Friday, March 5, 2010

Zikr Session

Last Tuesday morning, I was invited to go to a Zikir session. For those who don't know, Zikir means "remembrance" in Arabic and it is a ritual whereby chants are sung to the Prophet Muhammad, perhaps accompanied by a lecture. This session was held in someone's house in the backyard. It was a huge house, with a giant backyard by Indonesian standards. Indonesian houses don't typically have very big backyards, even this backyard was smaller than the one at my old Pinewood house. But, it was completely carpeted and had a luxurious canopy shading us from the heat of the sun. The event was really for women, so there was a group of about 80 women and about 10 husbands/brothers sitting at the back.  The session began with a female chanting group.  They sang songs accompanied by a small handheld drum.  They were great, singing with clear, beautiful voices.  The contents of the speech by the Ustad were lost on me, but I was able to ascertain that he was an excellent speaker.  He would periodically break up a serious point with a joke, he would respond to comments from the audience or to distractions, such as children being naughty.  He also had two accomplices who arrived midway through the speech.  He used them for rhetorical effect, asking them questions, and occasionally letting them break into his sermon with their own interjections, which obviously supported the Ustad’s own message.  Afterwards, we had home made Padang food! (for a description of Padang food, see the post called Kelapa Gading, Glutton’s Paradise).  I saw this Ustad a second time at an immensely crowded event at the Ghadafi Islamic Centre located in Sentul just outside Jakarta.  I don’t know what the Libyans are doing building mosques in Indonesia but that’s another story.  

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