The Spanish Muslim society and the future of Islam in Europe: A good-bye letter from an Indonesian brother

islam-hoy

KOMUNITAS MUSLIM DI SPANYOL DAN MASA DEPAN ISLAM DI EROPA: SEBUAH SURAT PERPISAHAN DARI SAUDARA INDONESIA

This is just a light personal reflection after spending about eight years living in the European continent where I have the chance to live about five years in Gothenburg-Sweden and another three years in Seville-Spain. It is the very right time to write this reflection as I am reaching my final days working and living in Europe.

(Tulisan ini hanya sekedar refleksi pribadi dari pengalaman saya tinggal selama 8 tahun di Eropa di mana 5 tahun pertama dihabiskan di Gothenburg-Swedia, dan 3 tahun sisanya di Sevilla-Spanyol. Saya pikir, sekarang lah saat yang tepat untuk menuliskannya, di hari-hari terakhir saya tinggal di Eropa.)

I often ask myself: Why might the Spanish Muslim society be the best prototype of the future Islam in Europe?

(Tak jarang saya berpikir: Kenapa komunitas muslim Spanyol bisa menjadi contoh masa depan Islam di Eropa?)

You will see the answer in the closure of this article, but let me first introduce myself.
Raising as a Muslim in Indonesia is a really a big honour for me as I am growing up in very specific characteristics of a nation: we are a Muslim dominated country having about more than 200 million Muslim population (or about 87% of the total population) but we are not a Muslim country.

(Anda bisa menemukan jawabannya di akhir tulisan ini, tapi sebelumnya, izinkan saya untuk memperkenalkan diri. Saya merasa beruntung terlahir dan dibesarkan sebagai muslim di Indonesia. Indonesia adalah negara dengan populasi muslim terbesar (sebanyak lebih dari 200 juta penduduk atau 87% dari total populasi), meskipun demikian Indonesia bukan negara muslim.)

That brought to an important starting point that we have a great awareness and experiences to understand differences. We have strong influences of Islamic values on day to day basis on the one hand; on the other hand we have experiences to be led by a woman President, for instance—something to show the level of democracy by which some Islamic nations are still struggling with.

(Secara umum, bisa dikatakan bahwa kami terbiasa dalam memahami perbedaan. Nilai-nilai Islam mudah ditemukan dalam kehidupan masyarakat sehari-hari, tapi di lain sisi misalnya, kami pernah dipimpin oleh seorang presiden wanita (–sekedar menunjukkan level demokrasi di negara kami yang di beberapa negara muslim lain masih sulit ditemui).)

We accustomed to see people from different background; at least we have five major religious holidays (we, as a nation, celebrate two Eids, Maulid, Isra Miraj, Islamic New Year; Christmas and Easter; Waisak for Buddhist and Nyepi for Hindus and the Chinese New Year). We literally celebrate the most number of religious holidays among 195 countries in the world.

(Kami terbiasa melihat orang dari berbagai latar belakang. Di Indonesia, kami merayakan dua Hari Raya Ied, Maulid, Isra Mi’raj, Tahun Baru Islam, Natal dan Paskah, Waisak untuk Budha, Nyepi untuk Hindu, dan Tahun Baru Cina. Bisa dibilang, kami adalah negara yang merayakan hari besar keagamaan terbanyak di seluruh dunia.)

I personally grown up watching a live report of the Christmas mass relayed by one of national television from Basilica Saint Peter at Vatican on December 25th in the morning.
Nowadays when I have a great privilege to work right at the centre of European policy think tank (I am working as a researcher at the European Commission), I told my fellow Italian colleague about this experience, and they are often shock.
“Are you kidding me? Because I thought Indonesia is like as such and such.”
It is one of the privileges to be an Indonesian.

(Saya masih ingat, ketika kecil dulu menyaksikan di TV siaran langsung Misa dari Basilika Saint Peter di Vatican tiap tanggal 25 Desember. Sampai akhirnya saya berkesempatan untuk bekerja di lembaga riset Komisi Eropa, saya pun bercerita tentang hal itu pada rekan-rekan dari Itali. Mereka biasanya terkejut, “Yang benar saja? Aku pikir Indonesia itu begini dan begitu.”)

On the other side of the coin, I was raised up in a traditional Muslim family and society. There are at least two big religious organizations in Indonesia: Nahdhatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah. There would be other discourses on distinguishing these two groups. In a very light description NU is more basing in traditional society (rural area) and Muhammadiyah is more at urban area with attached different characteristics.

(Di lain sisi, saya tumbuh di keluarga dan masyarakat tradisional muslim. Di Indonesia, ada 2 organisasi muslim terbesar: NU dan Muhammadiyah. Secara singkat, bisa dikatakan bahwa NU berbasis pada masyarakat pedesaan sementara Muhammadiyah lebih berbasis pada masyarakat kota. Keduanya memiliki karakteristik yang berbeda.)

I spent my childhood at the NU society in Eastern Java surrounded by people going to the madrasa everyday learning about Qur’an, Hadith, Arabic Grammar (nahwu and shorof, and by the way the most loved and famous of the Arabic grammar in Indonesian Ibn Malik -the author of Alfiyya- who was born in Jaen in 1274 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_Malik).

(Saya sendiri tumbuh dalam lingkungan NU di Jawa Timur. Sehari-hari, kehidupan saya dikelilingi oleh para santri di pesantren yang mempelajari Qur’an, Hadits, dan Bahasa Arab (Nahwu-Shorof). Syair tata Bahasa Arab yang biasa digunakan adalah Alfiyyah dimana penciptanya adalah Ibnu Malik yang ternyata lahir di Jaen, Andalusia.)

The experiences from my childhood had given me ample opportunity to understand the richness of the Islamic history and civilization. It has built a strong dream that in some point in my life I want to have a chance to visit Andalusia.

(Tak urung, pengalaman masa kecil saya kemudian mencetuskan mimpi untuk suatu saat bisa mengunjungi Andalusia.)

In a nutshell, after three years living here my impression about the Spanish Muslim and narrowed down to Spanish Muslim in these two cities: they are the best picture at the moment on how to express and to portray the modern European Muslim. By saying “the best “it does not mean it has reached the final phase of the society but a process by which you can be even better from time to time.

(Setelah 3 tahun tinggal di Sevilla dan mengenal komunitas muslim Spanyol, terutama dari Granada dan Sevilla, akhirnya membawa saya pada suatu kesimpulan. Bahwa mereka adalah potret terbaik dalam menggambarkan masyarakat muslim Eropa. Dengan mengatakan bahwa mereka yang terbaik, bukan berarti lantas menyudahi progres yang sudah ada. Saya percaya bahkan mereka akan menjadi lebih baik di masa depan.)

My experiences living in Europe are divided into two parts: the Sweden part and the Spain part. However, I managed to visit almost all countries from Norway up in the North to Gibraltar in the south and from Lisbon on the west to Moscow on the east.

(Kehidupan saya di Eropa terbagi menjadi dua fase: ketika di Swedia kemudian di Spanyol. Selain itu, saya juga berkesempatan untuk mengunjungi hampir semua negara di benua Eropa. Mulai dari paling utara di Norway, hingga selatan di Gibraltar. Menjejak Lisbon di paling barat, hingga Moskow di paling timur.)

Whenever I have chances to visit these countries, I always remember what my parent always tells us: find the mosque!

(Tiap kali saya mengunjungi negara yang berbeda, saya selalu mengingat pesan orang tua: carilah masjid di sana!)

Once upon a time we spent the whole day to find a mosque in (Budapest) and when we eventually find it, it is not as clean as we expected and moreover we overheard somebody was snoring in the midday when everybody else might go for working.

(Suatu hari, kami pernah bersusah payah berusaha menemukan masjid di Budapest. Dan ketika kami menemukannya, ternyata masjidnya sangat kumuh. Lebih menyedihkan lagi, seseorang tertidur mendengkur di dalamnya. Pada tengah hari di mana seharusnya orang lain bekerja.)

Other time: We spent sometimes to find a mosque in Rome (not the biggest one but the closer one from where we stayed at that moment) just to find that my wife was denied to enter.

(Di lain waktu, kami mendatangi masjid di Roma. Bukan yang terbesar, tapi terdekat yang bisa kami temukan saat itu. Setibanya di sana, istri saya justru harus menghadapi kenyataan pahit karena dilarang masuk dan melaksanakan shalat di dalamnya.)

So an endeavour to find a mosque sometimes ends up in a disappointment just to reflect upon the facts that we are Muslim in Europe with variety of mind-sets, fiqh and stages of development. But we always think there must be a point when you should adapt to where you live.

(Bisa dibilang, dari masjid-masjid yang kami datangi kadang kami harus mendapatkan kenyataan yang kurang mengenakkan. Muslim di Eropa juga umumnya multi-budaya dengan pola pikir dan pemahaman agama yang tidak sama (baca: sebagian besar pendatang/imigran).)

The first few days coming to Sweden to visit us, our parent tell us: “Son; you are so lucky that there are many Muslim here (in Gothenburg)”.

(Ketika orang tua kami mengunjungi kami di Swedia, mereka berkata, “Kalian beruntung sekali, ternyata di sini banyak muslimnya.”)

And I replied to them:
“Not until you see that they yell at public transportations; they cross the road from inappropriate way, they bumped on you literally without bothering to say sorry, they interrupt your washing machine time table not on their designated time…” They are simply not ready yet to live in a more settled society. They might spend more hours in Friday sermon without bothering to realize that some of us are working while they are not.
With these aforementioned aspects: sometimes they demand too much to the country adopting them…”

(Yang kemudian saya jawab, “Tunggu saja sampai Bapak/Mamah melihat mereka teriak-teriak di transportasi umum. Menyeberang jalan sembarangan. Menyerobot jadwal laundry…” Karena kebanyakan dari mereka memang belum siap untuk tinggal di negara maju. Mereka bisa menghabiskan hari Jumat seharian di masjid tanpa merasa perlu bekerja. Beberapa dari mereka bahkan mengadakan demo untuk meliburkan hari Jumat. Dengan fakta-fakta seperti itu, bisa dibilang bahwa kadang mereka terlalu berlebihan dalam menuntut negara yang sudah mau menampung mereka.)

Some bitter facts that might create your inferiority at some points you start asking yourself: why am I not that proud to be a Muslim! Simply because the arena you are living with/in does not support you to accentuate better who you are.

(Kenyataan pahit ini yang kadang membuat saya bertanya-tanya: kenapa ada kalanya kita tidak bangga menjadi seorang muslim? Karena memang di tempat-tempat tertentu, muslim dipadankan dengan banyak hal negatif.)

We are often busy to satisfy our religious needs (hablum minaAllah) but that we forget about our horizontal responsibility (hablum minannas).

(Seringkali kita terlalu sibuk memenuhi aspek religiusitas dalam diri kita (hablum minAllah) dan melupakan tanggung jawab kita secara horizontal (hablum minannas).)

In Spain or to be exact in Andalusia, I found almost 180 degree the opposite condition. First of all, there are many Spanish Muslim people whose much stronger bond with their common tradition. They behave like standard Spaniards: they talk (quite a bit lot), they hang out with friends; go to the beach, strong bond of brotherhood and sisterhood.

(Di Spanyol, khususnya di Andalusia, saya mendapati kondisi yang berbeda 180 derajat. Pertama, banyak sekali muslim Spanyol yang masih memegang erat tradisi yang mereka miliki, sejauh tidak bertentangan dengan agama. Mereka bergaya seperti masyarakat Spanyol pada umumnya, senang berbicara, bergaul dengan teman, rekreasi ke pantai di musim panas, selain tentunya menjalin keterikatan yang kuat dalam komunitas mereka sendiri.)

I also witness their strong bond to their core family too even though they are not embracing Islam (yet). They do automatic cross-religion dialogue almost every day without necessary labelling them as a normal event. Sometimes even with their parent or siblings.

(Saya juga melihat betapa hubungan keluarga mereka sangat baik, meski beberapa di antaranya belum memeluk Islam. Dialog-dialog lintas agama sudah jadi makanan sehari-hari, bahkan dengan saudara kandung atau orang tua sendiri.)

I witness some Muslims here become the true leader not only at the mosque but also outside of the mosque. They demonstrate that being a Muslim does not separate you from normal life in the horizontal relationship.

(Para muslim Spanyol di sini tidak hanya aktif di dalam masjid, tapi juga di dunia luar. Mereka menunjukkan bahwa menjadi muslim tidak membatasi mereka dalam kehidupan sosial bermasyarakat.)

The young generation is at the best shape of what they can: they go to school, some of them go to the madrasa to memorize Quran, and some go to university to become a medical doctor, architect and the likes, some have a strong bond of entrepreneurship. Many are rolling over in a very good direction.

(Generasi mudanya menjadi contoh yang nyaris sempurna: mereka pergi ke sekolah, beberapa memilih masuk madrasah untuk menjadi hafidz, dan yang lainnya menuntut ilmu menjadi dokter, arsitek, atau berwirausaha.)

Their spiritual life has been strongly backed by good understanding of the role of tasawuf in daily practises and most cases they are translating them into better acts and deeds perfectly.

(Kehidupan spiritual yang dilandasi dengan ilmu tasawuf menjadikan mereka pribadi yang baik.)

What is next? I think the further step after this is to spread this value to all over the Europe, to portray the good Muslim inside and outside the mosque while keep learning about many difference branches of Islam too so just to enrich different stream of thoughts when we are discussing the role of Islam in politics, social and economics.

(Lalu bagaimana selanjutnya? Saya rasa, contoh seperti ini lah yang harus mereka sebarkan ke seluruh Eropa. Bagaimana menunjukkan sikap sebagai muslim, tidak hanya di dalam masjid tapi juga di dunia nyata.)

But the Spanish Muslim society might be a true leader in the transformation of European Muslim in the future.

(Pada akhirnya, saya yakin, para muslim Spanyol ini kelak akan menjadi contoh dalam mentransformasi gambaran muslim di Eropa di masa yang akan datang.)

Wallahu a’lam.

Ibrahim Rohman, Sevilla.

*Spanish Version on e-Reader: http://islamhoy.com/actualidad/islam-hoy-44-ano-viii-septiembre-octubre-2016/, Page: 15

7 thoughts on “The Spanish Muslim society and the future of Islam in Europe: A good-bye letter from an Indonesian brother

  1. Pingback: Anak Itu Hak Prerogatif Allah – Teh Riana – Sundariekowati

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