Writing on Ashura Day : Facing Prejudice
I was pretty annoyed with my interviewee’s question : “Are you Sunni or Shia?” I said I am Sunni with a plain intonation in hope he won’t ask further. When the interview has done, I am keep asking about that question. Are we really need to know other’s identity before we give our answer? Does it really matter? Will does different identity, let’s say I am an atheist, lead you to give different answer?
His name is Suaedi, a vice leader of DKM (Dewan Keluarga Masjid, Mosque Family Council) in Al Amanah mosque, Kawaluyaan, Bandung. I met him in purpose to complete my writing about Ashura Day about three weeks before. Weeks ago, Shia’s Ashura celebration has been moved to Kiaracondong due to this DKM’s request to the police.
Suaedi came to the mosque just before a weekly pengajian (preach) began, then I told him my purpose. He lead me to the DKM office, where he asked about my faith.
Besides his question I’ve mentioned above, the other thing of importance for me is how he responses me. He looks like on fire when he is answering every single question about why he refused that event. He said, “According to MUI, Shia is a forbidden teaching,”-MUI is Majelis Ulama Indonesia, a council for Indonesian Islamic religious leaders.
He also said because of Ashura event from 2008, this region of Kawaluyaan has been labeled as a center for Shia community. Never heard it myself. When he explained to me about Shia, he snobbishly said, “Shia denigrates khulafaurrasyidin(four Islam community leaders after Muhammad’s death in Sunni’s version), they pretend Muhammad’s wife in hell.” The spirit he added in those sentences also reminded me that hatred has controlled him.
Unless I am writing for voa-islam.com, I will keep asking in the same perspective of hate. But I am not. I believe in what Tempo magazine wrote on it’s very first edition, that “journalism is not to spread hatred, but to cultivate an understanding.” Journalism is a bridge, not a wall. Therefore I need authentic and original answers from the source.
And my fear was proven in the last part of this interview. In a need of confirmation, I asked, “Have you known each other with a Shia person?” He said shortly, “Nope.” Gotcha. Can I conclude all of his answers are only based from prejudice which is both invalid and dangerous? Can he answer precisely the same way if, let’s say, I am Shia?