Jakarta. Yahya Edward Hendrawan, 39, is not an ordinary religious teacher or ustaz. He dressed himself as a funny clown to teach Islamic religion to children in his neighborhood. His former teacher inspired him. He told young Yahya that there are many ways to preach and teach Islamic religion to children. The key is to make them happy.
"If the children are happy, they will definitely want to learn and come to my place by themselves. They understand or not about what we teach. That's another thing," Yahya said at his house on Jalan Bintang, Sudimara Pinang, Tangerang, Banten on April 30.
He loves to be called Om Badut — or Uncle Clown — has been in this profession for more than a decade. At first, he often found himself at the receiving end of ridicule and rejection from his neighbors. But he believes this is the right step that God gives him. He chose to stay and live the mandate from his teacher.
"My teacher gave a mandate. He assigned me to become a modern Abunawas," he said.
Young Yahya realized that he was not Abunawas. He didn't have the same intelligence as Abunawas and didn't live in a land of 1.001 nights. So he learns to be a clown, presents some entertainment, and adapts to the condition of the children where he teaches.
Ustaz Yahya teaches at the Darussalam An'nur Orphanage Foundation daily. However, on Fridays, he focuses on teaching literacy and Islamic religion at home to children in his neighborhood. He feels this is important because children need education about morals and manners, such as how to behave and talk to parents, starting from their closest environment.
Ustaz Yahya also invited other clown friends to come to his house to present different entertainment every week. Apart from teaching, he also established an "anti-wasteful book-donation" movement that accepts used books worthy of reading. So children can read at home for free.
"Insyaallah, I don't want to be the best, but I prefer always to be able to do the best. Living in this world is short, so it must be memorable and brings goodness to many people," he added.