Yesterday I attended a farewell as well as welcoming party of AFS Semarang
Chapter. As last year, my ‘duty’ was to give comments to students’
presentations. However, in this short article, I will not write about the
students’ performance, but I will write a little about one returnee’s
experience when he was in America.
This particular student—a male—is from one Islamic boarding school which is
quite well-known from Central Java. The interesting thing was during one year
in Uncle Sam’s country, he was sent to a Christian (or Catholic, I am not
really sure about it). Before he left, people around him were a bit doubtful to
let him go; with a similar reason of Eric’s parents (whose experience I wrote
in this blog of mine too a year ago): they were worried if the so-called
ungodly country would change the poor boy’s faith and he would be a devil’s
followers. (Eric was sent to Norway which is said to have the highest
percentage of non-believer citizens in the whole world.)
As Eric, this new returnee narrated his amazing experience how people in the
whole Christian school did not marginalize him only because he was the only
Muslim. Even they showed big interest on what Islam is, its teachings, bla bla
bla, and especially it’s ‘jihad’. Why this experience is amazing for him, I
believe, is caused by how Indonesian people (in religion’s area) show ‘the
majority rules’ and ‘the minority follows’. (One very clear example in this
case is during Ramadhan month how selfishly the majority asks the whole country
to respect this month without reserve. All restaurants must be close in the
morning without respecting other people who are not fasting, who perhaps need
to go to a restaurant.)
Going back from America, this returnee is of course expected to tell his folks
that the so-called ungodly country has taught him a very valuable lesson: the
majority must respect the minority.
This story reminded me of one workmate who told me about one niece of hers.
This niece was selected to go abroad after winning the selection of students
exchange. At first, her family was not sure that she would get the chance since
she was wearing ‘jilbab’. Therefore, then I explained that—in my opinion—the
committee of this students exchange intentionally seemed to choose students
whose religious familial background was strong: such as those who study in
Islamic boarding school. They are expected to open their eyes that the teaching
of their teachers as well as parents that religion is the only principle to
make life better is not always right; that people whose religious ‘knowledge’
is strong will make good people (‘good’ here means will not do any harm to
other people) can be biased.
What do the committee expect from this? The returnees will be moderate and will
not be easily brainwashed by those fundamental Islamic teachings, let’s say to
kill other people in the name of God. The returnees will respect people who do
not always turn to religions when facing their lives because there are always
other ways out.
Ever seen this T-shirt?
PT56 14.14 200709
P.S.: my post about Eric is here
Minds are like parachutes, they only function when they are open. (Sir James
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