Jakarta: 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.

Why Jakarta?

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 more."

"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 iman and taqwa (belief and submission to and awareness of God) . Those familiar with unsur tawadlu will understand that it is taaruf 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 April, 2006.
Yayasan Terapi Nursyifa 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 kos.

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 asked myself.

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 heart.

Seeking knowledge

I arrive at Nur
Syifa. Some of the visitors smile shyly and some look at me unabashedly.

"Assalamualaikum," I say as I knock on the door.

"Waalaikumsalam, mbak . Why 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 pasien , 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 air-conditioned shelter.

I like this place already.

The Light of God II will be published in two weeks.


Company Background of NurSyifa'.doc >>>

^ Alternatif Pengobatan Terapi Nur Syifa' by Haji Mohammad Bambang Irawan S.
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Revised/disempurnakan : 05 June 2012 21:30 .