Kamis, 29 Agustus 2019

Urban Poverty and Anthropocentric Paradigm

نحمده ونصلي على رسوله الكريم
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
وعلى عبده المسيح الموعود

Urban Poverty and Anthropocentric Paradigm

Urban poverty, The Jakarta Post

“Hey, please give me the ball. Let me shoot and be you the keeper!” That was the command I said some time ago to a group of little boys playing plastic football on an incommodious street in the crowded district of Penjaringan, North Jakarta. Irrespective of all the limitedness they faced, they were looking very happy with the game. The dirty complex of houses happened to be just around them – those personified, in fact, their dwellings – were not to be a source of inaction. Likewise, the dim lamps of night stood out left and right were not to be a plea of lamentation. They, in sum, were joyous enough to try dribbling the ball beautifully as if they were Ronaldo or Messi.

Urban poverty, as the academics name it, is the correct phrase to summarise the entire scene I witnessed. Yeah, those children, of their plainness and innocence, were still allowed to gulp a small cup of happiness. Yet, in contrast, as it came to my sight, their parents were of painful megrim to the extent that the vigour of life almost disappeared from their faces. As quoted by Amato and Zuo in Sociological Quarterly (1980), one theory suggests that urban poverty is indeed more detrimental to people’s phrenic well-being than that of rurality. Higher rates of crime, psychological disorders, divorce, and many other social diseases constitute the backdrop. Heartbreakingly, in this Capital City of Jakarta, there are precisely 372,620 individuals who have to bear, by perforce, that burden of poverty, according to the released data of Central Bureau of Statistics per September 2018.

At this, I entered into a state of sadness. Why not to be dejected after discrying our fellow beings endure so much hardship in lieu of cheerfulness? I contemplated, however, and pondered, why they could arrive at such miserable edifice of fate. Then, it was conclusively settled that, in order for the phenomenon to transpire, no other major cause is there apart from humans’ natural greed and aggressiveness. These are the two traits that lead large numbers of villagers to big cities in hope of seeking more cherished earnings.

When they reach the destinations and gradually get exposed to individual-centered cultures yonder reigning, this, too, proves to excercise huge influence on them. This runs in perfect pursuance with Hermann et al. in PNAS (2010) who formulated that anthropocentrism is rather an acquired worldview than being something hereditary. Accordingly, once they do not succeed in finding settlements, they feel no regret to evict groups of trees on riverbanks, to grab public lands at the edge of railway stations, to saturate littoral zones near fish processing centers, or to erect dingy habitations under the vault of various tollways. Later on, upcoming generations inherit their parents’ initiative and even expand it as their needs grow bigger, resulting in more complex problems for the ruling government.

Anthropocentrism: Between the Constructive and the Destructive

Throughout the history, philosophers, theologians, and scientists have been attempting to understand the fountainhead of anthropocentrism.

Baruch Spinoza, for instance, proposed the cavemen story in his renowned Ethics (1677). He narrated that, upon observing all things of nature, early humans believed that there were governor or some governors of the universe who, endowed with human freedom, had attended to all their needs and made everything for their use. This misconception, he mockingly added, developed into superstition and became deep-rooted in the minds of men.

In a converse manner, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad put forward in his Arabic work, I‘jāz al-Masīḥ (1901), the idea of graded sacrifice whilst commenting on God’s attribute of al-Ramān. The essential meaning of His being so, to him, is that He has ordained the lower creatures as sacrifice for the higher ones. He expressed, “Do you not know that the camel-injuring worm is killed to save the former’s soul and then she is slaughtered so that men may take advantage of her meat and skin?” Therefore, it is his position that anthropocentrism has been God’s practice since the very beginning of humankind.

Similar to Ghulam Ahmad’s view, but in Spinoza’s scornful tune, Charles Dawkins opined in River Out of Eden (1995) that anthropocentrism is, no doubt, a natural way of thinking within human species whose waking thoughts are dominated by their personal goals, substantiated in, “The desire to see purpose.” Just as their pagan forefathers who questioned thunder, eclipses, rocks, and streams, Dawkins stated that modern humans clearly ask the same question when cancer, earthquake, or hurricane befall their children, saying, “Why do they have to strike our kids?” In consequence, they start scrutinising the matter and, thereafter, striving to solve and even conquer it so that the loss may see a decrease in the future.

From these three excerpts, we can summarise that anthropocentrism has been connate since the emergence of human race, regardless of whether it is a kind of misunderstanding or, contrarily, divinely designed. I am not saying that it is a genetic trait being passed down from parents to their offsprings. I am explicating, instead, as stated above, that it is a latent and delitescent character which will openly manifest subsequent to stimulation received. Depending on the stimulant, anthropocentric realisation is categorised into two different types, namely constructive and destructive. Unfortunately, the one at which we mostly look and encounter in our daily lives is the latter. This is also the anthropocentrism that operates in the context of urban poverty.

Educational Solution

Logically speaking, the best way to alleviate urban poverty, based on the aforementioned premises, is replacing the destructive paradigm of anthropocentrism with the constructive. We are made cognisant in the early paragraphs that it is people’s greedy and aggressive faculties that entice them to move to big cities and establish here infeasible encampments when no place is available for them to reside in. Thereupon, my suggested solution for this issue is providing more access to education for the residents of small cities and villages, be it in terms of practical skills or scientifically conceptualised system of learning, in the order of controlling their inner migration flush and transforming them, as well, into better ever more functional local inhabitants. In other words, it is the constructive anthropocentrism that radiates.

By the tutoring of practical skills, I mean so for those who are no longer at the school ages or no more possible to attend any classroom, but still lie within the range of the productive ages. As far as I am concerned from my experience in Bogor, for example, there are many teenagers who, having been dropped out of their schools, turn into migrants and unemployed buskers on the streets of Jakarta. I believe that, if these young ones are trained and coached with skills conforming to their homegrown potentials, they and their local government will yield so much profit.

It is certain that every district in Bogor has their respective superior products. In Dramaga alone, by way of illustration, sweet potatos emerge for the development of which big lands spanning 122 hectares have been prepared, penned Ekha Rojiah in her undergraduate thesis (IPB 2015). In case the Government of Bogor takes heed of this simple yet huge prospect to educate the youngsters under discussion to be capable farmers, many social, economical, and environmental problems they are facing at the moment will greatly be resolved. Furthermore, a significant quantity of West Java’s comers to Jakarta will also be reduced dan subsided. For, it is alarming that, with 58,236 individuals annually relocating their livings to the Capital City by 2015, this region comprises 36.34% of such migrants in total at the national level, second to none among those of the other provinces.

Afterwards, I intend the scientifically conceptualised system of study for those who are currently enjoying school chairs. It has been one of my deepest concerns that there are so many school-aged teenagers of Central Javanese origin working as transportation drivers, bus conductors, ticket brokers, and rough labours in Jakarta. Having ruminated on the case throughoutly, it appears to me that the reason behind this lies in the incorrect teaching and learning method of our present educational framework.

Most teachers today put too many assignments and homeworks upon the shoulders of their students without giving them the basic and solid as well as logical and philosophical background of the subject they teach. I am taking into account my personal impression of Biological lesson in a Jakarta-based international state-owned senior high school. When we learned about cell, all that the tutor explained before the class was a mere instruction to memorise what nucleus, mithocondria, chloroplast, and other organelles were. We were not informed of what the evolutionary origins of these cellular components were, why organisms stood in dire need of them, and what the recent advancement being made in this field was. As a result, my fellow students became less enthusiastic about Biology, whereas it was essentially very intriguing and attractive. The only thing they cared for was conversing with each other.

We can all, hence, imagine the educational system transpiring in rural and underdeveloped area. As a matter of fact, this is the foundational structure underlying the construction of the townspeople’s migratory mindset. They prefer to end their incriminating student lives in order to search for jobs – regardless of their inferiority – in big cities like Jakarta. For this reason, I am prompting that more conceptual ways of teaching and learning should be formalised and materialised.

Indonesian students, enounced Clara Davis from USAID Indonesia, in a meeting at Pacific Place Mall three years ago which I attended, have been proving to be of the word’s brightest brains. So, if a milieu is created for these people to get accostumed to the dialectics of both natural and social sciences from early educational period, they will positively evolve into terrific academians, intellectuals, researchers, inventors, and discoverers of world-class caliber after pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, instead of professing low-paid jobs in the already populated Jakarta. In consequence, not only the Capital City will be relieved from a great measure of her load, but it is also my firm conviction that only through such educational system will our beloved country march forward to the enumeration of prosperous nations.


Jumat, 23 Agustus 2019


نحمده ونصلي على رسوله الكريم
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
وعلى عبده المسيح الموعود


Battle of Yarmūk, Wikimedia

الله أكبر خربت خيبر
لليهود كان مال وبنون
وكان الأعراب عليهم ذي ثناء
العيش لأتباع موسى ناعم
ولكنهم إذا صاروا يكذبون
فهذه الأيام لها تداول
أراهم في النار الآن محترقين
وأما الأراذل الذين يصدقون
بل الحق أنهم منه أعظم
آل أحمد في قصرهم حاكمون
ذاك قاله النبي الأكبر
قوم بالكتاب كريم موقر
سادة ما أحد منهم مفتقر
حالهم منغمس والكل مفتخر
لمرسل هو عند الله مظفر
وذلك من ربنا قدر مقدر
ما لهم شفاعة ونصر ميسر
أعزاء قد أصبحوا كأنهم قيصر
وما لهم كسرى ند ونظر
وإيوانهم من القدير منور

Rabu, 21 Agustus 2019

Jejaring Pemuda dan Perdagangan Alutsista

نحمده ونصلي على رسوله الكريم
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
وعلى عبده المسيح الموعود

Jejaring Pemuda dan Perdagangan Alutsista

Arms Trade, Reuters

Di Beranda Raja Arkhon di Atena pada tahun 399 SM, Sokrates, Bapak Filsuf Yunani, tengah terlibat dalam sebuah perbincangan panjang nan menarik dengan salah seorang sahabatnya, Euthyfro. Dialog itu membahas beraneka ragam subjek filosofis, salah satunya mengenai hakikat kebajikan. Euthyfro beranggapan bahwa suatu amalan disebut sebagai bajik karena ia disukai para dewa. Sebaliknya, Sokrates menyanggah bahwa amalan tersebut digelari bajik semata-mata karena ia memang mengandung unsur-unsur kebajikan. Akhirnya, berkat argumentasi Sokrates yang tajam, Euthyfro bertekuk lutut dan mengiyakan pendapatnya.1

Melalui penalaran mafhum mukhalafah, kita dapat menarik konklusi dari dialektika Sokrates di atas bahwa tindakan-tindakan yang tak bajik pun pada hakikatnya disebabkan oleh adanya komponen-komponen ketidakbajikan yang menyusunnya. Jadi, apabila seseorang melakukan perbuatan yang tidak bajik, kita harus menaruh hal ini dalam suatu kerangka bahwa perbuatan tersebut memuat unsur-unsur ketidakbajikan, bukan karena pelabelan segelintir orang. Dengan menginsafi dan mengarifi unsur-unsurnya, kita akan mampu menangani masalah ketidakbajikan secara jitu dan tepat.

Dalam geliat sains modern, terbit satu cabang baru ilmu pengetahuan yang berusaha menggali asas-asas dari berbagai perilaku manusia secara mendalam, yaitu psikologi evolusioner. Terdapat dua premis fundamental yang digunakan dalam studi psikologi evolusioner guna memahami hulu dari perilaku manusia. Yang pertama adalah bahwa semua perilaku manusia merupakan produk dari mekanisme internal dalam diri masing-masing individu yang diaktivasi oleh rangsangan tertentu. Adapun yang kedua adalah bahwa mekanisme apapun yang dimiliki manusia berasal dari proses seleksi yang dikendalikan oleh evolusi.2

Konflik dan Agresi

Saat ini, kita tengah hidup pada masa yang dipenuhi dengan konflik berskala global dan regional. Ditinjau dari ketegangan dan ketidakpastiannya, dapat dikatakan bahwa sekarang adalah era paling genting yang dilalui umat manusia selepas Perang Dingin. Setidaknya bermula dari Arab Spring di Timur Tengah pada awal dekade, persengketaan bersenjata terus bereskalasi dan meluas ke berbagai wilayah di dunia, termasuk negara-negara ASEAN, khususnya berkenaan dengan problematika Laut Tiongkok Selatan. Sebagaimana dilansir BBC,3 ada empat negara ASEAN, ditambah dengan Taiwan, yang terlibat sengketa dengan Tiongkok seputar kepemilikan atas lautan tersebut, yakni Vietnam, Filipina, Malaysia, dan Brunei Darussalam. Meskipun ASEAN telah menekankan pentingnya self-restraint dan non-militarisation mengenai masalah ini dalam KTT Singapura November 2018 lalu, potensi konflik bersenjata antara negara-negara tadi masih sangat terbuka seperti yang terjadi antara Vietnam dan Tiongkok pada 2014.

Jika kita merenungi sebab-musabab di balik konflik-konflik yang tengah berlangsung belakangan ini, kita akan menjumpai sebuah kenyataan yang mengusik bahwa agresi alias keserakahan adalah biang keladinya, terutama dalam bidang ekonomi. Lagi, kita dapat mengambil contoh dari sengketa kepemilikan berbagai wilayah di perairan Laut Tiongkok Selatan. Vietnam mengaku bahwa Kepulauan Paracel dan Kepulauan Spratly adalah miliknya semenjak abad 17 M. Sementara itu, Filipina mengklaim kedaulatan atas teritorial Kepulauan Spratly serta Dangkalan Scarborough. Adapun Malaysia dan Brunei mempermasalahkan Zona Ekonomi Ekslusif mereka yang terletak dalam wilayah tersebut. Terakhir, Tiongkok mengambil sikap sapu jagad alias menyatakan bahwa semua bagian yang dipersengketakan tadi adalah miliknya. Pendakuan-pendakuan demikian sejatinya didasarkan pada ketamakan atas besarnya “harta karun” yang terkandung dalam Laut Tiongkok Selatan. Sebab, sebagaimana diungkapkan National Geographic,5 Laut Tiongkok Selatan menyimpan sumber daya alam yang dahsyat, mencakup 11 miliar barel minyak bumi, 190 triliun kubik kaki gas alam, 16,6 juta dolar AS dari penangkapan ikan dengan jumlah 3.365 spesies, serta 5,3 triliun dolar AS dari bisnis pelayaran.

Hakikat Agresi dan Cara Penanganannya

Agresi pada dasarnya merupakan suatu potensi laten yang tersimpan dalam pribadi setiap individu manusia sebagai hasil dari seleksi yang dikendalikan oleh evolusi. Ketika fitrah agresi yang evolusioner ini mendapat “bahan bakar” dari lingkungan eksternal, “bara”-nya pun akan menyala, membumbung tinggi, bahkan berkobar amat besar. Para pendahulu kita pun telah mengembangkan sikap agresif demi mencaplok sumber daya milik orang lain, mempertahankan diri terhadap serangan, menimpakan kerugian atas rival seksual sejenis, menegosiasi kedudukan dan kekuatan hierarkis, menghalangi lawan untuk melakukan agresi pada masa mendatang, mencegah pasangan dari pembangkangan seksual, serta mereduksi sumber daya yang dihajatkan bagi anak-anak yang secara genetik tidak terkait dengan mereka.6 Selaku generasi penerus nenek moyang, kita turut mewarisi salah satu bentuk ketidakbajikan ini.

Pembawaan alami manusia yang agresif tersebut tidak dapat dihilangkan, tetapi bisa dikendalikan. Saya memandang bahwa cara yang efektif untuk mengendalikannya adalah memotong sarana pemanifestasiannya. Dalam konteks konflik di kawasan Asia Tenggara, metode yang paling tepat dilaksanakan adalah membatasi perdagangan alutsista, baik antarnegara ASEAN maupun antara negara-negara ASEAN dan negara-negara non-ASEAN. Sebab, menurut pewartaan Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI),7 belanja militer negara-negara ASEAN pada 2017 telah mencapai 41,1 miliar dolar AS, meningkat 0,1% dari tahun sebelumnya. Selama periode 2013-2017, Indonesia sendiri menduduki peringkat 10 besar dalam daftar negara-negara pengimpor senjata dengan global share senilai 2,8%. Angka ini terlihat cukup mengkhawatirkan mengingat bahwa, mengutip Stohl & Grillot,8 peningkatan dalam aktivitas arms trade secara internasional telah terbukti menghadirkan konsekuensi-konsekuensi yang mengerikan, di antaranya:

1. kematian, cedera, dan trauma;

2. pelanggaran HAM;

3. maraknya pengungsi serta internally displaced people;

4. melemahnya struktur sosial;

5. tekanan terhadap sistem layanan kesehatan;

6. malanutrisi;

7. hilangnya kesempatan pendidikan;

8. gangguan terhadap bantuan kemanusiaan;

9. gagalnya usaha peacekeeping dan peacebuilding;

10. melambatnya perkembangan ekonomi;

11. terkekangnya investasi bisnis;

12. lenyapnya turisme;

13. bertambahnya kekerasan dan kriminalitas;

14. berkembangnya budaya kekerasan;

15. direkrutnya tentara anak.

Jelas, bila pembatasan perniagaan alutsista di kalangan negara-negara ASEAN diformulasikan, diregulasi, dan benar-benar dimaterialisasi, frekuensi konflik – yang merupakan pengejawentahan dari sifat agresif manusia – akan berkurang.

Peran Pemuda ASEAN

Kemajuan teknologi informasi dan komunikasi telah membuat para penikmatnya terkoneksi satu sama lain kendati mereka berasal dari negara-negara yang saling berjauhan. Para penduduk ASEAN pun tak terkecuali dalam hal ini. Menurut data we are social per Januari 2019,9 dari total 4,388 miliar pengguna internet dan 3,484 miliar pengguna media sosial di seluruh dunia, warga Asia Tenggara bertengger di posisi ketiga dengan masing-masing 415 juta pengguna internet dan 402 juta media sosial. Para pemuda, tak syak lagi, menduduki posisi teratas.

Saya berpemikiran bahwa para pemuda ASEAN dapat memainkan peran krusial sebagai driving force dalam menekan jual-beli senjata di level kawasan melalui jejaring di dunia maya. Secara lebih spesifik, saya mengusulkan berdirinya himpunan mahasiswa hubungan internasional se-ASEAN yang beroperasi daring. Sebab, saya melihat bahwa mahasiswa hubungan internasional adalah segmentasi kawula muda yang paling mengerti tentang perangkat-perangkat hukum yang digunakan dalam percaturan politik global dan regional, khususnya yang terkait perdagangan senjata, serta relevansinya dengan kondisi faktual.

Pertama-tama, para mahasiswa hubungan internasional di suatu negara ASEAN perlu membentuk himpunan nasional dengan pimpinan dan anggota yang terdiri atas para penggiat himpunan-himpunan universitas. Pergantian kepemimpinan bisa dilaksanakan setiap satu tahun, baik secara voting maupun penggiliran. Mereka lalu harus mengkreasi grup online sebagai wadah untuk komunikasi harian. Teruntuk rapat dan kajian, hal tersebut dapat dilakukan 2-3 bulan sekali melalui webinar dengan topik bahasan berupa berita-berita aktual menyangkut arms trade. Kemudian, mereka seyogyanya menciptakan sebuah website yang berisikan hasil rapat dan kajian mereka plus tulisan-tulisan dari mahasiswa hubungan internasional lainnya. Selain itu, mereka juga hendaknya membuat akun-akun media sosial untuk mempromosikan ide dan gagasan mereka.

Kerangka yang sama berlaku dalam struktur himpunan mahasiswa hubungan internasional se-ASEAN. Pimpinan dan anggota dari himpunan ini adalah para petinggi dari himpunan-himpunan nasional dari masing-masing negara. Sukesi kepemimpinan dilaksanakan tiap setahun sesuai dengan mekanisme yang disepakati, apakah voting atau penggiliran. Grup daring mesti dikreasi untuk komunikasi sehari-hari. Adapun rapat dan kajian dikerjakan setiap dua atau tiga bulan dengan menggunakan webminar. Website sebagai wadah penuangan pemikiran perlu diciptakan. Terakhir, media-media sosial patut diberdayakan sebagai sarana promosi dan propaganda.

Poin 13 dari Pasal 1 Piagam ASEAN menjamin penuh hak semua lapisan masyarakat untuk berpartisipasi serta mengambil manfaat dari proses integrasi dan pembangunan komunitas kawasan.10 Hanya saja, poin 2 (e) dari pasal 2 piagam tersebut menyatakan bahwa asas noninterferensi terhadap urusan dalam negeri negara-negara ASEAN harus dijunjung tinggi.11 Oleh sebab itu, peran partisipatoris yang dapat dimainkan himpunan mahasiswa hubungan internasional se-ASEAN adalah sebagai berikut:

1. memberikan rekomendasi terkait restriksi niaga alutsista, setelah rapat dan kajian ilmiah, melalui himpunan nasional, kepada pemerintah negara di mana himpunan tersebut berada;

2. memberikan rekomendasi terkait hal serupa, setelah rapat dan kajian ilmiah, kepada Sekretaris Jenderal ASEAN.

Kontribusi pemikiran, suara, dan aksi nyata nan bermartabat mahasiswa amat dinanti untuk memajukan stabilitas kawasan Asia Tenggara!



1 Rakhmat, Ioanes. 2009. Sokrates dalam Tetralogi Plato: Sebuah Pengantar dan Terjemahan Teks (Jakarta: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama), hlm. 60.

2 Buss, David M. 1998. Human aggression in evolutionary psychological perspective. Clinical Psychology Review. 17(6):605-619.

6 Buss, David M, op. cit..

7 [Stockholm International Peace Research Institute]. 2018. SIPRI Year Book 2018 Summary: Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security (Stockholm: SIPRI), hlm. 6, 8.

8 Stohl, Rachel; Grillot, Suzette. 2009. The International Arms Trade (Cambridge: Polity Press), hh. 120-129.

10 [Association of Southeast Asian Nations]. 2008. The ASEAN Charter (Jakarta: ASEAN Secretariat, 2008), hlm. 5.

11 Ibid, hlm. 6.

Senin, 19 Agustus 2019

A Poetry

نحمده ونصلي على رسوله الكريم
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
وعلى عبده المسيح الموعود

A Poetry

Sultan Ahmed II of the Ottoman Empire, Pinterest

I keep myself a secret, far away from getting exposed.
I enjoy myself being lonely, in the stillness of nothingness.
What am I to do with this world and its beauty.
When the fragrance of the Beloved I smell, always, every minute.
I have been lost, indeed, in the garden of love and sweetness.
While everyone is being deceived by the desert’s fata morgana.
Depend not, thus, ye friends, on this transient life.
Think not too are thou safe from the sport of passing time.


Entre Moi et Toi

نحمده ونصلي على رسوله الكريم
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
وعلى عبده المسيح الموعود

Entre Moi et Toi

An Ottoman on Horseback Painting by Charles Bellier, Fine Art America

“Dian Sastro est l’épitomé de la beauté indonesienne.”
Ça ils remarquent en tone passionné.
Tu, néanmoins, o ma puce, la surclasses grandement.
La déesse de la vénusté de l’univers, c’est toi.

Akhnaton, dans le temps, adorait Ra.
Était il magnetisé de sa luminosité.
Le soleil, pourtant, se couchera.
Sur le point de nadir, aussi il se reposera.

Quant à toi, o ma chérie formidable!
Tu es toujours sur le zénith, splendide.
Le charme de ta joue ne disparait jamais.
Ah, comme tu me manques!

Je suis ici, tandis que là es tu.
Séparés sommes nous par reliefs naturels.
Hélas! Quelle distance est devenue châtiment!
Pour moi qui suis ton vrai amant.

Quand nous serons main dans la main?
O, adorée, sois toi-même rapide!
T’enlacer est bonheur sempiternel,
Étant destiné pour cet adorateur.

Ne prête pas attention aux scarabées sauvages,
Qui arriveraient à voler ton miel!
Tu n’est-ce pas, o ma fleur divine,
La mienne seulement, la reine des abeilles?

Je suis le lokavidū du royaume de ton coeur.
Je suis également le messie des ses douleurs.
O macrocosme, ecris s’il te plâit notre histoire d’amour!
Jusqu’à arrivera le paranibbāna à nous accueillir.


Sabtu, 27 Juli 2019

Reformation of the Islamic Tolerance

نحمده ونصلي على رسوله الكريم
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
وعلى عبده المسيح الموعود

Reformation of the Islamic Tolerance

Semangat Kebersamaan by Nurkania Ismono, Bluethumb

At the opening of the fifth and last presidential debate (04/13), emerged a spectacle in which Indonesian religious leaders ascended to the podium. They were seven, each representing Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and indigenous beliefs. Seeing this, I was a bit surprised and excited, expecting that, as a corollary, all religions would be given the same chance to express their orisons in their own fashions. Or, at least, a silent prayer would took place by virtue of which the diverse faithful could enjoy their communion with the Most High in tranquility. That I kept my fingers crossed at that time, howbeit, proved to be false. For, before long, the Grand Imam of the Istiqlal Mosque began to utter his words of supplication in an Islamic way whilst citing a number of Arabic verses.

In Indonesia, to behold suchlike displays is not something of recherché nature. Someone who gets into public schools will frankly be acklowledging that, since the very dawn of educational stage, Indonesians have been made accustomed to tolerating majority dominance. Buildings of state-owned elementary schools are hushed witnesses to Sura al-Fātiḥa and Sura al-‘Aṣr being recited aloud before and after daily classroom routines, leaving non-Muslim children with no option, but to partake of the recital. In like manner, their arms are somehow twisted to participate in Islamic subject of study, owing primarily to the non-existence of teachers of the other religions. Forsooth, improvements are there when it comes to the higher levels. They are all the same, however, in one essence: the preponderance of Islamic symbols and utterances in social sphere.

The Muslims, who pass through this kind of experience, may regard it ordinarily. Yet, the non-Muslims, who are the victims of religious discrimination, find it extremely worrying and troublesome. I, too, myself did not encounter anything objectionable in this practice during my elementary and secondary school period. With the passage of time, nonetheless, I became able to grasp the sensitivity of the feelings of my non-Muslim friends. The moment some lecturers speak in front of the class paraphrasing and even quoting the precise compositions of the Qur’an, whereas the scientific discipline under discussion is now animal histology, the only thing I can perform is burying the face of mine in my hands with embarrassment. Out of the spirit of human camaraderie, I plain over the sentiments of my non-Muslim colleagues being not esteemed and appreciated.

“The minority must respect the majority, while the majority needs to show compassion to the minority.” This is the motto the accouchement of which springs from the uterus of the aforesaid phenomenon. The slogan clearly suggests that power lies at the hand of the majority. Meanwhile, the minority is percieved as helpless populace on account of which they are worthy of sympathy. Unfortunately, this already bad situation can turn out to be worsening when the minority supposedly fails to give due reverence for the majority. The widely-talked and well-known case of Meliana is certainly still fresh in our minds. A sentence of 18 year imprisonment has been applied to the Tanjung Balai-based Buddhist woman of Chinese ethnicity just for complaining, with a murmuring voice, about the nearby mosque’s more blaring loudspeaker than before. Despite so many solidarity protests launched by either individuals or organisations, the Supreme Court has determinedly rejected the lady’s appeal of the blasphemy verdict issued, rendering thereby all of them null and void.

Directional Selection

From an evolutionary point of view, the panorama of majority dominance is to be honest a matter of course. Before going into detail, let me first explain in brief the concept of biological evolution. In his magnum opus, On the Origin of Species (1859), Charles Darwin argued for a process leading creatures to the path of diversification. He named this process natural selection. Provided that no constraint exists, natural selection is inevitably going to work on a population with inheritable phenotypic traits facing a selective pressure. Individuals within the population that fall prey to the selecting agent are bound to perish (negative selection). On the contrary, those that demonstrate fitness, namely conformation to the demands of the environs, gain survival and reproductive success (positive selection). Their advantageous characteristics are, thus, passed onto the next generations, which can accumulate into speciation.

One of the most renowned examples of natural selection is the case of giraffes. Darwin stated that, once upon a time, there existed an ancestral giraffe species consisting of both the short-necked and the long-necked individuals. Vying for the higher branches of trees, the former were always outcompeted by the latter. The consequence of this thing is that, in the course of time, herds with less elongated necks vanished due to their inability to have access to food resource and then to produce viable offsprings. In contrast, the ones whose necks were more elongated gradually filled up the space and, after the cumulation of that favourable long-neck phenotype, evolved into the present giraffe species. Here, diet serves as selective pressure, length of neck represents trait, and variance is exemplified by two differences in length of neck, that is, either it is short or long. These variances are determined by genetic units called alleles.

Natural selection has several modes. The most straightforward of them is directional selection. Under such a circumstance, one variance is constantly favoured over the other. It transforms the value of a trait by increasing the frequency of individuals closer to a distant optimum. The example of this selectional type includes the aforementioned case of giraffes. The longer their necks stand out, the easier their foraging is, the more likely they are to survive and become reproductively succesful organisms.

If we look closer at the happening of religious dominance in Indonesia, we will find that it is, in essence, a form of directional selection. Let us consider the Indonesian people to be a social species. Religion in this context is a major trait of theirs, whilst Islam and non-Islamic faiths are its varieties. They are encountering a selective pressure, videlicet, tendency towards fellowship and togetherness or sense of community.

McMillan and Chavis proposed in Journal of Community Psychology (1986) that sense of community possesses four elements. The first is membership defined as the feeling of belonging or of sharing a sentiment of personal relatedness. The second one is influence, a sense of mattering, of making a difference to a group and of the group mattering to its members. The third element is reinforcement: integration and fulfillment of needs. This is the feeling that members’ needs will be met by the resources received through their membership in the group. The last element is shared emotional connection, the commitment and belief that members have shared and will share history, common places, time together, and similar experiences.

As Fletcher related in Journal of Aging Studies (2004), sense of community plays a significant role in the development of religion. Therefore, the more a religion conforms to the people’s need of sense of community, the greater its chance is to come out as a dominating entity. In this regard, the Islam which happens to be believed in Indonesia, that is to say, the variance which some sections of the population holds in possession, is more able than the others to bring forth communal sentiment. This emanates from one central creed: monopoly of the truth, implying that Islam is the only true religion, whereas all those lying outside it are mere collections of entirely false beliefs. Such a doctrine ushers Muslims in designating salvation as exclusive to their fellows, following religious injunctions in a letterlijk manner, thinking of themselves as the golden boys of the Divine who can do anything that they want, and stressing too much on the idea of al-ukhuwwa al-Islāmiyya, Islamic brotherhood, and, hence, refraining from befriending non-Muslims.

The matter under discussion corresponds to what Sarason asserted in, once again, Journal of Community Psychology (2001). According to him, it is an indisputable fact that societal problem will arise when one group of people seeks to monopolise the truth. So, that we are witnesses to the prevalence of Islamic colloqualism in public schools and meetings to the extent that he or she who tries to express his or her disagreement about such customs will be perceived as a rebellious person is actually the fruit of truth exclusiveness. It is the allele that fits the Indonesian populace’s sense of community, engendering its holders more favoured to survive and then to pass it down to younger generations. Indonesia is now on the verge of transforming into an Islamist nation. If there is no action to stop this progress, our religious diversity will be in grave danger.

Reformation of the Islamic Faith

An urgent call for rejuvenation of the Muslim’s monopolising the truth has to be kindled. And, this one will never come into being unless components within the followers of Islam themselves deign to wake up. As a devout and practicing Muslim, I am presenting on this occassion a Qur’an-based notion of renewal. For, the Qur’an is that book the reverence for which is accepted by all the denominations of Islam and it is, too, the wellspring of Muslim religious inspirations.

Allah the Almighty says in Sura al-Mā’ida, verse 48:

“And We have revealed unto thee the Book comprising the truth and fulfilling that which was revealed before it in the Book, and as a guardian over it. Judge, therefore, between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their evil inclinations, turning away from the truth which has come to thee. For each of you We prescribed a clear spiritual Law and a manifest way in secular matters. And if Allah had enforced His will, He would have made you all one people, but He wishes to try you by that which He has given you. Vie, then, with one another in good works. To Allah shall you all return; then will He inform you of that wherein you differed.” (Maulawi Sher ‘Ali’s translation, 2004)

This verse informs us that the Qur’an is a book vouchsafed and clogged with truth in the sense that it fulfills (muṣaddiq) all the revelations coming beforehand as well as being a protector (muhaymin) over them. Such is really an intriguing narration. The term musaddiq is derived from an Arabic root, ṣaddaqa-yuṣaddiqu, signifying that an individual testifies to the truth of something or some personality. That also denotes that a certain thing realises the glad tidings spoken about it in earlier times. Thereafter, in connection with muhaymin, this word stems from haymana-yuhayminu which purports that someone watches over something or certain individual. The subject affords the object security and preservation.

Thus, the verse demonstrates that the Qur’an negates the conception of monopoly of the truth. Indeed, it announces that each and every letter of its is made up of truth. Nonetheless, it acklowedges the Divine verities found in foregone scriptures. It appears as a continuation of the line of previous books of guidance. Furthermore, it is the acme and apogee of revelatory edifice, combining and conserving within itself all the particular beauties of its predecessors. In sum, the Qur’an never teaches Muslims to disregard others. On the contrary, it urges them to love their Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Confucian brothers and sisters, making reference to portions of the spritual trueness occurring in their holy books.

The second part of the aforesaid verse correlates with freedom of expression and religion. Here, the Qur’an encourages religious dialogues and colloquys in search of the truth. The imperative noun fa-ḥkum has its origin in the locution ḥakama-yaḥkumu, conveying that somebody exercises judicial authority to arbitrate between disputing parties. It can also radiate from ḥakuma-yaḥkumu which hints at someone’s becoming wise and sagacious. The verse, therefore, enjoins Muslims to settle up doctrinal dissimilarities in an intellectual and scholarly way that employs their faculty of reason. It guarantees the exchange of arguments and scholastic dialectics so much so that, if an opponent raises objection against him, a Muslim should try his best to give prudent, sage, and perspicacious response instead of pettifogging with the same reasoning again and again, emphasising literal understanding. By so instructing, the Qur’an declares itself to be an upholder of the human rights principle of forum externum.

The third segment of the verse sheds light on another basic postulate of human rights: forum internum. It discusses two important aspects of value internalisation embodying in observance of spiritual law (shir‘a) and implementation of secular method (minhāj). It is interesting to note that the Qur’an firstly mentions adherence to religious laws. This points to the fact that the Qur’an categorically rejects compulsion in religion. It contrarily commands Muslims to hold in high esteem heterogeneous beliefs, costums, and traditons of another nations. Afterwards, that the Qur’an speaks of practices of the laity is an indication that it also respects people of unbelief, including atheists, agnostics, and suchlike. In short, the Qur’an forbids Muslims from behaving arbitrarily towards non-Muslims as if they were authorised to do so by God. Everyone, be they religious or of irreligious proneness, must be unquestionably honored.

The verse’s fourth segment then goes on to explain the profound wisdom behind creedal diverseness. There, Allah makes it clear that, having such decreed betwixt the human race, He does not expect them to quarrel with each other. Rather, He invests them with distinct qualities so that they may make use of it for the betterment of their fellow beings. For example, Islam lays great emphasis on self-dignity, while Christianity does the same on mercy and tenderness, Hinduism on life balance, Buddhism on moral excellences, and Confucianism on social order. So, If all of these religious adherents, benefiting from their respective sublime features, join in collective effort to further the cause of Indonesia, this beloved motherland will surely get out of her third-wordliness, marching forward next to the schloss of developedness and prosperity. Natheless, in order for this level to be reached, it is incumbent upon Indonesian Muslims to extend their sphere of brotherhood. It should not only now encompass their co-religionists, but also all and sundry belonging to and sharing with them this great nation. Tangential differences must be set asunder and handed over to the Knower of the unseen. This alone is the proper manifestation of vying with one another in goodness (fa-stabiq al-khayrāt) in our national lives.


In the end, I would like to draw the attention of our Government to this very exigent thing. The state needs to encourage, in a warm, friendly, and supportive manner, not in the fashion that can trigger more trenchant division, all constituents of the Muslim umma to carry out self-reformation. The President, whether he will be Jokowi or Prabowo, must ensure that this project be brought to completion. As a ruler, he is insisted on leading by example. Within this framework, he is entitled to actionise the four Qur’anic behests deliberated about previously. Verily, “Whosoever directs someone to a virtue, he will recieve reward like unto the doer’s.”