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Islamic Law in a National Legal System: A Study on the Implementation of Shari'ah in Aceh, Indonesia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 April 2015

Hasnil Basri Siregar*
University of North Sumatera
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The implementation of shari'ah (Islamic law) in the province of Aceh in Indonesia was the consequence of a national policy of legal pluralism, effected in 2001 when the national government decided to give a special status and wide autonomy to this region. However, certain problems have arisen. One of these is whether the Islamic courts of justice have been conferred competence to deal with Islamic criminal law and if so, which judicial institution should deal with the matter. Another is the meaning and scope of mu'amalat law (the law dealing with human relationships). It also appears that the central government has permitted shari'ah to be implemented for political reasons.

Research Article
Copyright © Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore 2008

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1 See Nyazee, Imran Ahsan Khan, Islamic Jurisprudence (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia: The Other Press, 2002) at 22 and 47 Google Scholar.

2 Gade, Anna & Feener, R. Michael, “Muslim Thought and Practice in Contemporary Indonesia” in Feener, R. Michael, ed., Islam in World Cultures: Comparative Perspectives (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2004) at 197;Google Scholar Hooker, M. B., Indonesian Islam Social Change through Contemporary Fatāw& (Honolulu, University of Hawai'i Press, 2003) at 29 Google Scholar.

3 Heer, Nicholas, ed., Islamic Law and Jurisprudence (Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington Press, 1990) at 177178 Google Scholar.

4 See Vikør, Knut S., “The Shari'a and the Nation State: Who Can Codify the Divine Law?” in Utvik, Bjørn Olav & Viker, Knut S., eds., The Middle East in a Globalized World: Papers from the Fourth Nordic Conference on Middle Eastern Studies, Oslo 1998 (Bergen: Nordic Society for Middle Eastern Studies, 2000) at 220 Google Scholar.

5 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, art. 1.3.

6 Salim, Arskal, “Epilogue: Shari'a in Indonesia's Current Transition: An Update” in Salim, Arskal & Azra, Azyumardi, eds., Shari'a and Politics in Modern Indonesia (Singapore: ISEAS, 2003) at 225 Google Scholar.

7 Syahrizal, , Hukum Adat dan Hukum Islam di Indonesia: Refleksi Terhadap Beberapa Bentuk Integrasi Hukum Dalam Bidang Kewarisan di Aceh [Customary Law and Islamic Law of Indonesia] (Batuphat, Lhokseumawe, Aceh: Yayasan Nadiya, 2004) at 150151 Google Scholar.

8 Abubakar, Al Yasa', “Pelaksanaan Syari'at Islam di Aceh: Sejarah dan Prospek” in Ibr, Fairus M. Nur, ed., Syariat di Wilayah Syariat: Pernik-pernik Islam di Nangroe Aceh Darussalam [Shari'ah in Shari'ah Territory: Islamic Fragments in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam] (Banda Aceh: Dinas Syariat Islam dan Yayasan Ulul Arham, 2002) at 26 Google Scholar.

9 Azra, supra note 6 at xxiv.

10 Jimly Ashshiddiqie, “Eksistensi Hukum Islam dalam Reformasi Sistem Hukum Nasional [The Existence of Islamic Law in the Reformation of the National Legal System]” (Paper presented at a seminar organised by National Institute for Law Development (BPHN), Department of Justice and Human Rights, Jakarta, 27 September 2000) [unpublished, copy on file with author] at 9-12 (my translation from Bahasa Indonesia into English).

11 Al Yasa' Abubakar, Syari'at Islam di Propinsi Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam: Paradigma, Kebijakan dan Kegiatan [Islamic Shari'ah in the Province of Nangroe Aceh Darussalam: Paradigm, Policy and Activities] (Banda Aceh: Dinas Syari'at Islam, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, 2005) at 59.

12 Fealy, Greg & Hooker, Virginia, eds., Voices of Islam in Southeast Asia: A Contemporary Sourcebook (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2006) at 188 Google Scholar.

13 Muhammad, Rusydi Ali, Revitalisasi Syari'at Islam di Aceh: Problems, Solusi dan Implementasi [Revitalisation of Islamic Shari'ah in Aceh: Problems, Solutions and Implementations] (Jakarta: Logos Wacana Ilmu, 2003) at 152 Google Scholar.

14 The term ’Keputusan Presiden’ (Presidential Decision) was widely used in the past, and often confused with the terms ‘Peraturan Presiden’ (Presidential Regulation) and ‘Instruksi Presiden’ (Presidential Instruction) which were regulated by MPR (the People's Consultative Assembly) Decision No. III/2000 concerning the sources of law and hierarchy of legal enactments. However, with the promulgation of Law No. 10/2004, only Presidential Regulations are included in the hierarchy of Indonesian laws.

15 Gunaryo, Ahmad, Pergumulan Politik & Hukum Islam: Reposisi Peradilan Agama dan Peradilan ‘Pupuk Bawang’ Menuju Peradilan yang Sesungguhnya [The Struggle between Politics and Islamic Law: The Repositioning of Religious Courts and ‘Unworthy’ Courts towards Real Courts of Justice] (Yogyakarta: Pustaka Pelajar, 2006) at 369 Google Scholar.

16 See, eg, Ibrahim, Iskandar, “Dinamika Pelaksanaan Syari'at Islam di Provinsi NAD” in Syahrizal, , ed., Kontekstualisasi Syariat Islam di Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam [Contextualisation of Islamic Shari'ah in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam] (Banda Aceh: Ar-Raniry Press, 2003) at 8688 Google Scholar.

17 One may observe that the Aceh people often see the ‘central government’ and Javanese people as one and the same, as the central government is largely controlled by the Javanese. The sentiment that the Acehnese are oppressed by the Javanese erupts from time to time, and usually reaches its peak whenever military operations by the national government are undertaken in Aceh. Unfortunately, this leads to violent reactions on the part of the Acehnese, with the result that many Javanese people, not only government officials, are forced to flee the region for their own safety.

18 Salim, Arskal and Azra, Azyumardi, eds., Shari'a and Politics in Modern Indonesia (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2003) at 222224 Google Scholar.

19 International Crisis Group, Islamic Law and Criminal Justice in Aceh (International Crisis Group, Asia Report No. 117) (31 July 2006) at 4 Google Scholar.

20 Al Yasa' Abubakar, supra note 11 at 60.

21 Al-Qu'ran 21:107.

22 For a discussion of this concept in the Indonesian context, see Feener, R. Michael, Muslim Legal Thought in Modern Indonesia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007) at 182ff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar See also Al Yasa' Abubakar, supra note 11 at ix.