Finding Peace

For a while I refrained myself from writing about this, even though I have been thinking about this (a lot) for quite some time. I understand that it might be controversial to some, but hey this blog is called ‘Christa Bercerita’ because this is where I tell my stories.. and today it’s about faith.

I was born and raised Muslim, I am still a Muslim and I should note here that I was brought up in an interfaith household. My dad was a devout Muslim, my mom is a devout Christian and together they raised me as a Muslim. Whole my life, I am used to the exposure of the two faiths, and strangely enough my husband comes from a diverse background too – half of his family is Christian, while he is born and raised Muslim. So – that’s a little background about me.

Fast forward to the last few years, I started to question my faith. Not the Islam that I grew up with, but particularly the way some Indonesians Muslims practice their faith …. (I don’t want to generalize but that’s how I see it). In the past few years, I’ve seen more and more people / friends / colleagues / family / acquaintances getting more religious and especially with social media they are spreading their “newly-found-again” faith out loud.

I get it, I’m all about free speech and I (try my best) to value everyone’s opinion. But there’s this thing that I found very disturbing. I found that the narrative of this whole “newly-found-again” (or in Indonesian – hijrah) Islam is mostly (again, I don’t want to generalize) fear.

I’ve lost count of the times I went to a sermon, only to hear about how I’ve done soooo bad as a human being and I’m super sinful that I will burn in hell. I’ve lost count of the instagram posts telling me that I will get X punishment in hell because I don’t cover my hair or because I didn’t do this and that.

Truth be told these things don’t make me feel peace at all, instead they make me uneasy, and I thought being religious is supposed to bring peace on to my daily life.

I mean I don’t want to pray because I’m afraid that if I didn’t I will burn in hell. I don’t want to give to the poor and needy only because I want something in return, as I often hear, “give to the needy, your prayers will be heard!” I mean do I really have to have a motive in giving back? That does not feel right. I want to give because I feel like giving, because I feel thankful, and I want to pray because I want to feel close to God, because I want to feel peace. Not because I’m afraid. And definitely not because I want something in return!

So yeah, I kind of stop following Indonesian Islam (if there’s such thing.. but you know what I mean). Which is a bit sad, because I know Islam is all about communities and at the moment I don’t feel like I belong in my own community.

Thankfully, I am starting to find peace at my mosque here. Although I am yet to go there often, I love what I’m hearing so far. Every sermon I heard made me smile, made me feel at peace, and maybe I’ll find my community here. For now, I’ll continue observing Ramadan with an open heart, may this month brings Peace to you and I ❤

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My First Ramadan in The US

Wow, where did the time go? Without I even realized it, it’s already the last week of Ramadan. This Ramadan marks my first Ramadan after I got married and moved to the US. It means it’s also our first Ramadan together, R and I 🙂 I was inspired by Deny’s blog post about her Ramadan experience in The Netherlands so I decided to share my story too.

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Ramadan 2017

Last Ramadan I have been spending less time online and more time trying to get a deeper understanding of my faith. As an Indonesian Muslim in today’s society, I often feel like I don’t really belong to the community. The things I saw in the popular media, the things I heard from my extended network, none of them are in line with my values and beliefs. Then it got me thinking. Have I been losing my faith? How could they be saying things that seem to be contradictive with the Islam that I was brought up in, the things that I believe in? What is wrong and what is right now?

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Last weekend, I did something for the first time… (and other stories!)

So, like others before me, I created a #30before30 list not too long time ago. The list can be found on my old blog – but I’d rather not re-publish it here now because there are some things in the list that I want to change (hahaha can I actually do that though? I think I can! After all it’s my list :D).

Anyway, one of the things in the original list was to visit Pekan Raya Jakarta or Jakarta Fair. It’s Jakarta’s biggest annual fair which first started back in 1968. Why did I put it on my list? Simple, I have been living for almost 25 years in the city but I never actually been. And since there might be a possibility for me not to live in this city anymore in the future.. I want to visit the fair before I’m 30 (Or, if leaving the city come sooner – before I leave this city for good). So I went there last Saturday with my mum and little brother.

Before I actually went there, I imagine the fair would have a lot of stalls and booths – food and snack stalls, game booths, even some mini rides like the ones in American boardwalks. I was really excited to go. But then when I got there.. turns out that there are more sponsorship and trade booths rather than the ones I mentioned before. It is indeed an exhibition fair, with many big brands’ booths selling everything from potato chips to mop, even car!

There is also a retail section where you can find discounted items of your favorite brands.. and when I say discounted, I mean BIG discount! I even scored a pretty Marks & Spencer top for only Rp.150.000 which is almost impossible to be found in their stores. Yay! While food stalls are not a problem (you can find many of them), only few I found selling traditional snacks.. and I couldn’t find rides for adults (SAD!). I found some rides like merry-go-round and boom boom car, but both in small version so it’s only suitable for kids.

Well.. although the reality is not really like what I imagined, I pretty much enjoyed my first time going to Jakarta Fair. That’s another off my #30before30 list! Yay!

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proof that I’ve been to Jakarta Fair! :p

On Sunday, me and my friends went to Thamrin City – a big shopping mall full of wholesale kiosks selling everything – mostly clothes.. cheap good ones. The three of us came there with a mission – that is to find kaftan to be worn on Hari Raya day! Hehehe. It did not take long for me to find a nice coral kaftan priced only Rp.85.000 (Oh! Have I told you that my favorite color is coral?), and neither did my friends – we managed to spend only 2 hours shopping there.

I consider that as an achievement, because Thamrin City was so packed that day! People (mostly mums) were shopping like crazy; almost everyone was seen carrying (minimum) a big shopping bag full of clothes. Just look at this picture!

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it was a shopping madness!

So next time I want to find cheap kaftans or similar clothes, I think I would avoid going to Thamrin City during Ramadan month. Too crowded!

Moving on.. after going to Thamrin City, I went home for a quick shower then went to my friend’s house for buka puasa . There were 9 of us, my college friends. Food was awesome – my friend’s husband cooked it for us. He made roast chicken and some sort of Rösti, veryyy yummy. We spent the night eating, chatting and laughing.. and that concludes my awesome weekend.

I hope you had a good weekend too, enjoy your Monday and the rest of the week! 🙂