In Memoriam: Syafii Maarif and the Issue of Spiritual Slavery

by: Denny JA *)

“For me, deifying those who claim to be descendants of the Prophet is a form of
spiritual slavery. man
Karno decades ago
already critically
this unhealthy phenomenon”

This text immediately came to mind when today I heard about the death of Syafii Maarif. This text was written on his own twitter account, @SerambiBuya, 21/11/2020.

Syafii Maarif is very critical of the impression that a character is glorified just because he is considered a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. Moreover, if the rumored descendants of the Prophet did not impress scholars who are pro-modern way of thinking.

Glorifying someone because the issue of the Prophet’s descent is considered contrary to the progressive teachings of Islam. In Islam, all people are basically equal. Only his piety makes the difference, not his origin.

There is no guarantee that a descendant of the Prophet, King, Holy Master, or descendant of the President, Conglomerate, is more pious than other individuals. Then what’s the point of glorifying someone because of his descendants?

On another occasion, Syafii Maarif was also quite tough. He said, many of us can’t and don’t want to differentiate. Which ones are Islamic teachings, and which ones are Arab culture.

Unfortunately, continued Buya Syafii, there is an Arab culture that has fallen into disrepair, which has fallen, we are proud of in Indonesia. We glorify the junk culture. A variety of radicalism emerged. ISIS is the pinnacle of Arab cultural junk. (1)

Today, the Muslim scholar, who was vehemently against the politicization of religion, who is often called the nation’s teacher, is gone.


In 2017, a photo went viral on social media. It appears that a man in his old age is sitting at the train station. Just alone. The man was with many people there, waiting for the train to arrive. What is waiting for is the KRL from Jakarta to Bogor.

It turned out that the man was Buya Syafii Maarif. The photo was taken when he was going to the launch of the Pancasila Education Strengthening Program. This is an event that will be attended and inaugurated by President Joko Widodo, Saturday, August 12 2017. Take it easy and take it easy, Buya Syafii responds to the viral photo. He said, “I am a villager. I am used to walking or cycling for tens of kilometers. Riding a motorcycle taxi or taking a train with many people is my world.”

Buya Syafii is comfortable, even at his old age, going everywhere without anyone accompanying him. He said, I also do not have the burden of going somewhere by public transport.

Buya Syafii said, he only thought practically. If he took the train, it was purely for efficiency. If you go to Bogor through the peak, you can get stuck in traffic. Take the train, he doesn’t get stuck.

The Village Boy. That is precisely the name that Buya Syafii likes about himself. The Kampung Anak then became the title of a novel written by Damiem Dematra, because it was inspired by the life story of Buya Syafii.

As a village boy, Buya Syafii often had economic difficulties. Several times his school was delayed because he did not have the funds. He was once a laborer, or teacher, to make a living. It was a job at the time.

Economic difficulties, a simple life, actually helped forge him to have a hard, brave and caring character for the little people.

It happened around 2018. I suddenly got a call, from a number that had no name on my list. It turned out to be from Buya Syafii. I did not save the cell phone number used by Buya Syafii Maarif.

Buya Syafii congratulated me on the Pancasila training which I held in 34 provinces. The political education that I created was widely reported because it broke world records. It was the Guinness Book of World Records’ greatest political education.

Buya delivered a strong message. “Whatever you do, do it within the framework of Indonesia. Dinda helps presidential candidates to win. Or if you criticize the unjust rulers, do it within the framework of being Indonesian.”

To this day, said Buya Syafii, Pancasila is indeed valuable to spread, to unite us as a diverse nation.

While joking, at that time I replied: “Yes, commander.” He laughed.

Goodbye Syafii Maarif. Goodbye Buya. Goodbye my Master.

*) Executive Director of the Indonesian Survey Circle

editor: Anang Fadhilah

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