By: Nurma Wati

Abdul Rohman’s daily activitities works as a headman in the Religious Affairs Office or KUA in Kecamatan  Panjatan, Kulon Progo. Pak Dul or Pak Rohman, his nickname, also  officiated as the Vice Chairperson of Local Leaders of Muhammadiyah, the General Secretary of Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) or Indonesian Ulama Council, the leaders of  takmir of Masjid Agung (the Great Mosque), and chairperson of Koperasi Pegawai Negeri (KPN) of the Ministry of Religious Affairs office of Kabupaten Kulon Progo. As a religious leader, Rohman also often gives his taushiyah (religious sermon)  in several Islamic religious gatherings or ‘pengajian’ in the community.

His introduction to the gender equality and justice issues he obtained in the first time when he was a student in  IAIN (now UIN –or Islamic State University) of Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta around 1992/1993. Sometimes, he also participate in the learning forum which was held by Rifka Annisa related to gender issues.  Then in the early 2016, Rohman  was appointed again to learn the issue through Rahima and Rifka Annisa.  From those meetings, finally can establish his belief that men and women are equal according to Islamic teaching.  This situation was contrasting with his previous understanding that gender equality issue is a kind of  expression of women’s rebellion that fights against their rights more than they should have.

Rohman mentioned that one of Quranic verses that often misunderstood or incromprehensively understood was related to the position of the leader of the household as mentioned in the Quran in Surah An Nisa: 34.  According to him, the word rijal in the such verse was often interpreted by men as leaders for women.”But, what kind of leader?”, the man who was born in Kuningan 7 July 1970 affirmed.  According to him, a text should be comprehensively understood. That man does not only lead, but also become ‘partner’ for woman.

Building the Family with the “Reciprocity” Principle

Although the changes of minds and discourses had not been very long time, but  he had practiced the equality values so far. Rohman told his childhood experience, in which his parents taught him the equality values in educating their children. Rohman as the first child from the five siblings  (two of them are boys, and two others are girls), since his young age was taught to do the domestic works by  hus mother. Since his childhood, Rohman also accustomed to take care of his younger brothers and sisters, and paid attention to his mom when she cooks.

In addition to the lesson he took from his mother,  Rohman also affirmed that he got so many life experience teaching from his father who was an enterpreneur. “My father never discriminates between boys and girls when his child wanted to study at school”, Rohman recalled. His parents had given freedom to their children by considering that they have be responsible for their choices.

Rohman had undergone his marriage life with his wife almost 25 years, and attempted to implement the equality value in the family as a husband as well as a father.  He never felt risky for a man to do the domestic works that were shared with his wife, Fatimah  and their two children. They share the domestic works such as washing clothes,  washing the dishes, sweeping, cooking and shopping the daily needs.

Fatimah, his wife said that before getting married they had discussed and connitted to the roles that will be implement  after they got married. They committed that both of them will work for a job, to share the domestic works and also the number of children they are going to have. The commitment are still running well until their children grow up to be more adult. Their children see the example from their parents who educate them by showing themselves as roles models. The sharing of work make the work became easier, so the did not need the house maid or domestic worker services to do their domestic works.

His involvement in nurturing their children make Rohman feels closed with his children. The closeness had been built since the early age of their children. During  the childhood age of his children, every afternoon Rohman and his wife bring their children to the square, to the station to see the train or to the beach. “Until now we still do that. When our children have their holidays, we discuss about the destination, what we are going to do, and what we should prepare. This practice also to train our self regarding the plot, that we must have goal or purpose, so that our children become familiar  on this up to now”, he said.

In addition to that, Rohman also said that the main poin of parenting is communication. This is also affirmed by his wife, that Rohman  is very smart in looking for the discussion topic with their children rather than her.  When a conflict happen, Rohman and his wife never quarreled, although it is difficult  they always try to find  the solution.

Amplifying the Gender Equality to His Surroundings

The implementation of the gender equality and justice values that had been done by Rohman in his family, previously was on the contrary with the community behaviour around his reseidence. “By seeing the daily routines of  Pak Rohman who shops, does the domestic works, and nurtures his  children, then our neighbours  (the man or daddies) also shop the vegetables and dry the clothes,” said Mrs. Fatimah.

Rohman’s actions became a direct example that enable to  change the mind, attitude and  behaviour of the society around him. He also implements this in his working environment. When he was appointed as the Chair of KUA ( Religious Affairs  Office) in Kecamatan Girimulyo,  Wates, and Pengasih, he always implement the working models  based on their skills or capability, not based on their gender whether the person male or female.

The gender equality and justice value that had been implemented when Rohman met again with Rahima and Rifka Annisa. The mubadalah (reciprocity) priciple ensure himself that man must not oprres and should love and respect women. If men and women share their roles, so the household will be running well. “As long as  one dominates another, the other parties will be hurted. So, it will not achieve goodnes”, said Rohman. Rohman’s experience and knowldedge are always delivered through religious gathering forum or  the Father Class which collaborated with Rifka Annisa.

The efforts of Rohman, does not mean absent from challenges. He said there are still some perception of other religious leaders, when a religious leader does the domestic work he will be regarded as “defective” because of the perception he dooes the unappropriate things. But Rohman often answers, “When a figure can play role more than what he can do,  then he will achieve a plus points in the eyes of other people”. He affirmed.

For Rohman, the istiqamah or persistence on his beliefs and attitude is an important poin for a religious leader. “If I don’t implement what I said, it will become a boomerang for myself”, he said.  With this istiqomah (persistence)  attitude, Rohman becomes an inspiring figure for the society in building the  reciprocity relations to achieve the sakinah, mawaddah, wa rahmah (tranquil, loving, and compassionate)  family.

*The Author is the Manager of Community Organizing Division of  Rifka Annisa

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