Sunday, February 9, 2014

Of God and Greed

In Indonesia, God is often brought up in talks about good and bad lucks. Whether you watch news programs or read some gossip tabloids, quotes mentioning ‘Tuhan’ (Indonesian generic term for God) can be found in interviews on disasters, elections, celebrities' break up and make up, and even recently, those committed to corruption cases dare to bring God to justify their greed.


Last month I found a  disturbing headline in Jakarta Globe. The tiltle says 'The $8 Million Mayor: ‘My Wealth Comes From God’. It was Airin Rachmi Diani's statement to respond to questions on her family's wealth. I have been wanting to write about that.

Airin is the mayor of South Tangerang, a district near Jakarta, whose husband and sister-in-law are the suspects for some big corruption cases. Luxury cars raided from her residences, which so far known to be owned by her husband, have taken up so much space in the parking lot of Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission that in the news it somehow appears like a luxury car dealer's showroom . 


On her defense, as further reported by the Jakarta Globe, Airin said that one’s job, wealth and challenges all come from Allah and belong to Allah. Such statement is very familiar to most Indonesians. Over eighty percent of Muslim populate Indonesia, with most of them follows asy-ariyah school of thought, which teaches the belief on God's ultimate power on human's fate. Most Indonesians believe that all matters related to the birth, match (and marriage), good and bad luck, wealth, and death are the matters of destiny, which happen solely through the hands of God. And that, is how God also ends up said to be the sole reason for fortunes, and on the other hand, the perpetrator of misfortunes in human's lives.

It has been a habit in Indonesia to attribute almost everything which happen to human’s life to ‘God’s will', or ‘God’s trial’. As Indonesia is having its election session this year, many of political parties' candidates said that their becoming of the next president will be depending on God's will. As disasters happen, not only the affected people, but also the government officials said that those disasters are God's trial. As some celebrities are said to be getting married soon, they tend to say "God's will, it would happen". And, when divorce or crimes are the topics, they would say that those are God's trial. 

The overuse of ‘God’ in some bad excuses gets me to think that such habit is actually beyond the way predominantly Muslim Indonesians speak. It suspect that taking God into the conversation has became a strategy to silence others. Due to the ultimate greatness of God, once ‘God’ is mentioned as the sole reason or perpetrator of just about all cases in human’s lives, human beings should just shut up and stop questioning. It is like saying, "if it is given by God, who are you to argue about it?"

Most recently, as KPK, the Corruption Eradication Commission arrested more corruptors, God has also been also brought into the conversation. The talks of "It is God's trial", "God will show the truth", and those like what Airin said, that one's wealth come from Allah, became too often said up to the point that I wonder if they are trying to say that God should be presented to the trials to testify. Probably, they somehow expect that God should be sitting at the witness chair before the judges and prosecutors, answering such questions like, "is it correct that the seems-to-be excessive wealth of the defendant, that we suspect to be the result of corruption, is actually gifted by You?"

I just wonder if those corruptors never knew that others remember the same God that they referred to as the Giver of their wealth has never encouraged greed, nor excessive lifestyle, and that the Prophet, who is God's messenger has often said that we are not supposed to take away anything which belongs to others.Or maybe, we shall assume that people like Airin thinks that sixteen luxury cars should not count as the proof of greed.

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