Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Resolution

The most asked question by the end of the year is probably: "What's your new year eve's resolution?" I say, what's so special about new year's eve? It's just another day where the sun shines from the east and sets in the west.

If one wants to make a resolution why wait until the very end of the year? Resolution should be made at least on daily basis to ensure that tomorrow is better than today, or at the very least not worsen.

If we want to improve ourselves why wait until a certain time? We should do it right away, right after that realization/enlightenment comes to us. It doesn't make sense to say: "I want to be good next week or next month".

There's no guarantee that you'll be given time until tomorrow let alone next month. Other reason why you should not delay in implementing your resolution to improve yourselves is that there's no guarantee that this good will shall stay. Like other good intentions they never stay for long. The most common marks they left behind in ones' lives are the remembrance that once we had had them.

It doesn't matter whether you don't have any resolution by the end of the year as long as once you have it you do it. Time is never going to wait for us, likewise, resolutions are never going to mount to anything if we keep looking for an excuse or perfect time to execute them.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The First Step

After waiting for almost a couple of months, today, I've finally got a call from ILP Pancoran which was one of the two places I registered myself in to. "The class starts on January 12th, 2008", said the secretary, "Do you still want to join in?" What a question! Of course I do. Positive thinker though I am, I started to get a bad feeling that I wouldn't be able to find a Mandarin course which open a class on Saturday.

As much as I believe in self-study, I couldn't force myself to spare a specific amount of time to study this difficult language. I've tried. But I found my attention wavering into other languages which at the time being also being the object of my obsession. I ended up switching languages between very few minutes, without getting much progress in any of them.

Other bad thing which I think is the side effect of that kind of learning process, is that I started to mutter foreign words and sentences at home whenever the mood struck me. Fortunately, I still live with my parents who seem to get used to my behaviours. I think they understand that I'm a little bit crazy when it comes to languages.

Hopefully, by joining a formal class I could stop from muttering different languages at the same time, and concentrate on just mandarin ^-^

One small step is a giant leap in learning languages

Friday, December 14, 2007

Interdepartmental Coordination: Official Headache

Who said coordination has become much easier nowadays? Nope. It wasn’t easier. It’s still as difficult as ever. Lack of personnel, lack of time, excessive workload, lack of sense of being part of something bigger, excessive pride in the power and role of one’s own department, all have conspired to put a block to a smooth, efficient and effective coordination.

How’s to make a good coordination? I don’t know how. Making numerous phone calls and meetings didn’t seem to give the expected results. And when it comes to making a common position against foreign partners the headache increases ten folds. Some departments are easy to work with, some others…well, it takes a lot of times, patience and effort.

The wheel of bureaucracy is even slower than the wheel of God.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Blessing in Disguise: AA Gym's Case

Once adored by many, AA Gym who had been enjoying star-like fame and treatments, had to experience a life of an outcast when his fan-like congregation and people at large learn of the news of his second marriage. The public outrage was such as never been seen in this Republic which is used to hearing outrageous news regarding its VIPs. The issue even went straight to the palace where it was discussed by the current administration and served as a cause to bring about a new policy.

Those who once loved him so much (mostly female members of his congregation) suddenly turned to hate him. Including my own mother who couldn't even bear to hearing his name mentioned, and she's not part of his congregation. At a different field, the current administration saw his action as a national threat worth to be discussed at the highest level.

I find it all incredibly fascinating. Love turn to hate isn't fascinating in itself but the reason behind such drastic change is. The action and decision of one man who could stir and awaken so much emotion in a country is definitely fascinating, particularly if his action and decision are regarding his own private life.

I think one of the reasons was that they loved and adored him too much. Unfortunately, they're in love with imagination. They expect too much of him. When in fact he is only an ordinary man. Just the same with any other men who love women.

They become so disillusion when they found out that their idol is exactly the same with their scandalous neighbours, colleagues or any other regular guys who have more than one wife. They felt that they had been cheated and betrayed by him. That was why they were so shocked and outraged when they heard that AA Gym had taken a second wife.

I wasn't that surprised when I heard it. He mentioned more than once on many different occasions of his desire to have another woman besides his wife. The only thing which stopped him from taking a second wife when he wanted it was that his wife couldn't accepted it.

The reason why nobody seemed to hear what he was saying was, I think, was that they loved him too much they chose to ignore it, and took it as a joke. They chose to listen only to what they wanted to hear. Perhaps the reason why I could hear his earnest intention was that I have no strong feelings about him like other people.

The first time I heard about AA Gym was when I studied overseas, when one of my fellow Indonesian students brought his cassette during one of our fast-breaking dinners in Ramadan. Then, I didn't understand what was it about him which made him so famous. Even after I came back to Indonesia, I still couldn't comprehend it. Not until, purely by chance, I visited his base in West Java. Where I saw first hand how people, mostly females, flocked to see him. How he dealt with people and how he delivered his sermons. Well, that was when I finally understood.

I still have no strong feelings about AA Gym, for I think his sermons lack substance. Important and pertinent substances or arguments from hadith and al-qur'an which are needed to support them, some of which could be seen as inflammatory and contradictory. He shied away from those ayat and hadith. And that was why his sermons are not my cup of tea. They were too bland and generic, designed to suit everybody's taste.

But at least I finally understood why they liked him so. They liked him so because of the very thing that I didn't like about his sermons. They loved him because he presented a 'moderate' picture -what ever moderate means. Because he delivered his sermons with easy language and examples. He didn't bring out heavy issues needed to be thought about and discussed deeply and carefully. The results was astonishing.

His style was accepted by the masses. He became incredibly famous and loved by many. Even those who were not muslim also had a favourable opinion of him. With fame, came influence. With love and adoration came fanaticism. Fanaticism bars one from thinking clearly and objectively. It makes people listen, follow and strive to please who ever happens to be the object of their fanaticism, regardless of right or wrong, which is frowned upon in Islam. Islam doesn't recognise the concept of intermediaries e.g. saints. There is no possibility for any cleric or imam to become saints. Therefore blind devotion is prohibited.

Islam is very strict in guarding the believe of its believers. Love and devotion of its believers is commanded to be solely directed to Allah and nobody else. One may love who ever he/she chooses but those love should come second to his/her love to Allah. One should only follows al-qur'an and sunah and not putting their adored clerics above those two.

I was quite grateful when the news of AA Gym caused so much waves. I wasn't grateful because some people turn to hate him, what I was grateful for was the fact that it had opened peoples' eyes that he is only a regular guy. I'm hopeful that this incident will amend some of the unislamic believe or feelings started to be nurtured by some of his congregation back into the right path. I'm hopeful that it could serve as a reminder for them that they shouldn't forget that their guidance in this treacherous life is not a role model/idol, but al-qur'an and sunnah.

Because of AA Gym's second marriage, some of those who seldom or even never opened al-qur'an and hadith and only relying on his sermons, started to open al-qur'an and see for themselves the ayat regarding the possibility and requirements to have more than wife. They start to see the importance of learning al-qur'an themselves. Yes, I'm really grateful for that. It was a blessing from Allah to all of them.

Back to AA Gym, I happened to see AA Gym first talk show during Kick Andy on Metro TV -this was also by chance, as I rarely watched Kick Andy, and I wasn't even in Jakarta at that time- when he was questioned whether he regretted his action (his second marriage). His answer was very interesting, he said 3 years prior to his second marriage, he felt that his hectic life style was no longer felt right. He no longer had time to see his parents and his own family. That it couldn't continue the way it was, but he didn't know how to put a stop to it, how to change the pace which had become his routine.

That, I think, was another blessing in disguise for AA Gym, in a way, his second marriage had become a new beginning, a chance to reflect. Perhaps, he had become too used to all privileges he got, perhaps he had become too absorb in his own sense of power, influence, and affluence. I'm not saying that he had become arrogant or something like that, but if one is experiencing that kind of excessive adoration from the masses for quite sometimes, one might forget that the honor was from Allah, and in the eyes of Allah all his creation are just the same. Allah could raise the position of whoever he chooses and he could take it back when he feels like it.

Through AA Gym's second marriage, Allah brings back all the believers who almost forget that they are not supposed to look up to someone (idolising someone) in the matter of religion as a guidance, as their only guidance is al- quran and sunnah.

Through AA Gym's second marriage, Allah has given the biggest opportunities to his first wife to get the most rewards among the three of them. Through his second marriage, Allah has brought AA Gym back to earth, to reflect, and hopefully to learn how to be a much better person, which he is desperately needed to be now.

Because contrary to his first wife who had shown her big and open heart and given an indication that she is a strong person, AA Gym on the contrary has shown the world his weaknesses. And from the religious perspective, he has embarked on a very difficult spiritual journey, which caused by physical desire, whereby Allah has specifically warned all men who wanted to have more than one wife that they could never be fair.

AA Gym is going to need all the good deeds he could make to compensate for any injustices he's bound to make towards his first wife, he's going to need all his good deeds to compensate for every heartache his first wife is going to experience during their lives together.

I shudder just to think about the consequences he has to shoulder when he fails. May Allah have mercy. And may his experience serves as a good lesson to others.

Monday, December 3, 2007

My Rights, Your Rights, What Right?

People are very adamant in exerting and exercising their rights. Particularly concerning the right to speak their minds. It's even been given a fearsome name: freedom of speech. Translated: you're welcomed to say what ever you want to say, often with the assumption you'll get immunity from the consequences of what you said. That no body is allowed to be offended let alone angered by what you say. You feel that you have full right to speak your mind.

I don't want to dispute it, since it's true. What I want to point out though is that others also have as much right to be offended and angered by what you say.

Our world is a political showcase of many injustices and hypocricies. Some of us have been telling others that they don't have the rights to do what they themselves do. The limitation they impose on others is naturally accompanied by various arguments to justify their imposition. However, the ugly fact remains: "I have the right to do what I want to do, you don't".

The current example is the efforts taken by some countries to bar Iran from developing their nuclear technology while on the other hand giving that very right to some others. The argument given is that it's not safe to give Iran the right to build its nuclear technology. If you don't want to have World War III, do everything in your power to stop Iran from developing their nuclear technology. I find this argument not only lame but incredibly unjust.

I hate weapons be it mass destruction or not. In fact my biggest dream is to wipe out all weapon industries in our planet. And the military forces. I couldn't stop thinking and dreaming what this world would be like without those two. But of course that's only a dream that will never materialise in reality at least not in this still uncivilise millennium where we still have wars in our planet.

Back to nuclear technology, regardless whether Iran will use it to build weapons of mass destruction or just using it for harmless purposes e.g. energy sources(though personally, I don't think we could ever put nuclear and harmless in the same sentence), they have the rights to do what others do. Is Iran a danger to the world peace? Maybe according to some. But from the other point of view, those countries who viewed Iran as a danger are also viewed as a danger by Iran and some others who couldn't stop looking back to their tract records of attacking other countries they viewed as threats.

It's like seeing children fighting. The first kid says to the other: "You can't have a weapon because you're dangerous. You cannot be trusted. Only I have the right to carry a weapon". Well, naturally the other kid disagrees.

Sadly, our rights are given to us by those who have power, more powerful and influential than us. We won't have any right at all if those who are more powerful than us abuse their power to serve their own causes and decide that giving us our full rights will harm or hamper their causes.

As long as there are prejudices, discriminations, distrusts, power hunger politicians, phobias, and injustices in the world talks about rights will never be right. As long as one group decides what is right for others there's no rights. Rights are about compromising our rights with others'.

Understanding that as we live together, what is right for us might not be right for others. Understanding that justice and fairness are the only keys to implementing human/nation rights. And the most important of all is finding trustworthy people to govern, people who know how to be just despite the fact that it will bring harm to themselves, their families, their causes, and their allies. Only then we will be given our full rights which are naturally ours.