The Beauty of Islam

I just attended a weekly Qur’an reflection circle organized by GWU Muslim Student Association (MSA). We were reading Al-Qur’an Surah Rum (The Roman, 30) ayat 33-42. There are endless interesting points in these ayat, as usually are with Qur’an ayat. I would like to highlight one part related with (conventional) economics theory. The respective ayat are as follows.

“Do they not see that Allah extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]? Indeed, in that are signs for a people who believe.

So give to the kindred his due, and to Al-Miskin (the poor) and to the wayfarer. That is best for those who seek Allah’s Countenance, and it is they who will be successful.

And that which you give in gift (to others), in order that it may increase (your wealth by expecting to get a better one in return) from other people’s property, has no increase with Allah, but that which you give in Zakat seeking Allah’s Countenance then those, they shall have manifold increase.” (Q.S. Rum: 37-39).

In economics theory, there are strands of literature related with human behavior regarding the life/business cycle (i.e. the ups and downs of economic/financial condition). Among of the theories are the permanent income hypothesis and certainty equivalence. The theories say human or an economic agent will try to smooth out its consumption path in order to maximize its utility. The consumption allocation will be based on that of permanent income, i.e. the part of income that is expected to be stable, rather than the actual income. Central to these theories is that there will be savings and borrowings, i.e. people will save during good time and borrow during bad time. This savings and borrowings take place in a market called asset market, which will be cleared/settled with an equilibrium interest rate. Interest rate is key in this economy because it incentivizes people to save and penalizes people for borrowing. The model also predicts, at the end of the day, there will be large asset accumulation on individuals with the highest savings rate (i.e. the most patience individual).

Smoothing out the impact of business cycle fluctuation is part of Islam teaching (e.g. in Surah Yusuf). However some part of the theory above is not what Allah SWT teaches. In these ayat 37-39, Allah SWT sets a system for us in living this life: for sure there will be ups and downs; but there is a system set up for this: we should help our kindred, the miskin (people who are stuck in difficult situation and cannot get out), and the wayfarer. In addition, Allah SWT in ayah 39 forbids the use of interest rate (usury) among us, something very central in the conventional economics theory. Allah SWT forbids us to take advantage of people who are in needy situation. Listening to this, many economists would argue there will be incentive problem: if there is no interest rate, then people will be less likely to save (due to no rewards) and people would expect to get ‘free’ loan during bad time. In short, people will game/free ride on the system which in the end will lead to an equilibrium where there will be no body saves. However, as Allah SWT is great, His system will not fail. He mentions in verse 38 that helping the kindred, miskin, and wayfarer is a very good act. Helping people is an act of those who seek Allah’s countenance and will lead them to be successful in akhirah (hereafter). This is something insightful and in contrast with standard economic theory. In standard economic theory, human being is assumed to maximize their utility function which usually contains their consumption/wealth. However Allah SWT mentions that the reward in akhirah should be in our utility function, i.e. our utility should not only depends on how much stuffs we consume and how much money we have, but it should be about our state in akhirah. Thus by having this akhirah rewards in mind, actually the removal of interest rate will not make people save less, but rather people will save more because they want to help other people in need in order to seek Allah’s pleasure. This is a great way of life that Allah SWT teaches us.

On another point, it is very interesting in ayah 37, Allah SWT mentions, the fact that there are heterogeneity in terms of wealth/endowment/provision level across human being is actually a sign of Allah’s existence. This is a stark contrast to many atheist argument who says how can there is God if there are many poor people suffering. In this ayah, Allah SWT says actually these heterogeneity is a sign of His existence. This sign will be understood by the faithful (“…in that are signs for a people who believe.”). We always ask Allah SWT to grant us clear mind so we can understand and see through His revelation. Probably one of the wisdom why we human being have different level of wealth is because the heterogeneity is crucial for our life. How so? Maybe if all people are endowed with equal amount of wealth (no heterogeneity), e.g. all people are equally wealthy, there will be less interaction among human being, less empathy, less entrepreneurial efforts, less innovation, and many other things which will render our society worse off compared to the setting with heterogeneity among us. Only Allah knows the true wisdom (hikmah) behind this. May Allah SWT grants us wisdom to understand His teaching.

Finally, to conclude, how lucky and elevated we are to be given and blessed with Al-Qur’an. It is a book full of wisdom and beautiful way of life. From Qur’an we know who our creator is, what He wants us to do, where we are going to go, and how we can live this life in the best way. May we are among people who take Qur’an as its guidance and not among those who disregard and abandon it.


When the eventual test arrives

Tests from Allah SWT is life reality. It is then very important to have a proper mindset when dealing with it. I found the lecture below by Syaikh Hamza Yusuf is a good one. The lecture is from the beginning of the video until minute 6:45. If you prefer to read, the lecture transcript is below. Salam,

You have to realize everything that is happening is from Allah. You don’t get depressed. People, if you forget about Allah, you end up getting depressed. You think that things are black and gloomy and doom… No! We don’t believe this. We believe in happy ending. The root of western civilization is tragedy. If you look at the major masterpieces of western literature, they’re all tragic. They have horrible endings; everybody dies. That’s not the Muslim-view. Our stories in the Qur’an, they are all good endings. If you look in the Qur’an, they are good endings. The good guy, the good people win. No matter how bleak it looks out there, it’s dunya (worldly life). Dunya means the lowest place. Ad-dunya. We are on the bottom, there is only up from here. Really, there is only up. This place, Wallahi (by Allah).

All of you, I give you sincere advice and myself. This place is designed to break your heart. It was designed that way. If you’re looking to be happy in the dunya, you’re in the wrong place. If Allah gave you a horrible spouse, you can get out of it; and He might give you another horrible spouse. Of you don’t find a spouse and then you’re lonely and you wish you were with your horrible spouse because at least being with him or her there was somebody to talk to. And then he might make you happy. But you look, how many wealthy people do you know that have a lot of wealth who have children that are in tribulation, who have sons that are completely wayward? Really, look out there. People are in tribulation. You think you are looking at him because he has a big house, he a nice Mercedes. If you were in his shoes you might say, “I want to be back in my old shoes, even though they have holes in them. Because at least I can sleep at night. In his shoes I have to take all these pills to go to sleep.”

Everybody has their tribulations and it’s very rare that people have a happy and wonderful life. Those people are rare and they are an ayat min ayatillah (sign from God signs). Ibnu Abbas RA said, the foundation of dunya is tribulation. So if you are in ni’mah (blessings), it’s easier in some ways and in some ways it is not. Because it’s easier to forget Allah when things go well. It’s much more difficult to forget Allah when things are difficult. That’s why the Sahaba (companions) said “when things are easy, they are always followed by hard times; whereas when things are hard they are always followed by easy times.” So they prefer to be waiting for the ease than to be waiting for the hardship. Because there’s a hadits (saying of Prophet) and it’s hasan (sound): “The best worship is waiting for the ease from Allah to come when you are in hardship”. So if Muslims would just have that perspective, they would realize that if I’m patient here with all these tribulations, I’m in ‘ibadah (worship). You could just be sitting in your house and if you’re muhtasib with Allah, you’re in ‘ibadah. But if you’re there complaining and ask why always me; and everything’s horrible and it’s doom and gloom and it’s all black and it’s all dark, Allah will give you more things to complain about. And He’ll give you some real things to complain about, because there’s hadits, if you complain about small calamities, Allah gives you great calamities. And that’s why Ibn Abbas RA said that in every ni’mah, there are three ni’mah. In every tribulation there are three blessings.

The first one is that it could be worse than it is. Second, that it’s in your worldly matters and not in your deen (religion). Like if you lose money; it’s money. But if you lose deen, you lost everything. So that’s a ni’mah. There is a prayer that Prophet teaches us: “O Allah, please don’t make our calamities be in our deen”. If you think about it; he didn’t say “O Allah, please don’t give us calamities”. Do you see the du’a (supplication)? He didn’t say, don’t give us any calamities. He said, don’t give us calamities in our deen. We’re going to get tribulation and we know that. Because that’s the nature of dunya (so that Allah can test you, QS 2:155). So we’re going to get tribulation, but we ask don’t make it in deen; make it in dunya. So it’s a ni’mah. If you lost your job, say Alhamdulillah (all praise to Allah) that I didn’t miss my prayers. Alhamdulillah, I didn’t lose my imaan (faith). Alhamdulillah there’s wudhu (ablution) and a place to pray. Because jobs come and go. But deen once it’s gone; Allahu’alam (Allah knows best) if you’ll ever get it back. And then the final one it’s in this world, in dunya and not in akhirah. As long as the musibah (difficulty) is in this world, it’s a ni’mah. Because the real musibah is the musibah in the next world. So if you look at that and realize; we’re in blessing. Wallahi (by Allah), the whole lot of us. Some may be more than others outwardly, more observable, but the whole ummah is in blessing, Wallahi. The whole thing: Palestine, Kashmir, Shihan, everywhere. We’re in ni’mah and you have to see it; you have to see it. Because we have Allah. The people of kuffar (non-believers), they have no Lord. We have Allah SWT and as long as you have Allah, they can’t take anything away from you. Everything you desire exist with Allah SWT. So if you have Allah, you have everything you desire. If you don’t have Allah, nothing can make you happy. Nothing! It will all bring you misery. Wallahi, and that’s the truth. It’s not a lie.

Rasulullah SAW

A beautiful nasyid by Malaysia’ inteam nasyid group below. It reminds me how far below I have fallen on the standard and expectation set the beloved Rasulullah SAW. When death approaches, his main concern was still his ummah. May Allah SWT helps to get better and closer to expectation Rasulullah has set.

“Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”. (QS Ali-Imran:31)

Life lesson

Delapan tafakkur Hatim a-Asham, seorang ulama ukhrawi, berikut insyaallah sangat bermanfaat bagi kehidupan kita.

Pertama, aku melihat ke sekeliling dan memperhatikan bahwa setiap orang mempunyai obyek cinta dan kekasih masing-masing dan ingin terus hidup bersama dengan yang dicintainya itu hingga ke liang lahat. Ketika masuk kuburan ia berpisah dengan yang dicintainya itu. Aku lalu merenungkan firman Allah berikut, “Kita semua milik Allah dan kepada-Nya kita akan kembali”. Karena itu, aku menjadikan amal baikku sebagai obyek cinta. Ketika meninggal, amal baikku akan menyertaiku masuk kubur.

Kedua, aku memperhatikan firman Allah, “Dan adapun orang yang takut kepada kebesaran Tuhannya dan menahan diri dari keinginan hawa nafsunya, maka sesungguhnya surgalah tempat tinggalnya” (QS An-Nazi’at: 40). Aku sadar bahwa firman Allah Swt benar. Kemudian aku berjuang keras untuk menahan nafsuku dan aku merasa puas dengan taat kepada Allah.

Ketiga, aku memperhatikan manusia di sekitarku dan mendapati bahwa mereka menghargai apa saja yang dimilikinya. Lalu aku mengkaji ayat Allah berikut, “Apa yang ada di sisimu akan lenyap, dan apa yang ada di sisi Allah adalah kekal” (QS An-Nahl:96). Maka aku pesembahkan kepada Allah apa-apa yang jatuh ke tanganku.

Keempat, aku memperhatikan manusia di sekelilingku dan menyaksikan mereka menggantungkan diri pada harta, nama, kemahsyuran, kehormatan dan kemulyaannya dan mendapati semua itu tidak berarti apa-apa. Lalu aku merenungkan firman Allah berikut, “Sesungguhnya yang termulia di antara kamu pada sisi Allah adalah yang paling takwa” (QS Al-Hujurat:13). Maka aku meningkatkan takwaku kepada Allah dalam hidup ini hingga aku menjadi orang yang dimuliakan Allah.

Kelima, aku memandang manusia di sekitarku dan mendapati bahwa mereka saling menikam dan mengutuk karena rasa dengki dan benci. Kemudian aku memperhatikan ayat Allah berikut, “Kami telah membagi-bagikan penghidupan di antara mereka dalam kehidupan dunia ini” (QS Az-Zukhruf:32). Maka aku tinggalkan rasa dengki dan benci lalu aku menyadari bahwa rezeki berasal dari Allah dan aku agak menjauhkan diri dari manusia.

Keenam, aku memperhatikan manusia di sekitarku dan mendapati bahwa mereka saling berbuat durhaka antara satu dengan yang lain. Bahkan banyak di antara mereka saling membunuh. Lalu aku membaca ayat Allah berikut, “Sesungguhya setan itu musuh kamu, karena itu perlakukan dia sebagai musuh” (QS Fathir:6). Maka aku menjadikan setan sebagai musuh dan tidak lagi memusuhi manusia.

Ketujuh, aku menyaksikan manusia di sekelilingku dan mendapati mereka mencari penghidupannya masing-masing dan untuk itu mereka bersedia menghinakan diri dan melakukan hal-hal yang dilarang agama. Kemudian aku mencermati firman Allah berikut, “Dan tidak ada suatu binatang melata pun di muka bumi melainkan Alah yang memberi rezekinya…” (QS Hud:6). Menyadari bahwa aku merupakan salah satu ‘binatang melata’ yang rezekinya tergantung pada Allah, aku lalu menunaikan apa-apa yang menjadi hak Allah dan menyadarkan penghidupanku kepada-Nya.

Kedelapan, aku memperhatikan manusia dan mendapati bahwa setiap orang bergantung pada makhluk, sebagian pada kekayaan, pekerjaan, perusahaan dan sebagian lainnya pada kesehatan fisiknya. Kemudian aku mencoba menghayati firman Allah berikut. “Dan barangsiapa tawakal kepada Allah niscaya Allah akan mencukupan keperluannya” (QS Ath-Talaq:3). Maka aku bersandar dan bertawakal kepada Allah dan dia sudah cukup bagiku.

(Dikutip dari buku Ihya Ulumiddin, Bab 1 tentang Ilmu).

What’s in the heart

All that matter in this life is our relationship with Allah SWT. All other things are unworthy or of secondary importance. That being said, it implies no matter what happens in life, as long as our relationship with Allah SWT remains intact, then we are good. For me this is important, having endured some unfavorable moments recently. All praise to Allah SWT that strengthens to go through it well.

As human being, we dislike test. Many kids dislike exam. It is something that we are nervous about. On top of that, the difficulty of the exam is increasing once we pass the previous level. Thus, it is not that we are done after passing an exam, but rather, we are just being readied for another exam, with higher difficulty, to arrive. Simple resemblance to daily life: after mid-semester test, there will be final semester test, which of course has higher level of difficulty. After first year test, there will be second year test, with of course higher difficulty, and so on.

So again, as we human being naturally dislike test, I personally was a bit disappointed that actually life itself by definition is a test. Allah SWT said in Qur’an (underline added), “Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion, and He is Able to do all things. Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving” (Q.S. Al-Mulk: 1-2). All of us also dislike sadness. But as life is full of test, the test itself can be in form of sadness. Allah SWT said, “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” (Q.S. Al-Baqoroh: 155-156). Furthermore, I find it very surprising what the people of paradise said when they realized the ni’mah (bounty) that they have in paradise. Allah SWT mentioned in the Qur’an (underline added): “‘Adn (Eden) Paradise (everlasting Gardens) will they enter, therein will they be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls, and their garments there will be of silk (i.e. in Paradise). And they will say, “Praise to Allah, who has removed from us [all] sorrow. Indeed, our Lord is Forgiving and Appreciative -He who has settled us in the home of duration out of His bounty. There touches us not in it any fatigue, and there touches us not in it weariness [of mind].” (Q.S. Fathir: 33-35). I find it very interesting. The people of paradise could have said many things, but here the first thing they are being grateful to Allah for is that because Allah SWT has removed sorrow from them.

At first, I found the fact we are always going to be tested with an increasing difficulty as a bit depressing, but then I realized that Allah SWT actually gave us the tools or hints to overcome all of these tests, no matter how hard they are. The tools are shabr (patience/perseverance) and du’a (prayer). SujudAllah SWT said, “O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Q.S. Al-Baqoroh: 153). Allah SWT also said, “And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah], who are certain that they will meet their Lord and that they will return to Him.” (Q.S. Al-Baqoroh: 45-46). From these verses, shabr and prayer are very central for our life to finish all the tests well. It is then very important for all of us to always strengthen our shabr. Indeed, this is what Allah SWT told us to do, “O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.” (Q.S. Ali-Imran: 200).

Finally, I would like to remind myself that that all of these should not make us live this life full with nervousness, sadness and without happiness. In fact, Rasulullah SAW never do that. He is a person with life contentment. And the reason, I believe is because he knows that all that matter in this life is our relationship with Allah SWT. As long as the relationship is strong, then no matter what happened in life, it does not matter. It also means that we should not place in our heart any other things than Allah SWT. If we place this world in our heart, then surely disappointment and sadness with come because this world is not everlasting. The only one everlasting is Allah SWT, thus it should be the only one inside our heart. May Allah SWT strengthens our shabr to pass all of the tests until we finally meet Him in paradise. Wallahu’alam bisshawab. 

It’s okay to make ‘wrong’ choice, as long as …

Hidup adalah pilihan. Setiap hembusan nafas adalah pilihan. Menulis tulisan ini adalah pilihan antara menulis atau melakukan kegiatan lain. Dalam hal yang lebih besar, mungkin bentuk pilihannya adalah apakah sebaiknya kuliah atau bekerja; jika kuliah apakah sebaiknya mengambil jurusan A atau B; jika ikut organisasi, apakah sebaiknya organisasi A atau B; serta pilihan-pilihan lainnya.

Tantangan dalam membuat pilihan tentu saja adalah kita tidak ingin membuat pilihan yang salah dan berujung penyesalan. Namun tentu, kita baru tahu akibat pilihan tersebut di kemudian hari.

Dalam membuat pilihan yang baik kita tentunya berusaha mengumpulkan informasi sebanyak mungkin sehingga kita dapat membayangkan hasil/akibatnya. Namun sering kali setelah berusaha menggali informasi, masih tetap saja ada ketidakpastiaan. Karena pilihan harus segera dibuat, apa yang sebaiknya kita lakukan?

Bagi sebagian orang yang selalu berusaha melakukan sesuatu dengan baik dan terencana, mereka cenderung merasa khawatir/nerveous jika hal yang mereka lakukan berujung tidak baik dan berbuah penyesalan. Dalam konteks pilihan, mereka selalu khawatir bagaimana kalau seandainya pilihan yang saya buat itu salah?

Terkait hal ini, setelah mempelajari pilihan-pilihan dengan baik, saya berpendapat bahwa pilihan apapun yang dibuat hasilnya adalah baik atau tidak akan ‘salah’, selama syaratnya terpenuhi. Apa syaratnya? Syaratnya adalah saat melakukan pilihan, kita memurnikan niat bahwa kita membuat pilihan tersebut dengan maksud untuk memaksimalkan ibadah kita pada Allah atau memaksimalkan ridha Allah. Dengan kata lain, selama kita selalu meniatkan pilihan kita untuk memaksimalkan ridha Allah, maka ketika dihadapkan pada ketidakpastian, padahal sudah berusaha menggali informasi, pilih saja salah satu, apapun hasilnya adalah baik. Ini adalah makna memurnikan niat.

Saya sebelumnya tidak terlalu paham dengan hikmah dari perintah Rasulullah SAW untuk membaca basmallah sebelum melakukan pekerjaan apapun. Dalam Bahasa Indonesia, basmallah diartikan ‘dengan menyebut nama Allah’. Terjemahan ini terasa asing dan janggal, karena dalam Bahasa Indonesia, dalam percakapan sehari-hari kita tidak pernah menggunakan kata dengan menyebut nama A atau nama B dalam sebuah kalimat. Sekarang, saya berfikir, agar lebih tepat, seharusnya basmallah ini dipahami sebagai, ‘saya melakukan ini untuk mencari ridha Allah’. Contohnya ketika akan makan Apel, sebelum makan, kita berfikir bahwa saya memakan ini untuk mencari ridha Allah. Bagaiman bisa makan Apel  bisa mencari ridha Allah? Tentu bisa. Dengan makan Apel (yang lezat itu) kita bisa bersyukur akan ni’mat dari Allah. Dengan makan Apel kita mendapat vitamin/zat gizi lainnya sehingga bisa beribadah lebih baik lagi. Hal yang sederhana ini merupakan perubahan fundamental: dari sekedar makan menjadi makan untuk beribadah. Makan untuk tujuan yang besar; niat yang besar. Ini adalah perubahan mindset menjadi seseorang yang segala kegiatannya dimulai dengan alasan ‘melakukannya karena Allah atau untuk mencapai ridha Allah’.

Berangkat dari hikmah membaca basmallah sebelum melakukan segala sesuatu ini, kita menjadi sadar bahwa sebenarnya memurnikan niat ini tidak hanya terbatas pada mengambil pilihan saja, namun dalam melakukan segala sesuatu.

Sekarang tentu tantangannya adalah bagaimana agar otak kita selalu segar dan hati kita selalu khusyuk, sehingga sebelum melakukan sesuatu, kita selalu ingat untuk meniatkannya untuk mencari ridha Allah (yang dalam bentuk fisik kita ungkapkan dengan membaca basmallah). Ini adalah tantangan besar karena kita manusia zaman modern terbiasa untuk menjadi zombie, yaitu melakukan sesuatu tanpa disadari atau pikirannya sedang berada di tempat lain. Saat sholat misalnya, kita (atau saya khususnya) sering tiba-tiba tersadar, oh ternyata sudah mau salam saja. Tadi saat berdiri dan ruku’ pikiran melayang kemana-mana. Untuk mengatasi hal ini tentu kita perlu berusaha untuk khusyu’ di dalam dan di luar sholat. Berusaha khusyu’ sampai terbiasa. Khusyu’ akan menjadikan kita orang yang fokus. Orang yang fokus akan mencapai kesuksesan. Kita mendengar hadist bahwa saat hisab nanti, orang yang baik sholatnya, yaitu yang khusyu’ sholatnya, maka amal lainnya tidak dihisab karena sudah bisa dipastikan amalan lainnya adalah baik. Analoginya adalah orang yang sentiasa khusyu’ dalam sholatnya, maka ia akan menjadi orang yang fokus, sehingga hal-hal lain yang ia lakukan pasti kualitasnya juga baik (karena ia selalu fokus; selalu fokus bahwa saat melakukan sesuatu ia lakukan untuk mencari ridha Allah SWT).

Sekarang, jika sesuatu yang kita lakukan dalam kehidupan (termasuk membuat pilihan) selalu dimulai dengan fokus/kesadaran bahwa kita melakukannya karena ingin mencari ridha Allah SWT, maka sebenarnya tidak ada yang namanya pilihan yang salah/patut disesalkan. Di kemudian hari mungkin kita menganggap suatu pilihan itu salah; namun sebenarnya, jika sejak dari awal kita sudah berpasrah pada Allah, maka sebenarnya hasil yang kita anggap salah itu adalah sesuatu yang baik menurut Allah. Pasti ada hikmah/kebaikan dari akibat pilihan tersebut yang kita belum ketahui.

Terakhir, setelah panjang lebar membahas membuat pilihan, sebenarnya Rasulullah SAW sudah mengajaarkan bahwa saat membuat pilihan kita harus melakukan sholat istikharah. Jika sholat istikharah dilakukan dengan benar, maka tidak akan ada penyesalan. Kata Rasulullah SAW: “Takkan menyesal orang yang istikharah. Takkan rugi dia yang bermusyawarah.” (HR Ath Thabrani). Do’a yang dicontohkan saat beristikharah pun menunjukkan dengan jelas bahwa kita harus memurnikan niat dan berpasrah/tawakkal pada Allah saat akan membuat pilihan. Do’a yang dicontohkan Rasul tersebut:

“Wahai Allah, sesungguhnya aku mohon pilihan Mu dengan ilmu-Mu, dan mohon kepastian-Mu dengan kekuasaan-Mu, serta mohon kepada-Mu dari anugerah-Mu Yang Maha Agung, karena Engkaulah Dzat yang berkuasa, sedang aku tiada kuasa, dan Engkaulah Dzat Yang Maha Mengetahui, sedang aku tiada mengetahui, dan Engkaulah Dzat yang mengetahui yang ghoib. Wahai Allah, jika urusan ini …….. adalah baik bagiku, untuk duniaku, akhiratku, penghidupanku, dan akibat urusanku untuk masa sekarang maupun besoknya, maka kuasakanlah bagiku dan permudahkanlah untukku, kemudian berkahilah dalam urusan itu bagiku. Namun jika urusan itu ……… menjadi buruk bagiku, untuk duniaku, akhiratku, penghidupanku, dan akibatnya persoalanku pada masa sekarang maupun besoknya, maka hindarkanlah aku dari padanya, lalu tetapkanlah bagiku kepada kebaikan, bagaimanapun adanya kemudian ridhoilah aku dengan kebaikan itu.”

Semoga kita sentiasa dekat dengan Allah SWT dan dibimbing dalam membuat keputusan. Wallahua’lam bisshawab.

The Library of Congress

Just visited the library of congress, world biggest library; and one of the oldest. This is a dream comes true. Library is one of my most favorite place, along with Masjid, park, and airport. As an avid reader, being in this huge library felt so amazing.

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Briefly on the library. Its history can be tracked to year 1800, few years after the United States was established. This probably shows how US founding fathers respect knowledge. The gigantic beautiful building of the library was first open to the public in 1897, after nine years of construction. For more detail on the history, please to refer to this link.

The main reading room of the library is very beautiful. On the ceiling, there is a painting depicting world’s greatest civilization. To my surprises, the painter included Islam as one of the civilization. This is quite rare, as most western historian will usually skip Islam or bashing it when talking about civilization. For example, in the volume 51 of Harvard Classic book, when talking about Islamic civilization, the first sentence read, “Then came, in the seventh century, a new and even more terrible blast of devastation. Mohammed arose, created Islam, and started the great movement of Arab conquest”. Regardless of that, at least the architect of this building was not that biased. The list of civilizations included in the paintings are: Egypt; Judea; Greece; Rome; Islam; Middle Ages; Italy; Germany; Spain; England; France; and America.

The ceiling of main reading room, which includes Islam as one of the civilization

I would highly recommend friends visiting D.C. area to visit this library.

Karena Cinta

We live in this world because we love Allah SWT. He has the power over everything. He created us. He gave us sustenance. Ke mana lagi hati akan berlabuh jika bukan pada Allah? He’s our auliya, the one who always protect us.

This beautiful song from Maher Zain, may Allah swt protects him and his family, is a good description of how kind and loving Allah SWT has been for us. May our eyes remain open to see it.

What du’a is more beautiful than Prophet Yusuf a.s. du’a?

رَبِّ قَدۡ ءَاتَيۡتَنِى مِنَ ٱلۡمُلۡكِ وَعَلَّمۡتَنِى مِن تَأۡوِيلِ ٱلۡأَحَادِيثِ‌ۚ فَاطِرَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ أَنتَ وَلِىِّۦ فِى ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَٱلۡأَخِرَةِ‌ۖ تَوَفَّنِى مُسۡلِمً۬ا وَأَلۡحِقۡنِى بِٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ

“My Lord! You have indeed bestowed on me of the sovereignty, and taught me the interpretation of dreams; The (only) Creator of the heavens and the earth! You are my Wali (Protector, Helper, Supporter, Guardian, etc.) in this world and in the Hereafter, cause me to die as a Muslim (the one submitting to Your Will), and join me with the righteous.” (Q.S. Yusuf: 101)

Sudahkah kita berikan diri kita pada Allah SWT sebagaimana mestinya? I’m worry for the horrible time when my thoughts are far away, deluded away from worshiping Allah SWT. What a miserable state I would be in; yet I won’t realize it. May Allah SWT always gives his mercy and guides. No other option than to make it through.

Come forth with good deeds or evil deeds?

My commuting time in the morning for work has become one of my favorite time of the day. During the time, I can read and reflect upon many verses of the Qur’an. This morning was on Surah An-Naml (The Ant). I have two main observations.

First, on the way to get hidayah (guidance). Please take a look on the ayah below.

إِنَّ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ يَقُصُّ عَلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَكْثَرَ الَّذِي هُمْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ

وَإِنَّهُ لَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَقْضِي بَيْنَهُمْ بِحُكْمِهِ ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْعَلِيمُ

فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّكَ عَلَى الْحَقِّ الْمُبِي

إِنَّكَ لَا تُسْمِعُ الْمَوْتَىٰ وَلَا تُسْمِعُ الصُّمَّ الدُّعَاءَ إِذَا وَلَّوْا مُدْبِرِينَ

وَمَا أَنْتَ بِهَادِي الْعُمْيِ عَنْ ضَلَالَتِهِمْ ۖ إِنْ تُسْمِعُ إِلَّا مَنْ يُؤْمِنُ بِآيَاتِنَا فَهُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ

“Verily, this Quran narrates to the Children of Israel most of that about which they differ. And truly, it (this Quran) is a guide and a mercy to the believers. Verily, your Lord will decide between them (various sects) by His Judgement. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing. So put your trust in Allah; surely, you (O Muhammad SAW) are on manifest truth. Verily, you cannot make the dead to hear (i.e. benefit them and similarly the disbelievers), nor can you make the deaf to hear the call, when they flee, turning their backs. Nor can you lead the blind out of their error, you can only make to hear those who believe in Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), and who have submitted (themselves to Allah in Islam as Muslims).” (Q.S. An-Naml (27): 76-81)

In the ayat, Allah SWT mentioned that Qur’an is a guide and mercy to the believers. However, we can’t make those who disbelieve (in the verse Allah SWT said they are the dead) to receive the truth. In fact, those who will listen to Qur’an are only those who believe and submit themselves to Allah SWT as Muslim.

Then, I ask myself, if people who will be benefited from Qur’an are people who believe in Allah SWT already, then how can the disbelievers will ever get their hidayah and listen to this Qur’an? Then I found the answer in several places in the surah. First, in the last ayat, Allah SWT mentioned, “And say [(O Muhammad SAW) to these polytheists and pagans etc.]: “All the praises and thanks be to Allah. He will show you His Ayat (signs, in yourselves, and in the universe or punishments, etc.), and you shall recognise them. And your Lord is not unaware of what you do.” (Q.S. An-Naml (27): 93). From this ayat, I learn that Alah SWT do justice to everybody by showing them ayat (proof) for everybody without exception. The ayat could come from the knowledge/science that they are currently learning, from an event around them, and so on.

The second place for answer of my question I found it in the story of Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon) and the Queen of Saba’. I found it very interesting how the Queen get her hidayah. Let’s look at the following ayat.

“It was said to her: “Enter As-Sarh” [(a glass surface with water underneath it) or a palace], but when she saw it, she thought it was a pool, and she (tucked up her clothes) uncovering her legs, Sulaiman (Solomon) said: “Verily, it is Sarh [(a glass surface with water underneath it) or a palace] paved smooth with slab of glass.” She said: “My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, and I submit (in Islam, together with Sulaiman (Solomon), to Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).” (Q.S. An-Naml (27): 44)

In that ayat, I found it magnificent how the Queen received the hidayah. When she stepped on the Sarh by mistakenly thought that it was a pool, she quickly realized how the power and greatness that she has is actually very small compared to what the Lord has. She realized how small she really is. She then (smartly) quickly realized that she has wronged herself and then submit (enter) Islam right away. I am amazed, how the Queen get her hidayah in that way.

Then, as a Muslim, what should we do to help deliver the hidayah, if it could be of any useful? For this, I found the answer in ayat 91-92, “…And I am commanded to be from among the Muslims (those who submit to Allah in Islam). And to recite the Qur’an.” And whoever is guided is only guided for [the benefit of] himself; and whoever strays – say, “I am only [one] of the warners.” (Q.S. An-Naml (27): 91-92). Here, we learn that our task as a Muslim is to recite the Qur’an to whoever, that it may become a source of hidayah to them. I have a little story of experience on this, but maybe I’ll save it for someday to tell.

Finally, my second observation from this surah is about what we will bring to Allah SWT in the judgement day. Allah SWT described the Armageddon in ayat 87-88:

“And (remember) the Day on which the Trumpet will be blown and all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth, will be terrified except him whom Allah will (exempt). And all shall come to Him humbled. And you will see the mountains and think them solid, but they shall pass away as the passing away of the clouds. The Work of Allah, Who perfected all things, verily! He is Well-Acquainted with what you do.”  (Q.S. An-Naml (27): 87-88)

What a terrible day indeed. Then Allah SWT said, “Whoever brings a good deed (i.e. Belief in the Oneness of Allah along with every deed of righteousness), will have better than its worth, and they will be safe from the terror on that Day.  And whoever brings an evil (deed) (i.e. Shirk polytheism, disbelief in the Oneness of Allah and every evil sinful deed), they will be cast down (prone) on their faces in the Fire. (And it will be said to them) “Are you being recompensed anything except what you used to do?”  (Q.S. An-Naml (27): 89-90)

I think the most fundamental question that we should ask ourselves over and over again is ‘what will we bring in front of Allah?’ Is it ‘good deeds’? or ‘evil deeds’?  I think this is an enough reminder for all of us to purify ourselves and to collect as much as good deeds we can; and stay away from any evil deeds that will strain our records in from of Allah SWT. May Allah SWT always strengthens, guides, and shows us the way.

Youth to get prepared

How Indonesia will be in fifty years time depend on what we do with our youth today. The picture below is the landscape of Jakarta seen from where I live. Certainly we can see some tall buildings; but we also see sprawling low income household houses on the sidelines.


These tall buildings were erected during Indonesia’s new order era (1966-1998). During this time, despite massive progress recorded from the extremely poor Indonesia post-colonial, the economy was pretty much built upon rent-seeking activities. Many of the rich got their riches through monopoly right licenses obtained from the government. For example, the major noodle companies in Indonesia, actually was the sole owner of wheat (key ingredient of noodle flour) import license. In short, the economy during the new order period was not built upon genuine invention or technological progress.

Again, as I reflect on how the economy (and the people, of course) will be in fifty years time, I come into conclusion that the quality of education and the subsequent creativity by the youth is what matters. These young people, who embrace the technology and utilize the opportunity created by globalization, are Indonesia’s best bet for its future. They, unlike their grandparents and parents, will create real progress in the economy through innovation. Just look at some tech and non-tech startups created by some Indonesian youths today. The challenge is then how to expand this trend (beyond just Jakarta and Bandung) to the entire archipelago.

This lead us to questions, how are we doing with the quality of our youth education? Has the education system prepare them best? Has the quality of vocational training schools prepare them for the workplace? Has the universities provide quality training? I’m afraid the answer is still No; yet even more scary, there seems to be no serious effort to rectify this.

Part of the problem maybe the lack of initiatives from the current policy makers whom themselves are the product of new order era. Not that I am saying most of them are corrupt, but it’s more on the lack of drive for reforms and preferring the status quo. To rectify this situation, I think we need more educated youth to be in that policy making level. Just small example: Pak Anies, the relatively young minister of education, finally bans ‘MOS/Ospek’ in schools. These MOS/Ospek, as we all know it, tend to be uneducating activities or even bullying events. After 70 years of independence, finally we seems to get away with it. This is one small example of how young policy makers can bring something fresh to the system.

So, what we, youth, can do now is to prepare ourselves up to the international standard so that we ready to fill the position when the time come. Finally, speaking about international standard, I think we all Indonesian youth should work harder and ‘conquer’ the world. Sometimes I am stunned, realizing how can smaller countries like UK, France, Japan, Germany, etc has more international caliber economist, scientist, etc than Indonesia, given that Indonesia is world fourth most populous country? Again, this can only lead us to conclusion, that we, really need to work harder.


Merapat pada Allah swt

Sedetikpun hati tak boleh lalai dari Allah swt. Tak mungkin ada dua cinta dalam satu hati. Jika hati lebih sering berfikir tentang dunia, mungkin memang dunialah yang lebih ia cintai. Tujuan hidup adalah untuk mendapat cinta Allah swt dan menjalankan tugas risalah yang Ia berikan. Mari perkuat kecintaan pada Allah swt dengan terus mendekatkan diri pada Al-Qur’an dan Al-Hadits. Semoga kita termasuk pada kelompok hamba yang sholeh.

Terkait tugas risalah, ia adalah tugas da’wah yang telah Allah swt takdirkan untuk kita perankan. Saat kita di kampus, maka misi risalah kita adalah berda’wah di kampus. Saat bekerja, misi risalah adalah berda’wah di kantor. Saat menjadi pemimpin, misi risalahnya adalah berda’wah pada masyarakat banyak. Semoga Allah swt menumbuhkan kecintaan pada-Nya di dalam hati kita dan menguatkan kita untuk menjalankan misi risalah kita masing-masing.

Iman and Immune

The state of our iman is like our immune system. Our immune system will stay strong if we keep feeding ourselves with halal and good food; as well as stay away from the source of diseases. Similar with our iman. If we keep doing good deeds, for instance dzikr, reading Qur’an, etc, as well as stay away from ma’siyah, then our iman will continue to be safe and sound. The relationship between ibadah and iman is a reinforcing feedback loop. The more we do the ibadah, the stronger is our iman. Moreover, by doing more ibadah thus having strong iman, Allah swt will loves us more. Let’s ponder upon this hadits:

Al-Bukhaari (6502) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah says: ‘Whoever takes a close friend of Mine as an enemy, I declare war on him. My slave does not draw closer to Me by anything more beloved to Me than that which I have made obligatory upon him, and My slave continues to draw closer to Me by doing naafil (sunnah) deeds until I love him, and if I love him I will be his hearing with which he hears, his vision with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. If he were to ask of Me, I would surely give to him; if he were to seek refuge with Me, I would surely grant him refuge. I do not hesitate about anything that I want to do as I hesitate to take the soul of a believer, for he hates death and I hate to hurt him.”

It’s time to feed our iman with ibadah again.

National program on Islamic mentoring

I couldn’t think of any other things that can save this country. It is the aqidah and iman that should be corrected first. In fact, it is the first priority. No use of being a wealthy country without iman. There is also no use of various development policies if the iman isn’t there. Not that I am a lazy economist. But think about it. When the population have good iman in Allah swt, there won’t be corruption in state budget; people will behave well thus less social problems; people will work hard because they understand that working is an act of ibadah, etc etc. I think there should be a national program on Islamic mentoring. In fact, it should be the priority of the government. At least at the current setting, the Ministry of Religious Affairs could carry out this program, for instance by requiring all students to have a one hour mentoring session each week in their school. So no need to have an Islamic-based constitution first to conduct this. Of course this policy won’t be realized until the Minister of Religious Affairs, or the President, or the Minister of Education, or the Minister of Finance is someone that experienced the benefit of mentoring it self. Until that happen, we should start with our own circle.

Life is only for a moment

Syaikh Hamza Yusuf is an amazing Muslim. May Allah swt grants him Jannah. Among thousands of video clips of his speech that I watched, the following is among my favorites. In the speech, Syaikh reminded us that we are in a good hand. We are in Allah swt’s hand. We live in this world is just for a very very short moment. Our true life, the infinity one is in the akhirah. This 70 to 80 years maximum of life in this dunya is incomparable by any measures to the infinite life in the hereafter. I am nervous whether in the final moment of my life I will still have imaan to Allah swt. I don’t even dare to imagine such thing. May Allah swt strengthens our imaan and take our soul in the state of husnul khatimah. Please watch the video.



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


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.


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.