by Muhammad Sulton Fatoni (Lecturer on Sociology at unusia.ac.id )

The existence of pondok pesantrens in the villages stemmed from the efforts of kiais in the era of Wali Songo who developed a number of hamlets (read: pesantren) in some villages. Legends and myths were left in the construction of the hamlet, it is a figure of Sheikh Lemah Abang or Shaikh Siti jenar,

Who is known of building dozens of hamlets with caturbhasa mandala called Hamlet Lemah Abang (red soil), Lemah putih (white soil), Lemah Ireng (black soil) and Siti Jenar means (yellow soil) (Agus Sunyoto, 2012: 362). The spirit of Sheikh Siti Jenar establishing several hamlets has been followed by kiais until now, for example, Kiai Nur Iskandar founded pesantren of Asshiddiqiyah in several villages. Likewise, Kyai Marzuqi Idris founded Pesantrens Lirboyo in some region, including pesantren Sidogiri that founded some pesantrens and affiliated madrasahs outside Sidogiri.

The strong historical linkage between villages and pesantrens, according to Said Aqil Siroj (2013) was  embodied by Kiais who always associated pesantrens’ activities with names of the villages. For example, Pondok Pesantren Blog Agung, Banyuwangi, Pondok pesantren Sidogiri, Pasuruan, Pondok pesantren Lirboyo Kediri, Pondok pesantren Ploso, Kediri, Pondok pesantren Sarang, Rembang, Pondok pesantren Cipasung,  Tasikmalaya and others. This phenomenon shows that the concept of kiais about pondok pesantren’s name was less important than efforts to empower rural communities.

Villages as basic movement of pesantren had  not been shifted since the era of Wali Songo to the 21st century.  Even though, there were some pesantrens located in the city. It happened because the villages had grown and administratively had become a city; or they had been built in the city. However, the population of Kiais who founded pesantren in the city was very small. Until now, pesantrens are still  based in the village. The influential kiais who are still living in village;

Such as Maimoen Zubair. The kiais and ulamas leading Pondok pesantren Karangmangu are still living in the village, about 45 km from Rembang, Central Java. Likewise, Dimyathi Rois, the charismatic kiai who is leading a pesantren, stays in Kampung Jagalan, Kutoharjo village, Kaliwungu District, 17 km from the town of Kendal.

Likewise, the prolific writing kiais who are still leading pesantren once lived in village. Nawawi Abdul Jalil, a productive kiai, who wrote books while he was leading pesantren, lives in a village in Sidogiri, Kraton districts, and it is about 11 km from Pasuruan. Kiai Nawawi wrote the book ‘Al-Ma’man min al-Dhalalah’, the study of Islamic theology. He also regularly wrote about the consultation of Islamic theology in the Sidogiri Bulletin rubric, he later published a collection of his writings in Bahasa, Where is Allah? which is the study of Islamic theology.

Ahmad Yasin bin Asymuni, another productive kiai produced papers while leading a pesantren, lived in the village of Pethuk, the District of Semen, about 17km from Kediri. The Kiai wrote dozens of books to several Islamic disciplines. One of his works was Tafsir al-Fatihah. The Pesantren he led is  known as prolific yellow books publisher. Whereas before, the books were often  published by popular course.

Afifuddin Muhajir, a prolific writing kiai wrote books and at the same time teaching at a pesantren, his house was in the village of Sukorejo, Banyuputih District, 34km from Situbondo.

Kyai Afifuddin wrote the Fath al-Qarib Mujib, as translation (commentary) of the at-Taqrib of Abu Syuja ‘al-Isfahani. The previous Qarib book was Fath al-Mujib by Abu Qasim al-Ghazi, as well as commentary book of at-Taqrib.

Muhammad Ahmad Sahal Mahfudh, another productive kiai who wrote books while leading pesantren  from his house in Kajen Margoyoso village, about 29 km from Pati. During his life, he wrote twelve books in Arabic completed before the age of 30. One of his books was Thariqatul Hushul in ushul fiqh. The 630 books of translation and notes of Ghayatul Wushul book by Shaykh Zakariya al – Ansari. Although Kiai Sahal led the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, he remained in the village with his students /santris.