Headlines

Celebrity cleric ‘Uje’
dies in motorbike accident

A sea of sorrow: A huge crowd bids farewell to Muslim Ustad (preacher) Jefry al-Buchari, after his body was carried from the Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Jakarta on Friday. The popular 40-year-old cleric was killed in a traffic accident early Friday. (Antara/Zabur Karuru)
A sea of sorrow: A huge crowd bids farewell to Muslim Ustad (preacher) Jefry al-Buchari, after his body was carried from the Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Jakarta on Friday. The popular 40-year-old cleric was killed in a traffic accident early Friday. (Antara/Zabur Karuru)

Islamic cleric Jefry al-Buchory, who was commonly known as Ustad (preacher) Uje, passed away early on Friday after his motorbike collided with a palm tree in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta.

Uje’s brother, Fajar Sidik, said that Uje had been ill several days ago but he was starting to recover.

On Thursday night at 9 p.m., Uje and his assistant, Dani Santoso, went for a coffee in Kemang, South Jakarta, driving sport motorbikes.

Unfortunately, Uje lost control of his motorbike while they were traveling home from Kemang to Bintaro, southwest of Jakarta, at 1 a.m.

The bike slammed into a palm tree, throwing Uje 4 meters from the site of the collision.

Dani, who was following Uje on his bike, immediately tried to save him but had to wait 30 minutes before a taxi arrived.

South Jakarta Traffic Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Hindarsono said on Friday that Uje was rushed to Pondok Indah Hospital in South Jakarta for emergency treatment but doctors were unable to resuscitate him.

Uje, who was born on April 12, 1973, died at 2 a.m.

He is survived by his wife, Pipik Dian Irawati, and three children, Adiba Khanza Az-Zahra, Mohammad Abidzar Al-Ghifari and Ayla Azuhro

“Our investigation has revealed that the accident was a case of human error. Conditions at the site were normal: no potholes, traffic lights in good working order and good weather,” the head of the Jakarta Police law enforcement sub-directorate, Adj. Sr. Comr. Darmanto, said.

According to the police, Uje’s family did not want an autopsy to be carried out; and they collected his remains from Pondok Indah Hospital on Friday at 3 a.m.

Later in the morning, hundreds of people sobbed as Uje’s corpse arrived at the Istiqlal Grand Mosque, Central Jakarta, for funeral prayers at 10:35 a.m, Antara news agency reported.

The preacher, who was a well-known public figure, was buried in Karet Bivak public cemetery in Central Jakarta, where thousands of mourners gathered to pay their respects.

According to Uzril, one of the cemetery’s keepers, some mourners had been waiting since 7 a.m. to say goodbye to Uje, who they said was a good soul.

The burial service ended at 2 p.m.

The immense number of mourners at the cemetery created heavy congestion on roads leading to and from the compound.

The Jakarta Police’s Traffic Management Center (TMC) reported via its Twitter account, @TMCPoldaMetro, that several of Jakarta’s main thoroughfares were gridlocked following the funeral ceremony.

Motorists were still trapped in severe traffic at 6 p.m. in areas including Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, Dukuh Atas, Senayan and Pejompongan in Central Jakarta; Slipi in West Jakarta; and Casablanca in South Jakarta, the TMC reported.

Separately, Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo expressed his condolence at City Hall on Friday.

“Please accept my and the Jakarta administration staff’s sympathies. May Uje rest in peace,” he said.

Deputy Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama said that although he was a Christian, he loved listening to Uje preach.

“I once invited him when I was East Belitung regent to preach [before Muslim communities] during Islamic celebrations,” he said.

Uje hosted several religious programs on national television channels, which included Acara Dakwah, Salam Sahur, Sahur Untuk Semua, Gema Ramadhan and Kumis Remaja.

He had also starred in a film called Pendekar Halilintar (Thunder Warrior) and a television drama, Sayap Patah (Broken Wings), both of which were released in 1990.

He was raised in a religious family and attended Islamic schools from elementary through high school.

Young Uje was also known to have had a “dark past”, involving drugs.

He married his wife, Pipik, in 1999 in Semarang, Central Java.

He reached a turning point in his life after returning home from an umroh (minor haj pilgrimage) with his family before his brother died in 2000. Thereafter, he continued his brother’s work by becoming a preacher. (hrl)

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