No sacrifice too small: Indonesian kids use savings for Eid ritual

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Abu Bakar Sidik (on the far right side of the photo in blue t-shirt) and his friends hold signages as proof of purchase of four cows for this year's Eid Al-Adha festival, with money they had been saving for almost a year. (Photo courtesy: Bintang Sapi Madani)
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Seen here is Abu Bakar Sidik (in black t-shirt) and some of his friends. They are part of a group comprising 24 children and four adults who chipped in their savings to buy four cows for this year's Qurbani. (Photo courtesy: Bintang Sapi Madani)
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Updated 27 July 2020

No sacrifice too small: Indonesian kids use savings for Eid ritual

  • The group will use pocket money to buy four cows for ‘qurbani’

JAKARTA: A little goes a long way for a group of children from Bogor, a city in West Java about an hour’s drive from Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta.

The children, led by 15-year-old Abu Bakar Sidik, have been saving 10,000 rupiahs every day since August last year to collect a total of 100 million rupiahs ($6,700) – enough to buy four cows from a local cattle breeder ahead of this year’s annual qurbani ritual.

Besides Sidik, the group includes 23 children from Kampung Ardio, a neighborhood in the middle of the city, some of whom have participated in the initiative before.

It all began last year when Sidik and six other children raised 21.7 million rupiahs to buy their first cow.

“This year we bought four cows as we had more friends and acquaintances who chipped in after we bought one cow last year,” Sidik, who is the youngest of seven siblings, told Arab News.

He said they started to save the money toward the end of 2018. The initial motivation was to have enough to buy new clothes and go sightseeing during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday in 2019.

But a month into the initiative, Sidik says he asked his friends if they would agree to use the savings to buy a sacrificial animal instead.

“There were 13 of us at the start, but some kids backed out along the way, with only seven left in the group,” he said.

Some of the children, such as 11-year-old Fauzan, gets 15 thousand rupiahs from his parents every day, while Zalfa, 12, gets 20 thousand rupiahs.

“My friends agreed to the change of plan. My motivation is just to be able to share with others this qurbani meat, since it is also part of a Muslim’s religious observance. We also asked our parents’ permission first when we started to save, and they supported us,” said Sidik, who collects the money from the rest of the group every day.

He added that he learned about the significance of the sacrifice ritual during religious classes at school, which are part of the Indonesian school curriculum, and from his Qur’an recital lessons.

The festival marks the end of the Muslim pilgrimage to Makkah in Saudi Arabia, also known as the Hajj, and is also referred to as the Lebaran Haji (the Pilgrims’ Celebration Day) across Indonesia and Malaysia.

The ritual revolves around an all-inclusive principle of giving, wherein the sacrificed meat is distributed among relatives, friends, the poor and needy, with a part kept for use by the family.

Last year, Fauzan’s mother “kept the money for them.” This year, Sidik’s 38-year-old sister Ida Farida put their money in a bank.

“I was a bit concerned about having to take care of the kids’ savings but, since Fauzan’s mother said she couldn’t handle it again, I had to do it,” Farida said, adding that she was unaware of her little brother’s initiative last year until their story went viral and was picked up by national media.

“I was surprised and proud at the same time. He’s just a kid, but he has this mature thinking to buy a qurbani animal and to share (the sacrificed meat) with others.”

Sidik, for his part, said he and his friends would continue with their initiative, especially since their efforts have garnered more support with at least five more friends expressing an interest in joining the group for the ritual next year.

Yoghi Oktapiansyah, a general assistant at Bintang Tani Madani, the cattle breeder in Bogor where Sidik and his friends bought their cows, said they had no idea that the children would buy one of their cows when they visited the farm for the first time last year.

Oktapiansyah said the farm assistants thought they just wanted to “hang around and play at the barn looking at the cows just like other kids.”

“They were with an adult, their Quran recital teacher, who accompanied them. But it was the kids who looked at the cows and chose their own cow,” said Oktapiansyah.

He said they knew that Sidik and his friends would continue their initiative this year and would buy the cow from the farm again, as Sidik had been working part-time since last year as a reseller for the farm’s dairy products.

“Iki (Sidik’s nickname) never took his money from what he earned selling our dairy products as he deposited the money with us to buy this year’s cow. But we were really surprised when the kids came here and said they wanted to buy four cows,” Oktapiansyah said, adding that the farm would handle the cows’ slaughtering process before the meat is distributed to Kampung Ardio’s residents.

Information is power in the fight against terrorism: Bordeaux Imam Tareq Oubrou

Updated 15 min 42 sec ago

Information is power in the fight against terrorism: Bordeaux Imam Tareq Oubrou

  • Imam says a better understanding of Islam can heal divisions and prevent young French Muslims being drawn to extremism
  • Oubrou: French Muslims respect values of secularism and are appalled by recent attacks in Paris and Nice

PARIS: Tareq Oubrou is a theologian and the imam of Bordeaux. He is known for his openness and the flexibility of his approach to the problems surrounding Islam in France. He is also the author of many books including Call for Reconciliation (Appel à la réconciliation) and The Feminist and the Imam (La Féministe et l’Imam), co-written with Marie-Françoise Colombani.

Oubrou is keenly aware of a growing schism in French society, which he believes is the product of ignorance rather than any intrinsic fault. With learning and a willingness to understand one another, conflict need not be inevitable.

“We must educate Muslims who often ignore their own religion, and we must also explain to non-Muslims that Islamism is a very complex phenomenon and that not every Muslim is a terrorist,” Oubrou told Arab News, reflecting on the latent cultural tensions and recent spate of terrorist attacks afflicting France.

On Oct. 29, three people were killed in a stabbing attack near the Notre-Dame basilica in the southern French city of Nice. It followed the beheading on Oct. 16 near Paris of a French school teacher who had used caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in a lesson about freedom of expression.

Oubrou’s comments echo the findings of a survey conducted by British polling agency YouGov on behalf of Arab News, which indicates a majority of French citizens of Arab origin respect French values and secularism. But according to the same poll, these same French citizens do not feel accepted and even feel stigmatized.

Q: What is your interpretation of the bloody October attacks outside Nice Cathedral? 

A: This is a new level of terrorism, which has no doctrine, no law and no faith. It is an individual act of terrorism committed by people who have tipped over the edge. This very tense period we are going through, characterized by rhetoric of victimization and tension, makes a number of young Muslims move from hatred to revenge and action. It is a form of terrorism that has neither structure nor organization. It is chaotic and dreadful in its psychological effect because it is unpredictable and requires few resources. It can hit anyone at any time without having specific targets. It kills innocent people while we know nothing about its claims.


Q: How did the Muslim community of Bordeaux respond to these attacks?

A: Like all other Muslims they are appalled because no one is beyond the reach of this kind of terrorism. Our own mosque is protected. Yesterday it was a teacher, then it was Catholics, and tomorrow maybe it will be an imam or a mosque.

Terrorism is primarily prevalent in the Muslim world, and Muslims are its main victims, because this kind of terrorism aims to cause an implosion of Islam.


Q: The reaction to the Nice attack was very violent and the rhetoric used evoked images of France entering a war. Does that worry you?

A: These are simple words, because the Islamism we want to fight is a ghost. Against whom and against what are we going to declare war? Fighting this type of phenomenon is very complex because it is not an external enemy, but something that bursts into French society through people who have switched for many reasons, namely psychiatric and ideological. A standard profile of these terrorists was sought, but this proved impossible. What we know about these people is that they have failed in their lives and are having problems.

But often people are more papist than the pope on these issues and forget that we let it happen for a very long time, that we turned a blind eye to immigration without limit and without selection . . . Politicians must take their share of responsibility, because for 30 years things have been allowed to evolve in an anarchic way.


Q: Do you appreciate the fact that many non-Muslim French people feel their way of life, their values and their identity have been targeted?

A: But of course, French society discovered overnight a massive presence of Muslims that have not only their own religion but also their own cultures and social conditions to which is added delinquency that falls on Islam. Because, overnight, this offender can become a Salafist and take action. This is, of course, worrying, but we must not succumb to panic.

We must arm our fellow citizens mentally to resist this trend, especially since the aim of terrorists is to sow division between Muslims and society, and between Muslims and Catholics, Catholicism being the first religion in France. We must therefore be careful and deal with things in depth without panic on the basis of a common program to be adopted in the long term, since it is not a goal that can be achieved overnight.


Q: What are you doing to combat radicalization and the amalgamation of Islam and terrorism?

A: The fight is mostly intellectual. You have to inform people, because information is power, and the person who owns it also has power. So we must inform Muslims of the very essence of their religion, and I have devoted several sermons on the theology of freedom to believe or not, relying on texts of the holy Qur’an and hadiths.

It is therefore necessary to inform Muslims who often ignore their religion, and we must also explain to non-Muslims that Islamism is a very complex phenomenon and that not every Muslim is a terrorist. It is necessary to tell them that one must be a theologian to differentiate between Islam and Islamism, and at what point a theology becomes an ideology. This explanation is of great importance in order to avoid fighting Islam under the pretext of fighting Islamism.


Q: Do you think this pedagogical approach can still be effective, and that it is not too late? 

A: Hope guides me in my action, and I believe that we should not yield to these interpretations. By saying that we are heading for a civil war, it is as if we are preparing it. No, we must not succumb to this, knowing that the risk of war is there. Nothing tells us, for example, that there will not be a war between the United States and China tomorrow.

You know, we are living in a world open to all risks. We must not dramatize. We must face problems with serenity and intelligence.


Q: What do you think of the anti-France protests and calls to boycott French products?

A: As a Frenchman, I can only defend France and its interests. It is normal, I am a citizen, and the fact of belonging to the world Muslim community does not mean that this affiliation must be at the expense of my belonging to French society. I am not a “fifth column” in France. The Muslim community is loyal to the Republic, and the interests of the Republic are the interests of Muslims.

There is a great misunderstanding, because the Muslim world, which thinks that caricatures are the will of the government, does not know freedom of expression or the separation of powers. They do not know that media power is not at the behest of political power and that people are free. They consider that since Emmanuel Macron defends freedom of expression, he defends the caricatures of the prophet. There is no reason to resort to violence when one can respond to offense with intelligence.