Treasuring Al-‘Alim, Alloh’s Love for Knowledge

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

“In the name of Godthe Most Graciousthe Most Merciful.”

وَلَوْ أَنَّمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مِنْ شَجَرَةٍ أَقْلَامٌ وَالْبَحْرُ يَمُدُّهُ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ سَبْعَةُ أَبْحُرٍ مَا نَفِدَتْ كَلِمَاتُ اللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

“And if whatever trees upon the earth were pens and the sea [was ink], replenished thereafter by seven [more] seas, the words of Allah would not be exhausted. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise”. (Surah Al-Luqman ayah 27)

I used the ayat for “colouring” the front part of my graduating paper. I came up with inspiring quotes from movies and authors that I loved for the part. Since I am a Muslim, I needed to complete the sweet words with an ayah from Al’Qur’an. One day, I opened a graduating paper from my friend. Her name is also Eni. Mbak Eni, as I used to call her, introduced me to the ayah.

As I read the ayah containing something about knowledge, I decided to use the ayah for the front part of the paper. In addition, the translation of the ayah read beautiful, which would suit best for my graduating paper that discusses literature.

So, I put the ayah in my paper then I didn’t bother myself to actually dig deeper into it. I read the surah for quite some time but I didn’t realize how the ayah saved me from loneliness and aimlessness in the first few weeks of November 2019.

In some of the previous blog posts, I shared how between October and November, I was half unemployed and lonely. I couldn’t rely on freelancing jobs that had been my income source for six months. I was on my own in spending the days.

I didn’t expect that Alloh swt saved from the bad situations through unthinkable ways. As I also wrote in the blog posts, He gave a job as an English private tutor. The profession that has always stirred mixed feelings for me. I took the job because I needed money. I didn’t realize the job would reopen the thing that I let it dying; knowledge.

Through recalling lessons on English Language, I began reembracing the joy of taking notes. When I was a student, I loved taking notes. I loved letting my mind memorizing what teachers or lecturers shared. Taking notes is a good way to stick lessons longer and deeper into my mind. After the English Language, I applied the same thing for learning copywriting. From one extensive source about copywriting on the internet, I took some important lessons then put them down in a book. What a joy of doing that!

Joining Indonesian Dream Worldwide 2019 with ustadz Nouman Ali Khan widened the love. Whenever I find something challenging and interesting, I imagine myself as a small girl who just finds her favourite toy. Such was I felt every time I found myself buried in the note-taking or struggling to memorize the Arabic words.

Through memorizing some words in the Arabic language, I returned to happy school days when I loved doing so. Despite the current movement on removing cognitive-based education, I love memorization. Some may consider the method doesn’t encourage for critical thinking but at least for me, the concept keeps my brain at work. The practice Insya Alloh keeps me away from dementia later.

Between taking notes and memorization, some parts of me felt alive. Studying with no purpose other than feeding the brain made me realizing how I missed embracing knowledge. Ustadz Nouman said in his Story Night “Whispers” that Alloh swt has the positive attribute “Al-‘Alim” or “the All-Knowing”. He inserts to his slaves the name so that they love studying positive things. And in Islam, Alloh swt elevates the status of those who love studying, especially for the sake of the religion.

Upon hearing the sermon, I truly and completely thank Alloh swt for his blessing that I love studying and observing. The practice “entertains” me as my singlehood period sees no end in sight yet. With internet distraction gets stronger, finding myself reading physical books for hours is very liberating and rewarding.

After I commit myself loving and learning Alqu’ran, my heart feels refreshed. Something always excites my feeling when things start looking boring and dull. Whenever I find myself unmotivated or get scared, remembering that I still have the Qur’an that awaits me on the knowledge-seeking journey erases the negative feeling.

Thanks for the video from ustadz Nouman Ali Khan that I start embarking on the trip of quenching my thirst upon knowledge from the Ultimate Source, who is Alloh swt. After two years of listening to his sermons, how delightful I am to eventually be on the life-long journey that won’t pain me, tire me or demand materialistic things in return. The Book that stands just, firm and loving.

It’s from the Qur’an that I regain my spirit to study for the rest of my life. This time around, I finally stick onto the Book that will always call me back home, to return to Him.

 

Questioning My Self-Worthiness in the Age of Materialism

Being half-unemployed for just a few weeks teaches me a lot about dignity and self-worthiness. In today’s age of materialism, I couldn’t help feeling discouraged when the first three weeks of November saw me with so little money to make within that period. I couldn’t rely on some freelancing jobs that I had been doing for six months anymore.

I felt so powerless with the condition. Worse, I had little money left in the bank. I applied for full-time, part-time and freelance jobs but to no avail. I still remember I woke up feeling so confused without knowing what to do in those days. I waited for afternoons to arrive because those were the times when I left the room that I have been rented. I jogged around Gelora Bung Karno stadium that is located nearby the room.

Weekdays felt as if it were weekends. I felt useless, especially during weekdays when people were working. At least they were doing productive things that earned them money, so I thought.

During the hard time, I prayed a lot to Alloh swt to not letting the unemployment period tainted my self-confidence. His plan was miraculous. He tested me all the time. He opened my provision through doors that I disliked. The door was teaching English private lessons.

I have a mixed feeling with teaching. I always avoided teaching English Language whenever I could. I felt I didn’t have any skills to teach. I can’t speak fluently in the English Language, let alone for sharing knowledge about the language. But I had no choice. Earning money from content writing or translating hit rock bottom. So, I made a profile through Superprof.com, an online platform that brings together private teachers and students.

I still pinned hopes on the writing of translating, though. The two have been the comfort zones that I don’t want to leave. I didn’t share my profile in Superprof because I deeply wanted to work as a content writer or translator. He had another plan for me. Without any self-promotion, He sent me students after students. I didn’t have to work on the marketing side.

With a bit of self-enforcement, I took them as my students. Little by little, I overcame all fears and discomfort in teaching the English Language. Even so, the money that I earned was insufficient. Another question on self-worthiness arose.

Plenty of spare time remained exist. I was caught up in confusion again. In one of the overly spare times, I got a message from a man who later introduced me to his company. The man asked for my help to teach the company staffs on the English Language. I went to the office. I met him and his boss. Little did I know that his boss would offer me a job as a content writer and an English trainer at the company.

I didn’t say “yes” at that time. But I returned home feeling enthusiastic. The next day, I said “yes” to the offer. I had been looking for a full-time job for quite a while. I couldn’t stand of working all alone in the room anymore. I needed fellow officemates whom I could talk to every day.

Upon hearing the boss’s announcement that I would work as a copywriter, I began studying on the subject. I have been working as a writer for a long time but I haven’t tried as a copywriter. Hence, I read a lot on the role. To my own surprise, I was happy in studying the role. I took notes about the job. I was excited.

At the same time, I revisited grammar lessons because I had to teach students. It was like coming back to where the love for English Language started. A bit challenging but exciting at once. One thing for sure that I learnt: how much I missed knowledge.

How much I longed for studying again, just for the sake of studying. Coincidentally, the short Arabic Language program started. Although I struggled to memorize Arabic words, I was super happy every time I finished the course every night. My mind did the utmost exercise that I had let it idle for a long time.

By the time I am writing the post, Alhamdulillahirobbil’alamin I got the job. I have joined the company since the beginning of December 2019. I have amazing officemates who are very kind and amusing. I can’t thank Alloh swt for what he has blessed me with the job.

It’s easy to underestimate our value as a human being when things get tough. We will question whether or not we fail as a human being when no job and money are on our hands. Add to that, our efforts on changing our conditions see no results immediately.

The difficult moment, however, can pave a way for embracing our other self, or our love upon something that enlightens our journey. The thing that is pure and genuine. The thing that deals not only with money. For me, that’s knowledge. If I were not in the unemployment period, I wouldn’t have known I still have so many things to do in this life that benefit me and others. Always, always respect intermezzo and spare time. That’s when Alloh swt prepares you with something awakening that doesn’t necessarily new at all.

How English Literature Shapes My Personal Connection with Alqur’an

Something inside of me always seeks the answer to this question: what is my life goal? I started questioning myself when I was a little girl after I knew almost all of my neighbors were undergoing life patterns that looked similar to one another

Completing education, working for some months or years, getting married then raising children. I didn’t want to live like that, I said to myself at that time. I was a naïve young girl who was searching for something different from others.

The wish of “becoming different than others” came true. I hoped I could study Accounting so that I would be part of the mainstream. But I failed the test then I ended up at the English Literature Department. I have always loved the English Language but I never heard of English Literature. I enrolled in the subject because it is for Bachelor Degree. It took two years before I realized that I was in the right place.

Long story short, my love for the foreign language stays the same. Studying the subject always makes me happy. The feeling doesn’t change from the first time I knew the language when I was 10 years old until today. 25 years go by. The love for the subject stays where it is. I can’t thank Alloh swt enough for the knowledge that he lends me with up to now.

Yet, the question of what is my life goal doesn’t end there. Repeated romance failures made the inquiry resurfacing, stronger than ever. Years of consuming myself with Western songs, books, and movies introduced me to the term “home”. I was in my 20s at that time. My thought about “a home” was a husband and some children like what people say. At least, that was my conclusion from the Western culture that I enjoyed.

As I said earlier, my romance stories always hit rock bottoms. During the gloomy period, I was developing a deep connection with English classics. I admit that my genuine love for English Literature began after I graduated from university. I spent hours reading heavy books that I recently realized most of them deal with psychology. Although the books were written centuries ago, they look relevant today because the authors actually talk about us.

I hid behind the beauty and brilliance of the books. I talked to myself that I would read books by the Victorian authors for the sake of art. Metaphors, universal message and my favorite is always, always about characters that they created. Little did I know, or I probably didn’t want to accept the bitter truth that Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, and John Steinbeck, are human beings, after all. They are full of flaws, imperfect creatures.

Some of you may regard fiction is for pure pleasure. But for me, English classics speak way deeper than sweet words or happily-live-ever-after finales. I take literature seriously. The authors’ opinion affects me deeply.

Until today, I find it hard not to click on articles about them or English Literature. I have to fight against myself when it comes to reading books about English Literature or Islam.

I have been a Muslim for my entire life. But I never loved Alqur’an with all of my heart until two weeks ago. My heart lacked something although I completed reading the Holy Book, memorized some of the ayat and read many articles regarding Islam. I needed to start all over again, but where?

Even when I knew what is my life goal, something requires contemplation and self-searching, yet again. I have found out that my life goal relates to my love for reading and writing. Alloh swt chooses me to spread His ayat through easy-to-digest, popular stories without reducing the essence of it. I thought I would start from the history of Islam because I also love history. Sometimes I thought I simply needed to share what ustadz Nouman Ali Khan said in his sermons. That would be more than enough, I assumed.

But those are insufficient. My root isn’t firm and pure to begin the journey. I kept rejecting the whisper inside my chest that said I needed to study the Arabic language. I once took the Arabic language course but I survived for one meeting only. The experience confirmed my thought that yes, the language was difficult and too complicated.

By then, I had been listening to the sermons by Nouman Ali Khan for two years. But I ignored parts when he quoted Arabic words from the Holy Book. I was interested in his tafsir or lessons learned from the ayat only.

Alloh swt hada plan that was completely beyond my thought. When the ustadz announced he would travel for his Dream Worldwide program, I was excited simply because I would meet him again. I didn’t think of studying the Arabic language seriously despite the program is about teaching classic Arabic for understanding the Qur’an better.

By the time the course was nearby (which was due on 20th November), I needed the course more than ever for the sake of making use of spare time. I was half-unemployed and was gradually recovering from devastating heartbreak. It took huge efforts to complete the seven-day program. Sometimes, I wanted to flee from the auditorium when the ustaz wanted us to memorize some words in the language. He often picked some of us who raised their hands challenging themselves over what he asked for. For example, he wanted us to repeat certain Arabic words then gave us chocolates or candies if our answers were true. Of course, I wasn’t one of the clever students, LOL!

Surviving each session was a huge achievement already. By the time the program ended, I had mixed feeling. I was happy that I kept my own promise that I would attend the program. I skipped one session only because of teaching job, by the way. At the same time, I was gloomy because I missed the class, the enthusiastic fellow muslims, the crowd and of course, Mr. Nouman himself.

Yes, the Arabic language is hard. I can say it’s twice or three times more difficult than the English Language. But the program makes me realize one profound thing. That I don’t see the Arabic language as an impossible subject to study. That the language isn’t that scary and deadly like I used to think.

With hard efforts I refresh my view about the Holy Book from the Arabic language lens. I read again the handout that the ustadz gave. I answered exercises that he talked about in the class again. Not yet finished as I had busy working life. But I enjoyed doing that.

As I strive for studying the language, I start recognizing the treasures of the Holy Book that surprisingly, comes in terms of literature. Every time I think of the Holy Book, my mind races to what makes one of the English classics impressive for me. I used to admire the classic storytelling structure. Foreshadowing, puzzle like method proves that the authors of the classic is genius people. As the book develops, at least I can get the point. Everything makes sense at the end. But the Qur’an isn’t arranged in that organization.

And that what makes the Book so challenging. Other questions will be: What factor that makes the naming of each surah? What’s an ayat, anyway? Why doesn’t He put story about the Prophet Musa AS in one surah only? Why should He need to spread it in some surah?

Alqur’an contains super-rich metaphors that overpower those in the classics as the former shortens them whilst the latter needs to explain them in sentences. It’s without any reasons that Alloh swt chooses the Arabic language that is very scientific and wealthy for the Qur’an. For delivering lengthy messages, He needs to say it with one or two words.

Add to that are timeless values and relevance in the Qur’an that surpasses values in the classics. The classics convey messages that stand against the time but not all of them are just. But the Qur’an is fair. And that’s the tiniest thing that I know at the moment.

I can’t believe that the door to appreciate the Book eventually comes from the subject that I initially felt trivial and useless, which is English Literature. Truly, no knowledge is ever wasted. We’ll just have to keep looking for what it leads us to. And for me, the path brings me to the Qur’an. Please pray for me, my friends, that my journey is always, always sincere and pure. If I lose them, the journey will mean nothing. And I pray that all of us find our way back to Him and His Book with our pristine love, amiiiin.

“Jika Alloh Swt Tahu Segalanya, Mengapa Aku yang Bersalah?”

 

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

“Dengan menyebut nama Allah Yang Maha Pemurah lagi Maha Penyayang”

“Bukan pertanyaan yang asing buatku”.
Suatu ketika, ada seorang peserta khutbah yang menanyakan judul tersebut kepada ustadz Nouman Ali Khan. Beliau menceritakan kisah tersebut dalam #StoryNightWhisper di Balai Kartini, Jakarta Selatan pada Jumat, 29 November 2019.

Dalam #StoryNightWhisper itu, ustad Nouman Ali Khan mengangkat kisah turunnya nabi Adam As ke bumi dan sejarah setan menjadi musuh nyata bagi kita. Ada banyak sub tema dari khutbah yang ingin sekali aku tulis. Aku ingin memulai isi khutbah beliau tentang pertanyaan di atas. Alasannya sederhana. Suatu waktu aku pernah menanyakan hal tersebut pada diriku sendiri dan Alloh swt saat rencana tak berjalan sesuai harapanku.

Ustadz Nouman menggunakan surat Al-Mujadilah ayat 11, Al-Baqarah ayat 30, surat Sad ayat 71, surat Sad ayat 72 dan surat Al Araf ayat 12 sebagai pijakan atas dakwahnya malam tersebut.

Menyalahkan Alloh swt seperti judul di atas ternyata mempunyai sejarah yang panjang. Kesemuanya bermula saat Alloh swt mengadakan pertemuan dengan iblis dan malaikat tentang rencana-Nya menurunkan manusia sebagai khalifah ke muka bumi.

Bumi, binatang, malaikat dan iblis telah ada sebelum Alloh swt menciptakan manusia. Dalam konvensi bersama malaikat dan iblis tersebut, nabi Adam as belum ada.

Alloh swt menciptakan malaikat dari cahaya sedangkan iblis berasal dari api. Malaikat selalu mematuhi perintah Alloh swt dengan tetap mempunyai intelektualitas. Sedangkan iblis mempunyai pilihan berbuat baik atau buruk.

Para malaikat kaget mendengar rencana Alloh swt yang akan mengutus seorang manusia sebagai khalifah di bumi. Mereka menanyakan mengapa Alloh swt menurunkan manusia yang nantinya akan menjadi makhluk yang merusak bumi dan membuat pertumpahan darah.

وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَنْ يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاءَ وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ ۖ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

“Ingatlah ketika Tuhanmu berfirman kepada para Malaikat: “Sesungguhnya Aku hendak menjadikan seorang khalifah di muka bumi”. Mereka berkata: “Mengapa Engkau hendak menjadikan (khalifah) di bumi itu orang yang akan membuat kerusakan padanya dan menumpahkan darah, padahal kami senantiasa bertasbih dengan memuji Engkau dan mensucikan Engkau?” Tuhan berfirman: “Sesungguhnya Aku mengetahui apa yang tidak kamu ketahui”. (Alqur’an surat Al-Baqoroh ayat 30)

Alloh swt pun menjawab bahwa Dia mengetahui apa yang malaikat tidak pahami.

Alloh swt menambahkan Dia akan menciptakan manusia yang mempunyai empat kualitas; terbuat dari tanah liat, seimbang, indah dan mempunyai ruh.

إِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ إِنِّي خَالِقٌ بَشَرًا مِنْ طِينٍ

“(Ingatlah) ketika Tuhanmu berfirman kepada malaikat: “Sesungguhnya Aku akan menciptakan manusia dari tanah”. (Alqur’an surat Al-Baqoroh ayat 71).

Saat itu iblis diam. Dia tidak berkata apa pun, hanya melihat semua yang terjadi. Hingga akhirnya Alloh swt mengumpulkan kita semua, malaikat dan iblis. Saat itu kita berada di surga. Di hadapan malaikat dan iblis, Alloh swt menunjuk nabi Adam as sebagai manusia pertama di muka bumi. Alloh swt mengajari nabi Adam as semua nama, termasuk kita. Setelah itu, Alloh swt meminta malaikat dan iblis untuk bersujud atas terciptanya nabi Adam as dan manusia.

فَإِذَا سَوَّيْتُهُ وَنَفَخْتُ فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِي فَقَعُوا لَهُ سَاجِدِينَ

“Maka apabila telah Kusempurnakan kejadiannya dan Kutiupkan kepadanya roh (ciptaan)Ku; maka hendaklah kamu tersungkur dengan bersujud kepadanya”. (Alqur’an surat Al-Baqoroh ayat 72).

Malaikat melakukannya. Walau sempat protes di awal, mereka bersujud sebab menyadari kebijaksanaan atas rencana dari Alloh swt. Malaikat juga bersujud sebab mengagumi ciptaan Alloh swt, yakni manusia dengan empat kualitas di atas. Di lain pihak, iblis hanya diam dan seperti yang teman sudah ketahui, iblis menolak bersujud.

Lalu bagaimana kondisi kita saat itu di surga? Kita menyepakati dengan segala kesadaran diri bahwa kita bersedia diturunkan ke dunia. Kita melihat bagaimana indahnya surga yang akan menanti apabila kita telah melewati tes di dunia. Kita mau mengemban amanah sebagai khalifah ke dunia tanpa paksaan.

Di lain pihak, Alloh swt membiarkan iblis mengambil sikap akan menghalangi manusia berada di jalan yang lurus untuk ke surga sebab Alloh swt memang ingin mengetahui hamba-Nya yang berhak memperoleh tiket ke surga.

Terkait judul di atas, saya ingin teman mengelik tautan ini. Ini adalah penggalan khutbah dari Nouman Ali Khan atas tema yang sama. Saya mengambil ini karena menurut saya lebih jelas untuk menjawab persoalan di atas.

Di video ini, pak ustadz menyebutkan iblis merasa cemburu saat mengetahui nabi Adam as yang bukan siapa-siapa malah mengemban amanah menjadi khalifah. Baik iblis dan nabi Adam as sama-sama melanggar perintah Alloh swt. Tapi keduanya mengambil sikap yang berbeda karena mempunyai kemampuan untuk memilih.

Dalam ceramah malam itu, ustadz Nouman menggarisbawahi sikap iblis yang diam melihat sesuatu yang mengusik nuraninya. Ini berbeda dengan malaikat yang bertanya langsung kepada Alloh swt.

Pikiran iblis tersebut menggumpal, apalagi setelah iblis mengetahui bahwa Alloh swt menciptakan manusia dari tanah liat. Iblis menganggap tanah liat sebagai tak berharga, tidak seperti dirinya yang terbuat dari api. Mereka menggunakan logika bahwa mereka yang berhak memimpin bumi, bukan nabi Adam as dan kita.

قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ إِذْ أَمَرْتُكَ ۖ قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِينٍ

“Allah berfirman: “Apakah yang menghalangimu untuk bersujud (kepada Adam) di waktu Aku menyuruhmu?” Menjawab iblis “Saya lebih baik daripadanya: Engkau ciptakan saya dari api sedang dia Engkau ciptakan dari tanah”. (Alqur’an surat Al-Araf ayat 12).

Prosesnya sehingga seperti ini: diam saja →membuat realita di kepala sendiri dalam waktu lama →mengeluh kepada Alloh swt →membangkang.

Nabi Adam as dan Hawa juga berbuat salah yakni memakan buah dari pohon terlarang. Akan tetapi nabi Adam as tidak mengeluh atau menyalahkan Alloh swt mengapa diturunkan dari surga meski pun dia tahu bahwa Alloh swt memang berencana menurunkannya sebagai manusia pertama di muka bumi.

Nabi Adam as tetap melakukan pertobatan sebab bagaimana pun dia melanggar perintah dari Alloh swt.

Ustad Nouman menyebut menyalahkan sesuatu, terutama saat terjadi musibah dan sebagainya, hanya kepada Alloh swt menyerupai sikap iblis. Dan persoalan tentang takdir kita, semuanya berakar pada mau tidak kita bertanggung jawab atas segala kesalahan yang kita pernah lakukan.