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Speed and precision: Whirling-dance class is one of the favorites at Café Rumi Jakarta. (Courtesy of Café Rumi Jakarta)
For people wanting to unwind in a cafe, while enjoying good food and atmosphere, Café Rumi Jakarta also offers food — but not literally.
“Here, we offer food for the soul. This is a spiritual café where you can enjoy spiritual food,” said Muchsin Mulaela, the café’s public relations officer.
Located in the Wisma Iskandarsyah building in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, the café adopts a modern and minimalist design.
If you are up for a little surprise, go inside and check out the menu.
It’s true that you will not find a list of tapas or beverages, but you can opt for a much more comforting menu – different religious activities, from dzikir Sufi (prayer recitals) and sholawat (prayers), whirling dervishes, Koran citation, Tasawuf study, Sufi meditation and female mass prayers. All are free.
The café does not charge for its offerings, but patrons sometimes give donations and bring snacks or drinks to scheduled events.
Muchsin said the cafe, which was established by the Asih Foundation and officiated in 2008, targets busy workers and educated people who work near the location.
The word café is used in the name, not the popular term majelis taklim (Islamic study group), in a hope not to scare away visitors.
He said working people were usually reluctant to join religious study groups with overly devout names either because they were shy or afraid of being seen as formerly unreligious people who had suddenly become pious.
Recognizing that people usually relax in cafes, Café was used as a part of the name. Meanwhile, Rumi is short for Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi, a late prominent Sufi figure who was born in Balkh (now northern Afghanistan).
“We offer spirituality without looking at religion, race and nation. Anybody can come here,” Muchsin said.
Although most of the community’s members are Muslims, the speakers and attendees of discussions are of different religions. They also invite spiritual figures, such as Gede Prama or a catholic priest, to speak.
“Our speakers don’t ask for a fee because they want to share,”
he said, adding that the whirling dance classes were popular among both Muslims and non-Muslims.
Café Rumi Jakarta currently has some 200 members, but not all of them are regulars.
Attendee numbers and ages depend on the class. Older people usually like to attend the dzikir, while young people usually attend Koran citations or whirling dance classes.
“Many young people are not comfortable with going to a mosque to study the Koran because Koran citation class is usually dedicated to children. Here, our members are in their 30s,” he said.
— JP/Indah Setiawati