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Pesantren

DARUSSALAM — Pondok Modern Darussalam Gontor telah mempersiapkan kontingen pramuka yang akan dikirim mengikuti Jambore Dunia (Jamdun) ke-22 di Swedia, pada bulan Juli-Agustus 2011 mendatang. Kontingen yang diberi nama “Eagle Team” ini beranggotakan 28 orang santri yang terdiri dari 23 orang santri Gontor 1, dua orang santri Gontor 3, dua orang santri Gontor 5, dan satu orang santri Gontor 6. Mereka berhasil lolos seleksi yang meliputi kemampuan berbahasa Inggris dan skill kepramukaan.

Mengingat semakin dekatnya acara yang dijadwalkan akan berlangsung selama 10 hari, 27 Juli — 7 Agustus 2011 nanti, Majelis Pembimbing Koordinator Harian (Mabikori) mengadakan karantina peserta sejak beberapa minggu yang lalu, Rabu (1/6), dengan tujuan menggalang kekompakan antaranggota kontingen dan memaksimalkan latihan-latihan kepramukaan. Selama mengikuti karantina, mereka ditempatkan bersama-sama di ruangan Ankuperpus Gedung 17 Agustus hingga menjelang waktu keberangkatan. Menurut Ustadz Firman Kurniawan, staf Mabikori, kontingen direncanakan berangkat dari Gontor pada tanggal 23 Juli 2011 yang akan datang.

Sementara itu, selain berlatih dalam berbagai skill kepramukaan, para peserta juga mengadakan latihan Tari Aceh, Tari Malulo, dan Kesenian Reog. Ketiga seni inilah yang nantinya akan ditampilkan kontingen Gontor di Swedia untuk mewakili kebudayaan Indonesia, karena “Eagle Team” juga berstatus sebagai utusan Indonesia. Dengan persiapan ini, diharapkan “Eagle Team” mampu menyebarkan syiar Gontor ke seluruh dunia sekaligus membawa nama baik Indonesia di mata dunia melalui bidang kepramukaan.

Sumber

Istilah kurikulum ter­sem­bunyi (hidden curricullum) dikenalkan oleh Philip W Jackson pada tahun 1968 dan Paulo Freire pada 1972. Namun, Pondok Modern Darussalam Gontor telah menerapkan kurikulum ini sejak awal berdirinya, 10 April 1926. Kurikulum ter­sem­bunyi dilaksanakan untuk mengolah ranah afektif dan psikomotorik peserta didik. Dalam melaksanakan kuri­kulum tersembunyi ini, KMI dibantu oleh staf Peng­asuhan Santri. Untuk memberlakukan kurikulum ter­sembunyi ini, saf Pengasuhan Santri menggunakan “Total Quality Control” yang berfungsi untuk mencari dan me­nyelesaikan permasalahan, mencari inspirasi, memupuk rasa tanggung jawab dan menciptakan kehidupan sesuai dengan yang diinginkan/diarahkan.



Pelaksanaan hidden curriculum dapat dilakukan di rayon atau asrama, Organisasi Pelajar Pondok Modern (OPPM), Koordinator Gerakan Pramuka, dan non-OPPM. Di asrama, kurikulum ini dilaksanakan selama 24 jam per hari. Selama waktu tersebut para santri mendapatkan pen­­didikan hidup dan menghidupi, berjuang dan mem­perjuangkan, berkorban dan mengorbankan. Santri kelas 5 yang diberi tanggung jawab oleh Pengasuh Pondok untuk menjadi pengurus rayon diharapkan terdidik untuk bisa menjadi pemimpin yang hakiki. Mereka dituntut sewaktu-waktu untuk bisa menjadi ‘ayah’ atau ‘ibu’. Sewaktu-waktu juga bisa menjadi ‘kakak’ bahkan ‘teman’ biasa bagi anggotanya masing-masing. Sedangkan anggota rayon, santri kelas 1-4 dan kelas 5-6 yang tinggal di asrama, perlu memperoleh bimbingan, pengawalan, motivasi bahkan kadang-kadang perlu shock terapy.

Sistem asrama ini bagaikan sebuah sistem pemerintah­an suatu negara. Ketua rayon sebagai presiden, para pengurus rayon lainnya –yang terbagi menjadi dua bagian: keamanan dan penggerak bahasa– sebagai menteri, dan anggota rayon ibarat masyarakat. Anggota rayon itu bagaikan padi. Makin diperhatikan, dirawat dan dijaga dari segala serangan hama oleh petani (pengurus rayon) maka makin baguslah hasil panennya. Sebaliknya jika padi itu kurang diperhatikan, jarang dirawat, dibiarkan dari serangan hama, maka padi itu akan hancur, rusak, tak layak untuk dijual apalagi dikonsumsi. Sama halnya dengan anggota yang menghadapi pelbagai permasalahan dan kurang mendapat bimbingan, perhatian, motivasi, dan khususnya pengontrolan dari pengurus dalam bidang ubudiyah, akhlak, disiplin, akademik, dan bahasa, maka prestasi santri akan kurang memuaskan ke­ti­ka kenaikan kelas di­umum­kan.

Kurikulum pesantren di Pon­­dok Modern Gontor se­imbang. Tidak membedakan pro­gram intrakurikuler dengan ekstra­­kurikuler. Se­­­imbang bukan berarti fifty-fifty atau one hundred-one hundred me­­lainkan semuanya di­penting­kan, diperhatikan dan pada akhir­nya akan mem­pe­ngaruhi kinerja santri. Karena dipentingkan, di­per­hatikan, dan keduanya sa­ling mempengaruhi, maka kurikulum ter­sebut menjadi satu kesatuan yang utuh (integrated) dan menyeluruh (comprehensive). Program intrakurikuler tidak lebih utama daripada ekstrakurikuler atau sebaliknya. Jadi, kegiatan dalam kelas maupun luar kelas sama pentingnya. Bahkan dalam kasus-kasus tertentu, untuk kepentingan tertentu, bisa jadi kelas diliburkan untuk kegiatan ekstrakurikuler seperti pada acara pergantian pengurus OPPM, penerimaan tamu, pekan perkenalan Khutbatu-l-‘Arsy, dan apel tahunan. Dengan meliburkan kelas untuk kepentingan tertentu, itu menandakan bahwa derajat intrakurikuler dan ekstrakurikuler sama (seimbang).

Integrasi intrakurikuler dengan ekstrakurikuler dapat dilihat dari aspek pengembangan potensi santri, baik dalam ubudiyah, mental, sosial, maupun intelektual. Santri memperoleh pelajaran agama 100 persen dan pelajaran umum 100 persen. Dua hal tersebut dapat dilakukan dengan mudah karena seluruh santri berada dalam kampus selama 24 jam per hari yang terintegrasikan pada tri pusat pendidikan; rumah, sekolah, dan masyarakat dengan dilandasi oleh falsafah hidup pondok yang secara tidak sadar telah diajarkan oleh guru di dalam kelas melalui mata pelajaran agama dan umum yang kemudian diterapkan oleh seluruh santri pada kehidupan sehari-hari. Misalkan, pelajaran muthala’ah, mahfudzat, dan hadis mengajarkan tentang akhlaqul karimah, sedangkan pelajaran bahasa Inggris mengajarkan tentang kedisiplinan, dan lain sebagainya. Dengan demikian, tujuan pembelajaran di Gontor dapat tercapai sesuai yang diinginkan atau diarahkan.

Tujuan pembelajaran di Pondok Modern Darussalam Gontor adalah mencetak santri yang mukmin, taat menjalankan dan menegakkan syariat Islam, berbudi tinggi, berbadan sehat, berpikiran bebas, serta berkhidmat kepada bangsa dan negara, serta bukan untuk mencari ijazah atau gelar.

Oleh: Mochamad Lutfi Andriansa

Sumber


A type of school in Southeast Asia offering second‐level training in Islamic subjects is termed pesantren on Java, surau on Sumatra, pondok on the Malay Peninsula, and pandita (“school”) in the Philippines. Pesantren derives from the sixteenth century, when learning centers known as the “place of learning for the Islamic faithful (santris),” were established. Surau was a place for worship in early Southeast Asia, while pondok derives from the travelers’ inns (Ar., funduq) of the Middle East. Pandita was the local term for a holy man in the Philippines.

By the seventeenth century the pesantren on Java had become alternate centers of authority to the princely courts. The courts stressed elaborate lifestyles based on Old Javanese values of refinement, while the pesantren stressed pious conduct and the hereafter. Each rival, however, usually recognized the legitimacy and societal role of the other. In Minangkabau the surau was likewise a center of authority outside the traditional communal units of society. In other places there seems to have been less social division between the court and the learning centers than existed in Java and Minangkabau.

In earlier times the pesantren, surau, pondok, and pandita schools were a rural phenomenon, interacting with local communities. Scholars provided education, gave advice to villagers, and legitimized local ceremonies. Some scholars were regarded as “blessed” and were consulted for cures and supernatural assistance during their lives and after death by cults at their tombs. Villagers supported pesantren with food and labor; in some places a poor tax, alms, and pious endowments were also given. In Malaysia support networks of parents provided assistance, and in all places learners often worked in the fields of the pesantren, since fees were seldom taken for learning per se. Today some pesantren are located in urban areas, and many rely on fees.

Pesantren are private ventures by scholars—called kyai on Java, guru on the Malay Peninsula, pandita in the southern Philippines, and ʿalīm in most other places—usually with the assistance of their families. Many schools do not survive the founder, but others continue through several generations, with sons and sons‐in‐law succeeding to control and ownership. Prestige is gained by scholars through good contacts with other scholar families, some in Arabia, and also through pupils who establish new pesantren recognizing the original scholars as progenitors.

Learners in earlier times remained at a pesantren until they felt they had learned enough and then returned to society. Committed learners, often sons of scholars (gus), moved among pesantren whose scholars had reputations for special knowledge. Such travel allowed a learner the opportunity to marry a daughter of an established scholar, ensuring himself a place to teach and perhaps to succeed the older scholar. Today, additional training is obtained in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East, often at Al‐Azhar University in Egypt .

Historically, the intense education and worship schedule led to deep involvement of learners with their scholar, which produced strong loyalties and respect. In school and after departing, scholars could rely on their learners to answer a summons for aid, a factor of political importance at certain moments in history. In the Second Javanese War (1826–1830), the Acehnese War (1873–1903), and the Battle of Surabaya (1946) during the Indonesian revolution, scholars led their santris into armed conflict against enemies who they believed threatened the Muslim community. Contemporary Indonesian Muslim intellectuals have lauded the anti‐Dutch stance of the pesantren scholars, recognizing them as preservers of Indonesian and Islamic values during the colonial period.

Learning in pesantren is based on the “old books” (kitab kuning) of prominent scholars from the Muslim Middle Period (ca. 1250 to 1850), usually from the Shāfiʿī school of legal scholarship. Study has always included Arabic grammar (naḥw) and conjugation (ṣarf), Qur’ānic recitation (qirā’ah), Qur’ānic exegesis (tafsīr), theology (tawḥīd), jurisprudence (fiqh), ethics (akhlāq), logic (manṭiq), history (tārīkh) and mysticism (taṣawwuf). The weton or ḥalaqah system was used, in which learners sat in a semicircle before a seated scholar who called on them in turn for recitation. Learners at all levels of competence sat together, and the more accomplished assisted the less learned with their readings.

Change occurred slowly. Some learners studied in Mecca before becoming scholars and were influenced by thinking there. In this way the Naqshabandīyah order, with its balance between mysticism and legalism, became popular in nineteenth‐century Southeast Asia. Wahhābī purism was introduced through the Minangkabau suraus in the early nineteenth century, and in the early twentieth century some schools came under the modernizing and spiritual reform of the Manār school of Egypt. There was locally induced change as well, for example in the reforms of Hasyim Asy’ari (d. 1947), who introduced new techniques for the study of Arabic.

In the twentieth century pesantren came under pressure from society and governments to adopt current teaching techniques and to include nonreligious subjects; many responded favorably. In Indonesia the Modern Pesantren at Gontor, for example, expanded to include training from elementary grades to the university level, with a mixed curriculum. Other pesantren converted to madrasahs or sekolahs within the Indonesian education system. Still others offered specialized training in agriculture, crafts, and business alongside traditional religious subjects.

In the southern Philippines the pandita schools gave way to more organized madrasahs promoted by Egyptian religious teachers in the 1950s. In Thailand in the 1960s, the pondok schools were united into a state‐run system with a mixed curriculum. Losing pupils to government schools, pondoks in Malaysia sought accommodation with revivalist (daʿwah) activists in the 1970s to renew interest in Muslim education.

Although the value‐oriented education of the pesantren remains respected by Southeast Asian Muslims, the pesantren still appears to be waning as an educational choice. Muslims increasingly feel compelled to send their children to government schools with modern curricula, believing they will be better prepared for the job market. Even children of scholars, who earlier formed the cadre of young scholars and their wives, are drawn by nonreligious education, so that fewer scholars are being trained, and there is a long‐term decrease in the number of pesantren.

Adopted from http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t236/e0632

Published by:
M. Asrori Ardiansyah, M.Ed
Teacher in Malang Indonesia

How does pesantren education offer students help for future integration into ’s democratizing society and prepare them to live in a pluralist world? In light of an increasingly heated public debate that sees developments within the Muslim educational scene worldwide with much concern as a move to intolerance and militancy, this question does not allow for an easy answer. ’s pesantren are not spared similar accusations. Recent media coverage has been marked by a heightened sense that the pesantren constitute a “problem” globally as much as for Indonesia’s fledgling democracy to the extent that the German Geo declared the pesantren and their kiai “die vielleicht größte Gefahr für das Land” (Ger.; possibly the country’s gravest danger).[i] Accusations of a Saudi encouragement of radicalism there also feature prominently in articles. One reads of allegations that militant Muslim organizations exert control over a growing number of pesantren that generate “countless young militants schooled in jihad.”[ii]

Regardless of how one thinks about the alleged connection between Muslim radicalism and pesantren education, problems and challenges for the pesantren tradition have long been identified by both western and Indonesian educationalists when reflecting upon the schools’ potentials to prepare students for life in ’s modernizing society. Some have criticized the quality of education offered by pesantren as substandard; financial difficulties and insufficient qualifications of the teaching staff exacerbate the situation. Moreover, the religious nature of the curriculum and instructional techniques such as rote learning and memorization are deemed inadequate to the task of educating critical thinkers who will aid the process of social transformation upon which the country has embarked.

The alleged inability to prepare children adequately for the needs of the modern world is at the heart of the criticism. The modern world is generally characterized by a rational and secular outlook on life, which allows for the accommodation of scientific and technological developments as well as the pluralization and democratization of public life. In this perspective, secular institutions, which include secular systems of education, are deemed most able to prepare students for life in modern, pluralistic and democratic societies. In contrast, Muslim educational institutions appear unable either to accommodate modern scientific and technological change or to incorporate or support the pluralization and democratization of public life. In what follows I will argue that traditional Islamic education can and does prepare students for life in the modern world. More specifically, many of ’s pesantren exhibit a quite forward looking approach to balancing religious and formal education and make significant contributions to the empowerment of civil society by promoting an open attitude towards pluralism and democratic civility. Why might this be difficult to understand for someone trained in the western social sciences?

It has been common in western social theory to assume that in industrialized, highly educated, professionally specialized, and technologically advanced societies, religion will inevitably and progressively decline. Notwithstanding more recent challenges to the universality and inevitability of secularization, secular conceptions of modernity for a long time have shaped understandings of religion’s role in society. The projected retreat of religion from the public into the private realm, often coupled with the idea of religion’s subsequent marginalization and decline, set hurdles to any attempt to reflect on religion’s desirable contributions in the public sphere. In fact, a religion which does not accept it allocated space in the private sphere and seeks to assert itself publicly all too often is understood to be anti-modern, prone to extremism and fanaticism, and thus a potential threat. Education is undoubtedly a public matter whether it occurs in public schools or in private institutions. What happens in the educational institutions of a society ultimately concerns all citizens as it impinges on all facets of public life. It is not surprising then that recent discussions about religion’s role in education are located in the broader context of the debate about religion in the public sphere. Much of the current criticisms and stereotyping of Islamic educational institutions is motivated by a general suspicion of religion’s involvement in a public affair such as education.

Islamic Education in

Despite being a Muslim-majority nation, is not an Islamic state. Neither is Islam the official state religion. On the other hand, to consider secular would be mistaken. Constitutionally, the country is based on the Pancasila which acknowledges the religiously plural makeup of the Indonesian populace. This, however, does not indicate the state’s lack of support for Islam. An Islamic court system regulating matters of Islamic family law exists alongside the civil court system. A similar situation exists in the education system where the state maintains Islamic primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions of learning. Alongside the state system of education there thus exist a number of private educational networks on the levels of primary, secondary, and higher education. These institutions are mostly affiliated with religious organizations. Muhammadiyah maintains its own private universities with more than thirty campuses throughout the country, as well as a network of madrasah type schools. The latter is an Islamic day school that operates on a graded class system and employs a curriculum that combines general and religious subjects sanctioned by the Department of Religious Affairs. While the number of colleges and universities affiliated with Nahdlatul Ulama is smaller, the majorities of ’s Islamic boarding schools (pesantren) have strong cultural affiliations with Nahdlatul Ulama and have traditionally been independent of the government system.

Within the above institutions is an ongoing debate over the proper forms and meanings of Muslim education that exhibits elements well ahead of corresponding debates in other South and Southeast Asian countries. However, answers to questions of the nature and function of Islamic education and of the relationship between religious and general education are, of course, anything but homogenous. In the wake of continuing decentralization, local governments have changed educational policies in their school districts, have begun to demand traditional Islamic garb for female students of state schools, and have added supplementary religious instruction to the curriculum. Moreover, there have been sporadic reports that instructors on all levels of education use the mandatory courses on religion to subject students to a rigid, anti-pluralist interpretation of Islam. Finally, increased proselytizing activities by dakwah groups on campuses within the state system have raised concern that these are a source of Islamic intolerance and militancy.

The foregoing indicates the centrality of educational institutions for the religious socialization of ’s youth. Notwithstanding the perception of Muslim institutions of education as promoting religious exclusivism, the Indonesian Muslim educational scene is generally characterized by an emphasis on moderation. Although the decentralization of education has had negative results in some cases, in other instances it has also freed Islamic institutions from the limiting control of the state and granted them autonomy to develop more progressive curriculum materials than their non-Islamic counterparts. On the tertiary level, the IAIN as well as the Muhammadiyah systems have implemented a progressive civic education program which includes such issues as gender equality, democracy, and human rights but also pays attention to teacher training and instructional methods that foster participatory learning and critical thinking. The materials developed for these programs have replaced the earlier courses in civic education that were required under the New Order and are well ahead of comparable programs in other institutions of higher education. Observations such as the foregoing have led Merle Ricklefs in a recent public lecture to describe the state system of Islamic higher education and its nationwide network of campuses as “bastion of tolerant, liberal, pluralistic Islam.”[iii] A similar reputation for advancing Islamic understandings of democracy has been earned by some of Muhammadiyah’s universities such as the Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang (UMM).

The importance of the Islamic educational scene for this moderate branch of Indonesian Islam is further underscored by the fact that many of the Muslim intellectuals and activists found in the network of “civil Islam” are graduates from Islamic higher educational institutions such as the IAIN. Besides continuing their higher education at Islamic universities in the Middle East such as Cairo’s al-Azhar, it has become increasingly common for graduates from these programs to enter graduate programs at secular universities in Europe, , the , and . As a consequence, it has become more common that to find young Muslims among the ranks of students at these institutions who in addition to their traditional religious formation have participated in religious studies programs at Western universities and are well versed in the social sciences. Many of the leading contemporary advocates of a civil pluralist Islam in such as Azumardi Azra and Amin Abdullah are institutionally affiliated with the state system of Islamic higher education. The former is the rector of the UIN Jakarta whereas the latter maintains a position as professor in the Fakultas Ushuluddin (Faculty of Comparative Study of Religions) at the IAIN Yogyakarta.

The Pesantren Tradition

A similar creative energy and progressive thought is visible in many of ’s pesantren.[iv] The pesantren are traditionally providers of private, non-formal (religious) education and do not issue state-recognized certificates for these educational activities. They range from local Qur’an schools, in which students are instructed in the system of Qur’an recitation, to religious colleges akin to those found in the Middle East . Some have only a few regular students, a single teacher and perhaps some small agricultural fields, whereas others instruct upwards of three thousand students. Compared to state schools, the educational standards of many pesantren are considered lower. This is often the result of financial difficulties to fund the expansion of educational programs to include high-quality formal education. Nevertheless, over the past decades a growing integration of the pesantren into the national system of education can be perceived. Many pesantren have begun to teach a government-accredited curriculum in addition to traditional religious subjects while others have fully incorporated madrasah or sekolah-type schools. In the wake of such changes, some of these pesantren have become very large educational institutions, and many are increasingly integrated in the state-controlled education system.[v] Other pesantren have rejected the enhanced state control and interference in their educational routines that are part of adopting state-sanctioned curricula. Consequently, there remain numerous pesantren opting to stay outside the national system. Yet many of these have incorporated additional subjects such as English, journalism, computer science, and economics.[vi] Training in applied skills is equally prevalent. Drawing on ideas of critical pedagogy as expressed in the writings of such thinkers as Paulo Freire and Ivan Illich, many activists promoted the pesantren as model institutions for community development in the 1970’s, offering specialized training in agriculture, crafts, and business alongside traditional religious subjects.[vii] Still other pesantren have developed special programs that are connected to some of the functions the pesantren and their kiai have traditionally fulfilled. These include the provision of basic medical training as well as therapeutic programs such as psychotherapy or drug rehabilitation based on mystical practices.

Through their varied educational programs the pesantren contribute to a strengthening of the social fabric. They provide comparatively affordable education and, in some cases, are the only educational institutions available to families who otherwise could not send their children to school. No less important is the role that pesantren have played in the realm of community development: many pesantren are key institutions in the empowerment of civil society down to the grass-roots level. In their efforts at community development, many pesantren co-operate with the growing number of NGOs in this field. The mushrooming NGO activity in and around the pesantren tradition was one of the most remarkable features of the 1970s and 1980s. A number of these newly-emerging NGOs was affiliated with and supported by Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) for which development work had become a major focus in the 1980s.[viii] Among the most prominent contemporary NGOs are the Indonesian Society for Pesantren and Community Development (Perhimpunan Pengembangan Pesantren dan Masyarakat or P3M). The main goal of Jakarta-based P3M is to promote community development with a particular focus on pluralism and democracy. In its work P3M often utilizes the extensive network of ’s pesantren, which are both agents for and targets of community development programs. With the changing political climate in the 1990’s, some pesantren have begun to see their educational and socio-religious activities intimately connected with support for democratic civil society and seek to raise a critical political awareness among a wide spectrum of society for issues such as human rights, pluralism, political and social justice, democracy, and interfaith tolerance. Using classical Islamic texts, these institutions have geared their educational activities towards the affirmation of thought and praxis on anti-violence, civility, justice, and pluralism. Here Muslim organizations not only are involved in the theoretical and intellectual dimensions of building a pluralist society in a Muslim majority country, but also they are preparing their students to live as Muslims in diversity by empowering them in very concrete ways to participate in this process of social transformation.

As the result of these efforts within the pesantren scene, a network of Islamic scholars and activists affiliated with the pesantren has evolved that advances and supports democratic processes, civil society, pluralism, gender justice, and human rights within the framework of traditional Islamic scholarship and teaching. Through their role in community development and democracy building these pesantren are an integral part of the network of “civil Islam.”[ix] Although it may seem surprising to some that traditional religious institutions such as the pesantren are involved in forging an understanding of democracy and pluralism in an Islamic context, the educational activities in a variety of these schools exemplify such a trend. Pondok Pesantren Al-Muayyad Windan in Solo, Central Java is one such pesantren which explicitly seeks to prepare students to participate in transforming ’s society. In its efforts Al-Muayyad Windan cooperates with numerous NGOs, thereby utilizing as well as reinforcing the creative endeavors occurring on this level of society. Some of the highly visible and widely known organizations with which Al-Muayyad Windan collaborates include the aforementioned P3M and LKiS, Rahima (The Center for Education and Information on Islam and Women’s Rights Issues), CePDeS (Center for Pesantren and Democracy Studies), Interfidei (Institut Dialog Antar Iman), FPUB (Yogyakarta Interfaith Forum), and Percik (Institute for Social Research, Democracy, and Social Justice). Other pesantren such as Darul Tawhid in Cirebon have gained a widespread reputation for their work on issues of gender and women’s rights. Kiai Hussein was instrumental in the foundation of the pesantren-based NGO Fahmina which hence has had remarkable success engaging the support of numerous kiyai and pesantren in the region promoting women’s rights on the local level.

Evaluating Pesantren Education: Ambivalences
An evaluation of these developments will have to concede that ambivalences remain. Among the many noteworthy aspects of pesantren education is the integration of theory with religious praxis. The emphasis of pesantren education on character formation has most recently been pointed out by Lukens-Bull who described values such as keikhlasan (selflessness), kesederhanaan (simplicity), and kemandirian (self-sufficiency) as central to pesantren life. He notes, “By providing secular education, religious instruction, and training aimed at character development, pesantren are creating a new type of modern Indonesian… They are redefining modernity in an Islamic mode.”[x] Moreover, most pesantren have become co-operative institutions within the national system of education. What consequences the integration into the state system has for pesantren, however, is a topic of debate within the tradition itself. Some are confident that the integration will result in a well-balanced education that provides both religious and general training and allows graduates to continue their studies in state institutions of higher education. In my conversations with them, many kiai and santri signaled an awareness of the possible and at times very real dilemma for the pesantren posed by the integration of formal learning, namely that students at times conceive of traditional religious education only as secondary. Contributing to these developments are economic constraints and the perceived necessity of state-certified education in order to ensure employment opportunities in the public sector upon completion of one’s education. The question thus remains whether the pesantren have achieved a truly integrated concept of education or whether a dualism between religious and formal learning remains. Formidable problems of infrastructure such as a lack of financial resources, facilities, equipment, textbooks, as well as a scarcity of qualified teaching staff exacerbate the difficult situation.

A similar ambiguity is presented by the vertical structure of authority in the pesantren which is at odds with civic notions of democratic participation. At the same time it must be acknowledged that not all verticalism is bad. In some cases vertical structures can preserve social harmony and reinstate peaceful relations among communities and thereby actually strengthen a public culture of civility and participation.[xi] The role of the kiai in the process of peace building constitutes the focus of a recent study by LP3ES. In their function as “cultural brokers,” to use Geertz’s term, the report sees the kiai centrally involved in peace building initiatives and as mediators of social and political problems in local communities.[xii]

Finally, it cannot be denied that there are pesantren that promote a highly exclusive interpretation of Islam—one that narrowly focuses on a fixed canon of knowledge, opposes the process of democratization and pluralization, and thereby closes down the space in which a strong civil society might otherwise grow. In addition to Pesantren Al-Mukmin, better known as Pesantren Ngruki, in Solo, Central Java mentioned earlier, several other pesantren have been implicated with ties to militant Muslim organizations in Southeast Asia in research undertaken by the International Crisis Group (ICG). These include Al-Muttaqien in Jepara, Central Java , Dar us-Syahadah in Boyolali, Central Java , Pesantren al-Islam in Lamongan, East Java , as well as the pesantren of the Hidayatullah network.[xiii] The existence of such institutions within the pesantren tradition, however, does not contradict a broader point, namely that the majority of pesantren show a strong commitment to values of civility and many among them have become leading institutions in the fields of peace building, conflict resolution, interfaith dialogue, and the empowerment of women. Notes Robin Bush, “Over several years of holding training workshops for pesantren leaders, women’s activists, and Muslim youth organizations, gradually a network of pesantren, of ulama, and of Muslim intellectuals became grounded in arguments in favor of civil society, democratic institutions, and pluralism that were deeply rooted in Islamic teachings and perspectives.”[xiv]

It is this latter aspect which is truly remarkable about the pesantren tradition at present and its potential to remain relevant in a pluralistic world. The pesantren remind us that religious education can help students find their way amid pluralism in a time when many see relativism as the greatest moral danger. On one of my several visits to pesantren I was asked to discuss an article by Hans Küng that one of the santri had found in the library. There, Küng had eloquently written about the tension between theological steadfastness and the ability to engage in meaningful dialogue. For Küng, it was not a shallow or compromising tolerance that made real civility possible. Instead, respect for the rights of others comes form someone with deep and profound commitments. “The cure for intolerance,” Thiessen reminds us, “is not found in relativistic elimination of convictions, but in a liberal education which combines teaching for commitment with the encouragement of respect for others.”[xv] Education, as many pesantren exemplify, can take religion seriously and still welcome diversity and pluralism. Such a context does well to prepare students for participating in a global world of differences while simultaneously showing them that they can hold on to their particular faith.

Notes

[1] Short paper presented at TICI Yogyakarta on April 29, 2006.

[i] “Unterwegs auf Heisser Erde,” Geo (May 2004).
[ii] Andrew Marshall, “The Threat of Jaffar,” New York Times (March 10, 2002). More than any other pesantren, Pondok Pesantren Al-Mukmin in Ngruki, which is close to the Central Javanese city of Solo , has been mentioned repeatedly in the international press and was also implicated by an International Crisis Group (ICG) report as the center for a network of militant Muslims in with suspected links to al-Qaeda. See International Crisis Group, “Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia : The Case of the ‘Ngruki’ Network in ,” ICG Briefing (Jakarta/Brussels, August 2002). Available at http://www.crisisgroup.org.%5Biii%5D. Merle C. Ricklefs, “Islamizing Indonesia: Religion and Politics in ’s Giant Neighbour,” Public Lecture at the Asian Civilizations Museum , Singapore (September, 23 2004).
Available at http://www.ari.nus.edu.sg/docs/PLS_Merle_Ricklefs_Paper.pdf.
[iv] In 2001, the Ministry of Religious Affairs reported about 14,000 pesantren throughout the archipelago. Due to the internal diversity and independent status of many pesantren, their exact number is difficult to gauge and could considerably exceed the figures presented by the ministry.
[v] A particularly notable effort at reform was the establishment of Gontor Pondok Moderen at Gontor Ponorogo in East Java in 1926. Inspired by reforms at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Syanggit in North Africa, as well as by the Anglo-Muslim college of Aligarh and Santiniketan University in India, Gontor sought to modernize its methods of teaching and broaden the scope of subjects taught. Over the years Gontor expanded its educational program that now includes training from elementary grades to the university level. Arabic and English are the languages of instruction, and Gontor’s achievements with respect to foreign language study have been noted even outside of Indonesia. As the certificate offered by Gontor is recognized by Al-Azhar, the pesantren sends a significant number of students to Cairo. Other examples of pesantren that have undergone and continue to undergo similar reforms to those at Gontor include Pondok Pesantren Modern Islam Assalaam Surakarta, Darun Najah, Darul Falah, and Tebuireng.
[vi] An example of a well known, large pesantren is Pondok Pesantren Sidogiri in Pasuruan, East Java. In addition to religious training, Sidogiri has earned a reputation for its efforts and achievements with respect to economic development. Particularly celebrated is the Koperasi Pondok Pesantren (Kopontren) Sidogiri. Founded in 1961, the cooperative includes various businesses, for example, a cafeteria, grocery and clothing stores, and a bank inside the pesantren complex, as well as in the surrounding community.
[vii] Pondok Pesantren Pabelan in Muntilan, Central Java is a particularly prominent example. The pesantren trains santri to assist the surrounding villages in their economic development. In addition to the general education, the santri, together with people from the wider community, receive agricultural and medical training as well as training in building construction.
[viii] See Martin van Bruinessen, NU: Tradisi, Relasi-Relasi Kuasa, Pencarian Wacana Baru (Yogyakarta: LKiS, 1994).
[ix] A similar point is made in a recent study by the Jakarta-based research institute LP3ES, Laporan Penelitian: The Role of Pesantren to Support Community Network and to Develop Peaceful Co-existence in Indonesia ( Jakarta: LP3ES, 2005).
[x] Ronald Lukens-Bull, “Teaching Morality: Javanese Islamic Education in a Globalizing Era,” Journal of Arab and Islamic Studies 3 (2000): 26-48, 42.
[xi] Robert W. Hefner, Civil Islam. Muslims and Democratization in ( Princeton and Oxford : Princeton University Press, 2000), 25.
[xii] This point is made in a recent study by the Jakarta-based research institute LP3ES, Laporan Penelitian: The Role of Pesantren to Support Community Network and to Develop Peaceful Co-existence in Indonesia ( Jakarta: LP3ES, 2005).
[xiii] See International Crisis Group, “Jemaah Islamiyah in South East Asia: Damaged but Still Dangerous,” ICG Asia Report no. 63 (International Crisis Group, Jakarta/Brussels, August 26, 2003). Available at http://www.crisisgroup.org.
[xiv] Robin Bush, “Islam and Civil Society in ,” paper presented at the CSID Sixth Annual Conference on Democracy and Development: Challenges for the Islamic World, Washington, DC – April 22 – 23, 2005.
[xv] Elmer John Thiessen, In Defense of Religious Schools and Colleges ( Montreal : McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001), 52.

Written By: Florian Pohl
(Ph.D Student of Temple University)

Adopted from: http://www.tici.or.id/artikel2.php?idartikel=6

Published by:
M. Asrori Ardiansyah, M.Ed
Teacher in Malang Indonesia


One of Indonesia’s great traditions is that of Muslim religious learning as embodied in the Javanese pesantren and similar institutions in the outer islands and the Malay peninsula. The raison d’être of these institutions is the transmission of traditional Islam as laid down in scripture, i.e., classical texts of the various Islamic disciplines, together with commentaries, glosses and supercommentaries on these basic texts written over the ages. These works are collectively known, in Indonesia, as kitab kuning, “yellow books”, a name that they owe to the tinted paper on which the first Middle Eastern editions reaching Indonesia were printed. The corpus of classical texts accepted in the pesantren tradition is – in theory at least – conceptually closed; the relevant knowledge is thought to be a finite and bounded body. Although new works within the tradition continue to be written, these have to remain within strict boundaries and cannot pretend to offer more than summaries, explications or rearrangements of the same, unchangeable, body of knowledge. Even radical reinterpreta­tions of the classical texts are not acceptable. The supposed rigidity of this tradition has come in for much criticism, both from unsympathetic foreign observers and from reformist and modernist Muslims themselves. In practice, however, the tradition appears to be much more flexible than the above sketch would suggest.

The pesantren (or pondok, surau, dayah, as it is called elsewhere) is not the only institution of Muslim religious education, and the tradition it embodies is only one out of several tendencies within Indonesian Islam. Modernist, reformist and fundamentalist currents emerged partly in opposition to it, and to some extent developed into rigid traditions themselves. My concern here is exclusively with the former, although a strict delimitation from the other currents – with which there has always been interaction – is not possible, and in recent years even a certain convergence is perceptible. Muhammadiyah, the major reformist organisation, for instance, now has its own pesantren, where besides its usual school curriculum, classical Arabic texts are also taught (although a different selection from the classical corpus is made than in the traditional pesantren).[1] In the average pesantren, on the other hand, there has been a shift of emphasis within the traditional corpus of texts, apparently under the influence of modernism. Different qur’anic exegeses (tafsir), the canonical collections of traditions (hadith)[2] and the principles of jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh) receive much more attention than a century ago, in a development parallel to (and perhaps responsive to) the modernist “return to the Qur’an and hadith”.

It seems best to delineate the Islamic tradition with which I am concerned here by enumerating its most important characteristics, while acknowledging that none of them represents a clear-cut and unambiguous criterium, and that the boundaries with other currents are often fuzzy.

Delineating the tradition

Key elements of the tradition are the institution of the pesantren itself (the school with its core of resident students), and the crucial personalistic and charismatic role of the kyai (or ajengan, tuan guru, etc.) – charismatic in the full Weberian sense of the term. An attitude of reverent respect for, and unquestioning obedience to the kyai is one of the first values installed in every santri. This reverend attitude is extended to earlier generations of `ulama and, a forteriori, to the authors of the texts studied. It might even seem to the outside observer that this attitude is deemed more important than the acquisition of knowledge; but to the kyai it is an integral part of the knowledge (ilmu) to be acquired. Hasyim Asy`ari, the founding father of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), is known to have been a great admirer of Muhammad `Abduh’s tafsir, but to have discouraged his students reading it; his objection was not to `Abduh’s rationalism but to the contempt `Abduh showed for traditional `ulama.

Although the material studied consists exclusively of written texts, their oral transmission is essential. These texts are read aloud by the kyai to a group of students, who have their own copies before them and may take notes on the proper vocalisation and the kyai’s explanations of grammatical niceties or the meanings of certain terms. Students may ask questions but these usually remain within the narrow context of the text itself; there are rarely if ever attempts to relate them to concrete, contemporary situations. The kyai rarely tries to discover whether the students actually understand the texts on any but the linguistic level; elementary texts are memorised, the more advanced ones simply read from beginning to end. (In a small circle of pesantren graduates, however, there is now much talk of understanding the kitab in their historical and cultural context, and to look for their contemporary relevance). Perhaps the majority of pesantren now operate on the madrasi system, with graded classes, fixed curricula and diplomas, but many important pesantren still use the more traditional method where the student reads a few specific texts under the guidance of the kyai (together with other students of various ages). For each text read he receives, after completion, an ijaza (usually oral only), after which he may move on to another pesantren to study other texts – many kyai are known as specialists of a number of specific kitab. Beside their more or less specialist teachings to the students in the pesantren, many kyai also hold weekly pengajian umum for the general public, in which they discuss relatively simple texts.

The central intellectual contents of the tradition are inscribed within the parameters of Ash`ari doctrine (as mediated especially by Sanusi’s works), the Shafi`i madhhab (with nominal acceptance of the other three Sunni madhhab), and the ethical and pietistic mysticism of Ghazali and related writers. The vast majority of the texts studied in the pesantren[3] – including the most recent works added to the tradition – fall within these three categories or that of the “instrumental science” of traditional Arabic grammar (nahw). In the last-named branch of learning, too, the cumbersome tradi­tional method (see Drewes 1971) continues to be preferred over more modern approaches. Modern currents of Islam partly defined themselves in opposition to the “petrified” madhhab and Ghazalian quietism, advocating the reopening of the gate of ijtihad (indepe­ndent judgment on the basis of the original sources, Qur’an and hadith) and social and political activism instead. While to the pesantren tradition Ghazali represents the ideal pinnacle of scholarly and spiritual achievement, the fundamentalists have chosen Ibn Taymiyya as their culture hero (significantly, the latter’s works are forbidden reading in many pesantren).[4] In practice, however, there is a considerable overlap of the texts read by “traditionalist” and other `ulama.

Most kyai content themselves with teaching existing kitab kuning, but not a few have added works of their own to the tradition. There is a remarkable formal difference with the writing modernist and reformist `ulama: the latter write their works in (romanized) Indonesian (the reformist public reads works by Arabic authors also usually in Indonesian translations). To the “traditionalist” `ulama, on the other hand, the Arabic language and script represent noble values in themselves; not only do they often write in Arabic,[5] but when they write or translate in vernacular languages, they almost exclusively use the Arabic script. The script is a badge of identity that, better than most criteria, differentiates the “traditionalists” from the other currents. Well over 500 different works by Indonesian traditional `ulama are currently in print, ranging from simple pious tracts through straightforward transla­tions to sophisticated commentaries on classical texts.

The pesantren tradition is pervaded by a highly devotional and mystical attitude. Supererogatory prayers and the recital of litanies (dhikr, wird, ratib) complement the canonical obligations. Many kyai are moreover affiliated with a mystical order (tariqa) and teach their followers its specific devotions and mystical exercises. A quarter of the literary output of the traditional `ulama consists of mystical and devotional texts. The Prophet is highly venerated and the object of numerous prayers; even the most undeserving of (those claiming to be) his descendants is deemed worthy of the highest respect. Saints are similarly venerated, and their intercession is frequently invoked. Visits to the graves of saints and lesser kyai are an essential part of the annual cycle; most Javanese pesantren hold annual celebrations (khaul, Ar. hawl) on the anniversaries of the deaths of their founding kyai.

A kyai’s charisma is based on the belief in his spiritual powers and ability to bestow blessing due to his contact with the world unseen; he is generally believed to retain this ability beyond the grave. It is this attitude towards the dead that most sharply distinguishes traditional Islam from the modernists and fundamen­talists, who hold that after death no communication is possible and who condemn all attempts to contact the dead as shirk, idolatry. To the traditionalists, on the other hand, it is an integral aspect of the essential concept of wasila, spiritual mediation. An unbroken chain from one’s teacher, living or dead, through previous teachers and saints to the Prophet and hence to God is deemed necessary for salvation. (The same reasoning is responsible for the curious fact that a kyai’s membership of NU is not considered to end upon his death, for that would imply that his wasila is cut off).[6]

The concept of an unbroken chain to the Prophet is central to the tradition, and is encountered in various aspects of it, as in the spiritual genealogy (silsila) of a tariqa[7] and the line of transmission (isnad) of hadith and of traditional texts in general.[8] The chain is a guarantee of the authenticity of the tradition. The numerous Hadrami sayyid (who have had a great influence on the formation of Indonesian traditional Islam) are the physical embodiments of such a chain; drops of the Prophet’s own blood are thought to flow in them, which makes them superior to the rest of mankind. In somewhat different form we recognize the same concept in the preoccupation of many kyai with their own genealogies and in their claims, spurious or correct, of descent from the great Javanese saints or ruling houses.[9] Modernists, of course, deny that heredity gives anyone claims to spiritual superiority.

The political “opportunism” for which NU is often criticised by other committed Muslims is, in the case of many kyai, a conscious emulation of the Sunni tradition’s political conservatism, which considers one hour of political chaos (fitna) worse than a century of tyranny. Political accommodation is almost a matter of principle in the Sunni tradition, not just one of expedience. All of NU’s important political moves in the past, legitimated if not actually initiated by its body of leading legal scholars, the Majlis Syuriah, are based on solid references to kitab kuning[10] – which proves that this theoretically closed corpus is not so rigid after all.

An Indonesian or a foreign tradition?

There is something paradoxical to the pesantren tradition. It is firmly rooted in the Indonesian soil; the pondok and pesantren may be called typical Indonesian institutions, in several respects unlike traditional schools elsewhere in the Muslim world. But at the same time this tradition is self-consciously international in orientation and continues to see not some place in the Archipelago but but Mecca as its focus or orientation.

The kitab kuning tradition is, obviously, of non-Indonesian origin. All classical texts studied in Indonesia are in Arabic, and were written well before Indonesia was islamicised; the same is true of many of the commentaries and glosses used, although there are increasing numbers of commentaries and adaptations written by Indonesian `ulama. Even shifts of emphasis within the tradition have in most cases followed earlier similar shifts in the major centres of the Islamic world. Numerous kitab studied at present in the pesantren are of relatively recent date but were written not in Indonesia but in Mecca or Madina (even in cases where the authors were Indonesians themselves).

The particular form of the pesantren as an educational institu­tion, too, reflects foreign influences if not origins (possibly superimposed upon older local traditions). It resembles the Middle Eastern or Indian madrasa, and I shall discuss below to what extent these may have provided its model. Foreign influences have, over the past centuries, become stronger rather than less. Most of the great kyai completed the highest stages of their education in the prestigious centres of learning of Arabia. They are best seen, perhaps, as mediators between the great international learned tradition of Islam and its more modest Indonesian variant(s).

This is not Indonesia’s only tradition that has unmistakably foreign origins; but unlike those of Chinese and Indian origins, which have become much more integrated into local culture and continue to develop independently of their foreign source,[11] the pesantren tradition tends to be wary of such syncretism and constantly seeks renewal at the source itself. The source par excellence, to Indonesia’s traditional Muslims, is the Holy City of Mecca, the qibla or centre of orientation of all the Muslim World, and secondarily Madina, where the Prophet himself established the first mosque and where he lies buried. These Arabian, and indirectly a few Indian centres, have provided the major impulses to the ongoing process of Indonesia’s islamisation.

Most of the early Indonesian authors of Islamic literature spent considerable periods in Mecca, Madina and other Middle Eastern centres of learning. Not only those with scholarly pretensions, also the early Indonesian Muslim rulers looked to Mecca, for legitimation if not also for useful ilmu, spiritual powers. It was from Mecca that, in the 1630’s, the fourth Muslim ruler of Banten, Abu’l-Mafakhir Mahmud, requested recognition as a sultan, as well as the explanation of certain kitab, and even the dispatch of an expert of the Law to enlighten Banten.[12] A decade later, in 1641, the ruler of Mataram too requested the title of “sultan” from the ruling Sharif of Mecca, as one of several efforts to reinforce his religious legitimation (de Graaf 1958:264-8). Although our knowledge of pre-17th century Indonesian Islam is extremely limited, it seems likely that this orientation towards Mecca had been established well before the cited events.

This is not to deny that Indonesian Islam, especially during the first centuries, had a distinctly Indian flavour, noticeable for instance in the preponderance of the tariqa Shattariyya[13] and the popularity of various adaptations of Ibn `Arabi’s wahdat al-wujud metaphysics,[14] as well as, perhaps, the choice of religious texts studied during the first centuries (see below). This Indian flavour, however, was also mediated through the Holy Cities of the Hijaz, where several great Indian `ulama (and their non-Indian disciples) taught. The Indian-born Arab, Nuruddin ar-Raniri, represents one of the very few known direct links between India and Indonesia.

Because of this continuing foreign orientation of the pesantren tradition, it cannot be studied in isolation; in order to under­stand its dynamics, we have to take developments in Arabia (and secondarily India) as much into account as those in Indonesia itself. Snouck Hurgronje’s pathbreaking studies of Islamic education in Mecca (1887a, 1889) still rank among the few essential works on the pesantren tradition. In the century that has since passed, scholarship on Indonesian Islam has almost entirely neglected Mecca and the other foreign centres, or contented itself with a few highly superficial observations.[15]

Beginnings of the pesantren tradition

We know very little of the precise origins of the pesantren, not even when the institution made its first appearance. Much that has been said about early pesantren seems to be based on an extrapola­tion into the past of the 19th-century institution and on much speculation. Pigeaud and de Graaf speak of pesantren as a second type of important religious centres, beside the mosques, for a period as early as the 16th century: independent communities, often located far away in the mountains, and having their their origins in the pre-Islamic mandala and ashrama (Pigeaud 1967:76ff; de Graaf & Pigeaud 1974:246-7). There are indications that monastic communities of the pre-Islamic type existed well into the Islamic period and that new ones continued to be established,[16] but it is not at all clear whether these were ever educational institutions where textual learning was transmitted. To call them “pesantren” (a term that, to my knowledge, does not occur until much later) is begging the question.

Some authors have wished to see in the desa perdikan (Fokkens 1886) the vehicle of continuity linking the pesantren with pre-Islamic religious institutions. There is no doubt that the perdikan as an institution is of respectable age (Schrieke 1919), and several of the 19th-century perdikan villages may in fact have enjoyed that status since pre-Islamic times. However, it would seem that the existence of a pesantren in a perdikan village is quite incidental to the latter’s status. Out of 211 perdikan villages listed in a late 19th-century survey (Anon. 1888), there were only four where (a part of) the revenue was explicitly reserved for the upkeep of pesantren. There were pesantren in several other perdikan villages, but these did not receive a share of the revenue and were therefore clearly not the reasons of the villages’ perdikan status. The most common rationale for this status (apart from the rulers’ political reasons for establishing perdikan in the periphery, on which Schrieke has commented) was the existence of important graves. The maintenance of spiritually potent graves has traditionally been a respected religious function, irrespective of what the official religion was. The families to whom the perdikan were entrusted thus enjoyed a certain religious authority, and it is not surprising to see some of their members emerge as influental religious teachers (teaching, one would surmise, magical-mystical practices initially, and only much later also bookish Islamic learning). In due time the teaching roles of some of these men became institutionalized in the form of a pesantren with resident santri, a process that has been perceptively sketched for the case of Tegalsari by Guillot (1985). It should be stressed, however, that only a small minority of Javanese pesantren has such a background, and even these are not very old. The pesantren of Tegalsari, the oldest that still functioned until recently, was established in 1742. The first Dutch survey of indigenous education, made in 1819, suggests that pesantren proper did not yet exist all over Java. Institutions recognizable as pesantren were reported from Priangan, Pekalongan, Rembang, Kedu, Surabaya, Madiun and Ponorogo; in other districts there was hardly any education at all, or it took place in private homes and mosques. Madiun and Ponorogo (in which Tegalsari is located) then boasted the best pesantren; it was here that children from the north coast went for education beyond the elementary level (van der Chijs 1864:215-9). There is, as far as I am aware, no unambiguous evidence for the existence of pesantren (in their 19th-century form) much before that of Tegalsari.

It should be borne in mind that there were no pesantren-type institutions in Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Lombok before the 20th century. The transmission of Islamic learning there was highly informal. Children and adults received rudimentary lessons in reading and reciting the Qur’an from a co-villager who had more or less mastered these skills; a passing haji or Arab trader would stay a few days and read, after prayers in the mosque, a kitab to those willing to learn. Where there was an local ulama of some renown, he would similarly read and explain kitab to the general public assembled in the mosque (in the way of the extracurricular pengajian umum given by kyai to those outside the pesantren). The most interested students would visit the ulama at home and even stay there, and the really ambitious would seek more learning in Java or, when possible, Mecca. It seems highly likely to me that this was also the situation in Java and Sumatra during the first centuries of islamisation, and that the first pesantren proper were not established before the 18th century.

The “pesantren” of Karang

One dubious case is the “well-known pesantren” of Karang in Banten (presumably on the mountain Karang to the west of Pan­deglang), that is occasionally referred to, primarily on the basis of its occurrence in the Serat Centini (e.g. Drewes 1969:11). One of the characters in this work, the ascetic Danadarma, relates that he studied three years in Karang under a certain Seh Kadir Jalena (which perhaps means that he studied there the mystical and occult sciences associated with the great saint `Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani).[17] The Centini’s chief protagonist, Jayengresmi or Seh Among Raga, also studied at the “school” (paguron) of Karang, under a guru of Arab origin, a certain Seh Ibrahim bin Abu Bakar, known by the title of Ki Ageng Karang. From there he later travelled to another great school, in the East Javanese village of Wanamarta, led by Ki Baji Panurta, where he showed himself highly competent in orthodox bookish learning.[18]

A teacher on the Karang is also mentioned in a Javanese primbon from the Banyumas district, of unclear date. It refers to a certain Seh Bari of Karang (Seh Bari ing Kawis), who is said to have taught doctrines first propagated by the saints of Java. Drewes (1969:11) suggests that he may perhaps be identified with the Seh Bari whose teachings are laid down in one of the two oldest (16th-century) Javanese Islamic manuscripts still extant. If this identification is correct, this would mean that some time between 1527 (formal introduction of Islam in Banten) and the end of the century, Karang became a well-known centre of orthodox Islamic learning – for the “admonitions of Seh Bari” are definitely orthodox and not of the syncretistic kind as are often attributed to the saints of Java. But even if Drewes is correct in making this identification (which I find rather speculative), I would hesitate to speak of a pesantren; the presence of a well-known teacher or lineage of teachers does not yet make a school in the sense conveyed by that term. The Banyumas manuscript does not speak of a school but only mentions the shaykh. (The Centini, incidentally, which does speak of schools, does not call them “pesantren” but “paguron” or “padepokan”).

The Centini’s Jayengresmi was a contemporary of Sultan Agung of Mataram and must therefore have lived in the first half of the 17th century. The Centini, however, was compiled in the early 19th century (although partly from older materials), and it would be naive to consider it as a reliable source on anything but contem­porary matters. The Sajarah Banten (Djajadiningrat 1913), which is in date of composition close to Jayengresmi’s supposed lifetimes, does not mention a paguron on the Karang (or elsewhere, for that matter) but suggests that it was a favourite spot for tapa, meditational practices.[19] The only religious instruction[20] mentioned in this text consists of the private education of a prince at the hands of a Kyai Dukuh and of the kali (qadi) of the sultanate (ibid.:37). This seems to confirm my suggestion above, that there were, in the 16th and 17th centuries, both individual teachers of the Islamic scholarly disciplines, teaching mainly in mosques or at the court, and masters of the mystical-magical sciences based mainly (but not exclusively) in hermitages or near sacred graves. Pesantren as we know them may partly have developed out of these various locations, but not until a later period.

The kitab studied in the 16th-19th centuries

My suggestion that the institution of the pesantren did not emerge before the 18th century of course does not mean that kitab kuning were not studied before that time. Classical Arabic texts were definitely known and studied (although we can only guess how widely) by ca. 1600. A few works had already been translated into Javanese and Malay, while several Indonesian authors had written works in these languages that in style and content belonged to the orthodox kitab tradition. Around 1600, the first Indonesian manuscripts, in Malay, Javanese and Arabic, made their way to Europe. They give us a precious, though very incomplete, impression of the aspects of the Islamic scriptural tradition then known in the Archipelago.

The Malay manuscripts (van Ronkel 1896) contain, among other things, commentaries on two important chapters of the Qur’an, two hikayat with Islamic themes, a text on Muslim marriage law (in Arabic, with interlineary translation) and a translation of a celebrated devotional poem in praise of the Prophet (Busiri’s Qasidat al-burda, edited by Drewes 1955). The two major Javanese Islamic manuscripts, also (re-)edited by Drewes (1954, 1969) show little of the metaphysical speculation and syncretism so often thought to be typical of Javanese Islam. They are firmly within the orthodox tradition (of Shafi`i fiqh, Ash`ari doctrine and Ghazalian ethics), without any traces of local influence. They refer, moreover, to various Arabic kitab, which gives a clearer idea of how these authors relate to the Middle Eastern tradition.

Of the various Arabic works mentioned in the “Admonitions of Seh Bari” (Drewes 1969, previously known as “the Book of Bonang”), only two titles are recognizable: Ghazali’s magnum opus Ihya `ulum ad-din and a work called Tamhid, which is probably Abu Shukur al-Kashshi as-Salimi’s at-Tamhid fi bayan at-tawhid, of which a Javanese interlinear translation exists (Kraemer 1921:6). The latter work was, interestingly, especially popular in India.[21] The same two works are mentioned in the other early Javanese Muslim text (Kraemer 1921, Drewes 1954), along with a Talkhis al-minhaj (“summary of the Minhaj”, probably referring to Ghazali’s Minhaj al-`abidin), a Sharh fi’l daqa’iq (possibly a commentary on the popular text on cosmology and eschatology, Daqa’iq al-akhbar).[22] The other two titles, al-Kanz al-khafi (“the hidden treasure”) and Ma`rifat al-`alam (“Gnosis of the world”) suggest works on mysticism and metaphysics, although they could not be identified.

This short list would suggest that the emphasis in teaching was on doctrine and mysticism. The existence of several (younger) manuscripts, in Arabic as well as Javanese translations, of Burhanpuri’s well-known wahdat al-wujud text at-Tuhfat al-mursala (Johns 1965) suggests that there was a strong predilectance for “pantheist” mysticism.[23] However, among the said few manuscripts brought to Europe from Jawa around 1600, there are also two Arabic works on fiqh, Abu Shuja’ al-Isfahani’s still widely used at-Taqrib fi’l-fiqh (with an interlineary Javanese translation) and an anonymous (and now virtually unknown) al-Idah fi’l-fiqh. These form clear proof that fiqh was also studied in Java in the late 16th century at the latest (and perhaps much earlier).

Those Indonesians studying in Arabia became acquainted with a much wider range of texts, but what was taught in Indonesia itself must, initially at least, have been a rather limited and poor selection from the rich classical tradition. The knowledgeable Mahmud Yunus (1979:223-6) gives — it remains unclear from what sources, but presumably from oral tradition — rather detailed information on the “pesantren” in (18th-century?) Mataram and mentions three kitab studied at the lower levels: Taqrib (the said fiqh work), Bidayat al-hidaya (Ghazali’s work on sufi morality, excerpted from his Ihya) and a text known as Usul 6 Bis,[24] which must have been Abu’l-Layth as-Samarqandi’s little work on doctrine, also known as Asmarakandi.[25]

The Serat Centini, as first shown by Soebardi (1971), contains more detailed information on the works studied in the “pesantren”, but it would be rash to assume that this is valid for a period much earlier than that when the Centini was composed. In the discussions of its protagonists, twenty different kitab are mentioned, six of which are major fiqh texts (including the ones mentioned already, Taqrib and Idah),[26] nine works on doctrine (including Samarqandi’s introductory text and Sanusi’s two well-known works on `aqida with various commentaries), two tafsir (the near-ubiquitous Jalalayn and that of Baydawi) and three works on sufism. This last group includes Ghazali’s Ihya and also the only work in the list that is of disputed orthodoxy, `Abd al-Karim al-Jili’s al-Insan al-kamil, a systematic presentation of Ibn al-`Arabi’s wahdat al-wujud metaphys­ics.[27]

The first hesitant Dutch observations on pesantren education confirm the impression given by the above sources. In the first survey of indigenous education, in 1819, the district authorities of Rembang listed the kitab studied in pesantren there (van der Chijs 1864:217). The santri learned the basics of Arabic grammar through well-known works as Jurjani’s `Amil (or `Awamil) and the Jurumiyya (still used in virtually every pesantren), and then read selected parts of the Qur’an and elementary works on fiqh (Sittin) and doctrine (Asmarakandi and Sanusi’s small work ad-Durra), that were also mentioned in the earlier Javanese sources.

Towards the end of the century, L.W.C. van den Berg visited a number of important pesantren in Java and Madura and compiled, on the basis of interviews with the kyai, a list of the Arabic works commonly studied (1886). His explicit mentioning of the word “Arabic” suggests that works in other languages (presumably Javanese) were in also use but deliberately not taken notice of. (As I shall show below, around that time there was at least one famous Javanese ulama, Kyai Saleh Darat of Semarang, who wrote several works in Javanese, that were later widely used). Van den Berg’s list shows a clear continuity with the earlier ones, in the sense that both the introductory works used and the prestigious texts mentioned remained the same, and that the additional titles basically represent elaborations upon subject matter already well circumscribed, no new orientations. Striking is the absence of a few dimensions of the classical tradition: while many fiqh works were studied, not a single one on its theoretical principles (usul al-fiqh) was listed; as tafsir, we only find those by the two Jalaladdin (Jalalayn: Suyuti and Mahalli) and by Baydawi; and although Bukhari’s canonical hadith collection was read by some kyai, no work of hadith was actually taught in the pesantren. In these three subjects, pesantren education has become considerably richer since the 1880’s (van Bruinessen 1990). Other dimensions of the classical intellectual tradition, however, continued to remain absent from the pesantren, notably philosophy and metaphysics,[28] Van den Berg lists no works on wahdat al-wujud; these may have been taught in a number of pesantren, but less conspicuously and only to selected students, as is still the case at a few places.

The range of these works studied in pre-20th century Java is particularly narrow if one compares it with the intellectual horizons of the early Muslim authors from the outer islands. In the works of Nuruddin Raniri, Yusuf Makassar and Abdurra’uf Singkel, we find references to a much more varied and intellectual­ly interesting range of texts. To some extent this was, no doubt, mere name-dropping but they must have acquired at least a superfi­cial (and in Raniri’s case even profound) knowledge and understand­ing of the rich intellectual tradition then flourishing in the Hijaz and India. Al-Attas has culled from Raniri’s works an impressive list of highly sophisticated sufi and philosophical books referred to by this author (1986:15-24). Even if one may remain sceptical towards Al-Attas’ conclusion that Raniri had actually read all of these works, it is obvious that the man was highly cultured. Yusuf, in the course of his many years in Arabia, studied with many a master and mastered no doubt more than the tariqa for which he remains known. He too refers in several risala to works well beyond the narrow range studied in Java.[29] And Abdurra’uf lists in his `Umdat al-muhtajin dozens of Meccan and Madinan teachers with whom he studied or was acquainted. He remains silent on what exactly he studied with these masters, but from his own works it is evident that he covered the major Islamic sciences, and given the identity of his major teacher, Ibrahim al-Kurani, he must have been immersed in metaphysics as well as hadith studies too.

The classical learned tradition and its impact in Indonesia

The works that constitute the central core of the Islamic learned tradition were written during the 10th through 15th centuries. A few important works were written before that period, and new works in the same vein continue to be written, but by the end of the 15th century Arabic thought had reached it most consummate form, and no significant further development of the tradition took place. The modes of thought, at least in the Islamic sciences, remained the same (in the other sciences, mathematics, physics, medicine, the paradigms changed under European influence).[30] In this medieval tradition, all the sciences were considered as essentially finite systems of knowledge. The very idea of making significant additions to the body of knowledge was therefore absurd and even heretical. This view strictly limits the nature of works that can be written within the tradition. Aziz Al-Azmeh, whose recent work (1986) is an excellent analysis of the metaphysical bases of medieval Arabic thought, neatly sums up what sort of works medieval scholars and scientists wrote: “Thus dissertation of any topic falls into seven types: the completion of the incomplete, the correction of the mistaken, the exegesis of the obscure, the epitome of a long text, the assembly of disparate but connected writings (and this seems understood in terms of a spatial metaphor, without the implication of synthesis), the organisation of disorganised writing and the extraction of what had not previously been extracted, presumably from a given body of premises” (1986:152, after Ibn Hazm and Hajji Khalifa). This is still valid as a description of kitab kuning after the classical period. If we add translation into local languages as an eighth type, this summary covers virtually all kitab written by Indonesian ulama during the past century.

Finite and unchangeable though it was believed to be, the tradition was very rich. And it remained flexible because there had never been attempts to make it consistent. Each of the sciences was a closed system, in which propositions were possible that contradicted those in other sciences. Philosophers and theologians, sufis and metaphysicians, scholars of fiqh and of hadith, each had their own discourse, sometimes at odds with the others (although there was an underlying unity of patterns of thought).[31] Even within the major discipline of fiqh, four schools (the survivors of an initially much larger number) were considered as equally orthodox although they differed on many points. On almost any subject, different views existed (and exist) next to each other. Such development as took place, usually under the influence of political developments, often took the form of a shift of emphasis in favour of one discipline against another. Many reformist movements within the tradition, for instance, are associated with a firm insistence on hadith as against kalam (theology) or even the established schools of fiqh. We often perceive an element of populism or anti-elite sentiment among the strong proponents of hadith. The learned elite lays claims to special privileges on the basis of its oligopolistic possession of sophisticated knowledge; hadith are relatively straightforward and can be understood without special training, and have moreover the stamp of Prohetic authority. They can therefore be used to declare the validity of the intellectual disciplines null and void.[32] Overall, the rational (`aqliyya) sciences (logic, philosophy, metaphysics, kalam, medicine, etc.) have since the classical period gradually had to cede field to the religious sciences in the narrow sense, the `ulum naqliyya (“traditional” sciences: hadith, tafsir and other Qur’anic sciences, etc.), which means a considerable impoverishment of the tradition.

The first generations of Indonesians studying in Arabia assimi­lated only a fraction of the tradition as it still existed, initially those to which their own culture made them most receptive (notably metaphysical mysticism, cosmology, the tariqa and associated occult sciences, but also the central science of fiqh). In the course of time, more and more dimensions of the tradition became accepted into Indonesia’s own Islamic tradition, which thus gradually became richer, in spite of the progressive impoverishment of what the Arabian centres had to offer.[33]

Foreign models for the pesantren

The transmission of learning in Islam did not become formalized and institutionalised in the madrasa until the 10th century. Initially, it was primarily fiqh (the most essential science from the state’s point of view) that was taught in the madrasa; the other sciences continued to be transmitted more informally, in mosques (Makdisi 1981:9). By the time of the first documented intensive contacts of Indonesia with the central Muslim lands, the late 17th and 18th centuries, the two great Sunni empires (the Ottoman Empire, which included most of Arabia, and Mughal India) had centrally controlled networks of great madrasa (beside numerous schools of lower levels) with more or less standardized curricula.[34] The Ottoman madrasa was typically built by one of the sultans or a high official, and was endowed with waqf (“pious foundations”, usually in the form of land) that brought enough revenue for its upkeep and for allowances of food and candles to the students. Its director, the mudarris, received a government stipend. In Mughal India, state patronage was less pervasive, the learned establish­ment somewhat more amorphous and less close to the court. The subjects taught in the two empires differed little; they included the Qur’an, with much attention to its proper pronunciation (tajwid) and style of reciting (qira’a); Arabic grammar and rhetoric (sarf, nahw, balagha), (Hanafi) fiqh[35] and its principles, tafsir, kalam, hadith (mostly non-canonical collections, but in the Ottoman Empire also Bukhari), as well as logic, arithmetics, astronomy, adab (literature) and hikma (philosophy and metaphysics).[36]

The Turkish traveller Evliya elebi, who visited Mecca and Madina in 1671, reports that there were then forty madrasa in Mecca, of which he mentions twenty-two by name (1935:771-2); he also mentions four in Madina and claims that there were many more (ibid.:640). His descriptions of them are, however, very meagre compared with those he gives at other places, and one gathers that they were not exactly flourishing (two centuries later, Snouck Hurgronje found the major madrasa in Mecca converted into private mansions). Significantly perhaps, Evliya has more to say of the numerous convents (tekye or zawiya) of sufi orders in Mecca, several of which lodged numerous residents (ibid.:772-3).

When looking for Middle Eastern models for the pesantren, we should perhaps, besides the madrasa, think of the zawiya as another likely candidate. It even seems improbable that the Indonesians staying in the Hijaz had at this stage much contact with the madrasa there, which were more geared to careers in the Ottoman Empire, and where moreover the Hanafi madhhab predominated. There is not much overlap between the books known to Indonesians in the 16th-18th centuries and those of the madrasa curriculum: the only common works are the two tafsir by the Jalalayn and Baydawi, and the Tamhid, studied in India but not the Ottoman Empire. The scholar and sufi who had the greatest impact on Indonesians studying in the Hijaz in the 17th century, Ibrahim al-Kurani (significantly a Shafi`i), seems to have had more interaction with Indian than Ottoman `ulama (we find more references to him in Indian than in Ottoman sources), and seems to have stood outside the Ottoman learned hierarchy. He taught also subjects that were not part of the official madrasa curriculum.[37]

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, madrasa education in Arabia seems only to have further declined. Little is known of the form and content of education received by the Indonesians studying in Mecca and Madina during this period. Even the biographies of the greatest among them, Muhammad Arshad al-Banjari, `Abd as-Samad al-Palimbani and Da’ud bin `Abdallah al-Patani list only the names of some of their teachers (most conspicuously the sufi Muhammad bin `Abd al-Karim as-Samman and the shaykh al-islam of Egypt, Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Kurdi) and the titles of some of the works they read.[38] They did not study in madrasa but apparently attended the informal lecture circles (halqa) given by independent `ulama in various mosques; with some teachers they had apparently no more than a few private sessions.

Snouck Hurgronje’s path-breaking work on Mecca has shown how by the late 19th century, education in the Hijaz was dominated by Mecca’s Masjid al-Haram, which was then (and may well have been for some time) a veritable university, supervised by a government-appointed rector (shaykh al-`ulama), who allowed only selected `ulama to have their lecturing circles (halqa) there (1887; 1889:235-56). Less favoured `ulama taught at various other places in the city. The system on which the “university” was run differed from the madrasa in that there was no established curriculum; it was up to the individual teacher and his students to decide which text was read, and the students did not live together in a college. The madrasa that had existed in the past, as Snouck Hurgronje remarked, no longer functioned.

This short historical survey, then, suggests that the Indonesians studying in the Hijaz never had significant direct contacts with Ottoman-type madrasa, and it is therefore not very likely that these formed the model on which the Javanese pesantren, with its resident santri and more or less fixed curriculum, were based. Two important experiences with madrasa-type education, however, seem to have been overlooked by previous research. In studies of Indonesian Islam, I have never seen references to Indonesians studying at Cairo’s Azhar university before the 20th century. These must nevertheless have been quite numerous from the first half of the 19th century on, and possibly earlier. By the mid-19th century, the Azhar had around 30 colleges (riwaq), in which the students lived; one of these was reserved for “Jawa”, i.e. Muslims from the Archipelago. Turks, Kurds and Iraqi Arabs also had only one riwaq each, which suggests that the “Jawa” must have been more than a handful (Vollers 1913; cf. Heyworth-Dunne 1938:25-6). The kitab studied at the Azhar (where fiqh of all four madhhab was taught) in the 18th and 19th centuries show moreover a much closer correspondence with the 19th-century pesantren curriculum than the syllabus of the earlier Ottoman and Mughal madrasa. Most of the works listed by van den Berg (1888) also occur in the Azhar syllabus as culled from Egyptian sources by Heyworth-Dunne (1938:43-65). The importance of this finding should not be overrated, for the same works were also read in Meccan halqa; but it allows at least the possibility of an Azhari influence on the early pesan­tren. Perhaps the number of Indonesian students at the Azhar decreased in the second half of the 19th century because of its relative loss of status vis a vis Mecca due to Egypt’s westernisa­tion, but until then it had long been considered as “the Athens of Shafi`i learning” (cf. Snouck Hurgronje 1889:255).

The other relevant madrasa was founded more recently in Mecca by Indian Muslims, a decade before Snouck’s stay there but apparently overlooked by him. In 1874, an Indian lady by the name of Sawlat an-Nisa endowed a waqf in Mecca for a madrasa (the Sawlatiyya), to be led by the celebrated and militant Indian scholar Rahmat Allah bin Khalil al-`Uthmani (`Abd al-Jabbar 1385:121-7). Rahmat Allah had gained renown in India and abroad through his sophisticated (and successful) polemic with the German missionary Pfander, and had been one of the leaders of the anti-British Mutiny of 1857.[39] After the defeat of this rebellion, he had taken refuge in Mecca, where he became one of the leading `ulama, and one of those most firmly committed to the defence of Islam against colonialism and westernisation. The Sawlatiyya was part of the movement of educational reform in Indian Islam that had given rise to the Deoband school (Darul `Ulum, established in 1867) and numerous affiliated madrasa (Metcalf 1982). Like at Deoband, the curriculum was probably traditional, though with a heavier emphasis on hadith;[40] what made it modern was its institutional form, with classrooms, a fixed course of study and examinations. Many of its teachers, incidentally, were drawn from the among the `ulama teaching at the Masjid al-Haram.[41]

In the early 20th century, and perhaps earlier as well,[42] the Sawlatiyya had a great influence on Indonesia’s pesantren world. Many Indonesians studied at this school and founded pesantren or madrasah (in the Indonesian sense of the term) upon their return, more or less modelling these on the Sawlatiyya. There was then yet another, similar madrasa in Mecca, also established by Indians, the Madrasat al-Falah (mentioned by Gobée 1921:199-200 and in the biographies in `Abd al-Jabbar 1385), but this seems to have had no Indonesian students. In 1934, a third madrasa of this type, named Dar al-`Ulum ad-Diniyya, was established in Mecca, this time by Indonesians, who walked out of the Sawlatiyya because of a conflict over the use of the Indonesian language that had become a matter of national pride.[43] The Indonesians resident in Mecca collected the money necessary to establish their own school. Over a hundred Indonesian students, most of whom had been at the Sawlatiyya, at once enrolled; Muhsin al-Musawwa, a sayyid born in Palembang, who was already a teacher at the Sawlatiyya, became its first rector.

To summarize, then, I would suggest that the riwaq at the Azhar university may have provided one of the models for the organisation of pesantren founded in the late 18th and 19th centuries, as well as for their curricula, and that around the turn of the century the Indian educational reform movement began to exert its influence through the Sawlatiyya. With the establishment in Mecca of the Indonesian Dar al-`Ulum, which imitated the Sawlatiyya in most respects, and which in its name echoes the reformist colleges of Deoband and Cairo,[44] the reformed madrasa became the dominant model to be emulated throughout the Archipelago. It was the Sawlatiyya and the Dar al-`Ulum that were the major influences in the development of traditional Islamic education in Indonesia (di­scussed extensively in Steenbrink 1974 and Yunus 1979).

Indonesian `ulama in Mecca

The existence of these madrasa in Mecca has been little noticed so far, largely because of the tremendous prestige of the Masjid al-Haram (and because of the towering place of Snouck Hurgronje’s work on the latter in western scholarship). The great teachers at the Sawlatiyya, moreover, also taught in the Mosque. Because of the importance attributed to the isnad (chain of transmission of a text), students were more likely to refer to the names of their teachers than to the institution where they studied. Changes in intellectual discourse, such as took place in the beginning of the century, were therefore commonly attributed to individual teachers rather than to institutional and wider socio-economic developments.

In retrospect, the decades around the last turn of century stand out as a decisive phase. Three Indonesian `ulama then teaching in the Masjid al-Haram (and not in the Sawlatiyya) exerted a great influence on their compatriots and, through their disciples and their writings, on the following generations. Nawawi of Banten (d. 1896-7), praised by Snouck as the most learned and modest of the Indonesians (1889:362-7) was the most prolific author of them. Beside his well-known tafsir (Johns 1984, 1988), he wrote works on virtually every discipline studied in the pesantren. Unlike earlier Indonesian authors, he did so in Arabic. Several of his works are commentaries (sharh) on kitab that were already used in the pesantren, explaining, supplementing and sometimes also correcting them (see the example in Steenbrink 1984:133-4). These commentaries virtually came to supersede the original texts. Others are commentaries on works that, due to him, have become part of the pesantren curriculum. No less than 22 of his works (he wrote at least twice that number) are still in print, and 11 of them figure among the 100 kitab that are most frequently used (van Bruinessen 1990). Nawawi stands, as it were, on a watershed between two periods in the pesantren tradition. He acknowledged and reinter­preted its intellectual heritage and enriched it with adaptations from material hitherto neglected. All contemporary kyai consider him as their intellectual ancestor, but also Ahmad Khatib Minangkabau, the “father” of Indonesian Islamic reformism, was his student.

Ahmad Khatib (d. 1915) is best known for his polemics against the matrilineal adat of his native region and against the tariqa Naqshbandiyya (which had more followers in West Sumatra than elsewhere), but his role in Mecca was wider than that. He was one of the first Indonesians to acquire a licence to teach in the Masjid al-haram, and was made one of the Shafi`i imam there, a privilege usually reserved for the Mecca-born.[45] Both contributed much to his influence among the entire Indonesian community in Mecca. His reformist attitude is apparent from his writing a commentary on an early text on usul al-fiqh, Juwayni’s Waraqat, but it would be wrong to perceive him as a rebel against the tradition as such, in which he was deeply steeped. His students included both reformists and traditionalists (some of them even became tariqa shaykhs!), and two of his works are still used in several pesantren.[46]

The third great figure was Kyai Mahfuz Termas (d.1919-20), of whom the Javanese kyai speak with even more respect than of Nawawi. He was the venerated teacher of several of the founders of the NU, which no doubt added to his reputation. He had completed his education at the feet of the greatest Arab teachers in the Masjid al-Haram and also became an expert in Qur’an recitation (on which he wrote several books). His major work is a four-volume commentary on a fiqh work that used to be popular in Indonesia,[47] and he seems to have been the first Indonesian scholar to teach the canonical hadith collection of Bukhari. His favourite student, Hasyim Asy`ari took this tradition to Indonesia, where his pesantren at Tebuireng (Jombang) became the most renowned pondok hadits.

I have observed above that one of the conspicuous developments in the pesantren curriculum since the 1880’s is the appearance of usul al-fiqh and hadith, and the greater variety in tafsir studied. One would be tempted to credit this to these three `ulama, who made their marks in precisely these fields. There is probably some truth in this, but only a partial one; the pattern of intellectual influences must have been highly diffuse. The reorientation towards these subjects was a general trend in the Islamic world, that had begun earlier and was also reflected in the new madrasa.

After these three `ulama, there have been no Indonesians of comparable standing teaching in Mecca. `Umar `Abd al-Jabbar’s work on the `ulama in the Masjid al-Haram in the 14th century of the hijra mentions three later Indonesians (or rather two Indonesians and a Mecca-born Malay), but these never achieved the same renown: Muhsin bin `Ali Musawwa (the first rector of the Dar al-`Ulum, d. 1935), Muhammad Nur al-Patani (a grandson of Da’ud bin `Abdallah, d. 1944) and `Ali Banjar (d. 1951). Apart from the first, they do not even seem to have had very numerous Indonesian students. The Indonesians studied at the Sawlatiyya and the Dar al-`Ulum or, when in the Mosque, with the more reputed Arab teachers. These different institutions are represented by the two contemporary `ulama in Mecca who stand out as the major authorities for Indonesians, the kyai’s kyai. One is Shaykh Yasin of Padang, the rector of the Dar al-`ulum, the other Sayyid Muhammad bin `Alwi al-Maliki, whose father and grandfather also, in spite of their belonging to the Maliki madhhab, taught numerous Indonesians in the Masjid al-Haram. Both teach not only the entire range of subjects studied in the pesantren, but are also shaykhs of various tariqa.[48]

Mecca is no longer the most important place where contemporary Indonesians of pesantren backgrounds seek higher learning, and those who still do so usually stay for much shorter periods than in the past. I have the impression, although I cannot back it up with statistical data, that the Azhar has become much more important again,[49] while also the school of the Nadwat al-`ulama in Lucknow (see Metcalf 1982:335-47) has been attracting students from “traditional” circles in various parts of Indonesia. Many more santri now continue their studies at the Indonesian state in­stitutes of Islamic learning (IAIN), which probably offer a better education than that received in Mecca by the average student of previous generations. But an IAIN diploma still lacks the prestige and charisma bestowed by ijaza given by famous teachers with proper isnad in the major foreign centres, and the pesantren world is not likely to give up its Arabian (and Indian) orientation.

APPENDIX: Kitab by Indonesian `ulama currently used

A final short look at the works by Indonesian `ulama that are currently in print will give an impression of their lasting contributions to the Indonesian pesantren tradition. The early Sumatran mystics have virtually disappeared from sight. Hamzah and Syamsuddin are only accessible in foreign scholarly editions, and of Raniri’s works only his short fiqh work, as-Sirat al-mustaqim is still widely available in the Malay world, and that only because it is printed in the margin of M. Arshad al-Banjari’s more substantial Sabil al-muhtadin.[50] `Abd ar-Ra’uf’s Malay translation and adaptation of the Tafsir Jalalayn, at-Tarjuman al-mustafid, is still regularly reprinted, as is one other short work, Kitab al-fara’id (on inheritance law).

The earliest author of whom more numerous works are available is Da’ud bin `Abdallah al-Patani. At least eighteen of his works, all in Malay, have been printed but several of these have long been out of print. His works are mainly used in Malaysia and Patani, and to some extent also in Sumatra. They include several works on fiqh and doctrine, a work on tasawwuf (after Ghazali’s Minhaj al-`abidin) and a hadith collection (see also Matheson & Hooker 1988; van Bruinessen 1990). His contemporary `Abd as-Samad al-Palimbani is represented by his widely available Sayr as-salikin and Hidayat as-salikin, adaptations of Ghazali’s Ihya and Bidaya, respectively. An anonymous fiqh work still read in parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan, Fath ar-raghibin, is also attributed to `Abd as-Samad by some authorities (Quzwain 1985), while others believe it to be by the third great Malay author of that period, M. Arshad al-Banjari, whose larger fiqh work Sabil al-muhtadin is still found all over the Malay-speaking world but rarely taught in pondok. A widely popular guide for worship, Perukunan besar Melayu, was compiled by his descendants from the master’s teachings. Another descendant, `Abd ar-Rahman Siddiq, who migrated to mainland Riau, became there a well-known author, but the three of his works that are in print can only be found in the Banjar area.

Nawawi Banten and his impressive contributions have already been mentioned. Two of his contempories, living in Indonesia, were also prolific authors and are still read. Sayyid `Uthman (Snouck Hurgronje 1887b, 1894) wrote numerous tracts in Malay, twelve of which are still found to be used in Jakarta and West Java. Several deal with fiqh, doctrine, and morals; there is a mawlid, a collection of litanies (awrad) and a work on Qur’an recital (qira’a). Kyai Saleh Darat (d.1903) wrote in Javanese. He trans­lated and adapted major sufi texts (Ibn `Ata’illah’s Hikam, parts of the Ihya) and a popular work on doctrine (Jawharat at-tawhid), and wrote on fiqh, Arabic grammar and tajwid. Several of the seven printed works that I have seen are no longer available, which shows that their popularity has been decreasing.

A younger Javanese author of great repute was Kyai Ihsan of Jampes (Kediri). His two-volume Siraj at-talibin (in Arabic), a commentary on Ghazali’s Minhaj al-`abidin, is considered as the most important work recently written by an Indonesian, and studied in various pesantren by the more advanced students. The most prolific contemporary Javanese author is Mustofa Bisri of Rembang, who wrote well over twenty books, including a three-volume translation of the Qur’an, his best-known work.

Most of the kitab written in this century fall within three categories. The first consists of translations, usually with extensive commentaries, of classical works already widely used in the pesantren. Ahmad Subki Masyhadi of Pekalongan, Asrari Ahmad and the said Mustofa Bisri have made numerous such translations into Javanese, of works on fiqh, doctrine, and morality, as well as of hadith collections (the first two both translated Riyad as-salihin, the most “devotional” collection of hadith) and books of prayers and litanies. Similar works were translated into Madurese by Abdul Majid Tamim of Pamekasan.

The second category, partially overlapping with the first, consists of books with largely devotional purposes, such as texts in praise of the Prophet or the saints, litanies and prayers, and introductions to the various tariqa. These works are usually not part of the pesantren curriculum, but widely used by both santri and the general population. Many kyai wrote works of these types or translated Arabic devotional texts; among the most outstanding among them is Kyai Muslikh of Mranggen near Semarang (d. 1986), one of the great masters of the Qadiriyya wa Naqshbandiyya, known especially for his translation of Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir’s hagiog­raphy[51] and related works, and the somewhat earlier Ahmad bin Abdul Hamid of Kendal, who translated and adapted the same hagiography as well as several works on the Prophet.

The third and largest category is that of simple introductory texts for use in the pesantren or by the general public, without any scholarly pretention. Numerous `ulama, all over the Archipelago, have produced such texts. Most of these books or booklets are in the vernacular languages, except where their object is the teaching of Arabic. A distinct subgroup consists of the textbooks especially written for the (reformed) madrasah, which often deviate from the traditional way of presenting the material. Two major authors of this type of textbooks are, not accidentally, of West Sumatran origins, and wrote in Malay as well as simple Arabic: Abdul Hamid Hakim and Mahmud Yunus.[52]

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1971 The study of Arabic grammar in Indonesia. Acta Orientalia Neerlandica, 61-70.

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1979 The precious pearl. Al-Jami’s al-Durrah al-Fakhirah. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

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1938 An introduction to the history of education in modern Egypt. London: Luzac & Co.

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[1] Before Muhammadiyah’s own pesantren, there were already several others with a definitely reformist orientation. The best known, but not the only one, is that of Gontor (Castles 1965). A summary survey of types of pesantren in East Java in the 1970’s is given by Abdurrahman 1981.

[2] Notably those of Bukhari and Muslim; the other four collections of “authentic” (sahih) hadith are much less used. Non-canonical collections such as the Riyad as-salihin and the Bulugh al-maram, with their much heavier emphasis on devotional than on legalistic matters, are still more popular in the traditional milieu, but these too were hardly studied a century ago.

[3] A detailed survey of these works is given in van Bruinessen 1990.

[4] On Ibn Taymiyya’s place in the late medieval tradition and his engagement with Ash`arism, philosophy, mysticism and political theory, see Al-Azmeh 1986, passim; Hourani 1962:18-22; on his impact on later fundamentalism Sivan 1985. A generation ago, the NU still had a body of censors; they placed Ibn Taymiyya’s works high on the index. Many kyai, in fact, own copies of some of his works, notably his Fatawa, but keep them locked away to protect their pupils from their influence. Like elsewhere, such a ban only acts as an invitation to the more intelligent santri to read these works in secret.

[5] Out of the 500-odd kitab by Indonesian (and Malay) `ulama presently in print, almost 100 are in Arabic. Over 200 are in Malay and 150 in Javanese; the remainder are in Sundanese, Madurese and Acehnese.

[6] Abdurrahman Wahid, personal communication.

[7] In this case, there may be shortcuts in the chain. Numerous mystics have claimed spiritual initiation, in a dream or vision, by a predecessor long dead or even by the Prophet himself. The latter was the claim, for instance, of Ahmad Tijani, the North African founder of the tariqa Tijaniyya; it is a highly con­troversial claim, and is rejected by many traditionalists. The former claim is more common (also among contemporary Javanese kyai); even the silsila of the quite orthodox Naqshbandiyya contains several “jumps” across the generations due to such ruhani initiations.

[8] Indicative of the importance attached to isnad is a book by the leading Indonesian ulama in Mecca, Shaykh Yasin of Padang (the director of the traditionalist school Dar al-`Ulum there), which lists nothing but the classical kitab he is allowed to teach, with for each the name of the master under which he studied it and the entire preceding isnad up to the author (al-Padani 1402). For earlier examples of this sort of work see Vajda 1983.

[9] The well-known Madurese Kyai As’ad Syamsul Arifin of Situbondo (East Java), NU’s minence grise, has recently constructed an intricate family tree showing most Madurese kyai to be descen­dants of the wali Sunan Giri. Hasyim Asy’ari and Wahab Hasbullah, two of the founders of NU, traced their pedigree to Jaka Tingkir, who according to tradition was a son of Brawijaya VI and became the first Muslim ruler of Pajang (Aboebakar 1957:41-2).

[10] Important decisions by the Majlis Syuriah are laid down in a series of volumes titled Ahkam al-fuqaha (“Rulings of the legal experts”), usually with the relevant references to authoritative fiqh works.

[11] With the partial exception of sections of the Chinese com­munities and Bali’s Hindu reformists, but even here contacts with the foreign source are quite ephemeral.

[12] This mission is mentioned in the Sajarah Banten (Djajadiningr­at 1913:49-52, 174-8). The titles of the kitab that the ruler wished to have explained are given as Marqum, Muntahi and Wujudi­yah, by which no specific work can be identified. Djajadiningrat believes these titles to be pure phantasy, but we may, for instance, read the last as kitab wujudiyah, i.e. book[s] on [the metaphysical doctrine of] wahdat al-wujud, which would make perfect sense in this context. In some cases, after all, this doctrine proved extremely useful for the legitimation of the ruler as insan kamil, perfect man.

[13] The Shattariyya, which was first introduced into Indonesia in the mid-17th century, is a tariqa of Indian origins, that never gained much of a following in the Middle East. See Rizvi 1983 and T. Yazici, attariye, Islam Ansiklopedisi 11, 355-6. The ear­liest Indonesian branches of the Qadiriyya and the Naqshbandiyya, too, were of Indian rather than Middle Eastern affiliation.

[14] The concept of emanation in seven stages (martabat tujuh), instead of Ibn `Arabi’s five, is to my knowledge only encountered in Indian and Indonesian mystical-metaphysical treatises.

[15] A rare exception is Roff’s study of Indonesian students in Egypt (1970), but this is only marginally relevant to the pesan­tren tradition since most of these students belonged to other social and cultural environments.

[16] According to the Sejarah Banten, Maulana Hasanuddin, Banten’s first Muslim ruler, founded a new petapan on the moun­tain Pinang at the instigation of his “father”, the saint Sunan Gunung Jati (Djajadiningrat 1913:34).

[17] Popular tradition in Cirebon still holds that the saint himself came to Java and took part in its islamisation; his grave is even shown on Gunung Jati. Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir is, not only in Indonesia, believed to have taught his disciples invulnerability, an ilmu highly desirable to many Indonesians. The Bantenese invulnerability cult of debus is strongly associated with `Abd al-Qadir.

[18] Soebardi 1971. See Hadidjaja & Kamajaya 1979, 11 and 49-53.

[19] The Karang is mentioned as one of three mountains on which Maulana Hasanuddin, the first ruler of Banten and the bringer of Islam, practised tapa (Djajadiningrat 1913:38).

[20] Apart from Maulana Hasanuddin’s initiation in ilmu Islam by two jinn at a deserted petapan (ibid.:32).

[21] As-Salimi lived in the first half of the 5th/11th century. His Tamhid surveys doctrine, paying especial attention to the views of the Mu`tazila and the philosophers. It is known to have been widely used in religious education in India during the 13th through 16th centuries (Mujeeb 1967:406), and seems to have been less popular elsewhere, since most of the mss. mentioned by Brockelmann are in Indian collections (GAL I:419; S I:744).

[22] This work is now quite popular throughout the Archipelago, the Arabic original as well as Malay, Javanese, Sundanese and Madu­rese translations being printed locally. Raniri refers several times to another(?), so far unidentified, work with a similar title, Daqa’iq al-haqa’iq.

[23] The great Madinan teacher, Ibrahim al-Kurani, wrote a commen­tary on this work especially for his Indonesian students, ap­parently to correct the heterodox interpretations to which it gave rise. As Simuh has shown (1982:295-6), Ronggowarsito’s Wirid Hidayat Jati shows a clear influence of this work, with which he may have become acquainted in the pesantren of Tegalsari, where he studied.

[24] I.e., a work on usul ad-din (doctrine), consisting of six chapters (each beginning with the opening “bismillah”).

[25] In the 19th century, this was usually the first text on doc­trine studied (van den Berg 1886:537). Javanese translations (of indeterminate date) are extant in manuscript, and one was recent­ly edited in Latin transcription (Jandra 1985-1986). This Javan­ese Asmarakandi also contains a section on elementary Shafi`i fiqh added by the anonymous translator (Abu’l-Layth himself was a Hanafi). The text is presently best known through a commentary written by Nawawi Banten, Qatr al-ghayth, and a Javanese transla­tion by Ahmad Subki of Pekalongan entitled Fath al-mughith, both of which are widely used.

[26] The other four being the prestigious standard works of Shafi`i fiqh, Rafi`i’s al-Muharrar and Ibn Hajar Haytami’s Tuhfat al-muhtaj (that were more often respectfully mentioned than actually used), the introductory Sittin by Abu’l-`Abbas Ahmad Misri (now little used but still available) and a work not satisfactorily identifiable (Soebardi 1971:335-6).

[27] The third tasawwuf text is Zayn ad-Din Malibari’s Hidayat al-adhkiya’, a simple work that is still widely used, together with various commentaries and translations. See for more detailed comments on these and other works also: van Bruinessen 1990.

[28] These two subjects, however, have since the 17th century virtually disappeared from Islamic education throughout the Sunni world. Only in Iran, and to some extent in India, have they remained an important part of the intellectual tradition (see Nasr 1987).

[29] He quotes, for instance, numerous sufi anecdotes, some of which are attributed to Jami’s Nafahat al-uns, while others must be culled from unmentioned other works or heard from a range of teachers. There are also quotations from Ibn `Arabi, Muhammad Fadlillah Burhanpuri and other wahdat al-wujud sufis, that seem based on actual reading of their works, etc. Two copies that he made of Jami’s ad-Durrat al-fakhira, which he apparently studied under supervision of Ibrahim al-Kurani in Madina, are still preserved (Heer 1979:13, 15; this reference was kindly brought to my attention by Professor Anthony Johns)

[30] Albert Hourani’s excellent work on modern Arabic thought (1962) shows how even the thought of those who consciously departed from the tradition was still influenced by it. It pays, however, no attention to the thinkers who remained within the tradition and were not interested in a dialogue with western thought.

[31] Brought out beautifully in Al-Azmeh’s important work (1986).

[32] This populist strain runs through Islamic history, from Ahmad ibn Hanbal, through Ibn Taymiyya and Muhammad bin `Abd al-Wahhab to the neo-fundamentalists. In Indonesia, the modernist attack against traditional `ulama, with the call for reopening the gate of ijtihad, had a great impact in the first half of this century. In 18th-century Iran it took the form of a struggle between pro- and anti-`ulama currents, known as usuli and akhbari (after the intellectual discipline of usul al-fiqh and akhbar, a term almost synonymous with hadith). Perceptive observations on this conflict (which ended in a victory of the usuli) in Mottahedeh 1985.

[33] Some dimensions of the classical tradition, Mu`tazili ration­alism and philosophy, became only known in Indonesia (apart from the summary presentation in the Tamhid, see note 21) in the past two decades, through modernist Muslims who studied in North America, notably Harun Nasution and Nurcholish Madjid. The latter published an important collection of classical philosophical and theological texts in translation (1984); significantly, he is much closer to the pesantren world than earlier generations of modernists. There are now students of pesantren backgrounds working on theses on previously neglected Islamic intellectual currents.

[34] On the Ottoman madrasa and their curricula: Uzunçarşılı 1965; Baltacı 1976; Atay 1983. These works are rich mines of source materials but somewhat ahistorical in their approach; Repp 1972 gives a more systematic treatment of the development of the hierarchy of the madrasa and the scholarly careers of Ottoman `ulama. On the Mughal madrasa (whose curriculum still continued to expand and reached its most comprehensive form, the Dars-i Nizami, only in the early 18th century): Mujeeb 1967:389-414; Ahmad 1985; Metcalf 1982:16-45.

[35] The Hanafi madhhab was the official one in both empires, and official sources mention only works on Hanafi fiqh. Shafi`i fiqh was presumably studied mostly in mosques, in the districts with a Shafi`i population such as Kurdistan and parts of Egypt. The relatively independent Azhar mosque and university was perhaps the major centre of Shafi`i learning.

[36] In Mughal India, philosophy and metaphysics, and the rational sciences in general, were more prominent parts of the learned tradition than in the Ottoman Empire. The Dars-i Nizami even included a work by Mulla Sadra Shirazi, who seems not to have been known elsewhere outside Iran (Mujeeb 1967:407).

[37] On Ibrahim, see Johns 1978 and the same author’s article “al-Kurani” in the Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.); also Rizvi 1983, passim. Of great interest is his intel­lectual autobiography, al-Amam li-iqaz al-himam, which was, significantly, printed in India (Haidarabad in the Deccan) in the beginning of this century (1328/1910).

[38] The most complete list of teachers in Abdullah 1987 (on Da’ud, who was the most wide-ranging scholar of the three). On the others, see Abu Daudi 1980, Zamzam 1979 and Quzwain 1985. Arshad studied especially fiqh, and his own work Sabil al-muhtadin is primarily based on two great classics, Malibari’s Fath al-mu`in and Ansari’s Manhaj at-tullab; `Abd as-Samad’s chief topic was sufism, and his major works are adaptations of Gha­zali’s Ihya `ulum ad-din and Bidayat al-hidaya.

[39] See Powell 1976. Rahmat Allah’s refutation of Christianity was based on a deeper understanding than that of most other polemi­cists, and on an acquaintance with recent Biblical criticism. His arguments were set out in several books, and he con­vincingly defeated Pfander in a public debate. He was one of the signat­ories of the fatwa calling for jihad against the British in 1857 (ibid.:59-60), and led the movement in Muzaffarpur in Bihar (Ahmad 1975:328).

[40] “The [Deoband] school taught basically the dars-i nizami (…) The Deobandis, however, reversed the emphasis on “rational” studies in favor of an emphasis on hadis, which was to be the basis of their popular teaching (…) The most influential teacher at the school was the shaikhu’l-hadis; and only good students were encouraged to study the subject.” (Metcalf 1982:100-1).

[41] This is evident from the biographies of these `ulama in `Abd al-Jabbar 1385.

[42] The school occurs in the biographies of `ulama studying in Mecca in the 1920’s and 1930’s; there are insufficient detailed biographies of earlier students to determine since when there were Indonesians at the Sawlatiyya.

[43] One account of the conflict (Aboebakar 1957:88-90) has it begin because one of the teachers tore up an Indonesian newspaper that a few students were reading; other reading than the Arabic textbooks was forbidden in the school. One participant (Shaykh Yasin al-Padani, presently rector of Dar al-`Ulum, interviewed 6-3-1988) adds that the teacher mocked Indonesian nationalist aspirations, saying that such a stupid people would never attain independence. (Given the radical attitudes of its founder, the teachers at the Sawlatiyya may well have mocked the Indonesians for their lack of firmness vis a` vis their Dutch colonisers). Others have suggested that the Indonesians’ wish to be able to speak to their teachers in Indonesian rather than Arabic lay at the roots of the conflict.

[44] The Dar al-`ulum in Cairo was established in 1872 as a teacher training college, whose students were recruited from al-Azhar; the curriculum included the Islamic as well as modern “western” sciences. One of the teachers was Muhammad `Abduh (Heyworth-Dunne 1938:377-9).

[45] Snouck Hurgronje, who strongly disliked Ahmad Khatib, claims that he owed these positions not to his learning but to the fact that his father-in-law, the bookseller and “usurer” Salih al-Kurdi, intervened for his son-in-law with the Sharif `Awn, who owed him a favour (Adviezen III, 1846, 1853, 1914, 1928). Even Snouck, however, had to admit that Ahmad Khatib was “highly learned by Malay standards” (ibid., 1846).

[46] These are the said usul al-fiqh work, an-Nafahat `ala sharh al-waraqat, and a short Malay work on doctrine, Fath al-mubin. He wrote much more (`Abd al-Jabbar 1385:37-44 lists no fewer than 46 works), but only these two are still in print in Indonesia.

[47] His Mawhaba dhawi ‘l-fadl is a sharh on `Abdallah Ba-Fadl’s al-Muqaddimat al hadramiyya, known as “Bapadal” in the pesantren. It was printed in Egypt in 1315/1897-8 but is no longer avail­able. His only work currently in print is a difficult text on Arabic grammar, Minhaj dhawi ‘n-nazar (a commentary on Ibn Malik’s Alfiyya). `Abd al-Jabbar lists 12 other works (1385:323-4).

[48] Shaykh Yasin studied in his youth at the Sawlatiyya, which he left, with the other Indonesians, for the Dar al-`ulum, of which he finally became the most prominent teacher. In his intellectual autobiography (al-Padani 1402), he lists his teach­ers and the books that he is himself authorised to teach. On Sayyid Muhammad bin `Alwi see Tempo 2-1-1988, on his grandfather `Abbas al-Maliki, `Abd al-Jabbar 1385:163-5. I heard that Muhammad bin `Alwi is no longer allowed to teach in the Masjid al-Haram because of his open support of, and instruction in, various sufi orders, including the Tijaniyya and the Naqshbandiyya.

[49] Al-Azhar is often, incorrectly, considered as a haven of Islamic modernism (mainly because `Abduh was once associated with it). The Indonesians studying there now are almost invariably of “traditional” backgrounds, and even among these I have heard complaints of its “old-fashioned” methods of education.

[50] Another short text, al-Fawa’id al-bahiyya, has similarly survived in the margin of Da’ud al-Patani’s Jam` al-fawa’id. This work, however, is only very rarely used.

[51] an-Nur al-burhani, after Ja`far Barzinji’s al-Lujayn ad-dani.

[52] Abdul Hamid Hakim wrote textbooks on fiqh (al-Mu`in al-mubin) and usul al-fiqh (as-Sullam, al-Bayan); Mahmud Yunus also on fiqh (the widely used al-Fiqh al-wadih), on the science of hadith and on comparative religion.

Martin van Bruinessen
Adopted from: http://www.let.uu.nl/~Martin.vanBruinessen/personal/publications/pesantren_and_kitab_kuning.htm

Published by:
M. Asrori Ardiansyah, M.Ed
Teacher in Malang Indonesia


Having the largest Muslim population in the world, it is no surprise that Indonesia is a major centre of religious education for members of the faith in Southeast Asia.

Muslim boys from nearby countries are often sent to Islamic boarding schools – known as pondok pesantren – scattered across this sprawling archipelago. Numbering well into the tens of thousands, the pesantrens provide religious knowledge and wisdom, but are more than just classrooms for dry theoretical instruction. There, young Muslim men and women from all strata of society also learn how to lead lives according to the basic tenets of Islam.

In the last few years, however, Indonesia’s Islamic schools have been forced to fight allegations that they are breeding grounds for fanatics who go out and unleash violence in the name of religion. Indeed, many of their foreign students who return home hoping to use what they learned to better their communities have instead found themselves being suspected of being sympathetic to Islamists. Young Muslim Thais who have gone to school in Indonesia, for example, have been looked upon as possible sympathisers of the separatists in Thailand’s Muslim-dominated south.

It’s a situation that is puzzling to many of those who run pondok pesantrens in Indonesia, even as some of them concede that there may be some schools that teach narrower interpretations of Islam. Pesantren administrators, however, point out that such schools are hardly the norm.

K.H. Masykuri Abdurrahman, secretary at Indonesia’s oldest and best-known Islamic school, Pondok Pesantren Sidogiri Salaf, also says, “When it comes to politics, whether domestic or international, Sidogiri takes a neutral stance. We’ve never interfered with politics. Nor have we looked to incite division and have not the slightest intent to play a political role.”

“We do not support anybody who is intent on creating social division whether through mere verbal expression of their thoughts or through action,” he adds. “Sidogiri has never taken part in any protests of any kind and its students do not have any right to go out and partake in any civil action.”

“If we want to express our opinion,” he also says, “we will do it through a letter, a press release or through our school’s newsletter. We will never take part in any action.”

For sure, too, Indonesia’s Islamic schools are not all the same. Categorised according to curriculum, pesantrens are generally either ‘traditional’ or ‘modern’. A pondok pesantren offering Islamic religious studies alone or with a few non-religious subjects is known as a Salaf or traditional while one that also has “mainstream” education subjects is described as Modern.
According to Perhimpunan Pengembangan Pesantren Dan Masyarakat (Association for Pesantren and Social Development), one-fifth of Indonesia’s religious schools are Salaf, an equal proportion are Modern, and 55 percent are a mix of both. Five percent of pondok pesantrens do not fall in any of the first three categories, it says.

Some observers say, however, that there is so much similarity between the two main types that at times it is difficult to tell which school is Salaf and which is Modern. One way of distinguishing one from the other, though, is by looking at how the students are dressed: those in Modern pesantrens wear slacks while those in Salaf must wear sarongs during and even after school hours.

Whatever category it falls under, a pesantren does not put age limits for admission. All pesantren students also spend an average of six years living and studying how to be a true Muslim.

A Salaf steeped in history

Of course there is no mistaking what kind of Islamic school Sidogiri Salaf happens to be. Even without its very descriptive name, the school, located some 700 km east of the capital city of Jakarta, has been adhering to a strict Islamic curriculum since its establishment two centuries ago. It is one of Indonesia’s most revered Islamic theological centres, and many Islamic schools throughout the country follow the courses and methodologies it has developed.

Founded in 1475 while the Dutch had yet to get a real foothold in Indonesia, Sidogiri Salaf is proud of having joined the struggle for the country’s independence centuries later. This led to the development of a system aiming to equip students with knowledge and skills enabling them to help the country break free from the shackles of colonisation and move on the path of progress. Its long history alone makes it well qualified to educate young people about Indonesia’s past and the future direction the country should take, says Abdurrahman. By most indications, this does not include Islamist extremism.

Given its history, Sidogiri Salaf has enjoyed the freedom to design its syllabus. “Our teaching doesn’t have any external parties trying to come in and take control and set down their own rules and regulations for us,” says Abdurrahman.

The school believes it is supporting the state by training young people to lead the true Islamic life with a sound knowledge of the faith and a progressive worldview. In its campus that is surrounded by picturesque rice fields in Sidogiri Kraton, in Pasuruan, east Java, its teachers instill the belief that Indonesia and its people are sacrosanct and plays an important role in the overall scheme of Islam, says the school secretary.

Yet even as it gives attention to Islamic teachings, in particular reading and understanding the Koran, and learning its verses by heart, Sidogiri Salaf is up to date when it comes to teaching aids. Students connect with the rest of the Islamic world through the Internet, widening their religious knowledge beyond what they learn in the school.

“We pay particular attention to Arabic language studies so students can build a high level of proficiency in speaking, listening, reading and writing,” says Abdurrahman. “At the very least, they will be able to read the many Islamic resources from around the world that are written in Arabic.”

Great importance is given to reading. “Our slogan is ‘smart people are reading people – not one day shall go by without reading’,” he says. “Moreover, we believe that we, as a school have no place in opposing or resisting the changing and developing world outside. We must continuously change with it.”

A source of student teachers

Pondok Pesantran Sidogiri Salaf has more than 4,000 pupils. Those at the higher levels must become Islamic teachers at other religious schools for one year. Fortunately, Sidogiri Salaf’s highly rated pupils are eagerly sought as student teachers by other pondok pesantrans, which actually pay for their services – to Sidogiri Salaf. The student teachers get living allowances.

Sidogiri Salaf sends out more than 600 student teachers every year and the income from their teaching services is an important contribution towards its operational costs. But even with such a large number of students going out to teach, the school cannot meet the growing demand for high quality religious instructors.

Sidigori Salaf earns most of its income, however, from an internal cooperative based on the model used by nearly all pondok pesantrens in the country. The cooperative distributes food, school equipment, and basic living supplies. The cooperative system generates an internal transaction of over $175.2 million every year. The school itself has never had any reason to seek government support.

The annual tuition fee ranges from 240,000 rupiah ($ 24) to 300,000 rupiah ($30), depending on the student’s learning level. This does not cover food and school uniforms. Pupils eat in the school canteen, cook their own meals in kitchens provided by the school, or buy food from the local community. All meals must be eaten within the school premises.

As the country’s oldest religious school, Sidogiri Salaf has graduated hundreds of classes. It has no intention of becoming a Modern school and does not think it will ever start a secular vocational education programme.

“We have no goal to produce a ‘workforce’,” says Abdurrahman. “There are no vocational studies to enable our students to enter the normal workforce. We stress on the importance of religion, understanding Islamic teachings and the correct way of seeing the world and our community. Being a perfect person means being one whose heart is there for our brothers and sisters in the community.”

The school’s graduates can pursue higher religious studies according to aptitude. “If we understand that knowledge is like a building’s foundation,” argues Abdurrahman, “having this deep a level of religious knowledge means that we will always have a very strong foundation as well as the right attitude when it comes to solving problems that exist outside our walls.”

A ‘new’ Modern

Far away in the opposite direction from Sidogiri is an example of an Islamic school that combines religious with modern secular instruction: Pondok Pesantren Al Hamadiyah, located in western Java on JI Raya Depok, Sawangan.

The school, set up by K.H. Almad Sjaichu, a former member of Indonesia’s Parliament, opened on 17 January1988. Several government officials attended the inaugural ceremony, enhancing the school’s credibility in the eyes of parents. Starting with just 70 pupils, the school now has 1,500 students, 700 of them boarders.

After teaching the regular pondok pesantren syllabus for many years, Al Hamadiyah started pre-school and primary classes in 2002. High school students must live in school dormitories, but pre- and primary students go home after classes.

According to school director K.H. Zainuddin Ma’shum, Al Hamadiyah was intentionally established as a Modern school to enable students to pursue non-religious careers besides deepening their knowledge of Islam. It argues that students of the traditional Salaf school system cannot compete in the job market with graduates of institutions offering mainstream along with religious education.

“Having taken a good look at today’s society,” says Ma’shum, “we decided to establish this modern model of pesantren so that students could keep up with all the new knowledge and changes in the world.”

Although graduates of the system based solely on religious instruction would be considered elite Islamic teachers, their employment options are ultimately limited to being an ustadz (religious teacher) or an imam, he points out. Or they may open their own school, but the chances of that actually happening are relatively slim.

Al Hamadiyah’s stance makes the school quite different from a traditional pondok pesantren and those that adapt their curricula only slightly in order to be called Modern, says Ma’shum. But he says equipping its students with wider knowledge, skills, and worldview would enable them to take up many types of employment. This also means they can take their religious knowledge back into mainstream society to help build a stronger community, he says.

Al Hamadiyah’s curriculum was designed with government support. The Ministry of Education helped with mainstream courses and the Ministry of Religious Affairs with religious subjects. But like many pondok pesantrens, the school does not rely on government funding and uses a cooperative system.

Studying at Al Hamadiyah is relatively inexpensive with tuition, boarding, and food charges for the entire term being about 400,000 rupiah (around $40). Poor parents are exempted from tuition fees. Teachers are paid on a par with the private sector – about one million rupiah ($100) per month, aside from get free accommodation.

Admission seekers, however, must pass English and Arabic language examinations or take supplementary language lessons in case of failure in these tests. This is because besides reading, rote-learning, and understanding the teachings of the Koran, students have to study English and Arabic up to a high level of proficiency.

The school says while knowledge of English enables them to communicate internationally, fluency in Arabic gives students access to external self-learning resources, widening their intellectual perspective. Al Hamadiyah also has science and computer labs.

The traditional touch

Yet like other pesantrens, its students have to follow rigid routines. They wake up at four a.m., pray, read the Koran and have breakfast two hours later. Classes run from seven a.m. to four p.m. with a one-hour break for lunch and prayers. An hour of asar prayer after classes is followed by physical education, including team games like football. Evening prayers start at six p.m. and are followed by dinner ending one hour later. There is an hour of post-dinner study of the Koran and an additional hour of rote learning of English and Arabic words. Students go to sleep by 10.00 p.m.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there are extra-curricular activities including music and sports like football, badminton and the Indonesian/Malay martial art of pencak silat. Every Friday, students rehearse prayers. Religious debating competitions are held in both English and Arabic.

Boarding students can visit their homes one day every month. On Sundays, students are allowed to go to the local shopping mall or places outside the school for an hour.

Although called “modern”, the school hands out strict punishment for breaking the rigid rules and regulations. This includes whipping, shaving the head, and even suspension or expulsion. Many erring students get punished every week.

Still, the fact that it has established itself as a school suited to present-day conditions has increased the popularity of Al Hamadiyah, leading to many more branches being opened in both Java and Sumatra, says the school director.

“We need to expand not just because we want to create more opportunities for students to get a regular education, but also because we see the need in society for the pondok system of education,” he adds.

“The pondok has a burden that is extremely important to Islam as a whole – to teach correct religious practice in its purest form,” says Ma’shum.

Knowledge of Islamic law, he says, enables the faith to thrive and move forward the way it was supposed to be practised from the very beginning. And truly, there is nothing “extremist” about that.

Montri U-domphong
Reporter from iTV, a private television station in Bangkok.

Adopted from: http://www.seapabkk.org/newdesign/fellowshipsdetail.php?No=597

Published by:
M. Asrori Ardiansyah, M.Ed
Teacher in Malang Indonesia


If the Indonesian pesantren have drawn some suspicious attention in the past few years — not so much from the Indonesian authorities as from those of the Philippines, Singapore, Australia and the US, as well as from international journalists — this is mostly due to the fact that some highly visible terrorism suspects have a relation with one particular pesantren in Central Java, the PP Al-Mukmin in Ngruki near Solo.[1] Ustad Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, who was one of the founders of this pesantren in the early 1960s and who returned there in 1999 after fourteen years spent in Malaysian exile, has been accused of being the spiritual leader of an underground movement known as Jama’ah Islamiyah, that is believed to be active all over Muslim Southeast Asia and to have carried out a large number of terrorist actions in Indonesia. Several of the perpetrators of the Bali bombing of 12 October 2002, which killed some two hundred people, were associated with a small pesantren in East Java that was established by Ngruki graduates.

Nothing could be more misleading than to extrapolate from ‘Ngruki’ to other Indonesian pesantren. PP Al-Mukmin and the handful of secondary pesantren that it has spawned do not teach terrorism, but both its curriculum and the general culture of this pesantren make it stand out from the mass of pesantren in Java and, for that matter, Indonesia and Southeast Asia as a whole. Before explaining what makes Al-Mukmin so different, it is necessary to give a summary overview of the range of pesantren presently existing.
The traditional pesantren: history

The beginnings of Indonesia’s pesantren tradition may not go back as far as has often been claimed. Certain scholars have claimed that the pesantren represents a continuation of similar schools with resident students in the pre-Islamic period. Islam began to spread among the indigenous population of Java in the fifteenth century, and seventeenth-century Dutch East India Company records mention a ‘priest school’ near Surabaya. However, the oldest pesantren still in existence, that of Tegalsari in East Java, was established in the late eighteenth century. An early nineteenth-century survey of indigenous education indicates that the pesantren then was not a widespread phenomenon and that religious education of a basic level took place informally in the mosque or in the private house of a man more learned than his surroundings. Most of the prestigious old pesantren do not date further back than the late nineteenth century, and many not even that far.[2] Rather than imitating Hindu and Buddhist precursors, the nineteenth and early twentieth-century pesantrens appeared modeled on institutions with which their founders had become familiar during studies in Mecca or Cairo: the riwâq al-Jâwa at the Azhar, the halqa in the Masjid al-Haram, and especially Mecca’s modernized madrasas, the Indian-owned Sawlatiyya (est. 1874) and much later the Indonesian Dar al-`Ulum (1934). The methods of teaching followed those of Mecca and Cairo, and educational reforms in these centres (classrooms, graded classes, shifts in curriculum) gradually spread to Indonesian pesantrens. The curriculum was very similar to that in other Shafi`i regions: Shafi`i fiqh and ‘devotional’ hadith collections dominated, but in the course of the twentieth century the sahih collections of Bukhari and Muslim, Qur’anic commentaries and works on usul al-fiqh gradually became more prominent.[3] The traditional pesantrens are also closely associated with various devotional practices, such as the visiting of graves, and with Islamic healing practices.

Influential reformist currents of the early twentieth century (notably Muhammadiyah, established in 1912, and Persatuan Islam or Persis, 1923) strongly opposed those devotional and ‘magical’ practices as well as the flexibility of fiqh, which they believed should be replaced by recourse to the Qur’an and Sunna. Religious puritanism in Indonesia received a boost when in 1924 Mecca was conquered by the Saudis, who soon began forbidding traditional devotional practices. Together with the abolition of the Caliphate by Mustafa Kemal in the same year, this convinced many pesantren ulama that their form of Islam was under threat, and they established an association to defend it, Nahdlatul Ulama.[4] This was later to become the largest association of Indonesia and perhaps of the entire Muslim world, claiming tens of millions of members. In a recent nation-wide survey, 42% of the respondents indicated that they felt more or less represented by the NU, 12% by Muhammadiyah.[5] The way the questions were framed suggests that those identifying with the NU meant not so much the organization itself as the religious attitudes it is associated with, including an openness to local tradition (and even syncretism), flexibility and tolerance, as opposed to the more principled and puritan, if not fundamentalist, attitudes associated with Muhammadiyah. In the organization NU itself, the pesantren remains the major institutional prop, and the ulama of major pesantrens remain the chief authorities.

Muhammadiyah’s distinguishing mark was the modern school, modeled on Christian missionary schools. Muhammadiyah people spoke of returning to the Qur’an and Sunna but most could only read them in translation — and their actual religious reading consisted of contemporary reformist writers. An effort to bridge the gap between Muhammadiyah religious attitude and traditional pesantren education resulted in the ‘modern pesantren’ at Gontor (established in 1926), which became the example on which later a range of other reformist-oriented schools modeled themselves.[6] The founders of Gontor were not only inspired by reforms in al-Azhar and by the Anglo-Muslim college of Aligarh but also by Rabindranath Tagore’s philosophy of education and his Santiniketan experiment. The didactic methods were those of the modern school, and students were obliged to communicate in either Arabic or English, in order to train them in active mastery of these languages. The religious teaching material continued to include the classical texts of Shafi`i fiqh, however. Gontor took its place between NU and Muhammadiyah; some of its graduates became teachers in NU pesantrens, others in Muhammadiyah schools. Several went on to establish their own pesantren on the Gontor model, or to reform an existing one with their Gontor experience guiding them.

One other pesantren that was to have significant influence on later radical thought was that established by Persis in Bangil. Persis was by far the most puritan of Indonesia’s reform movements and it developed a religious attitude close to that of Saudi Salafism, although not under any notable direct influence from Arabia. Unlike Muhammadiyah, it had little interest in welfare work and it concentrated on efforts to ‘correct’ religious belief and practice. The pesantren it established in Bangil in East Java was long the only one in Indonesia that was deliberately non-madhhab and focused very strongly on the study of hadith.[7]

Integration in the national education system

After Indonesia’s independence, and especially since the transition to the ‘New Order’, when economic growth took on, pesantren education became more streamlined. There are still pesantren where students are tutored in the traditional way, reading out a text individually in front of the teacher, who occasionally makes a few corrections and gives some explanation, but most have also or exclusively classroom teaching now, with a fixed curriculum. And most offer teaching in general subjects besides classical Islamic texts. Many in fact teach a government-approved curriculum consisting of 70 percent general subjects and 30 percent religious subjects and are similar to government-run religious schools known as madrasah; they even can give the same diplomas. The difference between a pesantren and a state madrasah is that the pesantren is a boarding school (although some of the students may live near enough to go home after classes), and that most pesantren now teach primarily at secondary level. (A madrasah ibtida’iyah is like a primary school; madrasah tsanawiyah and `aliyah correspond with lower and higher secondary. Some pesantren offer higher levels that may be called mu`allimin, i.e. ‘teacher training’, or ma`had `ali, a name that suggests university level.) Moreover, in most pesantrens it is also possible to follow exclusively purely religious lessons.

A madrasah diploma does not give access to a proper university, but in independent Indonesia there was one Institute for Higher Islamic Studies that was open to madrasah graduates, and after 1965 the number of such institutes, then called State Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN) rapidly increased, and there is now one in each provincial capital.

Through the madrasah curriculum and the IAINs, most pesantrens have become integrated in the national educational system and brought under government control. For a significant part of the population this has been a channel for social mobility. Pesantren education was cheaper than education in secular schools, whether private or state, and for some families a learning career in religious school was culturally more acceptable than one in a non-religious environment. Some successful IAIN graduates have been able to switch to a general university for postgraduate studies (mostly in the humanities or social sciences) and made a further career outside the religious sphere; many more found clerical or other jobs in the vast bureaucracy of the Department of Religious Affairs (which oversees all religious education, administers marriages, runs religious courts, organizes the pilgrimage, and administers the collection and distribution of zakat).

Involvement in community development and new discourses

Some pesantren deliberately refused to adopt the standard madrasah curriculum, for a number of different reasons. Some preferred to offer a solid religious curriculum, reading more and more difficult texts that was possible in the standard curriculum — or different religious texts altogether (non-madhhab or Salafi texts). Others did not wish their graduates to become civil servants and teach them more practical knowledge. In the 1970s and 1980s, several pesantrens experimented with teaching agricultural or technical skills besides religious subjects. The pesantren of Pabelan near Yogyakarta, belonging to the Gontor ‘family’, became famous for training its students in skills that could be useful when they returned to their village, and refused to give them diplomas in order to prevent them from becoming just civil servants (although this is what some of its best known alumni actually became); another in Bogor was geared to teach agriculture besides religion.[8] V.S. Naipaul, who visited Pabelan in 1980, caustically asked what use it was to teach village boys to become village boys,[9] but visitors like Ivan Illich were much more upbeat about this ‘alternative’ type of education. Many Indonesian social activists believed that it was precisely this that was needed to bring genuine development to the country and not just economic growth that failed to empower the poor.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, co-operation developed between development-oriented NGO activists and Pabelan and a few other pesantrens whose leading teachers had some social commitment and believed in development from below. The inspiration came again from Indian self-reliance movements, the experiments of Paulo Freire and writings of people like Ivan Illich. In New Order Indonesia, no parties or associations were allowed to organize down to the village level. Pesantrens were virtually the only non-state institutions actually functioning at the grassroots level, and therefore appealed to activists believing in bottom-up development besides or instead of the government’s top-down policies. Students of the Bandung Institute of Technology, prevented from direct political involvement due to new legislation following a wave of student protest in 1978, joined in activities to bring appropriate technology to the rural poor through the pesantren. Western aid agencies — first the German Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, later various other agencies — supported these efforts.[10] In 1984, a major NU congress decided that ‘social activities’, meaning relief and development work, would be one of the organization’s top priorities, and it established several affiliated NGOs that were to engage in these activities.[11] The following two decades saw a dramatic increase in NGO activity in and around the pesantren, which at least provided a considerable number of pesantren graduates with employment — although it is hard to assess the other positive impact of these activities.

The integration of the pesantren in the national education system had another interesting consequence: the emergence of a dynamic and rapidly growing circle of young Muslim intellectuals of pesantren background, who while studying at IAINs were exposed to a range of other intellectual influences, that included social science, philosophy, theology of liberation and Marxism. Partly overlapping with the environment of NGO activists, this diffuse group of young people, sometimes dubbed the ‘progressive traditionalists’, were one of the most surprising and interesting phenomena of the late 1980s and 1990s.[12]

Islam against the New Order

The developments sketched so far took place in the most visible part of the religious spectrum, among groups and prominent individuals who were acceptable to, and themselves accepted in principle (though critically) the policies of the New Order government. There were other circles that had a more conflicting relationship with the regime and resented its policies of social and religious engineering. Two broad groups stand out. One consisted of the most outspoken leaders of the former Masyumi party, reformist Muslim in religious orientation, liberal democrats in political style. The party had clashed with Sukarno over the president’s authoritarian style and its leaders had taken part in an American-supported regional rebellion in the late 1950s. Suharto never allowed the party to resurface and mistrusted its most prominent leaders, the best known of whom was Mohammad Natsir. Natsir and friends established an association for da`wa, the Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia (DDII), intending to change society and the state through changing its individuals, turning them into better Muslims. The other group, much less visible yet, consisted of an underground network of Islamic activists who strove to turn Indonesia into an Islamic state. The network consisted of the remnants of the Darul Islam movement, which had from 1949 until 1962 been in control of parts of West Java, South Sulawesi and Acheh and as the ‘Islamic State and Army of Indonesia’ (NII/TII) challenged the Republican government.[13] At the grassroots level, there had always been close relationships between the Masyumi following and that of Darul Islam, but the leadership of both had always been antagonistic: Masyumi considered the Republic as legitimate and Natsir once served as a prime minister; the Darul Islam resented Masyumi’s supporting military operations to destroy it.

The Darul Islam was a home-grown movement and never had international contacts worth mentioning. Masyumi had been more internationally oriented, and the DDII developed especially close contacts with the Arabian Peninsula. It was initially especially the ideas of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (many of whose activists had taken refuge in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states) that inspired them, and the DDII published several seminal texts in translation and was instrumental in introducing Brotherhood-style mobilizing on university campuses.[14] Later, from the late 1980s onward, the Dewan came increasingly under Salafi (‘Wahhabi’) influence.

The pesantren at Gontor was the one that was ideologically closest to the DDII; like the Dewan itself, it developed increasingly close relations with the World Muslim League (Rabitat al-`Alam al-Islami), which may have contributed to a more ‘puritan’ attitude than in other pesantrens. It appears however that the DDII leadership was disappointed with Gontor because it produced alumni who adopted much more liberal religious views and politically accommodating attitudes than what the DDII had hoped for — Nurcholish Madjid, who in 1970 called for secularization and opposed the idea of Islamic parties, being the most prominent example.[15] The Dewan took the initiative to establish a few pesantren that were more closely in line with what it deemed appropriate Islamic education, one of them, the pesantren Ulil Albab in Bogor, primarily serving students at that city’s agricultural university, another targeting a less sophisticated public in the Central Javanese city of Solo. The latter pesantren, Al-Mukmin, became better known by the name of the village on the edge of Solo to which it moved after some time, Ngruki.

Ngruki

Al-Mukmin was established in 1972 by the chairman of the Central Java branch of the DDII, Abdullah Sungkar. Among the co-founders was the presently well-known Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, then a young Gontor graduate. Al-Mukmin aimed to combine the best aspects of two models, Gontor for the teaching of Arabic, and the pesantren of Persis in Bangil for the teaching of shari`a.[16] Sungkar, Ba’asyir and their colleagues were strongly influenced by Muslim Brotherhood thought, and this was reflected to some extent in their teaching of Islamic history and doctrine. [17] By the end of the decade, Sungkar and Ba’asyir joined the underground Darul Islam and became increasingly active in mobilizing radicals outside the pesantren. Using the organizational model of the Egyptian Brotherhood, they set up an underground structure of cells (usrah), members of which were recruited among the most committed of radical mosque activists but also among ordinary neighbourhood toughs.[18] This underground organization was also loosely referred to as ‘Jama`ah Islamiyah’, an name that was later to gain a certain notoriety. Sungkar and Ba’asyir openly opposed certain New Order policies that they considered as un- or anti-Islamic; they spent some years in detention and decided to flee to Malaysia in 1985 when another arrest threatened. It was around this time that Sungkar first sent a handful of followers to Pakistan in order to take part in the Afghan jihad and gain guerrilla experience.[19] Ba’asyir lived a frugal life as an itinerant teacher during the fifteen years he spent in Malaysia, and in the 1990s established a modest pesantren, Luqmanul Hakiem, in Johor.

Sungkar and Ba’asyir were both a source of pride and an embarrassment to Ngruki. Their radical reputation was not good for the school’s relation with local authorities and it inhibited the acquisition of students from outside the milieu that understood and supported the politics of these two teachers. But some of the teachers who stayed behind continued sharing their ideas, and contact with them was maintained over the years, through visits of students and graduates. The ICG reports emphasize the centrality of Ngruki in the Jama`ah Islamiyah network, but many of the JI activists involved in violent acts are not Ngruki alumni. There are indications that some activists were first recruited while studying in Ngruki, but it is not entirely clear what this recruitment meant.[20]

Compared to many other pesantrens, Al-Mukmin is poor and its teachers lead a precarious life, earning a little money on the side as preachers. Most of the students are from families that cannot afford high fees; the pesantren appears to have few prosperous supporters. Because of its radical reputation, few would like to be seen financially supporting it. The pesantren carefully maintains the network of alumni, because it is though this network that new students are recruited. A few alumni have established, or joined, modest pesantrens themselves. One of these, Al-Islam in Lamongan, East Java, gained a sudden notoriety because three of the Bali bombers were brothers of its founder. However, this founder was not himself a Ngruki graduate; one of the brothers, Mukhlas or Ali Gufron, was a Ngruki graduate but, more importantly, he was also an Afghanistan veteran. The three brothers had spent time together as migrant workers in Malaysia and had visited the pesantren Luqmanul Hakiem, where Mukhlas was also a teacher.

The Hidayatullah ‘network’

The 2003 ICG report implicates a number of other pesantrens in the Jama`ah Islamiyah, notably the ‘Hidayatullah network’. Suspected JI activists spent brief periods in pesantrens of this network.[21] The pesantren Hidayatullah of Balikpapan in East Kalimantan is no doubt an interesting and remarkably successful institution. It was officially established in 1976 and has meanwhile almost 150 branches all over the Archipelago. This network is closely connected to the Bugis diaspora — the Bugis are a seafaring ethnic group originating from South Sulawesi — and appears to have a link with what remains of the Bugis Darul Islam network. However, since its founding this pesantren network has made efforts to maintain good relations with the government. The first pesantren was officially opened by the then Minister of Religious Affairs, A. Mukti Ali. Eight years later, the pesantren received a prestigious government prize, the Kalpataru prize for environmental conservation, presented by President Suharto himself. Later, president Habibie and Megawati’s vice-president Hamzah Haz also made official visits to this pesantren. It frequently receives foreign visitors. Daughter pesantrens have been established wherever there is a Bugis diaspora community, from Acheh to Papua.

The pesantren gained a wide renown for a magazine it has published since 1988, Suara Hidayatullah, and which at its peak achieved a circulation of 52,000 copies. The magazine reads like a broadsheet of the Islamist International; it is militant, gives information on all the jihads being fought in the world, is fiercely anti-Jewish and anti-Christian, and has interviews with and sympathetic articles on all radical Islamic groups of the country.

Pesantren Al-Zaytun

The most posh pesantren of the country is Al-Zaytun in Indramayu, which in the past few years has drawn a lot of attention and has been accused of heterodox practices. Like Hidayatullah, it appears to have close connections to the underground Darul Islam movement, in this case that of West Java and, again like Hidayatullah, it has excellent relations with certain powerful people. Although it has come under attack for alleged heterodoxies and for being financed through dubious activities, it appears to enjoy such strong protection that it is immune from all criticism.[22] The pesantren is so wealthy that there has been some speculation as to the source of its wealth: was it the coffers of the Darul Islam movement, or money from the Suharto family? The evidence in the public domain suggests that both may be true, at least to some extent.

[1] This pesantren was presented as the central hub in an Indonesian Al-Qa`ida network in a report by the International Crisis Group, “Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia: the case of the ‘Ngruki network’ in Indonesia”. Jakarta/Brussels: International Crisis Group, 2002.

[2] Claude Guillot, “Le role historique des perdikan ou “villages francs”: le cas de Tegalsari”, Archipel 30, 1985, 137-162; J.A. van der Chys, “Bijdragen tot de geschiedenis van het inlandsch onderwijs”, Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 14, 1864, 212-323. The historical evidence is surveyed in: Martin van Bruinessen, “Pesantren and kitab kuning: Continuity and change in a tradition of religious learning”, in: W. Marschall (ed.), Texts from the islands: Oral and written traditions of Indonesia and the Malay world [Ethnologica Bernensia 4], Berne: The University of Berne Institute of Ethnology, 1994, pp. 121-146.

[3] On the books studied in the pesantren, and the shifts in the curriculum see: Martin van Bruinessen, “Kitab kuning: books in Arabic script used in the pesantren milieu”, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 146, 1990, 226-269. There is a striking similarity to the curriculum in Kurdish madrasas, as described in: Zeynelabidin Zinar, “Medrese education in Kurdistan”, Les annales de l’autre Islam 5, 1998, 39-58.

[4] Martin van Bruinessen, “Muslims of the Dutch East Indies and the caliphate question”, Studia Islamika (Jakarta) vol.2 no.3, 1995, 115-140.

[5] Saiful Mujani and R. William Liddle, “Indonesia’s approaching elections: politics, Islam, and public opinion”, Journal of Democracy 15/1, 2004, 109-123.

[6] Lance Castles, “Notes on the Islamic school at Gontor”, Indonesia 1, 1966, 30-45; Ali Saifullah HA, “Daarussalaam, pondok modern Gontor”, in: M. D. Rahardjo (ed.), Pesantren dan pembaharuan, Jakarta: LP3ES, 1974, pp. 134-154; Mahrus As`ad, “Ma`had al-Juntûr bayna’l-tajdîd wa’l-taqlîd”, Studia Islamika vol.3, no.4, 1996, 165-193.

[7] On Persis and its pesantren, see: Howard M. Federspiel, Islam and ideology in the emerging Indonesian state: the Persatuan Islam (PERSIS), 1923 to 1957, Leiden: Brill, 2001. Cf. my review in International Journal of Middle East Studies 35 (2003), 171-173.

[8] M. Saleh Widodo, “Pesantren Darul Fallah: eksperimen pesantren pertanian”, in: M. D. Rahardjo (ed.), Pesantren dan pembaharuan, Jakarta: LP3ES, 1974, pp. 121-133; M. Habib Chirzin, “Impak dan pengaruh kegiatan pondok Pabelan sebagai lembaga pendidikan dan pengembangan masyarakat desa”, in: (ed.), Pesantren: Profil kyai, pesantren dan madrasah [=Warta-PDIA No.2], Jakarta: Balai Penelitian dan Pengembangan Departemen Agama R.I., 1981, pp. 69-78.

[9] V.S. Naipaul, Among the believers, an Islamic journey, New York: Knopf, 1981.

[10] M. Dawam Rahardjo (ed.), Pergulatan dunia pesantren: membangun dari bawah, Jakarta: P3M, 1985; Manfred Ziemek, Pesantren dalam perubahan sosial, Jakarta: P3M, 1986.

[11] Martin van Bruinessen, NU: tradisi, relasi-relasi kuasa, pencarian wacana baru, Yogyakarta: LKiS, 1994.

[12] Djohan Effendi, “Progressive traditionalists: the emergence of a new discourse in Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama during the Abdurrahman Wahid era”, Ph.D. thesis, Deakin University, Department of Religious Studies, 2000; Laode Ida, Kaum progresif dan sekularisme baru NU, Jakarta: Erlangga, 2004.

[13] C. van Dijk, Rebellion under the banner of Islam: the Darul Islam in Indonesia, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1981; Holk H. Dengel, Darul-Islam. Kartosuwirjos Kampf um einen islamischen Staat in Indonesien, Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1986.

[14] Asna Husin, “Philosophical and sociological aspects of da`wah. A study of the Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia”, Ph.D. thesis, Columbia University, 1998; Lukman Hakiem and Tamsil Linrung, Menunaikan panggilan risalah: dokumentasi perjalanan 30 tahun Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia, Jakarta: Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia, 1997; Martin van Bruinessen, “Genealogies of Islamic radicalism in Indonesia”, South East Asia Research 10 no.2, 2002, 117-154.

[15] See the comments to this effect in: Kamal Hassan, Muslim intellectual response to New Order modernization in Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa, 1980.

[16] The history of this pesantren is sketched in: Farha Abdul Kadir Assegaff, “Peran perempuan Islam (penelitian di Pondok Pesantren Al Mukmin, Sukoharjo, Jawa Tengah)”, Tesis S-2, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Program Studi Sosiologi, Jurusan Ilmu-Ilmu Sosial, 1995; Zuly Qodir, Ada apa dengan pesantren Ngruki?, Bantul: Pondok Edukasi, 2003; ES. Soepriyadi, Ngruki & jaringan terorisme: melacak jejak Abu Bakar Ba’asyir dan jaringannya dari Ngruki sampai bom Bali, Jakarta: P.T. Al-Mawardi Prima, 2003.

[17] A list of books taught in Ngruki in the mid-1990s mentions Sa`id Hawwa’s Jundullah as one of the textbooks for doctrine (Qodir, Ada apa…, p. 52), and a former student recounts that the distinguishing of al-walâ’ wa-l-barâ’ was at the core of the curriculum (Soepriyadi, Ngruki, p. 24-5).

[18] The best published study of this Usrah network is: Abdul Syukur, Gerakan Usroh di Indonesia: peristiwa Lampung 1989, Yogyakarta: Ombak, 2003. A good early overview, based on court documents of trials against arrested Usrah members, is: Tapol, Indonesia: Muslims on trial, London: Tapol/Indonesian Human Rights Campaign, 1987. There is much useful information in a thesis by a Ngruki graduate: Muh. Nursalim, “Faksi Abdullah Sungkar dalam gerakan NII era Orde Baru (studi terhadap pemikiran dan harakah politik Abdullah Sungkar)”, Tesis Magister, Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta, Program Pascasarjana, 2001. See also Bruinessen, “Genealogies” and International Crisis Group, “Al Qaeda”.

[19] Nursalim, “Faksi Abdullah Sungkar”; a detailed overview of Sungkar followers who went to Pakistan during the 1980s in: International Crisis Group, “Jemaah Islamiyah in South East Asia: damaged but still dangerous”, Jakarta: International Crisis Group, 2003.

[20] One of my informants is a former student in Al-Mukmin, who was recruited into the NII by an older peer — not by a teacher! — in 1993, when Sungkar and Ba’asyir were living in Malaysia. Another frequent visitor of the pesantren told me that promising students would be singled out for special treatment. They would be woken up in the middle of the night and told to perform the nightly prayers, after which they would be given special instruction, presumably of a religious nature but secret.

[21] International Crisis Group, “Jemaah Islamiyah”, p. 26-27, uncritically repeated in various other reports.

[22] The Islamist activist Umar Abduh has published three books denouncing this pesantren: Umar Abduh, Membongkar gerakan sesat NII di balik pesantren mewah Al Zaytun, Jakarta: Lembaga Penelitian & Pengkajian Islam, 2001; Umar Abduh, Pesantren Al-Zaytun sesat? Investigasi mega proyek dalam Gerakan NII, Jakarta: Darul Falah, 2001; Umar Abduh, Al Zaytun Gate. Investigasi mengungkap misteri. Dajjal Indonesia membangun negara impian Iblis, Jakarta: Lembaga Pusat Data & Informasi (LPDI) bekerjasama dengan SIKAT & AL BAYYINAH, 2002. A former(?) Darul Islam activist, Al Chaidar, claims that much of the money for the pesantren was collected by the Ninth Regional Command of the NII, which carried out robberies and other unorthodox fundraising activities. He also accused the movement of heterodox beliefs and practices: Al Chaidar, Sepak terjang KW. IX Abu Toto Syech A.S. Panji Gumilang menyelewengkan NKA-NII pasca S.M. Kartooewirjo, Jakarta: Madani Press, 2000. The Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) carried out an independent investigation, that found some of the accusations founded: Majelis Ulama Indonesia Team Peneliti Ma’had Al-Zaytun, “Laporan lengkap hasil penelitian Ma’had al-Zaytun Haurgeulis Indramayu”, Jakarta: Majelis Ulama Indonesia, 2002.

Martin van Bruinessen, ISIM, Netherlands
Paper presented at the ISIM workshop on ‘The Madrasa in Asia’, 23-24 May 2004

http://www.let.uu.nl/~martin.vanbruinessen/personal/publications/pesantren_in_Indonesia.htm

Published by:
M. Asrori Ardiansyah, M.Ed
Teacher in Malang Indonesia

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