I made my daawah trip on my own expense to Indonesia last month, invited, accompanied and hosted by Luqman Hakim Landy, an Australian Muslim revert who has been serving the people of Indonesia through his JIMS Foundation in the field of daawah and education for more than 15 years.
When we met earlier in Sydney, Luqman had briefed me of his project running under JIMS foundation involving the establishment and management of 150 Islamic schools in poor and remote areas of Indonesia with around 15,000 students served by more than 1000 teachers.
I was proud to learn that this huge daawah and education programme in Indonesia was largely run with the support of Australians through their charitable donations and sadaqa.
A number of Australian Muslim community leaders had in the past paid visits to these schools as well to gain first hand insight into the programme including two muftis namely Sheikh Tajuddin al Hilaly from Sydney and Imam Fehmi Imam from Melbourne
Normally when we go on holidays as tourists visiting countries like Indonesia, we only see the rich high life of society staying in hotels, visiting tourist attractions and meeting rich and famous. We generally miss out on reality, meeting the great majority of real people, how they live and sustain themselves.
This was my first trip to Indonesia, motivated solely for daawah purposes and I had no idea of what to expect and how I will feel after the trip.
While in Indonesia, we visited around 10 schools over 4 days in remote areas in the state of Banten on the main island Java.
Each school was a trip and a track through concrete roads, tar and dirt roads, some schools were about 2-3 hours apart in very remote areas.
There are many experiences I can talk about, however maybe it’s best to mention the first experience.
Our first JIMS school, we visited was named Al Mubashireen which was a boarding school for male as well as female students. The students were extremely excited to have a visitor from overseas.
The school was home to a large, partially built Masjid in the middle of the school where the students had gathered, well dressed and well presented.
I conducted a daawah presentation was conducted to the students on the importance of daawah and seeking knowledge, which was translated into to their language. After the presentation, we mixed with the children, visiting their classrooms.
The classrooms were very simple, made up of wooden chairs and tables and a single old style blackboard. The dorms that housed the students were also basic and students slept on floor.
In spite of living simply, I saw the students very happy, smiling all the time as if to thank Allah for the opportunity provided for them being able to learn and study.
After school hours, while I was walking through the school, I heard a beautiful recitation of the Quran coming from one of the rooms. I walked up to the window and saw a student alone in the corner, practicing his recitation and memorization of Quran. It was a great experience to see the dedication of this young child towards Quranic study.
While travelling through the remote villages and meeting local people I observed that these people lived a very simple but happy lives not expecting much. They were only concerned with learning and practicing Islam, working for simple income and live happily with their family.
My take home conclusion was that living a simple life is much easier than becoming too ambitious and living a complex life that becomes difficult to sustain.
Its not every day you can see the results of your charity for the sake of Allah.. The trip was an amazing experience for me and benefited me greatly, understanding the way different people live and go about their lives.
My advice will be for all Australians to support this cause of daawah and education as well as to pay a visit to these schools to get first hand experience of a different, but simple lifestyle.