Diaries on Ramadhan 1439 H/ 2018 M

I remember that day, exactly on May 17, 2018, was the first day of Ramadhan month 1439 H. It was such a blessing to me, indeed, to meet again with this holy Islamic month. Unlike previous Ramadhan, in 2017, I had a motorbike accident. Praise to Allah SWT, this year I could meet with Ramadhan month and I could complete daily fasting and prayers in this month. Also, my body felt healthy and things were alright. Again, all beautiful praises are only for Him. He, the Best of All Creators, is Allah SWT.

The first days of Ramadhan 1439 H were, still, busy at work. However, I was not that all busy. The office hours started at 08:00 am and ended at 03:00 pm. Meanwhile, work days were from Monday to Friday, although occasionally, I still went to work until Saturday. Working harder than average government employees, somehow, since I was working at a private educational institution.

Now, let me share with you answers of my own question to me: “What did I learn from this Ramadhan 1439 H? What are the things that I see as ways to grow myself individually and as a member of a society?”

The above question was only a hint. Everybody has their answers actually. This time, I compose this writing in a sense of writing a diary. I hope that in the end, it brings useful things to whomever this post is read. To answer the question, I have three things that I learned during Ramadhan 1439 H.

The first thing I learned in this Ramadhan 1439 H was patient. In Arabic, patient means sabr, or sabar in Bahasa Indonesia. To be patient, is hard. Being patient when you spoke to others and being patient when you listened to others who spoke at you and about you are two essential things in social communication. I began to realize that what matters is our attitude toward what we said about others. What we said to others is much more important than how we responded to what others said about us. I learned how hurtful it was to listen to utterances that provoked my emotion. Such utterances also led me to grow hatred within myself. I felt that I did not want to accept it. For several days, I felt trembling and my body went weak. Then, I delved into what it means to be patient. I opened the Qur’an and I learned it. (To read Qur’an once is never enough for me). I then realized that the problem was not in me. I only listened – being the passive information receiver. What did I do as a listener? I did nothing. The main problem was the person(s) who spoke. Have they spoken good words? Have they considered their verbal and nonverbal language well in accordance to people to whom they spoke? Hurtful, it was, indeed. However, I learned that to confront these sorts of people is easy: do not have to pay attention that much. The person who knows exactly who you are is yourself. Thus, I learned that to utter words that are good to hear for people bring many more advantages than to utter words as I desired in my emotion. In the same time, I noticed that our attitude to what others said is also important, in order not to grow anger or revenge. Allah SWT dislikes an individual whose heart is filled with revenge, but He condemns those who spoke no good.

The second thing I learned in this Ramadhan 1439 H was the power of sedekah, infak, zakat, or giving freely for charity. At first, from economic standpoint, to give freely would not bring me any profit, especially when money is what you gave to others. I used to think like this – being the rationale guy, the economic guy. I began to share what I have to others, firstly, in a small amount of rupiahs, not that much. I learned to give money in conditions where I could. The rest of money that I have was saved, in case that I will need them one day for me or for my family. Slowly but sure, I noticed that the blessings that I received were far more beautiful than what I gave. There was a feeling of gratefulness in me. To see how people smiled at me and uttered nice words to me was indeed such a nice blessing. To feel happy is what money cannot buy. In fact, I did these three deeds occasionally – under circumstance when I had permissibility to do them. Finally I learned that it was not that minus to do these deeds. Allah SWT promises that to Muslims who do good charity only for the sake of His Mercy will enter His Heaven in no difficulties after the Day of Judgement. Do you know how much the Heaven is? Beyond selling all this universe.

The third thing I learned in this Ramadhan 1439 H was that realizing how things were meant to be, when Allah SWT decided that they were not meant for you. He knows what is best for you. In 2011, I successfully obtained scholarship to study in the United States of America for gaining a master’s degree in the field of English. This year, in 2018, I was not successful to get this scholarship again for the second time. I still remember the feeling of being a failure for many times to get a scholarship until I could get one. If only I am living in such a welfare life, or having abilities to get far more all life necessities I need for myself, then, I might not necessary in need of a scholarship; even I will give scholarship to those who are in need of it. In fact, I am not in that kind of life, so of course, I tried to think of gaining a scholarship. I might not be able to enrich myself financially due to conditions in my country, but with a scholarship, I might enrich my knowledge and expertise in the field, so eventually I could enrich my students’ knowledge and expertise as well. I might view this as a life-long investment, where I will positively get the reward from Allah SWT with His Heaven (if He will). There is a bigger gap to enrich myself financially, where as a matter of fact; I enriched people to whom I worked – the private sector. After facing such failure, I looked at other sides that life gives to me. How marvellous! I learned that Allah SWT gave me many other beautiful things that sometime I took for granted. I still have my beautiful family, my mother, father, siblings, wife, and my son. For whom I worked that hard in life if it is not to for them? I learned that may be this time, Allah SWT does not let me get this scholarship for reasons that I myself could comprehend days later. Seeing them happy and have full of hope to me had me grown stronger. I will do my best again in this year and in the upcoming years to obtain a scholarship to study overseas. Would it be other countries like Australia, England, or may be to study English for doctoral degree in Saudi Arabia? Who knew? Keep trying, never lose hopes.

In brief, the three things above are beautiful things that I have learned after Ramadhan 1439 H. I hope that Allah SWT accept the deeds that I had done only for Him. He is the Best-Knower of all matters, either the matters are spoken out loud or hidden under the bottom of the ocean in everyone’s heart.

May He forgive all my sins, aamiin.

To Him, we all will return.

Idul Fitri 1439 H

Taqabbalallahu minna wa minkun, min taqabbalallahu yaa kariim.


Life and its color

The Motorbike Accident – Sharing Experience

Riding a motorbike in Indonesia provides you great opportunities to see the road; however, it also brings you disaster unexpectedly. There is a famous saying among Minangkabau-Indonesians. It sounds like Kok ndak awak diantak urang, urang nan maantak awak. In English, the saying means that you may be hit by another driver, or another driver hits you. This essay provides you with my experience on facing a motobike accident. How and where it happened, and what I experience after the motorbike accident are shared through this essay to you.

The motorbike accident happened in 2017. The exact date when it happened was on May 15, 2017. At that time, I was on my way to my mother’s house. I lived in Padang city, West Sumatera, Indonesia. I stayed with my wife in eastern part of Padang city, while my mother’s house is in the northern part of the city. I remember that it was in the morning, around 09.00 am, I rode my motorbike to Ulak Karang. Before arriving home, I stopped at a nearby ATM Machine of Bank Mandiri to have some cash. I would like to share the money to my mother for she needs it to pay electricity and my siblings’ expenses of going to school. When I was about to cross over S. Parman street, right in front of Suzuki dealer in Ulak Karang, there I was hit by another motorbike driver. The accident happened quickly and honestly I felt nothing afterward. Therefore, the motorbike accident happened before I arrived at my mother’s house.

That day, Monday, I woke up. I felt that I was asleep. I heard voices. I heard my mother’s voice and father’s voice. I heard voices of people, but I could not open my eyes. I felt sore. My wife stood next to me and she whispered for my healthy to come back. My parents and my wife always support me to whisper Istighfar and Zikr. I was brought to Yos Sudarso hospital. My head was scanned. Fortunately, the doctor said that nothing worst happened. However, I totally needed rest.

Two days later, after being scanned in Yos Sudarso hospital, I went home. Sadly, when I was at home, I vomitted three times. I felt my head, the right side, a bit heavy. I was hospitalized in R. S. Reksodiwiryo for almost a week. Fortunately, alhamdulillah, I had health insurance, called BPJS Kesehatan. I paid Rp. 495.000,- for room fees in four nights. My insurance was for Class II Public, but I made it to Class II VIP. Medicines and treatment from doctors had been covered by the insurance. I went home on at the end of May 2017. During June 2017, I stayed at home. I literally went nowhere. I moved my body between the bed, bathroom, and terrace. This condition happened almost the entire month of Ramadhan 1438 H. Was it a test from God or was it a blessing? I was not sure. All I could think of at that time was that I needed to be back healthy again. My wife needs me, my son needs me, my mother needs me, my father needs me, my brother and sister needs me. They need me. On July 2017, their prayers paid off. I began healing one step out of the way. Slowly but sure, I began to feel a bit better.

After I felt better and better, I focused my attention now to fix my motorbike. I rode Honda Vario Techno 110 CBS. I purchased it in credits in 2010. The total money that I had to pay for the credit at that time was almost 29 million rupiahs. I did not have cash, so I decided to purchase the motorbike in credits. I brought my motorbike to Honda AHASS in Padang, Menara Agung, on June 30, 2017. The motorbike needed repair, as the motorbike engineers confirmed to me. The cost that I needed to pay was almost two million rupiahs. I know that the cost was expensive. However, I used the motorbike for transportation. I often used it to get to my office and went to many places in Padang. The AHASS dealer mentioned that I needed to wait for almost a month for the spareparts. Knowing this long time to wait, I felt a bit uneasy with myself. I realized now that using public transportation in Padang is much more expensive than having a motorbike. For one riding, I paid Rp. 4.000,- for public transportation. When I wanted to go to my office, it took me two times riding and the same amount of ridings when I wanted to go back home. For one day, I spent Rp. 16.000,-. If I go to my office twenty six days in a month (Monday to Saturday), then it will cost me Rp. 416.000,-. If I used motobike, I spent Rp. 15.000,- for gas. I used it for two days. One month consistes of thirty days, so it becomes fifteen times buying gas. The total amount of money that I need to spent for gas in one month is only Rp. 225.000,- Way so much diferent, aren’t they? I wish that AHM in Jakarta or in many branches in Indonesia to provide the spareparts quicker. I heard that Honda is the number one brand in Indonesia. Hopefully, PT. AHM still be the number one. The spareparts were requested on July 11, 2017. When will these parts arrive? I have no clue. We will see. Is it truly a month? I feel that this length of time is too long for a big company.

To sum up, having a motorbike accident in Padang, for me, brought physical challenges, almost deadly even and a long waiting time to have the spareparts for the motorbike. Do you have experience like this, too? What did you to recover and to make your body feels like before? How long did you wait for your motorbike to be fully repaired? Your comments are highly valued.

Life and its color

Pasca Studi di Luar Negeri: Siapkah Indonesia dengan Tuntutan Zaman?

Memiliki pengalaman studi di luar negeri adalah pengalaman berharga yang bisa diraih oleh seorang pemuda Indonesia. Bukan saja karena studi di luar negeri membutuhkan persiapan yang matang, studi di negara orang lain juga membutuhkan kebulatan tekad untuk mencapai apa yang dicita-citakan. Terkadang muncul sebuah pertanyaan, apakah yang akan dibawa oleh pemuda-pemudi Indonesia setelah kembali studi dari negara orang lain tersebut? Berikut ini saya akan memaparkan, mungkin tidak banyak, tentang tantangan dan kesempatan yang saya alami sekembali dari Amerika Serikat untuk mengikuti program pendidikan tingkat pasca-sarjana, S2 di Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Tantangan pertama yang dihadapi adalah pandangan pujian, sekaligus skeptis dari beberapa lulusan dalam negeri yang bekerja di beberapa perguruan tinggi di daerah. Artinya, pandangan pujian selalu datang dari insan cendekia yang memang bisa menghargai prestasi akademik orang lain berskala internasional dan pandangan skeptis berasal dari individu-individu yang merasa iri dengan kelebihan orang lain, dan sedapat mungkin untuk menjatuhkan si pemuda atau pemudi yang studi di luar negeri tersebut. Hal ini memang rasanya tidak masuk akal, namun tentu menjadi kendala yang sangat unik untuk pengembangan Indonesia ke depan.

Tantangan ke dua yang dihadapi adalah berkaitan dengan hal administratif. Tidak sedikit yang komplain mengenai penyetaraan ijazah, namun bagi saya pribadi itu baik, sepanjang hal administratif ini bertujuan untuk proses “mengakui” ijazah luar negeri tersebut. Jika saya perhatikan, sistem pendidikan luar negeri, lebih terfokus sehingga pola pendidikan tinggi di negara tersebut telah mementingkan proses belajar daripada hasil atau produk yang bisa dihasilkan. Selain penyetaraan ijazah, tantangan lainnya adalah mengenai jabatan akademik, fungsional, dan golongan. Tiga hal ini  harus diurus sedemikian rupa terlebih dahulu, baru hak sebagai dosen diperoleh. Terkadang, urusan sertifikasi dosen pun belum tentu mengalami proses yang mulus, malah berliku-liku, alias data di forlap belum ter-update dan sistem online Indonesia yang masih belum se-update yang ada di negara-negara maju. Akibatnya, dosen yang benar-benar fokus kepada kegiatan akademis terkendala karena urusan administratif seperti ini.

Tantangan ke tiga berkaitan dengan tuntutan studi di luar negeri. Jika anda menamatkan pendidikan tingkat S2 di luar negeri, maka besar kemungkinan anda wajib studi di luar negeri untuk tingkat S3. Pertanyaannya adalah, studi di luar negeri tidak semudah studi di dalam negeri. Ada proses berliku dan ala kelok sembilan yang harus dihadapi untuk bisa studi di luar negeri. Apakah sama tantangan yang dihadapi ketika seseorang studi di universitas ternama di luar negeri dengan persyaratan yang mendunia, sementara di dalam negeri, persyaratan yang sama tidak diberikan pada level yang sama? Selain itu, proses untuk bisa diterima S3 pun tidak semudah yang dibayangkan. Jika sebuah Perguruan Tinggi memang berdedikasi untuk memajukan kualitas pendidikannya, maka PT tersebut tidak hanya mendorong dosennya untuk S3, tapi juga harus konsisten dalam hal membantu dosen tersebut menamatkan studinya tepat waktu dan dengan kualitas yang baik. Jika dosen tersebut dibiarkan saja sendiri menghadapi segala tantangan yang dihadapi di luar negeri, maka amat disayangkan jika banyak lulusan luar negeri dari sebuah PT ingin pindah dari PT tersebut karena apa yang mereka butuhkan tidak terdapat di sana.

Selain tantangan, kesempatan juga ada setelah studi di luar negeri. Kesempatan yang ada adalah pemenuhan publikasi di jurnal internasional. Oleh karena lulusan luar negeri memang di-design untuk memenuhi kebutuhan internasional, maka kesempatan publikasi jurnal internasional terbuka untuk mereka. Namun, di saat yang sama, administrasi di Indonesia pun kembali mengganggu, seperti, aspek linearitas, karena sistem penelitian di Indonesia belum lagi inter-study. Di Indonesia, linearitas dikenal untuk gelar S1, S2, dan S3 yang bidangnya sama (nah, ini berat lho, nggak gampang). Penelitian jadi lebih terfokus, itu bagus, hanya saja, sayangnya peneliti sering stuck dan bosan mengkaji yang sama terus-menerus. Jika bidangnya Teaching, maka penelitiannya tentang Teaching, bagaimana jika ia suatu saat punya ide cemerlang tentang Teknologi? Bisakah dikaitkan dengan Teaching?

Intinya, setelah studi di luar negeri, kami dihadapkan kepada kondisi di mana kami harus tetap tampil bagus, sementara lingkungan, kesempatan, administrasi, appresiasi, dan prosedur yang ada tidak terlalu mendukung kami untuk maju melangkah ke masa depan yang lebih baik. Saya pun tidak sedikit dan tidak sekali, mendengar akademisi berkata, “yang penting gelar, masalah luar negeri atau dalam negeri, itu terserah”.” Saya cuma prihatin. Jika begitu, untuk apa ya pemuda-pemudi Indonesia yang berkorban perasaan jauh dari keluarga, menantang maut dengan suhu yang minus, bersabar dengan pola makanan yang tidak sesuai selera kadang-kadang, setibanya di Indonesia, dianggap, “kamu lulusan luar negeri? trus, apa? mau bangga-banggain diri di sini? Ini Indonesia, bung! kalau nggak mau, balik aja gih ke negara di mana kamu studi dulu!” Saya pun semakin prihatin. Memang tidak semua lulusan luar negeri yang bagus, namun setidaknya tanyalah proses apa yang ia lalui sehingga bisa studi di negeri orang tersebut. Yang kami inginkan adalah kesempatan untuk mengembangkan Indonesia melalui ilmu yang kami miliki. Kami tidak butuh jabatan, tapi kami butuh kesempatan untuk berkembang demi Indonesia. Jika terkendala dengan keputusan sepihak yang seringkali terjadi di Indonesia, salahkah kami menyatakan bila memang brain drain itu terjadi?

Yang lebih menyedihkan adalah pernyataan ini: “kamu maunya yang gratisan, tentu iya. kami saja studi dalam negeri pakai uang sendiri!” Rasanya, ingin pergi saja ke negara orang tersebut dan mengabdi di sana. Tahukan biaya yang kami keluarkan ketika studi di luar negeri? Tidak akan terbeli dan sebanding dengan rekan-rekan yang studi di dalam negeri. Apa saja itu? Tanyalah kepada yang lulusan luar negeri.

Siapkah Indonesia dengan tuntutan zaman? Indonesia dituntut untuk meng-global, mengapa harus menutupi diri dengan kesempatan yang ada?

Padang, 31 Mei 2015 

Life and its color Post-Fulbright scholarship (after 2013)