A Ramadan Election

[Source].

As a working mom, I'm used to feeling an anxiety rush in the days leading up to Ramadan. But this year, a new sickening sensation welcomed me as the first day of Ramadan was quickly approaching.I knew what caused it: the first week of Ramadan this year coincides with the last week of the presidential election season in Indonesia. By far, this year's campaign season has been the most contentious one that Indonesia has ever seen in its history, with Indonesians divided into two political … [Read more...]

Indonesia’s trans Muslim Maryani: “Seeking Paradise is not limited to our sex or clothing”

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An article in the Jakarta Post last week followed the latest developments on a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) for transgender people in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Although it is called a boarding school, the Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-Fatah functions more like a religious school where students can learn classical religious subjects like fiqh and Qur’an recitation, as well as a community centre where students gather to break the fast together during Ramadan.It was opened in 2008 by the late M … [Read more...]

Mata Najwa: A Rare Glimpse of Real Journalism in Indonesia

Image via matanajwa.com.

Sometimes I don’t know where to start when it comes to critiquing Indonesia’s media, especially television programs. There is so much gibberish that comes out of the TV screen – and increasingly so – these days that sometimes I feel my head is heavy with rants after watching just one program.Having seen so much disappointing content in the media, I found it extremely refreshing when my husband switched on the television a few nights ago and Mata Najwa was on. The program is a talk show ho … [Read more...]

One-Dimensional Hijab Stories

Image from the Hijab Stories tvOne Twitter feed.

In a previous post, I talked a little about the 99 Hijab Stories book and why the idea of the book made me squirm.I don’t know how succesful the book has been, but it certainly has generated enough hype that a few months later an Indonesian TV channel announced that it would air (*drumroll*) a TV show “inspired by the book”.The basic idea of the show is pretty much similar to the book: hijab-wearing public figures will be invited to the talk show to talk about why they wear the hijab … [Read more...]

A Hijabi in Healthcare: The Story of Dr. Lailiyya

Cover of 99 Hijab Stories. [Source].

The recent debates on Quebec’s Charter of Values and on hijabis in Singaporean workplaces remind me of a woman that I know. Her name is Dr. Lailiyya.She was born in a small town in Java, the youngest girl of twelve children. When she was little, she suffered from polio. Her poor parents were unable to obtain medication for her, so little Lailiyya grew up with a deformed leg. In order for her to be able to attend school, Lailiyya’s brother had to carry her on his back to school and bac … [Read more...]

The Scary Independent Woman

Screenshot from the interview.

A few weeks ago, an Indonesian religious teacher triggered a debate on Twitter when he made a series of tweets regarding women. Among his tweets were: The strength of a woman is in her gentleness and maternal traits | what else could it be? | firm, strong, and fatherly? hehe..Fyi, a pious husband loves to be relied on, counted on, and trusted | it makes him feel appreciated as a man :DA wife who is meek in front of her husband is agreeable | a wife who is strong and firm in front of her … [Read more...]

My Ramadan Media

You ain't cool if you don't love Ramadan.

Okay, okay. I know I'm not supposed to write a media analysis this Ramadan. In fact, one of my resolutions this Ramadan is to leave the television off as much as possible for the whole month.With a few exceptions, of course. For example, I have to switch on the television during sahoor time to watch my favourite Ramadan program, Tafsir Al Mishbah. Professor Quraish Shihab, the central figure of the lecture program, is a very knowledgeable man whose concise explanation of Qur’anic verses can t … [Read more...]


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