Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lesson Of Mount Merapi

Abu Huraira reported that the messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The nearest a servant comes to his Lord is when he is prostrating himself, so make supplication (in this state)”

... Sahih al-Bukhari

... Mbah Marijan was among the victims of the recent eruptions. He was eighty-three years old, and the juri cunci of the volcano, a "guardian of the key," responsible for maintaining a relationship to the spirits of the mountain, and caring for the paths leading from the base to holy places near the summit. He was also one of the local leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Muslim organization...

I met Mbah Marijan only once, less than two months ago. He was a very deeply religious man in a very Javanese way. He was a pious Muslim and at the same time deeply attached to Javanese tradition. He felt that his fate was closely tied to the mountain, and that he was obligated to remain there no matter what the risk...

It is said that when Mbah Marijan’s body was discovered that he was prostrated in prayer. Many people have mentioned that this is probably how he wanted to die and that it was a good way for a Muslim to die. Many other stories are now circulating about his death. One is that the hot gases came into his house while Mbah Marijan was praying and that they could not enter his room until he had finished. Others state that he was fully aware that he would die as the result of the eruption, and that he chose to remain on the mountain so that his prayers might save others...

Despite dangerous conditions more than a thousand people including national and local political figure, one of the Sultan’s bothers and representatives of major Muslim organizations joined in funeral prayers in the village cemetery near his home. Special prayer services were also held in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital and in cities and villages across the country. His grave will almost certainly become a pilgrimage site.

The mayor of the village of Umbulharjo, close to Mbah Marijan’s compound stated: “We have lost the figure who has been a ‘role model', who we could always ask for advice. We pray that the spirit Mbah Maridjan is acceptable in the sight of Allah, that his charity and worship be acknowledged and his sins forgiven."

These sentiments have been echoed on testimonials broadcast repeatedly on Indonesian television. The theme of these messages is that the nation has much to learn from his dedication to principle and simple life style. This is often contrasted with the extravagance, corruption and single-minded dedication to self-promotion of political and business elites. Even Islamist groups who normally denounce beliefs like Mbah Marijan’s as “unbelief” rushed to embrace his memory.

This is a face of Islam that people in the United States and other western countries too rarely see. News of Islam too often repeats stereotypes of violence and extremism, projecting the views and acts of a tiny minority onto approximately twenty percent of the world’s population. Mbah Marijan’s Islam was local. Few Muslims outside Yogyakarta share his concern with Merapi.

There are many, including some in Yogyakarta that regard his, and similar local interpretations of Islam as heretical or deviant. This view is especially common among modernists and fundamentalist who tend to understand Islam in global terms and as a single, unified system of doctrine and ritual practice.

There are, at the same time, hundreds of millions of Muslims for whom Islam is as much a local as it is a universal faith and for whom devotion to God and concern with local modes of spiritual and religious practice are inextricably linked.

... Religion Dispatches, Mark Woodward

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