These are amongst the lessons that I have learnt from Catatan Seorang Demonstran. Of course, these are basic teachings in Islam, but seeing the proofs would make us more driven to follow the teachings more closely and to call others towards justice.
The necessary elements for a country to go down the route of destruction are as follows:
- Extremism in any form
- Half-hearted Muslims
Most of the points above are self-explanatory. I would want to talk about half-hearted Muslims. Corruption and prostitution are major sins in Islam. Racism and extremism are against the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Muslims are warned against taking the religion half-heartedly, and the Prophet (SAW) has given too many examples against taking Islamic teachings only when it is materially advantageous to a person. He would not hesitate to give punishment to any criminals even if it is his own daughter.
Islam must be taught not only as a series of rituals, but also a way of life and spiritual fulfilment. Although Islam has rules and laws regarding all aspects of human life, there are so many other angles in which the religion should be approached. There are too many Islamic books written on good manners, for example, and Muslim scholars of olden times have emphasised achieving good manners before learning the do's and don'ts in the religion.
Knowing God is of the utmost importance. Failure to know Him means failure to understand the reasons behind the above prohibitions.
Islam has given specific guidelines to avoid all of the above, yet in the name of 'freedom', many find a way out. The extensive list of rulings and laws may seem oppressive for some, but in Islam we are taught to be responsible human beings. Yes, we all need to earn, we get attracted to those of opposite sex, but Islam taught us the right way to fulfil our needs and wants. Greed and lust do not only affect individuals, they bring about destruction to the community and to a country.
If Muslims want to help each other, or if there are any parties who are concerned about certain groups of Muslim, they need to make sure that Muslims get closer to the religion, and not further away. That will ensure Muslims to have good manners, soft and loving hearts, become responsible students and later employees, obtain knowledge in all fields be it religion, science or even politics, become excellent bosses, be able to serve and fight for justice, non-corrupt and moderate individuals. It is a known fact that Muslims who become extremists are those who shunned themselves away from the society and steer away from mainstream Islamic teachings.
. . .
As a fighter, it is of utmost importance to understand the purpose of one's life.
Mr Soe became pessimist and sceptical with the ability of human beings to strive without oppression and suffering. There was a point of his life where he could not see any hope of things getting better at all. "Apakah tanpa pemerasan, sejarah tidak ada?" Is it true that without oppression, there would be no human history?
The issues that he wanted to tackle are major, and it is difficult to do single-handedly, or with a small group of people. It does not mean that it is impossible, and definitely doesn't mean it is not worth doing.
He at least made some Indonesians reflect on their lives and people around them; you don't know how many just Indonesians these days are influenced by his articles.
As Muslims we believe that justice should be upheld even if nobody does it. It doesn't matter how difficult it would be, or if nothing appeared to have changed – the result is for Allah to decide. However, the best effort is for US to make. That means, we must give every single thing we have and try any means to achieve the wanted outcome. Understanding Allah's decree means we will not be defeated by the lack of positive result. Instead, we will get back up and find other ways to fight for justice.
In Islam, we are taught that Allah loves deeds that are consistent, even if they are small. It means, each of us have a role to play in upholding justice, even if what we do seems to be small.
Like Mr Soe, he could write consistently and talk to as many people as he could, within his means as an individual, persevere with his principles. The impact might not be seen immediately but one would surely see the end result in the long run.
. . .
A little note about reading.
Soe Hok Gie began reading at a very early age. He read just about anything, including the kinds of books that you don't expect our 12 year-olds would.
We shall encourage our children to read. If they are not into reading what we like, perhaps we should expose them to other genres of books. Spend some time with them in libraries or book stores, we will be surprised with the choice of books they made. Once they have started reading, there is no stopping the, anymore.
Not all kids will love reading, but at least they should know that they could read things about something they are interested in, like dinosaurs, painting, football or even lorries. Encourage them to search for information from reading (on top of asking and exploring); I believe this is the kind of upbringing that will raise a knowledgable and skilled adult.
As parents, we need to show good examples to our children. In order for them to love reading, we shall start reading first – with them, to them, in front of them. If it is a family activity that made them feel loved, they are bound to do it their whole lives.
. . .
It took me a few months to finish this reading this book (I had a major exams in the middle), but it certainly was a great journey, even if it felt rather bumpy sometimes.