INDRAMAYU — “Yesterday I was a clever man, so I wanted to change the world. But now, I am a wise man, therefore, I will change myself.” (Jalaluddin al-Rumi)
In Sufism, there is a very well-known ethical teaching: ibda’ bi nafsik. Literally, it means “start with yourself.” Almost all Sufis preach this to their students. That, the first step for all improvements must start from self-improvement and kindness.
“This sentence is very simple, but has deep meaning and long consequences. This teaching demands consistency in actions. Also, objectivity in assessing oneself and others,” said Ahmad Zainul Hamdi, Director of Islamic Religious Higher Education at the Ministry of Religion as quoted Matapantura.republika.co.idfrom the Kemenag.go.id page, Monday (12/02/2024).
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According to him, how easy it is for someone to see evil in other people, but forget that they have committed the same crime for years. Apart from that, how easy it is for someone to feel disgusted and angry with someone’s manipulative behavior, even though he himself is also doing the same thing.
“The teaching “start with yourself” does not prohibit us from reminding, even criticizing, other people who we see are committing crimes,” said Ahmad.
“This teaching only reminds us that we must also apply the same moral standards to ourselves,” he continued.
This teaching asks us to look at ourselves first before judging others. When we judge other people as right or wrong, we definitely have a moral standard that we use as a measure. Measure yourself by the same moral standards we use to judge others.
If everyone carries out this ethical assessment procedure, said Ahmad, then every criticism of others will truly be a process of improvement towards the common good. This is because we also apply the same values to ourselves, even doing it first.
“If this is not the case, then judging and criticizing other people is not a process of improvement, but could be because they do not have the opportunity to commit a crime,” he said.
He also gave an example, how could someone be very angry with a thief who broke into one house, while at the same time he was also a thief in the house next door.
“Ultimately, the ethical teachings of the Sufis also demand our objectivity in viewing other people and ourselves,” he said.
Objective is when we make judgments based on the facts, not based on our interests. For example, if we judge destroying nature as a crime, then whoever does it we still judge it as a crime. It doesn’t matter whether the perpetrator is a friend we love or an enemy we hate.
How can we claim to make objective judgments about other people if we condone the same behavior when it is done by our lover, or even when we do it ourselves.
From this perspective, he emphasized, it is not surprising that the great Sufi, Jalaluddin al-Rumi, once said: “Yesterday I was a clever man, so I wanted to change the world. But now, I am a wise man, therefore, I will change myself.”
Is Rumi a selfish person who doesn’t care about his surroundings? No. Rumi was not a cave-dwelling Sufi. Throughout his life, he was an educator who contributed to the betterment of those around him.
However, he was also a person who was very wary of himself so what he taught others was also what he strictly applied to himself.
Here, Rumi divides intelligent people from wise people. With their intellectual tools, intelligent people can recognize bad things. But, are people who recognize bad things automatically good people? Not necessarily.
Recognizing evil is one thing, practicing goodness is this. A person who has cultivated goodness within himself so that he is not only able to memorize a list of bad things, but is also able to do good things, is a wise person.
That is why in educational practice, he said, the lowest level is the transfer of knowledge (cognition). If education is only a matter of transferring knowledge, education will only produce students who are able to memorize the meaning of morals but whose attitudes and behavior are bad.
In fact, he emphasized, what is more important than that is how to turn knowledge into an attitude that is internalized (affection) and ultimately gives birth to good behavior (psychomotor). n Agus Yulianto
This news article has been translated from the original language to English by WorldsNewsNow.com.
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