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The Role of Religious Leaders in the Study of Tafsir in Indonesia: Case Study of Three Pesantrens in Yogyakarta from Sociological and Exegetical (Tafsir) Perspective


In the history of Islam in Indonesia, the pesantren is not the only institution of Muslim religious education, and the tradition it embodies is only one out of several tendencies within Indonesian Islam. Traditionalist, modernist, and fundamentalist discourses emerged and to some extent developed into rigid traditions. The main goal of the pesantrens is the transmission of Islamic knowledge as laid down in scripture such as classical texts of the various Islamic disciplines together with commentaries and discussions on these basic texts written over the ages. Pesantrens teach tafsir (Quranic interpretation) with other branches of Islamic knowledge such as fiqh, hadith, tasawwuf, and kalam. One of Indonesia's great traditions could be found and embodied in the Javanese pesantrens. This research discusses on the roles of the religious leaders in the study of tafsir and kitab kuning in three pesantrens in Java. The location of research is in Pesantren Krapyak, Pesantren Muallimin Muhammadiyah, and Pesantren Ihya as Sunnah in Yogyakarta. It addresses several questions, namely: (1) What are the roles of religious leader in pesantren and society? (2) Why do they differently select tafsir or in other words what are their concerns in study of tafsir in the pesantrens?      (3) How do they develop and contribute to tafsir? This study applies Max Weber’s concept on religious leadership and charisma. Additionally, it also uses tafsir and kitab kuning theory. This study uses qualitative data for analysis of materials collected from observations, interviews, and library research. This research finds that the structures and patterns of leadership and power of Kyai within pesantren are strong in which kyai is positioned as the main figure. Kyai has the role as the religious leader, the owner and the founder of pesantren, the preacher, the keeper of Islamic culture, and the main teacher in the pesantren and community. This can be seen on how a kyai build his strategic role as the non-formal leader of society through an intensive communication with the people. The charisma of a kyai also gains people's support, to some extent, caused by his moral stability and faith quality that may give birth to magnetic characters for his followers. This process, at first, started from the nearest group, around his pesantren, and then it also spread out to distant places. For his followers, the charisma owned by a kyai may become religious source of inspiration. Tafsir works and kitab kuning studied in each pesantren are almost different from one to another. In the pengajian tafsir, Pesantren Krapyak teaches tafsir Al-Jalalayn. Pesantren Ihyaâ us Sunnah uses umdat al-Tafsir an Tafsir ibn Kathir, while in Muallimin Muhammadiyah, the teacher does not use a particular tafsir work. On the description of the material, a kyai/ustadz reads word by word of the Quranic verses and discusses them later. In the process of teaching, they use bandongan, repetition, sermon and monologue, demonstration, analogy, and sometimes answer-question method. The study of the tafsir in the pesantren is still limited to the study of a text, reading and translating the text itself. It is found that interpretation of Muhammadiyah pesantren teacher has linguistic, contextualisation, and legalistic concerns. In salafi pesantren, Interpretation of the teacher shows his literal, textual and puritan concerns. In Krapyak pesantren, Interpretation of teacher shows his linguistic, contextualization, and traditional concerns. Through the selection of tafsir and kitab kuning used in the pesantrens, religious leaders keep maintaining traditional, modern, and puritan aspects of Islam in Indonesia. Keywords: Religious leadership, charisma, kyai, ustadz, pengajian tafsir, kitab kuning, and pesantren.

Key Words: Religious leadership, charisma, kyai, ustadz, interpretation study, kitab kuning, and pesantren.