Jakarta (ANTARA) - Religious moderation currently promoted by the government is not a "western ploy" to weaken and destroy Islam in Indonesia, according to the National Counter-Terrorism Agency (BNPT) expert staff Muhammad Suaib Tahir.

"I do not believe in the opinion held by some people that religious moderation is an innovation or a ploy of western countries to destroy Islam," Tahir stated at a webinar on religious moderation for youth observed virtually in Jakarta on Saturday.

On the contrary, religious moderation has been preached by prophets, companions, and their followers ever since the start of Islam, the expert staff remarked while adding that the Holy Quran had also taught religious moderation to Muslims.

Religious moderation was sidelined for several centuries due to political upheavals in some Islamic countries before returning in the 20th century after several Muslim figures, such as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mahmud Shaltut and Egyptian intellectual Muhammad Abu Zahrah, again promoted the values, the expert expounded.

"At present, we have (Egyptian Islamic scholar) Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and earlier we had (Syrian professor) Wahbah Zuhaili. They are Muslim figures that have voiced the importance of religious moderation," Tahir remarked.

He believes that religious moderation is crucial to thwart extremism and radical thoughts preached by several groups.

Religious moderation is also essential for Indonesians as religions are ought to unite the nation instead of being a tool to intimidate those who are not professing the same religion and dividing the nation, he noted.

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"The purpose of religion is to achieve peace and justice as well as prevent evil and intimidation among human beings. This is why religious moderation is important," Tahir remarked.

The expert affirmed that religious moderation must be espoused by Indonesians comprising people from different ethnic groups, religions, races, and cultures to prevent friction and conflict between groups.

"Indonesia, with diverse ethnic groups, religions, and culture, absolutely needs religious moderation because otherwise, conflicts will be rampant among our people. We also have the national ideology of Pancasila as our common basis in fulfilling our duty to the religion and the nation that we must follow," he remarked.

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Translator: Tri Meilani A, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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