one’s islamic-ity

i just told somebody that i may go out tonight. i said there will be Nuzulul Quran at the mosque inside my embassy. i wasn’t even sure i pronounce the words correctly, so i looked at the sms invitation in my mobile. then of course i did googling. there’s a news article from a website ending with .ae domain. The National newspaper. so at least i got a definition.

reading the article reminds me of my own condition. there’s a source in Abu Dhabi quoted in the article, saying that he is away from his country yet celebrating this in the embassy. however, the difference is obviously i will not come to my embassy here for personal reasons.

something else reminded me of my country. it happened when i and my best friend were roaming in a mall searching for a present for our classmate, who celebrates his birthday today. in a bookshop i told my friend we shoud get a religious book for him (he’s very religious and he lent me a book on Mohammad). there weren’t many books on Islam. i just saw some on sufism and rumi. then my friend was scanning a coffee-table book. on a page, full photo, it was a congregational prayer in a mosque that struck me. i was sure that the mosque is the mosque that is close to my heart, the mosque where my mom took me several times to pray, the mosque which is the largest in Southeast Asia. the last one is what i told my friend. the name escaped me for some time. Istiqlal mosque. Masjid Istiqlal. i was trying to prove this my looking for the caption on the next page, but failed. the caption, if im not mistaken, only says about muslims praying in an islamic country. it neither did mentioned the name of the mosque nor the country.

i felt like crying. its not because the mosque is not famous enough. i can show my friends some pictures about this mosque, hoping that she would still remember and see the similarities with the one in the book. but i think it has something to do with sentimentality. i know the mosque as it is located in my city in Indonesia (maybe my hometown). i know the carpet, the tiles, the pillars, the dome, the caligraphy and all. i admit, it is a very beautiful mosque. i can even remember the smell, the ambience.

going further, maybe my sentimentality is more of my islamic-ity. i’m not religious but i still believe that a mosque is a good place to become closer to god. a good place to pray (a conversation or just listing our wishes). a place of hope and faith, especially when everything else seems to crumble.

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first-time seminar in india

namaste! good morning! assalamualaikum.

so, i came to a seminar. not really my kind of topic, but anyhow i was there. i was invited my my hostel-mate Aftab to a seminar on Islamic finance on Feb 3-4, 2010 at India Islamic Cultural Centre in Delhi. we went by a bus provided for us at our campus.

there were great speakers. but mostly they are political figures, on the first day. chief minister of some state, former justice, and the presidents of the organizers (Indo-Arab Economic Cooperation Forum and Institute of Objective Studies). i enjoyed listening to a topic that is not exactly my specialty. you know, to broaden my perspective and my general knowledge. the last speaker honestly concluded « ok, after hearing all the speakers before me, I just realize that the (economic) crisis is not over yet. Rather, we are heading to it ». As I was mostly asleep during the presentations, I took off quietly after the tea break.

I sent a text message to Aftab. But he called me and said something, as I couldn’t hear him clearly because I was on an auto-rickshaw, maybe he wanted to introduce me to someone, maybe he just wanted me to stay for the non-veg lunch. But I really had to go, although not that early, because I had to be at home. A guy from Malaysian airlines’ partner will pick up my damaged baggage for repair (I thought they’d just give me a new one. But OK, this is India) at 3 o’clock. So I went to Sarojini Nagar Market first, buying something that I really needed, like cute shawl, t-shirt and pants, and « window-shopping » or tent-shopping, especially for bags and shoes. 😛

I had to tell him that I could come again the next day, which I regretted so much since I had 3 classes and I missed classes the whole last week.

So I came there again. This time it was nicer. I learnt about the economy, the stocks, islamic banking, backdropped by justice and morality. The chairperson of the session was very strict in preventing the speaker to pass the given time limit (so that we’ve not starving). In Indonesia some banks have even opened sharia-window. And also sharia insurance products. But in India, we have to be extra careful in using Islamic terms. It is about to start, the application of the system.

I met some people and even got pictured with Umar Chopra 🙂 I took off with some students by public bus and made it to the final class of the day.