Islam’s Middle Path

Since I was a kid I’ve been observing Islam with great interest. It’s my religion anyway.
At first I noted how my elementary teachers and our adults are preaching something, but doing entirely different things. Also we’re taught that Islam is all about dogma. There’s almost no compassion on it. There is no joy. The religion seems to be all about mumbling on prayers in language that we don’t understand, five times a day. And anyone dare not doing it may face public humiliation and/or physical punishment.
The Ramadhan was especially tormentous – we couldn’t eat nor drink during the hot days (30 – 35 degrees celcius). The night prayers are 11 rakaat, and followed by a very long (and very boring) sermon.
Nobody cared to really explain to us what’s all these about. We’re just supposed to do it without asking any questions.

These are the traditionalists.
Islam is just believing, no thinking. You just do. Don’t ever ask.
I asked once, and the teacher ended up stuttering and scolded me for it. I don’t ask again after.

It’s enough to make some kids lose faith and care about Islam, but I held on. I think, there’s an explanation to these, and I shall make the journey to find it.

When I’m older, in my high school years, I found out about Islam’s sects. With open mind, I joined one after another, most interested in widening my horizon. I noticed though that many of them are not good to be in for long term.
In the beginning, they will be nice to you. You’ll be called brothers and sisters. For those who didn’t find love at home, bullied at school, and so on; this is pure joy. Suddenly you feel needed, and wanted.

But after a while, they will try to draw you into their community. Locked you in, and started the weird part of their teachings.
Each sects have their own peculiarities – getting as much money for the sect using any (and I mean any; cheating, stealing, killing) way possible, made you swear an oath of allegiance, teaching irrational hatred for people (even Muslims), brainwash you, allows prostitution, make their syaikhs (gurus) close / to the same level of a prophet or even God, and many other horrible things.

All of them are the same in this regard – they all claim to be based on Quran and hadits, but interpret it to their own wishes. They’re extremist in this regard.

Anybody who dare to question their sect will be excommunicated from the group. This may seem trivial – however, after years of intense involvement in the group; most will find themselves suddenly alone in the world. Their old friends and families have long gave up on them. It’s truly heart breaking.
The fear of this kept many as the member of the group, even though the inner heart are crying.

Indeed not all groups are like that. A few are good and on the right path. But sadly, they seem to be the minority on the scene, and can be quite hard to find.

Then I went to UK, work there for 5 years, and found something else – the Liberals.
At first they seemed good – they preached upon tolerance, open-mindedness, equalities, justice, and critical thinking.

However, digging deeper, I found troublesome things.
They preached upon tolerance, yet they will get rid of their opposition and have no hesitation on silencing their voices whenever possible.
They preached critical thinking, yet they’re cherry-picking verses from Quran and Hadith to support their claims. Many times, they’ll just plain lie to you. If they can have the opportunity to assassin your character, they will.
And just like the sects, these liberals claim to be based on Quran and hadits; but they interpret it so liberally; it’s as if they’re telling you that an apple is really an orange. They’re just as extreme as the sects, but worse since they claim to be of a superior intelligence.

I don’t like to be taken as a fool, so I distanced myself from them.

Found myself alone again, with weird people around me. I continued my journey. I tried to find more about Islam, with my limited time and capability. I worked hard to filter the wacky interpretations, and goes straight to the source and original interpretations. And what I found have made the journey worth it.

Islam : is all about compassion, good behaviour, and love to others. The prophet stated that his mission is to make us better in our akhlaq. That is it.

I’ve been presented with spins from Liberals & Islam-haters, trying to rebuke it. But I always managed to find out every single time the truth behind it – some are not presenting the whole picture, some are presented without its context, some are misinterpretation from the original language, some are very liberal translation, and some are downright lies.
Many of the Islam’s problems they presenting are actually really Muslims problem. And they dare claiming to be the superior thinkers ? I don’t think so.

Islam : wants their believers to think and use their brains. The command “Afala ta’qiluun” – have you think about that ? It’s written many times in Quran.
My journey was emotionally and intellectually painful. I’ve had to wade through so much crap and non-sense, sometimes even from people I thought would know better. This command kept me going, enduring the pain.

The result is, not perfect, but definitely a better me – one who finally understood the essence of his religion, and at ease with it. The old cliche is still true – no pain, no gain.

I also found several inspirations from some other good people :

  1. Amar Ma’ruf Nahi Munkar : This is the principle of da’wa / calling people to Islam, meaning “call people to good, and prohibit them from bad”.

    Notice how the call for good is mentioned first. Then I noticed that the most successfull preachers are those who busy themselves in calling people to the good – with sympathetic words, understanding of people’s problems, and positive attitude in helping people to get over with their problems — instead of just criticizing people on their faults.

    People become attracted to the good, and automatically, they leave their bad side.

    These preachers solve problems, instead of adding more of it.
    I shall try to do the same.

  2. Care for others : This must begin with your closest ones. If you claim you care for others, while neglecting your own family, I’ll call you a hypocrite.

    When people care about others, Islam will be able to fulfill its promise as the rahmatan lil ‘alamin – a blessing to the world.

I’ve realized now that the problem with Islam is really the problem with Muslims. Many are ignorant, led by ignorant (or downright evil) ulama / syaikh / community leaders.
We need to awaken them by tapping on them gently and using kind words. Not kicking and screaming on them – and later wondered why they ended up beating you into a pulp. The way of Islam is the middle path – kind, gentle, soothes, and most importantly, enlightens.

So I begin my new journey. May God look upon me kindly and strengthen this weak shell and its soul for this journey, which shall not end until my death.

52 thoughts on “Islam’s Middle Path

  1. Pak Harry,

    I love this posting of yours. Every seeker of knowledge and faith will pass through the same path. This is a continuous journey which we shall go through in life, from cradle to grave.

    I wish you an exciting journey!

  2. 1. Amar Ma’ruf Nahi Munkar
    2. Care for others

    Agama mana sih yang nggak ngajarin hal2 diatas?

    Kalo cuma itu apa bedanya hebatnya?

    Yesus malah mengajarkan : “Kasihilah Musuhmu”.

    Lebih hebat tuh dari Islam.

    “When people care about others, Islam will be able to fulfill its promise as the rahmatan lil ‘alamin – a blessing to the world”

    …..buktinya apa? Kenyataan sekarang? Perang terus tuh

    Gak usah jauh2, blog anda aja walaupun Tagnya Islam isinya menjelek2kan Yahudi, Kristen, Paus, Ahmadiyyah dllsb

    Gak mikir kenapa muslim yg negara2nya diberkahi SDA Minyak bumi dan kekayaan alam melimpah spt Indonesia tapi jadi negara terbelakang, penuh korupsi dan perang terus??

  3. @Blunt – “buktinya apa?” — tinggal baca sejarah islam pada masa Nabi saw & kejayaannya mas. Gitu aja kok bingung.

  4. Halo Harry
    Tulisan ttg ‘Islam ; A blessing to the world’ ini idealnya di published di banyak reputable medias har.
    Oh iya, maaf, sekedar tanya aja, aku kmaren ada beberapa pertanyaan related to some cyber businesses, aku forward ke blog ini, mungkin belum sempat buka ya. Aku tanya lagi aja disini ya..
    1. Bagaimana menurut harry ttg Cyber Forex Trading yang menawarkan banyak profit in a relatively short time? Apa itu sah-sah aja ya, gak melanggar norma apapun?

    2. Temanku ada yang sukses luar biasa setelah jadi Affiliate Marketer yang kerjanya menawarkan banyak kemudahan berhutang dari banyak Finance Companies, ada yang berupa Fast Cash Loans, Mortgage Loans, bahkan sampai menawarkan Solutions For Really Bad Credits. Intinya memang menawarkan bantuan tapi dalam bentuk mempersuasi orang utk mudah berhutang. Bagaimana menurutmu, regarding to our religion?

    3. Apa harry punya rekomendasi untuk belajar buat Hyper Link, Text Link, Blinkable Banner, Promotional Box dsb yang bisa dipublised di dalam dan luar website kita? Mungkin kamu juga punya beberapa simple modul utk hal2 diatas? Kalo tidak keberatan, aku terima kasih banget kalo kamu bisa kirim ke emailku.

    Mudah-mudahan Harry ada waktu utk menjawab pertanyaan2ku ini. Thanks a bunch. Sukses terus buat Perusahaanmu. Selamat menunaikan Ibadah Puasa. Ira

  5. @Ira – halo, setelah saya cek, ternyata emailnya masuk ke mailbox yang jarang saya periksa. OK saya reply disini saja ya :
    1. Cyber Forex : keluarga kami ada kawan pemain saham cukup besar, dan dia tidak main forex. Sepertinya karena resikonya juga sangat besar.
    Selain itu juga kita mungkin masih ingat bagaimana negara kita ambruk di tahun 1998 karena para pemain forex (setahu saya Soros cuma bermain di awal), dan sampai sekarang masih sangat banyak sekali yang menderita karenanya.
    2. Kalau mengutip kawan saya di Bank Indonesia, yang bermasalah itu adalah irresponsible lenders. Yaitu menghutangi, namun yang jadi menjerumuskan.
    Contoh paling mudah, dan saat ini sedang dibidik oleh Bank Indonesia, adalah berbagai provider kartu kredit.
    Sampai ada pegawai dengan gaji Rp 2 juta namun terjerumus dan total hutangnya mencapai Rp 100 juta.
    Kalau kawan Anda bisa memberikan hutang yang membantu mereka untuk bangkit dari keterpurukannya (misal: sekaligus merangkap sebagai financial advisor), maka saya kira ini justru bagus sekali. Jadi bukan sekedar profit taker.
    3. Kebetulan saya tidak tahu karena jarang bersentuhan dengan topik tersebut. Lihat saja website saya layoutnya juga sudah mulai amburadul, he he.
    OK mudah-mudahan bisa sedikit membantu. Thanks.

  6. @mulia – hi, thanks for the compliments. I congratulate you for taking the journey. It’s definitely not the easiest one, nor the most enjoyable one. But it’s the one that will lead you to the ultimate truth.
    I wish you the best for this journey of yours. May you find what you seek, amin ya rabbal ‘alamin
    About the groups, my experience is pretty much the same as yours. I found good things on those sects/groups as well.
    I’m awed by Hizbut Tahrir’s bravery to bring up such unpopular topic such as khilafah to the masses. I’m thankful to Tarbiyah for bringing back many of my friends to light from darkness. I learned logic from the salafys (and found out its fallacies from observing them). I love the spiritual experience from my time with my NU & sufi friends. And so on.
    However, all of them wants you to become Hizbut Tahrir / Tarbiyah / Salafy / etc. While I think we should be all muslims, and pledge our allegiance only to the Lord Almighty who is most Kind & Just.
    Not to these groups.
    They may deny this, but this is what I have observed myself. I have no problem working with other muslims, but I do have problem dedicating myself exclusively just to one of these group.
    Sometimes I think I’m crazy, just like my idea that everyone should think of themselves as humans. Not indonesian, american, briton, and so on. Oh well.
    Anyway, just my 2 pence really. Thanks.

  7. Assalamualaikum wr wb

    Pak Hary, thank you very much for the good article that you wrote. I really moved and appreciated it.

    I just wanted to comment on your last comment;i.e. about dakwah movement (HT, Tarbiyah, etc, Salafy is not included because actually they have the same opinion like you, they said they are just muslims nothing more. They don`t want to create new group as they say. Just muslims).

    I think dakwah has two sides. First is dakwah as personals (like what you have mentioned, being good to others), then dakwah as movement or groups. Dakwah as movement is also being ordered in Al-Qur`an and Hadith(such as working in group, etc). Actually, Dakwah as movement belongs to state`s (Khalifah) domain. However, since there is no Khalifah anymore then, some people try to fill this gap. Of course, this creates several groups since the approaches taken are different. They, for certain, like others to join them but they do not force to join in. They also do not ask the members to pledge allegiance to them but to Allah SWT and Rasulullah SAW.

    Of course there are shortcomings in those groups. They do not claim as the only group to join. They just part muslim groups that try to fill the gap in working together in dakwah.

    There are things that cannot be done or achieve without working as groups. We should do always dakwah personal, treat others kindly, help others, etc. But there should be some group of people do dakwah as a group. Of course, some people does not have to join if they do not want to.

    I am sorry if there is any words offends anybody in my comment here.

    wa assalamualaikum

  8. Wa’alaikumsalam wr. wb,
    Hello Sigit, glad to have you here. Thank you for your insights.
    Actually within those various groups, not all think the same. In my post, I was simplifying my experience for the sake of brevity.
    Indeed I manage to find those kind of people you mentioned. They said that their group just wishes for the best to the ummah.
    They can be further divided into 3 types :
    1. They truly meant it.
    These are the people who’s able to practice “ikhlas”. Among the sign is that they don’t have any problems working together with other groups.
    2. They’re still naive.
    The other group members said so, and they relayed it as-is to you. While the truth (of course) tend to be more complex.
    3. They’re lying to you.
    This is just plain bad.
    In many of my own experiences though, once you joined a group, usually they’ll be unhappy if you work together with other groups. At the extreme, they’ll excommunicate you.
    So yeah, hopefully more groups will become more mature, as you explained. But at this moment, they tend to be in minority.
    Personally I think we need to work together to achieve more. You can not do big things alone.
    However, with these gang-mentality so pervasive in various groups (and many of them don’t even realize it), this has been a constant problem.
    Let’s work together, not against each other. Thanks.

  9. The Tauhid of Ahlussunnah wal jama’ah if you meant Middle Path has never claim any materialism to define Asma was Shifat Allah swt. Truely in English I never find a good word to say that.

    @harry sufehmi said
    These are the traditionalists.
    Islam is just believing, no thinking. You just do. Don’t ever ask.
    I asked once, and the teacher ended up stuttering and scolded me for it. I don’t ask again after

    ha ha
    many traditionalist use old Book of Tafsir, and some part of them may not be relevant for today’s life of view. That part he only have and cannot answer on ya & he just scold on ya :mrgreen:

    It’s good to find any tafsir which never related any materialism toward “what, how, who” is GOD and Kursi. Many people have tried to do that and they always get stucked on anthromorphism.

    @harry sufehmi
    So I begin my new journey. May God look upon me kindly and strengthen this weak shell and its soul for this journey, which shall not end until my death

  10. You have certainly hit the nail on head. If I didn’t know you were writing about Islam I would have thought you were writing about Mormomism. Seems they are almost as extreme. Thank_you for your insight.

  11. Islam is the religion of peace & love

    Yes and unfortunately, maybe the most guys who is chirstian think that it is not.. Because of terror factor..

  12. When I read this post Oom Harry, kinda reminds me of my highschool days. I was zealously following one sect of Islam that I turned to be alienating my own family and friends. Thank God my mother helped me regain my senses. Alhamdulillah

  13. @Sari – We’re very lucky to have such good parents. Hopefully we can become an even better ones 🙂 mission (nearly) impossible, I know, but we can dream, hope, and try – can we? 🙂
    Good luck !

  14. When I read this post Oom Harry, kinda reminds me of my highschool days. I was zealously following one sect of Islam that I turned to be alienating my own family and friends. Thank God my mother helped me regain my senses. Alhamdulillah

  15. Thank you so much, there aren’t enough posts on this… or at least i cant find them. I am turning into such a blog nut, I just cant get enough and this is such an important topic… i’ll be sure to write something about your site

  16. I gree with this post “Islam’s Middle Path” which make me know more about Islam.

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  18. Harry, I won’t be bored with all the jokes since I came from a Minang family . So, is it open for everyone?

  19. wah Pak Harry artikelnya membuat pencarahan kita dan aku sangat setuju…thanks artikelnya

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