1.3 Daarut Tauhid: A Pesantren Milieu

Pesantren Daarut Tauhid is located in Gegerkalong, the northern part of the city of Bandung. Gegerkalong is only about four kilometres away from the alun-alun (square, the heart of Bandung city) and just about two kilometres from pendopo gubernur (the offices of the provincial governor). It is in the same kelurahan (suburb) with IKIP Bandung (Institut Keguruan Ilmu Pendidikan Bandung, Bandung Public Institute for Educational Studies) and is in neighbourhood to such national universities as ITB (Institut Teknologi Bandung, Bandung Institute of Technology), Unpad (Universitas Padjadjaran, Padjadjaran University),[20] and Unisba (Universitas Islam Bandung, Bandung University of Islamic Studies).

Known as the Pesantren Bengkel Akhlaq, Daarut Tauhid is a pesantren both because it formally declares itself as a pesantren and because it meets the basic criteria of a pesantren. It meets the minimum elements of a pesantren, monumentally set forth by Zamakhsyari Dhofier (1982:49–59). Those basic elements are the pondok (dormitories), the mosque, the study of classical Islamic kitab (texts), the santri (students), and the kyai (leader).

The element pondok of Pesantren Daarut Tauhid takes the form of permanent buildings divided into rooms each variably inhabited by five to ten santri. These may be owned by the pesantren or be privately owned and in the vicinity of the pesantren. There is, so far, only one Daarut Tauhid owned pondok which has six bedrooms. This dormitory is now inhabited by female santri. Other dormitories, that are occupied by male santri, are not owned by the pesantren. They are, instead, houses rented and thus paid for by Daarut Tauhid whilst the inhabitant santri share the payment. This rental phenomenon is not so startling for at least three reasons. First, as shall be elaborated in chapter three, most santri are school or university students who come from a distance and thus are used to living in rented rooms. When intending to study in Daarut Tauhid, they simply move in and rent a room already booked by Daarut Tauhid. This is supported by the second reason, that is, the urban location of Daarut Tauhid. As noted by Dhofier (1980a:47), the rental tradition is a common phenomenon among the students of Islamic study-centres in cities such as Mecca and Madina. The third reason is the fact that Daarut Tauhid is still in its early development. It just built its big mosque in 1992, female dormitory and mini-market in 1993, mini-bank and mini-restaurant in early 1994, and a study building in late 1994. So it is simply a matter of time and priority, while the building of other facilities has been given priority over the building of more dormitories.

What is startling is the fact that the kyai’s house itself is still a rented one. It is in a sense part of the pondok because part of the house is inhabited by some santri. Unlike the rest of the pondok, however, this house is not paid for by the pesantren but by the kyai himself. As a matter of fact, the kyai had had his own house, certainly bought by his own money, yet it was given as the site for the new mosque as his sincere waqf (donation for religious use).

The capacity of all pondok together, apart from the mosque and the study spaces, is enough for no more than about a hundred santri. There are two reasons for this limited pondok facilities. First, Daarut Tauhid was officially founded only in 1990; this, together with the present rental conditions, reflects the early stage of the development of this pesantren. Second, at least up until now, most of the followers did not stay in the pesantren but attended the pesantren’s activities without necessarily staying in the pesantren complex.[21]

Photograph 1 Daarut Tauhid mosque as the centre of activities. Pedicab, car, and the busy street in front of the mosque suggest the urban location of the mosque
Photograph 1 Daarut Tauhid mosque as the centre of activities. Pedicab, car, and the busy street in front of the mosque suggest the urban location of the mosque

The pondok involves the separation of the sexes as is common to all pesantren in Indonesia. Male santri have their own pondok as do female santri. So also do they have their own “office” and managing authorities. As in other pesantren (Dhofier 1980a:48), these two sex-based “realms” are well-separated by the kyai’s house. The female pondok is far better off than the male pondok in terms of both the physical construction of the building and its supporting facilities. Bathrooms for females, for example, are built-in at their pondok unlike those for males. Among the reasons given for this privilege for female santri is the assumption that women are viewed weaker than men, and the kyai’s effort to observe Islamic law such that unnecessary, and perhaps dangerous, intercourse between Muslims of different sexes is to be avoided. One of the ways of keeping women separated from men is to provide women with special, often inevitably better, facilities.

The masjid (mosque) serves as the second element of Pesantren Daarut Tauhid. It was built in 1992 on the land that was formerly the private property of the kyai and thus has replaced his former house.[22] It is a two storey building with the capacity for about 1000 praying or 2000 sitting Muslims. Located at the centre of the pesantren area, it is, indeed, the centre of pesantren activities.

The third element for the pesantren, the study of classical texts (kitab-kitab klasik), is also identifiable in Pesantren Daarut Tauhid. The kyai, when delivering his weekly pengajian (public sermon) on Thursdays, refers to and explores the meaning of a certain kitab klasik, concerned with the Islamic guidance of morality. Daarut Tauhid has, as well, a scheduled program for the study of Islamic classical texts. This is done on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays evening.

An unusual feature here is the presence of outsider kyai other than the Daarut Tauhid’s kyai. While other pesantren are self-sufficient with their own kyai or ustadz (young teacher), Daarut Tauhid invites kyai from other pesantren to teach there. For example, at Monday sessions, Daarut Tauhid invites K. H. Drs. Jalaluddin Asy-Syatibi, the kyai of Pesantren Miftahul Khoir, Dago. At Tuesday sessions, it invites K. H. Irfan Qusyairi, the kyai of Pesantren At-Taqwa, Cimindi. They are, in a sense, kyai tamu (guest instructors) with a different background of knowledge and different orientations to the various religious schools of thought (madzhab). There is thus direct encounter between different madzhab, which has produced endless contention in Indonesia, since each mazhab has its own advocates.[23] According to one of the officials at the pesantren, this tradition is being developed to create a friendly sphere of intercourse between varying lines of Islamic thoughts, in the spirit of shilaturrahmi (bonds of friendship). Daarut Tauhid itself is therefore known for promoting a new orientation; madzhab shilaturrahmi, with the spirit of conflict avoidance.

The fourth element of Pesantren Daarut Tauhid are the santri. As already noted, the great majority of Daarut Tauhid’s followers do not stay in the complex of the pesantren but come there at certain times for certain activities such as to listen to a public talk, to attend an intensive study of kitab klasik, or to carry out short-term workshops.[24]

The final element, the kyai, bears many distinctive features that enrich the pesantren tradition. He is a very young kyai who, unlike other kyai, did not experience pesantren education in a conventional way. If anything, he just visited kyai in various pesantren. As Dhofier (1980a) and Pranowo (1991a) record, normally it has been one of the pesantren traditions that a person spend several years in a number of pesantren before he qualifies to be a kyai. There are many other distinctive features about this kyai of Daarut Tauhid, which are discussed in the two chapters to follow.

[20] ITB and Unpad are two of the nine universities of excellence in Indonesia (Raillon 1985:23). This is mainly why Bandung is known as a student city, just like Yogyakarta and Jakarta (Rosyad 1995:2).

[21] This is made possible by the new trend in knowledge transmission practised in Daarut Tauhid, as shall be described later on. This certainly minimises the demand for the provision of pondok.

[22] There are interesting features concerning the funding of the construction of the mosque to be discussed later.

[23] Mazhab is school of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). In fact, there were many mazhab developed by Muslim ulama in accordance with their differing understanding on Qur’an and Hadith. However, to date, only four mazhab survive. These are called after their founders: the Hanafi, the Shafi’i, the Maliki, and the Hanbali. They prevail in different parts of Muslim world. The Shafi’i, for example, prevails in Egypt, South Arabia, Syria, East Africa, and Indonesia. Despite this prevailing Shafi’ite school in Indonesia, the modern groups prefer the Hanafi and the Hanbali. This has been the main cause for the modernist-traditionalist dispute in Indonesia.

[24] Detailed discussion of the followers, in terms of their numbers, variety, identity, and reasons for joining, will appear in Chapter Three.