Religion and culture are interconnected and have a multidimensional relationship. Religious tenets often produce some cultural products which are born among religions’ disciples. This assumption occurs in all religions with no exception. Islam, as one of religions in the world, also produces some cultural creation made by its disciples. Therefore, we know the difference between the terms Islamic tenets and Islamic culture.
What bears the problems in our ummah is that many people cannot distinguish between the true Islamic tenets and the Islamic culture. As known in Ushul Fiqh that the origin of ibadah (worship) is haram (forbidden). Human creation in ibadah is considered bid’ah. However, many Muslims often mix between them and consider the latter as ibadah. It becomes worse when these cultures contain some activities which trespass the basic foundations of Islamic tenets such syirk and ma’shiyat. Of course, we must preserve some cultural activities appearing in the Muslim society which don’t trespass the Islamic tenets as they will produce the heritage of Islamic civilization.
In sundanese tradition, a tribe located in West Java Indonesia, it’s known a term ‘munggahan’. It’s a tradition to welcome the arrival of Holy Month of Ramadan. One day before Ramadan month, many sundaneses go somewhere to have some picnics. They usually visit zoos, beaches, restaurants, mountains and other tourism resorts. Uniquely, this activity has no relationship at all with the ritual that the Muslims will do in the following day, shiyam (fasting).
Unfortunately this tradition transforms to be an event which is full of ma’siyat (sin). Many unmarried couple usually goes somewhere to spend the whole day. Instead of preparing themselves to face the fasting month, they do the things forbidden by religion. Some others visit the graveyard and ask for barokah from the ‘holy’ dead. They usually fire the myrrh as the sacrifice for the dead. It’s obvious that this tradition has been out of Islam and infected by the indigenous tradition.
Of course, we should avoid ourselves from doing this as we know that it is not Islam. Instead, we must do the alternative activities which don’t include ma’siyat without throwing this tradition wholly. And you know, as santris (Muslim students), we have our own tradition in the ‘munggahan’ day.
The students always have an activity so-called ‘ngaliwet’. It’s a cooking program over an open fire. They usually gather with their homeroom teachers outdoor and cook some foods. They usually cook some salted fishes, roasted meat, sauce, vegetables, etc. We usually don’t use any plates for eating because we put the rice and its dishes on banana leaves. Then, we eat together. You can call this activity ‘the Islamic barbeque party’, ckck.
We intentionally hold this tradition in our school to strengthen the unity of teachers and their students. Instead of doing the forbidden things, we spend the day by cooking, laughing and discussing about the condition of the class. Before having a meal, the students may share if they have some problems during their study in the school. Of course, the teachers will wholeheartedly listen to them.
After doing this activity, the students will get prepared to face Ramadan month as they begin the months with the useful and cheerful activity. Feel excited?