Are We Religious Enough?
Posted July 3, 2007on:
When I lived in Pakistan for three years the one thing I was so proud of was that I was a Muslim coming froma country with the largest Muslim population in the world. When people asked where I was from I would proudly say, “I’m from Indonesia.” In a country like Pakistan where religion (Islam) is a big deal a Pakistani will be more than happy to know that the foreign guy he is talking to is a Muslim. So, they would reply my answer, “Indonesia? Oh, you are brother.” And when I started to spice up the conversation by asking, “Do you know Indonesia?” They would say, “Yes, Sukarno!”
What’s good about this country anyway?
Indonesian Muslims are so proud that they are the majority and they are religious. Non Muslims may not be the majority but they have the same kind of feeling: We are religious! Muslim parents will beat their children if they don’t want to pray daily (sholat) while Christian parents will yell at their children if they are still sleeping on a sunday morning. Indonesians claim that the Western values are so sickening and disgusting therefore they condemn free sex and the use of condoms. Indonesians think that the Western people are immoral people who just can’t control their animal-like behavior.
Indonesian Muslims may not have the greatest mosque in the world, but I am sure that they do have some of the best mosques that have ever been built by humans. And for sure there are more mosques located in Indonesia than in any other countries in the world since there are more than 200 million Muslims living in Indonesia. Jakarta for example, you can find mosques almost everywhere, I mean everywhere. Every Friday mosques are so full and crowded, men go there to pray. During my six years of living in Jakarta I can tell you that I never saw one mosque that was not crowded on a Friday, every mosque was packed. Wow, what a religious country we have, or do we?
By being religious people, Indonesians accuse the Western people, especially Americans, to be immoral, “Those people are so sinful, they do sex before marriage, they drink alcohol, and they don’t respect their parents.”
But let me tell you something, living more than ten months in America has made me realize that America, or at least some parts of it, is more conservative than what people in the East think. Yeah that’s right, America is so conservative. In America you have to show your ID every time you want to buy a beer or any other alcohol drinks. You have to show your ID to go to a club when you want to have some fun during the night. Prostitution is only legal in the state of Nevada but only in some counties where it is even illegal in a city like Las Vegas. Well, you can still find girls lining up on the streets but they are so localized and most likely you will never see them on major streets. And yes, right now there are four states that approve same-sex marriage but there are more than many states that still think that same-sex marriage is out of the question.
In the area where I live in, people smile to other people who they don’t know on the streets more than what I experienced in Jakarta. Children are so much respected that every time a school bus is stops cars from every direction have to stop for safety reason too, no question asked. Seniors and people with disabilities are always given the number one treatment, they get special parking lots or any other public advantages. When you open a door at a store or any public place you have to be aware if there is someone trying to enter behind you so you can hold the door for a while until that person can reach the door and enter safely. When you do so, most likely that person will say, “Thank you,” and a smile will be your bonus.
“What about the free sex?” you might ask. Well, it is true there are a lot of people in America who consider that sex is not a big deal, it is just a physical need. But even so, I would say that the condition is not as bad as it is depicted in the Hollywood movies. One important thing, you have to remember I said earlier that America is more conservative than what we might think, and being conservative is different than being religious. Being religious means that someone lives his or her life based on the religious values while being a conservative person means that he or she believes in traditional values. Religious values might be part of the traditional values, if you think about it, but since most American conservatives think that religious values are just part of the traditional values then those values are not absolute and they can be “twisted” a little bit based on the current condition. So when more American conservatives think that sex before marriage is normal due to the modernization and all the cultural changes they still claim that they are people who appraise traditional values because being conservative doesn’t necessarily mean that all the religious values are included. That is why those people would prefer to be called conservatives rather than religious people.
What about Indonesia? Are we religious enough? Yes we do condemn free sex, alcohol, and drugs but are we really acting like the holy ones? Jakarta can be a good example, again. Yes the mosques are over crowded on Fridays. But does it mean we can’t find prostitutes in Jakarta? The answer is yes and yes, you can and it’s so easy. Just go to places like Mahakam Blok M or Kota in the evening and you will see girls in sexy dresses standing on the streets waiting for fancy cars to pick them up, or go to Taman Lawang for a different attraction. These prostitutes are not even localized as they can pick some of major streets to “market” themselves. You want to buy a beer or any alcohol drinks? Easy, just go to any stores and buy them and showing your ID won’t be necessary. If you are too shy to do so, you can still get pletokan at traditional warung on the streets. And while we think that condom-to-stop-AIDS campaign is ridiculous we can still buy condoms so easily on the streets: You don’t even have to look old to buy the condoms, just give your money and go.
Now, do I still have to mention the corruption? I guess not.
Can we blame the economy for this condition? People might say that the bad economy forces people to do things that religions prohibit in order to survive. But will a good economy automatically encourage people to be better religiously? Can people have the right to make an material element in life as an excuse for their sinful acts?
Picture was taken from here.