Student's Essay on Diversity, Religious Harmony in Indonesia Goes Viral on Facebook

A screenshot of Afi Nihaya Faradisa's Facebook profile. (JG screenshot)

By : Jakarta Globe | on 7:01 PM May 17, 2017
Category : News

Jakarta. Afi Nihaya Faradisa, a young high school student from Banyuwangi, East Java, wrote an essay on Sunday (14/05), which received over 31,000 Facebook "likes" and has been shared by more than 15,000 users, addressing issues of diversity and religious harmony in Indonesia.

Afi Nihaya Faradisa, whose essays have continued to attract many readers on various social media platforms, wrote about the role of national and religious identity in her latest post, "Warisan," ("Legacy") on her Facebook account.

WARISAN Ditulis oleh Afi Nihaya Faradisa Kebetulan saya lahir di Indonesia dari pasangan muslim, maka saya beragama...

Posted by Afi Nihaya Faradisa on Sunday, May 14, 2017

For Afi, legacy refers to her citizenship, her name as well as her faith  all of which were bestowed upon her, none of which was she says were her choice.

In her essay, Afi reminded readers that a country filled with people who share the same faith does not guarantee harmony.

"Some time in the future, we will tell our children and grandchildren how this country was on the verge of division not because of bombs, weapons, bullets or missiles, but because its people fussed about their legacies on social media," Afi wrote.

The writer ended her essay by saying that "we don’t have to think alike, but let’s all think together."

Unlike people in the West who are free from pressure to freely choose their religion or even their name, most Indonesians are pressured to follow their "given identity."

Afi's essay came a time where recent tension surrounding religion and the rampant use of the word kafir (infidel) have caused division among Indonesian communities.

The essay also touched on the 1945 Constitution and Indonesia's official national motto of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity), as the foundation of Indonesian ideology.

"From the perspective of Pancasila, every one is free to choose and practice their respective religion, but they do not have the right to impose their religion's perspectives and teachings as a benchmark [to evaluate] others who may believe differently," Afi wrote.

Drawing from her own experience, Afi said that she was taught that Islam is the one and only true religion. But as she grew up, she learned that other people believe that about their respective religions.

To further illustrate her point, the young writer quoted renowned Muslim poet Rumi: "The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth."

Going Viral

Afi's essay has garnered praise for her maturity and wisdom, giving her audience a voice of hope and an alternative perspective on how to react to the seemingly divided environment, as opposed to reacting in anger and with blame.

Facebook users were quick to respond, many of whom expressed their appreciation and complimented Afi’s eloquent writing.

"Another intelligent essay…Which can only be understood clearly by them with an open mind and heart. Respect," Facebook user Ni Luh Junial wrote.

"Afi, reading your essay warms the hearts of every reader, I pray that you will be the next generation that the world can be proud of," Endang S wrote.

Afi shares her essays on Facebook regularly, touching on many different topics and aspects of life. She has more than 260,000 Facebook followers.

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