“What’s that thing in your head?”

I knew that question was sarcastic. Born and raised in Indonesia, which happens to be world’s biggest moslem country, how do you not know a hijab? Hello, which cave are you living?

It’s half past ten and I’m not even sleepy. One morning, I went to the cafeteria to get some brunch and on my way back to the class, I passed a group of people. They were in my class as well, but we were not really friends. The reason why I didn’t make friends with them was because of their treatment to everyone except their group, which I’m going to tell you all here. That exact moment, one of them greeted me, which I replied with a small-voiced “hi” and a bit confusion in my face because well, we had never really greeted each other. Just right when I about to leave, one of them asked me,

“How many layer is it this time?”

And I understood what she referred to. It’s my hijab. There was a split second of silence. It was me, getting a grip of myself and her, enjoying the bitter words she had spitted. I gave them a smile, a true one. The least thing I could enjoy in this world is unnecessary conflict and I didn’t think I should fire one. I left them and I could hear their laughters echoing. Along my way back to the class, I applauded myself because I didn’t kill them even though they indeed had ruined my morning. The rest of the day was fine but I did think about it all day, about how they were lacking of something crucial for human being. Respect.

Have you ever read this post in LINE app about universal and personal value written by someone named Kang Hasan? Thank God, it’s viral because I think it is something people must know so let me translate it here.


Universal value vs Personal value

original text by Kang Hasan

“Dad, is drinking beer a bad thing to do?” asked Ghifari.
“Nope.”
“But it is haraam (forbidden in Islam).”
“Yes, but doesn’t always mean it’s bad.”
“Sorry?”
“We don’t drink beer because we are moslems. We choose not to drink beers because we believe our God forbids us. Other people who don’t share the same belief can drink beers.”
“But beer can make you drunk.”
“Drunk isn’t forbidden. What’s forbidden is disturbing other people such as drunk driving. It endangers you and people around you.”
“So, drinking beer is not — a bad thing?
“No. The same way goes with eating pork.”

It’s the 21st century, and there are still a lot of people who believe that pork is not good for health. Did you know that 90% of enzymes used to produce most medicines are obtained from pigs. That’s why the ministry of health refuses to grant halal certification for medicines. If you insist, you can go back drink K. galanga and temulawak (a kind of rhizome, C. zanthorriza)

I always teach my children to see things in a broad perspective. There are universal values, which apply to everybody. There are personal or private values, which each of us has chosen only for ourselves and not to be forced to other people.

Not to steal, not to disturb other people, those are universal values. Everybody have to obey them. But eating pork, that’s private value. Values which have religion as their source are mostly personal so, it is unlikely to be applied to other people. What if you two follow the same religion? Well, following the same religion doesn’t make you two the exact same individuals.

It means, we — as educated indviduals — must not cross the personal border owned by other people. We must not disturb or interfere with the values they have. This is one of many contributing factors of chaotic situation Indonesia is facing right now. People can’t tell the diferences between these two. Those who don’t eat porks judge eating pork as evil thing that must be eradicated.

Those who dont drink beers think that drinking beer is a bad thing that must be prohibited. Meanwhile they are all private values, which can’t be applied to everyone.

So the point is,

Mind your own business.


What I’m trying to explain in this post is, wearing hijab is a personal value. Not ridiculing someone’s personal value is a universal value. We all have the freedom of speech, but we also have to be responsible for that. The limit of your freedom is other people’s freedom. You can say nearly anything you want to other people, but other people also have the right to feel secure, to be respected, and to practice their religion based on their faith. So, don’t forget to think before you speak, whether your opinion makes any positive impact or not.