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Ahok impresses audience with knowledge of Islam


Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who has previously been rejected by some hard-line Islamic groups because he is Christian and is of Chinese descent, impressed a largely Muslim audience with his knowledge of Islamic teachings during an event to commemorate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad on Sunday.

  • commemorate – memperingati

Donning a checkered shirt, Ahok arrived at the SMESCO Convention Center in South Jakarta at 9 a.m. He went to the ceremony after attending his Sunday church service. He was warmly welcomed by the audience. Before the event commenced, the master of ceremonies asked the audience to sing the national anthem “Indonesia Raya”.

  • donning – mengenakan
  • bergambar tanda petak-petak yg bermacam-macam warnanya
  • commenced – dimulai

In his off-the-cuff speech, the former deputy governor, who replaced former governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in October last year, talked about Islam and the Prophet using specific Arabic terms.

  • off-the-cuff – tanpa persiapan

It was not the first time he has shared his views about Islam. As deputy governor he often interacted with Muslim organizations.

In his speech, Ahok praised the Prophet Muhammad, who he said had set a good example as a leader.

“The Prophet Muhammad is beyond comparison, even with [the Prophet Muhammad’s predecessor] Prophet Isa [Jesus] because the latter never led a government like the Prophet Muhammad did. The Prophet Muhammad had distinguished characteristics, which were sidiq [virtuous] fathonah [smart], amanah [trustworthy] and tabligh [conveying Allah’s messages],” said the governor.

  • latter – yg belakangan
  • distinguished – ternama, termasyur, terkemuka, unggul
  • virtuous – berbudi pekerti luhur
  • trustworthy – terpercaya, dapat dipercaya

“If you want to become a leader, be a leader with these characteristics because a society will advance only when it is led by such a leader,” Ahok emphasized.

He was even teased by a participant who asked him why he did not convert to Islam, to which Ahok replied humorously.

The former regent of East Belitung, in Bangka-Belitung province, was born and raised in the predominantly Muslim regency. He also attended Islamic schools. He once said he also learned a lot about the Koran though he remained firm in his belief in his own religion.

  • predominantly – sebagian besar

During the Sunday ceremony, Ahok acknowledged that he also admired the Prophet Muhammad for his humble and egalitarian demeanor.

  • egalitarian – seorang yang percaya bahwa semua orang sederajat
  • demeanor – cara bertindak, sikap, kelakuan

“He never addressed his underlings as servants or staffers. He called them all ‘my best friends’,” the governor said.

He continued by saying that a country that upholds the Islamic teaching of rahmatan lil alamin (blessings for all mankind) would become a prosperous nation.

  • staffer – pengorganisir
  • uphold – menegakkan, membenarkan, menjunjung

During a question-and-answer session, led by moderator Zainal Arifin Mochtar who also led a presidential debate last year, an attendee asked Ahok’s views on the recent deadly attack on the editorial office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo over a cartoon allegedly mocking the Prophet Muhammad.

Ahok responded by saying that he condemned Charlie Hebdo’s insensitive decision to publish the cartoon, adding that “we can’t presume that everybody will share our judgment over something associated with faith”.

  • condemned – mengutuk, menyalahkan
  • insensitive – tidak dapat merasakan
  • presume – mengira, menganggap

After two hours, Ahok excused himself from the event due to his schedule, after which a throng of participants — most of whom were middle-aged women — enthusiastically approached the governor to take pictures with him.

When asked whether he would regularly attend Islamic celebrations in his capacity as Jakarta governor, he shrugged the question off. “It all depends on my schedule. I can share [the responsibility] with my deputy, though,” he replied.

– Ahok always confident in expressing his view about Islam

– His deep knowledge of Islam derives from his child school education

– Gov says he is firm in his own religion

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