Posted in Miscellaneous, Science


There is no such thing as the job category, “motivational speaker”. You should take more cautious action regarding of this fact. If you happened to meet someone whose job is to motivate people, there is some sort sense of fraud. Careful.

In recent decades in many places around the world, people have been mesmerized by some public speakers, notably known as “motivational speaker”. It seems that everything they have spoken of will solve all of your problems right away.

In development countries where the gap between the elite and the poor is so obvious, the need for people to get motivated is exceptionally high. What is motivation anyway? Simply, it is all the reason for someone to do action in their life. At least that is what Wikipedia says [1]. This is what people looking for.

There is a strong demand from an audience who want the illusion those “motivational speaker” sell! Thus, those so-called “motivational speaker” business worked out!

When people’s mind clouded by this illusion, this is where the problem started. The words from the speakers became so mesmerized to the people, in a way that they couldn’t tell which one is the truth and which one is the deception. I would argue, that this phenomenon is similar to hypnosis but happened in different ways.

People do not care about what implies in the speech, even if the speakers is globally well-known, they do not care about their personal story how they became the speakers. Again, this is some sort of hypnosis in large masses. People became mesmerized and caught up in their own illusion and dream: to get motivated.

Interestingly enough the word “mesmerize” is originated from German Physician, Dr. Franz Friedrich Anton Mesmer [2], who theorized that there was a natural energetic transference that occurred between all animated and inanimate objects that he called animal magnetism or simply mesmerism. Although, modern science has debunked this theory.

But even so, this theory of mesmerism has been derived to a general well-known term “hypnosis”. James Braid, based on Franz Mesmer theory although different in how the procedure worked, developed the term hypnosis. This term means a state where human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness and thus enhanced capacity for response to suggestion [3].

Back to the motivational speakers, imagine you are attending their seminar and pay the entrance fee. You pay the fee because you expect to get what you want, regardless the specific theme for the seminar, right? With this in mind, you are set-up yourself on your own illusion, unless you REALLY KNOW what you are doing and what the reality behind of all your problems!

I am not saying that all the “motivational speakers” is bad. It is because sometimes simple minded people tend to be fallen into this trap, without knowing the reality behind it. If you are an employee at a private company, and the speaker told you to quit and then become an entrepreneur instead and follow your dream not to work in someone’s company, what will you do? Some people fall into this trap, they are becoming jobless, and they fail to become successful entrepreneurs! Is the speaker want to take this case as their responsibility? I doubt they will.

You should always remember to chant this magic words 🙂


Pieces that people need to observe is that many successful people having harsh life in their early life. Even some of them who happened to become successful speakers happened to live through hardship and difficulties. If you are aware of this reality then you can proceed, and enjoy your motivational seminar.

Again, there is no job category such as “motivational speaker”, as one article from Forbes says, “Speaking is an activity. It is a way to communicate your passion about a subject upon which you’re expert” [3].  

It’s all begin with the idea, passion, craft, and expertise. If you want to become one, having your story to be told in front of a big audience, start with those four!


Posted in Culture, Religion

Divine Convention: Hajj


In a summary, Hajj (Pilgrimage) is a celebration and commemoration of sacrificial made by Ibrahim ‘alaihissalam. The culmination of the entire thing in the Rasulullah ﷺ life is actually the liberation of the House of ﷲ. The liberation itself could not be separated with the important role of the Qiblah shifting in which The Muslim community gaining its power! Not so long after the shifting, The Quraish wage war against Muslim, and thus The War of Badr happened. Had not the Quran responded with the ayah regarding the shifting, fighting and fasting, no one knows what will happen with the Muslims community at that time!

By the eight years of Migration of The Prophet, in the month of Ramadan, The House of ﷲ successfully liberated. It is the day of Fathul-Makkah (The conquest of Makkah). The House of Ibrahim then purified once again.

Having said all of the historical events occurred regarding the House of ﷲ. Every year, when we are going to make Hajj, we are continuously living up the victory and the fulfillment of the mission of Rasulullah ﷺ. As a people, we are reminded of the entire life of Rasulullah Muhammad ﷺ and the life of Ibrahim ‘alaihissalam, along with the promise that we, as a people, made to ﷲ that we are going to carry the mission of Islam to the rest of humanity. We rejuvenate that mission for every single year in such divine convention which we called Hajj!

We are wearing typically the same clothes, we are doing exactly the same thing! Millions of people dressed exactly the same way and doing the same thing! The communal message for Hajj is always plain and simple: “Equality”.

Prophet ﷺ says in his last sermon of Hajj, “No Arabs superior to non-Arabs. No non-Arabs superior to Arabs. No Black man superior to Red man. No Red man superior to Black Man. The noblest among of you is the one who has taqwa/conscious of God ()”

That is the communal sense that we should have as an ummah. How about us as an individual? Hajj is the most communal experience you will ever have, but at the same time is the most personal experience you will ever have!

Take a look through this ayah.

ثُمَّ أَفِيضُوا مِنْ حَيْثُ أَفَاضَ النَّاسُوَاسْتَغْفِرُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Then depart from the place from where [all] the people depart and ask forgiveness of ﷲ. Indeed, ﷲ is Forgiving and Merciful. [QS. 2:199]

This is the once in a lifetime opportunity to make Du’a (prayer) that you have never been made before. You have now left everything behind. Practically you have stripped the worldly life (Dunya) out of you. In this particular private-moment, there is nothing left between you and ﷲ.

You are in a place that itself reminds you of death. There is no livelihood in Makkah aside from the miraculous spring of Zamzam. It is barren dessert. Even Ibrahim ‘alaihissalam would describe it as a valley that has absolutely no cultivation whatsoever.

Take a look the last passage of the ayah, interestingly ﷲ use the words إِنَّ. The use of إِنَّ in the ayah signify that ﷲ is giving a kind of guarantee that if we do our Hajj right then ﷲ absolutely will guarantee His forgiveness. He is extremely forgiving and loving.

Hopefully, every time we experience or imagining the remarkable journey of Hajj, our sense of commitment to the work of Ibrahim ‘alaihissalam and the struggle of Rasulullah ﷺ is rejuvenated, and our job as an ummah is refreshed in our heart.

May Allah accept the pilgrims and allow them to return safely to their families. May Allah accept us and answer our prayers and may Allah allow us to go for Hajj in the future years to come.

Happy Eid Mubarak 

Posted in Miscellaneous, Philosophy

People Come and Go

“People come, people go – they’ll drift in and out of your life, almost like characters in a favorite book. When you finally close the cover, the characters have told their story and you start up again with another book, complete with new characters and adventures. Then you find yourself focusing on the new ones, not the ones from the past.” -Nicholas Sparks, The Rescue-

Nothing last forever. People come. People go. Things always change. We are living in the era where the information is so abundantly massive, but only a few of us can transform that information into knowledge.

We are living where things changing in a fraction of seconds. Civilization greatly evolved in recent decades. Our surrounding may change, whether the people or just the environment.

Some people can make a difference in your life and open you up to new opportunities, and others can take you down the wrong paths. While some may disagree with you. They may leave because of that disagreement. It can be our friends, colleagues or even part of the families. It is part of the cycle of the universe itself.

The cycle goes. People come. People go.

One of the challenges for an institution living in this era is innovation and how to maintain it. Without innovation, an institution won’t survive, because people always change and the world evolved greatly in many ways!

People may leave because of disagreement on something. The problem is, “Do they understand what they are disagreeing?”

Human always hates what they don’t understand. Scientific method which rose nowadays tried to tackle the problem. An assumption, Hypothesis, Experimentation to form an evidence, Data Analysis, Conclusion, and the cycle goes on. Thesis and Anti-Thesis. All of these terms refer to a scientific language. What they are demanding is “evidence”. That process established a theory and thus gave birth to certain knowledge.

There are several terms in the Quran regarding evidence, but we will not discuss that. Instead, emphasizing on our behavior when we pursue knowledge. Before digging and learning in-depth about something, sometimes we feel gaining knowledge in a significance way. In truth, the longer we spent on cultivating our own knowledge, we know only a little, or in a worst case, we know nothing.

We should learn patience in pursuing knowledge or anything that will benefit us. We should learn how to refrain ourselves from passing judgement and arriving at a shallow conclusion. Something that young people notably has today. They tend to ask for evidence and the right answer immediately!

It is natural for people who couldn’t refrain themselves in this pursuit will be leaving!

As for my personal thought, the evidence in which Allah will be presenting is depended on our attitude when pursuing knowledge. Certainty (الْيَقِينُ) will appear when we strive the Truth in humbleness and sincere worship, not in arrogance way. Humans tend to rush to judgement and shallow analysis. One of the human traits.

وَاعْبُدْ رَبَّكَ حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَكَ الْيَقِينُ

And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty [QS. 15:99]

People come and go, and Allah knows best.

Posted in Culture, Philosophy

Death, Loneliness, and Agony

It was in summer last year. It was the day I was waiting for. Surely, my achievement, all these years particularly, was at its pinnacle. I was with my colleagues, discussing every issue which is, for us, had a significant impact on our country.

It was in Singapore, where I had a chance meeting up the other Indonesian Students who study abroad. We had fun. As the day turns into night I am still clueless.

Before it all happened, my father was gravely ill since the end of the year of 2014. He was in bed in for almost sixth months. Slowly he lost his memory, he even can’t communicate. “It was his lungs that affected his brain and his nerve.” The doctor said. The hospital already provides the best doctors in their respective field. But the disease is too much for him.

Just before my departure, he regained his health. Only a little, though. His heart was in good condition. Therefore he can go through another treatment for his internal organ. I was in doubt, whether I take my flight or not to go to Singapore. But later on, I decided to go after got permission from my mother.

It was the same night in Singapore. Past midnight. Around 1 AM. In that particular time when I was in my room, there was a message on my phone. Two messages precisely. My father just passed away that night. The day just ended like that. It shifting all the feelings that I had just before.

It was on 7th August. It was the month of independence in Indonesia, yet I feel empty. Shallow. The time moves slowly. Time dilation maybe, as relativity theory named it, and it made me feel alone. Then I went back to my country, visited his grave, and days after days passing by. I went back to Taiwan to continue my study.

Suddenly in the middle of the night on the month of October, I had a dream. It was so powerful that I can’t get rid of my head until now. It is still ringing clearly.

It was my father that appeared in my dream, wearing his usual dress. He walks in and stood in front of me. A few words he was trying to say, “I am sorry for everything.” He cried and put his hands on my shoulder and then hugged me softly. My legs then feeling numb, and I am kneeling down. Then his image faded, disappearing into the light. All the visual vanish, and I woke up from the dream.

death tunnel
Walk into the light (from

My mind recollecting the fragments from the past. It brings all memory together. Bitter, sweet and joyous one. I know my interactions with him has always been weird. Rather, it was fueled by feuds and conflicts. Agony.

Ah, memories. Sometimes it brings sadness and hate, even regret. Although, there is a good thing about memories. It showed us who we are in an honest way. It is true that our memories contain our past experience. Simply, memory is all that a person can remember. It is always been there. Always.

What is left from the dead was their memories we shared. All pieces of it.

Aging and die. The cycle goes on. The old Sherlock Holmes in the movie “Mr. Holmes” do realize what the word “alone” is really about when he encounter his very last case.

As I quote when Mr. Holmes talks to his suspect,

“The dead are not so very far away. They are just on the other side of the wall. It is us on this side who are alone.”

A tribute to my father. (October 13th, 1949 – August 7th, 2015)

Inna lillahi wa inna ilahi raaji’un

Posted in Philosophy, Religion, Science

Lost in Details

While our eyes help to capture images surround us, it is that our visual system as a whole made it work, the eyes and brain that have the all important task of organizing, and making sense of what we are seeing. It turns out that our age affects how we visually interpret information.

There is a tendency for people to visually organize things into groups rather than seeing them as individual objects. It is known as Gestalt Perception [1].

A study in Germany showed that young adults perceive and process images in a different way than other adults. Young adults tend to perceive things in detail, while the older one perceive it as a whole as they got lost in details. This study led researchers to believe that the gestalt perception decline with age.


Young adults or even children are found to be more active in learning as they ask many questions, an important or even dumb question. They fill their life with curiosity and creativity. They will ask many detail questions! As we grow older, our perception to interpret reality becomes limited, and it led many averages of us to routine daily life without any space to explore our creativity.

But the issue is not with that curiosity attitude that we had as children, it is about our attitude nowadays. As a civilized people, we should start by asking the right question. For that question, we should come up with the process of thinking. By means of that process, the so-called philosophy is needed as its purpose is to come up with the right questions  as one of the scholars, Slavoj Zizek, has to say [2].

The beauty lies in the details, some say, but paying attention to many details may lead to disoriented purpose or goal. Asking questions that are not fit in the context may ruin the process of thinking, blurring its purpose!

One day, I read a few arguments regarding someone prayer (salah) and how they should straightening their rows in a perfect and complete rows. It is as The Prophet ﷺ saying, “Straighten your rows as the straightening of rows is essential for a perfect and correct prayer.” [3]

In the other places, he ﷺ says, “Allah and His angels send blessings upon those who complete the rows, and whoever fills a gap, Allah will raise him one degree in status thereby.” [4]

From the look of these sayings, the arguments and debates began. They are all focused on whether someone has close the gap in between people to make a complete and straight rows. There are people who paying attention to very specific details, how people should make the good and complete row in prayer, even they measure the gap in between people when they salah!

It is not that this thing is not important at all. No, please don’t misunderstand my intention. There are nothing wrong with arguing and debates. But sometimes people losing their temper and self-claim their opinions, while they may also losing their logic within their mind. Thus, series of debates began.

Those endless debates may make us disoriented in our own Muslim society. Additionally, this phenomenon showed that we are still not connected as an Ummah. We should pay attention while still in-tact our mindset as one Ummah. We should ask intelligent questions, not for imposing our arguments to win debates, rather for increasing our humility in our prayer and worship. This is how we improve our personal and social life.

Our Ummah may need to renew our faith after series of unfortunate events happened in the Muslim world, especially in the last century [5], it as The Prophet ﷺ  saying, “The people will soon summon one another to attack you as people when eating invite others to share their dish. Someone asked: Will that be because of our small numbers at that time? He replied: No, you will be numerous at that time: but you will be scum and rubbish like that carried down by a torrent” [6]

nine eleven
one of the images taken from 9/11 event


This establishment of faith should come first by the process of correct thinking. It is easier for saying than it is to be done in action. As the Ummah keep falling to the degree of a disunite people and falling into endless debates, and on the other hand, there are problems arise, as our young Muslim becomes obsessed with the idea of Islam without a proper scholarship and rushes into judgment.

Maybe it is as the early paragraph described, young adults rather perceive things more in detail than as a whole. But without proper balance as in knowledge, our Ummah has fallen into that trap, and thus we can’t see the whole picture. We can’t process our thinking properly because we are clouded with debates and rather quick judgment to value something or someone!

We should avoid getting lost in details and losing our true purpose!


  1. Reference for Gestalt Perception
  2. There is one video done by Slavoj Zizek, one of the great philosophers today, which explained the purpose of philosophy. You can find it here: Zizek video
  3. Sahih al-Bukhari 723 [Book 10, Hadith 117]
  4. Sunan Ibn Majah [Book 5, Hadith 1048]
  5. The series of unfortunate events started with the division within Arab world as in here, and with the falling of the Ottoman Empire, and the rising of Nation-State model, many Muslim places were invaded, especially one of the heart of Muslim World, Palestine. Long story short, in 2001, all the feeling the western had has culminated after 9/11, and now with the conflict rising in Syria, and the appearance of ISIS to black-flag the religion of Islam, worsening the condition.
  6. Sunan Abi Dawud 4297 [Book 39, Hadith 7]
Posted in Book Review, Culture, Philosophy

Art of Reading

“Why the poets use metaphorical language?” One day my friend asked. “Why don’t he used ‘that’ word and instead using ‘this’ word?”

how to read a book

Poets often using ambiguous words and it is quite difficult to grasp the insight behind those words. Good poets gave us time to think of what they have written. They are good with their language and words. In what sense we are different from the animals? The most sensible answer is language, which can be derived to any specific knowledge.

Human is the best at generating language. It is really amazing to see how children can speak the words and understand its meaning. Have you ever wonder how the language can be processed? Linguistics is a sign of civilization. It is a sign of an ancient heritage that can communicate its legacy to us. As the great writers write in their books.

Many books can be summed up into several paragraphs, even only one or two sentences. That’s ordinary writer. But in most cases, many popular or high selling books suffered the same problem. When you read classical books, sometimes you can’t sum it up easily, you can’t make it short. Because too many important points inside. It is as Mark Twain said about the ancient, “The ancients stole all our ideas from us.”

We must have sufficient knowledge to be able to interpret what they are writes. In order to do that, we must form a set of skill of reading. Reading is not a passive activity. Rather, it is active, depending on how we manage the process inside.

Mortimer Adler in the late of 40’s published an interesting book entitled “How to read a book”. He said, “To become a solid reader, we must able to determine our goals. To get information, to get understanding or maybe just for amusement?”

Information deduced from the facts, while insight is internalized when we are trying to understand something. From sort of passage or paragraph, we get the information and we may or may not get enlightened. It depends on our ability in reading. To understand the insight within, we need to explore what an author has to say, we should know what he means and why the author says it. This is why the Art of Reading is matter.

The other things that he mentioned are how we should manage our level of reading. There are several levels in which Adler described. First, elementary reading, and I guess you probably have this set of skill if you can read this passage.

Second, inspectional reading, it is a set of skill that enables us to get the most out of book within a given time. Easily with this level, we can answer, “What is the book about?”

Third, analytical reading, this is prominently for the sake of understanding. We can ask and organize many questions of what we are reading. This level is prominently for the sake of understanding, answering the “why” questions. As Francis Bacon say, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some to be chewed and digested.”

Fourth, syntopical reading. We put more books to understand how to resolve a specific matter. This is the most active compared to the previous set. It is similar when we are doing a research in a certain field and try to gather all the sources and references, put them on a red line to connect the dots we are trying to solve.

An interesting story on why we need to know our level of reading is the story of Ibn Sina. One day Ibn Sina tried to read Aristotle book, The Metaphysics. He read it almost fifty times! and yet he still couldn’t get it. Then he went to a bookstore and offered a book, “Introduction to Metaphysics”, and voila, he understands easily. Sometimes we need an introduction to the subject we are going to engage, especially difficult subject. Books entitled “Bla Bla Bla for dummies, or introduction to Bla Bla” is needed as a prerequisite to understanding a specific subject. As mentioned in his book, Adler gave an example by using textbooks, or introduction books. So that we may understand a specific subject better.

Adler also mentioned about the architecture of the books. We can understand the books by looking at its structure and asking some basic questions, how the books are arranged? What is the book about as a whole? What is being said in detail and how? Is the book true, in whole or part? What of it? Significant? Important?

If we take a look at the architecture of Ghazali’s Ihya ‘Ulumuddin, what is the book all about? What is the main theme? We should pinpoint the heart of all chapters in the book. The heart is located in the book 20 of Ihya entitled The Etiquette of Living and the Prophetic Mannerism. This is the main point of whole chapters! Ghazaly put this chapter at the heart of the book precisely. All topics in Ihya is based on the characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

By doing so (understanding the architecture) we can engage more intimately with the author as proposed by Adler. Figuring out what we understand and what we don’t before agreeing with the author. To be able to read is to be able to grasp the understanding and insight from the author.

Read comes from the Old English verb rǣdan, “to advise, interpret, read.” Rǣdan is related to the German raten, “to advise” (as in Rathaus, “town hall”). Even some argue that it also rooted in the same word as the 4th stomach of a ruminant, “to ruminate”, “to chew”. As we read something, we should grasp its insight, reading is “chewing”. We chew and digest the idea on our mind so that we understand it in a comprehensive way.

To able to read in a comprehensive way is the closer we get to become a literate person. Literates are someone who understand what they read and able to articulate their understanding clearly.

The Art of Reading is to be able to catch every sort of communication as well as possible. It is to become a solid literate person!
If people are able to master the Art of Reading, they will have set of skills such as keen on observation, improved memorizing skills, a wide range of imagination, intellect trained in analysis and reflection.


All of those set skills will improve us both personally and for the society, becoming a literate person and establishing a literate society. Moreover, aside from that, the Art of Reading is a matter of discovery, to learn and master something useful from the book. Therefore if we are disposed to go on learning and discovering we must know how to make books teach us well.

The pinnacle of our civilization is when our society leveled up to a certain point of literacy. They became the literate society. The English language has reached its pinnacle in 16-17th century. While Arabic reached its pinnacle on 6-7th century parallel with the growth of Islam.

Interestingly, in Islam, reading have always been a fundamental root in its oral tradition. The first revelation is “read”. Many argue that this verse has a multidimensional context. There is a mystical component in reading the Quran in which it always refers to the person who thinks, ponder and deeply reflect themselves on the verse of the Quran.

Quran is the book of signs. If we want to understand Quran, we must interpret its signs. Thus, reading is the basic foundation on how we can understand signs. Interestingly enough, ayah in Quran addressed either as verse or sign. The implication is that we should always refer both the sign and the verse as a guidance in our life. We should think and ponders all the creation in our surroundings and also the verse as a text itself. This step of thinking and pondering can be achieved when we have our basic foundation, reading, as a habit. In this globalization era, indeed it is time for us to become a solid reader, a literate person and to establish a literate society. Let’s master the Art of Reading!

How many books you have read this past two months? Hopefully, it will become more in the future.


Adler, Mortimer J and van Doren, Charles, How to Read a Book, 1972 ed

Posted in Philosophy, Religion

Farewell of Ramadan

As the month of Ramadan ended, the Muslim world was shocked because of the series of unfortunate event, killing and bombing attempts, and even happened near the burial place of the Prophet ﷺ as the believers were about to break their fast.

It is obvious that the objective of all of these attempts is to so inflame Muslim public opinion around the Muslim world that the ranks of Terrorist group such as ISIS would be filled up with over-flowing volunteers, especially young people!

As those groups gain their momentum, the media would then might launch their propaganda to convince mankind that Islam slowly becoming a threat! That propaganda will open up a new door for calamities that will make the Mongol invasions of the 13th century look like a joke!

Indeed, as Hamza Yusuf, one of the Islamic scholars in the US said about the problem of youth Muslim this day, it is a plague within our ranks. There is a plague on the horizon, a faith eating plague that spread out in Muslim communities around the globe.

There are young people of Muslim out there who filled our ancient faith with rage in its message. They are young with full of motivation to change the world, and convinced that the way they are doing is the best way to settle and engage! Thus these young people filled up ISIS easily!

These teachings that sprung in those youths rejects the body of Islamic scholarship from our tradition as a whole! With uncontrollable spirit within them, these young Muslims over-flowing all the social media with rage and full of sentiment, some of them even easily put the Kafir terms on other Muslims! Without any hesitation whatsoever.

Our Muslim communities largely packed with these youths. The next generation of Muslim will be under their leadership, and it is our responsibility to guide them. There is a need for counter-measure of this problem.

What we need to counter this plague are the voices of scholars, as well as activists, we can’t just utterly say that this militancy has little to do with religion! It has everything to do with religion: misguided, fanatical and politicized religion. It does, however, nothing to do with the merciful teachings of our Prophet ﷺ.

In one scene of the Prophet ﷺ life, right after he went back to Makkah, and gained victory without even spilling needlessly blood, for those who provoked, opposed and even tortured his companions, Prophet ﷺ only asked how they thought he was going to deal with them. The Quraish people answered, “as a noble brother” that they expected nothing but goodness from the Prophet ﷺ and he would deal towards them kindly. The Prophet ﷺ spoke telling them“I speak to you in the same words of the prophet Yusuf (Joseph) ‘alaihissalam, who spoke to his brothers.” [for full story: True Purpose of Victory]

That is the true nature and goal of Islam, to seek forgiveness. The source of the forgiveness is The Most Merciful One, ﷲ, as the Prophet ﷺ also showing the attributes of that mercy for everyone, even his own enemies.

As Ramadan comes to a close, let us pray for the oppressed and the guidance of the oppressors, for those who have been killed, and for those who lost their loved ones, and most of all, let us answer our Prophet’s call and want mercy for everyone.