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Muhammadiyah and Surau Transformation in Minangkabau

By Suara Muhammadiyah

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The position of Surau in Minangkabau

The Minang people are identical with Islam and their character is attached to the philosophy of tradition and adopted tradition. In other words, Minang Adat was totally merged into the concept of Islamic society.

In the beginning before Islam came, traditional philosophy in Minangkabau based itself on natural provisions, and after Islam entered Minangkabau, the Minangkabau traditional philosophy was perfected by religious law (syara’). So that begins the rivalry between competing tradition and religion.

The proverb:Basandi syara’, syara ‘basandi Kitabullah is the culmination of the whole process of contact, clash, adjustment, and fusion between the tradition that have come first in Minangkabau with the religion of Islam that came later. The reality that occurs in the life of the Minangkabau people, has made religion and tradition as a perspective and attitude on life. Tradition walks hand in hand with syara ‘. So that customs and syara’ cannot be separated from one another, cannot be contradicted  with each other, its inapplicable if it is contradict with each other.

If these two have played a perfect role, it will be found a community who live by having a laudable and noble character (akhlakul-karimah) according to the guidance of syara’.

In Ayahku, Buya Hamka said that between adat and syara’ in Minangkabau, it was hard to set them aside because it was not oil with water, but combined one as a combination of oil and water in milk, because Islam was not a patch in the Minangkabau tradition, but an Islamic arrangement, made according to the Minangkabau outlook on life.

Such is the position of customary relations with religion in Minangkabau that one of the traditional experts, Datuk Panduko Alam, the author of Rancak in Labuh, once said, that is “However much knowledge, though like a star in the sky, like sand on the beach, only two matters at the end: first, faith, and second, Islam”.

One important Islamic institution in Minangkabau is surau. Surau is an indigenous institution that has become a prominent center of Islamic teaching, also a starting point for the Islamization of the Minangkabau.

Surau is Very Popular In Nagari, Nobody Does Not Know about Surau. Surau Also Becomes the Identity of a Tribe and a Nagari.

Surau is also inseparable from Minang tradition. Surau building refers to a typical Minang tribe. The roof is pointed like a buffalo horn, the architecture of this building looks like a blend of the Gadang house and Indonesian mosque in general.

In Islamic Encyclopedia, surau is a place for people to study the Koran, educational facilities or madrasa tarbiyah for village children in Ranah Minangkabau. Monotheism guidance instilled through generations through the tradition of surau.

But the surau in the Minang tradition does not only function as a place of worship. Customary and social activities can also be carried out in Surau. Surau also becomes a place for the cultivation of identity through the learning and development of identity and life skills of the Minangkabau people. Practicing traditional speeches, making petitihs, playing silat and performing arts is another form of concrete training that is obtained in surau other than as a place to carry out religious routines, learn the Koran and its meaning. Surau has also facilitated the process of instilling cultural values, tolerance, leadership, cooperation and honesty.

The school of surau has produced many great people in this country, such as Buya Hamka, Bung Hatta, H. Agus Salim, and Sutan Syahrir.

Thus, the mosque becomes a comprehensive tool for cultural teachings, philosophical teachings of life, and Islamic teachings.

The following expression illustrates the importance of the mosque for the Minang people. Nagari have a mosque (ba-musajik) and a surau (ba-surau) as place of worship,

Musajik tampek ba ibadah,

tampek balapa ba ma’ana,

tampek baraja Al Qur’an 30 juz,

tampek mangaji sah jo batal.

It means that the mosque and surau are the centers of community development to establish good community relations (hablum-minan-naas) and the guaranteed maintenance of worship with Khalik (hablum minallah).

The close ties between adat and syara ‘are what make the Minangkabau people believe that surau is a place where people learn Islam and at the same time learn the tradition. So the ‘surau’ institution plays a very important role in fostering and educating the public to understand tradition and the practice of the Shari’a.

Muhammadiyah and Islamization of Surau

According to Dr. Suaidi Asyari, M.A., Ph. In his book Nalar Politik NU-Muhammadiyah: Overcrossing Java Sentris, there is not a single Muslim group in this country that truly practices Islam without mixing it with local traditions. In this case, Harry J. Benda emphasized that “Indonesia has not yet been fully Islamized”.

If we look back into the history, the relationship between religion and culture has a strong correlation in the complex structure of Indonesian society and its cultural diversity. The correlation factor between religion and culture also causes the differences in religious culture between one region and another.

Likewise the success of the Islamization process in Indonesia that forced Islam as a newcomer, to obtain cultural symbols that were in harmony with the ability to capture and to understand, the community it entered for the recognition of the Islamic world. This step is one of the pluralistic character of Islam that was possessed since its inception.

Thus the development of Islam in the archipelago is closely related to cultural symbols or local assets. It can be said that local assets are mediators-facilitators as well as being the center of Islamic activities and civilization development. In Minangkabau, the most strategic local asset used in spreading Islam is surau.

Surau, which became an important institution in the transformation of Islamic religious knowledge in Minangkabau, has experienced cultural dynamics or cultural transformation

The background of the presence of the mosque at first was not motivated by Islamic culture. Surau in Minangkabau existed before the arrival of Islam. Surau in Minangkabau history is estimated to be found in 1356 AD which was built during the time of King Adityawarman in the Gonbak hill region. As we know in the archipelago’s historical trajectory, that at this time it was a golden period for Hindu-Buddhist religion, it could be indirectly ascertained that the existence and essence of the mosque at that time was as a ritual place for Hindus and Buddhists.

According to Azyumardi Azra, the language of “surau” means “place” or “place of worship”. According to the original understanding, surau is a small building that was built to worship ancestral spirits. As a place of worship, which is a symbol of nobility and height. The earliest mosque is usually erected at the highest place, or at least, higher than other buildings. So the surau building is impressed as a ‘mystical’ building, because it is holy or sacred which is believed by all the people around it.

Besides functioning as a place of worship for Hindus and Buddhists, the mosque at that time also served as a gathering place for young people to learn holy knowledge and a place to solve social problems.

The arrival of Islam to West Sumatra has given influence and change to the continuity of the mosque. Surau began to be influenced by the spread of Islam. Within a short time, surau then experienced Islamization, identified by the existence of several religious activities.

But in some areas, the former Hindu-Buddhist mosque, especially those located in remote areas such as hilltops, disappeared quickly due to Islamic expansion. Therefore, the Islamic surau can usually be found near the place where people live, and no longer take the remote place as in the Hindu-Buddhist religion. This is pointed out that if the surau stands close to the community environment, the function of the surau will be more effective. They can at any time perform prayers, dhikr and i’tikaf without taking a long and tiring journey. Thus, the role of surau is getting higher and closer to the hearts of the people.

However, the remnants of the sacred character of the pre-Islamic surau in some cases can still be seen, especially on the terraced parts of the roof. In Minangkabau, many surau have a number of peaks or gongs which reflect traditional symbols. Thus, the adaptation of pre-Islamic adat symbols is an Islamic recognition of the environment and local culture that is still alive.

The term ‘surau’ is also maintained by Muslims without questioning the existence of its origin. Because what was more important at that time was an effective means of broadcasting Islam. Name or label is not a principle thing and more essential is the spirit in creating atmosphere and activities among Muslims in strengthening their faith and Islam. These values ​​of enthusiasm are held by Muslims until the mosque is widely known throughout history.

In the process of “indigenous” Islamization, Indonesian Islam forms soft, peaceful, tolerant, and harmonious Muslims. According to Esposito (1997), the face of Indonesian Islam is softer, shaped by tropical breezes and long multicultural experiences. This is the face of Islam which is now popularly called moderate Islam or middle Islam (wasithiyah).

Muhammadiyah is a cultural Islamic power which has been proven to contribute greatly to Indonesia, including in the Minang realm, West Sumatra. Muhammadiyah has a moderate-wasathiyah character and culture, not extremism. Muhammadiyah as an open Islamic organization with changes with the times so that it is present in Indonesia as a type of Islam that is able to adjust to the conditions of Indonesia.

In the delivery of da’wah, Muhammadiyah has an image as perpetrators of cultural da’wah that is more friendly preaching to local traditions and culture. Muhammadiyah’s cultural da’wah was intended so that the spread of Islam was more flexible and flexible. With the perspective of looking at local culture from the inside, Muhammadiyah uses local wisdom as a propaganda media.

Surau Nagari Lubuk Bauk, located in the Nagari Lubuk Bauk area, Batipuh Baruh, Tanah Datar District, West Sumatra Province, is said to be the initial place for the development of the Muhammadiyah organization in Lubuk Bauk, then spread to the Padang Panjang area.

According to local stories, Surau Lubuk Bauk was founded by mamak ninik who came from the Jambak tribe, Jurai Nan Ampek Tribe on the land represented by Datuk Bandaro Panjang.

This surau has a big role in giving birth to students and scholars who later became prominent figures in the development of Islam in West Sumatra. Historically, Buya Hamka as a Muhammadiyah figure lived and studied the Koran in this surau from 1925 to 1928. In that surau also became inspiration Hamya Hamka gave birth to a very famous novel Tenggelamnya Kapal Van Der Wijck.

This surau was first built in 1809 with the design of the building showing a blend of tradition and religion (Diknaker of Tanah Datar District, 2001: 31). This Surau consists of four levels. The structure of the multilevel roof with tower buildings symbolizes the philosophy of life of the Minangkabau people. The roof of the tower is made to form a cone with a pumpkin shape decorated with leaf petals like padmanaba in Hindu buildings.

Padmanaba means the center where the lotus flower grows. The myth of Hinduism, Padma grew from the center of Lord Vishnu (one of the Trimurti Gods), who when he woke up from his semedics on ananta, received the revelation that through the padma, Lord Brahma would be born. The Padma that came out was a symbol of courage, holiness, and progress. In the wayang chronicle, Lord Vishnu and Batara Kresna as their incarnations are called Padmanaba. The Padmanaba bud symbolizes the ideals of human growth that are holy, faithful, and pious.

The aesthetic and religious values ​​of Hinduism are still maintained today without debate. Even the exterior in the form of Minang carvings is attached to the tower walls and oval walls in the form of carving kaluak nails, aka cino carvings, until the home motifs dominated by red, yellow and green colors are still maintained and further add to the uniqueness of Surau Lubuk Bauk. Dutch permit stamp in the form of the crown of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is sufficient historical evidence of the existence of this surau in colonial times.

The presence of local symbols in the surau shows that Muhammadiyah scholars who have a big role in spreading religion in the surau are more compatible with local culture and are not in an always antonym position. As such, Islam is not always in a position to deal with local traditions or culture, but rather gives substance and deep meaning.

Until now this surau still exists majestically as the pride and wealth of the Batipuah people. Surau Lubuk Bauk is not only used as a place of worship for Muslims, but is also devoted to the non-formal education center of the Minangkabau community such as studying the Koran and so on.

In its development, Surau Lubuk Bauk is one of the historical heritages which was carried out in 1984 by the Restoration and Maintenance Project of Historical Heritage and Archeology of West Sumatra and has even become a Cultural Heritage District of Tanah Datar. This surau has also become one of the famous tourist attractions in Tanah Datar, moreover this surau was once used as one of the filming locations of the film titled Tenggelamnya Kapal Van der Wijck.

Purification of Surau

Even though Muhammadiyah’s theology has a praxis face, it does not mean that its orientation is transformative, in the sense of fighting for emancipatory ideals socially and ‘siding’ with the oppressed. Muhammadiyah Islamic Movement which was born as a purification movement, of course, put the matter of orthodoxy as the main characteristic. Cultural da’wah is interpreted as a process of ‘humanization’ social and also ‘appreciation’ of culture as a form of creativity, although orthodoxy references are not easily abandoned.

The Muhammadiyah Association was established to support KH Ahmad Dahlan’s efforts to purify Islamic teachings which are considered to be influenced by mystical matters.

Etymologically Muhammadiyah means followers of the Prophet Muhammad, because it comes from the word Muhammad, then gets ya nisbiyah, while in terminology it means the Islamic movement, preaching amar ma’ruf nahi mungkar and tajdid, sourced from al-Qur’an and as-Sunnah.

Muhammadiyah is of the view that Islam relates to all aspects of life including aqeedah, worship, morality, and mu’amalat dunyawiyah which are a unified whole and must be carried out in individual and collective life. By carrying out the mission of the movement Muhammadiyah can realize or actualize the Islamic Religion as rahmatan lil-‘alamin in life on this earth.

The impurity of the teachings of Islam which is understood by some Indonesian Muslims, as a form of incomplete adaptation between the Islamic tradition and the local archipelago’s traditions in the early years was loaded with animism and dynamism. So that in practice Muslims in Indonesia show things that are contrary to the principles of Islamic teachings, especially those related to Islamic principles of faith that reject all forms of polytheism, taqlid, bid’ah, and khurafat. So that purification of teachings becomes an absolute choice for Indonesian Muslims.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the surau became the target and target of the Youth Reform spearheaded by the Muhammadiyah movement, because the surau was seen as holding “traditional” religious understandings and practices, which were full of heresy, khurafat, and superstition, and therefore needed to be eradicated .

According to Azyumardi Azra in Subtantive Islam, the reformers, specifically the Hajj Rasul generation or better known as Haji Abdul Karim Amrullah, father of Hamka, and Abdullah Ahmad considered that the surau-surau were only a source of heresy, khurafat, and superstition because indeed there was much done there the practice of Sufism. They consider that surau is out of date and must be made Islamic schools. “There emerged Diniyah, Thawalib, and others who were modernist Islamic schools,” Azra wrote.

At that time, the Old People who owned the two main Sufi schools of active Sufi order in the Minangkabau region – Naksyabandiyah and Syattariyah established a place of study (surau) and had students who were very devout to the sheikhs or teachers who taught about Islamic beliefs.

“In addition to teaching how to read the Qur’an and interpretations, the sheikhs and other teachers who teach in the big surau also teach various special rules, methods and religious practices which are the ‘paths’ determined by their flow in search for God. The sheikh also teaches his knowledge of martial arts, knowledge that can make a person immune to weapons, and the science of calculating and determining good days, pre-Islamic teachings and magical smells that are assimilated in Minangkabau Islam. ” (Audrey Kahin, 2005: 7)

This is what is opposed by the Paderi movement and the Youth Movement. This movement aims to cleanse the teachings of Islam in West Sumatra from superstition and superstition.

Young people (modernists) represented by Muhammadiyah argue that ijtihad on religious subjects is more important than relying on the traditions of the ulama of the past.

If many Paderi figures followed the Arab model which supported the war of jihad as the main way to expand their influence, the Young People recognized the need to compromise with indigenous leaders in an effort to eliminate the irregularities that occur in society and to get followers. That moderate attitude is shared by Muhammadiyah.

Therefore, the Young People established a modern madrasa as an alternative to education in surau. And they were so successful with this effort that even many of the surau were transformed into madrasas. As a result, the students had a great decline. In 1933, surau was reported to have only 9,285 students, while madrasas had 25,292 students. In the independence era, only a few surau survived, and even in the later period some began to call themselves “pesantren”. The surau itself then becomes just a place to study the Qur’an or the area of ​​socialization of children and adolescents.

Modernization of Surau

In Minangkabau the emergence of the Muhammadiyah renewal movement was based more on locations where there were a number of surau in several places, where the teaching staff were young men who had performed the pilgrimage and stayed a while there to study religion, and after they returned to their hometown teaching religion where they came from. As the Minangkabau overseas vision to study outside and return to develop the region.

Haji Rasul (1879-1945), one of the leaders of young clerics, was the first person to introduce Muhammadiyah to the Minangkabau region. During a long trip to Java, Haji Rasul found that Java had experienced reformism and anti-colonial activities. He found someone more in line with him, Kiai H. Ahmad Dahlan, who in 1912 founded Muhammadiyah, a modernist-reformist organization that followed the spirit of Muhammad Abduh and Jamaluddin al-Afghani. Rasul was impressed with the spirit of Islamic reform of Muhammadiyah and its innovation in education.

At that time Kyai Dahlan was transforming Muslim education in Muhammadiyah schools by restructuring the curriculum to follow Western practices, class standardization, and classroom teaching. Haji Rasul also got a new wind in Java. He returned to Sumatra “bringing new enthusiasm”, Hamka said.

In 1918, Rasul rearranged Surau Jembatan Besi following Dahlan’s efforts in Java, implementing a three-tier class structure, then seven class levels. He introduced new textbooks, including the work of the Andalusian rationalist Ibn Rushd. He also introduced the use of desks and blackboards.

Buya Hamka, the son of Hajj Rasul who had also been educated in surau, in his book entitled My Father, said that students had to leave before renewal, in learning to sit on the floor around the teacher to receive lessons given by their teacher. The students form halaqah, which are circular in shape and all receive the same lesson. No specific curriculum is designed, based on age, length of study, or levels of knowledge.

The arrival of the Hajj Rasul has brought great changes in this institution. The main target of Hajj Rasul is the curriculum of Surau Jembatan Besi. The more stressed lesson is the science lesson in the form of the ability to master Arabic and its branches. The emphasis on this lesson is intended to enable students to learn the books themselves as needed and thus gradually get to know Islam from its two main sources namely the Qur’an and the Hadith. New students are instilled with a new spirit, namely the spirit of discussion, free thinking, reading, understanding, and gathering or organizing. The books begin to be read and discussed. Students may ask questions and argue. Surau Jembatan Besi eventually developed into a more important and perhaps the most influential educational institution in Minangkabau, the Thawalib School.

The education system developed by Haji Rasul is one of the factors that has pushed Sumatra Thawalib to formulate one of its clearer and more directed programs in the field of education, namely changing various studies of surau in strategic areas into Islamic schools to compensate for schools secularist founded by the Dutch East Indies Colonial Government in Minangkabau. Thawalib School was born or Thawalib College or Sumatra Thawalib with other names. As a general plus religious education institution, all unite in one style, ideas, and goals, namely rivaling public schools, stemming Christian influence, and giving birth to Muslim scholars for the advancement of Islam and its ummah.

From this, surau has adopted several elements of modern education – which have been applied by the reformists – especially the classical system and inequality. The Islamic reformist-modernist movement in this surau also emerged in tune with the rise of Indonesian nationalism against the colonial. Surau was also used by ulama to awaken the spirit of nationalism of the people.

The orientation of the mosque as the locus of Islamic education and the custom of the younger generation of Muslim Minangkabau has experienced various changes in each development era. Although the existence of the surau began to falter with the rise of the madrasa as a result of the modernization of education, there was always a desire to revive the surau in the “movement back to the surau”. The instrumental role of the surau in strengthening Islam and the Minangkabau custom is said to be, “not lagging in paneh, not obsessing in the rain”.

Dewi Ayu Larasati, SS, M. Hum, Lecturer at the Universitas Sumatra Utara

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