well that was the initial plan, but apparently this become a scattered space of my inconsistent ramble and incoherent mumble. I write my heart out, I throw my anger and frustation, I jotted my hopes and dreams, I record my random thoughts here

March 30, 2010

this is my story

I grow up in reasonably religious (yet liberal) family, in one of the most conservative region in my country. I went to public primary school and made the decision to pursue higher education in islamic religious school, called Madrasah Tsanawiyah (later abbreviated as MTs). I was twelve at that time. It was the requirement from the school to wear headscarf, at that time headscarf is not yet compulsory for woman in the province (things are different now). On the second year (when I was thirteen) I made the decision to wear the headscarf outside school as well. My parents was proud of my decision.

Despite the headscarf, I was not THAT religious when I was thirteen. When my parents told me to pray, I often lied to them and pretend that I pray when I didnt. I mumble through pages and pages of arabic words during the Quran recitation lesson. My parents used to hire a religious teacher to teach us kids to read quran and to understand the book. We used to spend the afternoon sitting in the living room reciting the Quran together and discussing its meaning. I used to hate those lessons, but I guess I was just lazy back then and I am more interested in playing outside and climbing tress, be fascinated with the natural worlds rather than reading the holy scriptures.

In the MTs (literally translated as junior high school in arabic), half of the curriculum consist of islamic studies of some sort, from the History of Islam, Quran and Hadist lesson, Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), Calligraphy, Qiyas and Kalam (Islamic theology) alongside of the modern study like biology and physics. All of those study were taught at school and discussed at home, the study and the discussions with my parents encourage logical thinking and sense of reasoning. My parents also taught me Ijtihad, the process of seeking the answer within yourself, using your reasoning, sense and perception and logical thinking when you encounter problem that does not have explicit solution in available scriptures (Quran and Sunnah). Less than religious that I am, I have follow all this guidance in making lots of decision in my teenage life.

The seed of doubt about religion has always been inside my head even then, but I have always suppressed them and label those thoughts as evil thoughts. I shouldn't question god or my religion. Who am I, afterall, a mere human being to question her creator?

I remember on my biology class, the theory of evolution were first introduced to the young, innocent me. I was fascinated when my teacher said "According to darwin, we human evolve from apes" (later I learn that she get it wrong, what Darwin said is that human and apes have common ancestor), in my mind.. what an amazing thing! how that could possibly happen? impossible!! so I asked her (bear in mind that at that time I was very young and I have no intention to ridicule this teacher, I was only curious little kid) : "If human evolved from apes, could it be that Adam is the first apes to be given logical thinking by god?" my question was dismissed the second I finish pronouncing it, "evolution is just theory, its unproven. Quran is FACT", she said sharply. I was silenced, retreat back to my corner and never asked her anymore question for the next three years.

I also remember the time when my Islamic History teacher taught us about the Kafir (infidel) Quraisy at the time of Mohammed. She told us how stubborn and ignorant they were, when they're lucky enough to life in the time of the prophet and yet they choose to not believe in his god and continue to pray to their totemic god instead. And yet us, all of us in this classroom is enlighten with Islam in our soul even if we were born much later than the time of the prophet, we all will be saved from the blazing fire of the hell that god promised for the infidels, for the unbelievers. Given that I dont have any traumatic experience with this teacher yet, I raised my hands and vomit the question that has been daunting my mind the whole session. I asked her "So, will Mother Teresa and Lady Diana (at that time, those two figures is still alive and is very-very-very famous for their altruistic action) will be tortured in hell as well because they're infidels*?" my teacher looked at me and explain, very gently: "If you're a moslem, and you cant make it to heaven on the first assessment, your soul will undergone purification through torture in hell and you will eventually get to heaven. But If you're not a moslem, even if you're a good person, hell is the place for you, but perhaps your torture will be lighter than a non-moslem bad person". That doesnt make very much sense to me at that time, but for the fear of the authority, I shut up and nod. "I understand".

Throughout my teenager years, my level of religiousness has experience its ebb and tide, there are times when I am too lazy to pray and forgot about god, there are also times when I kneel down, put my forehead on the floor, praying, intensively.

Graduating from the MTs, our family have to moved to the capital and my parents were rather worry with the bad reputation of public education in Jakarta, they decided to send me to private boarding school that still teach religion, but take moderate approach and encouraging personal development as well. So its not all academics, it give good balance of creativity, logic and reasonal thinking, as well as subsequent amount of religious study. I was excited with this opportunity, I decided to let go of my headscarf when I enter this school ground. I was "liberated" and keen to explore my new world.

I become more and more rebellious within three years of high school education, suddenly criticizing the teacher is an option! we were allowed to argue with the teacher if we think they were wrong, we were allowed to contest their authority, students even have the "legislative bodies" that were set up as opinion channel to encourage democracy at school. It was awesome. Suddenly having a rebellious thought is acceptable. The english, arabic and quran recitation class were also divided based on your current ability to cope with the level of learning. Ironically, the placement test put me at the beginner class of english, medium class of arabic, and expert class of Quran recitation!

I was still, experiencing the ebb and tides of being religious/unreligious throughout this times.

The turning point of my religious belief happened towards the end of my unstable teenager years, at first I thought it was just a decision of an angry teenager loosing grip of her life and fall into depression, but after all this years.. I know its not just anger or frustration that fuel my rebellion, I have think about my decision, I have weight my reasons, and I am fairly confident in defending my position. However, I did not deny the possibility that I might be wrong, and if I am proven to be wrong I am ready to admit that my argument is invalid.

*note that the concept of infidels for me at that time is anyone who is NOT moslem, doesnt matter is that person is a devout catholic or very religious jewish, they're infidels to me. - let alone if they say they're atheists, blazing HELL for them -

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