From My Heart

MONAS (Monumen Nasional)

The park surrounding MONAS (Monumen Nasional) was CLEAN!!! And it was almost sunset when we reached the park. The grass was neatly cut. There were reminders to not step on the grass, and most visitors abide by it. Every ten minutes there were reminders coming from speakers all over the park advising visitors to not litter, and there were signages everywhere too. There were no warnings whatsoever for those who are caught littering. And there were NO city council officers guarding the park.
I think more than 90% of the visitors were Indonesians. They did not dirty the park, took good care of it, without even needing to be worried about fines!!
Oh, I am so happy!!
There were no dogs so obviously there were no excreta. I did not see any cats either. There is a foodcourt at the end of the park, and there were no food carts around.
I did not plan to go up the tower but the rest of them wanted to. So we lined up for more than an hour to get to the single, small elevator that would bring us up the monument. The queue was calm. All of them just patiently waited for their turns, none of them tried to cut queue. While waiting, they took photos, sat on the floor and enjoy that spare time with loved ones, some of them would get out of the queue occasionally to sit at the staircase and observe the skyline of Jakarta. None of them came with packets of food (Malaysians would do that, though). Maybe they did not expect the long queue, or perhaps they are not as obsessed about food as Malaysians (hence they are really much fitter than us).
The top of the monument is quite small. We needed only a few minutes to see everything. As we reached the top it was already after sunset, so we noticed was Jakarta switched their lights off at night. So the office buildings were barely seen, there were only streetlights and lights from the (still) heavy traffic.
There was a few open-side buses (free of charge) that can bring you from the park entrance to the entrance of the monument.
At the basement of the monument there is some sort of museum, or rather a series of displays telling us about the history of Indonesian archipelago from palaeolithic age until the 1960s. It was dark down there, but worth going through especially if you are interested in history, and if you have all the time to spend. 

Masjid Istiqlal

We visited Masjid Istiqlal on a Sunday. When we reached its entrance, the traffic was heavy (it was a Sunday morning!) and there were loads of people. We thought it was because of the Sunday mass held at the Jakarta Cathedral situated opposite the mosque (we found out later that the mass has not started at that time). It turned out that the hustle and bustle came from the masjid itself.
Amazingly the masjid entrance was rather busy. There was a steady flow of people coming into the masjid, little boys and elderly ladies selling drinks, kuih and plastic bags (to put our shoes in once we’re in the masjid), there’s a souvenir market in the compound, and inside there was a lecture going on. Around the main hall, there were booths set up by various charity organisations asking for donation. There were guides around the entrance and on the way to the main hall, approaching those (like us) who appeared lost. Young men and women held hand-written reminders for visitors to mind their belongings and to keep the masjid clean.
With the loud lecture going on at that time, it seemed that the masjid was hectic and crowded.
But things were different inside.
Yes, the lecture was loud. It was held in the main prayer hall. But the masjid still maintained its peaceful environment. The corridors were cool and breezy, the ambiance was relaxed, it seemed like anyone could do anything there. There were smaller religious classes going on in one of the corridors, men napping near the many columns of the masjid, kids running around, girls taking selfies and wefies, here and there were small circles of discussion on the floor.
I loved it there.
I took some time walking around and climbing upstairs (it is the largest masjid in South East Asia), taking photographs. My brother and his wife sat near one of those columns and talked. My sister sat and made a sketch, and after that fell asleep.
Nobody came to ask my sister-in-law about why she didn’t wear a hijab. Nobody asked my sister why she slept on the floor. Nobody reprimanded the kids for running around, neither were the girls told to stop taking selfies. The lecture went on and on.
I know not all Jakarta is like that. Just look at the issue with Ahok. But at least, I could definitely feel the freedom in that masjid, as it should be.

Just Saying Hi

Hello, Jakarta.


Nice to meet you. ☺️

My Reading List – Part 2

1. Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern

This is a story about a beautiful yet mysterious young woman who lives alone in the hills near Cork, with a special talent of mimicry matching that of a lyrebird. The story moves with the world trying to understand her, and her trying to understand the world.

It is really interesting to see how the plot develops, especially the kinds of details that Ahern puts in the book. For example, how depth of communication would not only depend on effective listening and relay of information, but also personality and perception of life among the people involved too. As with many of her other work, it shows the depth of her knowledge, intertwined wity a imagination, which opens our minds and hearts to a lot of possibilities. The style of the narrative is what we know of Cecelia Ahern, but it is the finer details that makes each book different from the other, while keeping our attention to them.

I would give this book 4/5, for its depiction of Lyrebird’s life and the description of complexities of human interaction.

2. The House of Wisdom by Jonathan Lyons

This book, as the cover tells you, is about how the Arabs transformed Western civilisations. It started with the completion of Islam and goes on explaining us the thirst for knowledge amongst the Muslims of those age, which brought about scientific discoveries, development of printing press and ultimately turning a world of darkness into light.

This is the first book that I have read about Arab civilization, so I could not comment on the accuracy of its contents. Of course, I need to dig deeper into each major personalities that he mentions in the book, with their contributions to the modern world of knowledge and discoveries. Personalities such as the amazing Al Khawarizmi (without whom we would still be calculating with the impossible Roman numerals!), Al Idrissi, Ibn Rushd, Ibn Sina, and so many others that we have heard briefly a during history lessons in school.

I found that the narrative is all over the place. It goes back and forth from one century to the other, which made it difficult to figure things out in a chronological order. Although at the beginning the author did draw out a chronological map. 

I would recomment all Muslims to read books like this for a number of reasons:

(1) We would realize that all the initial discoveries and developments were done because Muslims wanted to follow Allah’s book: the Quran. Like the development of astronomy because Muslims away from the Kaabah needed to find a way to determine the Qiblat. Or development of a good water supply system because Muslims need to clean and perform wudhu’. The use of a more efficient numbering system because Al Khawarizmi was trying to calculate the divisions in our inheritence law, which gave tise to algebra, without which modern engineering would not be possible!

(2) Us Muslims should learn from ANYONE in this whole world. We should travel and learn more, as Allah has made this world with its colours and cultures. The Muslims of old time learnt medicinal knowledge from Indians, learnt to make papers from the Chinese (because they needed to print and spread the Quran), learnt philosophy from the greeks, botanics from various people of different places. The Muslims of those times were not afraid of knowledge, they would NEVER say things like “this is not Islamic knowledge” or “the Prophet did not tell us to study this” or “we should only learn from another Muslim”. NEVER. This is the kind of book that will make us open our minds to more discoveries in this world.

(3) The rise of Muslims depends on how close we adhere to the Quran, and the fall of Muslims is when we get away from the teachings of the Quran.

I noticed the same pattern with the fall of each Muslim civilization – womanizing kings, re-emergence of slaves in the houses of the riches, luxurious lifestyles. Life comes with responsibilities, the place of rest and luxury is only in jannah. 

(4) The Arabs were ethical in their journey of searching for knowledge. I could conclude from this book that they mention the source of their discoveries, whether it is the Indians or Chinese or Greeks, because up to this date we could gather those information. However, the West were much less ethical than that. Some of them merely mentioned the Arabs, and some poorly translated the works of the Arabs and claimed them as their own! 

(5) Muslims should understand that science is WITH religion rather than against religion. Science is merely a discovery of the laws of nature, but the laws of nature itself is created by God. When science does not seem to tally with God’s words, you will find that either the research technique is wrong, or flawed, or biased towards what they ‘expected’ to find, rather than the real findings. Science theories that are against God’s words will end up as difficult-to-prove theories, with many loopholes and flaws. 

(6) As Muslims, we should not lament on the good-ol-days. We should get back to our Quran and push ourselves into the path of knowledge and discoveries.

3. Di Bawah Lindungan Ka’bah by Hamka

This book is actually a brief love story between two young people in Indonesia, with a background of the Hajj season in Makkah. It was written beautifuly, although this book was written in the 1920s, but the description of Makkah and its pilgrims could not be more similar than it is now.

Just reading about the Ka’bah and the desperate pilgrims (we are all desperate for something) made me tear up, because in the end of the day, no matter which age we live in, human nature remains the same.  

The book has some kind of Romeo-and-Juliet tragic feel but with the values of a Muslim and an Asian. It was an easy read, the book can be completed within a few hours.

Hamka was the man who wrote the first ever Indonesian trafseer of the Quran, which made it possible for millions of Muslims in this region to understand the Quran in better depth. Therefore his work depicts the kind of manners and linguistic profeciency that is expected to be seen in a person so deeply immersed in the study of the Quran. It is so much different from Sjuman Djaya’s script book, it is even different from A Samad Said’s, obviously I will be in search of more of Hamka’s literature produce in the near future.

The Power of Negativity

The Price of Paradise

The price of pulling someone out of the fire to paradise, while you’re struggling to get to paradise yourself….it could not be measured with anything at all.
The only One who could give the light is Allah. So we ask Him to give the light to whomever we wish.

But we are obliged to work, work hard and smart, so that our prayers will come true.
I have been struggling with myself, asking from Allah for what appears to be impossible in human eyes, but not to Allah. Why is it not impossible to Him? Because I have seen evidence upon evidence that whenever He guides, the guidance goes straight to the heart, and the person changes to become a great person. A person with a soft heart, gentle manners, and the drive to spread the light he receives to others around him.
Why struggle? Because from my human eyes, I see imperfections of a human. I struggle because I was hoping that it was not syaitan beautifying what I do right now. 
How can it be syaitan though? This is a good prayer for a person so far away from me, a prayer that reminds me to pray for other things, pushed me hard to do other good things as well, and has given me so much good so far.
I listened to Sheikh Yasir Qadhi’s lectures in the life story of Prophet Muhammad SAW and realized that what I’m doing now is what he (SAW) has done all those years ago. Which means, it is natural for a person to want good from someone else, especially when we see potential in them.
Since then I’m more convinced.

Praying for others is a priceless gift. A gift for praying, and a gift of light.

* * *

The path to paradise is a big struggle. One of the ways to get there is to help others journey with us.
* * *

I would like to share this, I found it from twitter, shared by someone else. It is perfectly beautiful.

Seindah Mentari Pagi

Mendalami Jiwa Seorang Gie

Malam ini aku dapat mendalami melankoli kehidupan seorang Soe Hok Gie. Penuh pengharapan bahawa pemimpin negara yang dilihat semakin menekan bangsanya sendiri agar digantikan dengan seorang pemimpin yang adil dan bertanggungjawab. Pergantian itu akhirnya berlaku tetapi keadilan yang diimpikan tidak juga muncul, malah lebih banyak kezaliman yang berlaku.
Aku sendiri dapat menyelami jiwanya. Mengharapkan perubahan yang baik, tetapi nampak seolah-olah mereka yang ingin menggantikan kepimpinan yang ada itu sama tamak kuasa, sama rasis, berpura-pura menolong golongan yang miskin semata-mata ingin meraih undi. Aku belum nampak keikhlasan sesiapa pun di mana-mana pun parti politik yang ada di negara ini.
Maka apakah akhirnya negara ini akan turut merudum sepertimana negara yang Gie diami dan cintai? Yang korupsi meresap di segenap lapisan masyarakat sehingga menjadi suatu budaya yang sukar dipisahkan lagi? 
Beliau berjalan seorangan sambil menyandang beg bukunya ke mana sahaja beliau pergi. Buku-buku dan alam menjadi inspirasi bagi tulisan-tulisan perjuangannya. Aku merasa kerdil berbandingnya. Pastinya pengetahuannya begitu luas dan penguasaan bahasanya begitu hebat untuk bisa berjuang demi masa depan negaranya. Terasa tidak layak untuk berkata apa-apa di alam maya mahupun di alam nyata.

Seperti kata Orchida Ramadhania daripada Universitas Indonesia:

“Saat ini….semua mulut dan jari bersuara, padahal entah buku-buku apa yang mereka baca. Dulu, yang dimusuhi adalah orang-orang visioner dan punya gagasan. Saat ini, hanya dengan olok-olok pada pemerintah seperti ‘kecebong’, atau posting kata dan gambar vulgar lainnya, sebagian orang sudah merasa paling berani dan revolusioner.”

Aku cukup terusik dengan kata-kata itu, nampak benar aku tidak cukup ilmu untuk berjuang tentang apa pun; biarpun soal kesihatan, agama, apa lagi untuk kekuatan bangsa. Yang aku mahir cuma mungkin soal patah hati sambil cuba hidup kembali!
Menonton filem Soe Hok Gie, aku tidak dapat memberi komentar sebaiknya, kerana aku bukan seorang yang biasa menonton filem, apa lagi filem sejarah seperti ini. Aku belum lagi membaca buku catatannya, dan kisah hidupnya sendiri aku baca di internet sahaja, maka sukar untuk ku katakan mana yang benar atau salah. Tapi dapat aku katakan bahawa Gie penuh dengan sifat kemanusiaan, penyayang kepada semua. Gambaran Gie membantu seorang tua berbadan kecil melintas jalan masih terbayang di mataku. Rasa bersalahnya terhadap kebangkitan militer yang akhirnya mengorbankan temannya sendiri dapat aku selami daripada ekspresi wajahnya.
Lakonan Nicholas Saputra ternyata begitu berkesan, hilanglah Rangga yang kita kenali. Gie ternyata lebih banyak tersenyum berbanding watak Rangga dalam Ada Apa Dengan Cinta. Jika melihat usianya ketika memerankan watak Gie, Nicholas juga pada ketika itu sedang kuliah di Universitas Indonesia dalam bidang arkitektur, memang cocok dengan usianya. Semakin jauh kisah ini dibawa, semakin convincing wataknya.
Pada akhirnya aku lihat Han dan Gie bermain di pantai, suatu simbolik yang membuatkan aku mengalir air mata. Puisi yang dibacakan pada penghujung filem dengan suaranya yang sudah hampir matang sepenuhnya memang amat meruntun hati, teresak-esak pula aku menangis walaupun aku sudah tahu bagaimana kesudahan hidupnya.

Kita pastinya perlukan ramai anak muda seperti Gie. Di Indonesia, di Malaysia, malah banyak tempat di dunia ini. Berilmu, dan berani menentang kemungkaran biarpun disisihkan oleh insan lain.
* * *
Puisi nukilan Soe Hok Gie bacaan Nicholas Saputra dalam filem Gie:

Puisi oleh Soe Hok Gie

Our Own

As a human being, there are times that I feel there are others who get things easier than I do. Like having a life without debts, not needing to work hard but still have roof over their heads, could travel overseas, have time to do all sorts of things in their own sweet time, still have people loving them although they couldn’t care less about taking care of feelings of others, gets everything they wanted so easily. Yes, there are people like that in this world, believe it or not!
But recently someone said something that made me realize how lucky I am, and that I should be thankful, very very thankful.
Like when we went for umrah, I managed to go to the masjid every single day. I missed a few prayers, yes, but most of the time, I got to be there. I did not fall sick at all until I came home, so I managed to do all sorts of things that I planned to do, mainly in the masjid.

And when I came back, especially recently, I always had the chance to perform my prayers in the masjid. Not everyday, but more often than I did before. There are also some prayers that I rarely did before but I do more lately.
And I am busy. It is indeed a blessing, because I’m busy being productive, alhamdulillah. I do look back at times and think “man, I should have done this five years ago!” but then hey, at least I’m doing this now! I have this four-books-per-month resolution (which includes one journal article per week), so far I’m quite happy with my progress although the target is only nearly achieved. It then made me able to think clearer at work, have better memory, speak less and work more efficiently. I now bring a book everywhere I go.

I wake up earlier these days, alhamdulillah.
And there are other joys in life that we could only be thankful for if we reflect in them. Like my mom is near, I’m close to my siblings, I love to read, I love to travel, having blood pressure of 106/60mmHg at age 35,  needing to smile to everyone at work, giving all my heart when I’m at work so I feel satisfied when I come home, being able to apply so many of the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad SAW from the moment I step into the hospital until the time I get home, still have time to work out after work and on weekends, could spend some money for my family, could learn so many things about life when I’m at work that others could only dream about…
The list goes on and on and on…
My intention is not to be arrogant or thinking that God loves me more than anyone. Astaghfirullahal’adzim it is not like that.

I was just…well…counting my blessings, and I need to do that a lot, so I could do sujood and thank Allah for putting that thankfulness in me.

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