Pesantren or Pondok Pesantren are Islamic
boarding schools in Indonesia. According to one popular tradition, the "pesantren" education system originated from traditional Javanese "pondokan"; dormitories for Hindus to learn martial artsand meditation. Institutions much like them are found across the Islamic world and are called "pondok" in Malaysia and Southern Thailand and "madrasa Islamia" (Islamic madrasa) in India and Pakistan and much of the Arabic speaking world. "Pesantren" aim to deepen knowledge of the Koran, particularly through the study of Arabic, traditions of exegesis, the Sayings of the Prophet, law and logic. The term "pesantren" derives from the root word "santri" or student -- "pe-santri-an" or the place of the "santri" [Ronald Lukens-Bull 2005 A Peaceful Jihad: Negotiating Identity and Modernity in Muslim Java. New York: Palgrave McMillian, Pp. 48]
As social institutions, "pesantren" have played a major role over the centuries. They emphasise cores values of sincerity, simplicity, individual autonomy, solidarity and self-control. Young men and women are separated from their families, which contributes to a sense of individual commitment to the faith and close bonding to a teacher. [cite book | last =Vickers | first =Adrian | authorlink = | coauthors = | title =A History of Modern Indonesia | publisher =Cambridge University Press | date =2005 | location = | pages = p.55 | url = | doi = | id = ISBN 0-521-54262-6 ] [Zamakhsyari Dhofier The Pesantren "Tradition: A Study of the Role of the Kyai in the Maintenance of the Traditional Ideology of Islam in Java" Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University Program for Southeast Asian Studies Monograph Series.]
Most 'pesantren' provide housing or dormitory living at low or no cost for the students (
Santri). The two type of educations systems are conducted throughout the day. Students in "pesantren" have almost 20 hours activities starting from early morning prayer starting at 4 am to midnight where they ended the evening with a study group in the dormitory. During the day, students attend formal school (which is mandatory until secondary school by 2005) like any other students outside of "pesantren", and in late afternoon and evening they have to attend religious ritual followed by religious studies and group studies to complete their homework.
"Pesantren" provide to Indonesian citizens at low cost; although today some modern "pesantren" charge higher fees than previously, they are still significantly cheaper than non-"pesantren" educational institutions. The traditional pattern was for students to work in the headmaster's rice fields in exchange for food, shelter, and education.
All "pesantren" are led by a group of teachers and religious leaders known as "
Kyai". . The "Kyai" is respected as teacher and devout man. "Kyai" also play important roles in the community as a religious leader and in recent years as a political figure. There are "Kyai" families that have a long history of serving in this role. Some contemporary "Kyai" are the grandsons and great-grandsons of famous historical figures who established well known pesantren. [Ronald Lukens-Bull 2005 A Peaceful Jihad: Negotiating Identity and Modernity in Muslim Java. New York: Palgrave McMillian. Pp. 91-117 ] [Zamakhsyari Dhofier The Pesantren "Tradition: A Study of the Role of the Kyai in the Maintenance of the Traditional Ideology of Islam in Java" Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University Program for Southeast Asian Studies Monograph Series.]
Starting in the second half of the Twentieth Century, some "pesantren" started adding secularsubjects to their curriculum as a way of negotiating Modernity. The addition of state recognized curricula has affected traditional "pesantren"in a number of ways. It has led to greater control by the national government. It has also restricted the number of hours available for the traditional subjects making for difficult decisions. Many "pesantren" leaders have decided that the training of religious leaders is not their sole purpose and are now satisfied to graduate young men and women who have the morality of "Kyai". [ Ronald Lukens-Bull 2000 "Teaching Morality: Javanese Islamic Education in a Globalizing Era" Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies. Vol. 3:26-48. ] . The reduction of hours available to now master two curricula has led to practical changes. While it is still possible for the children of the poor to work in the "Kyai's" economic ventures (more than just rice fields these days), most parents will pay both room and board and small tuition. The time that used to be spent working, is now spent in secular education. [Zamakhsyari Dhofier The Pesantren "Tradition: A Study of the Role of the Kyai in the Maintenance of the Traditional Ideology of Islam in Java" Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University Program for Southeast Asian Studies Monograph Series.] [Ronald Lukens-Bull 2005 A Peaceful Jihad: Negotiating Identity and Modernity in Muslim Java. New York: Palgrave McMillian. Pp. 62-65 ]
"Pesantren" curriculum has four possible components: 1) traditional religious education, called "ngaji"; 2) government recognized curricula (there are two different types to choose from); 3) vocational skills training; 4) character development. "Pesantren" differ to the degree that they engage each of these components, however all feel that character development for the students is the defining characteristic of any "pesantren". [Ronald Lukens-Bull 2005 A Peaceful Jihad: Negotiating Identity and Modernity in Muslim Java. New York: Palgrave McMillian. Pp.47-70]
Through curricular redesign "pesantren" people engage in a process of (re)imagining modernity. Modernity must be first imagined as potentially dangerous in terms of the morals that often accompany it. It must then be imagined as redeemable; that it can be detached from one set of "problematic" morals and reattached to Islamic morality. [ Ronald Lukens-Bull 2001 "Two Sides of the Same Coin: Modernity and Tradition in Indonesian Islamic Education." Anthropology and Education Quarterly. 32(3):350-372.] .
One prominent "pesantren" figure in Indonesia is
Abdurrahman Wahid(Gus Dur), a former President of Indonesia. He was well educated in "pesantren" during his youth and grown up as a grandson of a "Kyai", the founder of one of Indonesian religious political organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama. Gus Dur himself was the head of this organization from 1984 until 1999. After his term as President of Indonesia, Gus Dur returned to teaching in his "pesantren" in Ciganjur. [Greg Barton, 2002. Gus Dur: The Authorized Biography of Abdurrahman Wahid. Equinox Publishing ]
Islam in Indonesia
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