Several months ago, out of the blue I got an offline message at YM, “Women and men are equal Na?” His user ID was not familiar to me. I bet he read one of my blogs scattered in some places (so narcist am I that I have some blogs scattered everywhere. LOL.) I was curious where he read my writings so that he knew that I opine that women are equal to men? Besides that, his name reminded me of one senior student when I was pursuing my study at American Studies Graduate Program at Gadjah Mada University. I was wondering if he was that person (what a small world, eh? LOL.)
My curiosity made me accept his invitation to let his ID included into my YM friend list. Because of curiosity too when one day I saw his nick highlighted—showing that he was online at YM—I greeted him to know where he read my writings. Ah, in fact, he read my blog at http://360.yahoo.com/fe36smg (FYI, I mostly go online invisible at YM, to hide myself so that I will not be disturbed by many queries. It is not because I feel like I am already a celebrity or something, LOL, I just keep my privacy.)
When chatting with him at that time, I was writing a comment of one message at one mailing list I joined. (I always let other things distract my concentration when doing something. Very bad of me, I know. ) I don’t remember what exactly I wrote, but I remember it was about the existence of God. Does God really exist? Many scientists (mostly anthropologists I assume) are of opinion that some brilliant people “invented” religions to manage the lives of their fellow creatures in this earth.
My own spiritual journey in my life is like this.
I was born in a very strict religious Muslim family. Both of my parents taught all the children (four of us, one son—my oldest sibling—and three daughters, I am number two) Islamic teachings quite rigidly at home. Besides, three of us—my big brother, my younger sister and me myself—were sent to Islamic elementary school where we got more knowledge on Islamic teachings such as Tauhid, Fiqih, Alhadits, Reciting Alquran, including writing Arabic, etc.
The indoctrination that Islam is the only true religion and that it is the only gate to enter heaven has been passed to us since we were kid. This means other religions are wrong, fake, and that the adherents of other religions will go to hell, no matter how good, kind-hearted, generous, and nice they are in their life in this world. Moreover atheists. The non-believers absolutely will go to hell.
I didn’t really consider it as a problem anyway. I believed in it very strongly, an sich. The big question having been haunting me was why women were treated discriminatively. Still, because I took it for granted from God (that women were created number two after men, because Hawa was created after Adam), the question stayed on my mind peacefully but also rebelliously.
Despite my claiming myself as a rebel, this social construction (aha, now I can consider it as the social construction. Before this? It was CREATED by God the Almighty.) was very strong on my mind so that I did not dare to deviate the norm.
This was like that until I FOUND feminism ideology in 2003. I was craving it so much that I greedily collected books to widen my horizon. The first book I read related to this was STUDY ISLAM KONTEMPORER, a book compiles some writings of some lecturers from IAIN SUNAN KALIJAGA Yogya. One article digested Fatima Mernissi and Riffat Hassan’s book—the title is “Women and men are equal in God’s eyes” or something like this—where they offered a new perspective in interpreting one verse in Alquran relating to the creation of Hawa after Adam; the verse used by many patriarchal men (also women) to justify their opinion that women were second after men. However, one book/journal from which I learn a lot to shape myself as a feminist is JURNAL PEREMPUAN.
My readings—mixture of books on my study in American Studies Graduate Program, literature, history, anthropology, women (from both Islamic view written by feminist writers from Indonesia and abroad, and western writers)—and also discussion I had during my study (both with my classmates and my lecturers) combined with what had been stored on my mind plus my experience in my life had made me feel like born again: A NEW SECULAR NANA.
Several days ago, I met that stranger (I mentioned in the very beginning of this article) online again. He still remembered that in our last chat I was writing an article about the existence of God. He asked me to tell him what I wrote. Oh God, I already forgot what I wrote. LOL. (Frankly, sometimes I myself wonder when reading my previous posts, how could I write such things? I already forget. LOL. LOL.)
Shortly I said, “One good friend of mine considered me as a pragmatic person in viewing God’s existence. In time where I think that God exists I do believe in that faith.” LOL.
“So simple, eh?” he commented.
It did sound simple in his ears maybe. But that good friend of mine had heard me “preaching” my way of thinking and my way of life after I resumed my study. I knew in some certain time she would consider me as a non-believer. I still remember in one of our discussion (perhaps she meant to slap me, but she was not really successful to do it. LOL.) She beautifully said, “It is too naïve if people do not want to admit that God does exist. As a simple example, look at our hands. Why do we have five fingers in one hand? These five fingers do not have the same length. They are not stuck to one another rigidly so that there is hollow between one finger and another finger. Imagine if our five fingers are in the same length. Imagine if there is no hollow between one finger and another. There must be an Omnipotent power beyond us making it. And that is God.” Bla bla bla …
That stranger then told me his spiritual journey. Once he questioned the existence of God. He even challenged people around him, “If God exists, give me the proof that God is there (or here? LOL).” That was in the past. Now? He does believe that God exists without any proof or logical reason. “God is too powerful to be reasoned.“ he said. Has he found peaceful tranquility in his life with that conviction? I didn’t ask him.
Apparently, I have been in a different boat from him. We have had reverse experience, although I said that I am somewhat pragmatic in believing God’s existence. As I have discussed with some good friends of mine, all people have two contradictory characters in them, good and evil. Many selfish people let the evil overcome their logic. For these kinds of people religions are important to regulate their life so that they will not destroy the world and their fellow creatures (because they are scared to be put in hell in their after-life later. Those selfish people need to be threatened to behave well in their life, because they do not want to open up their logic.)
Therefore I am always sad to hear people from one religion talk bad things about other religions because they think that their religion is the only good one. I am also very unhappy to know that people try to force other people to convert their religion to the religion they believe as true. Why don’t we just live in peace, respect one another? Build our country together? Maintain the Mother Earth wisely for the next generation?
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