Thank God, Indonesia is already independent and has in principle been able to maintain its independence,"
Jakarta (ANTARA News)- The exact date of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Muslim calendar, and the first day of Syawal for the observance of Idul Fitri or Lebaran vary from year to year.

But there is no need to question the differences in determining the date of Ramadan and Lebaran because it is based on the sighting of the new moon that lead the government to announce the eve of Ramadan and the first day of Syawal.

Every year different Muslim communities begin and end the fasting month of Ramadan on different dates, but Muhammadiyah Muslim Organization Chairman Din Syamsudin said in Yogyakarta on Tuesday there was no point in debating the differences.

"The differences should be addressed with tolerance and mutual respect because the decision on the first day of Syawal is based on the religious beliefs of the respective Muslim communities," Din Syamsuddin said after performing Idul Fitri prayers in Yogyakarta.

For Muhammadiyah, this year`s Lebaran festivity falls on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 but for the government it falls on the next day, namely Wednesday, August 31.

Therefore many Indonesian Muslims of Muhammadiyah Organization across the country conducted Idul Fitri prayers to mark the end of the fasting month on Tuesday.

At the the Al Azhar Mosque in South Jakarta, thousands including national figures such as Deputy Chairman of the People`s Consultative Assembly Hajrianto Tohari, former minister of religious affairs Tarmizi Taher, former chief of the National Mandate Party Sutrisno Bachir and former legislators Suripto and Ali Mochtar Ngabalin were seen attending the prayer service.

Preacher KH Hidayat Nur Wahid, former chairman of the People`s Consultative Assembly (MPR), said he had to take a motorcycle taxi in order to come on time due to a long line of traffic to the venue.

In his sermon Hidayat called on all Muslims in the country to be grateful to God for all the blessings he had given to us including the country`s independence.

"We have to be grateful by seeing that many Muslims in other parts of the world such as Palestine and Kosovo are now still struggling," he said.

Meanwhile some other countries despite their independence, had failed to consummate the independence due to continuing national conflicts, he said.

"Thank God, Indonesia is already independent and has in principle been able to maintain its independence," he said.

The executive board of Muhammadiyah Islamic organization had set the date for Idul Fitri on August 30.

Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali on behalf of the government on Monday declared August 31 as the date for Idul Fitri following a meeting with representatives of Islamic organizations in the country and reports of failure to make a sighting of the new moon.

When making the announcement the minister called on the people to respect the difference in the date of Idul Fitri.

According to Din, the Muhammadiyah chairman, the differences in Islam were acknowledged so long they were based on strong and accountable religious arguments; and therefore it should not be debated and exaggerated.

"Muhammadiyah`s decision that the first day of Syawal falls on Tuesday, August 30, 2011, is not fabricated but based on religious beliefs that ijtima or the solar, lunar, and earth astral conjugation happened on the day before," Din said.

In spite of the differences, Din said Muslims in Indonesia should maintain brotherhood and step up our hospitality because the different dates of Idul Fitri happened not only this year but also in the years before.

Din in his Idul Fitri sermon said the Muslims in Indonesia should take a middle position in maintaining balance and fairness in their lives as members of their respective families, societies, nations and as citizens of their country.

He said that according to scholars such as Imam al-Ghazali, Islam was a creed of the middle Way that maintains balance between worldly life and ukhrowi or eschatological matters regarding the ultimate destiny of mankind and the world, and between individual and social lives.

Din said the middle creed can also be applied to various aspects in the daily life of all Muslims.

"As the community with the middle creed, Islam also needs to take up a middle-road position," said the Muhammdiyah leader said.

According to him, the middle road position in religious life also implied that Muslims should not get stuck in extremism that prioritizes ukhrowi life only and forgets worldly life, or vice versa.

He said Muslims in the middle position could be expressed in the seriousness of living in two worlds as reflected in the words of wisdom, "Act for your world as if you will live forever, and act for the hereafter as if you will die tomorrow."

Idul Fitri, the Arabic meaning of becoming holy again, is a good momentum for self-evaluation by individuals, citizens of the nation, and especially the nation`s leaders.

According to Helmi Hidayat of State Islamic Syarif Hidayatullah University in his Idul Fitri sermon, self-evaluation was important in making a decision.

He said self-evaluation was important because Indonesia in the next three years would again hold a general election to choose the representatives of the people and the state leader.

"If we choose the wrong people`s representatives and wrong president and vice president, the result will be fatal for our nation," said the alumni of the Department of Social and Anthropology at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom.

Helmi said that learning from past history including the ones recorded in the holy Koran, destruction of a nation was frequently caused by a handful of the nation`s elite.

He pointed out that the ancient Egyptian nation during the reign of King Pharaoh was destroyed because of the acts of a handful of his elite, namely General Haman, Samiri intellectuals, and Qarun royal conglomerate who preferred to do mischief and sin, while the people did not dare to deliver constructive criticism.

Therefore, Helmi said various crises that have happened in Indonesia should be a warning for the nation to get better and to put something in its proper place. (*)

Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Aditia Maruli Radja
Copyright © ANTARA 2011