By: Samsul Nizar
Professor and Head of STAIN Bengkalis
Rice is a well-known crop, particularly in communities where it is used as a primary food. Rice is a source of sustenance and a symbol of prosperity for most Indonesians. So vast are the benefits provided by rice. It is therefore not surprising that numerous proverbs use the term “padi or rice” to refer to the kindness of human nature. Among the frequently used proverbs are “like rice, the more bowed, the fuller” which describes the nature of knowledgeable tawadhu individuals and “rice harvested today, was not planted yesterday afternoon” which implies that all desired outcomes require time (process).
When it is young, the green expanse of rice can soothe the eyes, provide farmers with vitality (spirit), and provide oxygen for the universe. When rice is ancient, its golden yellow hue dazzles the eyes and inspires optimism for the future. Rice that bends downward gives farmers good news. It acknowledges the farmer’s labour by conveying a message of anticipated sustenance. Indeed, throughout childhood, adolescence, and old age, rice has brought all kinds of pleasure.
There is a connection between the existence and philosophy of the rice plant message and the position of a Santri. Historically speaking, the origin of the word Santri is the Javanese word cantrik. Some claim that the word Santri is derived from the Sanskrit word “Shastri,” which signifies literate. In the meantime, Santri is a term for seekers of knowledge who pursue Islamic religious education in boarding institutions. Santri typically remain until they have concluded their education. Although a small number of “Santri kalong” pursue religious knowledge, they do not reside in existing boarding schools.
The terms Santri and pesantren are indigenous to Indonesia, from a historical perspective. Later, however, some argued that the word Santri was derived from the Arabic letters sin, nun, ta, ra, and ya’. Each letter has its significance. Although it is difficult to prove this opinion in a historical context, the author appears to be searching for a word equivalent. However, its essence can serve as a standard for all Santri.
Aside from the aforementioned distinctions, it must be acknowledged that Santri has existed in this country since the establishment of Islamic boarding institutions. Unquestionably, it contributed to the dissemination of Islam, the acquisition and defence of independence, and the development of civilization in the Republic of Indonesia. In essence, the character of Santri is a noble-mannered seeker of knowledge. The possession of adab is indicative of a civilised individual. While the sign of a knowledgeable person is always the construction and preservation of civilization.
Although the existence of Santri and Pesantren was initially undervalued and it appeared to be a second-rate educational institution, progressively this institution demonstrated equal performance and quality, even surpassing formal educational institutions. The sincerity to uphold the teachings of Islam and the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia is indisputable. Its contribution to constructing and colouring this country’s civilization is undeniable and has stood the test of time. Because of this, its existence acquired momentum when the government acknowledged its existence and contribution. The state (President Joko Widodo) proclaimed October 22, 2015 as National Santri Day. State appreciation and recognition for the role of Santri and Islamic boarding institutions in achieving, defending, and sustaining independence throughout history. A history written in gold ink that will be remembered for all eternity.
The essence of pesantren and the character of early Santri must be maintained and preserved, as well as the inclusiveness of the present-day dynamics, even though pesantren is currently undergoing significant transformations. The spirit of sincerity, adab, independence, diligence, religious knowledge breadth, guardians of the Qur’an and Sunnah, guardians and successors of ahlussunnah wal jama’ah, and indigenous wisdom must be maintained. This exhalation symbolises and characterises all Santri and Pesantren educational institutions. The Santri and pesantren institutions are required to be inclusive of the dynamics of the times in terms of “accessories” to position pesantren by developments to meet the needs of the times without sacrificing their identity and spirit.
The motif for the 2023 celebration of National Santri Day was “Santri Effort; Triumph the Nation.” This topic is highly pertinent to current conditions. In the context of Santri, the effort (jihad) is understood as a sincere, intelligent, virtuous effort and reawakened national idealism aimed at achieving general human virtue in the Republic of Indonesia.
Minister of Religion of the Republic of Indonesia Gus Yaqut conveyed that “the meaning of effort in this context includes effort Santri triumph the nation and effort of Santri in the era of digital transformation.” This theme’s objective is to encourage all parties, notably pesantren administrators, to work together to achieve the desired outcomes. Effort Santri emphasises the importance of researching, disseminating knowledge, practising knowledge (adab), acquiring knowledge, and producing knowledge to construct the Republic of Indonesia. The above wise theme, among others, must be comprehended thoroughly:
First, learning and the pursuit of knowledge never become obsolete. The students must be dedicated to their studies and clarify their objectives. Pesantren is not merely a fad when a small number of education outside of pesantren changes. The pesantren community requires an immune system to prevent bad behaviour and rule-breaking from infecting their region. The presence of pesantren is not exclusively business-oriented or the “politicised” prestige of a small number of personalities who seek only social status. The existence of pesantren must serve the noble purpose of instilling in students the spirit of effort to uphold Allah’s religion and create the Republic of Indonesia. Through this endeavour, it is anticipated that the struggle (effort) of the Santri to acquire and master a variety of in-depth knowledge will inspire them to participate actively in building civilization in this nation. Through acquired knowledge, the level of Santri and Pesantren will increase. This is the vow made by Allah and His Prophet. The following is a direct quote from His words: “Indeed, Allah will elevate those who believe among you and those who are granted knowledge several levels. And Allah knows what you do best” (Al-Mujadalah 11).
Similarly, in some traditions, the Prophet recalls his words: “Whoever goes to study, then he has been among the sabilillah (people who uphold the religion of Allah) until he returns home” (HR. Tirmidzi).
The aforementioned verses and hadiths are the motivation for every possessor of the “spirit of Santri” to always seek (endless) knowledge, comprehend knowledge, practise knowledge, love knowledge, cultivate knowledge, and disseminate knowledge. Everything is done solely to discover the path to His love and earn the degree He promised, not to impress or gain praise.
Second, work, serve the nation, and perpetually disseminate knowledge. According to their areas of expertise, the Santri must generate a variety of actual works and innovations. Through this effort, Santri will appear actively constructing civilization and disseminating knowledge (works) for the benefit of humanity and humanity. If this effort can be accomplished, the Santri will have put into practice the words of the Prophet: “The best of mankind is the most beneficial to mankind” (HR. Ahmad).
During the golden age, Muslim scholars followed this model of effort by generating intelligent works to advance civilization. Ibn Sina, Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Haitham, al-Khwarizmi, Imam Shafi’i, and countless other Muslim scholars are included. All of them participate in the effort by studying without distaste, labouring without riya’, and serving the Divine for the development of the nation’s culture.
The works produced by Santri in the modern era must be adapted to the times. The strategy must be digital and implementation-oriented. Through the application of the intelligent work of digital-based Santri, this era can be imbued with profound religious values for the inculcation of adab (noble) in human civilization.
Consequently, effort in this context entails performing obligations and not non-obligatory tasks. Not considering the mandates in other individuals, but rather focusing on what is mandated. Such a definition of effort refers to the effort of all the nation’s children in this country, amid a “wild” digital world that allows the presence of politically motivated fraudulent information.
Third, practising with adab knowledge that reflects the morals of the Prophet Muhammad SAW. This is consistent with the Prophet’s message as expressed in his words, “Indeed, I was sent only to perfect morals” (HR. Baihaqi).
The civilization of the Jahiliyah period was historically advanced for its time. The term jahilyah was applied to this period because it was ruled by a culture devoid of adab (morals). The above Hadith demonstrates that adab is superior to knowledge. Every possessor of decorum must also possess knowledge, whereas the possessor of knowledge is not necessarily civilised. This is made clear by Allah’s words: “And if We had willed, We would have exalted him with these verses, but he tends to the world and indulges his lower lusts, so he is like a dog when you drive him away with his tongue and leave him alone with his tongue. Such are the relationships of those who reject Our verses. So relate these tales that they may reflect (QS. al-A’raf: 176).
Fourth, independence and inventiveness without idleness. Santri must possess the integrity to never grovel or ask for money, let alone “sell” their honour. Because religious doctrine rests on their shoulders and must be maintained. Therefore, pesantren must foster the independence of Santri through their independence. The students’ minds must be trained to think for their demands to be met.
Pesantren independence is both a challenge and an imperative necessity. By utilising extant (local) natural resources, peasants must cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset. Through this effort, pesantren will be able to promote greater economic growth among the populace. The emphasis on independence is not solely economic but also seeks to instil in students a spirit of independence and create employment opportunities. In addition, the independence of pesantren will make it a pioneer of the “hands above” tradition amid the flourishing “hands below” tradition.
Fifth, protecting Indonesia from all factors that threaten this nation’s integrity. The patriotic spirit of the national champions who were raised in Islamic boarding schools to seize, defend, defend, and populate the Republic of Indonesia must be preserved. Prince Diponegoro, KH. Hasyim Asy’ari, KH. Ahmad Dahlan, KH. Wahid Hasyim, KH. Zainal Arifin, KH. Zainal Musthafa, KH. Noer Ali and numerous other Santri figures have declared “effort” for this nation. They engage in effort with sincerity and tawadhu across all lines and spaces. All of them are gorgeously engraved with examples of Attitude’s character development and the legacy he left behind in establishing a civilization that is still admired today.
The spirit of the Santri figures mentioned in the preceding history must be inherited and carried on by all children of the nation, notably each Santri. This attitude exemplifies yellowed, bowed, and stuffed rice. He bestowed himself upon humanity and nature. Not as a weed that merely stands tall (as if magnificent), but is devoid of substance and provides no benefit. Students and the pesantren world must maintain the ethos of rice. Always provide prosperity despite the occurrence of “water intake and fertiliser” shortages.
Indeed, the momentum of the 2023 National Santri Day commemoration is extremely strategic and crucial, particularly before the “political year”. Amid the dynamics of a political escalation that is intensifying, the world of pesantren and Santri must demonstrate high politics with serene and prudent attitudes. The Santri must be the propelling force and guardian of civilised and respectful politics. As a form of effort, the dubious behaviour and independence of the Santri will demonstrate the height of manners that taint the dignity of democracy and the quality of civilization in the Republic of Indonesia. In 2023, happy National Santri Day.
Effort of Santri, Triumph the Nation. Independent Pesantren, Flourishing Nation. Santri character, head of state. Strong Santri, Indonesian dignified.
Wa Allahua’lam bi al-Shawwab.
Translated by Riska Saputra
Alumni STAIN Bengkalis and Magister from Graduate Institute of Network Learning Technology in National Central University, Taiwan