Claudia Seise is an independent writer and researcher with focus on Islam and art in Southeast Asia. She obtained her Bachelor Degree from the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany in Asian and African Studies with focus on Southeast Asia. She has been writing for various magazines and newspapers, among others: Südostasien Magazine, Visual Arts Magazine, and Jakarta Post and has published a book on women’s micro-businesses in Indonesia. She currently lives and works in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
When I was still a child I remember having dreams of how I found an old treasure or part of an old treasure. Usually I played in what seemed like a desert or at least a sandy ground, maybe it was just a sand pit.
While I played I saw something shiny and because of all the fairy tales I had been told, listened to or read myself, I knew what a shiny, golden twinkle meant. That was when I got all excited and hurried to dig up whatever shiny there was. The shiny something was gold coins, ready to be picked up by me. But each time I extended my hand, I, of course, awoke, disappointed that my good luck was yet another dream.
The same dream in different varieties reappeared throughout my childhood, puberty and early adulthood. Never was I able to actually pick up one of the gold coins in front of me in the sand.
Doha, Qatar – stopover for four hours. I wander around the small airport, looking at the expensive jewellery available to buy if one has the money for it. Gold bracelets, gold rings, watches, earrings. For a long time I stand by the counters looking, observing other customers and contemplating about the stable value gold has, but, unfortunately, no chance for me to buy the thinnest bracelet or the smallest ring. I had left Germany to go work in Southeast Asia. The couple of dollars in my pocket are just enough to keep me going the first few weeks before the first pay cheque comes through. Still, I can’t get enough of the shiny gold sparkling in the fake mall like light.
Actually this sudden interest for gold, besides my childhood treasure dream, was triggered by an amazing exhibition held in Berlin, Germany, which had displayed an almost vulgar amount of ancient gold from mostly Central Asia.
This incredible collection of gold jewellery and gold coins just got to me and I honestly thought what I was doing saving up pieces of paper with artificial numbers on it or even worse numbers on a superficial bank account, which I don’t even know if they are real in case I need them. I had to admit to myself that something touchable like the gold in the exhibition would be way more satisfactory.
Even though my ‘gold rush’ passed, it never really completely left my system.
Especially earning my first real money besides student job during high school, I became more and more concerned of what to do with my money – the little money I had. With gossip of another economic crisis just standing in front of our doors, my concerns slowly developed into some form of paranoia.
But I still did not know what to do. I thought about buying gold jewellery, but then I was no expert and more afraid of being cheated than to carry around my dollar bills.
The value of the dollar at this time declined continuously. I was disappointed with the continuously decreasing value of my hard earned money, especially if counted against the Euro, but there was nothing I could do at that time.
February 2008 I became Muslim. The whys and hows would go beyond this article; just shortly: it was the best choice of my life.
Two months after my life-changing decision I returned to Indonesia.
The matter of the remains of what I would earn became even more urgent in Indonesia because the Indonesian rupiah forms a currency you can’t take home (to your country) with you without loosing major parts due to awful exchange rates on the international exchange market. The need for an alternative became inevitable.
I started asking Allah SWT for His help to please show me a way to keep my hard earned savings save. Not that it was much anyway, but I think every little amount should be considered as Allah’s rejeki and respected and treated accordingly.
It was not long until Allah SWT answered my prayers – as always through His amazing plan, which non-Believers like to call coincidence.
During an afternoon with my girlfriends one of them told me that there was somebody I had to meet. She had told one of her guests at her homestay about me – a young German woman, who became Muslim.
I met this person and we had a short talk, but because of other arrangements no time to go into any details. We exchanged phone numbers, but I was not sure whether we would arrange to meet again.
One or two days later after that meeting I all of a sudden had this strong urge to meet that person again because I felt there was something he could tell me.
During the second meeting Abbas re-awoke my childhood dream – he put a shiny, clean gold coin on the table in front of me and said that this is the tool to build an Islamic economy; the tool to end currency rip-offs, a save investment that is halal and therefore enjoys Allah’s blessings; the tool that would bring back the real value of commodities.
In front of me on the table in the small guesthouse lay an Islamic gold coin – the Dinar. I shook my head and laughed nervously, not because I did not believe what I saw, but because what I saw was too good to be true.
I was astonished by the swiftness with which Allah SWT had answered my supplication and as in stories from the Holy Koran, where Allah answered the messengers’ requests or people’s prayers, my faith and submission to His will were boosted enormously by this incident.
Just a few weeks later I was able to buy my first gold Dinar. It was a strange feeling to hand over all these one hundred thousand rupiah bills ($1 = approx. Rp.10.000) and in return receive a small shiny coin made of 91, 70 percent (22 karat) gold with a weight of 4, 25 gram.
I felt proud and for the next few days I would take the Dinar in my hand and just look at it; my heart filled with a warm feeling of knowing I was on the right path.
Since those days less than half a year has passed but many things have happened.
Our Indonesian Dinar community is growing and even some of my non-Muslim friends admit to the amazing idea to bring the Islamic gold coin back to life.
Small leaflets printed by Murabitun Indonesia help to spread the word and practice about the way to re-establish a fair economic system based on the laws passed by Allah SWT.
Buying the gold Dinar or silver Dirham and use them as investment or for everyday transaction with people, who understand about this century old currency, is an essential contribution towards change in our all societies.
Change towards a more equal economic system – equal on all levels, the local, national and international, and a huge step towards balancing the north – south problematic – the human made discrepancy between so called developed and developing countries.
By using the gold Dinar as an internationally currency that inherits real value, not manipulated artificial numbers found in often highly risky shares on the stock market, exploitation of developing countries and their citizens through economic neo-colonialism will eventually be erased because of the natural return of the real value of commodities.
Until then we still have a long way to go, especially because different western (developed) countries make the making and usage of the gold Dinar illegal.
That is why our hope is with countries like Indonesia, where governments are flexible enough and common people still naturally recognize the importance and superiority of gold compared to paper money. They have not been spoiled by the hype that developed among many western [pseudo] – intellectuals, who feel that if they do not own any shares they are seen as latecomers.
If Indonesia’s many different Muslim organizations united by accepting the Dinar and Dirham as their Islamic currency, the government would eventually have to follow.
If the Indonesian government still needed reassurance, it would just have to look to it immediate neighbour – Malaysia that uses Islamic gold coins as trading currency with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Islam requires Muslim men to express their appreciation for their future wife by giving her a dowry.
Two weeks ago I was lucky to receive my dowry. I got married to a wonderful Muslim man with strong iman. My dowry consisted of Islamic gold coins – Dinar – another beautiful way of using them.
In the end my childhood dream came true; I held shiny, clean gold coins in my hand. I did not dig them up from the desert, but who knows; maybe that part of my dream is still hidden in my future. Insya Allah.