A Little I Know ‘Bout Gontor (Part 1)

Moh. Syahruzzaky Romadloni, Gontor Alumnus 2006

Five-year-time is strong enough to make me think that education is the only way to make social reconstruction in our ummah. The unique educational praxis I got from Pondok Modern Darussalam Gontor showed me how education should be conducted if aimed at ummah development. Gontor is not a collection of educational theories, but it is, instead, an educational system that endavours to sharpen the personality of every Muslim teenager. After graduation, its alumni are hoped to make a social reconstruction in somehow it forms.

What I’m proud of my school is its consistency in upholding its values and rules. Since its establishment, Gontor always refers to its main values in deciding every school policy. Therefore, whatever threats these values will be naturally thrown away and detected as school attacker! Moreover, to make students understand what Gontor is and where it should be carried, a special course on understanding its values has become a regular course taught in every school’s event and tested in the examination.

To make it clear, let me take some examples.

It has been a common tradition that every pesantren (Islamic boarding school) should teach kutubut-turats written by classic Muslim scholars with the traditional method. Teacher recites the scripts word-by-word and translates them into native languages e.g Javanese, sundanese, etc while students are to repeat what the teacher says. Most books taught are from Imam Sayfi’I’s school of jurisprudence.

The founder of the school, KH Imam Zarkasyi, believes that the teachers should use the latest methodology of teaching even when they teach ‘religious’ lessons. The traditional methods – often called sorogan, bandongan, wetonan, – remain some problems. First, they take a very long time for students to finish a book. Second, students aren’t prepared to read books which are not taught yet under the guidance of their teachers. This method, moreover, discourages students to read new books.

Gontor feels obliged to make its students have an open-minded religious outlook. Therefore, since its establishment, Gontor didn’t use kutubut-turats which are grouped in Imam Syaf’I’s school of jurisprudence as many pesantren did. Instead of that, it used Ibn Rusyd’s Bidayatul Mujtahid as the main fiqh book, for it introduces students how the Muslim scholars interpret the religion scriptures. Of course, this book is taught in senior levels after having the basic principles of Islamic jurisprudence.

Of course, Gontor doesn’t ignore the importance of kutubut-turats, for it gives a great contribution to the history of the development of Islamic sciences. Therefore, the senior students often have what’s so-called ‘Fathul Kutub’ which trains them to solve some religion problems through researching their solutions from these books.

The values mentioned above are still being kept till today, even though there are many people opposing. Some people say that Gontor’s teaching is not enough to make its students able to have an access to the classic books as salafiyah students. Of course, to me, this opinion is unreasonable. My father is an alumnus of Gontor and he is able to teach kutubut-turats. Moreover, the late KH Idham Cholid and KH Hasyim Muzadi ever became the leaders of Nahdlatut-Ulama, the organization whose teaching focuses on understanding kutubut-turats.

Since its establishment, Gontor never compromises on its unique curriculum. Therefore, Gontor alumni ever suffered from being unaccepted by several universities in Indonesia, even IAIN. They should look for other legal certificate in order to be able to enroll universities. It was an irony as many of them were approved in leading overseas universities.

This consistency proves right. Today, government approves Gontor’s curriculum through mu’adalah program without changing any components of its curriculum. Now, every student can enroll any universities in our country without taking part in any other examination.

The consistency on upholding these values is what makes this college different from other educational institutions and trusted by many parents in the country and overseas. Nowadays more than 15,000 students from various regions and countries study there. But, what makes me feel impressed is that many educational institutions imitate this system. Recently, more than 200 schools apply Gontor system to educate their students. This amount is excluded from schools which are ‘shy’ to admit that they use Gontor system but they actually do. And the most interesting thing is that the government, in many cases, also imitates how Gontor educates its students. Just for mentioning an example, recently the government promotes character-building-based education in many schools. It isn’t new from Gontor as it has been rightly applied since Gontor’s establishment. I don’t know whether it is a truth or just a coincidence. But what I know is that KH Syukri, Gontor’s headmaster, often calls for the importance of character-building-based education in many governmental occasions and TV shows. Moreover, he was ever asked to present his idea about education before members of house of representative years ago.


~To be continued~


4 thoughts on “A Little I Know ‘Bout Gontor (Part 1)

  1. Salam,Its a very good writing about Pesantren Gontor. I am impressed. i have been looking the information in English about Gontor education system for my report to our donors in UK as we have a small pesantren in Lhoong, Aceh which we have two-three Alumni (s) and I can see the diference since we have them, subhanallah adn I am so happy now. Keep writing ad you can tell about your pesantren more so ithis way you try to promoto adn introduce to muslim all over the world. I went to see the directors and other in June last year and I have witnessed everything with my eyes and I am so prooud an dimpressed by everything. I am Nizma, live in London adn running charity: http://www.chariots4children.org.uk I hope we can keep in touch and help each other, wassalamualaykum.

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