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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Secret Recipe: Al-Qur’an

Alhamdulillahirabbil’alamin, all thanks to Allah who has instilled guidance in our heart. In this moment I would like to assert one ni’mah (blessing) that Allah has given to our life. What is it? It is the Al Qur’anul Kariim. Here are some description of Qur’an by Allah. I really hope, after reading this description we would be more eager to interact with, memorize, understand, and practice Al-Qur’an.

  • Al-Qur’an is the book in which there’s no doubt in it; it is the guidance for those who fear Allah. Allah said, “This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah.” (QS 2:2).
  • Al-Qur’an is the book which assert the previous books; as the guidance as well as delivering good news to the believers. Allah said, “by permission of Allah , confirming that which was before it and as guidance and good tidings for the believers.” (QS 2:97).
  • Al-Qur’an is the law by which we decide our affairs. Allah said, “Indeed,  We  have  revealed  to  you,  [O  Muhammad],  the  Book  in  truth  so  you  may  judge between  the  people  by  that  which Allah has  shown  you.  And  do  not  be  for  the  deceitful an  advocate.” (QS 4:105).
  • Al-Qur’an is a clear light which shows the right path. Allah said, “O  mankind,  there  has  come  to  you  a  conclusive  proof  from  your  Lord,  and  We  have sent  down  to  you  a  clear  light.” (QS 4:174).
  • Al-Qur’an is the lesson; healing for what inside our heart; guidance and rahmat for the believers. Allah said, “O  mankind,  there  has  to  come  to  you  instruction  from  your  Lord  and  healing  for  what is  in  the  breasts  and  guidance  and  mercy  for  the  believers.” (QS 10:57).

These are several description from Allah swt on Al-Qur’an. As long as we try to be closer to Allah with Qur’an and sincerely look for guidance, insyaallah, insyaallah Allah will give us the guidance.

Ramadhan is the month of Qur’an and Du’a

According to QS Al-Baqoroh verse 185 and 186, Ramadhan is the month of Qur’an and Du’a. As Ustadz Nouman Ali said, let’s try tor read Qur’an and then make Du’a. This way, we would feel the joy of Ramadhan.

In the verse 185, Allah mentioned there are four things that we should do in Ramadhan: (1) To interact more with Qur’an; (2) To complete the fasting; (3) To declare the greatness of Allah for hidayah that He gave; and (4) to be grateful for everything that He has given us. Let’s always try to do it.

Finally, let’s immerse ourselves with ibadah this Ramadhan. We would never know whether we’ll meet with Ramadhan again next year. This is it, this is the time. This is the time to rebuild our relationship with Allah. May Allah always guides us and accepts our ibadah.

Kindly watch this must watch Ramadhan booster lecture by Ust Nouman.

Little note on film Di Bawah Lindungan Ka’bah

Tidak banyak film yang mengingatkan kita pada kehidupan akhirat dan membuat kita semakin ingin beribadah. Film “Di Bawah Lindungan Ka’bah” yang diangkat dari karya Buya Hamka ini menurut saya merupakan salah satu dari yang sedikit itu.

Memang film ini sarat dengan tema-tema cinta; namun menyertainya, sangat banyak pelajaran-pelajaran yang bisa diambil. Saya sangat senang dengan latar cerita ini, yang mengangkat kondisi masyarakat minangkabau pada tahun 1920-an. Saya sangat senang menyaksikan betapa Islam menjadi sangat dekat dengan kehidupan masyarakat minang tersebut. Saya hanya berharap, kekentalan nilai-nilai Islam akan kembali hadir di kehidupan masyarakat minangkabau dan seluruh penduduk Indonesia. Betapa indahnya hidup di bawah nilai-nilai Al-Qur’an.

Salah satu quote yang sangat berkesan bagi saya: “Apa pun yang terjadi, Hamid, ingatlah, ketika Engkau tak punya siapa-siapa selain Allah; Allah itu lebih dari cukup…

Note: saya sangat berharap Allah selalu memberi keridhoannya pada almarhum buya hamka. Saya sangat berharap, bisa bertemu buya nanti di surga. Allah, kami mohon ampun kepada-Mu; Allah, sayangilah kami, Allah, kuatkanlah kami.

Economics and its discontent

Just recently listened to a lecture by one of my favorite economist, Professor Jefferey Sachs, on economics and theology. There are  couples of interesting reflections that he delivered.

First, the issue nowadays is between morale and material pursuits. Not long ago, he said, economics study was taught under the moral or philosophy subject. Yet, since the 19th century, I guess since the start of industrial revolution, the moral side has been abandoned. As the result, many of our problem nowadays is not on economics  issue (such as optimization), rather, it’s a morale question. He took an example of the difficulty of a senior health organization officials in securing financial support from the white  house for a global health project. The fund raising has been very very difficult even though the amount is only 1% of 1% of US economy, or equivalent to what Pentagon spend everyday.

Second, he cited Easterlin paradox, that is a paradox between happiness and material well-being. Professor Easterlin found that even though the wealth of american since 1950 to 1980 has increased, their (reported) happiness has remained unchanged. Thus this puts deep question on the material pursuit that we’re on.

Lastly, he cited how the material pursuit of human being has destroyed the nature at unprecedented level; and this destruction has brought considerable change to our lives, yet people aren’t care about it.

As an economist wanna be, I think this reflection should be well-noted. Professor Sach has the credibility to make such reflection, as he is one the greatest economists at the moment. It is somehow sad for Professor Sach and the people alike to finally come to this sort of conclusion, something that Muslim has taken it for granted. As a muslim, we has been taught that life in this world shouldn’t be based on material pursuit. We’ve been taught that we have to protect and sustain the nature, rather than to destroy it. We have been taught to spend zakat, charity, waqaf and other forms of givings to reduce poverty and inequality. But I guess it’s easier to say rather than practiced. We know that material pursuit, destruction on nature, inequality among people are bad things. Yet, we’re still on the blind eye to pursue it. I believe this is the test that Allah specifically designed for us who live in 21st century, when the temptation to worldly life is just irresistible.

This, I believe, should be reflected in Indonesia’s economy. We’re currently maybe in the most booming period of our country economy. I believe we should stop and ask, is this really what we want? Is destroying nature, exposing our lives to endless material pursuit, and widening inequality the one that we really want?

Prof Sach ended his speech by stressing that economics is (and should) not (be) a pure science. It should be combined with morale philosophy again. I wish he will get hidayah soon and understand that the true morale guidance can only be found in Islam, the final cut of Ibrahamic religion. May we’re not included in those who know the truth but do nothing to follow it.

You can watch the complete lecture here (it starts on around minute 45).

Yoyogi and Nearby Parks

I think Allah has put three places to be very close to my heart: masjid, university, and park. I’ll elaborate more on park. I think park symbolizes harmony and sincerity. When I am enjoying my time in park; either reading Qur’an, reflecting, writing, or something else, I feel that I am joining the harmony of nature.

One of my favorite activities is to read Qur’an in the park. Somehow, I feel like the grass, the soil, flowers and everything are very happy and join me in celebrating Allah’s greatness. I know that they are, with or without me, are praising Allah all the time. Having such time brings great relieve and clearly rejuvenate my spirit. I am very eager to find places where Qur’an might not be recited before, such as parks in Tokyo. Somehow, I feel the grass, flowers and others are quite grateful to me, that they can hear Allah’s words; meanwhile, I am deeply happy to do so too =)

I think park also symbolizes sincerity. It is so pure that it will show us whatever it gets; without any fake appearance. It’s just park, it’s just natural. As human being, who is tasked to preserve and develop this earth (khalifatu fil ardh), we’ve got to learn from them; learn from their harmony and sincerity.

Lastly, I know that in Indonesia, public park in the city is something which may not be available; nonetheless, as a country blessed with beautiful landscape, I am 100% confident that it’s relatively easy to nature in surrounding area. Spending some time in nature, I believe, will help us to back to our fitrah. We’ll realize that we’re only part of Allah’s creations, which in the short time will be back to Him again. May Allah always refresh our iman and we can refresh our spirit to worship Him. May Allah always guide us.

Below are some pictures from this weekend =)

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Turning 23

Alhamdulillah,, all thanks to Allah, the most loving and forgiving one.

Yesterday I turned 23. At that time, I was wondering what should be the main target in the year ahead; what would be the big thing that I’ll do next.

Alhamdulillah, now I know the answer, I want to memorize Qur’an more; I want to interact more with Qur’an. Allah has given me the chance to get education from the very best source at the very best program. I have believed and committed to continue this process as I hope I can be policy maker in public finance area by the end of this decade. But now, after watching this great documentary: http://vimeo.com/30779573, I know that I want to make it more meaningful. I want to memorize and interact more with Qur’an. I hope Allah will give me more time in this world to get closer with Qur’an.

Definitely, we should never be away for the guidance. Allahummarhamna bil qur’an; waj’alhulana imaamaw wa nuraw; wa hudaw wa rahmah,,

Part of jama’ah

Very often I receive a question, “…Rully, how can we maintain our consistency in campus life, in terms of balancing study, organization, competition, family, and others?”. Beside an answer about time management, the importance of intention (niat) and idealism, quite often I also mention, be part of a jama’ah (movement group).

Since my first year in senior high school, around August 2004 (eight and half years ago), I have joined a weekly Islamic mentoring group. The group consists around eight to ten students, where there will be an ustadz as the facilitator. It is a routine activity where we meet to learn Islamic teaching, plan common community service program, and other beneficial activities, weekly. I find this program as very beneficial; and I feel that I am a part of a larger movement group who wants work for a betterment of Indonesia and the world. Without exaggerating, I think that my involvement in this program, has contributed significantly to who I am today; and, for example, why I can won the most outstanding student awards at University of Indonesia, last year, 2011.

I still can remember the first time I was introduced to this activity. I don’t know why, at that time I felt very very happy. I can still remember the long, deep, and calm sujud syukur (gratitude prostration) that I did after the first meeting ended. Furthermore, the best thing about this activity is that we can continue it almost where ever we go, whether to Singapore or to Tokyo, as I experienced it; again, because we’re a part of a larger movement group.

One month ago, when I was in Makkah, for Hajj, I am about to send an email. I want to submit a paper for a student conference in Singapore. Unfortunately, at that time, there was no WiFi in my hotel. I tried very hard to get internet connection, including by purchasing local SIM card, but still, I can have internet connection. At that time, I felt very disappointed. I was wondering in my heart, Allah, what’s your plan? Why do you mean? Why can’t I submit this paper? I believe that this activity is a beneficial one, why can’t I, Allah?. That was the feeling inside my heart. The reason why I think like that is because I firmly believe that there must always be a reason why Allah arrange something the way it is.

One month later, or exactly yesterday, I realized the answer. Yesterday was my first time to join the weekly mentoring again, something that I regard as one of the best things that ever happened to me in Tokyo. If I were submitted my paper that time, I would have been in Singapore since yesterday, which will make me miss the first mentoring and have to wait for  two weeks more to join it, if things go well.

The moral of the story is two. First, maybe at some point in time, we don’t understand what Allah meant for arranging something; just believe that it must always be a good reason behind that. Second, I really suggest you, go to the Islamic student organization in your university (such as FSI in FE UI), then ask to join the mentoring. Trust me, insyaallah, we’ll get the benefit here in dunya, and in akhirah, as well. May Allah always strengthens us and guides us. Salam,

One afternoon near Tokyo Station

When you hear the word ‘Japan’, what would you think about? What come to your mind? Most of us, I believe would imagine an technological advanced country, image such as robot, car, shinkansen (bullet train), and many technologically advanced things will come to our mind. And yes, I think that’s really true. From bullet train until toilet is very advanced in Japan.

Some questions that very often come to our mind, how did they do that? How can they become that advanced? As obvious as it is, it’s education, the technological mastery is the key. If many countries in Asia are developing with the help of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), such as the case of China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and many others, Japan start its development through their own hand. As one of my professor said, yes, it is painful, you have to work hard, really hard, compared to just imitating what’s already there. But the result is very worth it; Japanese are used to work hard, innovative, and able to produce something with high quality.

Yet, there are many negative aspects in Japan as well. One of them is the reactive state status that it has, where it is quite reactive to external pressure, such as US. Partly I think is because of paralysis in their political system and lack of leadership. Nonetheless, I think we should take a good example from them, their hard working culture as well as master-piece oriented. I, myself, am in the process of learning as well, to be able to have such great work ethic.

Here we go, let me show some pictures near Tokyo train station, where the beauty of Japan, i.e. its orderly culture, cleanliness, and many others, can be seen.

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One week after Hajj

One week has passed since I left Saudi Arabia. There are too many sweet and unforgettable moments that happened. Time by time I spent, or place by place that I moved to in doing the Hajj, was just so amazing. Spending time in Masjidil Haram, Mina, Arafat, Masjid Nabawi, and others are just un-describable. Alhamdulillah, I am glad that I made decision to go, and alhamdulillah, all thanks to Allah who allowed me to go.

Now, day by day that has passed, make me really miss Masjidil Haram and Masjid Nabawi. For me, it was like, when you already felt that you are in the perfect condition to fulfill your ultimate goal in life, i.e. to worship Allah, then what else that you want? Being able to do sholah, tawaf, reciting qur’an, and other ‘ibadah in Masjidil Haram is just the best thing that I can feel and dream of. It was just the happiest moment in my life.

Nonetheless, I think I shouldn’t stay in this euphoria  at least I should try to. I just keep reminding my self that there are a lot more urgent problems in muslim world and around the world, which if I contribute to solve, will not only benefiting myself but also a lot more people. In fact, indeed Allah mentioned in Qur’an, that it is not same in Allah’s side the rewards for those who did ‘umrah and hajj with those who did Jihad. Jihad is certainly valued more. Insyaallah, I will always try to improve myself and contribute to others as soon as and as much as I can.

Taraweeh in Masjidil Haram (Night of 27th)

Just found this video on youtube. It makes really miss Ramadhan in Makkah. Being part in that jama’ah was one of the biggest ni’mat from Allah for me and was one of the most beautiful moment in my life.

O Allah, how I miss Ramadhan and dedicate myself to worship You in Your holy house. Ya Allah, pertemukanlah kami dengan Ramadhan tahun depan dan berikanlah kami ni’mat untuk mengunjungi Baitullah-Mu lagi.

Reflection from ‘Umrah

Alhamdulillah, all thanks belong to Allah, the Lord of the world. Alhamdulillah to Allah, the one who always protects me every time and everywhere. I just returned from a two-week journey in Makkah and Madinah to do ‘umrah. It was a very memorable moment for me.

I do really think that this (going for ‘umrah in Ramadhan) was one of the best decision that I’ve made in my life considering the limited savings that I have =) and tight work/study schedule.

There are several key lessons that I got from my ‘umrah journey. I do really hope that it can benefit you also.

First, our life orientation should be to get Allah’s ridha. In most of the time, our routines, such as work, study, etc., have made our life orientation become a worldly orientated one. It may sounds like too simplistic or cliché but it is the way it is. Allah already mentioned that the life in this world is a test from Him, it is the chance to be prepared for the next (eternal) life. Our routines have made this world life become our orientation. This shouldn’t be the case.

Second, Qur’an should be our friend and our guidance. The thing that really amazes me in Saudi Arabian life is the high intensity of their interaction with Qur’an. It is very easy to spot people reading Qur’an, listening to Qur’an recitation in their room, car, etc. The taxi driver who drove for me from Makkah to Jeddah airport told me that in almost all masjid in Makkah there are tahfidz qur’an (qur’an memorization) programs for children. I do really think that this intense interaction with Qur’an is what we should take example from them.

Third, it makes me appreciate Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. more. Simply just to see the scenery from Makkah to Madinah which span for about 500 km, we will appreciate more the sacrifices of Prophet Muhammad and his companion when hijrah or move from Makkah to Madinah. Between the two cities is just desert; and it is very-very hot. I can’t imagine how many days that they have to travel by foot and donkey between the two cities. Besides, the character of people of Saudi ‘Arabia is not nice, they are quite rude. I can imagine how hard it is for Prophet Muhammad to deal with those kind of people.

Scenery between Makkah and Madinah

Scenery between Makkah and Madinah

Fourth, Allah is everything-He will helps and protects us always. This is really the thing that felt during my 2 weeks journey in Makkah and Madinah. Going to Saudi Arabia is not as easy going to New York, London, Singapore and other developed western places. In those western places, things are very easy and clear: the public transportation, hostel, food, etc. But in Saudi Arabia, it really needs a nerve to go there, moreover alone. Alhamdulillah, Allah has made it easy for me. Alhamdulillah.

Those are among several lessons that I got from journey. May Allah always strengthen us to live this life and make it easy for us to visit his first ‘home’ on earth. Amin.

The Holy Ka'bah with zam-zam tower as a background

The Holy Ka’bah with zam-zam tower as a background

Note: Later I will post some tips on going ‘umrah alone (without travel agent), insyaallah.

The joy of having a job

Today is my last day for internship. The past six weeks has been so wonderful. I learnt that we can take hikmah from something that looks very simple or ordinary. Just need to pray to Allah so that we can catch any hikmah pass by.

The project which I involved since around four months ago, the Indonesia competitiveness report, has also gave many benefits to me. I got to see my Indonesia, interact with their respective leaders, learn how to work professionally, etc. For me, it simply shows how generous Allah to me.

Last two days were the conference days, The report launching days. Even though there are many things need to be improved in the report, I think, the invited government official I think should already able to take lessons from the conference. I do really hope that they get the spirit to continuously improve the competitiveness of their region. Again, competitiveness doesn’t mean that there is one sector which all of us has to pursue, rather, competitiveness is being excellent in any field that we chose. Maluku doesn’t necessarily need to be like Jakarta (i.e. the financial center) to be a competitive province, if it can maximize its fishery potential and become excellent in it, Maluku definitely can be as competitive and as prosperous as Jakarta. I’ll post the report whenever it’s ready to be published.

Lastly, just want to make comment that there’s joy when we are working and earn our own money. I think that’s why Prophet Daud keep work and earn his living by himself even though he is a king. Prophet Muhammad also said so, I think.

Thanks a lot to Xin Yi, Estelle, Amanda, Vicky, and Meng Khin for being a nice colleague at work. Thanks for the present also =)

For my fellow Indonesian friends

My fellow Indonesian, as you already know, there are a lot of challenges that our country faces. I think, what we need is a group of capable young people, committed to their country and internalize their religion’s values. I just wanted to encourage three things: Maximize time and opportunity, aim for the top, and always think and strive for the disadvantaged.

  • Maximize the time and opportunity

Not many people are as lucky as us. We can enjoy higher education, technologically savvy, and have time to browse the internet =). All of these lead to the conclusion that we have to maximize the opportunity that we have. We have the responsibility towards people who are not as lucky as us.

All episodes in our life are training from Allah. Then let’s us maximize this training. Be remember that our current condition right now was shaped by what we did before. Our condition in the future depends on what we are doing right now. We have to keep doing things better and always be better. The training from Allah would be different in every episodes of our life. I just wanted to share a bit story of my journey, why I can be where I am today.

After finishing my elementary school, my parent registered me in an Islamic junior high school, known as the best in my province. The school located around 5 to 6 hours by public bus from my home at that time. Thus I have to live in the school dorm.  Thank to Allah, I was accepted. That was my first time to be in a diverse environment. The students are coming from different provinces and they are definitely bright. One thing which a bit shocked me was the text book. The text book the school use was so good, the publisher is called Erlangga. That was the first time for the see that (good) type of text book. I used to use a local text book in my elementary school, it is a text book which was written by teachers union in the province, not a national text book like Erlangga. When I asked my friends, they said they already use Erlangga since their elementary school. I was like, “O ow”. Time goes; I got rank 17.5 in my first caturwulan (first 4 months). Why do we have 0.5? Because there was another student who got the same grade, so we share the rank. Frankly, getting rank 17.5 was a bit shock for me, I always got rank #1 for 6 years in a row during my elementary school. Second caturwulan, I moved to rank #5, and finally, in caturwulan III, I got the 3rd place. Move to 2nd grade, I was in the same class with the batch champion (as we have 6 classes per batch). I can only got the 2nd place during that year. Finally in the 3rd grade, I’m not in the same class with her anymore, Alhamdulillah I got the 1st place until graduated.

With a quite good track record during junior high school, I was accepted in the best senior high school in the province.  Again, I met bright student from neighbouring province. Those three years were among the best time in my development stage as a person. I learnt how to life, I learnt more about Islam and start to practice it better in my life. I was introduced to the Muslim Kaffah (a total Muslim) concept at that time. Those three years were completely perfect, I learnt to memorize qur’an, involve in organization, etc. One story about persistence: In my first year, my school supposed to send 5 delegations for physic Olympiad in regency level. The teacher appointed four 2nd grade students and one 1st grade student, which was me. The announcement of regency level selection came. We were gathered and five delegations to provincial level were called to the front. You know what the result was? Number 1 until 4 are from my school, and number 5 is…., from another school. So I was the only delegation from my school that can’t make it to provincial level. I was very ashamed, can’t show my face to my friends and teacher. Feels like wanna kill myself. Then I decided not to give up. I understood that if I give up, I won’t have a chance to be better, if I keep trying, at least there is possibility that I can be better. Time passed, in my 3rd year, I and my team won competitions in physic, chemistry, and math for senior high school students in the whole Sumatera Island. I was grateful that I didn’t give up two years before. The 3rd year was also my first time to ride a plane, to join math competition in Jakarta.

I graduated. Now come the time to make a decision. What I wanna be later. I join a university exam preparation course. From the try outs, I understood that I can pass the exam to be accepted in the best university, whether in medical school of university of Indonesia (the best medical school) or to school of electric and information engineering at the Bandung Institute of Technology, also the best school for its field in the country. I just prayed to Allah to guide me. At that time I was thinking: If I want to give big contribution for Indonesia, then maybe being a medical doctor or engineer is not the right choice. In my mind I just think that if chose those two fields, I’ll just be someone who is comfortable with my life, with my income later with a small chance to make a big change. Then I chose accounting, why? Because I think one of Indonesia’ biggest problem is corruption, then I think by being a state auditor, I can help to eradicate that problem. In my mind, I swear that when I become the state auditor later, I’ll make sure that the corrupt government officials will be arrested and held responsible for what they did.

There we go, I ended up in accounting school, university of Indonesia, the best for its field in the country. I never took accounting course in my high school before. Time goes and by, I also think those four years period was really great for my personal development.  I involved more actively in da’wah activity and in practicing Islam as a whole. I planned my life in the next four years. I listed targets that I want to achieve during the study period. I made a lifetime friends also during this period. One story again about perseverance: I never joined national level paper competition before, even, never made a scientific paper before. Once upon a time in my 1st semester, I saw an announcement of a paper competition; I was so interested to join. The topic was general insurance and its benefit, a competition from an insurance company. I started to write, as a beginner, my paper was completely basic, I just wrote what insurance is, what its type is, and why it is beneficial. It was a very very basic one. That’s the only thing that I know. I still remembered that I submitted the paper in the last day of submission. As a countryside person, that was my first time to go to the city center of Jakarta, I definitely got lost. It was a rainy day that time. I was wet, of course. I gave the paper to the security, I went back home and pray a lot. It was definitely an emotional moment. Then the time for announcement came, guess what the result. Yes, I didn’t get it. Of course. Was a bit disappointed, but then again, I just chose to not give up. I committed that I’ll do it again until I make it. And oh yes, one more thing, I was an internet- blind person when I entered the university. I have no idea how to use an email, even how to use google search properly (in 2007). In the summer break of year one, I joined a paper competition again, this time I was selected as finalist. I went to city of Solo (first time taking a train in Java) for the finalist presentation. I didn’t get the top three, but I’m happy that I made a progress. In my 3rd semester I joined paper competition again, now I got the 2nd place. Was so happy. Since then, whenever I join a paper competition, I almost always get the 1st place.

Two main suggestions that I wanna give to my friends, maximize your time carefully. Do a good and beneficial thing. What we read nowadays will reflect who we are later. What we do today is also what we will be later. My junior high school teacher once said, when we plant a paddy, a grass will also grow. When we plan a grass, definitely we won’t get paddy. What does it mean? It means, whenever we do a good thing, the bad thing will also follow or grow, if we just do a bad thing. Definitely it all will just be a bad thing. So do a good thing!

The second advice is: read more book! Read, read, and Read! To fulfil my appetite for books, I live near book store in my 3rd and 4th year. I was so happy, I can almost spend 2 to 4 hours in book store every night.

One more thing: about traveling abroad. Traveling abroad was one of my dreams. For me, when I look back to what has happened in my life, I just conclude it’s all because of Allah’s mercy to me. Things are just not possible without His help. During my ten minutes’ walk from my house to the book store every day, I will pass a travel agent office. Whenever I see the international airline logo in its office building I will always smile, suddenly feel happy and pray to Allah so that someday I will use those flights often. Allah gave what I want. After failing in applying for student exchange program since my first semester, in my 6th semester, I got announcement that I passed the selection to go to US for one semester. There we go, I use international flight through Japan and San Francisco, live in US for one semester in 7th semester. Allah was again the reason for every possibility.

When I back, I applied for a graduate school and while trying to finish my undergrad thesis. One special thing also happened that semester. I was selected as most outstanding student at the faculty of economics level as well as at the university level.

Apart from above mentioned, I think I should mention very clear here: my involvement in da’wah kampus, was among the best thing happen in my life. I understand what a struggle means and I think my personal characteristic was so shaped and influenced by this experience.

Last thing about my undergrad: English skill. I definitely can’t speak in English when I enter the university. When I took a course in English (a compulsory one in 2nd semester), I felt like I want to cry. Don’t even think about to speak/participate in class discussion, I don’t even understand anything what the prof said. Then I committed myself to learn English. I pray to Allah and Allah gave it. To join an English course preparation was definitely not possible, because my monthly budget for housing, meal, phone credit, etc. was only 800,000 thousands rupiah at that time. My meal was like Rp15,000 x 30 days = Rp 450,000. Came to my mind to do prophet Daud fasting, i.e. one day fast, one day not. That way I can save Rp10,000 x 15 days = Rp150,000. However, still, one level English course (3 months) was priced at Rp800,000. So even If I do prophet Daud fasting for three months, my money was definitely not enough for the course. Then I just learnt it by myself and I pray to Allah. Alhamdulillah, I can do it.

At last, I want to stress again, regardless our position now, we should not stop improving ourselves. If we are already in good condition now, then we have to do better and keep improving.

  • Aim for the top

Even though my current school is not the best public policy school in the world, it is certainly among the best in Asia. I met quite a lot of bright people here.

This story related with my story in the first point. Even though I was quite good at the national level before, I understand that there are many things that I have to improve when I met bright students in the region, I have to do more. I have to work more. I have to strive more. My friends are just so bright. In this stage I learn a lot. I got a lot of opportunity too.

For me, life is like a training from Allah. We have to complete it nicely. I just wanted to share about commitment for the best.

Before coming to my current school, I was used to be so good, a super star, I think. Whenever I made a paper, it will usually win the 1st place. Then I met the bright people in my class. Somewhat I feel like my shine was faded away. But then I realize that I can’t be an ordinary person; this is the challenge. This is the next higher level training from Allah. I believe that we have to aim for the top. We have to try to do the best. Whenever we make something, give our best on it, as if it is our master piece. If we aim low, the result that we get will be low or lower. If we aim the highest, the result that we get will be the highest or high. Then aim for the highest.

In the past one year, Allah gave what I asked several years before; I landed my foot in several cities for conferences: Kuala Lumpur, Doha, London, Hsinchu, Manila, Beijing, US cities, and Singapore. All thanks to Allah. Allah is the best planner.

One more message, please always pray or make du’a to Allah. When we make du’a there are three possibilities will happen: Allah will give it right away, Allah will give it later or third, Allah will give rewards or pahala for us because we prayed to Him. So there is no bad outcome isn’t it? Let’s always pray for anything to Allah.

  • Think and strive for our poor people

My last point in this post: Where ever we are, whatever our role is, please internalize that we have to strive for the disadvantaged, poor people in our country. If it’s not us, then who else? We have to be good. We have to be very very capable so that we can help them better. Let’s always try hard and strive to improve our capacity. There are millions of Indonesians that are waiting for our contribution. Let’s be a great-capable Indonesian!

My fellow Indonesian, I hope you can get benefit for this story. Let’s keep working, let’s keep striving, until Allah call us again to be in His side. May Allah always guide and strengthen us. 

Dzikir

Sometimes maybe we feel that we’re lost. That we’re uncertain of many things, or that whether we are on the right track in this life. I personally have experienced such thing, even quite often. If I may suggest, for myself and for you who read this post, Allah is the only way out. Perbanyak dzikrullah, dzikir pada Allah. Then also pray to Him. Just tell Allah what our problem is and where our weakness is. Insyaallah, relieve will come and Allah will show the way. This life is just so stressful if we have to bear it on ourselves, while actually we have Allah, the one who is able of doing anything. One advice from ulama that I remember: show Allah your weakness, then Allah will come to you with His greatness. Some times it’s just we the one who think that we’re so capable, that we don’t need Allah.Let’s always try to perbanyak dzikrullah, do’a, dan then tawakkal ‘alallah.

One favorite dzikir that I always try to remember: SubhanAllah, walhamdulillah, wala-ilaha illallah wallahu akbar, wala hawla wala quwwata illa-billahGlory be to Allah, All praise is to Allah, there is no god but Allah. There is no power and no strength except in Allah.

Semakin sering dibaca, insyaallah, hati akan makin tenang. Moreover, berhubung sudah bulan sya’ban, less than one month away from Ramadhan, sudah selayaknya kita warming up dalam hal dzikrullah dan ibadah sunnah lainnya.

Speaking about dzikrullah, I really think there is self reinforcing loop between dzikrullah and productivity. Semakin kita sering dzikrullah, hati dan pikiran menjadi tenang, more works and achievements can be done. Begitu juga sebaliknya, the less dzikrullah that we do, productivity akan semakin rendah, berimbas pada makin malas, and all the way round. Semoga kita dimudahkan untuk selalu dzikir pada Allah.

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One more thing that I want to share: the important of efforts. Some of us may feel that things are sometimes not fair, some people have a good head start, i.e. good family background, better facility, etc. I just want to tell them, what matter most is our effort. Yes maybe we have a bit disadvantaged background, but as long as we keep trying, work harder, insyaallah we’ll catch up, or even be better. Quite often what we find in Indonesia is the contrary. Even though we know that we start with a disadvantaged start, we still do not run faster to catch up. One example is in education. I really appreciate my friends or student groups which try to give better education access to others. That’s it for now. Smg bermanfaat.

Get to Know with My Own Country

Alhamdulillahirabbil ‘alamin,,

All thanks to Allah who gave us this life, who always guide us and has been very merciful to us, regardless whether we’re grateful to Him or not.

I am so grateful to Allah who gave me a chance to participate in a very eye-opening and great project. This project is a project from one of research institutes in my university. They want to create a report of Indonesia’s provincial competitiveness index. As a research associate or research assistant, I conduct interview with several top level provincial government, such as from Bappeda, Sekda, Disperindag, and BKPMD. So far, this project has brought me to see some part of Indonesia, such as Jakarta, Makassar, Kendari (Southeast Sulawesi), Denpasar (Bali), Kupang (East Nusa Tenggara), Mamuju (West Sulawesi), and Ternate (North Maluku).

There are quite a lot of lessons that I got during this project. Some of them I would like to share it with you.

First, the basic one, now I am fully aware, how big Indonesia is =). I think from Aceh to Papua, it will take around 8 hours flight, more than enough to travel to Tokyo from Jakarta (which passes through so many countries). Besides, I can also witnessed, that our country is just so beautiful, both its people and its scenery. I am touched with the sincere or pure intention of Indonesians that I met in Kendari, Kupang, Ternate, and moreover in Denpasar. They’re just so nice.

Secondly, I understood that quite many of our government officials in provincial government are still lack in capability. Most of them can’t give a clear and structured answer to my questions which are much related with their own provincial economic development and their province’s vision. Furthermore, from the interview, I also understood that the quality of our regency’s or city’s governments is even worse. With this fact in mind, I am very sad that it is very understandable that our development level is still very low.

Thirdly, it became clearer for me that there is lack of regulation in our country. Many foreigners built resort in an island as it is their own island, without thorough oversight from our government. I also understand from the interview that there are quite many things that can’t be done by local government because central government haven’t created the regulation, for example in preventing export of ore mining after one of minister’s regulation.

Fourthly, I am very sad to see many street children in the provinces. I believe many of them are very smart; it’s just that they cannot get the chance to get a quality education. From my interaction with the local Indonesian, I can see that they are very hardworking and very sincere. It really touches my heart. I promised myself that I’ll to make them able to receive their right as Indonesian after this.

Fifthly, all of the things above make me swear that I’ll do my best to make Indonesia as a developed country and I swear that I’ll expel all of those ‘bastard’ foreigners who are just sucking Indonesia’s wealth. Many of them are just taking Indonesia’s soil (ore) then bring it back to their country, without we know the content of that soil (Nickel, Gold, etc.). I swear that I’ll expel them, unless they bring more benefit to Indonesia. It is so clear that they are bribing government officials (who are also very greedy) and then suck Indonesia’s wealth. I also promise myself that when I am in leader position later in this country, I will really deal harshly to any government officials who received bribe from those companies.

Lastly, again, I want to thank Allah for everything that He has given to me. He is the one who always protects, guides, and strengthens me. Allah, please make me, my family, and my friends become someone who is always remember, thank, and worship You.

Allah, please also always guides us to be someone great, someone that can bring impactful benefits to people in this country, and to people around the world.