Berkah

Status

Berkah adalah bertambah nya kebaikan hingga berjumpa kembali dengan Allah swt. Berkah membuat segala yang sedikit menjadi banyak, sepi menjadi ramai, sedih menjadi bahagia, sempit menjadi lapang. Berkah terus memberi kekuatan. Ia mengubah sesuatu yang biasa menjadi istimewa. Alangkah indahnya hidup penuh keberkahan. Indah di awal, di proses, dan di akhirnya. Mari hidup dengan baik agar Allah swt memberi keberkahan.

Dari Dunia Menuju Akhirat (part 2)

Kembali lagi kepada tauhid dan kehidupan, Allah swt telah memberikan pedoman, cahaya, petunjuk, dan pelajaran kepada kita; yang apabila kita tidak mengikuti pedoman dan cahaya tersebut, bukannya mendapat kesuksesan, kita sebaliknya akan menghadapi kehidupan yang sempit di dunia ini. Allah swt mengatakan, “Dan barangsiapa berpaling dari peringatan-Ku, maka sesungguhnya baginya penghidupan yang sempit, dan Kami akan menghimpunkannya pada hari kiamat dalam keadaan buta” (QS Taha:124). Atau dalam terjemahan Dr. Muhsin Khan, “But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Quran nor acts on its orders, etc.) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection.

Jadi sangat tidak benarlah pemikiran-pemikiran yang mengedepankan harta sebagai satu-satunya jalan untuk mendapatkan kebahagian. Allah swt telah memutuskan, bahwa orang yang berpaling dari peringatan Allah swt (i.e. Al-Qur’an), maka pasti, ia akan mendapatkan kehidupan yang sempit. Nau’dzubillahi min dzalik.

Terkait dengan Al-Qur’an, Al-Qur’an merupakan bentuk cinta Allah swt pada kita. Kita semestinya hidup dengannya dan memperkenalkannya kepada lingkungan kita. Namun sayangnya, pada saat ini, kita tidak menghiraukan Al-Qur’an. Kita tidak memperdulikan Al-Qur’an. Allah swt menyebutkan dalam Al-Qur’an bahwa kelak Rasulullah SAW akan ‘complain’ di hari akhir, bahwa umatnya telah melalaikan Al-Qur’an. “Berkatalah Rasul: “Ya Tuhanku, sesungguhnya kaumku menjadikan Al Quran itu sesuatu yang tidak diacuhkan.” (QS AL-Furqon:30).

Terkait dengan hidup bersama Al-Qur’an, menurut saya tidak ada deskipsi yang dapat mengalahkan untaian indah kalimat Syeikh As-Syahid Sayyid Quthb dalam kitab beliau Fi Dzilail Qur’an (di bawah naungan Al-Qur’an). Berikut adalah ungkapan beliau pada bagian pendahuluan kitab tersebut.

                Fi Zhilalil-Qur’an ‘Di Bawah Naungan Al-Qur’an’

“Hidup di bawah naungan Al-Qur’an adalah suatu nikmat. Nikmat yang tidak dimengerti kecuali oleh yang merasakannya. NIkmat yang mengangkat harkat usia manusia, menjadikannya diberkahi, dan mensucikannya.

Segala puji milik Allah yang telah memberiku karunia dengan hidup di bawah naungan Al-Qur’an dalam suatu rentang waktu, yang kurasakan nikmatnya yang belum pernah aku rasakan sebelumnya dalam hidupku. Kurasakan nikmat ini dalam hidupku, yang menjadikan usiaku bermakna, doberkahi, dan suci bersih.

Kutempuh hidup dengan kudengar Allah Yang Mahasuci berbicara kepadaku dengan Al-Qur’an ini, padahal aku sejumput hamba yang kecil. Adakah penghormatan yang tinggi dan mulia seperti ini? Adakah pemanknaan dan peningkatan harkat usia seperti yang diberikan oleh Al-Qur’an ini? Kedudukan manakah yang lebih mulia yang diberikan oleh Pencipta Yang Mahamulia kepada manusia?

Aku hidup di bawah naungan Al-Qur’an. Dari tempat yang tinggi, kulihat kejahiliyahan yang bergelombang di muka bumi. Kulihat pula kepentingan-kepentingan penghuninya yang kecil dan tak berarti. Kulihat kekaguman orang-orang jahiliyah terhadap apa yang mereka miliki bagaikan kanak-kanak; pikiran-pikiran, kepentingan, dan perhatian bagaikan anak-anak kecil. Ketika kulihat mereka, aku bagaikan seorang dewasa yang melihat permainan anak-anak kecil dan tutur katanya yang pelat seperti anak kecil.

Mengapakah manusia-manusia ini? Mengapa mereka terbenam di dalam lumpur lingkungan, tanpa bisa dan mau mendengar seruan yang luhur dan mulia, seruan yang mengangkat harkat kehidupan, menjadikannya diberkahi dan menyucikannya?

Aku hidup di bawah naungan Al-Qur’an sambil bersenang-senang dengan menikmati gambaran yang sempurna, lengkap, tinggi, dan bersih bagi alam wujud ini, tentang tujuan alam wujud ini seluruh nya dan tujuan wujud manusia. Kubandingkan dengan konspesi jahiliyah tempat manusia hidup, di timur dan di barat, di utara dan di selatan, dan aku bertanya, “Bagaimanakan manusia hidup di kubangan yang busuk, di dataran paling rendah, dan di dalam kegelapan yang hitam pekat, sementara di sisinya ada tempat penggembalaan yang subur, tempat pendakian yang tinggi, dan cahaya yang cemerlang?”.

Aku hidup di bawah naungan Al-Qur’an; kurasakan simponi yang indah antara gerak kehidupan manusia yang dikehendaki Allah dan gerak alam semesta yang diciptakan-Nya. Kemudian, kuperhatikan lagi kehidupan jahiliyah maka terlihat olehku kejatuhan yang dialami manusia karena menyimpang dari Sunnah kauniyah dan benturan antara ajaran-ajaran yang rusak srta jahat yang telah lama kemanusiaan bercokol di atasnya dan fitrah yang diciptakan Allah untuknya. Aku berkata dalam hati, “Setan keparat manakah gerangan yang telah membimbing langkah mereka ke neraka jahim ini?”. Wahai betapa ruginya manusia ini!!!

Aku hidup di bawah naungan Al-Qur’an; kulihat alam wujud ini jauh lebih besar daripada kenyataan lahiriyah yang terlihat ini. Lebih besar hakikatnya, lebih banyak sisinya. Ia adalah alam gaib dan alam nyata, bukan cuma alam nyata saja. Ia adalah dunia dan akhirat, bukan Cuma dunia ini saja.

Akhirnya, sampailah aku dalam masa hidupku di bawah naungan Al-Qur’an kepada keyakinan yang pasti bahwa tidak ada kebaikan dan kedamaian bagi bumi ini, tidak ada kesenangan bagi kemanusian, tidak ada ketenangan bagi manusia, tidak ada ketinggian, keberkatan, dan kesucian, dan tidak ada keharmonisan antara undang-undang alam dengan fitrah kehidupan melainkan dengan kembali kepada Allah.

Kembali kepada Allah-sebagaimana yang tampak di dalam baying-bayang Al-Qur’an-memiliki satu bentuk dan satu jalan. Hanya satu, tidak ada yang lain. Yaitu, mengembalikan semua kehidupan kepada manhaj Allah yang telah ditulisnya di dalam kitab-Nya yang mulia bagi kemanusian. Yaitu, dengan menjadikan kitab ini sebagai pengatur di dalam kehidupannya dan berhukum kepadanya dalam semua urusannya. Kalau tidak begitu, kerusakanlah yang akan terjadi di muka bumi, kesengsaraan bagi manusia, terbenam ke dalam lumpur dan kejahiliyahan yang menyembah nafsu selain Allah.

…Dan demikian pulalah yang terjadi pada masyarakat Islam sendiri. Langkah naiknya dimulai dari titik pertemuan hukum alam dengan nilai-nilai iman di dalam hidupnya, dan langkah kejatuhannya dimulai dari titik pemisahan antara keduanya.”

 

Kitapun di Indonesia sering kali menganggap nilai-nilai barat jauh lebih superior. Kita ikut tidak percaya (meragukan) ajaran Islam. Bahkan menuduh ajaran Islam ini telah lapuk ditinggal zaman. Sejak Islam mundur, manusia telah kembali kepada kejahiliyahan, mengagungkan kenikamatan dunia yang menipu. Negeri Islam pun telah terpecah belah. Para elit penguasa di setiap negeri berusaha mengambil sebanyak-banyaknya kekayaan negeri (extractive institution). Sungguh, solusi dari segala permasalahan sosial, ekonomi, keamanan, dll adalah tauhid. Tentunya sangat tepat bila kita mengatakan, Islam is the way of life; thus it is imperative to know Al-Qur’an and hadits to live Islam. Because in every single time, we are a Muslim.

Dari Dunia Menuju Akhirat (part 1)

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim. Tulisan ini bermula dari cukup seringnya saya diminta teman-teman mahasiswa maupun SMA untuk berbagi pengalaman. Tema yang paling sering diminta adalah bagaimana menjadi mahasiswa muslim beprestasi. Saya pikir prestasi tentu merupakan sesuatu yang relatif dan multidimensional. Secara sederhana, bagi sebagian mahasiswa, tentu prestasi disimbolkan dengan mendapat penghargaan Mahasiswa Berprestasi; namun prestasi tentu lebih dari ‘sekedar’ menjadi Mahasiswa Berprestasi. Ada prestasi dalam bidang akademik, sosial, kewirausahaan, seni budaya, olah raga, dan seterusnya. Lebih jauh lagi, prestasi tentu lebih luas dari sekedar prestasi di bidang akademik, sosial, dll tersebut. Sesuai ajaran Islam, kehidupan yang sebenarnya adalah kehidupan di akhirat kelak; sehingga tentu pertanyaan yang lebih tepat adalah bagaimana caranya agar kita tergolong pada yang berprestasi di akhirat kelak? Dari sinilah tulisan ini berawal, yaitu hakikat atas prestasi. Tulisan ini kemudian akan dilanjutkan dengan beberapa tips untuk menjadi Mahasiswa Berprestasi, ditutup dengan sedikit tekad, pemikiran, dan impian saya terkait peradaban islam abad ke-21.

 

A.  First thing first

Sebelum kita berbicara terkait mahasiswa berprestasi, tentu kita perlu berbicara tentang hal yang lebih utama dalam hidup. First thing first. Ia adalah tauhid atau kalimat la ilaha illallah. Tidak ada yang disembah selain Allah swt. Jika banyak mahasiswa yang ingin menjadi mahasiswa berprestasi karena mereka berpikir bahwa menjadi mahasiswa berprestasi merupakan suatu bentuk kesuksesan; mereka telah salah besar. Kesuksesan yang sebenarnya berada di akhirat nanti. Kuncinya adalah Tauhid. Ialah yang akan menentukan kebahagian kita di dunia dan akhirat. Tauhid merupakan hal yang terpenting dalam hidup kita yang singkat ini. Syaikh Murattib Al-Hajj mengingatkan, “and what is a man other than a comet which flashes brilliant light only then be reduced to ashes”.

Lalu apa itu kesuksesan? Bagaimana agar kita menjadi seorang yang sukses? Apakah ukurannya adalah banyaknya harta? Gelar? Atau sumber prestige lainnya? Tidak. Allah swt mengatakan dalam QS An-Nahl ayat 97, “Barangsiapa yang mengerjakan amal saleh, baik laki-laki maupun perempuan dalam keadaan beriman, maka sesungguhnya akan Kami berikan kepadanya kehidupan yang baik dan sesungguhnya akan Kami beri balasan kepada mereka dengan pahala yang lebih baik dari apa yang telah mereka kerjakan.” (QS An-Nahl:97).

Terlihat dalam ayat tersebut terlihat bahwa mengerjakan amal shaleh merupakan hal kunci dalam mendapatkan kehidupan yang baik dan kesuksesan; namun tidak hanya itu saja. Ada persyaratan yang mendasar, yaitu amal shaleh tersebut harus didasari oleh keimaman. Singkatnya, kita bisa mengatakan bahwa amal shaleh merupakan sesuatu yang necessary but not sufficient; ia harus dilandasi oleh keimanan.

Terkait dengan kata ‘amal shaleh’, kita sebagai orang Indonesia sangat sering mendengarnya dan menggunakannya. Inilah keterbatasan kita karena menyerap sebuah kata ke dalam bahasa kita sehingga kita tidak mengetahui makna asli kata tersebut. Kata ‘shaleh’ memiliki akar kata Shod-Lam-HA, yang berarti “to be right/good/honest/upright/sound righteous, suit, fit. Dari akar kata ini muncul: Aslaha – to set things aright, reform, do good. Saalihat: good works, fit and suiting deeds. Aslaha (vb. 4) to make whole sound, set things right, effect an agreement between, render fit. Islaah: uprightness, reconciliation, amendment, reformation. Muslihun: reformer, one who is upright, righteous, a person of integrity, peacemaker, suitable.” Dari definisi ini kita bisa mengetahui apa yang diharapkan dari seseorang yang melakukan amal shaleh, yaitu seseorang yang memperbaiki sesuatu sehingga menjadi benar kembali. Singkat kata, seseorang yang melakukan amal shaleh, adalah seorang reformer. Hakikat dari melakukan amal shaleh adalah melakukan reform. Saya teringat akan definisi seorang leader atau pemimpin. Kita sering mendengar sebutan pemimpin. Saya pribadi menjadi penasaran, apa yang sebenarnya dimaksud dengan seorang leader. Alhamdulillah atas bimbingan Allah, saya menemukan definisi leader pada sebuah artikel, yaitu seseorang yang memperbaiki sesuatu sehingga sesuatu tersebut kembali menjadi benar (i.e. someone who sets things right).Jadi bukanlah pemimpin, seseorang yang melihat sesuatu yang salah namun membiarkannya. Begitu pula, kita tak akan termasuk pada orang yang melakukan amal sholah jika membiarkan keburukan terus terjadi. Saya merasa takjub, ternyata, perintah melakukan amal shaleh yang Allah swt berikan dalam Al-Qur’an, pada hakikatnya merupakan perintah kepada kita untuk menjadi seorang pemimpin.

Selanjutnya, sebagaimana disampaikan di ayat di atas, untuk mendapatkan kehidupan yang baik, kita harus beramal shaleh dan dilandasi dengan keimanan. Tentu pertanyaannya, bagaimanakah ciri orang yang beriman? Apa yang perlu kita lakukan untuk menjadi seorang yang berimana? Allah swt yang Maha Agung memberi penjelasan yang sangat rinci dalam Al-Qur’an terkait hal ini. Misalnya sebagaimana yang terdapat di dalam QS Al-Mu’minun 1-11.

Subhanallah, dengan sangat jelas ayat-ayat tersebut menjelaskan kriteria seorang mu’min, derajat yang ingin kita raih. Untuk menjadi seorang yang beriman, kita mesti menjadi seseorang yang (1) sholatnya khusyuk; (2) menghindari hal-hal yang tidak berguna (lagwu); (3) membayar zakat; (4) menjaga kesucian private parts; (5) menunaikan amanah; dan (6) menjaga sholat. Tentu untuk dapat memenuhi kriteria yang agung ini, kita perlu memahami lebih lanjut key words pada kriteria tersebut.

Pertama adalah seseorang yang sholatnya khusyuk. Kata khusyuk memiliki akar kata Kha-Syin-‘Ain yang berarti “Lowly/humble/submissive, still and low, to lower the eyes or voice, sink/nearly disappear in a setting place, be eclipsed/go away, become lean, whither/dry up, feign lowliness/humility in demeanour or voice or eyes, eject a thing, bow or bend down the head and body, be fearful”. Dari deksripsi tersebut tentu kita dapat memahami bahwa sholat yang khusyuk itu ditandai dari hati yang humble and menyerahkan diri pada Allah swt. Saya pernah mendengar nasehat ulama bahwa seseorang yang dapat khusyuk dalam sholat hanyalah orang yang khusyuk di luar sholat. Artinya kita perlu menjaga perasaaan dan kondisi khusyuk tersebut sepanjang waktu. Jadi pengkondisian hati dan pikiran untuk sholat yang khusyuk perlu dilakukan sepanjang waktu.

Kedua adalah menhindari hal yang bersifat laghwu. Kata laghwu memiliki akar kata Lam-Ghoin-Waw, yang artinya “To talk nonsense speech, to make mistake consciously or unconsciously, use vain words, idle talk, make noise and raise a hue and cry (to interrupt), talk frivously (to drown the hearing of another), a slip in talk, unintentional talk, babble”. Dari definisi tersebut tentu kita dapat membayangkan tipe perbincangan atau aktivitas seperti apa yang tergolong kepada laghwu. Bagi saya pribadi, pikiran saya langsung melayang pada ‘kongkow-kongkow’ anak muda maupun dewasa yang berbicara panjang lebar disertai gelak tawa yang pada akhirnya tidak menghasilkan kesimpulan apa-apa. Sangat menyedihkan, ternyata perbuatan yang dilarang tersebut merupakan yang hal dianggap baik pada saat ini. Mereka bahkan digelari sebagai seorang yang gaul, atau si anak nongkrong. Di sini peran kita unutk mengingatkan rekna-rekan kita. Lanjut kembali, jika kita perhatikan, poin pertama di atas dan poin kedua ini sangat berkaitan. Orang yang menjaga kekhusyukannya tentu bukanlah orang yang mengerjakan hal-hal laghwu. Sebaliknya, orang yang sering atau terbiasa mengerjakan hal yang bersifat laghwu adalah mereka yang sholatnya tidak khusyuk, which means mereka bukanlah orang yang beriman. Na’udzubillahi min dzalik. May Allah swt protect us from that state. Lalu bagaimana kita menyikapi tawaran perbuatan atau kegiatan yang bersifat laghwu tersebut? Pada ayat tersebut Allah swt mengatakan yang harus kita lakukan adalah a’rada, yang berarti ”To turn away, back, slide; or having an excuse”.

Ketiga adalah mengerjakan zakat. Saya melihat betapa indah Islam pada ayat ini. Ternyata menjadi seseorang yang beriman itu tidak hanya mensucikan hati dan perbuatan saja; namun juga mensucikan harta. Jika kita semua paham tentang inti zakat ini, tentu tidak ada koruptor di negeri ini. Semua orang sadar dan ingin agar harta mereka suci dari mengambil hak-hak orang lain. Selain itu, ayat ini mengajarkan kita bahwa seorang mu’min yang diinginkan Allah itu adalah juga orang yang peduli terhadap kondisi sosialnya; bukan orang yang menutup mata. Indah sekali. Semoga kita bisa termasuk pada orang yang sentiasa membantu kondisi perekonomian orang-orang yang disekitar kita.

Keempat adalah menjaga private parts. Untuk kata ‘menjaga’ di sini Allah swt menggunakan kata hafiz yang akar katanya HA-Fa-Zha yang berarti “To preserve/guard/protect a thing, take care of a thing, prevent a thing from perishing, to be careful/mindful/regardful/attentive/considerate concerning a thing, to keep a thing,…, to remember, to defend, keep a thing from getting lost, to be observant or watchful, apply oneself/assiduously/constantly/preservingly, vigilant or heedful, to anger a preson or be anger”. Deskrispsi kata di atas sangat jelas menekankan bahwa seorang yang beriman senantiasa menjaga kesucian private parts mereka. Dua ayat selanjutnya menjelaskan apa solusi yang diberikan oleh Allah swt.

Kelima, menunaikan amanat dan janji mereka. Amanat sendiri memiliki akar kata yang sama dengan iman itu sendiri. Dalam konteks ini amanat adalah sesuatu yang dipercayakan. Kemudian janji (‘ahdun) yang berarti perjanjian, janji, kesepakatan, sumpah, ikatan, tanggung jawab, jaminan, persahabatan, dan keamanan. Indah sekali. Seseorang yang mu’min adalah orang yang menunaikan apa yang dipercayakan kepadanya (dari orang lain kepada dirinya) dan orang yang sentiasa memenuhi janji atau apa yang telah diucapkannya (dari dirinya kepada orang lain).

Keenam, menjaga sholatnya pada waktu yang telah ditentukan.

Saya berpikir bahwa semua karakteristik mu’min di atas merupakan sesuatu yang bersifat saling menguatkan. Pemenuhan atas satu hal akan berujung pada pemenuhan hal yang lainnya. Sebaliknya, meninggalkan salah satunya akan berujung pada rusaknya semua hal lainnya. Sunnguh, tidak ada setengah-setengah dalam agama ini. Dari urutan ayat ini, kita belajar dari Allah swt yang Maha Suci bahwa sholat khusyuk merupakan prioritas utama yang akan membantu kita menjalankan persyatan yang lainnya.

Kita tentu tidak punya pilihan lain. Kita harus menjadi seorang yang mu’min. Seorang yang mu’min kelak akan menjadi pewaris atau pemilik Surga Firdaus. Ya Rabb, kuatkan lah kami agar kami menjadi hamba-Mu yang mu’min. Kuatkanlah kami agar tidak tertipu oleh dunia ini. Kuatkanlah kami agar kami memiliki sholat yang khusyuk kepada Mu.

Pada akhirnya, keikhlasan jugalah yang menentukan

Setiap kita menempuh takdir masing-masing. Mencari, menggali, mengasah, dan menggunakan keunikan pribadi kita. Ada yang berhasil melakukannya dengan gemilang, namun tak sedikit yang bahkan tak menyadari keunikan pribadinya. Namun pada akhirnya, keikhlasan jugalah yang menentukan. Kontribusi besar seseorang boleh jadi membuat yang lainnya berdecak kagum. Namun pada akhirnya, kita semua akan kembali pada Allah swt. Pada hari itu, tak ada lagi sekat; tak ada lagi penghalang; juga tak ada lagi penolong. Allah Rabb yang mengetahui segala isi hati, tahu betul segala isyarat hati. Semoga pada waktu itu, segala yang kita lakukan bercahaya putih bersih; refleksi keikhlasan yang murni. Jika keikhlasan tidak ada, hanya penyesalan tak bertepi yang tersisa.

Entah kapan jantung ini kan terus berdetak. Sudahkah keikhlasan itu hadir? Sungguh kita tak sanggup menjadi yang hina di akhirat nanti.

Allah swt Rabb yang Maha Penyayang; yang Maha Adil. Ia Maha Lembut lagi Maha Penyantun. Semoga Ia senantiasa menguatkan kita untuk bisa ikhlas di jalan-Nya. Allohummarzuqnal hussnul khatimah,,

Being back in Jakarta

It has been two months since I’m back to Jakarta and start working. Previously, since I enjoyed a very comfortable life abroad for three and half years, I sometimes wondered how it feels joining millions of other Jabodetabek-ers who commute to Jakarta every single morning and back again at night. The result? Yes, it’s a little bit tiring; but then I again realize, actually the external environment does not really matter. Being in a rush hour train does not necessarily mean that we live an uncomfortable day. I’ve seen many people, who despite being in crowded train, keep making themselves busy with reading Qur’an through their phone or listening to its recitation.

Living in Jakarta again reinforce my source of inspiration to keep working; that is to serve the people. The politicians who selfishly fight in the house of representative probably unaware that the longer they’re stuck in conflict, the deeper the pain that many poor people are feeling. Isn’t it, it is the congressman job to be partner and evaluator of government’s programs? At the very least, these things will keep me motivated to be good; to always be more capable.

Another things which make me happy being back in Jakarta (and Indonesia at large) is the dynamic of da’wah activities here. I’m so inspired and so happy to experience it again, how spirited and sincere the da’i over here to convey Allah’s swt and His messengers’ message, that is none is worthy of worship except Allah swt and that Muhammad is His messenger. Alhamdulillah, may Allah swt strengthen all of da’i’s foothold in this path.

One thing, though, that I really miss from living abroad: the nature. I am a park lover. Being in Jakarta, working five days a week and lots of other activities on weekend, I almost never have any chance to interact with nature. I firmly believe, it is nature the one that makes our heart soft. Indeed, Allah swt repeatedly direct our attention to nature in the Qur’an. Not sure when it would be, I really hope, the city could be greener and fresher for its people to be happier.

There are a lot more things to be said about being back in Jakarta. I guess for now, I need to finish drinking my morning cereal :)

Sentral Senayan, 7.02am

On September 11th

Finally I had a chance to have a quick look on the (previously classified) joint inquiry report of the US senate and the US house on intelligence regarding the 9/11 attack. If you have time, I think it’s worth it to have a quick look on it.

After having a quick look, I think the root cause of the attack as well as the continuing conflicts up to this day, are two-sided. On one side, as the report also suggests, the involvement of the US, UK, and their allies’ government in the Middle East has brought great calamities to the Muslim world; thus inciting rebellion. The example of the ‘western’ involvement would be the sanction or embargo to Saddam Hussein government (i.e. the state of Iraq) since 1990 until 2003 as well as the unconditional supports given to the state of Israel, which continues even until this very day. The second cause is the miss-understanding of Islamic teaching by some Muslims who carry out the ‘jihad’. In one of his lecture, Syaikh Hamza Yusuf mentioned (minute 58) that Usama bin Laden, who was an accountant, has no legitimacy to issue any fatwa, moreover a fatwa on jihad. Usama bin Laden, when issuing the fatwa that any military and civilian of the US around the world are a legitimate target of jihad, referred to a fatwa issued by Syaikh Ibnu Taymiyyah (1263-1328) regarding the people of Mardeen. It turns out that Ibnu Taymiyyah’s fatwa was miss-printed. The original fatwa said the disbelievers should be treated as a disbeliever; but the print (that Usama bin Laden read) said, the disbelievers should be fought (the miss-printed fatwa is here).

Obviously I am very new to this issue; but I believe it is a must to understand this two sides of the story. Most of the western people will have a strongly negative view on Islam or Muslim community because they thought Islam or Muslim only want to kill them. On the other hand, many Muslims, especially those who are experiencing the western government ‘intervention’ (read: war) on their places, firmly believe that retaliating to western governments are a legitimate action to do.

Certainly I am far from being able to suggest any solution on this. But one thing that I am very sure will work: abstaining from unconditional supports to the state of Israel and various other interventions in many Muslim countries. Obviously this is most likely will never happen. The problem of eggs-and-chicken or miss-trust will always persist. The US will never back down from involving in Muslim countries affairs’ while the ‘jihadist’ will never back down too as long as the US still present.

Will dialogue help to solve the problem? For many Muslims, as long as the US still practice the hypocrisy, i.e. lecturing the world on human rights etc., while at the same time still supporting the terrorist activities of Zionist Israel, the dialogue will never ever be working. Why is it impossible for the US government to remove unconditional supports to Zionist Israel? Is the US support to Zionist Israel the only concern of many ‘jihadist’? or do they have other mission? There are many questions need to answered.

I am against any use of violence in the name of Islam, especially when it involves attacking civilians, yet I also clearly understand the disappointment of ‘jihadist’ towards US policies on Muslim countries. If it is fine for the US to directly support Israel in killing around 2,000 Palestinians in (just last) July-August 2014, then why the ‘jihadist’ are not allowed to kill US civilian as well?

This is certainly a very challenging issue.

Akhirah mentality

Status

We are building for akhirah. Everything we do is the preparation for akhirah. We ought to utilize whatever strength or potential that Allah swt gave us as a way to have long lasting amal sholeh. We surely indeed can’t afford to be the loser in akhirah. Prophet Musa’s du’a regarding potential is an excellent example: “My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me! (QS 28:24)

This shouldn’t be a mysterious book

A frequent reader of this blog might already noticed how often I talk about Qur’an. Probably, I won’t get tired of talking about it. In this post, I just have one simple message: Al-Qur’an shouldn’t be a mysterious book for us.

Not long time ago, or exactly up until February this year, I was like many of us. My take on Al-Qur’an was that Al-Qur’an is a complex book, full with religious law, and unstructured. Alhamdulillah, now I realized, how utterly incorrect that view was. Let me tell you a bit of story.

One day in February this year, I went for Ashar prayer at UCL praying room. It was Friday. As I entered to room, there was no body inside. I put my bag and start cleaning up the praying mats. Then suddenly, there was a man entered the room. He left his shoes scattered in the door. With a bit of hurry pace, he asked me: is it already Ashar? I said, yes, the time just begun. Then he started praying. Looking at him already praying, I went out to take my wudhu’. On my way, I picked his shoes and put it in the rack. Five minutes later, I entered the room. He already left. I did my two raka’at sunnah; and then I realized, my bag was gone! When I was about trying to find him, some brothers came inside and asked me to lead the prayer. By the time the prayer finished, obviously the thief already got his way out.

At that time, I was wondering, o Allah, why did this happen? What’s your plan on this? In my bag there were only lecture notes, computer tablet, but most importantly, also contain my mushaf (book of Al-Qur’an). This mushaf is the mushaf that I used to memorize Qur’an. As its format is a bit unique (i.e. 18 lines), I can’t find a replacement copy of it in London. I was disappointed that my Qur’an memorization process is disturbed.

One day, I went to London Central Mosque. As I desperately need for a new mushaf, I went to the book store; and then I found a life-changing book, i.e. mushaf Al-Qur’an translated by Muhsin Khan, published by Darussalam. I think the translation is really good. Unlike other English translation, this translation uses a very easy or common words; put explanation for most of the ayah based on several tafsir; and also explanatory hadits.

Since then, my relationship with Qur’an changed. I was so addicted to read Qur’an such that I usually read the whole translation of a surah before reading the Arabic text. Since then, Alhamdulillah, I can understand what Al-Qur’an is actually saying. Previously I didn’t fully read translation of a surah. As a result, I had a view that long surah such as An-Nisa, Al-Maidah, Al-An’am, etc. are a dark-terrifying surah which mainly talk about rules and rules. Now I realized that this thought is very wrong. This long surah, as all other surah in Al-Qur’an talk about five main messages, which are repeated over and over again in Al-Qur’an. These five are:

  • There is only one God, Allah swt. Worship him and abandon all of the other Gods.
  • For those who believe and do righteous deeds, they will be rewarded with eternal paradise in the hereafter; while the disbeliever and sinful will eternally be punished in the hell fire.
  • Don’t be like previous nations, such as the people of Noah, ‘Ad, Tsamud, Lot, etc., who are rebellious; so that be destroyed.
  • Don’t be like ahli kitab (people of the book) who were given book but they changed it, hide some parts of it, and create lies about Allah. Then finally,
  • We have some ayah on Islamic laws.

Now I realized, Allah has a very beautiful way of correcting my understanding on Al-Qur’an. To conclude, my advice to all of us, let’s change the way we approach Qur’an. It’s not a mysterious book! Rather, it’s the light. It’s the light from Allah swt which will enlighten our heart and will guide us to be the winner in this life and in the hereafter, insyaallah. Wallahu’alam.

This worldly life summarized in five words

Like many other people, I very often ask myself, what is this life really about? Why are we here? How to be a successful one? And so on. In looking for this answer, I am very grateful that I am in touch with Al-Qur’an, the only book which consists of literal word of God possessed by human being nowadays. In surah (chapter) Al-Hadid ayah (verse) 20, Allah swt summarized this worldly life in five words. The verse read:

“Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children..”

I’ve read this verse many many times before, but I didn’t really catch the meaning and get the sense of it. Only now, thanks to a good Android app called Qamus alAthar, I can get the meaning of five Arabic words that Allah used in that verse. Arabic is such a beautiful, detail, comprehensive, and deep in meaning language; no wonder why Allah swt chose it as the language of the final revelation. In my experience, merely relying on the ‘common’ translation that we read in our Qur’an will result in lost in meaning as well as lack of understanding. In Qur’an, Allah swt repeatedly asked us to think deeply, over and over again on the ayah of the Qur’an. Only through this exercise we will realize how powerful the Qur’an’s message is. Without further ado, here are the words.

First is la’ibun. The root letter for this word is la-‘a-ba; which means: “played/sported/gamed/jested/joked, pastime (in an unserious thing), engage in idle sport without meaning of purpose, slaver/drivel, stupid/fool.” Looking at this meaning, I internalize the word la’ibun as engaging in something that is not meaningful or purposeful. By internalizing it like this, I personally can see the connection between this word and the reality of life that I observe. In academic world, for example, I’ve seen many people engage in research, which can take almost his entire career, in something that is not meaningful or have no meaning. In Economics for example, we usually try to model human behavior in a very complex mathematical model. Many people have spent most of their career in this field; but then suddenly, when the financial crisis come, unfortunately, these people came to an obvious conclusion, that we can’t model human behavior as a mathematical equation. The reason? Simple. Because we’re human; we’re not an apple who will subject to gravity force when it falls from the tree. Sorry for making it too Economics; but many Economists, they spent most of their life working on this mathematical model which then result in the state of Economics field whereby a good economist is not someone who can provide the most wisdom; rather, it’s the one who can produce the most sophisticated mathematical modelling regardless its relevance to the real world. Again, the point is engaging in something that is not meaningful or purposeful. I believe this phenomenon could be found in other branches of science or other life setting.

Second is lahwun. The root letter for this word is la-ha-wa; which means: “Become diverted from it as to forget it, to preoccupy, beguile, distract, sport/play/amusement, divert, diversion, forget, delight/cheer, turn away, what is thrown, unmindful/careless.” My personal take on this word is that this worldly life is something that will distract, divert, and preoccupy us from worshipping Allah. This is entirely true. We are a living witness of how we and many people are heavily occupied with our daily activities and ambition that we forget our obligation to Allah. Even many Muslim do not observe the five daily prayers, which is basically the minimum standard that we should abide to.

Third is zinatun. The root letter for this word is za-ya-na; which means: “To adorn, deck. Adorn, grace, honor. Adorned, ornamented, decorated, decked, beautified. A grace, a beauty, a comely quality, a physical/intellectual adornment, an honor or a credit, and anything that is the pride or glory of a person or a thing. It [states] are three kinds: Mental: such as knowledge/science and good tenants. Bodily: strength, tallness of stature, beauty of aspect. Extrinsic: wealth, rank or station, dignity.” As we can see, this is a very rich word; and amazingly, it describe vividly the life that we are seeing in our environment. We clearly witness how people around us, or even ourselves, are obsessed with adornment or beauty. The cosmetic, fashion, fitness, etc. are a massive industry. Many people are so obsessed with how they look that they even risk their life for plastic surgery, pay USD 500 just for a branded slipper, and so on. Alhamdulillah that Allah guides us that this is not the right way to go. Again, I should mention a caveat here. This does not mean that Islam wants us to look ugly, dirty, and smell. No. Allah mentioned that what we have in this world, such as pearl, gold, silk, fur, etc. are bounty from Allah. Islam teaches us to look good, smell well, clean, etc.; but what Islam strongly forbid us is to be excessive in doing this. I saw a (branded) slipper priced at USD 500 in Singapore Takashimaya mall. Without a doubt, this brand-worshipper behavior is what we shouldn’t be trapped in.

Fourth is tafaakhurun. The root letter is fa-kha-ra; which means: “Self-glorification/magnification, boast, to disdain/scorn, proud/haughty, long/tall/great, excellent quality, baked pottery/clay, earthen vessel.” This is again very commonly found in our life, isn’t it? A good example for this can be found in Qur’an surah Al-Kahfi ayah 32 to 43. Please take a look.

Fifth is takaatsurun. The root letter is ka-tsa-ra; which means: “To surpass in number in quantity, increase, multiply, happen often, copious, richness; to be much, many, numerous, a man whose ancestors are many or whose good deeds are many. A man possessing much good, river in paradise from which other rivers flow, talkative person.” As we can see, this word does not necessarily imply a negative thing, but what make it negative is what follows in the ayah, i.e. takaatsurun fil amwali wal aulaad; which means surpassing each other in terms of wealth and children. Again, this is very true and easy to spot in our life. Regardless whether it is a President or a gardener, human tends to surpass each other in terms of the quantity of their wealth as well as the (quantity and) quality of their children.

We should be really grateful to Allah swt for showing us things that we should be mindful of in this life. Allah swt then continue the ayah with an even more amazing lesson. Take a look to the continuation of the ayah below.

“…like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris.”

flower-377744_640Allah swt then beautifully give parable for this worldly life. Allah said this worldly life is like a plant which grows due to rain; but then the plant won’t stay beautiful and strong forever. Slowly but surely, unstoppable, the plant will someday turn yellow; and what remains? It just scatters as debris. Subhanallah. This is a very deep lesson for us. No matter how beautiful we are, no matter how smart, strong, wealthy, etc., at some point in time, we’ll just like a plant, we’ll get old and dies. But, unlike plant, our life does not stop here; in fact, the real life has just begun. Prophet Muhammad saw once said, when a human is brought to his grave, three things follow him; but two will go back and one remains. The three things are his family, his property, and his deeds. Family and property will go back, while his deeds will remain with him. This is should be a very strong reminder for us to increase our good deeds before it’s too late.

Allah swt conclude the ayah with the following.

“And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.”

That’s basically conclude this deep and powerful ayah. This life is nothing but a delusionary enjoyment. It may seems enjoyable, but it’s just a delusion. What is true or real is the life in the hereafter. It will be a constant punishment for the disbeliever and an eternal mercy for the believers. May we are among those winners.

Finally, this verse gives many insight to us. To be a successful person in this life and in the hereafter, we better watch out not to fall into the trap of this five words. In doing so, I think we must not:

  1. Engage in un-meaningful and un-purposeful activities. Let’s always ask ourselves before doing something; is this activity really meaningful and purposeful? If so, what’s the purpose?
  2. Being preoccupied with something such that we are diverted or distracted from worshipping Allah swt. This obviously does not mean we can’t do our work, have a career, and then be in Masjid for the whole day. No, it’s quite the contrary, actually. Islam ask us to spread in the earth, looking for Allah’s bounty; but, there is a key principle here, that is we do it only for Allah’s sake and we are continuously aware of Allah’s presence.
  3. Being obsessed to be adorned, either mentally, physically, and extrinsically.
  4. Being boastful.
  5. Surpassing with each other in terms of wealth and children. There is nothing wrong with being wealthy and have a lot of smart children; again, what is highlighted here is being obsessed with and preoccupied to achieve whether we are in the list of 100 richest people in community.

To conclude, I hope from this moment on, whenever we see a blossoming flower, we would be reminded that this world is just like this flower; like it or not, it will come to an end; and the real life will then begin. Wallau’alam bisshawab.

bunga-mekar

Few notes on QS Al-Hajj:78

And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. [It is] the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you “Muslims” before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation] that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. So establish prayer and give zakah and hold fast to Allah. He is your protector; and excellent is the protector, and excellent is the helper. (QS Al-Hajj : 78)

Ayat tersebut merupakan salah satu ayat paling inspirasional bagi saya. Berikut beberapa inspirasi dari ayat tersebut.

Pertama, “And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him”. Allah swt menyuruh kita untuk berjuang sekuat tenaga, i.e. to exhaust our limit dalam mengabdi kepada-Nya; dan dengan pengabdian yang sepantasnya diberikan pada Allah swt. Ketika kita menyadari bahwa pekerjaan yang kita lakukan ditujukan pada seseorang yang sangat penting, biasanya kita berusaha to be as perfect as possible dalam melaksanakannya. Demikian pula hendaknya dalam ibadah kita pada Allah swt. Meskipun kita tidak dapat melihat Alah swt, kita dapat merasakan dengan jelas karunia Allah swt kepada kita. Kita perlu selalu berusaha untuk mengingatkan diri kita bahwa Allah swt senantiasa melihat kita.

Kedua, “He has chosen you…”. Allah swt melihat ada potensi kebaikan di dalam diri kita sehingga Allah swt memilih kita untuk menjadi seorang Muslim. Hal ini memberikan clue bahwa setiap kita memiliki potensi; yang dengan potensi tersebut kita bisa berjuang di jalan Allah swt dan memberi manfaat banyak bagi umat manusia. Hal ini haruslah membuat kita optimis dan berusaha untuk mencari dan mengembangakan potensi yang telah Allah swt berikan tersebut. Banyak di antara kita yang merasa bahwa diri kita tidak memiliki potensi apa-apa. No! That’s very wrong! Jika kita telah menjadi seorang Muslim, maka artinya ada potensi kebaikan luar biasa yang ada dalam diri kita. It’s our task to explore what that potential is. Ayat ini juga menunjukkan bahwa setiap muslim memiliki peran tersendiri bagi agama Islam ini. Mungkin ada yang bisa berperan melalui bakat entreprenurnya; ada yang berperan melalui ilmunya; ada yang berperan melalui tenaga. Ada yang berperan sebagai seorang petani, seorang ulama, dokter, dan seterusnya. Everybody has their share in this religion.

Ketiga, “…and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty”. Ketika kita mengetahui bahwa kita harus berjihad dengan penuh kesungguhan kepada Allah swt, kita tentu merasa mendapat beban yang sangat berat. Kita tentu berpikir, bagaimana mungkin saya dapat beribadah dengan sempurna pada Allah swt di setiap saat? Allah swt mengatakan bahwa Ia tidak membebankan sesuatu yang tidak sangggup kita lakukan dalam agama ini. Rasulullah saw pernah mengatakan, “Agama itu sangat mudah; barang siapa yang membebani dirinya secara berlebihan dalam agamanya, ia tak akan mampu untuk terus-menerus melakukannya. Kamu sekalian hendaknya jangan menjadi ekstrimis, namun selalulah berusaha untuk mencapai kesempurnaan dan terimalah kabar gembira, reward, dari Allah swt. Dapatkanlah kekuatan dari mendirikan shalat pada pagi, petang, dan di akhir malam” (HR Bukhari).

Keempat, “… [It is] the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you “Muslims” before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation]”. Ayat ini menegaskan bahwa kita adalah bagian dari umat Nabi Ibrahim as yang menyembah Allah swt dengan aqidah yang murni. “Mereka tidak disuruh kecuali supaya menyembah Allah dengan memurnikan ketaatan kepada-Nya dalam (menjalankan) agama yang lurus, dan supaya mereka mendirikan shalat dan menunaikan zakat; dan yang demikian itulah agama yang lurus” (QS Al-Bayyinah : 5).

Kelima, “…that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people”. Potongan ayat ini mengingatkan tugas penting kita di dunia, yaitu untuk berda’wah; untuk menyampaikan ajaran Islam. Having lived in London, saya sangat merasa kasihan kepada teman yang belum muslim. Mereka tidak memiliki pegangan. Hidup tanpa memiliki tujuan. Pada sebagian (kecil) waktu mereka memang berbahagia, misalnya saat berkumpul di bar pada jum’at malam, saat menonton sepak bola dan acara entertainment lainnya; but soon enough after that, they’re back to the uncertain and never ending question about the meaning of life. Jika mereka memutuskan untuk adopt certain religion pun, mereka tetap merasa ada yang tidak sempurna. This is not surprising as the guidance can only be found in Qur’an. This is our task.

Keenam, “…So establish prayer and give zakah”. Saya sangat amazed dengan potongan ayat ini. Pertama, betapa tugas yang berat ini, i.e. berjihad dengan sekuat tenaga, berda’wah, dll, dapat ‘diatasi’ dengan dua hal yang ‘sederhana’; yang semestinya sudah biasa kita lakukan, yaitu sholat dan zakat. Kebanyakan kita tentu belum merasa manfaat sepenuhnya dari sholat. My advice to myself and to all of us, mari kita terus memperbanyak ilmu tentang sholat khusyuk dan berusaha untuk mendapatkan kekhusyu’an tersebut. Surely, kita tidak akan pernah mendapat manfaat dari sholat jika sholat kita belum khusyu’. Kedua, potongan ayat ini juga menunjukkan bahwa hubungan sesame manusia dan kesejahteraan sosial merupakan hal penting dalam Islam. Oleh karenanya, kekuatan ekonomi merupakan hal yang mutlak. Bagaimana mungkin kita dapat membayar zakat, sebagaimana yang diperintahkan Allah, jika kita tidak memiliki penghasilan yang cukup?

Ketujuh, “…and hold fast to Allah. He is your protector; and excellent is the protector, and excellent is the helper”. This is very clear, but most of us haven’t practiced it. Di surat Al-Imran, Allah swt telah mengingatkan bahwa jika Allah swt menolong kita, maka tak ada yang dapat mencelakakakan kita; namun jika Allah meninggalkan kita, maka tak akan ada yang dapat menolong kita. So it’s crystal clear that we are very very dependent on Allah; or more precisely, kita tak akan bisa survive tanpa bantuan Allah swt.

This is only one ayat, but there are enormous guidance in it. Semoga kita bisa mempraktekkan hikmah dan petunjuk ini. Wallahua’lam bisshawab.

Diajarkan Allah swt

As life goes on, we encounter many new things in life. In workplace or career setting, this could be in the form on being assigned to a new task, being promoted for a managerial position, or other things which we haven’t previously experienced. In university setting, we same things happen; we could be mandated a leading position in an organization, attempting to join a competition, or as simple as working on class assignment. The question that we usually ask then, Allah, how should I address this? How should I handle this?

I personally have been in many such situations, and I believe I will continue to encounter it. Alhamdulillah, I think I found the answer of how to deal with it in the Qur’an. It’s a short sentence inside the longest verse in Qur’an, QS 2:282. That short sentence is this: “…So be afraid of Allah; and Allah teaches you. And Allah is the All-Knower of each and everything”. Yes, I think that’s the key; be afraid of Allah, and then Allah will teach you. As far as I understand it, this verse is in the context of writing a debt contract. Through this verse, Allah teaches us that a debt contract is an important element in our social interaction. In the verse, Allah teaches the rule regarding this, such as what if the debtor is of poor understanding; how many witnesses are needed; what if we can’t find male witnesses; what if the contract is between trusted parties, etc. As a bit meticulous as it seems, Allah swt, at the end of the verse said, “…So be afraid of Allah; and Allah teaches you. And Allah is the All-Knower of each and everything”. Simply, I understand it as: if you don’t know or unsure about something, then fear Allah; that He will teaches you.

In a larger context, I always internalize this short yet powerful sentence, as a solution for any challenges that I face daily. When I don’t know what to do, when the burden looks very heavy, things aren’t as smooth as I previously anticipated, etc., then we should turn to Allah. Always be afraid of Him. Be afraid that He always sees us, knows what’s inside our heart, and, literally, knows everything that is happening. Umar r.a. once said, fearing Allah swt is as if walking in a slippery surface, i.e. being extremely careful in every step.

Few years back, in the early period of my undergraduate study, I was assigned a leading role in a student organization. As someone who has never experienced a leading role previously, in addition to the fact that I was just someone who just arrived in the Metropolitan city of Jakarta, having previously lived in a small countryside, the task was very daunting for me. But then, Allah fulfilled His promised. He guided me step-by-step along the way. The organization went well; it’s probably among its peak in history; I learned how to deal with university’s top management, I made life-lasting friendship, and many other milestone. In short, my message is only that we should always try to fear Allah, asking His guidance, and, of course, work hard. Insyaallah, as Allah has never betrayed any promises, Allah swt will teaches us, Insyaallah.

Ignorance

Given there are so many non-Muslims, sometimes I ask myself, will Allah swt really punish them all later on? How about the reason why they do not embrace Islam is because they don’t know about Islam.

Then I came across an ayah (verse) from Qur’an depicting the scene when the disbelievers were tortured in the hell fire. They were asked by the angel who guards the hell why they were disbelieve in Allah swt. Take a note to what the disbeliever had to say.

“And for those who disbelieve in their Lord (Allah) is the torment of Hell, and worst indeed is that destination. When they are cast therein, they will hear the (terrible) drawing in of its breath as it blazes forth. It almost bursts up with fury. Every time a group is cast therein, its keeper will ask: “Did no warner come to you?” They will say: “Yes indeed; a warner did come to us, but we belied him and said: ‘Allah never sent down anything (of revelation), you are only in great error.’ “And they will say: “Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we would not have been among the dwellers of the blazing Fire!” Then they will confess their sin. So, away with the dwellers of the blazing Fire.” (QS Al-Mulk 6-11).

In the verses above, the disbeliever will regret that had they listened to the message or used their intelligence. I think this verse answers my doubt, that there are many people disbelieve in Allah just because of ignorance; they just don’t even want to think or consider the religion. In Qur’an there are many verses which point out to nature, which is an ayat (sign) from Allah. Honestly, any reasonable human being, whenever they see the trees, the mountain, the sky, and all creations, they should’ve pondered upon it, and say, all of these things are impossible to exist without a creator. Yet, many of the disbelievers just ignore it; as some of they say, I don’t want think about it at the moment. They keep doing that, until it’s too late that they realize it only when their soul begins to leave their body.

Whenever we look at the creations, we should’ve thought that all of these are impossible to exist without a supreme power who created them. When we’re willing to admit this, obviously we will try to look up for religion as it is where Allah gives guidance to human being. Once we start searching, if we sincere enough, we will easily notice how is Islam is the guidance from our Lord.

There are some verses from Qur’an which stimulate human beings to reflect on the creations.

“Do they not look at the camels, how they are created? And at the heaven, how it is raised? And at the mountains, how they are rooted and fixed firm? And at the earth, how it is spread out? So remind them (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him)), you are only a one who reminds. You are not a dictator over them. Save the one who turns away and disbelieves. Then Allah will punish him with the greatest punishment. Verily, to Us will be their return; Then verily, for Us will be their reckoning.” (QS Al-Ghosiyah: 17-26)

Tell Me! The seed that you sow in the ground. Were it Our Will, We could crumble it to dry pieces, and you would be regretful (or left in wonderment). (Saying): “We are indeed Mughramun (i.e. ruined or lost the money without any profit, or punished by the loss of all that we spend for cultivation, etc.)! [See Tafsir Al-Qurtubi, Vol. 17, Page 219]. “Nay, but we are deprived!” Tell Me! The water that you drink. Is it you who cause it from the rainclouds to come down, or are We the Causer of it to come down? If We willed, We verily could make it salt (and undrinkable), why then do you not give thanks (to Allah)? Tell Me! The fire which you kindle, Is it you who made the tree thereof to grow, or are We the Grower? We have made it a Reminder (for the Hell-fire, in the Hereafter); and an article of use for the travellers (and all the others, in this world). So exalt the name of your Lord, the Most Great.” (QS Al-Waqi’ah 63-74).

May we’re not among the ignorants; and may our belief in Allah increases whenever we see Allah’s creation.

 

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Note: the images are taken from http://earthsky.org/ and https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AsthadiSetyawan/posts.

On Institutional hypothesis of economic growth

There are various hypotheses or theories on the driver of economic growth. The informal one includes geography, culture, and institution. The most well-known among them is institutional hypothesis; proposed mainly by Daron Acemoglu, a professor in MIT Economics Department. In this writing, I want to a little bit discuss on what he said.

Acemoglu said, the quality of institution, such as the property rights protection, rule of law, etc., is the main driver of economic growth. Countries of which institutions are established will have a bigger chance of high economic growth and development. I completely agree with this notion; indeed, it is very easy to spot how weak the institutions in most of developing countries are. Here it comes the more interesting part.

Acemoglu tried to explain why the institutions in various countries are as it is today, i.e. why some countries have better institutions and why some don’t. He concluded, the quality of institutions is largely influenced by the colonials. In countries where the colonials settled, probably due to suitable climate, lower intensity of diseases, etc., the colonials established an institution which sustain good governance; while in countries of which the spread of diseases are quite high or the temperature are not suitable for the (European) colonials, they will tend to establish an extractive institution, i.e. the institution which focus on getting the resources as much as and as quickly as possible from the colonies. I have a little bit issue with this notion.

Implicitly, this notion implies two things. First, the quality of institutions that we are in right now in many developing countries are just as it is; and that we’re just unlucky that the colonial who colonized us were not quite interested to settle in our country. Second, the notion implies the (European) colonial is the main source of good institution, i.e. they know how to manage things well (good governance); while the others don’t. I think, both implications could lead to pessimism and the feeling of inability to change our fate in many developing countries.

Rather than joining the rank of the pessimist, I would rather believe that change is possible. I think it’s not that the (European) colonials were superior that they know to govern well; no. I believe it’s just that because at that moment, until today, they have the knowledge. So yes, the issue here I believe is about knowledge. In the middle ages, around 600 to 1500 A.D., the (European) colonials were in a very dark state; slums, diseases, etc., were everywhere; just like many developing countries today. But then the knowledge were passed on to them from the Muslims. Similarly, the Muslims early on were passed some knowledge from Greek civilization as well. In short, all of these show that what had happened in the past, let it be; we can’t change it; but we have the opportunity to be better, and that opportunity could be (or will only be) unleashed by education. Insyaallah, let’s get those knowledge as much as possible. The mountain of knowledge might be so high that we’re terrified to climb it; but if, we persistently make the effort to climb, insyaallah, we’ll get to the top.

Finally, I would like to conclude with the source of good governance. I could spend pages and pages arguing that Islamic teaching has the most superior set of good governance values. If there are many problems in Muslim majority countries today, it’s because we are the one who do not practice it. The Islamic teaching will just shine as it is. In short, let’s read and understand the Qur’an; let’s read the hadits, as well as the shiroh (Islamic history). We’re at the cover page of the best source of success. Not only in this world, but also in the hereafter, insyaallah. Wallahua’lam.

“See you not how Allah sets forth a parable? – A goodly word as a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the sky (i.e. very high). Giving its fruit at all times, by the Leave of its Lord and Allah sets forth parables for mankind in order that they may remember.” (QS Ibrahim: 24-25)

“Muhammad (SAW) is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and falling down prostrate (in prayer), seeking Bounty from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure. The mark of them (i.e. of their Faith) is on their faces (foreheads) from the traces of (their) prostration (during prayers). This is their description in the Taurat (Torah). But their description in the Injeel (Gospel) is like a (sown) seed which sends forth its shoot, then makes it strong, it then becomes thick, and it stands straight on its stem, delighting the sowers that He may enrage the disbelievers with them. Allah has promised those among them who believe (i.e. all those who follow Islamic Monotheism, the religion of Prophet Muhammad SAW till the Day of Resurrection) and do righteous good deeds, forgiveness and a mighty reward (i.e. Paradise).” (QS AL-Fath:29)

 

 

Being professional in ‘ibadah

I’ve heard quite often that the order of good person in Islam is being a Muslim; and then above that a Mu’min; and then the highest, a Muhsin. This is basically inferred from the quite well-known hadits, i.e. the one when Angel Gabriel visited Prophet Muhammad saw; and inquired about the meaning of Islam, Iman, and Ihsan. He hadits is the following, in case you don’t remember.

“Umar r.a. narrated: While we were one day sitting with the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothes and with very black hair. No traces of journeying were visible on him, and none of us knew him.

He sat down close by the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, rested his knee against his thighs, and said, O Muhammad! Inform me about Islam.” Said the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, “Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity save Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform salah (ritual prayer), pay the zakah, fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House (the Ka’bah at Makkah), if you can find a way to it (or find the means for making the journey to it).” Said he (the man), “You have spoken truly.”

We were astonished at his thus questioning him and telling him that he was right, but he went on to say, “Inform me about iman (faith).” He (the Messenger of Allah) answered, “It is that you believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in fate (qadar), both in its good and in its evil aspects.” He said, “You have spoken truly.”

Then he (the man) said, “Inform me about Ihsan.” He (the Messenger of Allah) answered, “It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him; for though you cannot see Him yet He sees you.” He said, “Inform me about the Hour.” He (the Messenger of Allah) said, “About that the one questioned knows no more than the questioner.” So he said, “Well, inform me about the signs thereof (i.e. of its coming).” Said he, “They are that the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress, that you will see the barefooted ones, the naked, the destitute, the herdsmen of the sheep (competing with each other) in raising lofty buildings.” Thereupon the man went off.

I waited a while, and then he (the Messenger of Allah) said, “O ‘Umar, do you know who that questioner was?” I replied, “Allah and His Messenger know better.” He said, “That was Jibril. He came to teach you your religion.” (HR Muslim)

Previously, I kind of having trouble in understanding what Ihsan really means. Obviously, as it is the highest rank in Islam, I really want to achieve it. However, in Indonesian language, it is simplistically translated as being good, or doing good works. This translation, obviously, is not really helpful to understand what Ihsan really means. Alhamdulillah, my understanding improved last Sunday.

Last Sunday, I went to London Central Mosque, the biggest Masjid in London. While making wudhu’ (ablution), someone (i.e. a stranger) touched my back and said, roughly, “Brother, you should sit down; we are doing it for Allah; we should do it at the best possible way!” Then I looked at the wet small chair provided. He kind of understood what I thought, and said, “Brother, even though it’s wet, it’s okay; we’re doing it for Allah”. Obviously I don’t want to sit on a wet chair, besides, as far as I know it’s not compulsory to do ablution while sitting; nonetheless, I have no interest to argue with him, and then just moved finding a dry chair ablution facility. Later on, I kind of think what he just said to me. “We are doing it for Allah; we should do it at the best possible way”. Even though it’s very simple, I then found it very profound.

Doing something at the best possible way, in a more familiar word means being professional in doing something. I know what it means and what I takes of being professional in doing my work, in doing paper presentation, writing paper, etc. In doing paper presentation, for example, I understand-and has been practicing it-that every single move or body language should be measured; the intonation, the volume, etc. should be done in a measured way. Yet, the notion of being professional in doing something for Allah, i.e. ‘ibadah, in the sense that I should do at the best possible way, a clearly measured move, etc., has just never crossed my mind before. Suddenly, Alhamdulillah, I understand what Rasulullah saw means by Ihsan. I believe, to be precise, Ihsan should be translated as being professional, or doing something at the best possible way. I am very embarrassed and regretful, that how could when doing presentation, work, paper writing, etc., I can do it in a very very good way; while in ‘ibadah, such as praying, I didn’t regards it as something that should be perfectly done.

Since that day, Alhamdulillah, I think the quality of my sholat or praying has improved. When I stand up for praying, I tell myself, I should be as professional as possible in this sholat; be it in terms of perfect movement, good concentration; clear recitation, etc. Also in doing dzikir, for example, if previously while doing dzikir, quite often I might think about something else, now, Alhamdulillah, I understand that Allah is watching me, thus I want to act as professional or as good as possible in front of Him. Now I understand, what Rasulullah saw said about Ihsan, “It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him; for though you cannot see Him yet He sees you.”

Now, I internalized myself, that when I’m doing ‘ibadah, I am facing my Rabb, the Lord of the World, obviously, I should do it a perfect manner. All thanks to Allah swt who showed me the way; and obviously, many thanks to the (unknown) brother that is willing and courageous enough to remind me. Alhamdulillah, may we become a Mushin, someone that is professional in his ‘ibadah.

On discipline

Status

Most of the time, the main issue is not the lack of knowledge; rather it’s the lack of discipline to act on that knowledge. I’ve never think that Indonesia and many other developing countries are underdeveloped due to the lack of knowledge of proper policy; rather, I believe it’s because of the lack of good governance.

It’s as simple as thinking like our own affairs. A successful person is a discipline, ‘goodly governed’ person. We can’t expect someone to be a good artist, farmer, teacher, or merchant, without being discipline to their own. A developed country is the accumulation of a developed individual.

I’ve wronged myself

One of the main differences between Prophet Adam a.s. and Iblis is their reaction after they’ve wronged themselves.

After Allah swt punished Iblis due to their refusal to prostrate to Adam, Iblis’ response was to put the blame on Allah swt, i.e. to claim that it is Allah swt the one that has led them astray.

“(Iblîs) said: “Because You have sent me astray, surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path (16) Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones (i.e. they will not be dutiful to You)” (QS Al-A’raf 15-16)

In contrast, when Adam a.s. was sent down to Earth as a punishment, the first thing that he did was to admit that he made the mistake and then ask Allah for His forgiveness.

“They said: “Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers.” (QS Al-A’raf: 23)

We clearly has made a lot of mistakes. Allah swt has put a feeling, i.e. the feeling of guilty, inside ourselves that we may admit those mistakes and then ask for forgiveness and mercy to Allah swt. This is the right way to react on that feeling of guilty; instead of feeling desperate and despair from Allah’s mercy.

After admitting that we’ve wronged ourselves, the next thing that we have to do is to do as much as good deed as possible. Prophet Musa (Moses) a.s., when he fled Egypt after killing someone, he was terrified and felt guilty; but watch what he has to say to Allah swt after helping two ladies taking water from a well:

“So he escaped from there, looking about in a state of fear. He said: “My Lord! Save me from the people who are Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrong-doers)!” (21) And when he went towards (the land of) Madyan (Midian) he said: “It may be that my Lord guides me to the Right Way.” (22) And when he arrived at the water of Madyan (Midian) he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: “What is the matter with you?” They said: “We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take (their flocks). And our father is a very old man.” (23) So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: “My Lord! truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!” (QS Al-Qasas: 21-24)

In short, Prophet Musa a.s. said to Allah swt that he is in a need of any good deeds that he can do to compensate the mistake that he did. This is a very inspirational example on how we should react towards mistakes that we made; we should admit to Allah swt that we made the mistake, ask for His forgiveness and mercy, and then actively seek any good deeds opportunity. Indeed, “the good deeds remove the evil deeds (i.e. small sins) (QS 11:114). May we always be on the straight path until we see our Lord in the hereafter.

Something extraordinary needs to be done

I believe we need to constantly ask ourselves; what are the reasons that we are worthy of Allah’s forgiveness and mercy? Most of the time, we don’t even consider success in the hereafter as indicator of our success. We are heedless and occupied with the never-satisfying worldly ambitions.

Living in non-Muslim majority country in the past four years has made me aware of the stark differences between western ideals and what Islam teach us. Islam teach us to obey and submit ourselves before Allah; while western ideals suggest to live a ‘successful’ life and ‘to have fun’. While we’re taught in Islam to have sami’na wa ata’na mentality; western ideals suggest to question religious orders; up to the point questioning the existence of God itself. Islam teaches what matters is what inside our heart; while in western world, what matters is how we look.

My position would just only be to absorb any good values that this society has; while putting a clear boundary between what I can accept and what I can’t. Now, my only concern is just how I can win Allah’s forgiveness and mercy. I don’t think by merely separating myself away from the ‘un-Islamic’ values would be enough. Alhamdulillah, that very often, before starting my study I would ask myself again and again why I am doing this; spending almost 12 hours in campus. Alhamdulillah that it helps me to stay focus on my intention; but obviously this is not enough. Something extraordinary needs to be done.

the big names that we often hear in Islamic history has clearly did something extraordinary. Some accomplished noble achievements; some endured great trials. Time is running out for me, and for all of us; we ought to answer and act upon: how can we win Allah’s forgiveness and mercy?

BJ Habibie

Bapak BJ Habibie has truly been an eternal inspiration for us. He’s the model for how a Muslim in the post modern world should be. His mind-set has always been as a problem solver, professional, and leader by heart. He has inspired us that we’re able. We’re capable. He will always be remembered as a good Muslim who continuously work hard for his people. His great legacy will always be continued, and insyaallah, with upcoming rewards from Allah swt in the hereafter. Now it’s our turn. It’s our time. Let us also be a problem solver, optimist, hard worker, contributor, and inspiring human being as he has always been. Barokallahu’alaik Pak Habibie.

Let’s raise the rhythm

Status

Where are our position in the companion of Rasulullah SAW? Will we be eligible to meet him and be with him later in akhirah? The companions of Rasulullah SAW had struggled with Rasulullah SAW in a way that we might not be even dare to do it today. Where are our position in the eyes of Rasulullah SAW? Unless we follow his path and continue his mission, we would remain far away from him. Let’s raise the rhythm.

Our life mission

Status

When Rasulullah SAW was sent by Allah SWT more than 1400 years ago, the people around him was in jahiliyah state; they worshiped idols, wealth, status, etc. Nowadays, the world is definitely in a much modern state, yet the state of the time is still the same as 1400 years ago. People still worship idols, wealth, status, etc. What a progress that Islam had made since the revelation of Qur’an until the set back which then brought the world back to the jahiliyah state.

Realizing this, we should be aware that our life mission is definitely to continue this message (risalah). We may live in a different set of time with Rasulullah SAW; but our life mission is unchanged; we live to spread the tauhid, that is there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is his messenger. Thus, we may be a doctor, an economist, an accountant, merchant, farmer, etc., but still, our main role is da’i, i.e. those who call for tauhid. Let’s not be deceived by Syaithan with worldly orientation which will separate us away from Allah swt and our life mission.

Hari yang cerah

One morning in London

One morning in London

Hari yang cerah di kota London. Dari jendela kamar, terlihat langit biru dihiasi awan putih, seperti kapas yang bergerak diterbangkan angin. Di sudut jendela, terlihat pucuk daun yang masih hijau, masih basah, disiram hujan tadi malam. Daun-daun yang belum berguguran juga bergerak ditiup angin. Alhamdulillah, what an amazing scenery. Alhamdulillah atas ni’mat penglihatan yang Allah swt berikan.

Selepas sholat dhuha, hatipun sangat tergerak untuk membaca Al-Qur’an surat Al-Mulk. Ayat pertama cocok sekali dengan pemandangan di luar jendela. Tabarakalladzi biyadihil mulk, Maha Suci Allah yang menguasai (segala) kerajaan; wa huwa ‘ala kulli syai’in qadiir, dan Dia Maha Kuasa atas segala sesuatu.

Pemandangan yang indah ini tentu berlanjut pada pemikiran, what a beautiful world; what a great life; Dari jendela terlihat bus iconic kota London yang berwarna merah. Orang-orang sibuk dengan kegiatan mereka. Ada yang bahkan tak sadar dengan keindahan alam karena selalu dikejar kesibukan, atau mungkin lebih tepat, selalu mengejar kesibukan. Untuk apakah hidup ini? Apakah ia hanya life for the sake of life itself? Ayat kedua, dengan tepat menjelaskan, alladzi khalaqal mauta wal hayata, Yang menciptakan mati dan hidup; liyabluwakum, untuk menguji kamu; ayyukum ahsanu ‘amala, siapa di antara kamu yang paling baik amalnya; wa huwal ‘azizul ghafur, dan Dia Maha Perkasa dan Maha Pengampun.

Ayat ketiga lanjut meneruskan gambaran kekuasaan Allah swt di angkasa. Alladzi khalaqasab’a samawati thibaqa, yang telah menciptakan tujuh langit berlapis-lapis; maa tara fi khalqirrahmani min tafaawuts, tidak akan kamu lihat sesuatu yang tidak seimbang pada ciptaan yang Maha Pengasih; farji’il bashara hal tara min futuur, maka lihatlah sekali lagi, adakah kami lihat sesuatu yang cacat?

Alhamdulillah, segala puji dan syukur pada Allah swt telah menunjukkan tujuan hidup melalui Al-Qur’an; yaitu untuk beramal dengan sebaik-baiknya, di mana pun kita berada, pada apa pun pekerjaan kita. Insyaallah, mari beramal sebaik-baiknya sepanjang waktu, selama Allah swt masih memberi kesempatan untuk hidup di bumi yang indah ini. Semoga kelak kita bisa hidup abadi di Surga Allah swt yang indah dan penuh dengan kenikmatan.

Endorsement for Bayyinah.tv

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim,,

If I had to give only one advice for someone, then that one advice would be: study the Qur’an. Yes, study the Qur’an. I believe there is no other important things in this world other than Qur’an. It is the light, it is the healing for what’s in the chest, it is the guidance for everything in our life.

Probably some of us might think, if it’s that good, then why can’t we feel the benefit from our previous interaction with it? Well, first, probably we haven’t interact long enough with it; second, probably we haven’t understand what it really says. For the first problem, obviously, the only solution is to give more time for Qur’an. There are countless useless deeds that we might do everyday, let’s try to get rid of those. Indeed, when we spend more time with Qur’an, insyaallah, we’ll have more time to think and will be able to see things from different perspective. For the second problem, I believe it’s a very very common problem in every Muslim, in any country. If those who understand Arabic still don’t get the message; very understandable that we, who don’t speak Arabic, can’t comprehend what Qur’an says either.

Alhamdulillah, I think there is one solution for this second problem. Probably most of us already knew about this website: http://www.bayyinah.tv/sp/9942-bayyinah-tv. In this website, Ustadz Nouman Ali Khan tries to explain the messages of Qur’an which are hidden or missing from the current translation that we have; because indeed, Arabic is a very beautiful-precise language which sometimes challenging to be translated in a short space.

After listening for a year to the program, i.e. Qur’an cover to cover, alhamdulillah, I realize that there are many wrong perceptions that I had about Qur’an which really deteriorate the way I understand Allah’s revelation. For example, previously, I think that the order of ayah (verse) and surah (chapter) in the Qur’an does not matter because the Qur’an was not revealed all at once in order. Later on, I realize that there are many hikmah (lessons) that we can get from understanding why an ayah comes after certain ayah; or why a surah comes after certain surah. The understanding of this orderliness of ayah and surah in the Qur’an really makes me trust Qur’an even more. Another previously wrong-held belief is on the message of Qur’an. Previously, probably because of media brainwashing or secular education system, I treated what’s written in the Qur’an as something that Allah talked in the past, specifically to Quraish nation. Alhamdulillah, after listening to the program, now I completely convinced that every single ayah that Allah swt revealed in the Qur’an is indeed relevant to the present day.

Alhamdulillah, now, every time I read Qur’an, I understand it as personal message or personal order from Allah to me. Now, every time I read Qur’an, I read it as an instruction for action from Allah swt. I can’t say anything more than alhamdulillahirabbil ‘alamin; thank you Allah swt for introducing and giving me the Qur’an. May Allah swt always strengthen our iman.

“So whoever Allah wants to guide – He expands his breast to [contain] Islam; and whoever He wants to misguide – He makes his breast tight and constricted as though he were climbing into the sky. Thus does Allah place defilement upon those who do not believe.

And this is the path of your Lord, [leading] straight. We have detailed the verses for a people who remember.

For them will be the Home of Peace with their Lord. And He will be their protecting friend because of what they used to do.” (QS Al-An’am:125-127).

 

Note: access to Bayyinah.tv is restricted to subscriber; $11 per month; you can’t spend your money on thing better than this =)

Inspiration

Awareness of a mission is something that makes everything we do is worthwhile. People who wasted their life did so because they forgot to set or to recall what their life missions are. However, as we human being tends to forget and busy with daily routine, awareness of a mission itself is not enough. We need something to strengthen or to remind us of that mission; that thing is inspiration. In another words, we should surround ourselves with inspiration to stay on the track of our life mission.

Speaking about inspiration, one remarkable person who inspire me quite well is Pak Dino Djalal; Indonesian ambassador to the US who just resigned to join Democrat Party Convention. I am not only inspired by his bold decision of resigning from his job; but more importantly, I see him as someone who has a lot of positive energy. Indeed, he repeatedly stresses the importance of positive energy, optimism, and strongly against cynicism. As he put it, orang yang sinis tidak akan pernah sukses.

Let’s fill our life with positive energy; with optimism. Believing that we can do something, achieving something is already half way towards the victory. Indeed, there’s no success for the cynical person.

When I am back to Indonesia, especially Jakarta, I can feel the aura or the feeling of pessimism. Pasrah pada nasib, if we can call it. When I went back to my home town, a city 200 km from Padang, the aura is even more. People live with the feeling that there’s nothing that they can do with their life. This is obviously entirely incorrect. Allah almighty has endowed us with many assets. He gave us mind as well to think. Probably, most of us lost our optimism somewhere during our childhood.

Let’s dare to dream big and work hard to achieve it. Allah grant the wish of non-believer who work hard; and I believe He will even be more generous to those whose life mission is to uphold this religion and help this ummah. So restate again your life mission in accordance to what Allah order us to do and then work hard-really hard- to achieve it.

Lastly, I would like to close with Pak Dino’s tips for success in his Mata Najwa interview: take risk, keep innovate, and serve the people. I wish the best of luck for Pak Dino’s candidacy. Semoga selalu dalam hidayah Allah.