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.
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