The novel Ketika Cinta Bertasbih (Buku 1 Dwilogi Pembangun Jiwa) tells us about the struggle of a young man named Khoirul Azzam in reaching success and finding his true love. Abdullah Khoirul Azzam is a 28 years old man who smart and handsome. He comes from Dukuh Sraten, Kartasura, Middle Java, Indonesia. Since he was a kid, Azzam seems to have a good character. Because of his hard effort he gets a scholarship to study in Al-Azhar University of Egypt after he is graduated from Madrasah Aliyah in his hometown. He gets through his first year with a Jayyid Jiddan predicate (very good), but his father dies not long after that. As the oldest son in the family, like or dislike, he has to be responsible of his family’s life, because his sisters are still teenager. On the other hand, he has to finish his study abroad, too. Thus he starts to manage his time to study and earn money. He makes Tempe and meatballs that he sells to Indonesian students and consulate staff and family in Cairo. Thanks to his skill and great efforts in cooking, Azzam becomes popular as an engineer of cooking. His customers are always satisfied with his products. Unfortunately it affects to his study. It’s been nine years passed, but he hasn’t finished his study yet.
Because he often gets orders from the Indonesian consulate, he meets the ambassador’s daughter, Eliana Pramesti Alam. She has been graduated from EHESS France then continues her study in American University in Cairo. She is popular among the students because of her beauty and intelligence. She has been offered to play Indonesian movies and Sinetron in Jakarta, even in one of Hollywood movies. Her beauty and achievement makes Eliana grows on Azzam, but it doesn’t last long. He gives up to get close to Eliana because she has a slightly different lifestyle with Azzam’s. She is rather secular and not really religious. Besides, Pak Ali, a consulate driver who has a close relationship with Eliana’s family, says that she’s not worth to be Azzam’s wife.
Pak Ali says that there is a girl that is worth to be Azzam’s wife. Azzam’s is urged to propose her as soon as possible. She is smart and beautiful as well as Eliana. She is Anna Althafunnisa, a magisterial degree student of Al-Azhar. She can speak in English, Arabic and Mandarin well. She has more positive value than Eliana, which is the fact that Anna wears Jilbab, and she is a pious girl. Her father is the chief of Wangen’s Islamic boarding school named Kiai Luthfi Hakim.
There is a will of Azzam to propose Anna although he never met and saw her before. Pak Ali tells Azzam to propose through her uncle Ustadz Mujab in Cairo, and the good thing is Azzam knows Ustadz Mujab well. With full of good intention Azzam comes to Ustadz Mujab to propose Anna Althafunnisa. Poor Azzam, his proposal is rejected because she has been proposed by his friend Furqan, a magisterial degree student of a rich family. Moreover Ustadz Mujab says that he must measure himself. His bachelor degree hasn’t finished yet, although it has been nine years. Azzam can accept the reasons of the rejection in spite of his heart is hurt enough. Then Furqan gets a catastrophe that really breaks his spirit of life. It makes him get into confusion whether to marry Anna, that has been proposed which it will destroy Anna’s life, or not.
Meanwhile Ayyatul Husna, Azzam’s sister who often sends letters from his hometown, sends a letter that enlightening Azzam’s heart. Husna says that Azzam doesn’t have to send money again for his family, and he must be more focus to finish his study. Beside Husna has already graduated from UNS, she has been working as a psychologist, and Husna’s skill in writing has given her enough income, too. Her incomes are enough to fund family needs and her sisters study. Since that Azzam decides to be more serious in studying until he’s finally graduated. Azzam fulfils his promise to his mother to return to his hometown and finds a spouse immediately, although he still has a little bit hope to make Anna as his wife. Will Azzam get Anna? Or he will get Eliana? Or he’ll get another girl as his wife? All of these questions will be answered on the second book.
It’s another masterpiece of Habiburrahman El Shirazy. Just in fourteen months it has been printed thirteen times and become mega bestseller of South East Asia. No wonder a lot of people, including me, like this novel so much, because this novel gives more morality lessons, Islamic values and great love story. The story line is more complicated, and it makes this novel more interesting. The main characters are facing different problems and complicated way of life. The interesting thing is that the main characters are connected each other in a surprising way. Sometimes the characters don’t realize that the person who he tries to find is next to him. Just like Habiburrahman’s previous novel Ayat-ayat Cinta, this novel gives us a lot of morality lessons, but it’s emphasising on the great will and efforts will give us the great results. The ‘where there is a will, there is a way’ motto becomes the sprit of this novel. That’s why this novel is called the empowering novel. That motto will lead us to do more and more to get our aims of life.
This novel gives good examples through the main man and woman characters, Khoirul Azzam and Anna Althafunnisa, and they are worth to be followed by us, because they are the examples of how Moslem should be in their life. Although it’s hard to make us have a good character like them, but if we can do that, I think Moslem will be rising up again as the best generation of the world. I hope we can make it happen.