Habiburrahman El Shirazy: Building self confidence
Paper Edition | Page: 7
His name is associated with religious-themed novels that make their way to the silver screen. Habiburrahman El Shirazy, the author of bestselling books Ayat-Ayat Cinta (Verses of Love), is also behind other novels such as Ketika Cinta Bertasbih (When Love Praises God, two volumes) and Dalam Mihrab Cinta (In the Pulpit of Love).
The three novels have been made into movies and two of them were later developed into soap operas for a private TV station. Kang Abik, as he is dearly called, said his penchant for writing began from small projects he had been doing since he was at school.
“It all begins as a hobby. When I was still in a Madrasah Aliyah [Islamic high school] in Surakarta, I set up a theater. So, as the theater leader, I had to write scripts for our performances,” he said.
As a young editor, he also wrote for his school’s wall magazine. He said his active involvement in his school garnered him a larger responsibility as the school’s representative in a national competition.
A graduate of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the most prominent university in the Islamic world, he gives credit to prominent Indonesian poet Chairil Anwar’s poems, which nurtured his love for literature.
The man who was brought up in a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) in Demak, Central Java, also regards two Islamic books as the most influential books in his life: Jailun Nashr Al Mansyud and Tanbighul Ghafilin.
Chairil Anwar’s Poems
A poem entitled “Pangeran Diponegoro” (Prince Diponegoro) is very close to my heart. I read the poem in a poetry reading competition in elementary school and won.
Kids need to have something to be proud of in front of their friends. When I was small, my body was relatively smaller than that of my schoolmates. I could play soccer, but I was not the best. I was very proud when I won the poetry reading competition and received books as the prize. From then on, I was in love with poems.
Jailun Nashr Al Mansyud (The Awaited Winning Generation) by Yusuf al-Qaradhawi
This was the book that I picked during my first year of studies in Cairo. It was just a small book, but it had enough influence on me, giving me optimism as a teenager.
The book encourages the young Muslim generation to seek great achievements and make the best of ourselves. It also pushes us to avoid wasting time, so we can become an agent of change. To me, this book has inspired a milestone in my life.
Tanbighul Ghafilin (Reminder for Neglectful People) by Abul Laits As Samarqandi
I read the book from cover to cover when I was in third grade of junior high school. It was a book on tasawuf (spiritualism). During the holy month of Ramadhan, every cleric in the pesantren would read a book from the beginning until the end. The students were free to choose which cleric they would join with.
I chose to join the oldest cleric who read that book and felt fortunate to have read it until the end. This book helped me a lot in my teenage years.
— Indah Setiawati