The jamaah for Kenduri Cinta on Friday 3 March had to endure heavy rain and congestion to reach Taman Ismail Marzuki in Cikini. As usual, however, nothing could dampen the spirits of the hundreds of people who showed up for the evening. The proceedings began with a session of zikir and the recitation of a series of Quranic verses drawn from the juz amma, followed by the mass invocation of Wirid PadhangmBulan and others. By the time this was done, the crowd had swelled and was filling the allocated space. The atmosphere was joyful, with smiles and laugher from left to right, despite the wet floor and seating conditions.
On stage, Mas Tri and Mas Ali were in charge of the agenda. This evening’s proceedings were going to be a little different, though. In November 2021 in talks with Mbah Nun we had decided to introduce a number of key issues into Kenduri Cinta, seeking to monitor them, compile input and identify responses from among jamaah. A long list was devised but we started with just a couple of core themes for this edition of Kenduri Cinta. Among core themes raised for Indonesia and the world were the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources (and the advent of EV), climate change, globalisation, and the development of data, technology and digital applications. For the first hour we explored those ideas and their significance for Indonesia. Thanks to the jamaah who posed those excellent questions as they helped us develop and grow the discussion and enriched the results. Because it was new, and focused on a degree of instability, there was a certain “heaviness” in the material, but that was quickly dispelled when Mbah Nun arrived and took to the stage with Mas Fahmi.
With the support of Mas Fahmi, Mbah Nun took us through the theme of this edition of Kenduri Cinta — “Tuhan pun Berlari”. This led us to a discussion of the Battle of Badr, a decisive moment in the early history of Islam and its later growth, when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his followers defeated an army many times larger than their own. The Shalawat Badr commemorates that battle. This victory would mark a departure from the discursive conversion to Islam that the Prophet had achieved among communities up until that point, as it signified the recognition of Islam as a “power” in and of itself. This departure would influence greatly the subsequent course of the religion and the nature of its spread.
What followed then was three hours of music, discourse and laughter, as we heard the jazz players from the late Mas Beben’s band and listened to Mbah Nun respond to the material on the core themes. There were lots of jokes and laughter. The culmination of the discussion was then to divide the jamaah into three groups – left, centre, right – and to ask each group to produce three to five points on how Indonesia should prepare itself to respond to the challenges and impacts of the energy transition, the rise of artificial intelligence, and ongoing globalisation. The responses were very good and showed certain commonalities such as a focus on human resource development, the need for both social and applied science, education and a reset of the relationship between government and governed (individual – population – nation – government).
To give it a solid grounding in real analysis, the material for the themes was drawn from a number or reports, books and sources. Among the reports were those by the World Economic Forum, the United Nations and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The books included works by prominent writers such as former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whom Mbah Nun met in 2004 and who awarded him with the medal of Islamic Excellence. Also included was analysis of books by Fareed Zakaria and Yuval Noah Harari, both focused on post-pandemic topics and emerging risks in the 21st century. There was even a quote on the neutral nature of technology from Apple’s Tim Cook, well-remembered by Mas Fahmi. More analysis has been prepared of other books and we will invite jamaah who wish to join and participate to smaller workshops to learn more about and explore these themes and develop our own knowledge and maiyah responses.
Mbah Nun led the discussion with enthusiasm and positivity. Nothing in those themes, he said, should be looked upon as impossible to resolve and the jamaah now and in the future would definitely find solutions and responses. At one point the discussion focused on issues raised in materials from the World Economic Forum, held as Davos. Mbah Nun reminded all present not to shy away from capital and commerce. He said that we are all dependent on capital but that it is a question of how it is used and what “values” are applied in its use. The same thought applied to a discussion on ideological conflict — with references to the classic works by Samuel Huntingdon (“A Clash of Civilisations”) and Francis Fukuyama (“The End of History”). Mbah Nun countered this with a reference to a conflict of “values” rather than of “ideology” — to be discussed and explored at future editions of Kenduri Cinta.
At several points during the evening Mbah Nun and speakers emphasised that maiyah gatherings as we know them are only found in Indonesia and that once you have experienced maiyah and made an emotional, intellectual and spiritual commitment to it in your heart and actions, you will always miss it if you can’t attend. Several examples of trips overseas to communities where we have introduced and demonstrated maiyah values were highlighted and as we focused on the “big themes”and ideas, Mbah Nun announced that he would like to have more international activity with Kiai Kanjeng, so work is starting now to plan and achieve that. Stay tuned for more news.
This evening was also special as we commemorated the passing of Syeikh Nursamad Kamba and more recently, Cak Fuad. Syeikh Nursamad was remembered for his lively theorising of maiyah though and practice in an authentic Quranic context. Cak Fuad, for his work on Arabic language teaching, now widely taken up, of which he was a master, and for his founding role in maiyah of the the PadhangmBulan gatherings.
We were treated to more music from the band at exactly 1am Mbah Nun ended the session with prayers and everyone departed and dispersed into the night. We look forward to the next event and wish Mbah Nun and all involved continued good health.
Ian L. Betts
5 March 2023