BETWEEN THE SACRED AND THE PROFANE: THE DYNAMICS OF THE MEMORIZATION OF THE QUR’AN IN EAST KALIMANTAN
Among many Muslims, memorizing texts of the Qur’an is considered as one of the highest rewarding deeds, and it has long been perceived as a manifestation of the idea of guarding the religion. Those capable of memorizing all chapters of the Qur’an are believed to be spiritually superior to other Muslims and, thus, receive a noble status in a Muslim society. However, to do such a tedious task as memorization, one should mostly start the job as soon as early childhood. The highly rewarding job of memorizing the Qur’an is sustained by huge material benefits provided by the Muslim society thus creating a dynamic interaction between profane and sacred motives for the hafidzs (a man who memorize the Qur’an or guardian of the Qur’an). This paper, therefore, aims at exploring the dynamic inter-relationship between sacred and profane motives in the process of memorization of the Qur’an among hafidzs in East Borneo, Indonesia, by answering two fold questions; (1) What are the main determinant factors affecting the decision to memorize the Qur’an? and (2) how full-fledged hafidzs of the Qur’an see their efforts in doing such tasks? In-depth interviews with the hafidzs in East Kalimantan were undertaken to get detailed information needed to answer the research questions, while qualitative technique is applied to analyse the data. Findings reveal that the main determinant factor for the Qur’anic memorization is a combination of perceived high social stratum the hafidz would enjoy should they manage to complete the task, and the society’s recognition for such stratum in the form of government supports for the hafidz. Full-fledge Hafidzs (memorizers) of the Qur’an perceive their effort to memorize the whole chapter of the Qur’an as a sacred duty ordained by God thus material gains and social recognitions they get while doing the task are the manifestation of God’s blessings for them. The sacred and the profane in this context is, therefore, fluid that in most of the times the demarcation lines of the sacred and the profane transgress each other’s.