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Kyai Haji a Spiritual Journey and Social Prestige

Kyai Haji a Spiritual Journey and Social Prestige
Hajj, as it's known, is the Pilgrimage to Mecca in Islam. And Hajji is an honorific title given to a Muslim person who has successfully completed the Hajj to Mecca. In Indonesia, we call it Haji. Although all Muslims who have performed hajj deserve the title Hajji or Haji, not many of them use it. Except in Indonesia.

In Indonesia the title of Haji symbolizes more than merely a person who has done hajj. To some people, it means an upliftment of certain social status; a symbol of piousness; of pride, etc. For whatever reasons almost all Indonesian Muslims proudly add the title in front of their names. Regardless wether they're having a secular leaning thought or pure practicing Muslims.

For Ulama or Muslim scholars, who used to be called Kyai, the title Haji is a must, without which their ulama's cridential are questionable. Apart from that, we or they themselves, used to write their names as KH, acronym from Kyai Haji.That's why even a secular Islamic thinker and former Indonesian president like Abdurrahman 'Gus Dur' Wahid wrote Kyai Haji before his name when he published his op-ed piece in the Washington Post a few weeks ago.

I hardly find that kind of fondness to Hajji title used by Indian Muslims or any other Muslims from other parts of the world

Indonesia Military

On a Sunday morning in the late 1990s I met with Air Marshall Ganjar Wiranegara, then was a Colonel, and talked about the current situation which was worsening in every field in our country: from economy, monetary crisis and civil-military relationship. A kind of situation that triggered the fall-from-grace of Suharto's 32-odd year dictatorial rule soon afterwards.

Mr. Ganjar* observed that Indonesia's military has undergone, in his own word, "the lowest point of dignity" so long as people-military relation goes.

His word came in the midth of civil unrest and students protest throughout the country with some of Jakarta students had been killed by military in what was famously known as Semanggi incident.


Indonesia's military enjoys many priveleges and leverages that might envy any military establishment in the world. Unlike in any democratic countries, it has what the so-called dwi fungsi OR dual function in which the Consitution gives the armed forces a central role in politics as well as responsibility for defence.

In Suharto's era, it's the military that occupies most of very important portfolio both in government as well as in state-run companies.

When I was a kid I recalled reading Tempo Magazine's special report on military in which it told us this interesting joke:

The other day, a father with five children asked their kids on what they want to be when they grow up.

"I want to be a director of State Bank," said the first.
"I want to be a director of Garuda Indonesia," said the second.
"I want to be a Minister of Finance" said the third.
"I want to be an Indonesian Ambassador to the US" said the fourth.
"I want to be a Governor in Jakarta" said the fifth.

The wise father smiles and is proud of the fact that his kids are all ambitious persons. He also smiles because all his kids 'destinations' are achievable provided he gives a good advice to them. After a moment of thought, he smiles wider and conclude the talk saying, " Ok, kids. Listen, you can achieve whatever you wanna be if you join the military academy!


Around two years after my conversation with Mr. Ganjar, our president was BJ Habibie, Suharto was no longer in sight. Military was still "in the lowest point." At the time, I listened to Juwono Sudarsono's interview with BBC stating that "so far the military is still the finest institution in our country."

He seems to remind us to be cautious in criticising the armed forces and at the same time to acknowledge the significant of it's role.

I agree then. And still do now. We need them to guard this country against any enemies, the real enemies that might come from foreign land, not their own people as it happened in the past. At the same time we need to remind them to not overstep their role in the future. We dont want to be such country as Thailand, Myanmar and Pakistan. Also, we dont want another father of five-kids advises their children with the same not-so-funny joke above.

What we want is simple: let the best sons and daughters of the country compete to hold whatever good position they deserve. Only then can we compete with other nation in facing any challenge that lay ahead.

*We call the same name for formal and informal situation.

The Smeller a Man the More Attractive He Becomes

If you're a kind of metrosexual personality and are proud of being in the lifestyle, here's the "nightmare" for you: women enjoy the smell of men. The "sweet" of men's sweat just make women aroused, literally.

A study carried out by Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley said:

women who sniffed a chemical found in male sweat experienced elevated levels of an important hormone, along with higher sexual arousal, faster heart rate and other effects.

The research's result, I think, doesn't not necessaritly advise you to not regularly take a bath to have a "stronger smell" and hence a stronger "result." It just, beneath the line, tells us that natural odour is a lot better than the artificial one. If it's correct, well, that's quite encouraging for me who barely use any accessories called parfume.

If you're a metrosexualist, it's time for you to reschedule your shopping item for the next weekend. :)

Nurcholis Madjid

Nucholis Madjid (pron. Noorkholees Majeed), popularly known as Cak Nur* (pron. Chaa Noor), is a celebrated figure so far as Indonesian Muslim intellectual goes. He is among a few Indonesian intellectuals who were requested to come to Istana Merdeka (Indonesia's presidential palace) by then President Suharto in early 1998 to discuss, among other topics, whether he should step down or not.

According to his own statement during his visit to India months later, he's among the person who were giving the tough response: not only should Suharto step down. He had to step down. And indeed, in June 1998 Indonesia and the world witnessed Suharto announcing his resignation from Indonesia's highest office, ending his 32-year sweet and bitter authoritarian rule thus opening a new era called Reformasi (reform). The nation and the world celebrated. CNN and BBC broadcast the momentous and historic events an uninterrupted 24-hour coverage. The first ever that Indonesia got such a huge coverage on positive notes. Cak Nur's words at that moment of Suharto's fall "History counted by every second" was so popular quoted not only by national media, but by international print media as well.

During his talk in New Delhi at the time, he's talking tough and very frankly about everything particularly on government matters, something uncharacteristic of him who were known for his soft-spoken style. At the time he's talking to us, we started to be aware that something had changed. With his unusual tough and undiplomatic words before Indonesian diplomats who attended the meeting along with us--Indonesian students--as though he wanted to convey a strong message that a change, an important one, had just happened. And it's time for us to shift our coward-wrapped-by-softness attitude towards frankly-speaking kind of talk in criticising the government or any corrupt practices done by them.

I recall Soetjipto Wirosardjono (pron. Soocheepto Weerosarjono), one of my favorite Tempo magazine columnist in 1980s, once said that in criticising the government he had to make his words as diplomatic as possible so as to not offend any particular official in which case might lead him to jail on the ground of treason or subversion which could "threaten the national interest, a raison d'etre that is commonly used by any authoritarian government anywhere. Indonesian students abroad used to get "advice" from our diplomats whenever we'd have a meeting with high-level officials who visit a country where we study about things we should and should not ask during question-and-answer session with them. It's in this respect, it seemed, why Nurcholis Madjid talked in front of government official in most unorthodox way.

His thought on Islam and State

During 1970s, Cak Nur made a controversial statement that sparked nation-wide response, pros and cons on the need of separation between Islam and politic. His "Islam Yes! Politics No!" jargon drives a long debate among moderates who support his idea and conservatives who advocate the establishment of Islamic state. During 1980s, he yet again sparked a controversy. His statement in a seminar about "secularism and secularisation" and his other ideas on theological matters upset many conservatives Muslims among whom even regard him as an "apostate."

One should remember, however, that apart from his many controversial idea on Islam and state and his firm belief that Islam should occupy Muslim private domain only, he's a pious Muslim who prays five-time a day and avoids what Islam forbids. In his book Agama dan Peradaban (Religion and Civilization) he said that one who believes in God, Islam in this case, should observe whatever God or Islam commands as natural consequences to that belief. In other words, Cak Nur seems to remind the agnostic belief of the fact that believing in God without any need to observe what God commands is self-contradictory.

Father of the Nation

He is a man of principle. He believes strongly what he said. When he says something he says with his heart.** This kind of attitude earns him respect from friends and foes alike. His eagerness to see Indonesians united on common ground of Indonesianness, rather than tearing apart by communal fanaticism, attracts many followers of various background.

After the fall of Suharto's Orde Lama (new order) regime in late 1980s, he's the only prominent intellectual who resisted the temptation of power and continue voicing his idea of united Indonesia and of tolerant life-style among different faiths He came from Jombang, Jawa Timur (East Java), the most populuous province in the country.

Despite disagreement with some of his ideas, especially on religious matters, one may not and should not ignore his contribution on two most important thing: his relentless efforts in uniting various perception on nationhood and in advocating the need of tolerance among various faiths, ethnicities and regions to see the nation grows strong in facing the challenges ahead.

Second, his pioneering and inspiring role in making discourse on Islam and Indonesia among intellectual and academician alive and kicking, one important requirement to foresee the grimness or brightness of a nation. A nation who feels satisfied with status quo and stuck with it is a nation of backward people. History tells us that nation with such attitude is awaiting other nation/s to "colonise" us. A kind of nation that drives a colonialist ideolog like Rudyard Kipling justifies British colonialism on the ground that it's the "duty" or the "burden" of more advanced nation (read, white people) to "help" the backward ones. Nurcholis Madjid just help us to be aware of this situation. It's not exaggerated, therefore, that media dubbed him as the father of the nation for his commitment, dedication and contribution to the nation and at the same time his abstinence from politics at the time when opportunity wide-open.

A big nation would always remember and appreciate any contribution of its best sons and daughters, to learn what is right from them and to forgive but not to repeat any mistake done by them. Afterall, they are humans who are trying their best for the country.


*'Cak' literally means elder brother. Used generally in certain area in East Java. It's used by many East Javanese people to call those who they respect and hold dear and is so close to their heart. For Cak Nur, however, the term Cak is used nation-wide indicating how popular he is even now, years after his death.

**Not every intellectuals speaks for what they believe in; some speak for their stomach. Proposing a new idea by "order" from particular sponsors. Hence the inconsistencies and disgrace to some.

Women Breast, Surgery and Suicide

Breast for women is as much, if not more, important as the "missile" is for men. In this case, size does matter. Hence, enlargement tools for men and breast implant for women are becoming big business to those who think that physical appearance is everything, instead of inner beauty. If you are one of this category and have a future plan to do physical improvement, please beware. A survey as reported by Reuters should warn us as to how important to improve our positive mindset and sense of gratefullness to whatever physical appearance we have.

Reports Maggie Fox of Reuters,

Women who get cosmetic breast implants are nearly three times as likely to commit suicide as other women...

The main reason is

...some women who get implants may have psychiatric problems to start with, perhaps linked with lower self-esteem or body image disorders.

This is a good point. You will never feel satisfied with yourself, with your physical appearance however or whatever beautiful, handsome or attractive you are to others if self esteem is not there within you.

While breast size dissatisfaction is a common phenomenon in the West, it could also happen in India where most women are having a relatively big breast. Sushmita Sen, a 1994 Miss Universe and prominent Bollywood actor, is among rare Indian women who did breast implant.

In Indonesia, the physical problem is not women breast size. It's their nose that women feel dissatisfied the most. Many of them feel their nose are too short or too flat and need a "fix". Interestingly, nose cosmetic surgery also happen among Iranian women. As broadcast by CNN a few months ago, many middle-class Iranian women are doing nose cosmetic surgery. The reason is not about too shortness, on the contrary, they feel their nose are too long so they need to be "reduced."

The white color of Western people skin sound not so attractive to them, they need to darken it by going to any tropical places during vacation barking on the sunshine of Bali or Thailand beaches all day. Reciprocally, people who have not-so-white or even dark skin color think that white is the color their should have and hence they readily spend a lot of money to whiten it, no matter what. People of mongoloid arigins feel unhappy of their little eyes and need to make them wider. The list goes on..

Do you feel the same dissatisfied feeling of your own physical appearance? If so, how you deal with it? Share with us, there might be some reticent women and men outthere who might benefit from your towards-self-esteem experience.
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