Friday, June 5, 2020

Covid-19, Religion and Belief: A Brief Notes


Three days before the event, I got a broadcast from Dr. Dicky Sofjan, lecturer at UGM and the member of Asian Public Intellectual (API) about the Webinar held by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in partnership with several other institutions di Europe and the US. I immediately registered to get seat and learn a lot from the forum.

The Webinar was opened by Francesco d'Lillo, moderated by Prof. Brett Scharffs with three speakers from Asia, namely Dr. Jaclyn L. Neo (Singapore), Dr. Dicky Sofjan (Indonesia), and Prof. Faizan Mustafa (India).

What is covid-19 effect to the religious community? In general, the effect is on restrictions on worship in places of worship (mosque, church, sinagog, etc.), the rise of religious-based solidarity until the existence of religious phobia sentiments towards certain groups who think that they "fear God more than corona."

Initially, the Tabligh Jama'at group was highlighted due to their regional gatherings from various countries. In case of Gowa, South Sulawesi, for example, "Ijtima 'Asia" (Asian level meeting) was attended by many people and it was feared that covid-19 transmission would occur. In Malaysia, similar meetings also have an impact on covid-19 transmission.

The attitude of "more fear of God than corona" causes antipathy, even phobias in religion. Religion should be a solution for humans, especially since this type of virus is very new. Fear of God is clear in religion, but maintaining the health of a coronavirus is also an important part of religion.

In Indonesia, religious authorities such as the MUI have issued fatwas so that Muslims adhere to health protocols such as not praying in congregation at the mosque, praying 5 times at home, and Eid prayer as well as at their own homes. There is a new type of religiousity that leads to something different, said Dr. Dicky

Jaclyn told us about covid-19 in Singapore that showed the government's seriousness in dealing with the virus. After the covid-19 case emerged, they immediately restricted communal activities - including religious activities - and each community showed its concern for their respective communities.

Meanwhile, Faizan Mustafa talked about the Tabligh congregation that was active in his country and it was feared that it would have an impact on the new covid-19 cluster. The issue of "corona jihad" was also present at the beginning when the virus entered countries that were predominantly non-Islamic.

In India, the debate about "India is a country for Hindus" is still warm until now. This was opposed by mainly the Islamic community, which some time ago was quite hot and tense. Supposedly, in a globalized world like now, a nation-state that consists of various diversity is more important to maintain than to build a religious state.

Covid-19 has an impact on the way we interact, religion, and how we see and think about life. That there is more power than knowledge and technology, which is God. So, increasing faith-based immunity is very important to be healthy and strong in this global pandemic.

YANUARDI SYUKUR, President of Rumah Produktif Indonesia, Assistant Professor at Department of Anthropology Universitas Khairun, Ternate and PhD candidate at Department of Antropologi UI.

PS: Thanks to Dr. Dicky for the very nice info.

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