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Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister: Promoting “Wasatiyah” Prevents Muslim Divisions

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Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Qoumas stressed that the key to uniting Muslims lies in promoting religious or Islamic “Wasatiyyah,” or moderation.

Adopting this approach will help prevent division between people, he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

On Saudi Arabia’s role in serving Hajj pilgrims, he said the Kingdom’s government continues to provide the best services to pilgrims even during the coronavirus pandemic.

Regarding skeptics of Saudi Arabia’s role in the Hajj, Qoumas said it is not easy to serve millions of people, nor is it easy to please everyone.

Saudi Arabia is doing its best to serve pilgrims, he said.

He revealed that more than 100,000 Indonesian pilgrims have come to perform the rituals this year.

The minister added that his country is known for its diverse traditions, customs and cultures.

Indonesian religious scholars also adopt moderation in promoting religion and approaching cultural diversity, he said.

Qoumas said Indonesia is making efforts to provide the best services to its pilgrims and its work has been recognized by several countries.

These efforts cannot be separated from the role played by academics in raising awareness among Indonesian pilgrims, he continued.

Scholars have passed down their knowledge over the years through Islamic schools, he added.

The minister, however, noted the prevalence of social media and the way people now turn to it to learn more about religion, which poses a challenge for scholars.

Scholars have therefore taken to social media to spread their teachings and prevent people from learning religion from celebrities and social media personalities whose religious education and knowledge is questionable.

The number of Indonesian scholars on social media has therefore increased over the past two years, Qoumas said.

He added that his ministry was also working to launch several social media programs with the aim of spreading moderation and countering extremism.

Islamic leaders and popular bases play a major role in raising public awareness, he stressed.

These two parties work hand in hand in Indonesia for the development of society, including religious life, he revealed.

On Indonesia’s ties with Saudi Arabia, the minister said they cooperate in different forms of religious affairs, including organizing the annual Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud competition for the memorization of the Holy Quran.