Jakarta, IO – This weekend our Moslem brothers and sisters all over the globe, of course more importantly here in Indonesia, would be celebrating their victory over hunger and thirst, after for the whole month of Ramadhan, fasting from eating and drinking during the day, and only breaking in the early evening, as they “buka puasa” with their evening meal; in the early morning, around 3:30 am they eat a “sahur”, before once again refraining from any meal or drink the whole next day, etc, etc. They end the fasting month with a mass prayer session in the morning end of Ramadhan month (IED prayer). After the prayer, everybody asks for forgiveness for any and all bad behavior and errors they may have committed in the past, with a promise to do better in the future. This is also the day to give alms to the poor. This is my understanding about Ramadhan fasting and IED prayer and celebration, as a non-Moslem, yet one respectful of Moslems, even more for their dutiful fasting during Ramadhan. So here I would like to apologize for all the mistakes I made to all my Moslem friends everywhere. I do hope you all will forgive me and maintain our friendship in a good spirit, God willing.
During this time, I would like to share how I feel about all these things, to live my life in the environment, which I think has been conducive for me to act so. In my youth, I was living in a Yogyakarta kampong called Taman Kadipaten, also known as the Old Palace. The last one was due to the fact that here the Sultan of Yogyakarta had built a small palace which the Sultan and his family members visited occasionally, as during holidays. There are still some remains of buildings and pools, as well as a garden that must have been beautiful at one time, including a majestic gate (Gapuro) an observatory tower (Pulo Tjemeti), a swimming pool (Umbul Sari), Sumur Gumuling and Sumur Gumantung (water reservoirs), as well as beds. I used to play in all these places, including swimming in the pool with my kampong friends in my youth. I lived there until I had to leave the city to be with my eldest sister, to continue my schooling after my father passed. Typical extended family system: I went to one sister’s family after another to be able to continue my schooling with their financial support, moving from one town to another till finishing my college. My mum was illiterate, as many mums then were, due to poverty, yet she was a very intelligent and visionary lady. She sent all her daughters, five of them, and sons, four, to good schools ran by Catholic Nun and Brother. She was industrious and hard-working lady, managing a cottage company, hiring local mums, producing batik cloths of high quality, worn by ladies of noble families related with the Sultanate. With that she was basically the breadwinner in the family. My father was a classical Javanese dancer in the Sultan Court, as well as classical Javanese song writer (tembang gede). Too bad that none of us continue the tradition, except for singing in church choirs, which we all did.
One thing I would like to talk about my lives in kampong related to what I started here, was that, since all my friends then were Moslems, during the fasting month I automatically joined them to fast, to be in solidarity with them. Nobody forced me to do that, but I felt I wanted to be like my friends. Once a while I was even joined my friends during the early evening prayers in the mosque on our kampong. However, came Sunday morning I went to church with my brothers and sisters. There was no feeling of awkwardness from my side, as well as that of my friends: it was very natural. Would not that be wonderful if this tradition could be continued to the present? Sometimes I wonder when some troubles flared here and there, when Muslims and Christians fight against each other, each side claimed of defending their religion? Our founding father’s foresight fully and wisely in deciding to make Pancasila as our basis in life, the belief in God Almighty, no matter what religion one adheres to. We lived in a kampong naturally this way, respectful of others irrespective of our religion we believed in or race and ethnicity we belonged to. I would also like to mention what was reported beautifully in this paper last time regarding the Bukit Doa in Nusa Dua, Bali. At the complex there is a Moslem Mosque, a Catholic Church, a Protestant Church, a Buddhist Vihara, and a Hindu Pura, where people from different religions could pray in their respective House of God, located one adjacent to another. Whenever we are in Bali we go to church there, the church of Mary, Mother of all Nations, (Maria Bunda Segala Bangsa). The complex was built during President Suharto’s time, when the late Minister Joop Ave was the Director of Tourism). I do not know if there are similar complexes anywhere else in Indonesia. But this is a wonderful idea for Indonesians to practice their tolerance and respect for each other, despite their different faiths they believe in, as well as race and ethnicity one belongs to.
How I wish our current generation could learn and take this way of life, so that we would have peaceful lives in all corners of Indonesia. Maybe it is utopia. But think about it at least, please.
I might be dreaming about the ideal society, where we could make ourselves proud as Indonesians. I do not know whether this issue is being discussed by any team in our Ministry of Education, Culture and Research. I am afraid our Minister and his close advisors do not have any idea about this, let alone what to do about it and how to manage it. I hope I am wrong here. And I should not be a pessimist here. Let us just hope that some will see the light, Insya Allah.