It was still clear in my memory how my parents flooded my thoughts with advises when I was going to go to Australia. They were so terrified of the thought that their beloved daughter would get bad influence or misguided by different religion. And not to forget how they kept reminding me not to go to other religion house of praying, such as for Christian, Buddhist or Hindu. However, here in Australia, I’ve learnt to see things from different point a views. All the children here are taught about every religion so that they respect every religion and would be able to live peacefully with people withdifferent religion. While most of my people have extreme attitude towards different religion and do not give information about different religion to their children.
In Australia, I saw that school children were taken to all house of praying for different religion and being introduced to how they pray. They are also taught to understand how important it is to appreciate other religion. That is the conclusion that I’ve had, after having an interview with a mosque caretaker in Sydney, in Gallipoli Mosque. Aminah, the caretaker, said that the mosque always welcome everyone who wants to study about Islam, including school children who come to visit the mosque and learn how to pray as a Moslem. They come from different religions, Catholic, Christian, Hindi, Buddhist or even atheist.
While I was growing up, I saw that a lot of my friends chose to be friends with those who had the same religion or the same ethnic group with them. I also witnessed how my friends made fun of others who had different religion with them. I wonder, if that was the impact of not knowing anything about different religions, so that they never learnt to respect other people with different religion. Probably yes, considering their lack of knowledge about differen religions. Whereas, Prophet Muhammad himself had taught us to live peacefully with people with different religions on earth as he practiced it in civil society in his time. Moslem at that time lived peacefully with people with different Religion in Madinah. Why is it now there are a lot of wars in the name of religion? And why can’t they appreciate the difference?.
I felt really grateful and lucky to be able to attend Youth Leadership Camp 2012. The Let’sShare Movementthat was started by Forum Bangun Aceh has given me the opportunity to see and learn a wider world. I understand about the importance of open mind and open heart in the camp.
At first, I was worried when my foster parents took me to their cousin’s birthday in New Castle. She once explained to me about his family and that most of his aunts were nuns in New Castle Churches. I was so worried, considering that since I was a kid, my parents had warned me not to be close to Christian or people with different religion.
But, this has changed since I lived in Australia. I saw that they really appreciate people with different religion. Especially since I lived with my foster parents who were not Moslem, but they always put my comfort in doing my religious routine first and saw to it that I always had kosher food. This really helped diminish my worry that my foster parents have never made a fuss about my religion.
As soon as I arrived in New Castle, I was greeted by a bunch of old ladies, aged around 60 – 70 years old. They greeted me with hugs and kisses. Oh, God, they really warmed my heart. They were very friendly. We had a discussion about religion and other things. They did not feel uncomfortable with the fact that I wore hijab. They even praised my hijab. It was a really a wonderful feeling. They were really different with I thought. They are ordinary-super-friendly human being dressed in ordinary clothes. Whereas, they were actually nuns in churches. But, that day they were my friends enjoying pizza in Merewethe Bar Beach, New Castle.
That experience has opened my eyes that it takes time to learn about a lot of things. That I was too worried over nothing, as long as I keep my mind and heart opened to share with anyone.
There are warmth and beauty in togetherness. I will always remember the nuns’ hugs. I am very thankful for the love you have given me, even though it was only for a couple of hours. It has given a joy to my soul. Now, I understand that there are different world from the one that I usually lived in. It was such a great opportunity to understand about pluralism. It was also a turning point that gave me positive energy to do something for the world and myself. I understand now that the world consisted of not only one color, that it was a colorful world, and I will be able to take part in creating harmony in Indonesia. Lakum dinukum wa liyadin (for me is my religion and for you is your religion). I really wish that this can be a lesson for everyone, especially those who sit as a leader, to understand about differences, not only by saying that they are understand, but by actually doing it in their daily activities to appreciate and respect people with different religion, ethnic, nationality and culture.
Participant of Youth Leadership Camp (YLC) 2012