Ikhlas, Ihsan, and Istiqamah

We only live once and our life is very short thus it’s imperative for us to have a meaningful and impactful life. Let’s sail away from doing an insignificant thing and move towards doing something significant for the society.

Also, remember to keep doing and being the best. We’ve endowed with the best from Allah swt; thus everything we do should also at the best quality.

Insyaallah, when we become a Muslim who is productive and competitive, as we should be, we’ll realize that Islam is indeed a blessing for the world; and more importantly, Allah will grant us with this forgiveness and paradise, insyaallah.

Let’s purify our intention to serve Allah only (Ikhlas), being professional in everything we do (Ihsan), and commit in doing good deeds (Istiqamah). Insyaallah.

 

The Secret Recipe: Al-Qur’an

Alhamdulillahirabbil’alamin, all thanks to Allah who has instilled guidance in our heart. In this moment I would like to assert one ni’mah (blessing) that Allah has given to our life. What is it? It is the Al Qur’anul Kariim. Here are some description of Qur’an by Allah. I really hope, after reading this description we would be more eager to interact with, memorize, understand, and practice Al-Qur’an.

  • Al-Qur’an is the book in which there’s no doubt in it; it is the guidance for those who fear Allah. Allah said, “This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah.” (QS 2:2).
  • Al-Qur’an is the book which assert the previous books; as the guidance as well as delivering good news to the believers. Allah said, “by permission of Allah , confirming that which was before it and as guidance and good tidings for the believers.” (QS 2:97).
  • Al-Qur’an is the law by which we decide our affairs. Allah said, “Indeed,  We  have  revealed  to  you,  [O  Muhammad],  the  Book  in  truth  so  you  may  judge between  the  people  by  that  which Allah has  shown  you.  And  do  not  be  for  the  deceitful an  advocate.” (QS 4:105).
  • Al-Qur’an is a clear light which shows the right path. Allah said, “O  mankind,  there  has  come  to  you  a  conclusive  proof  from  your  Lord,  and  We  have sent  down  to  you  a  clear  light.” (QS 4:174).
  • Al-Qur’an is the lesson; healing for what inside our heart; guidance and rahmat for the believers. Allah said, “O  mankind,  there  has  to  come  to  you  instruction  from  your  Lord  and  healing  for  what is  in  the  breasts  and  guidance  and  mercy  for  the  believers.” (QS 10:57).

These are several description from Allah swt on Al-Qur’an. As long as we try to be closer to Allah with Qur’an and sincerely look for guidance, insyaallah, insyaallah Allah will give us the guidance.

Recommended book: Khalifah Rasulullah

Currently I am re-reading a book, entitled Khalifah Rasulullah, which I read around nine years ago when I was in senior high school. Truly, this book has shaped my characteristic since then. The book is about the leadership as well as the life of four khalifah rasyidin plus the “fifth khalifah” Umar bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz. Melalui buku ini, kita bisa belajar betapa kuatnya keimanan pada khalifah Rasulullah. Kita juga bisa belajar betapa mereka adalah pemimpin yang takut, malu, dan ta’at pada Allah yang terlihat dalam kezuhudan hidup dan keadilan mereka dalam memimpin.

I highly recommend all of us to read this book. Insyaallah, sangat banyak kebaikan dan pelajaran yang ada di dalamnya. Semoga Allah merahmati penulis buku ini. Here’s the detail of the book:

Judul: Mengenal Pola Kepemimpinan Umat dari Karakteristik Perihidup Khalifah Rasulullah

Penulis: Khalid Muh Khalid

Penerbit: Diponegoro, Cetakan X, 2006

IMG_5824

 

Morning thought

Alhamdulillah, segala puji bagi Allah swt yang senantiasa memberi petunjuk dan cahaya; cahaya bagi hati dan pikiran sehingga kita bisa memaknai sesuatu melebihi apa yang tampak oleh mata. Below are some thought atau lebih tepatnya lintasan pikiran which arise.

  • On the essence of our presence in this earth. Kita, manusia, adalah wakil Allah di muka bumi. In this sense, kita berkewajiban mengelola dan memakmurkan bumi. In another dimension, sebagai wakil-Nya, kita harus senantiasa tunduk, patuh, dan berserah diri kepada-Nya; karena memang, kita hanyalah wakil, yang sejatinya tidak memiliki apa-apa. Sangat celakalah orang yang lupa diri, yaitu orang yang berbuat kerusakan di muka bumi, seperti tidak menegakkan keadilan, corrupt, merusak lingkungan, dll; serta celaka jugalah orang yang menyombongkan diri atau ingkar pada Allah. Mereka boleh jadi a ‘good’ person, namun sikap tidak mempercayai Allah dan mengingkarinya merupakan penyimpangan atas peran seorang wakil. Mati kita menjadi seorang wakil (khalifah) sejati: orang yang memakmurkan bumi, namun juga taat pada Allah.
  • On social life. Jadilah orang yang mudah diterima; mudah beradaptasi; dan lovable. Ini adalah syarat bagi seorang da’i; but remember, selalu-lah berpegang pada petunjuk Allah dan sunnah Rasulullah karena dengannya kita akan tahu the red line. Hilangkanlah pre-judice. Jadilah the light of hidayah; just think, how Rasulullah saw would react and behave on something that we;re dealing with.
  • On worldly affairs. Jangan terjebak oleh rutinitas dunia yang semu. Jika kita mengejar dunia maka ia akan lari hingga kita akan terus-menerus mengejarnya. Kejarlah akhirat, kita akan mendapatkannya beserta dunia. Jadikanlah orientasi dan kalkulasi hidup kita berdasarkan pertimbangan akhirat. Dunia hanyalah sarana untuk menuju Allah. Jika apa yang kita lakukan saat ini tidak berguna untuk akhirat kita, maka tinggalkanlah ia atau perbaikilah ia.

Wallahu’alam.

First week at UCL

Alhamdulillah, segala puji bagi Allah yang senantiasa memberikan ni’mat dan petunjuk. This is my first week at UCL; and I can tell you that studying at world great institution is something that we should aim for. Dahulu, para khalifah di zaman bani Umayyah, Abbasiyah, Turki Usmani, most of them, get the very best education thus able to be someone ‘well-roundedly’ excellent.

I strongly encourage my fellow Indonesian to aim for this. Insyaallah in later time I’ll post writings on getting into great universities. Barokallahu ‘alaina.

UCL

UCL Campus in summer, London

Politics and education

High cost politics has caused high cost economy; this is understandable. But the fact high cost politics also lowered the input for growth, namely educated-skilled labor, is something that is often missing in discussion.

The Educating the World episode of Al-Jazeera below showed how a corrupt government and business community has prevented access to education in Afghanistan and other countries. The lack of political will is also reflected in less than one percent education spending over GDP in these countries. It is true that security and cultural reason plays significant role in Afghan poor education level; but in many other countries, existence of security goes hand in hand with minimum focus on education. Most leaders know that education is important, but probably they don’t care.

I haven’t study politics thus don’t really know which political system which works. Is it the social democratic system in Nordic countries? I also still don’t know how a governmental system or political system should be in Islam; especially pertaining to this 21st century where we have seven billion people of which close to two billion are Muslim, thus very different from population that we had in Madinah back then. Or is it not a question on political system, as semi-autocratic country like Singapore and democratic country like the US can both be developed?

Or is it the question about improving the aqidah of the people, due to the fact that people with a good aqidah would stay away from corrupt behavior and other noble traits, thus we’ll have good people and good leaders? But isn’t it that will not happen as the devil will continuously disorient people from the straight path? Probably I shouldn’t be this pessimistic; but clearly, a role model on a modern-Islamic country is needed.

Need to learn more on this issue.

Status

Bacalah dan tadabburilah Al-Qur’an. Perbanyaklah waktu bersama Al-Qur’an; insyaallah hati akan menjadi tenang. Mu’min yang diberi ketenangan (sakinah) oleh Allah tidak akan takut dengan apa yang akan terjadi esok hari dan tidak akan sedih dengan apa yang telah terjadi.

Let the life flow. It’s meant to be enjoyable; only, and if only with Him.

Life at Peace

Lately, alhamdulillah saya merasa lebih tenang dan lebih bahagia dari pada biasanya. Apa sebab? Saya pikir karena saya merasa lebih yakin bahwa Allah SWT senantiasa melihat saya; saya merasa yakin bahwa I’m not alone, namun ada Allah yang senantiasa menyertai, innallaha ma’ana.

Semua bermula ketika akhir-akhir ini saya mulai merenungkan ayat-ayat Al-Qur’an yang saya baca. Ketika saya sampai pada surat Al-Baqoroh ayat 45-46, yang artinya: “Dan mohonlah pertolongan (kepada Allah) dengan sabar dan shalat. Dan (shalat) itu sungguh berat, kecuali bagi orang-orang yang khusyu’; (yaitu) mereka yang yakin, bahwa mereka akan menemui Tuhannya, dan bahwa mereka akan kembali kepada-Nya“.

Saya bertanya pada diri saya, benarkah sabar dan shalat merupakan solusi bagi semua permasalahan? Mengapa Allah menyebutkan dua ibadah ini secara khusus di sini? Yang membuat saya lebih berpikir lebih jauh lagi, Allah menyebutkan bahwa hal tersebut berat, kecuali bagi orang yang khusyu’. Di sini saya menjadi sangat tertarik, apa yang sangat istimewa dengan sholat yang khusyu’? dan bagaimana mencapai sholat yang khusyu’ tersebut? Alhamdulillah saya kemudian menemukan buku pelatihan sholat khusyu’ karya Ustadz Abu Sangkan. Pada buku tersebut, Ust. Abu Sangkan menekankan bahwa ketika sholat kita harus meyakini bahwa kita sedang berhadapan, melihat, atau bertemu dengan Allah secara langsung pada saat sholat. Hal ini ternyata sesuai dengan penjelasan Allah, di ayat 46, bahwa orang-orang yang khusyu’ itu yakin bahwa mereka akan menemui Tuhannya dan yakin bahwa mereka akan kembali kepada-Nya.

Berbekal pengetahuan ini, saya pun memperbaiki sholat saya. Saya selalu meyakinkan diri saya. bahwa Allah menyaksikan saya pada saat saya sholat; bahwa saya sedang bertemu Allah pada saat sholat. Hasilnya? it was great; saya bergetar, merasa takut, namun juga merasa tenang bahwa Allah sedang melihat saya. Saya merasa sholat saya lebih bermakna. Alhamdulillah, banyak perubahan yang saya dapatkan setelah memperbaiki sholat saya. Saya pun menjadi semakin senang untuk sholat dan berusaha untuk mencari-cari kesempatan untuk sholat.

Fortunately, this doesn’t stop here. Alhamdulillah, keyakinan bertemu Allah secara langsung pada saat sholat, membuat saya terus merasa bahwa Allah is there; Allah always watches me where ever I am. Hal ini lah yang membuat saya akhir-akhir ini menjadi lebih bahagia dan tenang.

Selain itu, alhamdulillah sekarang saya mulai mengerti dengan apa yang Allah maksud dengan ulil albab (orang-orang yang berakal) pada surat Al-Imran ayat 190-191, yaitu orang yang senantiasa ingat pada Allah di saat ia berdiri, duduk, dan dalam keadaan berbaring (i.e. dalam semua keadaan). Insyaallah, selama kita yakin dan aware bahwa Allah senantiasa melihat dan bersama dengan kita, kita pun akan senantiasa ingat pada Allah.

Finally, saya pun sekarang juga mengerti mengapa Allah menyebutkan bahwa sholat itu mencegah dari perbuatan keji dan munkar pada QS Al-Ankabut ayat 45. I think it is very understandable karena orang yang senantiasa merasa diawasi Allah tentu tidak akan berbuat yang keji dan munkar. Kalaupn ia terpeleset sehingga melakukan hal tersebut, ia akan segera memohon ampun dan memperbanyak amal sholeh.

Semoga Allah senantiasa menganugerahi sholat yang khusyu’ serta menguatkan kita untuk senantiasa beristiqomah dalam menjadi hamba-Nya.

 

As we grow up

As we grow up, our mind gets matured. The way we see things; the way we understand things. In Islam, I think Allah hinted that it (maturity) is usually when we reached 40 years old (see QS Al-Ahqaf: 15). Indeed, Prophet Muhammad SAW received the first revelation when he was 40 years old. Nonetheless, I think to understand the religion, and partly the life, it shouldn’t take that long. From the first and two generation afterwards in Islamic history, we know many Islamic heroes were also those who were in early 20s, some are even younger. In Islam, as long as someone’s heart, mind, and tongue get matured, then he’s in.

I believe this maturity should be or be reflected in the way we understand and practice Islam as the way of life. Let’s take Sholat as an example. When we were child, maybe we just memorized the supplication and other prayer’s reading without understanding its meaning and insights; but, as we grow up, we should understand and able to internalize all of these supplications. One example is in Al-Fatihah. It is definitely, absolutely not a coincidence that the surah or chapter in Qur’an that we read repeatedly-in every raka’ah of our sholah is Al-Fatihah. This is the essence of the religion and the summary of the Qur’an.

At the beginning of Al-Fatihah, we openly and immediately admit that we’re extremely grateful to Allah, the Lord or the world (Alhamdulillahi rabbil ‘alamin). Why? because He’s entirely merciful and especially merciful (Arrahmanirrahim); and then Allah reminds us, that this life is only the life in this world; rather, there will be the real life, in which we’ll be given rewards and punishment from what we did in this life. Allah said, He is indeed the sovereign of the day of recompense (Maa likiyaumiddin). As the logical consequence, we submit and worship Allah as well as asking for help to Him alone (Iyyakana’budu wa iyyaka nasta’in).

Then, here we go, Allah taught us, if there’s only one request or supplication to Allah, then what should it be? Allah taught us to ask for guidance to the straight path (Ihdinasshiratal mustaqim) because indeed, day by day, we’re confronted with so many things: options, temptation, etc.; thus we definitely need guidance from Allah. Allah then proceed to teach us on how to make du’a or supplication, that is to be specific. Then we have this attachment to the du’a: “..The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.”

The fact, that here we clearly specify in our du’a that we want the path of those who got ni’mah or favor from Allah, should make us think, who are these people? Who are these people who got the ni’mah. Right away, we come into realization that they’re the Prophet and all of the sholihin, of which the path that they chose was the path of da’wah. This should make us realize that Allah wants us to do da’wah, the path of those who got ni’mah from Allah.

Then Sholat is on and on. All movements and supplication in sholat are just amazing. We should really try to internalize it, so that we can be a better person from one sholat to another; from one time to another time until we’re back to Allah.

Let me close this post by stressing our supplication in tasyahud akhir. Do we realize that we, as a Muslim, at least, declare syahadah nine times in a day? Syahadah, as know, is an extremely powerful short-concise sentence; that is a declaration that Allah is the only God, the only priority, intention, and goal in our life; and that Prophet Muhammad is His messenger thus should be referred in any aspect of His life where applicable. Again, by declaring this at least nine times in a day, 365 days in a year, we should be reminded that this life is only for Allah and that whatever He asked us to do should be the priority of our life. Wallahu’alam; May Allah always guides and gives us hidayah.

Indahnya hidup di bawah naungan Islam

Tidak terasa, insyaallah, sembilan hari lagi studi saya di Tokyo akan selesai, which means saya akan segera kembali ke Indonesia. Jika ada satu hal yang akan sangat saya rindukan nanti di Indonesia, maka itu adalah Mesjid Tokyo Jami’ beserta para jama’ahnya.

Walau kami jarang bercakap bersama, namun ada satu rasa yang berbeda, mungkin itulah getaran ukhuwah islamiyah. Saya sangat kagum pada para Jama’ah ini, meskipun hidup di lingkungan non-muslim, biarpun gelap, bersalju, panas, menempuh jarak yang jauh, mereka tetap datang. Tujuannya hanya satu, untuk menepati janji sebagai seorang Muslim, sholat berjama’ah di awal waktu.

Di bulan Ramadhan yang luar biasa ini, rasa ukhuwah itu semakin kuat. Berbuka bersama, tarawih bersama, mengaji bersama, dan ibadah-ibadah lainnya. Sedih sekali saat teringat akan berpisah; semoga Allah menerima ibadah kita, mengampuni dosa kita, dan memperkenankan kita berkumpul di surga nanti.

Tokyo Jami'

Tokyo Jami’

 

Inside the masjid

Inside the masjid

Ramadhan is the month of Qur’an and Du’a

According to QS Al-Baqoroh verse 185 and 186, Ramadhan is the month of Qur’an and Du’a. As Ustadz Nouman Ali said, let’s try tor read Qur’an and then make Du’a. This way, we would feel the joy of Ramadhan.

In the verse 185, Allah mentioned there are four things that we should do in Ramadhan: (1) To interact more with Qur’an; (2) To complete the fasting; (3) To declare the greatness of Allah for hidayah that He gave; and (4) to be grateful for everything that He has given us. Let’s always try to do it.

Finally, let’s immerse ourselves with ibadah this Ramadhan. We would never know whether we’ll meet with Ramadhan again next year. This is it, this is the time. This is the time to rebuild our relationship with Allah. May Allah always guides us and accepts our ibadah.

Kindly watch this must watch Ramadhan booster lecture by Ust Nouman.

Taubat

Beberapa hari terakhir, tema siksa kubur; siksa akhirat, dan taubat sangat lekat di pikiran saya. Berawal dari membaca hadits berikut.

Dari Ibnu Abbas Radhiyallahu ‘anhuma, ia berkata: Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam melewati dua buah kuburan. Lalu Beliau bersabda,”Sungguh keduanya sedang disiksa. Mereka disiksa bukan karena perkara besar (dalam pandangan keduanya). Salah satu dari dua orang ini, (semasa hidupnya) tidak menjaga diri dari air kencing. Sedangkan yang satunya lagi, dia keliling menebar namiimah (adu domba).” (HR: Bukhari, dalam Fathul Baari: 1/317).

Saya sangat kaget saat membaca hadits tersebut. Jika tidak bersuci setelah buang air menyebabkan seseorang mendapat azab kubur, lalu bagaimana dengan dosa-dosa lainnya yang lebih besar?

Perasaan takut ini berlanjut saat membaca terjemahan QS Al-Haqqah. Saya merasa hopeless, sad, dan afraid. Sempat muncul pikiran, is it really the life that Allah wants Muslim to have? That is life which full with sadness and fear? I wish the answer is no. But then when I came upon the following hadits, my fear grew even more.

Surga dan neraka ditampakkan kepadaku, maka aku tidak melihat kebaikan dan keburukan seperti hari ini. Seandainya kamu mengetahui apa yang aku ketahui,
kamu benar-benar akan sedikit tertawa dan banyak menangis
”.

Anas bin Mâlik radhiyallâhu’anhu –perawi hadits ini- mengatakan, “Tidaklah ada satu hari pun yang lebih berat bagi para Sahabat selain hari itu. Mereka menutupi kepala mereka sambil menangis sesenggukan”. (HR. Muslim, no. 2359)

Saya merasa sangat sedih dan semakin takut. Kemudian saya bertemu dengan ayat berikut: 

Katakanlah: “Hai hamba-hamba-Ku yang malampaui batas terhadap diri mereka sendiri, janganlah kamu berputus asa dari rahmat Allah. Sesungguhnya Allah mengampuni dosa-dosa semuanya. Sesungguhnya Dialah Yang Maha Pengampun lagi Maha Penyayang. Dan kembalilah kamu kepada Tuhanmu, dan berserah dirilah kepada-Nya sebelum datang azab kepadamu kemudian kamu tidak dapat ditolong (lagi). Dan ikutilah sebaik-baik apa yang telah diturunkan kepadamu dari Tuhanmu sebelum datang azab kepadamu dengan tiba-tiba, sedang kamu tidak menyadarinya. (QS Az Zumar: 53-55).

Setelah membaca ayat ini saya merasa sedikit lebih tenang. Saya merasa, kita tidak boleh berputus asa dari rahmat Allah; rasa takut pada azab Allah, harus diimbangi dengan rasa harap akan rahmat-Nya. Pada ayat ini juga terdapat perintah untuk bertaubat, berserah diri pada Allah, dan mengikuti Al-Qur’an serta sunnah.

Taubat mensyaratkan tiga hal*: (1) Menyesal, (2) Berhenti dari dosa, dan (3) Bertekad untuk tidak mengulanginya. Taubat juga harus diiringi dengan memperbanyak amal ibadah, karena Allah mengatakan kebaikan itu menghapuskan kejahatan (QS Hud: 114). Semoga Allah mengampuni dosa-dosa kita dan memuliakan kita di hari akhir nanti.

*Dari artikel ‘Syarat Agar Taubat Diterima — Muslim.Or.Id

Komite Inovasi Nasional-few notes

#Doesn’t mean to be an arrogant person by commenting government institution; rather, just wanted to evaluate our institution’s work based on what I’ve learnt.

Indonesia is one of the emerging countries which is said to be the missing additional “I” in the BRICS grouping. Even though it was severely hit by the Asian Financial Crisis 1997, of which the effect lasted until 2003, the new leadership in 2004 has helped Indonesia to gradually recover which then was even praised for weathering the 2008 crisis really well. This writing simply look on how Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) policy in Indonesia is (especially by looking at Komite Inovasi Nasional’s work) and whether this is sufficient to move the country form lower middle-income status.

In general, many developing country, including Indonesia, has adopted system of innovation approach to design its STI policy, nonetheless the practice usually follows old paradigm and rarely address the core problem (Intarakumnerd & Chaminade, 2011). The policy usually only focuses on increasing resources available for R&D, human resource development, and infrastructure development (i.e. linear model of innovation), while abandoning the importance of cooperation among various actors in the economy. I think this is mainly caused by the government’s assumption that researches from universities and public research institutions will easily be transferred to the private sector. Furthermore, there is usually dichotomy between STI policy and economic policy which means the STI policy was not design as part of industrial policy.

Realising the importance of national innovation system, Indonesian President established National Innovation Committee (Komite Inovasi Nasional) in 2010. This committee was tasked to help president in formulating a planned, integrated, and coordinated national innovation policy under national system of innovation framework.

In 2012, the committee launched 1-747 innovation initiative programmes which consist of several programmes (KIN, 2012):

  • 1% of GDP should be used as R&D spending.
  • 7 steps to improve innovation ecosystem, these are (1) incentive system and regulation to support innovation; (2) improving quality and flexibility of human resource movement; (3) development of innovation centre to support small-medium scale industry; (4) development of regional innovation cluster; (5) improving researcher innovation system; (6) revitalization of R&D infrastructure; and (7) establishment of system and management of research financing which support innovation.
  • 4 industries to accelerate economic growth, these are (1) basic necessity industry; (2) creative industry; (3) local-based industry; and (4) strategic industry, such as defence, transportation, and information and communication technology (ICT).
  • 7 vision of Indonesia in 2025, these are (1) increasing the IPR related to economic growth; (2) improving ST infrastructure; (3) achieving food, medicine, energy, and fresh water self-sufficient; (4) doubling creative industry export; (5) increasing  core products and value-added in industry; (6) self-sufficient in defence, transportation, and ICT products; and (7) achieving sustainable economic growth.

Based on system-theoretic approach concept, there are several ways to improve the programmes above. First is improving the paradigm. As pointed out by Intarakumnerd & Chaminade (2011), newly established national innovation system in developing countries usually follow old paradigm and rarely address the core problem. Most, if not all, programmes above focus on resource allocation matters, such as remuneration system, R&D infrastructure, research funding, and so on. The programmes should have been focused more on improving the learning process, that is addressing the question how the input (researcher, funding, etc.) could lead to innovative product. Second is by inserting diffusion of technology paradigm. The programmes above does not touch upon diffusion of technology and improving interaction across various actors. Certainly cooperation among firms, universities, and public research institutions is missing in Indonesia. Third, the program should include institutional or governance improvement strategy. Innovation would never be flourished when institutional or governance factors, such corruption, intellectual property right enforcement, custom procedures, overall investment climate, etc. are not fixed.

To conclude, even though Komite Inovasi Nasional is not a policy making body, rather it is (just) an advisory council which advice the president on national innovation policy; it has the strategic position in directing the development of Indonesia’s national innovation system. Thus I hope, it can move from old paradigm and embrace the ‘successful’ example of national innovation system in various developed countries. One thing is quite clear here, the committee members should read the latest research on innovation policy more =).

 

Intarakumnerd, P. & Chaminade, C., 2011. Innovation policies in Thailand: towards a system of innovation approach. Asia Pacific Business Review, 17(2), pp. 241-256.

The case of Indonesian fuel subsidy

The untargeted fuel subsidy in Indonesia is a very wrong policy; thus should be adjusted to be a targeted one. However, strangely, still, some political parties are opposing this policy change, reflecting the irrational or lack of intellectual-based politics in Indonesia.

Indonesia became net importer of crude oil since 2004, at the first year of the current President’s administration. Since then, the difference between oil production and consumption has widen, reaching 300,000 barrel or around 36 million liters per day in 2012 (US EIA, 2013).

The cause is easy to guess, that is surge in the number of motor vehicle due to increasing economic activity. Indonesian passenger cars has grown around 12% annually since 2004 reaching 10 million cars in 2011; while the motorcycle has grown even higher, at 17% per year, reaching 70 million units in 2011.

The amount of subsidy in Indonesia is enormous. It was around 14 billion US$ (Rp 137 trillion) in 2012 or around 10% of total government revenue. As of 2010, there are 46% of Indonesian or around 111 million people live below US$ 2 (PPP) per day. If we use all of these subsidy money in 2012 alone, then 59 million people will be out of poverty instantly, almost half of the current level*. To put it in another context, this Rp137 trillion is almost twice of ministry of education budget; seven times of agriculture ministry’s budget; or almost 20 times of fisheries ministry budget. The amount is unbelievably huge (every year).

In short, we need a game change here. (The current scheme of) Subsidy is bad for our economic development, bad for our environment, and bad for our mentality (dependent on subsidy). The subsidy should be a targeted one. By using government’s data that around 12% of Indonesian live under national poverty line, that is around 30 million people or 7.5 million household. By giving every household Rp100,000 every month (a very huge amount compared to previous cash transfer) as the compensation of subsidy removal, than it equals to only nine trillion Rupiah, or merely 6% of subsidy budget in 2012.

The time has come to Indonesia’s politics to be  more rational. The current political party should feel ashamed to our founding fathers and to all of heroes who sacrificed their life, family, wealth, and everything they had so that this country can gain independence and become a prosperous one. The Indonesian voters should also be more rational in choosing party which is taking ‘a make sense’ policy. I guess this is the job of us, the educated Indonesian to teach our people to be a rational voter. Wallahu’alam bisshawab.

 

Note: *) By using a very conservative assumption, that is all of these people will receive $2*365 or $730 (PPP) per year.

Little note on film Di Bawah Lindungan Ka’bah

Tidak banyak film yang mengingatkan kita pada kehidupan akhirat dan membuat kita semakin ingin beribadah. Film “Di Bawah Lindungan Ka’bah” yang diangkat dari karya Buya Hamka ini menurut saya merupakan salah satu dari yang sedikit itu.

Memang film ini sarat dengan tema-tema cinta; namun menyertainya, sangat banyak pelajaran-pelajaran yang bisa diambil. Saya sangat senang dengan latar cerita ini, yang mengangkat kondisi masyarakat minangkabau pada tahun 1920-an. Saya sangat senang menyaksikan betapa Islam menjadi sangat dekat dengan kehidupan masyarakat minang tersebut. Saya hanya berharap, kekentalan nilai-nilai Islam akan kembali hadir di kehidupan masyarakat minangkabau dan seluruh penduduk Indonesia. Betapa indahnya hidup di bawah nilai-nilai Al-Qur’an.

Salah satu quote yang sangat berkesan bagi saya: “Apa pun yang terjadi, Hamid, ingatlah, ketika Engkau tak punya siapa-siapa selain Allah; Allah itu lebih dari cukup…

Note: saya sangat berharap Allah selalu memberi keridhoannya pada almarhum buya hamka. Saya sangat berharap, bisa bertemu buya nanti di surga. Allah, kami mohon ampun kepada-Mu; Allah, sayangilah kami, Allah, kuatkanlah kami.

Mengapa masih ada orientasi dunia dalam diri kita

Saya hanya ingin mengingatkan diri saya.

Terlalu sering pikiran dan hati kita dipenuhi oleh ambisi duniawi. Terlalu sering ibadah kita, tindakan kita, mencampurkan keikhlasan dengan riya. Terlalu banyak amal ibadah kita yang tidak murni keikhlasannya.

Mengapa kita manusia mau saja tertipu dengan kehidupan dan ketidakikhlasan ini. Sangat jelas bahwa kita akan dimintai pertanggung jawaban oleh Allah nanti. Mengapa kita terlalu sering lalai, lupa dengan tujuan kita diciptakan. Mengapa kita terlalu berambisi duniawi, dan menganggap remeh kehidupan akhirat.

Sungguh tidak pantas kita merasa tenang, merasa bahwa kita pasti akan terlepas dari azab Allah. Sunnguh tidak pantas, bila kita menganggap remeh siksa Allah. Belum tentu semua kemudahan yang kita dapatkan akan membuat kita semakin dekat dengan Allah. Boleh jadi ia malah menjauhkan kita.

Beruntunglah orang-orang yang beriman, beramal shaleh, dan memurnikan ketaatannya pada Allah saja. Orang yang tidak peduli dengan pandangan manusia, karena memang sudah sepantasnya hanya pandangan Allah lah yang berarti. Beruntung dan menanglah orang-orang tersebut; semoga kelak kita termasuk pada golongan orang-orang yang beruntung dan menang tersebut.

Sangat indah petikan do’a yang diajarkan Allah pada ayat-ayat akhir QS Al-Imran: “ya Tuhan kami, sesungguhnya barangsiapa yang Engkau masukkan ke dalam neraka, maka sungguh telah Engkau hinakan ia, dan tidak ada bagi orang-orang yang dzalim seorang penolongpun. ya Tuhan kami, sesungguhnya kami mendengar (seruan) yang menyeru kepada iman (yaitu), ‘Berimanlah kamu kepada Tuhanmu’, maka kamipun beriman. Ya Tuhan kami, ampunilah bagi kami dosa-dosa kami dan hapuskanlah dari kami kesalahan-kesalahn kami, dan wafatkanlah kami beserta orang-orang yang berbakti. Ya Tuhan kami, berilah kami apa yang Engkau janjikan kepada kami dengan perantaraan rasul-rasul Engkau. Janganlah Engkau hinakan kami di hari kiamat. Sesungguhnya Engkau tidak menyalahi janji.”

Ya Rahman, tunjuki dan sayangilah kami. Ya Rahman, bantulah kami untuk selalu ikhlas kepada Mu. Ya Rahman,,

65 years after Palestinian exodus

A very sad reality; yet hope should be kept alive. “Despite the long period of time that has elapsed, I am still certain that Israel will not be there forever. But this requires a change of circumstances in the Arab world. And the mobilization of the Arab people to fight. No one can suppress the nations.” (Musallam Bseiso-AP Correspondent in 1948).

Please watch the following documentary for the complete picture of Palestinian exodus.

 

Start from ourselves

Indonesia should be a strong and self-sufficient country. That is one message which we can take from the recent conflict and sunk-ship of Myanmar Rohingya’s Muslim as well as financial difficulty experienced by Egypt due to its massive amount of gasoline subsidy; a financial difficulty which could ‘trap’ Egypt in IMF program.

Obviously, as Muslim, we really want to help them; and yes, some Islamic organizations from Indonesia have been able to channel humanitarian aid to Rohingya Muslim as well as financial aid from Qatar to Egypt. Nonetheless, clear enough the amount is not enough and we should make it a systematic way, rather than arbitrary help. In doing so, obviously, we need Islamic countries to be strong and self-sufficient.

I think it is quite clear already what make many recently-developed countries, such as Japan, Singapore, Korea, or even China became an economic powerhouse one. The excellent policy making (or public policy) in Singapore which practice Meritocracy, Professionalism, and Honesty (MPH); the strength of entrepreneurship and quality of institution (bureaucracy) in Japan, the quality of education in Korea and in many other countries, are very very clear and known by Indonesian leaders.

Maybe many of them are just ‘too dumb’ that they prioritize themselves over public service; or maybe they are ‘deceived too far’ by Syaithan which make them indifferent between evil and good deeds; or maybe the citizen should be blamed as well because they’re willing to be the victim of systemic crime by their leader.

However, there is apparently no need to emphasize who to blame. Let’s just focus to build this country together, in any capacity and talent that we have. A start from individual level means something when practiced by many. Furthermore, I also hope the movement, such as the emergence of da’wah kampus in many Indonesian universities-where young educated Indonesian dare to think beyond themselves and willing to be part of the solution-can be one of the systemic solutions to the problem.

Still, we can’t wait too long. We need to act now, to improve now. If our education system still deficient, how can we expect a quality generation in the next 20 years? If we’re so comfortable with importing many manufactured products (which account for 60% of Indonesia’s import), when would we be able to be self-sufficient and technologically-advanced? I really hope the upcoming election can bring the good-capable people into the policy making stage.

Let’s continue to work hard so that we’ll be able to build this country; so that the strong Indonesia, would be able to help many in-need Muslim countries. Let’s start this move towards excellence from ourselves. May Allah always guides and strengthen us. May Allah rewards our deeds with His forgiveness and jannah later. Insyaallah, bi-idznillah, everything is possible.

Little thought on my Incheon-Seoul Airport getaway

Even though I’ve visited quite many developed countries before, I give a special respect for South Korea, simply because of the fact that it was on the same stage on development with Indonesia back in 1950s.

When looking around surrounding the airport, I was thinking about Indonesia’s development. I think that the answer for whether Indonesia would be able to capitalize its recent status as an emerging into a real developed economy relies on its ability to produce critical mass of educated human resources. I said critical mass because I think not all of Indonesian should get the very high education as it would take a very long time and simply also because in Japan, not all Japanese are highly talented and highly educated; but a portion, a critical mass, maybe around 5% of the population I think is highly necessary. This critical mass of educated population would be the driving force in the policy making, research institution, and business.

Then of course, the question is how to get into an excellent education institution. I think to be able to get into an excellent education institution only requires three folds, these are dream high, work hard, and pray a lot. I firmly believe, if we, Indonesia, can have this critical mass of educated human resources, we’ll rock the world. It is very important for the fellow Indonesian that they should get a very good education in a world class education institution, not because of its brand but really because of the quality of its reaching and research. I am sure that it won’t be difficult to achieve so as long as we want to dream high, work hard, and pray to Allah. Here is a simple example.

Back in 2009, when I was in the fifth semester of university, I moved from student dormitory to a rented-house. The house was located close to a book store, where I spent around one to two hour of my time every night. On the way to the book store, there was a travel agent office, of which wall was covered by international airline logo. At that time I’ve never travelled abroad. Every time I pass by the office, I only have one pray, “Allah, please make it easy for me to travel abroad to various country. You know how much I love to see developed countries”.

Day passed one by one, every day I pray, every day I dream and every day I work hard; studying, joining organization, joining competition and many other positive things. Then, alhamdulillah, in Mid-2010, I have my first travel abroad, to Mecca (note: and of course, when I was in front of Ka’bah, one of my pray is also to be able to travel abroad often =)). Alhamdulillah, I think Allah accepted my pray; and my efforts have borne fruit. To conclude, the moral of the story the above mentioned: (dare to) dream high, (willing to) work hard, and pray a lot. Insyaallah the time will come.

I’ve got to board the plane now =)

Alhamdulillah,, (2)

I think the feeling to be a Muslim is just indescribable. The feeling of worshiping Allah; the happiness under the guidance of Qur’an; the organized-life rhythm,  and many others, are just indescribable. In regards to ni’mat of having Qur’an. I totally agree with and can feel the nuance of what Syaikh Sayyid Qithud said in the introduction to his Tafsir fi Dzilalil Qur’an:

“Segala puji bagi Allah yang telah memberiku karunia dengan hidup di bawah naungan Al-Qur’an dalam suatu rentang waktu, yang kurasakan ni’matnya yang belum pernah kurasakan sebelumnya dalam hidupku. Kurasakan ni’mat ini dalam hidupku yang menjadikan usiaku bermakna, diberkahi, dan suci bersih.

Kutempuh hidup dengan kudengar Allah yang maha suci berbicara kepadaku dengan Al-Qur’an ini, padahal aku sejumput hamba yang kecil. Adakah penghormatan bagi manusia seperti penghormatan yang tinggi dan mulia seperti ini? Adakah pemaknaan dan peningkatan harkat usia seperti yang diberikan oleh Al-Qur’an ini? Kedudukan manakah yang lebih mulia yang diberikan oleh Pencipta Yang Maha Mulia kepada manusia?”

Betapa aku merasa sangat bahagia menjadi seorang Muslim. Allah, wafatkan lah aku dan keluarga ku dalam keadaan husnul khatimah. Allah, tempatkanlah kami di surga firdaus Mu,,

Alhamdulillah,, (1)

Bismillah,,

Aku sangat bersyukur berada pada jalan ini. Allah, terima kasih atas ni’mat-Mu yang begitu banyak. Aku sangat bersyukur berada pada jalan ini; bersama orang-orang yang punya semangat unutk berislam dengan baik dan menyiarkan nilai-nilai islam.

Aku sangat bersykur berada pada jalan ini. Bersama para ikhawah, pemuda-pemudi, yang tulus dan ikhlas di jalan da’wah. Allah, kami hanya mengharap keridhoan-Mu. Allah, kami berharap bisa melalui ujian di dunia ini bersama-sama para kekasih-Mu. Allah, kuatkan dan   ampunilah dosa-dosa kami.

Tokyo, selepas acara Golden Week KMII Jepang 2013

Little tips on memorizing Qur’an

For the millionth time, I want to say how I am grateful to be a Muslim. For me, living under the guidance of Allah through Qur’an is just incomparable. Woe on me if I don’t follow Allah’s guidance.

Lately, alhamdulillah, Allah has made me really enjoying memorizing Qur’an, and alhamdulillah, He made it easy for me, as He promised. So I would to tell the secret =)

I think, the best way to memorize Qur’an, for the non-arabic speaker like us, is to memorize it along with reading its tafsir. The best one that I’ve used is tafsir fi dzilalil Qur’an by Sayyid Quthub. When we’re memorizing Qur’an along with reading its tafsir, it will not only make us understand word-by-word of what we’re memorizing, but we’ll also be able to dive into the beauty of Allah’s words and understand His great-beautiful message.

Not a long ago, I was kind of complaining in my heart, why is it so difficult to memorize Qur’an. Am I too old? That was what I think; but then I came across one ayat in the Qur’an, several times, which says that Allah has made it easy to memorize Qur’an (for example, look Surah Al-Qamar (54) ayat 17, 22, 32 and 40). And then, Alhamdulillah, Allah showed me the way.

I am wholeheartedly encourage all us to deepen our interaction with Qur’an. Insyaallah, we’ll not only succeed in this dunya, but more importantly also in the akhirah. Insyaallah, Allah will loves and always guide us even more.

Note: bagi yang tidak punya tafsir fi dzilalil Qur’an, you can download it here.

Economics and its discontent

Just recently listened to a lecture by one of my favorite economist, Professor Jefferey Sachs, on economics and theology. There are  couples of interesting reflections that he delivered.

First, the issue nowadays is between morale and material pursuits. Not long ago, he said, economics study was taught under the moral or philosophy subject. Yet, since the 19th century, I guess since the start of industrial revolution, the moral side has been abandoned. As the result, many of our problem nowadays is not on economics  issue (such as optimization), rather, it’s a morale question. He took an example of the difficulty of a senior health organization officials in securing financial support from the white  house for a global health project. The fund raising has been very very difficult even though the amount is only 1% of 1% of US economy, or equivalent to what Pentagon spend everyday.

Second, he cited Easterlin paradox, that is a paradox between happiness and material well-being. Professor Easterlin found that even though the wealth of american since 1950 to 1980 has increased, their (reported) happiness has remained unchanged. Thus this puts deep question on the material pursuit that we’re on.

Lastly, he cited how the material pursuit of human being has destroyed the nature at unprecedented level; and this destruction has brought considerable change to our lives, yet people aren’t care about it.

As an economist wanna be, I think this reflection should be well-noted. Professor Sach has the credibility to make such reflection, as he is one the greatest economists at the moment. It is somehow sad for Professor Sach and the people alike to finally come to this sort of conclusion, something that Muslim has taken it for granted. As a muslim, we has been taught that life in this world shouldn’t be based on material pursuit. We’ve been taught that we have to protect and sustain the nature, rather than to destroy it. We have been taught to spend zakat, charity, waqaf and other forms of givings to reduce poverty and inequality. But I guess it’s easier to say rather than practiced. We know that material pursuit, destruction on nature, inequality among people are bad things. Yet, we’re still on the blind eye to pursue it. I believe this is the test that Allah specifically designed for us who live in 21st century, when the temptation to worldly life is just irresistible.

This, I believe, should be reflected in Indonesia’s economy. We’re currently maybe in the most booming period of our country economy. I believe we should stop and ask, is this really what we want? Is destroying nature, exposing our lives to endless material pursuit, and widening inequality the one that we really want?

Prof Sach ended his speech by stressing that economics is (and should) not (be) a pure science. It should be combined with morale philosophy again. I wish he will get hidayah soon and understand that the true morale guidance can only be found in Islam, the final cut of Ibrahamic religion. May we’re not included in those who know the truth but do nothing to follow it.

You can watch the complete lecture here (it starts on around minute 45).

Man jadda wajada

I really appreciate an Arab’s quote: man jadda wajada; those who persevere will excel.

Undoubtedly, a lot of things to be improved in our country. Education, health, social challenges, and many others. The good news is we know what it takes to solve it: education. In addition, as noted earlier, one key in education process is perseverance. In Indonesian language, we call it bersungguh-sungguh or bekerja keras or willing to step take up for the challenges. Believing with this saying keep me optimistic in learning many things (read: difficult things) that I haven’t understand yet. I keep reminding myself, insyaallah, after a lot of works, I’ll understand and master it.

I remember my days in senior high school. I was very happy spending my time at the school’s library. Even though not many people really visiting the library, I was very happy to learn many things, discover many things, and aspiring for big things in the small library. Had it not because of such positive attitude, I think I won’t have big passion to strive and learn since my university period. Limitation in financial condition I believe won’t be big burden (even though to some extent it still is, as in Laskar Pelangi movie), as long as we have a strong will to learn, insyaallah, we’ll get there.

In developing a country, I think social scientist, such as economist, political scientist, and others are supporting tools. They are the one who will make sure a supportive environment or good social order so that innovation can flourish. Clear example is how the collapse of Rupiah (economics field) triggered great panic and profound negative impact to our country; but still, I think the main driving actors are natural scientist. I don’t know whether I understand it wrongly, but based on my observation, in Japan for example, the development is driven by advancement in science and technology. Again, in Japan’s case, many of Japan’s legendary companies such as Sony, Toyota, Hitachi, Panasonic and others, start from the scratch. With curiosity, spirit to help others and entrepreneurship, they were able to build such great companies. Thus the bottom line is continue to aspire bigger and higher; plus never give-up spirit, insyallah will achieve higher and bigger. I promise myself to be a great economist, the one who is able to manage this country’s economic policy process. I know I can’t do it alone, but I am determined that I’ve got to be one of the team. So set your target. May Allah always bless and guide us.

Yoyogi and Nearby Parks

I think Allah has put three places to be very close to my heart: masjid, university, and park. I’ll elaborate more on park. I think park symbolizes harmony and sincerity. When I am enjoying my time in park; either reading Qur’an, reflecting, writing, or something else, I feel that I am joining the harmony of nature.

One of my favorite activities is to read Qur’an in the park. Somehow, I feel like the grass, the soil, flowers and everything are very happy and join me in celebrating Allah’s greatness. I know that they are, with or without me, are praising Allah all the time. Having such time brings great relieve and clearly rejuvenate my spirit. I am very eager to find places where Qur’an might not be recited before, such as parks in Tokyo. Somehow, I feel the grass, flowers and others are quite grateful to me, that they can hear Allah’s words; meanwhile, I am deeply happy to do so too =)

I think park also symbolizes sincerity. It is so pure that it will show us whatever it gets; without any fake appearance. It’s just park, it’s just natural. As human being, who is tasked to preserve and develop this earth (khalifatu fil ardh), we’ve got to learn from them; learn from their harmony and sincerity.

Lastly, I know that in Indonesia, public park in the city is something which may not be available; nonetheless, as a country blessed with beautiful landscape, I am 100% confident that it’s relatively easy to nature in surrounding area. Spending some time in nature, I believe, will help us to back to our fitrah. We’ll realize that we’re only part of Allah’s creations, which in the short time will be back to Him again. May Allah always refresh our iman and we can refresh our spirit to worship Him. May Allah always guide us.

Below are some pictures from this weekend =)

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