The Holy Quran has taught Muslims that during the Holy Month, they should have more worshipping activities. Muslims are essentially taught to be closer to the Creator.
However, my two year stay in Jakarta has taught me a different face of Ramadan
The capital city has taught me that Ramadan is the month of discounts and sales. Starting next week, malls around the city will probably start offering discounts that are so hard for us to ignore. Thus, during Ramadan, instead of swarming mosques, people will swarm malls.
Sales and discounts have clouded our memories of a promise that God once made. We suddenly forgot He once said that our one good deed would be counted as ten good deeds during Ramadan. We suddenly forgot that there is a night in the month when one night of prayer is equal to a thousand months of prayers.
We just forget that, or probably we choose to forget that. We probably choose to remember that Ramadan is a month when I can “buy two get three” at malls.
The capital city has also taught me that Ramadan is the month of excessive social gathering. Breaking the fast together, known as bukber, is ubiquitous during this time of year. Have you for once tried to count how many bukber you had last year?
In day three, for example, our elementary school friends held bukber. In day five we had bukber with college friends, day seven with high school friends. The bukber list went on and on and on until day 30 with invitations from various groups that we are part of.
Without realizing, you and I have spent our Ramadan only with bukber here, bukber there, bukber everywhere. Now that I wrote down this experience, I realize that I hardly said no to those invitations.
While bukber is overwhelming, you may even be invited for post bukber activities. Sadly, post buber activities that I ever attended were far from being labeled as religious. They included karaoke, watching movies or chatting with old friends all night long until sahur time arrived.
The bukber and post bukber participants – I myself included – have thus frequently forgotten to pray when the time comes, or again, simply choose to forget? Thus, instead of a month to gather God’s reward, I think Ramadan has turned to be a month to gather more unnecessary sins.
I spent the first five years of my life in Pekalongan, a city in Central Java which is known as the city of ‘Santri’ or Islamic students. Then, I moved to Surakarta, a city more heterogenic and larger than Pekalongan. If my memory serves me well, my Ramadan experience was much better than what I had lately.
I remember spending hours of hours of Quran reciting. I remember going to the mosque having Tarawih prayer every evening throughout the month. I remember breaking fast together with my family was my awaited moment after a whole day of fasting. I remember having just one or two bukber, and not more than that.
However, like dew after the sun shines, I never experienced them again after living Jakarta for two years, it is all just gone.
I do not blame the city, no I don’t. I know it is my fault for not being able to reject the hedonistic lifestyle during Ramadan which, the last time I check, is still not advocated anywhere in my Holy Book.
Now as Ramadan nears, questions linger in my mind. Am I now ready to welcome the holy month this year? Am I ready to resurrect my childhood and teenage memories in this city?