Pondok Pesantren Kebon Jambu,
Babakan Ciwaringin, Cirebon, West Java
Friday, 6 September 2019
Achmat Hilmi, Lies Marcoes
With support from the Oslo Coalition, Rumah Kita Bersama held a “Book Roadshow” activity for the book Fikih on Guardianship on Friday, 6 September 2019, at the Sang Dwi Cahya Mulia Women’s Mosque, Pondok Pesantren Kebun Jambu (regarding the Women’s Mosque, see the report by Lies Marcoes). This pesantren is headed by Nyai Masriyah Amva, a very influential woman ulama in Babakan Village, Ciwaringin District, Cirebon Regency.
This activity was designed as outreach to publicize the book “Fikih on Guardianship” – Rumah Kita Bersama’s latest book, which was compiled based on the routine discussions of Dirasah Kutub Rumah KitaB on the concepts of Qiwamah and Walayah. These discussions produced a knowledge product that reconstructed the religious understanding on the concepts of the power relations between men and women, between husbands and wives (Qiwamah), and between fathers and daughters (walayah), in the domestic context and in public space, by presenting various methodologies for reading texts conceived by previous generations of scholars at both national and international levels.
This activity was attended by Prof. Dr. Amina Wadud, an Islamic feminist who has conceived the paradigm of Tauhid as an effort toward equality between men and women. Amina is currently in Indonesia as part of her sabbatical to write several knowledge projects relating to the issues of feminism and Islam. Also present were Buya Dr. (HC) KH. Husein Muhammad (ulama from Cirebon), and Ibu Nyai Masriyah Amva.
The event was attended by, among others, postgraduate students from Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia (UPI) Bandung, students from IAIN Nurjati Cirebon, ISIF Fahmina, Mahasantri (university level santri) from Ma’had Ali Al-Hikam As-Salafiyyah (MHS), Mahasantri from Ma’had Ali Ponpes Kebon Jambu, teachers from within Pondok Pesantren Babakan Ciwaringin, Cirebon, as well as male and female santri from pondok pesantren Kebon Jambu and from various other pesantren in Babakan Village. More than 200 participants were present.
In her welcoming remarks Nyai Masriyah Amva emphasized the importance of openness and tolerance. According to ibu Nyai, it is very important for the santri to attend this event to enrich their knowledge about the discourse on a tolerant Islam. This activity, according to ibu Nyai, is a response to the needs of the santri, who are currently facing the challenge of an increase in intolerant religious views in Indonesia which can potentially damage the relations between religious communities and reinforce discriminatory religious views toward women both in the private context and in public space.
Ibu Lies, in her remarks, expressed her thanks to Ibu Nyai Masriyah Amva and Buya KH Husein Muhammad. Ibu Lies has been teaching the concepts of gender justice for over thirty years, in various pesantren. Now, the concept of gender justice is growing in the world of the pesantren, in line with the perspective and character prevailing in the pesantren. In this way, the concept of gender justice can develop. In Indonesia, the concept of gender justice has been able to develop thanks to the existence of the pesantren. With their traditions, outlook, and knowledge, pesantren can apply the concepts of gender justice so as to bring about new models of knowledge products on gender justice based on the pesantren tradition and perspective. Thus, the pesantren have been proven able to develop religious inclusiveness in the social space of the pesantren community. But to counteract the rise in intolerant religious views in West Java, this Fikih on Guardianship Roadbook activity is being held at Ponpes Kebon Jambu, Cirebon, to strengthen the santris’ knowledge on the concepts of power relations with gender justice.
Prof. Dr. Amina Wadud explained about the concept of the mosque and the patterns of discrimination against women with a religious basis. According to Amina, mosques are part of the historic struggle for gender equality in Islam. Yet in the historical record, mosques have never provided the same, equal space for men and women; women are often placed in smaller prayer halls with a different social status from a mosque. Within an actual mosque, women are placed behind the men; they are treated as secondary visitors. This situation does not come from the teachings of God, but rather from men’s attitudes which are discriminatory toward women. God has never made an issue of the positions in worship of men and women, whether in the back, in the front, by the side or in the middle. Women can worship anywhere, in any part of the mosque, because God is present everywhere and has never stipulated a particular location for women to worship in a mosque. It is the men who determined that women’s place is in the back, at the side, and that the men are in front. These rules were made by humans and conflict with the concept of equal rights in worship which is taught by God.
Buya Husein, as the second speaker, explained the importance of reconstructing the understanding relating to Qiwamah and Walayah, because the religious interpretations currently available still see the power relations between men and women in a discriminatory and subordinating way. In his explanation, Buya Husein helped the participants to map the distance between religion as a spiritual locus with universal concepts of teaching, and religion as a product of culture in a particular region. As a universal teaching, religion embraces the concept of equality between men and women, because the highest power is with God alone, and other than God, all are equal except in their devoutness, not superior from their inherent status as males. This is different from the religious perspective produced as a product of a patriarchal culture, which states that men’s superior position relative to women is inherent. This view clearly contradicts the universal concept of religion. Any religious product that deviates, from justice toward injustice, from love to dislike, requires a reinterpretation of its religious perspective, as it conflicts with the general concepts of religion.
Roland Gunawan, as a representative of the writers of the book “Fikih on Guardianship,” explained that the emergence of the book was preceded by a lengthy series of eight discussions to seek and explore religious arguments as a basis and foundation for reconstructing religious views with gender justice in the concepts of Qiwamah and walayah.
Following the series of lectures, the activity continued with a discussion session. Three santri asked questions. Three questions of an abstract nature were raised by two male santri from Ma’had Aly Al-Hikam Al-Salafiyah and Ma’had Ali Kebun Jambu. The fourth question, based on the experience of women, was raised by a female santri from Ponpes Kebun Jambu. But the most interesting was certainly the question asked by the female santri, since its basis was the experience of women who suffer discrimination in public space, in connection with forced marriage.
The response from the participants was tremendous, as proven by the dozens of santri who enthusiastically used the discussion session to present their comments and questions.