Why Islamic Journalism (Must) Exist?

Of course this is interesting. Islamic journalism has even been practiced for a long time in the country. The birth of the Islamic Press has preceded the birth of this Republic. Even Islamic press figures contributed greatly to the struggle for Indonesian independence.

Soebagijo IN in the Indonesian Journalists Journal for example, mentioned the name of Zainal Abidin Ahmad as one of the press figures who represented the Islamic press. He called it, “a journalist who bases his struggle on the teachings of Islam” (Soebagijo IN: 1981).

Zainal Abidin Ahmad was not only a figure who carried the press based on Islamic teachings but also became a forum for Muslim journalists, who was then called the Indonesian Muslim Journalist (Warmusi) since 1937. Warmusi then spread his wings from Sumatra to Java.

In addition, on 1-3 September 1980 the World Islamic Mass Media Conference was held in Jakarta. The conference was attended by 49 countries, 450 participants from among journalists, writers, publishers and Islamic thinkers from various countries. In addition to discussing the issue of Palestinian defense through the media, this conference also encouraged initiatives related to journalistic work, such as encouraging the establishment of a faculty of publicist (journalism) on campuses (Alex Sobur: 2004).

This conference tried to formulate the meaning of the Islamic press, that “the Islamic press is all coverage and other writings that always base their preaching on the truth of Islam by means and methods governed by Islam, namely bi al-mau’izhah al-hasanah (a good approach) , thus allowing the reader to be entrenched towards Islam. ” ( Tri Masilkah , September 2012). The formulation of this conference was clearly trying to find a journalistic work based on Islam.

This, of course, implies that for a long time there was an awareness to distinguish the journalism practices of press figures in Indonesia. In the homeland the conversation about Islamic journalism continues to roll. Although not using the term “Islamic journalism”, this topic is in fact discussed in public.

Thus, it is very surprising if Heychael claimed not to find this conversation in the homeland. If he explores this historical treasure, then he does not need to go far to quote Hamid Mowlana from America.

Heychael’s efforts to try to dissect Islamic journalism by using writings from Hamid Mowlana (2007) for writers was quite surprising. First, even though Mowlana said his ideas could become journalistic work guides, in fact he was discussing communication widely, not limited to journalism or the practice of the press.

Second, why does Heychael only use one reference and not use another reference as a comparison with a more specific discussion? There are many references that can be submitted, as discussed by Sayed al-Seini (1986), Nurhaya Muchtar, et al (2017), Mohammad A. Siddiqi (1999) Lawrence Pintak (2013), and or Janet Steele (2013), and the name there are also many other names that discuss Islamic journalism both in terms of values ​​and concepts.

If then Heychael did not feel Mowlana provided an adequate explanation, other sources might be needed as a comparison and not just rely solely on Mowlana, according to Heychael. “As if writing the concept from a cave in Iran”.

However, Heychael still leaves room for dialogue, and this should be appreciated. So the author feels it is necessary to try to offer a description of Islamic journalism in order to dispel Heychael’s concern that, “… ‘Islamic journalism’ will only thicken a narrow mindset about Islam, rather than expanding it.”

Let’s start from the first. Why (must) there be Islamic Journalism?

Efforts to carry out the practice of journalism with unique values ​​and foundations are not uncommon. Wasserman and De Beer (2009), for example, state that the anglo-American perspective in understanding the theory and practice of journalism has received various objections.

Lawrence Pintak (2013), in his studies in three Muslim-majority regions; Indonesia, Pakistan and the Arab world, stated that Islam helped shape the values ​​of journalism that they practiced. The Pintak study also reinforces Janet Steele’s (2011) argument that journalists in Indonesia and Malaysia, “… express the universal values ​​of journalism, but do so through Islamic idioms and, more generally, see and understand the importance of their work from an Islamic perspective.”

The author himself sees that one important point in the discussion of Islamic journalism (i) can depart from the word “truth”. In journalism, truth plays a very important role. The New York Times for example, mentions their duty to convey the truth in article 15 of their code of conduct (Ignatius Haryanto, 2006).

Bill Kovach, despite mentioning that a journalist’s first obligation is to state the truth. But according to him, “the truth, it seems, is too complicated for us to pursue. Or maybe it doesn’t exist, because we are all subjective individuals. ”

Kovach himself avoided discussing philosophical truths and looked at them from a practical point of view. But for a Muslim, understanding the truth is very important. Because Islam is not just a religion that regulates the matter of ritual worship, but also forms a worldview or ideology, including in journalism. (See Lawrence Pintak, 2013; and Nurhaya Muchtar, et al., 2017)

Of course the teachings in Islam do not recognize the term journalism. But in the Qur’an various words are mentioned which are rooted from the word “naba” which is mentioned 138 times. (Nurhaya Muchtar, et al., 2017)  Naba which means news (news) is one of the important things in Islamic teachings. Ibn Taymiyah divided the news into good news as well as false or false. Reliable news ( khabar sadiq ) in Islam according to Syed Naquib al-Attas must be based on scientific or religious characteristics which are narrated by authentic religious authorities (Mohammad Syam’un Salim, 2014).

See from his authority, khabar sadiq according to Mohammad Syam’un Salim, is divided into two. First the absolute authority is the Qur’an and the Hadith. That is, the Qur’an and Hadith become the highest source of truth. The two relative authority consisting of the agreement of alim ulama ( tawatur ) and people who are trusted in general (Salim, 2014). Both the Qur’an and the Hadith provide instructions for obtaining and filtering news from dishonesty, inaccuracies and evil deeds. (Nurhaya Muchtar, et al .: 2017)

Mohammad A. Siddiqi from Western Illinois University said that the Qur’an and the Sunnah formed a separate frame about the definition of news. The Qur’an and sunnah also determine the process of gathering, producing and distributing news within an Islamic framework. This has become a code of ethics for Muslim journalists. But the main foundation is the concept of monotheism . That is, the duty of a journalist is, ” mandate(trusted) by God and should not be used to injure a single soul for self-promotion or selling news. Instead, this trust must be used, as stated by Dilnawaz Siddiqui, to reach the truth. Journalists must not forget God’s purpose in creating the universe and all kinds of life. ” (Siddiqi, 1999)

Nurhaya Muchtar et al, mentions that there are four basic principles formed by the point of view in journalism, namely the concept of truth ( haqq ), tabligh , problems and wasatiyyah . The first principle, truth ( haqq ) is dug from the teachings of Islam which forbids mixing the right ( haq ) with the wrong ( false ). (QS: 2:42) Quoting the concept of shadiq news in Islam, it seems that the truth in Islam refers to the true news that is based on the Qur’an and sunnah .

The second principle according to Nurhaya et al is tabligh . Tabligh means spreading the truth and goodness to the public. In the context of journalism, tabligh means that journalists must act as educators who promote a positive attitude to their readers and encourage them to do good. This principle is integrated with the concept of amar ma’ruf nahi munkar .

The third principle is maslahah , which means seeking the good of the public. Nurhaya et al based the principle of problem in the hadith of the Prophet SAW who taught us to prevent evil with his hands, tongue, or last of his heart, as a sign of weak faith.

This principle provides a basis for journalists to have an interventionist and participatory attitude. Journalists are not observers who keep their distance and are not involved. Instead, journalists are expected to be involved in public discourse and become agents of social change in society.

The same thing was explained by Mohammad A. Siddiqi who said that Islam emphasizes both the content, purpose and process of gathering news within the scope of social responsibility to the community ( social responsibility ). Unlike the concept of social responsibility to individualist-pluralist western societies, Islam bases its social responsibilities based on amar bi al-ma’ruf wa nahi an al-munkar . (Siddiqi, 1999)

The principle mentioned by Nurhaya about tabligh can also be concluded in line with the opinion of Pintak (2013) that the Islamic approach to information mainly focuses on spreading religion, giving priority to preaching, and finally making the news industry a channel for spreading religion, turning journalists into advocates for justice, testimony to God and realize their social responsibility.

The last principle of Islamic journalism according to Nurhaya et al is wasatiyyah , which means moderation. A concept emphasized in the Qur’an, surah Al-Baqarah verse 143. According to Al-Sa’di, the people who were wasath (middle) in the Qur’an means fair and perfect religion.

Acting moderately ( wasathiyah ) in accordance with the instructions of the Koran is by consistently following the guidance (guidance) taught by Allah Subhanahu Wata’ala  through His Prophet and transmitted through pious scholars. Nurhaya links wasath (moderate) which in the context of journalism means impartiality and fairness . The essence of moderate, according to him, means justice.

The above explanation can at least be said as serious efforts from academics to pioneer a concept of Islamic journalism. The application and journalistic guidelines for example have been discussed by Faris Khoirul Anam (2007). Faris Explains the basic concepts of press work, such as clarifying news, objective in explaining events, to the matter of “envelopes” for journalists in fiqh review .

Of course this article cannot possibly discuss the issue of fiqh at length. But at least from this explanation we can know that the effort to pioneer Islamic journalism, although not abundant, also does not mean there is no or not needed. Various academics even from Indonesia have tried to examine it.

Of course, Islamic journalism is not closed, even very open to ideas in the world of journalism. The idea will later be seen from the perspective of Islam as a view of life. The author considers the various ideas that try to bring the practice of journalism in the country deserve to be discussed, criticized, and examined. And hopefully this article can answer Heychael’s concerns and questions.



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