Reflection on Crucifixion and Karbala (3)
Unique are your sacrifices, Jesus and Husseyn…
O! Glorious progeny of Isaac and Ismail,
You taught us that only before God we should kneel.
Unique are your sacrifices, Jesus and Husseyn…
Unique are your sacrifices, Jesus and Husseyn…
Unique are your sacrifices, Jesus and Husseyn…
Though the word ‘unique’ does not express and describe sufficiently, this is a song that I have just recently heard and truly reflects my feelings now. Perhaps, prefer the word “Love” than “Unique”…
Enemy-Friend Love Story
On my 6th day of Muharram, I have to read the “Prayer for All Believers” at the church, a Roman Catholic church, in my mother tongue, for the first time in my life. I was nervous, and it was also cold in the church. My housemates calmed me down, telling that no one will understand the language. However, there was two Indonesian sisters there, and they were so excited when I read the prayer. It was an experience that I could not really describe in words. It was an Eucharist celebration mass for the 25th anniversary of Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas, the house where I now stay. It was also a historical event when the founders of Lay Centre, Donna Ursuto and Riekie, received a great gift from the Pope:
Prof. Donna Orsuto was created a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great;
Ms. Riekie van Velzen was created a Dame of the Order of Pope St. Sylvester.
I met several Dutch guests, and they were very happy to know that I am an Indonesian. There was an old lady who had contributed a lot for the beginning of the Lay Centre who even knew well about Indonesian history, and recalled the name “Jan Pieterszoon Coen”, the famous Governor General of Dutch East India (VOC) in Batavia. His name is famous in Indonesia as a leader who always use violence against the native Indonesians in order to preserve his power since 1617. Yet, I told these Dutch guests about my good relationship with a housemate whose grandfather had served as a Dutch soldier in Indonesia, while my grandfathers had fought for Indonesia freedom, and some of my granduncles have died as martyrs for the revolution. I had just found that Lay Centre has the Dutch connection that could make it survive for 25 years. Dame Riekie herself is a Dutch. I was thinking if only Jan Pieterszoon Coen and his greedy companions in VOC had not arrived in Indonesia to conquer, steal and take our spices, gold, and precious products, (without saying that what they did was right!), Indonesians would not learn how significant we are in the world that the world rely on our products, that we should be grateful and thanks to God. And, so did the Dutch they would not learn how power and war did not gain anything but they destroy our souls, and they gave permanent historical wounds to both the victims and those who oppress. Who had won the war? It took time to heal…
The Christians believe that Judas, one of Jesus’ beloved disciples and brothers who betrayed him and sell him to the Jews and Roman authority. However, Jesus (pbuh) knew about his fate, he knew that he would be nailed in the cross, tortured, and humiliated in public. Husseyn (pbuh) knew his fate too. His grandfather, Muhammad (pbuh) often kissed his brother’s lip and his neck while they were little children as a sign that his brother would be dead by poison that he drank, and he himself would be slayed by sword at his neck. Also, there is no logic that 72 men would win against thousands of soldiers, indeed it was drought, most of them are women and children, and they were also in severely thirst and hunger. His enemy was people who also use the flag of Islam, who gave honor to themselves as Muslims, who also claimed as the followers of Muhammad (pbuh). This is perhaps what is the meaning of the song, their sacrifices are “unique”. They knew their fate, but they did not walk backward. Their enemies are no one but among themselves! It might seem to us that they had lost in the battle, in the fight against good and evil, not like in movies that the good hero always wins against the evil character. I was always wondering when I first read the story of Husseyn (pbuh). How could such thing happen, how could they kill their own prophet’s grandson?
Imam Husseyn has indeed inspired all great leaders in the world. Mahatma Gandhi’s first Salt Satyagraha was inspired by Imam Hussain’s non violent resistance to the tyranny of Yazid. Gandhi is said to have studied the history of Islam and Imam Hussain (A), and was of the opinion that Islam represented not the legacy of a sword but of sacrifices of saints like Imam Hussain (A).
“ “I learned from Hussein how to achieve victory while being oppressed.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
Jawaharlal Nehru considered Karbala to represent humanities strength and determination. He writes:
“Imam Hussain’s (A) sacrifice is for all groups and communities, an example of the path of righteousness.”
Dr. Rajendra Prasad writes,
“The sacrifice of Imam Hussain (A) is not limited to one country, or nation, but it is the hereditary state of the brotherhood of all mankind.”
Rabindranath Tagore says,
“In order to keep alive justice and truth, instead of an army or weapons, success can be achieved by sacrificing lives, exactly what Imam Hussain did.”
Oneness Love Story
An old friend was shocked to know that now I acknowledged the 12 imams, for him it is a blasphemy and I am no longer considered as a true Muslim. Moreover, I might go further to shock anyone that I am a Muslim who take the Bible and the Qur’an equally (as we recite the Four Books and we see no conflicts among them). Thus, it is a very common responds towards us (me and other dervishes in our order) that both Muslims and Christians have consider us ‘strange’, if not ‘enemy’; or ‘not-orthodox’ or ‘heretic’. Some traditions have been preserved in a very strong establishment, recorded in written history. However, some traditions have been preserved by chain of transmission, and only recorded in oral history, in the memory of the receivers.
If you do not give up the crowds
you won’t find your way to Oneness.
(Abu Said Abil Kheir)
Some people do not enjoy an established religion, like some of the dervishes. Yet, some love an established religion for good reasons. God provides all that human needs and desires for in the Path towards Him.
Established religions have their temples, institutions, theology, dogmas, liturgy, priests and so on, that then they distinct themselves from one another, even among themselves. For instance, some people feel safe and protected in them.
While a few religions do not have such, they are sometimes nameless, and they do not have formal institutions, or priests. What they have are sometimes just an anonymous place where they could meet and practice their devotions together. For them, the boundaries between religions, faiths, nations and cultures do not really exist. Some dervishes are wandering in the Path by having their ‘own religion’ which means they do not belong to any established institution and sometimes they are just alone. In a circle, these independent dervishes with their own religions could meet and join together to meet the One that they are longing for.
The night and the day, the planets,
the words inscribed on the Holy Tablets,
the hill that Moses climbed, the Temple,
and Israfil’s trumpet, we observed in the body.
Torah, Psalms, Gospel, Quran —
what these books have to say,
we found in the body.
Everybody says these words of Yunus
are true. Truth is wherever you want it.
We found it all within the body.
What we see today, such as the growth of internet, the increasing of networking through facebook, twitter, and the biggest 24 hours open library in the world in google, all have shaped the world into one, and slowly remove the political and geography boundaries, though still exist, they have lost their power to distinguish one to another. Hitler must have been failed from the first time if he has to live now; or that every thing would be Hitler’s if he wins the war.
If the contemporary world has gone this far, that a person from Alaska could see and chat with someone from New Zealand through skype, the mystics from long time ago has reached further. They have gone beyond those boundaries far before our internet time. They might have labels as Catholics, Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists, but into the inner side, into the deeper level, one will see that they are all talking the same thing, the one thing, they need only the one thing, and they sought only this one thing. Dame Catherine Gascoigne, An English Benedictine nun, wrote a beautiful poem that shows what it means about beyond boundaries:
One thing alone I crave
All in everything
the only One
do I desire
Rooted in One
from the One
This is the very One
Unless I drink
for nowhere else sup I to be fulfilled
What or Who this One is
I may not say
can never feel
more or less
is there to say
For the One is not simply in all
the One Being is over all
YOU are my GOD
within my very SELF
It is no doubt that the sacrifice of Jesus and Husseyn have open the heart of people beyond these boundaries – religions, faith, nations, cultures and languages. However, it is so sad, if people who say they love Jesus and acknowledge him, whether as God or as a great Prophet and also as a Christ (al-Masih), they still see this boundaries when working together in the area of what Jesus and al-Hussayn has taught: to help the poor, to stand for the oppress, to help the sick, and so on.
Trash-Picker Love Story
It reminds me to my own experience. I have a good friend who works as a volunteer of “Saturday school” in a slum area, where beggars, trash-pickers, hawkers, and street-singers live. This slum area, once was so huge, and has been burned a few times. I remembered many years ago I had to go one of their toilets while waiting for a bus to another city near there. So, I decided to ask if I can use their toilet. They are nice people, and they refused to take my money. I remember there were hills of trashes everywhere, and it is not the environment that any person really wants to live in. But some children were born there, and now they live there.
The Saturday school itself is a program of additional courses for the children who lived there who might need extra lessons in mathematics, Indonesia language, or any other subjects. Most of the volunteers are Catholics, some seminarians. My good friend is the only Muslim, and he complained that some people see the Saturday school as ‘an evangelical works’ to attract people into Christianity.
I said to him, “Don’t bother, you can tell them to work like you, or else they should shut their mouth, and not criticize you anymore.” Another friend of us, also a volunteer in a Saturday school but at different area, and a Catholic, complained the same matter to me, even she had asked the Muslim who is suspicious to her to help her, but no good responds so far. She hoped that I would come to be with her, but her area is too far away from my house, so I have not chance to visit hers, but I have visited the other one (the first one).
When I visited the slum area again, but this one for the Saturday school, it was a birthday of a volunteer, and every little child in the kindergarten classes got a present. There are about seven or eight classes, held in different houses, small houses. I entered every class, and in the last class, a seminarian was teaching mathematics. It was all of sudden a girl who is mentally disable came in and disturbed a student. She looked like as she wanted to study too with them, but the other students did not understand her and did not welcome her. The young seminarian at first looked confused, however he tried to manage the class back into order. His focus was to the students, not the girl. I was there with my daughter, and it was her first time meeting a girl like that. I saw this young seminarian was good enough to control everything in the class, without having to discriminate the girl. I hit myself, that some other friends whom I know were interested to be a teacher of these special children, but the special children of rich people in private, fancy schools. A tiring job, but the salary is very good. I have once thought of this idea. So, now I asked to myself, how about someone like her? Oh, how many people in this world love to stay in their own comfort zone, preserving their boundaries! Sacrificing even a little thing is very hard.
Last night, I received a letter from one of my spiritual sister. She could not go out from home for days to buy something that she needs since there were students at her home. Finally, one night she could go out. Across the shop, there passed by an old trash-pickers, with the trash on his back. Gazing at his poor eyes, my friend decided to gave some money to him. When the man opened his hand, she was stunned to see that the hands were full of wounds, with fresh-blood, and old wounds, and some of his fingers were cut too. My friend was amazed, since the man did not say anything but a sign of thanks. However, according to her, the man seemed did not care of his wounds, he kept wandering to pick the trashes that he could sell. He might have been walking for all night just to pick the trash. I have seen many of them near my house too, they could come and pick the trash at anytime and dig into whatever they are looking for. Indeed, some trash-pickers are actually very honest that they would not take anything outside the trash-can, and if they see the owner they will ask a permission whether they could pick the things we put outside our fence that is outside the trash-can. Of course, not all trash-pickers are like these.
Being the follower of Jesus, or Jesus and al-Hussayn, should also being a trash-picker, who knows the values of the things that people throw away and do not want to keep. A sufi master says, that if all things are gold, then gold has no value anymore. However, the trash-pickers could change a trash into gold, into something valuable. Picking trash, which are usually smelly and disgusting, can also harm us, it can hurt us, it can also make us sick, poisoned and so on that it is one of the most ‘dangerous job’ in the world. Trash-pickers often found dead-bodies, whether animals or human being. People not just looking down on them, but also suspicious to them for many reasons.
It is not a recommended job, and not any child’s dream of job. As the followers of the Truth, we may realize that though every one dreams to be in Heaven, no one dreams to get hurt, to get humiliated, to get offended, and to be killed (slowly and painfully) in the path of Love… May be you can say, yes but some people wanted to killed in the ‘jihad’ or in the way of God, such as the suicide bombers for instance, who some of them took the name of religions for their criminal works, they intended to go for Heaven and think they are doing for the oppressed world. I must say, why if they do so, they harm other people life? They killed the innocent, and let other children became orphans and make women became widows? Also, they died instantly, in an instant way for going to Heaven.
No prophets and no saints fulfilled their mission in instant way, they suffered so many days and years, in order to purify themselves, to purify their household and their community – to ‘take away’ the sins of the people, which though differently speaking from the Christian thought, it means that these prophets, prophetess, and saints wanted to pick the trash (us, the sinners) no matter how difficult to bring it to the recyclers so that the trash can be gold or valuable again (to bring us back to God, to transform us, that we could be reborn to be a new person who would avoid to do sins and do good things).
Recently, I have just got a news about a man who burned himself in front of the president’s palace in Indonesia. He was a dedicated activist of human rights and social justice. To hear this news, I was amazed, shocked and became speechless. As a Christian, he was motivated a lot by Jesus, Jesus was his inspiration, and through Him, and from Him, he learned how to dedicate himself to love his community, his people, the Indonesians, who are now in oppression, in poverty, and in injustice. He did not killed nor hurt anyone in his action, rather he offered himself to tell the world, that there are still ‘crazy lovers’ in our time, who would sacrifice his own life for the Love. (*watch about him in youtube link below this note).
There is only Love!
Fortunately, there are always people whose soul listen to the voice of the Love, responds to Her calls, and maintain to walk in Her Path. As Rabia al-Adawiya says, I do not have time to hate the evil because I only spend my time for the Beloved. As a sufi master says, I do not want to to filthy my tongue to curse Yazid (who ordered to kill Husseyn as) but I want to purify my heart by praising Husseyn. The trash-pickers would not see the danger of a trash but see them as gold, as a lover would not have time to see the enemies of the Beloved but only the Beloved alone. I hope all of us could do it too. There is only Love. Just Love.
“There is love and Love. You love your family — your father, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife, etc. But you do not love your neighbour. You love your son or daughter, but you do not love all children. You love your father and mother, but you do not love everyone the way you love your father and mother. You love your religion, but you do not love all religions. Likewise, you have love for your country, but you do not love all countries. Hence, this is not Love; it is only love. Transformation of this love to Love is the goal of spirituality. In the fullness of Love blossoms the beautiful, fragrant flower of compassion.”
My prayers are also for those I know who are against me, against my faith, against my views, and against my love.
May peace be upon all of us.
May The Awaited Truth and Jesus (peace be upon them) return very soon. Amen.
Allahumma shalli ala Muhammad wa ali Muhammad wa ajjil faraja al-Mahdi wa Isa al-Masih ba’dah.
(from Zen Mehbob)
By Chen Chen.
Rome, One Sabbath at Passionist Monastery, December 2011.
Sondang Hutagalung, the man who burned himself :