Tuan Guru Mustafa Hussein, Master Aswaja on Sumatra Island

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Where was the North Sumatran Nahdhatul Ulama (NU) born? In Medan, the Capital of the Province? It was not. The world’s largest Islamic organization was born in Padangsidimpuan 400 KM from the city of Medan. NU at the provincial level was born in a town that, if taken by road, would take about twelve hours. So then, who is the main character behind the birth?

The figure behind the birth of NU in North Sumatra was Tuan Guru Mustafa Hussein Nasution al-Mandaili. In 1303 H or 1886 AD, the charismatic teacher was born in Tano Bato, Mandailing Natal Regency, North Sumatra. Tuan Guru Mustafa is the third son of the couple H Umar Nasution-Hj Halimah. H Umar Nasution is a religious trader, so it is not surprising that since His early childhood, Muhammad Yatim, the nickname of Tuan Guru Mustafa, was educated to become a devout and pious person.


At school age, young Muhammad Yatim was enrolled by Umar Nasution to the Kayu Laut People’s School to study there until he graduated. The little orphan turned out to be an intelligent person. So, Umar recommended he continue his education at the King’s School in Bukittinggi. But Umar thought otherwise. He sent his son, Muhammad Yatim, to study with Sheikh Abdul Hamid Lubis, a prominent Mandailing cleric who lived in Huta Pungkut. Thus, a teenage orphan, about eleven years old, became the student of Sheikh Abdul Hamid Lubis.

Thanks to his perseverance, Muhammad Yatim was recommended by Sheikh Abdul Hamid to go to Makkah (1901). There lived in the family of Sheikh Abdul Qodir Almandily. On one occasion after wukuf in Padang Arafah, Muhammad Yatim changed his name to Mustafa Hussein Nasution al-Mandaili. He studied in Mecca for five years. At first, he intended to continue his education in Egypt. However, a friend said it would be better for him to continue studying in Mecca until 1915. After graduating from Madrasah Alshualatiyah Alhindiyah, he was allowed to teach fiqh there.

Al-Musthafawiyah Madrasa Founder

Tuan Guru Mustafa Hussein returned to Mandailing after his father, H Umar Hussein Nasution, died. In addition, he came home to fulfil the call of his beloved mother. In Tano Bato, Tuan Guru Mustafa founded the Madrasah Al-Musthafawiyah, known locally as an Arab school. The madrasa is well developed. But what can you do? The big flood that hit Tano Bato and its surroundings (28/12/1915) destroyed everything.

In 1915 he also decided to follow the offer of the Purba Baru community to establish a madrasa there. He, along with his students, Abdul Halim Khatib and twenty others, migrated to Purba Baru. Until now, the people of Tapsel-Madina are more familiar with this madrasa as Sikola Purba or Ancient School. At that time, the students only studied at the mosque, which was located near the Tuan Guru’s house. The students come and study in kholaqoh (sitting in a circle and cross-legged) in front of the teacher. This condition has only changed since the construction of a permanent class in 1931. After that, the students of Al-Musthafawiyah not only came from Purba Baru and Tano Bato, but also from Panyabungan, Kotanopan, Barumum, Muara Sipongi, Sibuhuan, Padangsidimpuan, Angkola, Sipirok , and Alternating Fields.

Reliable Organizer

Besides being a pious and a teacher, Tuan Guru Mustafa is also known as a reliable organizer. After returning from Mecca, he joined various Islamic social organizations. In 1915, he sat as chairman of the Tano Bato Islamic Society. In 1930 the Tapanuli Muslim Association (PMT) was established, and Tuan Guru sat as Chair of the Syar’iy Council. In 1936, he was entrusted to become the Advisor to the Executive Board of Al-Jami’atul Washliyah.

Tuan Guru established Al-Ittihadul Islamiyah (AII) to gather all Sikola Purba alumni scattered throughout the country. In addition, the Majlis Islam Tinggi (MIT) was found in Padangsidimpuan, and Tuan Guru was appointed to be its chairman.

One thing is interesting; after reading the text of the proclamation of August 17, 1945, the Islamic leaders in Tapanuli intend to carry out the tabligh akbar as an expression of gratitude for the independence that has been achieved. Ali Nuddin Lubis, the initiator, on the recommendation of Tuan Guru Mustafa, held the event in Panyabungan. The event was a great success. Therefore, the event developed into a Muslim Congress in Tapanuli. In 1947 the second Muslim Congress in Tapanuli took place and was attended by scholars from North Sumatra. At the congress, Tuan Guru decided that NU was the most appropriate organization for adherents of Ahlussunah waljamaah (Aswaja) understanding.

In 1950 the NU conference was held in Padangsidimpuan City. The conference was attended by NU administrators from both the regions and the central board. Inevitably, Tuan Guru was appointed Rois Syuriah NU Tapanuli. The teacher once said: “After your father investigated in depth the condition of the many Islamic parties, your father believed that the Nahdlatul Ulama party was a good one for your father to enter and all my children and my father’s followers would follow.”

Indeed, Tuan Guru Mustafa Hussein Al-Mandaili is the most charismatic cleric in North Sumatra or perhaps one of the most influential in Sumatra. He was elected as a Constituent Member/DPR representing North Sumatra in 1955. However, Allah had other plans. Tuan Guru, who had passed on knowledge to many students, passed away on November 5, 1955. However, Tuan Guru Mustafa Hussein left behind a precious treasure of knowledge, namely Pesantren Al-Musthafawiyah Purba Baru. Ancient Sikola graduates are now everywhere and are the successors of the Master Guru.


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