Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Haul" in Pesantren Buntet, Cirebon

Friday to Saturday, April, 2nd -4th , I went to Pesantren Buntet, Cirebon, on the occasion of their ceremony called ‘Haul 2009’ a yearly gathering between the pesantren and the alumni as well as the surrounding villages around the Pesantren. In this a yearly event, that they usually invited some national figure such as ministry or president to come over the see the crowd of people respected their predecessor and sending a praying once a year. And last Friday, RI VP Jusuf Kalla, visited the pesantren and praying Jum’ah together.

Pesantren Buntet is an old and fame pesantren in Cirebon, establish in 1700s, have a strong cultural heritage and they have a ‘unique’ teaching system in educating their students. It established by Mbah Muqoyyim (1689-1750M). It has about only 5000 students and 41 clerics (Kiyai) whom independently thought at their boarding (sometimes their house) and has been released thousand alumni. This pesantren basically a nahdlatul ulama’s (NU) pesantren and has quite massif with their tradition to recite the classic texts that generate in the 14-13 century (the salafushalih era). But they are open to the contemporary issues and will response the social issues, sufism, economy and politics, such as debating the contemporary issues in the open forum (called bahsul masail) and arguing their opinions based on their reference of the salafi’s text. The bahsul masail is an open and interesting forum of debate, sometimes could taking hours only to discuss one question.
Quite astonish to me why the pesantren is not growing as a modern institutions such as a seminary school or university in the US or Europe. It was establishes as old as Harvard!

At the pesantren I have an opportunity to interact and look at the surrounding and looking for a potential project we could adopt sometimes to help the community. One focus I found interesting is about the water issue.

I found polluted and dry cricks just as the back of the pesantren. This is a quite crucial issues in the future if we do not taking care of, as the pesantren so dependable with water, they found the river was starting polluted and since the last 20years. I started a little discussion with some teachers of what could be do with their river and water resources. As Muslim has a strong link with water the pesantren interested in involving the ‘behavioral change toward water services’ and wish to have a program with their river. This is a potential sign to us to work with them since Cirebon also linked with Kuningan area and above all there is The Ciremai National Park that services those two cities.

I meet KH Nahduddin Abbas the director and respected kiyai’s at the Pesantren to discuss about his interest with environments. He have deep concern about environment and explained why he invited Ministry of Forestry MS Kaban to visit and discuss forest issue at the pesantren. Unfortunately because of technical issue the ministry was failed to come. When return back from Buntet, I have a chance to see my collague KH Hussein Muhammad of Pesantren Daruttauhid in Arjawinangun. He is hoping the activities that I am doing with the Pesantren will continue to move as there are not many activist interesting to pay attention with the environmental issues in the pesantren and developing Islamic environmentalism in a better understanding and practice. Wa akhirudda’wahum, Alhamdulillahirabil ‘alamin.