Kiai Abdulhalim and the Santi Asromo

Kiai Abdulhalim was born in Majalengka, West Java. There is no record of the date and year of his birth. He is the son of Muhammad Iskandar and Siti Mutmainah, a family descended from a Banten cleric who moved to Majalengka to fulfill his duties as Penghulu Kawedanan Jatiwangi. This Kiai, whose small name is Ahmad Syatori, has not enjoyed his father’s affection for so long. The father had to return to Rahmatullah precisely when he was still a child; therefore, practically, he lived only under the care of his mother.

Jatiwangi’s social life, which at that time was already ethnically and religiously plural, led Syatori to form close friendships with Chinese children so that he could speak Chinese every day. He is also friends with adherents of non-Islamic religions such as Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Muslim children themselves. He also had close contact with and learned to read Latin and Dutch from van Houven, a Protestant zending who lived in Cideres (central Protestantism in Majalengka). From his close association with his diverse friends, Syatori gained knowledge and experience, which he later inducted as a pluralistic and multicultural group of thought and awareness.

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Similar to the experience of Kiai Ikhsan Jampes (Kediri), for example, who loves wayang kulit; Since his youth, Syatori was very fond of watching shadow puppet shows, which were popular at that time and were often held in Jatiwangi and its surroundings. Some of the puppet characters that performed, said several elders in Majalengka, were deeply embedded in Syatori’s mind, such as Semar as a representative of the defenders of the ordinary people and the oppressed wong cilik, the genius Krisno, and the assertive Merkudara. These figures are always illustrated in and adorn his lectures, da’wah, and open conversations later on when he became a Kiai and changed his name to Abdul Halim. As a wayang kulit fan, Syatori also seems to enjoy gambling, which usually accompanies wayang performances; he is known to be very master of sitir and domino gambling and always wins in every gambling he participates in. However, for some reason, he left the habit of small-time gambling, for good, when he was a teenager.

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