A Shout in the Name of Islam

  General Information

Daisy Khan (formerly known as Farhat Khan) a native of Kashmir-India, moved to Long Island-New York at the age of sixteen. She was not the first person in her heir to have stepped their foot in the United States — in fact grand father Ghulam Hassan Khan had studied engineering in Harvard School. Daisy arrived in NY with her aunt and uncle and was enrolled to a school dominated by Jewish students. During the first years in the US she struggled to fit in with her classmates and seemed out of place. Fortunately, later on she won their hearts by being a star in field hockey as well as proving her talents in art and playing guitar.

Daisy continued higher-education in arts and later on became an architechural designer to some of the most important business offices in the disctrict. She was known to be a workaholic and had very little time to think about faith. Diasy abandoned Islam in her 20’s, reasoning that it was painful to fight for people that hardly relate. Her career as an architect continued to rocket, and before she knew it, she was already on the top floor of the World Trade Center working for Shearson Lehman Brothers. On lunch hours Daisy would take a walk to Masjid al-Farah, where she then met a liberal Imam – Mr. Abdul Rauf. Thetwo became close but never once did the imam don Daisy to wear a Hijab or fight over her choices, though he did ask her to speak out for Islam. She then reconciled her relgious Identity of being a Muslim and left the job later on for this very reason.

Mr. Rauf and Ms. Khan married in 1996, where they then has always been known as the couple who fought for the advancement of Islam. Together, they has built a nonprofit organization now known as American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), aiming to promote a more progressive Islam (or modern Islam, as they would say). Daisy has been known as a leader to one of the most biggest Islamic controversies in the states: the construction of a community center – known as Cordoba Initiatives (Park51) on ground Zero. She has been agressive and tenacious in fund-raising as well as looking of support to friends and asking for a signature. She is until this very day a great icon of Islam in the United States of America.

(rewritten from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/fashion/14khan.html?pagewanted=1)

The Meeting

On June 29, 2011 delegations of the US-Indonesia Partnership Program received the honor to meet with Daisy Khan. We arrived at her office on the Upper-West Side of New York and was warmly greeted by her assistants and internees. To be frank, at first I didn’t have the slightest idea to why Daisy Khan was such a prominent figure. I had only read a short passage about her earlier that day. So I didn’t really know what to expect when meeting her…

The discussion started off with an introduction about Daisy Khan herself, more or less (well definitely less detailed) like the general information I have written above. An addition to the informatin NYtimes has given above, she explained a little difference in what I like to call “sub-faith” with her husband, meaning that she flows in a stream not quite the same as her husband. Unfortunately, the 6 months I have postponed in writing this article has created somewhat a short-term-memory loss and this brain couldn’t quite remember the names of the streams. What I do remember is that Daisy is more “modern” than Mr. Rauf.

The discussion continued to Daisy’s short presentation of her non-profit organization, ASMA. There were three focuses that she mentioned. The first concerning Interfaith Dialogue. The monthly (or is it weekly?) dialogue with leaders and prominent figures of various religion has brought an understanding that though they are different in faith and belief, the similarity as a human being possessing rights of being treated equally should be a standard priority. Afterall they are all citizens of the United States. Daisy Khan mentioned that these forums has increased tolerance amongst them through unexpected ways. One of the most basic reason is food. Whoever holds meetings must be aware of dietary restrictions for each religion. For example the Jewish must follow kosher, and Muslim only consumes Halal food. Though very simple, this builds better understanding of eachother.

The second is Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow: “cultivating the next generation of Muslim leaders….the spokespersons and activists for peace and tolerance around the globe today”. MLT empowers young Muslim to become citizens who are sensitive towards one another and are tolerant towards differences that exist. Their figures are to be a role model to other Muslims as well as a face that represents Muslim in general. MLT holds annual conferences of which their members meet up and have debates and free-speeches concerning issues of interest. Each and every member are encouraged to speak up and boost their fellows in becoming a better leader.

The third activity is WISE (Women Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality). The program encourages Muslim woman to take part in their society and not “hide” behind their cultures. It also aims to teach Muslim women to segregate between Islam as a religion and the local custom of Saudi Arabia, hence giving somewhat more room for them to move around.

The discussion was continued with a question and answer session, which like all other USIPP sessions, were the most interesting. Daisy was asked about the 9/11 attack and her role after. She explained that after 9/11 Daisy and Imam Rauf received calls to attend University lectures, Television talkshows and school discussions  regarding what happened. To them, Daisy will say that Islam is a religion of tolerance and never intends to hurt someone that is not a Muslim as long as they do no harm. The people who were suspected as terrorists are definitely not a general Muslim. These people are out of the normal curve and really take it to the extreme. The attack they are doing under the name of Islam is considered wrong in Islam. Slowly but surely, Muslim regained its trust in the American society.

Daisy Khan has shown the world what it really means to be a Muslim. She is a strong women who stands high and firm for what she believes. One of the most memorable lines she said during the discussion is: “Alla Ta’ala gave us Aql, Koran, and Hadits, so we can decide for ourselves: what is right and what is wrong”

Thoughts and Comments

Allah Ta’ala Explained in the Koran And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful” [Ali Imran 3: 104]. My conclusion is that Daisy and Mr. Rauf had just done exactly that. Though I have to be honest and say that a few of her understandings of Islam is not the same as my paradigm, that does not mean I cannot appreciate what she has done for Islam and the world. She has exclaimed that Islam can do no harm, a peaceful religion that strives for tolerance and equality.

I came out from Daisy’s office with tears in my eyes. Knowing from that day on, I had someone to look up to. Daisy Khan is a remarkable person, from her I learnt how to represent Islam and be accepted as one. That sometimes, we have to fight. That sometimes, the hate and anger from other people is a sign they care… and a sign that we can do better.

Additional Notes

The meeting actually reminded me how hard it was to be a Muslim in a western country. I was in Australia during the first Bali Bombing. Right after the bomb, the Australian federal police came to my house (at 8 in the morning, right before school) to take my dad away. Of course, my dad was flawless and he was (going-to-be) arrested just for being the head of an Islamic Association in Perth (PPI-P). Fortunately the order to arrest wa aborted, but his name was still broadcasted in a national television station in Indonesia (RCTI) as a wanted person. Our telephone line was bugged for the next couple of months, until (I guess) my father was proven innocent. After the Bali Bombing, I decided to wear hijab. My mother thought it was a bad idea, she said I should wait until going back to Indonesia. I didn’t listen and proceeded to my elementary school headmaster who said it was fine. The reason behind this hijab is simple: I wanted to prove that (again) Muslim is areligion of peace and can do no harm. Not to boast, but I thought I was a fine representative, remembering that I was a 10-year-old tomboy who is love with sports. This of course gave a new new perspective to my environment that a hijab doesn’t always mean radicalism, but it simply means protection and belief. Though my circle understood, the general society didn’t and I often received unethical treatment, such as being swore on or spat on. Nevertheless, I have never been more proud of being a Muslim.

tulisan ini adalah bagian dari rangkaian cerita perjalanan USIPP 2011, soon to be a book :) amin

The Statue of Liberty: A doorway to unrestrainment

La Liberté éclairant le monde, or commonly known as the Statue of Liberty, is an icon of independence that is eminent and famous throughout the whole world. It represents thousand of years of history: right up until A.D. 994, though of course this statue was not completed until the late 1800’s. The island where Lady Liberty stands treasures a vast variation of stories– starting from the living of Native Americans, how European Colonialization ushered them off the land, the fight to overthrow one landlord after another, to its most important  history: the incoming of outside immigrants. The Statue of Liberty itself was a gift to the United States from the people of France in 1886 as a recognition to their friendship during the revolutionary war (the Island was used as an isolation station by the French). The statue stands 305 feet tall (from ground to torch), and has been a most visited historical site.

Delegation of the US-Indonesia Partnership Program were very lucky to have been able to visit. The date was June, 29 (a very hot summer day) when the 8 participants and their supervisors reached the pedastal after climbing 15 flights of stairs. WOW!

For the tour, each of us were equipted with a headphone that was set to explain each parts of the statue as we went through. Starting from the lobby, where the original torch was found. It turns out that the torch on the peak of the statue is actually a replacement and was only just put on in 1984.The torch itself, which is probably the most important and philosophical part of the statue, is considered a symbol of enlightment.

After that, comes the 154 steps of stairs, which was exhausting but quite fun. On the end of the stairs, we faced somewhat a museum that had miniature of the Liberty as well as its history: both it’s construction & dedication, as well as its chronological history. We found out that there were many more flights of steps to go if we wanted to reach the crown. So we figured it would be best just to stay on the pedastal. Besides, the crown had to be booked 6 months earlier!

Though we didn’t reach the top, we found out from the exhibits that there are 25 windows in the crown which symbolize gemstones and the heaven’s rays shining over the world. There are also seven rays of crown that represents the seven seas and continents of the world. Lady Liberty also holds a tablet on her left hand that reads “July 4, 1776” (JULY IV MDCCLXXVI), the Independence day of the United States.

Aside from the Statue of Liberty, there is also Ellis Island, which was unfortunately under construction while we were in New York. The actual escape zone for immigrants during the 1800’s was this very Island, first starting in 1847 when Ireland sent thousands of its starving immigrants to New England and New York. These immigrants were to go through layers of inspection, from administration to health, which was of course an act of safety. Now, Ellis Island is also a historical site where people from all over the world come. Some to see the place where the history of their ancestors, who were immigrants. They would look it up in a humungous pile of books containing names and dates of the immigrant’s arrival.

I never actually thought I’d be able to see the Lady through my own eyes, and I’m very thankful I have. Most importantly, I have learnt that Lady Liberty treasures a great history of freedom belonging to not only the people of America, but to many other countries and tribes around the world.

The Statue of Liberty

tulisan ini adalah bagian dari rangkaian cerita perjalanan USIPP 2011, soon to be a book :) amin

New York, New York!

Wall Street & USIPP: full team

Start spreading the news

I am leaving today

I want to be part of it

New York, New York

(New York, New York – Frank Sinatra)

Kalau anda mahasiswa ingusan yang hobby nonton serial macam Gossip Girl atau Glee, tentu New York City menjadi kota yang terdengar sangat fabulous, glamorous… dan sedikit out of reach. Waktu melihat schedule kegiatan selama di US tercantum two-day-agenda di New York, I was estatic! I know I’m being a little bit too honest and off context here, since we’re supposed to be studying multiculturalism, democracy and religious pluralism, but heeey, the New York life-style is part of culture right? 🙂

Anyway, jadwal kegiatan USIPP di New-Yorkbisa dibilang paling padat. Terutama karena kami disana tidak menginap. Sehingga pada 2 hari tersebut kami berangkat dari Bethlehempagi buta (jam 4) menggunakan bis antar-kota, dan kembali lagi dari New Yorkpukul 10 sore. Padahal di New York, transportation utama kita adalah subway dan foot. Untungnya kami mostly stay di Manhattan, kecuali saat ke Statue of Liberty.

Agenda hari pertama, yakni tanggal 29 Juni 2011, adalah mengunjungi Wall-Street, Trinity Church, Statue of Liberty, Central Park, dan meeting bersama Daisy Khan- Director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (more about her later). Pada hari pertama ini, peserta USIPP dari Indonesia + supervisornya masih agak hah-heh dengan sophistication-nya NYC, hence group-leader rombongan kami jadi sebal karena kami kalau jalan jadi lamaaa banget. Harap maklum sih ya, dimana-mana pengen foto, pengen tau. Hehehe. Jadilah kami berlima diseret-seret kemana-mana. Memang NYC dibandingkan kota lain yang kami kunjungi paling ngga santai, atau dengan kata lain pace-of-life-nya tinggi. Berenti dikit di trotoar dimarain orang karena pada buru-buru ke kantor. Subway-nya juga always tas-tes on-time bin so very crowded. Kata Fulvia yang memang dari New York, orang sana bahkan tidak akan menyempatkan minum kopi dirumah. They tend to buy at a coffee shop then drink it while walking. Wew. Of course, ini dikarenakan NYC merupakan pusat perekonomian dan perkantoran, sehingga everything has to be perfect and precise.

Hari kedua kami agendanya adalah mampir lewat Times Square, Empire State Building dan Grand Central Station, lalu ke International Institute of Education, United Nation, Museum of Tolerance dan terakhir meeting dengan Deputy Ambassador of Indonesia to the United Nations. Super duper full of excitement kanya? It really overwhelmed me. Saking banyaknya agenda nih, ngga akan saya bahas satu-satu di post ini ya. Akan dibahas deeper di individual posts setelah ini.

So back to the NYC life. Kalau mau diruntut banyak banget new and interesting things I found there:

  1. Waktu ke Wall Street, we ate turkey-ham sandwhich (bener ngga ya namanya? Lupa). Lucunya rata-rata yang berjualan sandwhich jenis ini adalah Muslim dan berdaging Halal!
  2. Kami mengunjungiTrinityChurch(didepan Wall-Street, dibelakang bekas runtuhan WTC) yang merupakan tempat evakuasi utama korban WTC. Disana ada memorial dimana banyak karangan bunga diletakkan sebagai penghormatan terakhir bagi korban WTC.
  3. Sebelum menyebrang ke Ellis Island & Statue ofLiberty, kami dihadang pengamen African-American yang memainkan Indonesia Raya di saxophone-nya. Sayang ternyata kalau mau ndengerin nanti disuruh mbayar, maka kami terpaksa melarikan diri.
  4. Lunch-hour kami dihabiskan di Central Parkdengan kotakan Mac & Cheese (yummy!), sandwich dan orange juice. Apa yang special? Well the reason is quite personal. Central Park adalah tempat yang paling ingin saya kunjungi sejak kecil (umur 7-8 tahun), karena reading list saya waktu elementary school banyak yang take place disana (BSC, Saddle Club, buku-buku karangan Judy Blume, dsb). Jadi going there was a child-hood dream come true J
  5. Subway-nyaNYsangat ribet kalau dibandingkan yang ada di Singapore atau WashingtonDC. Belum lagi kita harus extra cautious karena suka ada copet.
  6. ….dan masih banyaaak lagi! Banyak banget deh sumpah. Padahal Cuma 2 hari :p

Oh iya, pada hari kedua group-leader kami announce that we’re a true New Yorker! Soalnya jalan-nya udah ngga lelet lagi hehehe. Agenda NYC berakhir di Penn Station, dimana kami kemudian melanjutkan perjalanan ke Washington D.C by train (yang ternyata tiketnya harganya $120 seorang, wow). All in all, NYC is, again, an awesome experience! 🙂

The Statue of Liberty

tulisan ini adalah bagian dari rangkaian cerita perjalanan USIPP 2011, soon to be a book 🙂 amin

Peluklah Ayahmu :)

“Kau tahu, sembilan puluh sembilan persen anak laki-laki tidak pernah lagi mau memeluk ayah mereka sendiri setelah tumbuh dewasa. Padahal sebaliknya, sembilan puluh sembilan persen dari ungkapan hati terdalamnya, seorang ayah selalu ingin memeluk anak-anaknya.”

— Tere-liye dalam “Ayahku (Bukan) Pembohong”

goes for girls too 🙂 your father is your hero