The “Festival of the Breaking of the Fast”, Idul Fitri, is here again. Millions reached their hometowns and villages over the weekend, in what is Indonesia’s peak exodus; many others are enjoying the congestion-free roads of the big cities, mainly Jakarta, and the discounts on almost everything. The Muslim celebration marking the end of Ramadan thus affects everyone; the nation grinds to a virtual stop for about 10 days, resuming business on June 10.
With such a long holiday, naturally everyone should be recharged, Muslim or non-Muslim, religious or not. Muslims in particular hope they are at least slightly better in the eyes of God, having complied with the duty of fasting from dawn to dusk; thus they congratulate each other for earning the right to celebrate their “day of victory”. They have also been reminded that their daily prayers and even their fast mean nothing if they neglect another obligation, to pay their zakat. The Quran repeatedly mentions “prayers and zakat” in one breath, reminding followers that even all the prophets including Prophet Muhammad were not exempt from this obligation. Yet the nation’s inequality and poverty, though declining, still suggests many Muslims neglect to “purify” their wealth, as the word zakat implies, even though they are often warned that the small mandatory amount to be given to the needy is not their entitlement.
Idul Fitri this year raises more hope beyond improved spiritually. By the end of June we should have the final say on Indonesia’s president from the Constitutional Court. The festive season when people focus on families and relaxing is a welcome lull amid the political tension; but if we have learned anything from it, we cannot return to where we were — a democracy tainted by rioting that reportedly left eight dead and over 700 injured following the announcement that presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto had lost the election. Outsiders should be forgiven for gaping aghast at the scene, preceded by a peaceful protest, during the supposedly holy nights of Ramadan.
Therefore, the deepest hope among millions of Indonesians, whatever their faith, is reconciliation among the political elite. Prabowo reportedly returned Monday from a brief overseas trip and conveyed his condolences to former president and Democrat Party chief Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the passing of former first lady Ani Yudhoyono. Though the party is part of Prabowo’s coalition, the differences of the top politicians had become publicly apparent. At the funeral the presence of another former president and rival, Megawati Soekarnoputri, brought some relief as encounters between the two have been rare. On Sunday, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was the ceremonial inspector at the funeral at the National Heroes’ Cemetery. Ibu Ani’s family may draw some consolation that she had brought together rival factions near the end of Ramadan.
Especially during Idul Fitri, people traditionally ask forgiveness from one another. It is indeed the perfect time following all the mudslinging even among families and friends. To all our readers, Mohon maaf lahir dan batin, “Forgive me for my physical and emotional wrongdoings.” Happy Idul Fitri.