[REVIEW] Indonesia Dream Worldwide Program 2019 in Jakarta

Dream Program is a fundamental Arabic course from Bayyinah Institute, taught by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan (NAK) to understand Quranic Arabic. This program was run in Jakarta for the first time on 20-28 November 2019 at Balai Kartini. Organised by Yayasan Bayyinah Quran Indonesia (yes, they just made it into an official foundation to ease Bayyinah's activity in Indonesia), every night from 7 to 10 pm (we had a break on Saturday for Story Night session, but on Sunday the lecture was from 9 am to 3.30 pm), I sat and listened to NAK's Arabic lecture with the other 1,000+ participants.

A friend of mine asked me to make a review and share my experience about Indonesia Dream Wordlwide (IDW) 2019 program, so here it is. I will cover the review of some technical things (facility etc) and the program's learning method.

The registration for IDW2019 was opened on early September (two months before IDW2019 starts). The registration was first circulated within NAKIndonesia community members and then it was published for public in their Instagram page. For non-members, stay tuned on Instagram to be the first one to know about their next event.

The event took place at Nusa Indah Theatre, a space where 1,200 can sit in a big auditorium with sloped seating arrangement so the participants in the last row can see the stage clearly. There was a big screen on the stage. It would show what was on NAK's laptop during the lesson, sometimes the camera would panning on the audience, sometimes to the people who gave questions. Although the program was officially started on 7 pm and the gate opened on 5 pm, many enthusiastic students came early since 4 pm. Usually at 8 pm or 8.30 pm there would be a break for 30 minutes where people could pray Isha, go to toilet, and have dinner. The main Arabic lessons usually ended on 9.30 pm and then NAK would give some stories form Quran until 10 pm.

The queue line formed by women participants in front of the gate.

Near the gate, there were several booths selling foods, snacks, and drinks. The menu was always the same and the price was fairly affordable (mineral water Rp 8.000 and food from Rp 25.000). Unfortunately there were not many seatings available for people to eat outside the auditorium, so many people decided to sit on the floor or went to the first floor where there were more seatings. Some people secretly brought the food into the auditorium. There was also some booths by the sponsors. One of them is Alami who provided free water refill and snacks.

My Arabic buddies (left to right): Mba Wila, Mba Windy, me, and Mba Ajeng. We love sitting on the last row #lol. (Image taken by mba Windy)

The seating arrangement is separated for men and women, and there is also a family section (for couples who wish to sit together). The temperature varied by the seating location. In the middle part it was pleasant, but the top-middle was cold. I didn't have any chance to sit on the first row since the seats were always taken by ambitious students who came as early as 3 pm. My friends and I preferred to sit on the very last row (row V) on the left side, where it was very near the exit door. We could easily slip in and out to the toilet, prayer area, and avoiding crowds the class ended. The speaker was very close too so we could hear clearly.

The view from the last row of the auditorium. The speaker was right behind us.

Most of the participants were women and we discovered three kids joined the program with their parents too. For moms who brought their kids, the kids could use the kids playroom near the registration desk while their moms attending the lecture. Some participants came from outside Jakarta, and even from Malaysia. Many of them working in the day and diligently came to IDW2019 after their work finished.

Playroom for kids (picture taken by committee).

The lecture started at 7 PM sharp, but the ustadh entered the class about one hour earlier to give some time for students to ask some questions. Sometimes the ustadh chose not to answer the question when there was someone recording with his/her phone. But most of the time he would answer the questions. Some times the QnA sessions were amplified by some microphones, but most of the times were not. Most of the participants could only watch from afar, because the session was happened on the stage, or at the edge of the stage, where the ustadh was circled by 20-30 curious people.

We were given some materials (PDF files and some flash cards) by the committee. The ustadh encouraged us not to write notes during the class because everything was already on the learning materials and we should focus on the session, unless he clearly gave instruction to write. The next day after each session finished, we received a PDF files with notes (like a transcript) about the previous day lecture.

Three hour session didn't feel like forever because the ustadh could cleverly explain the lessons with many jokes, stories, and lots of interaction. "Say these 5 times!", "Follow me...", and "But ustadh..." were frequently said by the ustadh to make sure we were engaged and didn't fall asleep. Some times he would give some chocolate for the participants who could answer his questions correctly.

Yay! Finally we got chocolates, only one day before the program ended.

IDW2019 program is What I like from Bayyinah's method for IDW2019 is the most basic Arabic knowledge for English speaker (to read and to listen, we didn't do any speaking or writing) could be packed into only eight days. My friends who never studied Arabic before confessed they felt lost some times because the lesson moved very fast. For example, I remember my previous Arabic lesson (from Islamic Online University) explained about mudhaf - mudhaf ilaih concept in one chapter, whilst in IDW2019 was only 15 minutes. To be honest, I felt glad that I had some experience in learning Arabic before, so I could combine what I learned before with this new approach.

Many of the participants never learned Arabic before, but I could feel their enthusiasm bigger than me. Some of the would memorising the lesson during Isha break or before the lecture started. Some kids bravely raised their hands to answer ustadh's questions. Some people much older than me (yeah, I'm talking about seniors) coming everyday to learn together with the youngsters.

Madame governor of Jakarta joined the lecture with her assistants (left).

The most important part for us is the next 20 days after IDW2019 ended. On the last day, the ustadh emphasised on re-learning and studying from the first page of the PDF file. He even made us record his 20 min summary of the whole materials and told us we should be able to repeat that 20 min summary after 20 days. IDW2019 program is basically a fundamental Arabic lesson and it is very important to get them etched in our brain. He challenged us to work on surah Al Baqarah for the next Ramadan (analysing the word, do some simple translation), but actually he said it is more important to (at least) learn something new, as simple as one ayah per month.

After eight days (of coming home very late and sluggishness in the morning), I feel my understanding in Arabic has increased. I'm so grateful I had the chance to join this IDW2019, alhamdulillah. As per today, I haven't finished studying the materials all over again (this blog is written 5 days after IDW2019 ended), but at least I always bring the printed materials with me everywhere so I can read it anytime. All the participants are divided into some WhatsApp groups where we could ask and share knowledge after IDW2019 finished. Some people made small groups, like study groups, where they could study together not only online, but also in person.

At the end of the program, NAK said that the participants are allowed to share all learning materials as long as we do proper credits to Bayyinah. I uploaded one of them and you can also download it here.

PS: I send my best regards and dua for all the committees (mas Taufik, mba Siti, dkk) and everyone who supported this IDW2019 and brought it to Jakarta. May Allah Gives you all the best rewards, Amin.