Contemporary Intellectual Jihad of Modern Santri

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The designation of October 22nd as National Santri Day by President Joko Widodo through Presidential Decree (Keppres) RI Number 22 of 2015 brought a breath of fresh air to all the santri across the archipelago. This decision distinctly conveys recognition and affirmation that the santri, throughout the long history of Indonesia’s struggle for independence, are an entity that cannot be forgotten.

The decision to mark it on October 22nd is also inseparable from the fervent resolution of jihad championed by KH Hasyim Asy’ari at that time. Through this resolution, the contributions of santri in defending the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) can be traced through the numerous lives sacrificed during the events of November 10, 1945 in Surabaya. On that day, the santri community valiantly stood at the forefront to defend the homeland and safeguard independence following the issuance of the jihad resolution on October 22, 1945.

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After 78 years of independence, we all can reflect upon that valiant struggle, thanks to the establishment of National Santri Day on October 22 by President Joko Widodo in 2015. This year, in commemoration of National Santri Day (Hari Santri Nasional or HSN), the Ministry of Religious Affairs (Kementerian Agama or Kemenag) of the Republic of Indonesia has chosen the theme “Santri’s Jihad Enriches the Nation.” This captivating theme aptly portrays the figure of the santri, closely associated with the concept of jihad.

Literacy and Intellectual Jihad

It would be a grave error if this momentous occasion were reduced to mere ceremonial significance, devoid of any substantial impact on the nation. Whether consciously or otherwise, the paradigm of confining National Santri Day to a mere formality must be cast aside. Otherwise, it would signify the end of an era for the santri community.

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