For you who might not know, my name is Yuri and I'm one of your member of the Global Internship Program (but the only one who is non-engineer). Few days ago my "Japanese" teacher Bito-san asked me to write something about Indonesia.
What should I write?
Yes, but anything specific?
"Anything you want"
Do you want some preference you want me to tell, maybe?
"No. Do whatever you want"
It was so hard to find out where to start, until last night I met my friend and she said she just had moslem cultures in her class yesterday. And it got me thinking, hey, why not I share some too!
So here we go. Enjoy reading!
First of all, Indonesia is not an Islam state. We are a secular state who happens to have moslems as majority (~88%). The Indonesian Constitution provides "all persons the right to worship according to their own religion or belief" and states that "the nation is based upon belief in one supreme God”. In Indonesia itself 6 religions are officially recognized, (1) Islam, (2) Christian, (3) Catholic, (4) Hindu, (5) Buddha, (6) Confucianism.
Wait. What if one doesn’t have religion?
One time I saw on TV about some very rural and primitive people want to make an ID Card, and they put random religion there since you -have- to put one. Many believe that atheism is illegal in Indonesia even though there is no specific law that bans atheism. But I'm pretty sure it should be okay to be an atheist if you are not an Indonesian, but if you are then you might probably be socially stigmatized.
Now about the moslems.
You might know and see that we don't eat pork and drink alcohol, we pray 5 times a day, fast for 30 days during Ramadhan, some wearing hijab while some don't, etc.
But you don't know why. So let me tell you why.
The "No Pork" Thing
“Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah.” [Al-Qur'an 5:3]
There are several reasons why we can't eat it (no offense, please!)
First is the nature of the pig itself. They live and thrive on muck, feces and dirt. It could be argued that in developed countries like Japan, pigs are bred in very clean and hygienic conditions. But even in these hygienic conditions the pigs are kept together in sties, and so the chances of them consuming filth are very high. Second one is that research has shown correlation between pork consumption and several diseases. Eating pork can expose the individual to various worms like roundworm, pinworm and hookworm. Its fat gets can also cause hypertension and heart attack. Thus, we are prohibited to eat one.
But why some moslems don't want to eat other meat like chicken and beef, too?
Beef that has been slaughtered properly is halal meat (halal means permissible). But if it is believed that the cow is slaughtered in a way that is not prescribed in Islam, such as if the name of Allah is not mentioned over it or it is slaughtered in a manner other than that used by the Muslims. In that case it can be considered haram. Some people really believe in it and it only, but some can assume that as long as it's beef/chicken, then it is fine.
The five daily prayers are obligatory and performed at times determined essentially by the position of the Sun in the sky. Hence, salat times vary at different locations on the Earth.
- Fajr/Subuh or predawn; begins at true dawn or morning twilight and ends at sunrise (~4.30 - 6.00)
- Dhuhr; or midday; starts in the middle of the day, and lasts until Asr (~12.00 - 15.00)
- Asr or afternoon; starts when the shadow of an object is the same length as the object itself and lasts till sunset (~15.30 - 17.30)
- Maghrib or sunset; begins when the sun sets, and lasts till the red light has left the sky in the west. (~18.00-19.00)
- Isha'a or night; the preferred time for Isha'a is before midnight, meaning halfway between sunset and sunrise. (~19.00 - 28.00)
Friday prayer. Some people asked me already why I don't do Friday Prayer like Rido san or Bagus san (GIP members--also Indonesian). The reason is because Islam does not encourage women to attend places where men gather, because of the negative consequences to which that may lead, as happens nowadays in many workplaces where men and women mix. So, we women can just pray Dhuhr at our house as usual while the guys do Friday prayer.
Eid prayer; perform at Eid-ul-Adhaa and Eid-ul-Fitr (our big day; consider it as Christmas but for Moslem). Taraweeh; perform during Ramadhan performed at night after Isha (night) prayer. Salatul Janazah; is the kind of prayer you do when someone dies (funeral prayer).
This is a special month and most awaited moment for every moslems in the world. Then you now maybe start to think, “what the hell is so special about not eating for 30 days?”.
First of all, we eat, okay? But we “hold” not only from our hunger and thirst but smoking, and engaging in sexual relations, and to refrain from other sinful behavior like swearing, gossiping, etc. You don’t have to fast if you’re sick, travelling, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic or going through “monthly guest” (for women). Fasting duration is from before sunrise to sunset. If the Ramadan is in winter they you’re lucky because you probably only have to fast for 11 hours. But in summer? 15 hours.
And since Indonesia doesn’t have Winter, so…….
Anyway, right before Subuh prayer, around 2-3.30 AM we wake up to have suhoor, which is meal right before you start to fast. Can you imagine being forced to eat at that time? -_- Every first week of fasting is always the hardest for us moslems, but after that it’s okay.
But in general, we will do everything the exact same day like it's just any other day: working, studying... We get used to it for years. Also, in Islam we believe during fasting time God helps you not to be hungry. I have stomach condition where I can't skip one meal or else my stomach will be in so much pain. But during fasting month, I feel completely fine. Mostly just thirsty.
Oh, why we do this?
To save money.
Just kidding LOL.
I remember I was taught when I was little, that fasting makes us feel compassion and empathy towards the poor, because when the fasting person tastes the pain of hunger for a while, he remembers those who are in this situation all the time, so he will hasten to do acts of kindness to them and show compassion towards them. So fasting is a means of feeling empathy with the poor.
In general, fasting is a means that makes us appreciate and give thanks for pleasures, since fasting means giving up eating, drinking & intercourse, which are among the greatest pleasures. By giving them up for a short time, we begin to appreciate their value. Because the blessings of God are not recognized, but when you abstain from them, you begin to recognize them, so this motivates you to be grateful for them.
The breakfast is the most awaited moment—this is absolute since you can wildly and beastly eat whatever you want. But the 2 hours before that, THAT is the most important one. Why, because there will be so so SO many people selling hundreds kind of food for we starving people to eat. No matter how a strong marketer/sales person you are, you will always fail to its advertisement that your eyes, nose, stomach and wallet can’t say no. It’s crazy. But the thing is we always buy 3x more than we can eat. But we never learn from the previous lesson, and never regret, too.
At night we do the Taraweeh Salat (as early mentioned), and some people follow with reading Holy Koran. Fasting month is a holy month, so you will get multiple good karma (for you to go to heaven) when you do any small religious thing. Thus, many people try to “collect” it as much as possible.
It will be thicker than 7th Harry Potter book if you want me to keep going, talking about Islam, Moslems and everything within. One thing should be put in mind, is that not everyone is as religious as we all should be. There are some kind of “invisible layers” about it, if I’m allowed to say so. However, we still respect one another and still admit that every moslem is our brother/sister, no matter what. I remember Rido san said “Assalamualaikum” (greetings in Islam) in one Kebab restaurant in Shibuya and the Turkish waitress said “Walaikumsallam, my brother”. And it happened anywhere—regardless your race, position, or rich/poor.
I hope it answers several questions that you might have about moslems. Don’t hesitate to come to me, or Rido/Bagus san if you still have questions. :D
That’d be all for now.
Assalamu alaikum! :)