Indonesian Clerics Issue Fatwa on ‘Lost and Misguided’ Cult

Jakarta, Indonesia - The Indonesian Council of Ulema has condemned a minority sect known as God’s Divine Mandate, which is reportedly flourishing around Palembang, the head of the council’s fatwa commission in South Sumatra said on Wednesday.

Lutfi Izzuddin said the council, or MUI, issued a fatwa against the sect, also known as the AKI, because it was feared it could mislead followers through incorrect interpretations of Islamic teachings. Lutfi also urged Islamic preachers nationwide to actively curb the spread of the AKI.

Lutfi said the MUI had dispatched a team to South Sumatra to investigate public complaints and media reports concerning the AKI.

The investigation team, he said, found the sect to be in violation of Islamic teachings.

He said these violations included forbidding followers from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan and prohibiting followers from praying the mandatory five times a day.

The sect also does not consider the Koran to be the ultimate truth or the source of all teachings, Lutfi said, but instead encourages followers to focus on the words of the sect’s preachers.

The fatwa states that the AKI is “a lost and misguided” cult, that it is forbidden from following its false teachings and that those following AKI teachings must repent and revert to the teachings of the true Islam.

“We urge the public not to resort to anarchy and not to clash with the cult’s followers,” Lutfi said on Wednesday.

According to earlier reports, the sect’s leader, Izzedin Aqafar, was reported to the MUI by several people — including his own children — who were “disturbed” by his teachings.

The case was then deliberated by the South Sumatra provincial administration, the MUI branch in Palembang, several community representatives and representatives of the AKI.

An official with the MUI’s Palembang branch, Mahmudin, said Izzedin had visited the council on Thursday to demand clarification over the issuance of the fatwa.

Izzedin reportedly told MUI members he had founded the AKI after Allah visited him in a dream and told him that he had a gift that he needed to share with people.

The sect has had a presence in parts of South Sumatra for almost two years.