Sunday, January 21, 2007


I have been enjoying writing my dissertation since I have started in early 2005 . I am very excited doing this, although I get bored sometimes sitting in the front of my laptop, with my tiring eyes. So I have taken breaks, watching movies, relaxing on the beach, visiting bookstores, and so forth. I am happy Hawaii gives me everything.

This dissertation is both an obligation and opportunity to develop my ideas thouroughly, systematically, and brightly. My dissertation has come to a good shape now. The general topic was the transmission of Islamic knowledge and power relations in twentieth century Indonesia (South Sulawesi) and Malaysia (Kelantan). At this point, I wanted to limit the period to the colonial era (the Dutch, the British and the Japanese administration): how these administrations shaped Islamic knowledge. My main argument is that the relationship between imperialism and Islam was not always in contradiction; there were some interactions, ambivalences, indifferences, and collaborations. Although there were certainly resistances, these took place not simply because of colonialism as such, but because of discriminary policies and colonial failure of providing some of the promises such as religious freedom and non-interference in Islamic affairs. The other side of the argument is that Islam knowledge is both religious and historical. Power relations, not only of politics, but also of inter-religious interactions, shaped the Islamic institutions and knowledge. The fixity and change in part of what is considered to be "Islamic: knowledge should be understood contextually. I have some other points, but I will tell more about these later.

While doing this dissertation, I have also been doing other things: writting articles to newspapers, journals, doing radio interviews, teaching courses, making proposals and syllabi for future employment, doing job interviews and talks, welcoming and guiding guests, visitin and helping friends, and so on; I have enjoying doing all of these. I am happy that there are people who put trust on me and I don't want to lose such trust. Everyone needs trust. I have stopped writing articles for the Jakarta Post and journals for the last two months. I have always been tempted to write, expressing my ideas into articles everytime I read news or simply have ideas. I think so I exist, I write so I live. But I have reminded myself of my own priority this time, and of my appointment: to write my dissertation to my best, which definitely takes time, energy, and intellectual preparedness and brightness. I have promised to myself to produce a high-class research-based dissertation worth publishing in the United States for global readership. This should be my master piece, although I have planned to write many other articles and books afterwards. I will keep my promise. And wish me luck!

Hale Manoa, January 21, 2007

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Rendezvous of Victory

"But the work of man is only just beginning and it remains to man to conquer all the violence entrenched in the recesses of his passion. And no race possesses the monopoly of beauty, of intelligence, of force, and there is a place for all at the rendezvous of victory." Aime Cesaire, "Cahier d'un Retour un Pays Natal", in James, "The Black Jacobins", 1938, in Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism, 1993, p.280)

Watch and listen to Edward Said's lecture "the Myth of the Clash of Civilizations"

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year 2007

On December 30, 2006, we celebrated Idul Adha at a hall at Ala Moana Beach with Muslims in Hawaii. As usual: greetings, reciting the takbir, "collective" prayers, listening to the sermons of the imam, meal, and taking pictures. Idul Adha is both religious and secular, as in any other religious celebrations. Then in the afternoon, we attended the funeral ceremony (ta'ziah) of the death of American husband who left an Indonesian wife. It was to comfort the left wife especially and to be a reminder that everyone will definitely follow the fate.

In the evening, we attended another moment of importance, but it was a joyful one. The wedding ceremony of our friend Wilmar Salim (Indonesian) and Feryial (Pakistani), hosted by Kimbrell's family. It was wonderful evening in such a typically cozy house. We enjoyed the various types of food, South Asian music and songs, and stories, and a poetry recitation by Neneng. Everyone looked very happy.

On December 31, we celebrated the New Year Eve at Waikiki Beach with Indonesians. We barbecued, danced, and sang songs, and watched beautiful fireworks.

On January 1, Neneng, Nandar (in the picture, a Burmese student), and I were invited to a very special traditional Japanese lunch by Suzuki's family (Itsuko and Skip) at their beautiful home at Nuuanu, Pali. We had a great food and company. Excellent memory for us.

In the late afternoon and evening, we attended (and I was honored to lead) a spiritual conversion of Ross C. Smith (adopting a new name now Faris Haddad) and subsequently his engagement with our lovely sister Rohayati. This was a so meaningful moment for both of them, but also for us, Indonesian Muslims in Hawaii. It was well-organized and deeply touching program (involving Mas Ubaidillah, Safril, Mbak Rina, Mbak Iif, Nelly, and others). We shared so much joy and happiness. The program was followed by dinner and entertainment. The food was delicious, the music and songs were fun (especially Mbak Ida was able to come and sang nice songs for us - and we wish her full recovery). All were all so nice and the Malaysian movie we watched (entitled "Sepet") was wonderful. Many many coungratulations to Faris Haddad and Mbak Yati. From the bottom of our heart, we say we are happy for you; we love you; and we wish you all blessings and happiness!

Now, in the morning of January 2, I have to continue writing my dissertation. But before that, I wish you, the reader, all best wishes in the Year 2007. Every single moment is unique, different, special. What is never ending is to keep learning, learning, and learning, to keep enriching our life with meaningful ideas and actions. This is never ending, because we will never reach the ultimate truth. We are simply approaching the truths. And we are simply trying our own best to live a good and beautiful life.

January 2, 2007.