The following is another email for my (present) loved one. :-) I typed it on October 6, 2005, some time ago, but the topic will always be up-to-date. Just read it, dear friends.
My darling one,
Ramadhan month has come again. But, you know, since I realized that I became secular (no longer religious) two years ago, I haven’t found any special feeling to welcome both Ramadhan and Idul Fitri. I don’t let any principle (not even Islamic teachings) indoctrinate me any longer. What a boastful creature I am, do you think? I just use my own common sense. In American history, I found this phenomenon (that American people were no longer pious anymore, compared to their Puritan ancestors in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) in the beginning of the nineteenth century. Do you know why? Renaissance. The discovery of many sciences. People started to think that they had brains that could open any mystery they found in the world. For example women’s womb was no longer mysterious after people found special equipment (such as USG) to look through it. With many inventions in medical field, human body is no longer mysterious anymore.
American people started to think that their being puritan didn’t make any sense. Their strong faith in religion didn’t have any strong reason. Therefore, many people started to question, “Does God exist? Why do we never see Him?” (or Her do you think? LOL. Since I was a kid, I was indoctrinated that in Islam, God doesn’t have sex, not male not female. Since Israelites or Roman brought Christian to England, many English converted to this religion. They believe that Jesus—a man—is God. That’s why they use He or Him as the pronoun of God in English.
(Honey, please don’t complain such as, “Nana, reading this email of yours is just like reading or attending history class. LOL)
But I don’t entirely agree if people easily say that America is full of atheist people. No. Many American people still continue their pious puritan ancestors. We, Indonesian people just don’t know much about it.
After reading some books in my study, especially after knowing this indoctrination kind of thing, I started to think too, that it all started from indoctrination we have got since we were little. We—as Muslim people—have been indoctrinated that Islam is the only right religion, the only vehicle that will take us to Heaven. We do believe in it coz that is the only doctrine we heard since a little. Other people with different religion probably also get the similar doctrine about their religion.
When I was a little, my elementary school teachers told me (and my classmates, of course), that Al-Quran will always be pure till the judgment day. Allah will keep it pure so that any effort to ‘change’ it will fail. It is contradictory from Bible that has undergone changes, from Old Testament to New Testament. There is Bible ‘written’ by Markus, Matthew, who else I don’t know. We deserve to question then whether Bible is really from God? Why is it ‘written’ by Markus and his friends? Why is not written by God? Not even by Jesus that Muslim people know as Isa?
The purity of Al-Quran here is also included the interpretation that I learned when I was a kid. One example, being polygamous is alright in Islam.
My getting to know Feminist Literary Criticism—especially with its principle Reading as a Woman—opened my mind that Al-Quran will always be pure, but not its interpretation. This world has become patriarchal since time immemorial. Men think that they have more ability to think than women do. More men went to school to get knowledge than women. That’s why, Al-Quran has been interpreted by mostly men. (Well, until now, I haven’t found any Al-Quran’s interpretation by women yet). In hermeneutics—one branch of knowledge in Social—I learned that no one is free from his or her way of thinking (with principle indoctrinated to him or her since a child). When interpreting something, people will always use this tendency. Men who think that they are more powerful, more intelligent, more thoughtful than women will use this belief in interpreting Al-Quran.
One proof. Surat An-Nisa ayat 3 is interpreted by (selfish) men that they can be polygamous. However, exactly the same verse can be interpreted that men are not allowed to have more than one wife when people use different point of view. It even becomes haram when then the man, the doer of the polygamy, does not treat his wives fairly. In Arabic, the word “adil” does not merely refer to concrete things, such as house, car, money, etc; instead, it refers to something unseen, such as love, care, related to heart.
When one of our president candidates campaigned more than a year ago, I found one banner, “Pilihlah Mr. X. Insya Allah bla bla bla …” (I forgot). For people (who think that they are religious), maybe that kind of campaign would say that that president candidate is a good Muslim. However, from my point of view, he just made use the words Insya Allah here to get sympathy from Indonesian people who are majority are Muslim, so that he expected to win the vote.
Do you see my point, honey? It all starts from the way we have been indoctrinated. Since knowing feminism, I let this ideology indoctrinated me. I do it consciously. I use my common sense in doing this. Consciously, I close my mind from other kinds of ideology. I read articles or books that are written using feminist perspective only. Julie criticized me as being unfair. Who cares?
I remember one day in 1999 I had a strong argument with that Californian debating about this religion thing. I told him that his mother was going to hell coz she was not a Muslim. Apparently he got offended, whereas I only answered his question whether his mother was going to hell or heaven. To him I was just a naïve and innocent girl. :-D although he got offended, he didn’t get mad at me. However, after reading some books in this master study of mine, I could see his point. I was indoctrinated like that. With my stubborn nature, it was not easy for him to explain to me about his perspective. It was not easy to change it, was it?
However, I remember too, one day I felt I hated this religion of mine coz this religion was not women-friendly. This religion gave many privileges toward men (for examples: men can have more than one wife, a woman cannot have more than one husband; sons get two third of his father’s legacy while daughter only get one third; men can pursue any career they want, women can pursue career only if their husbands let them do it, etc). Feminist literary criticism ‘awakened’ me. Fatima Mernissi, a feminist Muslim from Morocco said something like this, “jika hak-hak perempuan Muslim menjadi masalah bagi sekelompok pria Muslim, hal ini bukanlah disebabkan oleh Al-Quran maupun Islam itu sendiri, melainkan karena interpretasi yang berbeda menghasilkan interpretasi yang bertentangan dengan kepentingan kaum elit laki-laki.” Well, I forgot the exact sentence. But it is like that. It is not Islam that is gender-biased. Men who interpret Al-Quran are gender-biased. Reading Jurnal Perempuan no 32 about “Perempuan dan Fundamentalisme” made me aware that other religions are also gender-biased.
Going back to Ramadhan month darling. This is the second day. I am not fasting. Nature calls for women. :-D Are you fasting there? I remember one time i asked you, “Fasting today honey?” you responded, “Until now, yes. I dont know later.” Hahaha ... naughty you!