May 08, 2021 Last Updated 10:53 AM, May 6, 2021

They say I'm not a Muslim

 Gadis Ariva

Translations by Gadis Ariva

 

Three Government Ministers and One Joint Ministerial Decree


Three ministers scratch their heads
looking through a holy book not the constitution
thinking hard about what Indonesia is
Aha! says the minister of justice
Indonesian law fell from the sky
and being not man-made, cannot be opposed
just the same as syariah law
now that is Indonesia! 


Three ministers scratch their heads
looking through a holy book not the constitution
thinking hard about what Indonesia is
Aha! says the minister for internal affairs
This country is not like foreign nations
the people here are moral, those outside are not
let's salute the Islamic Defenders Front
now that is Indonesia!


Three ministers scratch their heads
looking through a holy book not the constitution
thinking hard about what Indonesia is
Aha! says the minister for religious affairs
religion has only one interpretation, which is my own!
backwards forwards, no difference
imprison those who do not comply
now that is Indonesia!


Three ministers scratch their heads
looking through a holy book not the constitution
thinking hard about what Indonesia is
Aha! the three ministers announce in unison:
A Joint Ministerial Decree
together we will put a stop to tolerance
together we will undermine this nation’s principles together we will encourage violence
yes, together, we can!

 

They Say I’m Not Muslim 


for not memorizing scripture
but speaking from my soul


for not repeating words from the Quran
but singing the words of my heart


for not praying in Arabic
but praying in my native tongue

for not saying peace be with you
but saying good morning to all

for not rejecting a different interpretation of the Book
but embracing the love of tolerance

for not adhering to fatwa about what is good or bad
but accepting difference of opinion

for not forcing my child to follow my religion
but letting her choose her own

for not wearing a jilbab
but wearing a bikini instead

for not believing in polygamy
but arguing with religious men

for not making the trip to Mecca
but vacationing on a Balinese beach

for not condemning gays and lesbians
but calling them my friends

for not agreeing with the Pornography Law
but accepting diversity of expression

for not defending syariah law in the regions
but defending a democratic state

for not being adept at Quranic verses
but being more given to constitutional verses

they say I’m not Muslim!

they say I should be silenced!
they say I should be stoned!
they say I should be bombed!

but let them say whatever they want
my free spirit will forever live

 

This extract was originally published in Menagerie 7: People Like Us, John H. McGlynn, Series Editor; Erza Setyadharma, Guest Editor, Lontar Foundation, Jakarta, 2009. It has been re-published here with their permission.

 

Inside Indonesia 124: Apr-Jun 2016

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A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar