Halal Meat Certification: The Dispute Among Muslim Community In Kiwi’s Political Arena

 

To illustrate the complexities of Islamic politics in New Zealand, let us look at the recent example of the halal certification process. In this case we can see a complex political discourse in which different understandings of Islam are being strategically deployed as part of wider social and economic agendas.

Meat exports to the Islamic world at the time were worth in excess of NZ$200 million. In order to supply meat to this market, however, it was essential that it be certified as halal by a credible Islamic authority, to satisfy the demands of the receiving nations. The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), as the main national Muslim organisation in the country, had taken on this role in co-operation with the Meat Industry Association (MIA), a trade association which represents major New Zealand meat processors, marketers and exporters.
Under this agreement, FIANZ monitors the slaughter process, both through contact with halal slaughtermen employed by the various meat companies and its own halal supervisors, and certifies meat in terms of meeting the appropriate criteria as halal. The Muslim Association of Canterbury (MAC), one of the seven component associations of FIANZ, announced that it was withdrawing its support for FIANZ’s halal certification, alleging that non-halal meat was being certified as halal. MAC’s public objection was the allegation that slaughtermen were not allowed time to perform regular prayers during working hours, thus rendering the meat from the animals they killed non-halal. MAC claimed that FIANZ was turning a blind eye to this practice out of a desire not to rock the boat and endanger the considerable fees it received for certification.
For most non-Muslim New Zealanders this dispute seemed extremely confused and murky, and was generally understood through a simplified ‘fundamentalist’ versus ‘moderate’ conceptualization. One side was seen as insisting on a ‘strict’ form of halal, while the other had a more ‘moderate’ view, which allowed a more flexible approach to halal. At the root of this dispute is a genuine religious difference over understandings of the requirements of halal. Among the Somali and Arab communities, for meat to be considered halal, the slaughtermen must perform all the salat at the appropriate time of the day. Among the various South-Asian communities, however, understandings of halal (and indeed obligations to perform the salat) are considerably more flexible. The occasional omission of a prayer; praying after the appointed time to make up for a missed prayer; or one individual praying on behalf of a larger group are all regarded by many members of this community as perfectly valid forms of Islamic practice. Accordingly, they do not regard the failure of all slaughtermen on a particular killing chain to pray at the officially prescribed time as endangering the halal status of the meat produced.
In New Zealand society, this different understanding of the requirements of halal has become embedded in the relationship between different ethnic groups within the Muslim community. Somali Muslims in Christchurch, for the most part, have a relatively low economic standing. Made up principally of refugees and their children, this group has relatively few marketable skills; a poor ability to communicate in English; a high level of poverty; and only limited interaction with New Zealanders outside of the Muslim community. In contrast, South-Asian Muslims are generally far more affluent than the Somalis,and possess a wider range of skills relevant to economic life in New Zealand, including a generally high level of English-language ability. On that basis, employment as halal slaughtermen is one of the few skilled occupations that the Somalis are able to perform in New Zealand. Accordingly, it is a very important occupation for them in terms of both economic and social status.

KEHIDUPAN MUSLIM DI NEGERI KIWI SEKULER YANG PALING ISLAMI

Komunitas Muslim Selandia Baru kuantitas lebih kecil daripada kebanyakan masyarakat diaspora Muslim lainnya, baik dalam jumlah-sekitar 40.000 -dan persentasenya sekitar satu persen dari seluruh populasi. Muslim adalah kelompok agama yang berkembang paling pesat di Selandia Baru dengan populasi meningkat enam kali lipat antara 1991 dan 2006. Sebagian besar (77%) Muslim Selandia Baru lahir di luar negeri dengan proporsi terbesar adalah India (29%) dan Timur Tengah (21%) seperti Arab, Iran dan Irak (Kementerian Pembangunan Sosial, 2008). Selandia Baru memang telah menjadi tuan rumah bagi kaum  imigran Muslim selama lebih dari satu abad, meskipun hanya sedikit pengetahuan tentang migrasi itu dimulai kali pertama. Imigran dari Asia Timur dan Selatan, sejauh yang diketahui, mereka sangat sedikit dalam jumlah. Mereka datang secara individu, bukan dalam kelompok-kelompok keluarga. Mereka adalah para penambang dan mungkin pelaut yang tiba di pantai Selandia Baru. Mereka kemudian memutuskan untuk tinggal sementara waktu atau permanen. Sangat disadari bahwa sangat jarang referensi jarang mengenai kehadiran mereka dalam catatan sejarah.

Muslim Selandia Baru mewakili keragaman latar belakang orientasi agama, etnis dan kelas dan pendidikan. Pada sisi agama, ada pembagian antara Sunni dan Syi’ah, dan pembagian antara mereka yang menegaskan perayaan dan kebiasaan  populer dan orang-orang yang menekankan Islam seperti yang disajikan dalam teks-teks otoritatif dan menilai banyak kebiasaan rakyat sebagai bd’ah yang tidak memiliki landasan. Juga, ada pembagian antara mereka yang bersikeras pada interpretasi liberal atas aturan dan ajaran Islam, dan mereka sering disebut ‘fundamentalis’, ‘Salafi’ atau bahkan ‘Wahhabi’, yang bersikeras pada interpretasi yang ketat. Muslim Selandia Baru sekarang mencerminkan asal-usul dan hamparan geografis yang cukup besar merentang dari Maroko di Barat hingga  Indonesia dan Filipina di Timur, dan dari Asia Tengah dan Balkan di Utara hingga  sub-Sahara Afrika di Selatan.

Meskipun masyarakat Selandia Baru umumnya toleran dan laissez-faire, terutama dalam hal agama, dan semakin pluralis dan multikultural secara praktis, Muslim di sini mengalami prasangka yang timbul dari kenyataan bahwa mereka berbeda. Upaya pemerintah Selandia Baru untuk menyelenggarakan dialog dan kerjasama yang relatif baru, memungkinkan prasangka dikurangi dan ini juga membuat komunitas Muslim dapat diterima dengan baik oleh masyarakat setempat. Bahkan sebagian Muslim Selandia Baru secara sadar tertarik untuk mengembangkan Islam spesifik ‘Kiwi’, yang mampu terlibat dalam dialog dengan masyarakat setempat dan diakui oleh kebijakan multikultural.

Sangat menarik untuk melihat hubungan antara minoritas Muslim dan mayoritas masyarakat tuan rumah. Persoalan ini di negara modern-liberal merupakan salah satu yang sangat topik yang sangat menarik hari ini, namun  sayangnya semua itu lebih dimotivasi oleh alasan yang salah. Akarnya  terletak pada peristiwa memilukan dari dan sejak 9/11 di Manhattan dan serangan lain yang semisal di bagian dunia lain, dan dalam ketakutan meningkatnya radikalisme dan fundamentalisme Islam. Pada saat yang sama, masalah ini sering diperburuk oleh kecurigaan tentang kemampuan dan kemauan umat Islam untuk damai dan melakukan  integrasi  dengan masyarakat tuan rumah.

Dalam konteks Selandia Baru, kami menemukan bahwa komunitas Muslim kurang vokal daripada di tempat lain, dan jarang membuat berita utama yang sensasional. Meskipun busana Muslim dan bangunan Islam sekarang mulai tampak secara visual, dan menambah warna-warni  lanskap perkotaan, masyarakat Muslim secara keseluruhan bersifat low profile.

Minoritas Muslim di Negeri Multikultural

Mayoritas Muslim di Selandia Baru saat ini adalah kaum imigran yang relative baru. Di antara mereka terdiri dari keturunan imigran dari dekade-dekade sebelumnya; dan beberapa di antaranya adalah orang-orang konversi dari Pakeha dan Maori. Statistik yang ada tidak dapat menyebutkan secara pasti kuantitas kaum Muslim imigran karena sensus tidak memaksa orang untuk menyatakan afiliasi agama. Meskipun demikian kaum Muslim bukanlah minoritas terkecil di negara ini. Mereka berkumpul di pusat-pusat perkotaan bagian utara – sekitar 20.000 sampai 25.000 di Auckland, di mana mereka membentuk elemen penting dari populasi perkotaan. Meskipun relatif ada konsentrasi perumahan, ghettoisasi, namun semua itu tidak menimbulkan  masalah sosial, para pemuda mereka juga tidak mengalami alienasi, kesulitan ekonomi dan kekerasan.

Di Selandia Baru, kehadiran Muslim secara sporadis mulai memasuki kesadaran publik, dan Muslim menikmati toleransi laissez-faire yang memungkinkan mereka untuk menjalankan ibadah. Potensi xenophobism dan ‘rasisme’ di negeri ini telah ditutupi oleh  kehadiran kaum imigran dari Cina dan suku Maori asli.

Selandia Baru adalah masyarakat dan bangsa yang jelas sekuler dan pemerintahnya bersikap netral positif terhadap agama apa pun, termasuk Kristen, serta kebijakannya tidak campur tangan dalam urusan agama. Tidak ada dukungan kuat yang diberikan pemerintah kepada organisasi keagamaan kecuali dukungan yang relatif moderat untuk sistem pendidikan berbasis agama, seperti untuk komponen kurikulum sekuler sekolah-sekolah Katolik, sekolah Islam Al-Madinah di Auckland, dan dukungan untuk ruang doa Hagley Park di Christchurch. Dalam kondisi seperti ini, Islam tidak memandang perlu pengakuan formal dari pemerintah setempat, atau mencoba untuk melawan bias agama resmi atau posisi agama resmi, karena tidak ada agama resmi Negara di sini. Secara umum, kehadiran Islam per se di Selandia Baru, dari sudut pandang ideologis sama sekali tidak menjadi masalah. Persoalan multikulturalisme telah dipicu oleh kehadiran minoritas etnis dan agama lainnya. Selandia Baru secara resmi bikultural, bahkan  multikultural dalam hal praktis melalui keberadaan budaya yang jelas beragam dan diakui dalam wacana hukum dan politik. Kaum Muslim memperoleh manfaat dari kehadiran Maori dan minoritas dari Kepulauan Pasifik  dalam menciptakan toleransi budaya, organisasi dan instrumen hukum yang menjamin dan mendukung toleransi budaya. Multikulturalisme didasarkan pada pengakuan realistis fakta bahwa imigrasi yang kuat dalam beberapa tahun terakhir dari berbagai macam negara, telah menciptakan masarakat multi-etnis, multi-agama, berbudaya pluralis di mana keragaman menuntut respon afirmatif dari negara.

Debat Sertifikasi  Halal

Ekspor daging New Zealand ke dunia Islam senilai lebih dari NZ $ 200 juta. Untuk dapat memasok daging ke pasar ini, para eksportir harus memperoleh sertifikasi halal oleh otoritas Islam yang kredibel agar  memenuhi tuntutan negara-negara penerima. Federasi Asosiasi Islam Selandia Baru (FIANZ), sebagai organisasi Muslim nasional utama di negara kiwi, telah mengambil peran ini dalam kerjasama dengan Asosiasi Industri Daging (MIA), sebuah asosiasi perdagangan yang memproduksi daging, pemasar dan eksportir.

Berdasarkan perjanjian antara FIANZ dan MIA, FIANZ memonitor proses penyembelihan, baik melalui kontak dengan para penyembelih halal yang digunakan oleh berbagai perusahaan daging dan pengawas halal itu sendiri. FIANZ berhak menyatakan daging memenuhi kriteria halal. Muslim Association of Canterbury (MAC), salah satu asosiasi dari tujuh komponen dalam FIANZ, menyatakan bahwa mereka menarik dukungan untuk sertifikasi halal FIANZ. Mereka menyatakan bahwa daging non-halal telah disertifikasi halal oleh FIANZ. Mereka memandang bahwa para penyembelih tidak memiliki waktu untuk melakukan salat tepat pada waktunya karena tidak diijinkan oleh perusahaan tempat mereka bekerja. Menurut mereka,  daging binatang yang sembelih oleh para penyembelih ini tidak halal. MAC mengklaim bahwa FIANZ itu menutup mata terhadap praktek ini demi keuntungan yang cukup besar dari sertifikasi halal.

Bagi sebagian besar non-Muslim Selandia Baru, perselisihan ini tampak sangat membingungkan. Ada perbedaan pandangan antara kaum fundamentalis dan moderat di sini. Kaum fundamentalis bersikeras untuk merberlakukan criteria halal secara ketat, semnatara kaum moderat memiliki pandangan yang lebih fleksibel tentang sertifikasi halal. Menurut kubu fundamentalis yang biasanya berasal dari imigran Somalia dan Arab, daging dinyatakan halal jika penyembelihnya melakukan shalat tepat pada  waktunya. Sementara kubu moderat yang terdiri dari berbagai komunitas Asia, memandang bahwa salat memang wajib, namun waktu pelaksanaannya bisa  lebih fleksibel, tidak mesti tepat pada waktunya karena alasan pekerjaan. Menurut mereka,  bacaan doa seorang penyembelih bisa mewakili kelompok penyembelih lainnya dalam satu perusahaan yang sama. Sehingga daging hasil sembelihan mereka tetap berstatus halal.

Komunitas Muslim Somalia di Christchurch sebagian besar memiliki latar belakang ekonomi relatif rendah. Mereka adalah para pengungsi dan anak-anak. Mereka juga memiliki sedikit keterampilan; miskin berkomunikasi dalam bahasa Inggris; tingkat kemiskinan yang tinggi; dan hanya berinteraksi secara terbatas dengan kelompok lain di Selandia Baru. Sebaliknya, Muslim Asia umumnya jauh lebih makmur daripada Somalia, dan memiliki jangkauan yang lebih luas, serta keterampilan yang relevan dengan kehidupan ekonomi negeri ini, dan umumnya mempunyai kemampuan berbahasa Inggris yang baik. Atas dasar itu, pekerjaan sebagai penyembelih halal merupakan salah satu pekerjaan yang bisa dilakukan oleh imigran Somalia. Dengan demikian, perselisihan di atas sesungguhnya lebih dipicu oleh “perebutan” lapangan kerja sebagai penyembelih yang sangat penting bagi imigran Somalia, karena  mereka membutuhkan pekerjaan itu demi pendapatan  ekonomi dan status sosial.

 

THE INITIAL MEETING FOR JOIN COOPERATION

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On Thursday, November 27th, 2014, at 10:30 am, I set out on bus 274 from Forte Convenience toward The University of Auckland, Epsom Campus. About 14 minutes, I’ve got to Mt. Eden Shop and walk towards Epsom campus. Here I and my friend from Lombok will meet with Dr. John Hope. He is chairman of the International Office of the University of Auckland. He is also chairman of the International Dean Association, and a senior lecturer at Faculty of Education, the University of Auckland. Our meeting has been arranged by Ali Formen, a doctoral student at this university. After we were introduced by Ali, we engaged conversation about 1 hour. Our conversation was about the introduction of each campus. In this meeting we also mutually open ourselves to the possibilities and opportunities for cooperation. Dr John Hope provide himself further talks to lead to a memorandum of understanding after I came back from Auckland and discuss this opportunity with campus leaders. Mr. John plans to visit Indonesia in February 2015, and will take his time to visit our campus IAIN Salatiga and may to be resource person in discussion or seminar on education. He has showed me some programs of professional development short courses, Faculty of Education, that related to academic development and early learning-teaching academic career, in which there are various specific programs. He was ready to accept students and lecturers who want to follow short course the theory to educational practice. He and his team are also ready to run the training in Indonesia. When I asked him about the possibility of receiving student’s practicum or service learning (KKN), he also expressed his readiness for the Faculty of Education has a network with many schools, including Islamic schools, in Auckland and other cities in New Zealand.

KUTEMUKAN “PEGGY MELATI” DI AUCKLAND

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“Pusiiiiiing, pusiiiiing, pusiiiiiing, hai, penonton namaku Peggy Melati Sukma Mewangi Sepanjang Hari”, sembari jemari tangan kanan diletakkan didepan kening dan kepala mendongak ke atas. Begitulah gaya Peggy Melati, salah seorang bintang sinetron dan selebritis yang sudah tenar dan selalu dinanti aksinya di depan panggung, di layar kaca, via sinetron, film TV, ataupun layar lebar. Selebritas dan keaktrisannya tiada yang meragukan. Gayanya khas dan mudah diingat-kenang oleh para pemirsa TV Indonesia. Lama aktif dalam dunia bintang dan terkenal seantero nusantara, lalu kita seolah kehilangan sosoknya, lenyap ditelan bumi entah kemana. Sekali ada berita muncul, adalah kisah pelarian seorang pengusaha buron yang dikait-kaitkan dengan namanya, karena sang buron adalah mantan suaminya. Sembari mengucurkan air mata dan suara terisak, Peggy bertutur panjang tentang perjalanan hidup, lika-liku yang sungguh berkelok seiring garis jalan hidupnya deras mengalir tanpa seorang pun mampu menghentikannya, bahkan dirinya sendiri.

Demikian ia bercerita tentang “pengasingannya” dari dunia panggung yang glamor dan gemerlap, dengan tutur yang tak putus bagai anak panah melesat dari busurnya. Sulit menghentikannya bicara, persis seperti Peggy sedang nyerocos dalam monolog sebuah sinetron, kata Ali Formen sang moderator. Dalam sebuah acara “Tawashow” (Saling memberi nasihat) yang digelar oleh HUMIA (Himpunan Umat Muslim Indonesia-Auckland), pada Sabtu, 23 November 2014, pukul 18.30 hingga selesai di Owairaka Primary School, Auckland.

Saya menemaninya sebagai narasumber. Pembicaraan seputar pengalaman hidup, perjuangan Peggy menemukan dirinya, menemukan Tuhannya, yang telah lama ia lewatkan begitu saja seiring karir keartisannya menanjak dan pundi-pundinya menggelembung seperti balon yang tak pernah penuh. Godaan materialisme dan hedonisme seolah telah melumpur-tenggelamkannya selama berpuluh tahun. Semua ada, semua ia dapat pilih, semua hadir dalam rengkuhannya. Pada titik jenuh ketenarannya, ia terpelanting ke titik paling nadir dalam hidupnya. Kecantikannya rusak oleh sakit kulit di wajahnya. Perkawinannya hancur akibat perceraian. Kegundahan dan kegelisahan senantiasa hadir, beriring dengan ujian yang Tuhan berikan kepadanya. Dalam kondisi kritis hidupnya, pernah ia menantang Tuhan, sejauh mana Engkau mampu berikan daku ujian yang lebih berat dari ini? Kalau benar Engkau Maha Pengasih dan Pengampun hamba-hambanya, tunjukkan welas asihMu itu pada diriku! Pemirsa Tawashow larut dalam keharuan mendengar sebuah kisah yang seolah hadir di Owairaka Primary   School Hall saat itu. Singkat cerita, akhirnya Peggy temukan semua jawaban kegelisahan itu ada pada al-Qur’an, hadir dalam mahabbahnya kepada Allah Swt., dan kerinduannya pada  Baginda Nabi Muhammad Saw. “Kejemput Engkau di Sepertiga Malam”, demikian judul sebuah buku tentang perjalanan spiritual yang ditulis Peggy.

Apa yang dialami oleh Peggy adalah gambaran tentang  hidayah al-ma`unah. Manusia telah mendapatkan empat macam hidayah dalam perjalanan hidupnya. Hidayah itu adalah instink (al-gharizah), panca indera (al-hissiyah), akal (al-`aql), dan agama (al-din). Keempatnya sudah Allah berikan kepada semua manusia tanpa kecuali. Namun yang kelima, yaitu hidayah al-ma`unah menjadi hak prerogatif Tuhan untuk dianugerahkan kepada siapa yang dikehendakiNya. Itulah misteri, namun seorang Muslim dan Muslimah  tak boleh putus harap untuk  meraih hidayah khusus ini dalam hidup. Akhir kata dari kisahnya, “Jangan kamu menanti hingga Allah merendahkanmu, mengujimu dengan ujian paling dahsyat, hingga kamu bertaubat. Bersegeralah sadar dan taubat, agar kamu kembali ke pangkuanNya, kembali menemukanNya”. “Seperti aku menemukan Peggy di Auckland”, tuturku.

MUSLIM COMMUNITY IN KIWI MULTICULTURAL HISTORY

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On 14-15 November, 2014, I have an opportunity to visit Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. I went to this city by nakedbus. This trip needs about 11 hours. Along with the trip there are a lot of wonderful experience not only due to the very beautiful panorama I can enjoy it, but I also look at and find enriched understanding about Muslim community in this country.
Through my experiences on Auckland and Wellington, I have seen interesting knowledge on the relation between Muslim minority and majority embedded in this country. This kind of relationship in the modern-liberal state is one of the very topical today, but unfortunately it is motivated in the wrong reasons. The roots lie in the heartrending events of and since 9/11 in Manhattan and other such attacks in the world, and in the rising fear of Muslim radicalism and fundamentalism. At the same time, it is often exacerbated by suspicion about the ability and willingness of Muslims to peacefully and meaningfully integrate in the host societies.
In the New Zealand context, we find that Muslim communities are much less vocal than elsewhere, and rarely make the headlines with sensational news. And even though the Islamic dress code and Islamic building now have a visual presence, and conspicuously add to the colour of the urban landscape, the community as a whole keeps a low profile.
The majority of New Zealand’s Muslims are fairly recent immigrants; a smaller percentage comprises descendants of immigrants from previous decades; and some are converts of Pakeha and Maori. The Muslim presence goes back over 100 years. Statistics are uncertain, as the Census does not compel people to declare religious affiliation. Muslims do not form the largest religious minority in this country They congregate in northern urban centres –approximately 20,000 to 25,000 in Auckland, where they form a significant element in the urban population. Despite relative residential concentration, ghettoisation is not an attendant social problem, nor are youth alienation, economic deprivation and violence.
In New Zealand, historically, the tiny and sporadic presence of Muslims hardly entered public awareness, and Muslims enjoyed a laissez-faire tolerance that allowed them to adhere to their specific observances in the private sphere without Islam ever appearing in public discourse. The ubiquitous potential of xenophobism and ‘racism’ was deflected by the more numerous presence of Chinese immigrants and the indigenous Maori.
New Zealand as a society and a nation is emphatically secularist and the government have a declared neutrality towards any religions, including Christainity, as well as a tacit policy of total non-interference in religious matters. There is no any strong support given to religious organizations excepting relatively moderate support to faith-based education systems such as for the secular curriculum component of Catholic schools, the Islamic school Al Madinah in Auckland, and the support for the Hagley Park prayer room in Christchurch. Under these conditions Islam does not face the need to fight against entrenched religious interests for formal recognition, or to try to counter an official religious bias or officially sanctioned religious positions. In general, the presence of Islam per se in New Zealand, from an ideological point of view, is simply not an issue. Also Muslims have not been the focus of state interest, because they are not the largest religious minority, and the question of multiculturalism has been sparked by the presence of other ethnic and religious minorities. New Zealand is officially bicultural, but multicultural in practical terms through the existence of distinctly different cultures being recognized in the legal and political discourse. Muslims have mainly benefited from the presence of Maori and Pacific Island minorities for the general climate of cultural tolerance, supportive organizations and legal instruments that assure and underpin cultural tolerance. Multiculturalism is based on the realistic recognition of the fact that vigorous immigration in recent years from a wide sweep of countries, has created a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, culturally pluralist society whose diversity demands affirmative state responses.

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SIGHTSEEING II: MATAKANA THE SATURDAY FARMER’S MARKET

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On Saturday, November 8, 2014, few minutes after having breakfast, I was picked up by Mr. Maman Baboe, one of the HUMIA (Indonesian Muslim Association of Auckland) Trust management, for sightseeing. In this occasion, we will go to Matakana. Just 44 minutes North of Auckland, Here lies the picturesque Matakana wine region, the home of over 30 boutique vineyards, olive groves, restaurants and the famous Matakana Village and Farmers’ Market featuring locally grown food and produce. Settled in the 1840’s Matakana has a proud history and strong sense of community.  Settled in 1842, Matakana developed into a small rural town servicing the farms, produce gardens and orchards that flourished in the surrounding area. City folk would travel up the coast and navigate the tidal river to deliver supplies and return with fresh produce and timber from the historic riverside mill. In 1992 local Richard Didsbury purchased the historic mill site above the Matakana wharf and with the help of leading architect Noel Lane set about creating a visionary new Village complex and local Farmers Market.

Nowadays, Matakana has huge visitors come from all over New Zealand and the world to experience the famous Matakana Village. The Village is the vibrant heart of the picturesque Matakana Wine Region with its numerous vineyards and olive groves and is the gateway to the beautiful east coast beaches, holiday destinations and regional parks.  Matakana Village is a truly unique experience. It is a special place that everyone loves.

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A Glimpse of “Kiwi” Muslim Community

The New Zealand Muslim community is even smaller than most other Muslim diaspora communities, both in absolute numbers—about 40,000—and as a percentage of the population—about one percent. Muslims are the most rapidly growing religious group in New Zealand with the population increasing six-fold between 1991 and 2006. The majority (77%) of New Zealand Muslims are overseas-born with the largest proportions identifying as Indian (29%) and as members of Middle Eastern groups (21%) such as Arab, Iranian and Iraqi (Ministry of Social Development, 2008). New Zealand has in fact hosted Muslim immigrants for more than ahundred years, although little is known of the very first ones. Mainly from East and South Asia, as far as is known, they were very few in numbers, individuals rather than family groups, miners and possibly sailors arriving on these shores, deciding to stay for a time or permanently. At first hardly noticed, there are only sparse references to their presence in historical records.

New Zealand’s Muslims represent a wide diversity of religious orientations, of ethnicities and of class and educational backgrounds. At the religious side, there is the division between Sunnis and Shi’is, and the division between those who affirm popular celebrations and ‘folk’ customs and those who stress Islam as presented in the authoritative texts and consider many of the folk customs as unwarranted innovations. Also, there is a division between those who insist on a more liberal interpretation of Islamic rules and prescriptions and those, often labelled ‘fundamentalists’, ‘Salafi’ or even ‘Wahhabi’, who insist on a strict interpretation. New Zealand Muslims now reflect most of the huge geographic expanse from Morocco in the West to Indonesia and the Philippines in the East, and from central Asia and the Balkans in the North to sub-Saharan Africa in the South that is the Muslim world.

Although New Zealand society is generally tolerant and laissez-faire, especially in matters of religion, and increasingly pluralist and practically multicultural, Muslims here do suffer some degree of prejudice arising from the fact that they are different. Here in New Zealand organised efforts at dialogue and cooperation are relatively new, but are making development and appear to be well received on the Muslim side. At least some New Zealand Muslims are consciously interested in developing a ‘Kiwi’-specific Islam, which capable of engaging in a dialogue with the host community and being recognised by multicultural policies.

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SIGHTSEEING IN AUCKLAND I

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Sightseeing around the Auckland city and going to some corners of this vibrant city from a height of Mount Victoria and taking  a minute to capture photos with background of Harbor Bridge, Mount Rotorua the famous one, and the Port of Auckland, and Davenport. I also had layover in Ponsonby mosque for praying maghrib. Auckland city has about 24 mosques, according to Mr. Frisnadi. I thank very much to Mr. Frisnadi who has brought me to sightseeing. He is a permanent resident who has lived for 17 years in Auckland. He is also a senior member of Auckland Association of Indonesian Muslims (Himpunan Umat Islam Indonesia Auckland, HUMIA) . As a senior member of HUMIA he felt grateful for my presence in Auckland and stay in touch with some board of HUMIA terrace. On yesterday night, Friday, October 31, 2014,  I was asked to become resource person of discussion on Islamic issues in this community.IMG_20141101_190119

THE FIRST DAY OF MY OFFICE OCCUPATION

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 is the first day of my office occupation at the University of Auckland (UoA). At 09:30 am in the morning, after breakfast with a plate of rice and favorite vegetables- mackerel, by saying bismillah I went to the UoA city campus. I need about 10 minutes to get to the destination. Incidentally for overnight to one-half day of continuous rain fell. The temperature is quite cold around 16 degrees Celsius. I set off with a little running because small rain coloring this morning, while I do not have an umbrella. Armed with a hooded jacket I brave myself to break through the small rain or drizzle. As usual, I went to the room of Mrs. Laureen Boucher, who faithfully serve our registration to access workspace and library access. After a week of registration, this is the time we received the key to the room along with a postdoctoral fellow computer unit and the access key to use email. It turns out that all have access to the username plus password, including when I would use my own email. It seems that the safety and comfort has become an important factor in the kiwi country. Then, after obtaining an explanation from Mrs. Laureen, I was escorted to the room that has been provided. I was placed in a special room in the old and antique building special for the visiting and fellowship members and the staff emeritus. The place is an old building of the Faculty of Arts at 12 Symonds Street, Building 212, room B04 which is located in the basement. Access into this building is using identity card already available for me. The room was opened and the lights turn on automatically. Then the heater is turned on to warm the room, because the day has a fairly cold temperatures. After Mrs. Laureen explains a few things, then she left. This is my office where I start the computer with available access key, open the email as well with its own access key. Bismillahir rohmannir Rohim, the computer turns on, email and internet access is available, and started my action for writing and find some information to support and enrich my research project.IMG_20141028_135246

Discussion on Devotion to Our Parents (Birrul Walidayn)

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On Thursday, 23 October 2014, along with a lunch at a restaurant near the city campus of the University of Auckland, we discuss various issues related to Islam, Muslims and Auckland. One of the themes in the discussion over lunch was a topic on “birrul walidayn” (devotion to our parents). Actually the beginning of this discussion departs from my statement. When I walk in the city of Auckland, coincidentally I saw an apartment in Greys Ave St. Apparently this apartment is special for the elderly men and women. I has saw most of them were relaxing on the terrace while chatting with their fellows. Surprisingly Prof. Campbell does not know about the existence of the apartment. Dr. Zain Imtiaz Ali, a professional teaching at the school of humanities, explained that birrul walidayn as a part of Islamic teachings is very important thing. A Muslim is obligatory to take care the parents when they are no longer able to look after of themselves probably. However, according to Zain Ali, in Auckland and also developed countries, this problem is being dilemma. As Zain’s own experience, he works in Auckland while his parents were already 89 years old living in Fiji. He said, yes this is “darurah”. According to him, he went abroad to work is “darurah”. And in his view, “darurah” is a “necessity” that is necessarily carried out even at the same time he must leave his parents in Fiji.

Then I respond his view. According to my opinion, “darurah” must be differentiated into two meanings. The first meaning is “needs” (necessity); and the second is critical (crucial) situation. The former related to the fulfillment of primary needs; and the latter deal with critical situations, such as someone has been allowed to eat/drink illegal goods to save their lives. Therefore, I regard that a Muslim cannot leave his/her obligations of doing birrul walidayn, because this is darurah, and working for caring his/her family is also darurah. In other words, we cannot leave one darurah and meet other in the context of employment and birrul walidayn (serving the elderly). Working/Jobs and birrul walidayn not a choice between these two kinds of darurah, so people should choose one of them. But for me and Indonesian Muslims in general, employment and birrul walidayn are two darurah which have to do together. There is no “akhafu darurayn” here. Dr. Zain asked me, how about Indonesian Muslim in relating to this problem. I replied, “Indonesian Muslims have never questioned about this problem. We are accustomed to take care, preserve the parents as much as possible we can do. We also used to live together with them, as we used to have in their caring of”.

Apparently, this sort of problem for Auckland people, as told Prof. Campbell, is very difficult to do. According to him, in the Christianity and Catholicism, there exists a doctrine of nurturing parents. He argues that in the context of the contemporary world, nursing house for elderly can be justified because of their busy in working. In his opinion, it is better for their parents in the nursing house than they live neglected in their own house while their children busy at work. According to Prof. Campbell too, we have often faced a problem when a pair of bridal talk about an agreement on how their responsibility to take care of their each parents when they are elderly. Herein lays the advantage of the Islamic concept and practice of birrul walidayn.