The Light of God 1
Dina Zaman |
May 25, 06 11:46am
It will change your life.
Jakarta as everyone knows is the capital of Indonesia. Home to over 10 million
people, the visitor either loves or hates the city. It is here that he sees
abject poverty co-existing with the glittery but fragile world of the very
rich, very beautiful and famous, and it is in Jakarta that you see colliding
worlds, whereby animism, various tribes and cultures, religions clash and
mingle. Sometimes they co-exist peacefully, and sometimes, like a married
couple, they fight and bicker for the world to see and judge.
Indonesia has always been touted as a model Muslim country that practises
secularism. Yes, they do have serious problems: terrorism, the rise and rise of
extreme fundamentalism, the on-going battles between liberal Muslims and the
conservatives, and even among moderate Muslims there are many routes to
salvation, hence teachings that follow the Quran and Sunnah, and teachings that
are infused with Hinduism, Javanese or Madurese culture for example, or if you
so wish, 'deviant' elements. A non-Muslim need not 'revert' to marry a Muslim,
according to some parties while some authorities cry foul at the act. Islam in
Indonesia can be considered as either liberal, open and
progressive/moderate/conservative or The Wild Wild West.
I had only two goals when I attended the kursus Nursyifa in Menteng Raya for
nine days: one - to learn about tasawuf, which is to immerse myself in soul
cleansing and 'experience' my prayers on a deeper level, and two - to observe
their community work up close.
My trip to Jakarta was met with scepticism and ridicule by a few friends and
acquaintances. Indonesia, as far as they were concerned was only good for
shopping, women, maids and labourers. The rich were very rich, the poor were
very poor and Islam in Indonesia was not to be trusted.
"Why there when you can get the same here? I have a friend in Melaka that
does the same, combining religion with motivation, right brain learning… you're
wasting your money going there to discover Islam. Malaysia has everything and
"Well if you're combining work with pleasure I guess then your trip's
fine… but why Jakarta, I don't know."
"The website looks dodgy and I think if you go there, your aqidah will be
ruined. You can't trust these Indons, you know?"
Truly they have forgotten this:
O mankind! We created you from a single
(pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye
may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most
honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.
And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).
(Surah Al Hujuraat, Verse 13)
Briefly, this verse means that we Muslims must not view ourselves superior to
others, for our skin colour, culture, language are not deemed important in the
eyes of God. What counts is our
submission to and awareness of God) . Those familiar with
will understand that it is
for Muslims to learn about their
sisters and brothers in faith, as well as their friends of other religions and
beliefs, and forge friendships.
But Malaysia boleh kan?
Of course, not all my friends thought the trip was fool-hardy. My family was
supportive. I come from a family of great travellers, so I suppose I was just
following the beat of the 'angin mengembara' when I arrived in Jakarta on 21st
is based in dusty, muggy Menteng Raya. To
say it is in the poorest district would not be the truth, as there are poorer
areas in Jakarta. It is clean, orderly and organised, in spite the visitor
passing downtrodden shacks that were homes to individuals. One had a comb of
overripe bananas hanging in the window, for sale. Young children played
barefoot in the rain, and men and women sat by the roadside, chatting or
staring into space. During the day it reminded me of my kampong in Gong Kapas,
and early in the night, there was this festive atmosphere as stalls selling
snacks and noodles dotted the road. Later at night however, there was a slight
feeling of menace as the neighbourhood observed strangers going back to their
But when one visits Nursyifa, one is not to mind the outside world. You are
here to heal and learn about yourself.
Yayasan Nursyifa is actually the residence of HM Bambang Irawan S and his wife,
Ibu Retno Dewi, or as she is more popularly, Ibu Haji. The couple with their
two sons - Mas Reno and Mas Arno - and a group of volunteers, meet with people
from all walks of life who have come to learn about themselves, as well as
forget the stresses of 21st century life. Tasawuf is about the purification of
the heart and soul and the principles of piety and virtue. And before anyone
starts entertaining thoughts of a Sufi cult with drums beating and swirling
dervishes, at Nursyifa, the penghayatan/experience of God is conducted via
zikirs and the application of teachings from the Quran and Hadith to daily
life, a marriage of science and theology, which in Islam is redundant, for
science comes from God, as everything else.
Prior to coming to Jakarta I visited the website and I admit that I was quite
apprehensive about Nursyifa. I've visited the Malaysian version of Nursyifa -
Darul Syifa - Datok Harun Din's headquarters in Bangi before - and I sure as
hell was not looking forward to seeing dementia, possession and ghostbusters
running around. With due respect to Dato Harun Din, I had a headache when I
visited his 'clinic'. It was mayhem. So when I surfed the website, what with
blinking stars and music, I thought, Oh God, what have I got myself into, I
There was and is a difference. Unlike in Darul Syifa where there were healers
to spook demons out of a person, at Nursyifa, you healed yourself. And your
demons could be psychological, medical, only you knew what would heal you and
only you healed yourself, for in Islam there is no intermediary when you spoke
to God. You talk to God 'directly' through your prayers and supplications.
There are no djinns or spiritual angels and incesne as a conduit to help you,
everything was based on your purification. For surely, all ills come from the
I arrive at NurSyifa. Some of the visitors smile shyly and some look at me
"Assalamualaikum," I say as I knock on the door.
are you here?" a kindly and plump lady greets me.
"To learn. Actually, I don't know. I was told to come visit and learn
about the Yayasan."
"Oh yes. You're the writer that has come to observe us. You'll have to see
Ibu Haji then."
I enter the house which is teeming with visitors or
, and at my feet are kittens and cats that swat at
passing feet and play with anyone that has the time for them. I learn later
that Ibu Haji loves cats and keeps about 15 of them in a specially built
I like this place already.
The Light of God II
published in two weeks.
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