Me and My Pesantren (7): Finding the Meaning of Istikomah

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The Mambaus Sholihin Islamic Boarding School is located in Suci Village, Manyar District, Gresik Regency, East Java. If you depart from outside the city and transit in Surabaya, go to the inter-city terminal in the Osowilangun area, then get off at Terminal Bunder. From Terminal Bunder, if you see a T-junction, cross and take the orange angkot waiting for passengers, then ask to get off at the lodge. It was the only angkot that was busy, pacing back and forth, taking Suci’s santri out of the cottage area in any direction, either to the Semen Hospital, to Gresik Market, or “escape” to the malls in Surabaya.

Even though I know what roads and public transportation to take, since I have been in the pesantren for a dozen years, thank God I am one of those people who dare not run away. Sounds boring, indeed, to be too submissive and rule-abiding. Maybe that’s what my classmates saw since I was in the madrasah tsanawiyah bench because they hadn’t seen my journey in the past five years. I’ve spent my time playing and running away since madrasah ibtidaiyah at the pesantren, so I chose to seriously study while sitting at the madrasah tsanawiyah bench.


In 1998, when I was in Madrasah Ibtidaiyah, the male and female Islamic boarding schools were still under construction on the 2nd floor. Although the second building is not visible from the highway because it is in a village alley, apparently the existence of this pesantren attracted my father. So he almost every day passed by to work.

I remember very well how my father believed that this pesantren would become a big pesantren in the next few years and be known by many people (and it was proven). Not only because of its strategic location but also because of my father’s view of his Kiai, Kiai Masbuhin Faqih, who is known to be pious and humble. Kiai Masbuhin Faqih graduated from the Langitan Pesantren and Gontor Pesantren. Understanding the combination of the two was certainly very encouraging for my father at that time, both salaf and modern. This boarding school eventually became where I spent all my school time until I graduated from college.

As an alumnus, you may be physically fit or “lack of updating”, both in terms of how many building units are currently owned by the pesantren or even what activities have changed, been innovated or wholly abolished. But I believe that physical changes and distance mean nothing at all to people who love their pesantren so profoundly. Even later, when our teachers are gone, and we are getting older ourselves, the picture of life in boarding schools and the bestari wise advice from our teachers will not be lost. On the contrary, we will continue to remember, or even that advice is transformed into us. Whether we realize it or not, it has become ingrained teaching.

Because of this deep love, I want to reminisce about the dawuh Kiai delivered on many occasions. To this day, his dawuh continues to stick in my heart.

Dawuh kiai are: al-istiqomah khoirun min alfi karomah. That is that istikomah (doing something continuously) is better than a thousand karomah (privileges) that a person has.

In the past, I didn’t really appreciate it or even use it because the advice was given very often. Istikomah, for me, at that time, was doing congregational prayers according to the rules that had been set by the pesantren. Or the tahajjud prayer because the bell rings in a third of the night. Or take part in all activities starting from school, courses, muhadloroh, muhadatsah, imrithi and alfiyah deposits, diniyah, or yellow book deposits. For me, all of this is the istikomah of the pol because it does not change its activities throughout the year. That’s it.

In the last few years, when I brought up and continued my studies at a state university, then graduated and now serve to practice the knowledge I have gained, I often think about how Kiai’s advice is like a keyword to deal with this uncertain life.

I learned to understand that istikomah is not the only thing. Nor is it boring because you keep doing the same thing over and over again. Istikomah is another form of patience itself.; consistency without limits; Istikomah is not giving up. It is persistence.

Istikomah is a form of belief. Istikomah is an opener for the good even though we are not among those who have privileges. This just came from a piece of his advice. There are many more that I don’t remember, but occasionally I still listen to them via mp3 recordings.

Now I may not be able to listen to his loud voice directly as he stands and sits delivering his bestari wise advice like before in front of thousands of students because of my old age. I saw him always sitting in a wheelchair pushed by the asatiz when he attended significant pesantren events. Although physically, the Mambaus Sholihin Islamic Boarding School is getting bigger and bigger, my sadness is always more immense than that. Mambaus Sholihin for me is everything. I grew and grew up in it. Remembering one Mars with the pesantren motto “Alim, Sholeh, Kafi”, which I used to often listen to when I was a child, it reads like this:

Since childhood, we learn
In this beloved cottage
So that later, become a person
The pious, pious, and kafi
O Allah, pour out Your mercy on us
Make our knowledge the bright path of life later

Never forget to send Fatihah to the teachers who have poured their knowledge into all of us. Al Fatihah…


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