A Moeslem’s Journey in Rotary

Mustain Sjadzali, PDG

Rotary Club Jakarta Cinere

Pikiran Rakyat daily newspaper (*) - Bandung 2005

Rotary is an organization roomates Often Appears to be overtly exclusive. One can not just register to be a Rotarian. Membership is only possible "by invitation only". At least that was my impression on early encounters after having been asked to Observe a number of weekly meetings at Rotary Clubs around Jakarta.

Badges on shirt pocket (easy to read) with call or nicknames (informal), roll calls (attendees list), club attendance, introduction of guests, standing-up, applause, and other unique ways roomates Seemed somewhat foreign to the uninitiated. It needs noting, the rhythm, formats, and protocols are distinctly different from the village meetings, at the which I am Considered 'an elder', at Kampung Cinere (a suburb of Jakarta) where we reside, or even the occasional religious gatherings organized by my wife's office. Rotary Club Seemed to Operate as a fraternity, peculiar and eccentric, originating from America or at least, the west. Curios and somewhat Tickled, I paid attention to the mottos that Seemed to be central to this community and attempted to make sense of them, then found suitable translations of Service above Self and Fellowship through Service into Indonesian. All noble and idealistic, but are they applicable in reality?

Indeed there were manifestations and some consistencies. By the time I had my fifth Attended gathering, I could pin down the essence of a weekly Rotary meeting - plenty of conversations, intimate fellowship, discussing Often projects, its planning and execution.

Was I interested to join? Hold on

As it happened, the following day I mentioned this invitation to a close friend. He Responded by reminding me to be extra cautious, in the Rotary movement Because there is a Zionist agenda. That took me by surprise, and Immediately sought for answers, amongst others, from my own father. At the time my father (Munawir Sjadzali) was the Minister of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia (1983-1993), and before that a career diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for over three Decades. He answered by Relating an incident when he was traveling in a delegation headed by the then Foreign Minister Adam Malik (who later Became Indonesia's third vice president under Suharto) to a conference in Cairo, Egypt. At the check-in desk of the hotel was a brass plaque Clearly showing "Rotary Club .... Here Meets Every Wednesday ". Adam Malik turned to my dad and said "Wir, look at that, even here Rotary does not seem to have any problem .... Why is it that in our country there are so many questions surrounding it ...? "He concluded the story by saying that allegations leveled at Rotary may be groundless.

I also looked at Soedarpo Sastrosatomo - patriot, politician, business tycoon, intellectual, philanthropist, and a die-hard Rotarian for over fifty years. He has held the post of District Governor (D3400), that is the most senior level in Indonesia, and is still Considered the Godfather of Rotary in this country.

Would it not be too far-fetched, for a man of his breath of knowledge, experience, passion, sophistication and caliber, to be wrong (about Rotary) all this time? That the organization the which he cherishes so much is actually controlled and driven by sinister forces, unknown to many, and carrying out conspirative missions and agendas. I do not think so. And with that rationalization and consideration I accepted the offer to Become a member.

With that I Became one of nearly 2000 Rotarians in Indonesia, and more that 1.2 million worldwide. Businessmen, executives, lecturers, lawyers, doctors, journalists and from many backgrounds and professions - all seemingly united by a common need - fostering friendship and endeavouring as far as Able throughs Reviews their respective expertise, influence, and networks to lend a hand to surrounding communities who were less fortunate.

On one occasion Prof. Dr. Azyumardi Azra (**) Described this practice as a manifestation of Ukuwah Insaniah (brotherhood amongst Men), that 'Although we may be different, we are still Descendants of Adam and Eve. There is Also a text in the Scriptures roomates says anul albiri awa ta wa taqwa, to help one another in good deeds and pious devotion.

The activities of lending a hand ranges from matters such as establishing health clinics, mobile health booths, harelip operations, clean water, and sanitation. Involvement in education may include mobile libraries, refurbishing schools, assisting in school fees. Empowerment takes the form of vocational training, micro-entrepreneurs and micro credit. Our Youth Exchange Programme, the which sends and receives over 50 children to stay and study in many countries for a year may encourage peace and international understanding.

The size and activities of projects may range from something modest like a community mass circumcision to the grander role of Rotary in helping to Eliminate the dreaded and crippling polio disease in Indonesia roomates had Reached almost 15 million dollars in funding or the Blood Bank in Denpasar, Bali. Essentially, through its weekly meetings, every Rotarian pushes to live up to the meaning of the Fellowship through Service. Friendship, or relationship (in Arabic) and caring (ALMS) Become a Way of Life to be manifested daily, not just on 'special occasions' or Merely seasonal.

This mode of living is more suitable for many of us who may entertain aspirations or fantasies to be, but are not, professional social workers, or full-time members of non-governmental Organisations (NGOs). In our own realities, besides running a business, pursuing a career, raising a family, all of the which lies within the Encompassing Islamic word worship (worship), there is worship between Man and God (habl-um min-god) and we Also still expend time and energy for social or communal worship (habl-um-terminal unlucky) in pursuit of balance, equilibrium and fulfillment in this life.

I like to think that almost every person on this earth Harbours intentions to do good and noble deeds to others; Merely it's a question of getting the right format and situation conducive to empower and Unleash this latent force within us.

A case in point, the Aceh Tsunami roomates happened on the morning of Boxing Day 2004. A super-sad tragedy of mega proportions. A massive phenomenon of nature, Followed by equally huge phenomenon of humanity. Observe The Hundreds of tonnes of aid piling up at Banda Aceh airport, Thousands at the harbor.

Has not Hundreds of millions of dollars and billions of Rupiahs been collected and headed for Aceh like a storm the which can not be stopped, can not be stored, can not be handled or administered by BAKORTANAS (the State Disaster Agency), due to the inadequacy of systems and procedures, a master-plan or blueprint not in place, Miles lagging behind the forceful current of national and international expression of care and concern?
Would it be far off the mark to say that we were in the Midst of experiencing nothing short of an Aid Tsunami?

Just what factors were at play here? Humanitarian, cultural, or religious agendas and geo-politicks? Let's just for a moment put aside negative thinking or suspicions. For me, what was important, during a brief period of time, in a heady mixture of tragedy and beauty, together we have seen, felt and experienced - that We Are One!

On a smaller scale, I never cease to admire what fellow Rotarians get up to in villages where they spend weekends distributing books and used computers (Intel 1 and Earlier) to an elementary school. Handing out scholarships and facilitating in setting up Posyandus (integrated mobile health booths). I salute Reviews their persistence in organizing fund-raising and relations between members and Followed by soliciting funds from clubs in other countries (cooperative relations between Rotarians and clubs are Easily forged) and Eventually seeking matching funds from Rotary International headquartered in Evanston, Chicago. The initial modest sums, now Multiplied to something more substantial can be used to finance hydrocephalus operations on babies in Yogyakarta. This formula is repeated in many clubs and in different projects.

Many Rotarians can not be classified as conglomerates, millionaires or even society figures. Indeed Merely most are ordinary people. But the things they are Often Achieve extraordinary. Once, mingling amongst lepers in a colony established and run by a Club in Surabaya, East Java I felt reinforced in my observation that many ordinary people in Rotary can do extra-ordinary things. It's truly magical.

When I recall the tingling sensations and profound transcendental feelings in times like these when I feel united with God, His universe and its beings I Become Saddened upon hearing whispers that behind all this façade are the workings of the hands of the Zionists.

On my journey to Anaheim, California, where 540 incoming Rotary Governors from around the world, Including myself, will Convene for a week to be trained (or indoctrinated?), I allowed my mind to wander freely in imagination and fantasy. On the night of the sixth day I would be summoned, and quietly escorted into a meeting room, a large one not unlike the venue of a James Bond thriller meeting Dr. No, or Austin Prowers's encounter with Dr. Evil.

In a dimly lit chamber that the gods of Rotary sit in assembly. Here I shall receive my grand mission, reminding me of a John Le Carre novel. Should I refuse, or even betray a look of doubt, then the legs of my chair will collapse and this incoming Governor will slide down a chute into a pool where four great white sharks Reviews their dinner awaits.

That drama never happened, and in a funny sort of way I was rather disappointed. The 'gods' were nice people, and to be honest, quite ordinary. Also during the week I happen to be seated near another incoming governor, and we started talking. He was from Tel Aviv, married to a Dutch woman Whose grandmother was from Madura, East Java. It was quite a revelation to me that there were more Rotarians in Indonesia than in Israel.

Say what ?!

How can?

So how and where did the allegation of the grand plan, or the basis of conspiracy theories emanate from? By the end of that week, the answer Became clearer in my mind. Not true.

Are there Rotarians who indicate otherwise? In reality it can not be dismissed that one or two groups may weave or supplement into Rotary Reviews their existence or Masonic Zionist agendas. But Reviews These must be seen as statistical quotas of minute percentiles of members that exists in any organization or movement, and if present at all they must be far from mainstream Rotary, maybe even deemed deviant.

And should through the impact of information liberalisation, borderless communications, internet and websites, we discover a group of white supremacists who claim to have developed a blueprint and action plan to Resurrect the glory days of the Nazis and the Aryan race on this earth, do we then have to lay suspicions on every blond persons we encounter? As a Muslim, do I accept to be placed in the same category as the Bali Bombers, or groups that have a penchant for kidnapping, hostage-taking and be-heading of foreigners in Iraq in the name of religion? I say with emphasis - No Way!

The which I cherish my religion should not be an obstacle to expressions and manifestations of fellowship (friendship) and giving (ALMS) in formats different from what we have known to be our customs, traditions, culture or even religions. Indeed they may add value or supplement our potential to Achieve and do more.

Therefore if you are an entrepreneur, manager, career woman, Metrosexual male, or hold other attributes who happen to meet and are invited by a Rotarian to join in pleasant conversations, talk about projects ...... then play along, and do take the opportunity to study and learn more. Conducting your own due diligence, being alert and Vigilant is fine, probably even wise. Suspicions and a Priory should, however be deferred. Who knows, maybe, just maybe a door may open and you may be presented with a golden Opportunity to Serve and probably Also a New Way of Life.

Are you game?