yakni dalam program restorasi Candi Angkor Wat yang lapuk dimakan zaman dan rusak akibat perang. Hubungan di bidang kebudayaan ini perlu diperbesar, mengingat kedua bangsa memiliki kesamaan kultur.

Kepala bagian Kerjasama Hubungan Bilateral Departemen Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata (Depbudpar) Danan Jaya Axioma memimpin delegasi Indonesia ke Kamboja, 3-5 Maret 2008 lalu, bersama Ketua Pucuk Pimpinan Lajnah Ta’lif wan Nasyr Nahdlatul Ulama (LTN-NU) Abdul Mun'im DZ dan Ketua Pengurus Pusat Lembaga Seniman dan Budayawan Muslim Indonesia (Lesbumi) NU Sastrow el-Ngatawi. Kunjungan diharapkan dapat merajut kembali hubungan kultural kedua negara.

Indonesia dan Kamboja telah memiliki hubungan sejak abad VIII, sekitar tahun 750 M. Peningkatan hubungan budaya dengan sendirinya akan memperkuat peran politik dan pengembangan ekonomi kedua negara, termasuk untuk memperbesar hubungan persahabatan atara masyarakatnya, sehingga turisme antar kedua bangsa ikut meningkat.

Masyarakat Islam Indonesia yang tinggal di lingkungan Borobudur sangat menghormati tempat ibadah umat Budha adalah mayoritas NU yang terkenal sangat toleran. Pengalaman dan sikap ini perlu ditularkan kepada masyarakat Kamboja baik yang Budhis maupun Muslim agar bisa saling menghormati, bisa saling menghargai tempat ibadah yang kebanyakan masuk kategori cagar budaya. Kehidupan rukun dan harmoni serta kesejahteraan akan mampu menjaga keutuhan benda budaya tersebut.

Kesadaran itu akan muncul jika masyarakat diperkenalkan dengan perkembangan sejarah hubungan kedua negara. Sejak abad itu mataram menguasai seluruh Asia Tenggara termasuk Champa. Di tengah Kejayaannnya itulah Mataram mendirikan Candi Borobudur dan Mendut. Kemegahan candi ini diakui oleh seluruh dunia, maka tidak aneh kalau kemudian Raja Jayawarman II dan anaknya Suryawarman II dari Kamboja pada tahun 770 M menimba pengalaman dari Mataram untuk membangun Candi Angkor Wat yang sangat megah. Kalangan sejarawan seperti David Chandler, menganggap bahwa Angkor Wat itu merupakan pasangan dari Candi Borobudur.

Melihat kesejarahannya itu maka tidak aneh kalau pemerintah Indonesia memberi bantuan dalam restorasi Angkor Wat, termasuk mendidik para arsitek Kamboja untuk merekonstruksi bebatuan yang berserakan menjadi bangunan yang utuh indah dan megah. Negara lain tidak meiliki pengetahuan dan pengalaman ini karena tidak memiliki candi. Karena itu bangsa Indonesia bisa berbagi pengalaman dengan kamboja dalam pemeliharaan candi. Indonesia sendiri perlu mempelajari kecermatan pengelolaan candi yang dilakukan pemerintah Kamboja yang dilaksanakan secara sinergis antar berbagai departemen.

Kalangan pejabat Kedutaan Besar Republik Indonesia (KBRI) seperti disampaikan oleh Concellor KBRI Kamboja R Eko Indiarto R berharap hubungan Indonesia Kamboja tidak hanya bersikap politik antara negara, tetapi bisa berimbas pada buhungan antar masyarakat kedua negara. Justru di negara yang baru bangkit ini Indonesia bisa berperan besar dan akan memperkuat hubungan politik dan ekonomi di masa depan.

Bahkan Second Secretary KBRI Rahendro Witomo telah jauh melangkah dengan membuka Pusat Kebudayaan Indonesia dengan program kursus bahasa Indonesia, tari dan drama, diikuti oleh puluhan warga Kamboja. Mereka menunjukkan minat yang besar terhadap kebidayaan Indonesia. Masyarakat Indonesia diharapkan membantu dalam melakukan diplomasi kebudayaan ini. Selain itu Witomo juga berharap masyarakat Islam Indonesia khususnya bisa memberikan beasiswa bagi para siswa Muslim Kamboja, terutama yang berada di Kampong Cham.

Bagaimanapun Kamboja berpenduduk kecil tetapi sangat penting bagi Indonesia secara geopolitik dan kultural, termasuk bagi pengembangan ekonomi. Untuk itu Rahendro berharap dengan tersambungnya benang merah sejarah ini investasi Indonesia semakin banyak yang masuk ke Kamboja, apalagi keamanan dan peluang usaha sangat kondusif. Peningkatan kerjasama politik, militer, ekonomi dan kebudayaan akan terus dikembangkan. (mdz)

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Postby Laurent » Sun Aug 10, 2008 8:34 pm

Menyambung Benang Merah Hubungan Indonesia-Kamboja (2-habis)
Sabtu, 15 Maret 2008 05:14

Phnom Penh, NU Online
Pasca runtuhnya rezim komunis umat Islam di Kamboja kembali bisa menjalankan aktivitas keagaamaanya secara lebih bebas. Saat ini jumlah umat Islam di seluruh negeri itu sekitar 500 ribu orang. Ini suara yang potensial. Karena itu semua partai politik berlomba untuk menyantuni mereka. Bahkan di tengah mayoritas Budha umat Islam diberi kesempatam menggelar acara di beberapa televisi nasional untuk memberikan siaran agama Islam.

Bahkan dalam pemerintahan Perdana Menteri Hun Sen saat ini beberapa deputinya berasal dari umat Islam yang berdarah Champa. Pemerintah dan masyarakat Budha sangat menghargai agama Islam dibanding yang lain, karena Islam tidak mengganggu kepercayan dan tradisi setempat.

Namun seperti pada umumnya masyarakat Kamboja yang mulai tumbuh, kalangan bawah masih didera kemiskinan. Negeri ini masih menempati peringkat tertinggi sebagai negara paling miskin.Kalangan Muslim terutama yang ada di daerah pinggiran juda termasuk kelompok miskin ini.

Mereka kebanyakan hidup di lembah sungai Mekong, sehingga ketika musim penghujan daerah mereka banjir antara empat sampi enam bulan. Arsitektur perumahan Kamboja memang umumnya berbentuk panggung sebagai upaya untuk mengantisipasi banjir. Hal itu dirasakan masyarakat Muslim sebagai beban berat terutama ketika harus membangun masjid atau madrasah, mereka harus membuat dua lantai, agar kegiatan sekolah dan ibadah bisa dilaksanaan dalam musim banjir sekalipun.

Mereka menghuni lembah sungai sebagai sarana tranasportasi, sehingga bisa berhubungan dengan komnitas Muslim yang lain, termasuk yang menghubungkan dengan umat Islam di Brunai, Malaysia dan Indonesia. Dengan semakin tergusurnya transportasi sungai oleh transportasi darat ini juga mempengaruhi komunikasi dan kehidupan perekonomian mereka.

Selama ini bantuan memang sudah diberikan beberapa pihak termasuk dari Kedutaan Besar Republik Indonesia (KBRI) dan bebarapa lembaga dakwah di Indonesia, tetapi masih kalah intensif dengan pihak pemerintah Malaysia. Padahal mereka merasa lebih dekat dengan Indonesia.

Haji Sholeh bin Buchori Imam Masjid Champa kepada NU Online berkunjung ke Provinsi Kampong Cham, Kamboja, pekan lalu mengatakan, dalam pengajian-pengajian keislaman mereka menggunakan kitab berbahasa Jawi yang dikarang oleh para ulama Nusantara. Bahkan hingga saat ini madrasah masih mengajarkan para santri menulis bahasa Jawi (aksara arab pegon).

Namun para ustadz di Kamboja kesulitan mendapatkan kitab-kitab rujukan. ”Kitab-kitab Jawi seperti Tanbihul Ghofilin kita dapatkan dari Patani. Sementara kitab fiqah (fikih) Sabilul Muhtadin karya Syekh Arsyad Al Banjari (Banjar Kalimantan Selatan) saat ini sudah tidak diajarkan karena tidak tersedia lagi,” kata Ustaz Umar bin Ahmad, salah seorang guru Kampong Cham. (mdz)

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Postby Laurent » Sun Aug 10, 2008 8:35 pm

Kitab Ulama ’Jawi’ Jadi Rujukan Umat Islam Kamboja
Kamis, 13 Maret 2008 14:19

Phnom Penh, NU Online
Secara kultural dan emosional umat Islam di Kamboja sangat dekat dengan umat Islam di Indonesia. Beberapa kitab karangan ulama Nusantara atau dalam literatur Arab disebut sebagai ”ulama Jawi” dikaji oleh umat Islam di sana.

Bahkan saat NU Online berkunjung ke Provinsi Kampong Cham, Kamboja, pekan lalu, Haji Sholeh bin Buchori, Imam Masjid Champa menyatakan, hingga saat ini madrasah-madrasah di sana masih mengajarkan para santri menulis bahasa Jawi atau kalangan pesantren di Indonesia menyebutnya aksara Arab pegon.

Sebagaimana umat Islam Indonesia, umat Islam di Kamboja mengaku mengikuti mazhab Syafi’i dalam bidang fikih, sementara dalam bidang tauhid mereka mengikuti mazhab Imam Abu Hasan Al Asy’ari.

Dalam bidang amaliah atau peribatan, mereka juga sama dengan kalangan Ahlussunnah wal Jama’ah yang ada di Indonesia. Karena itu mereka sangat toleran dan bisa hidup berdampingan dengan komunitas Budha sebagai agama mayoritas.

Menurut Haji Sholeh, umat Islam di sana memerlukan bantuan dari Indonesia baik dalam hal tenaga pengajar atau kitab-kitab keislaman, juga biaya pembangunan masjid dan madrasah.

Selama ini bantuan memang sudah diberikan beberapa pihak termasuk dari Kedutaan Besar Republik Indonesia (KBRI) dan bebarapa lembaga dakwah di Indonesia. “Tetapi masih kalah intensif dengan pihak pemerintah Malaysia,” kata Haji Kholeh

Ustaz Umar bin Ahmad, salah seorang guru Kampong Cham mengatakan, para ustadz di Kamboja kesulitan mendapatkan kitab-kitab rujukan.

”Kitab-kitab Jawi seperti Tuhfatur Roghibin kita dapatkan dari Patani. Sementara kitab fiqah (fikih) Sabilul Muhtadin karya Syekh Arsyad Al Banjari (Banjar Kalimantan Selatan), saat ini tidak diajarkan karena kitabnya tidak tersedia,” katanya.

Bagi masyarakat Indonesia Muslim Kamboja, terutama dari Etnis Champa, sebab para wali di Indonesia, termasuk Sultan Demak Pertama Raden Fatah adalah berdarah Champa.

Bahkan hubungan masyarakat Jawa dengan Kamboja ini telah terjadi ribuan tahun yang lalu, sebab raja Sanjaya dari Mataram pada abad VIII telah mengembangkan kekuasannya sampai ke wilayah Indocina ini. (mdz)

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