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Home Feature Stories Al-Ashriyyah Nurul Iman Islamic Boarding School A Confluence of Love from Allah and the Buddha - Allah-assigned responsibilities

A Confluence of Love from Allah and the Buddha - Allah-assigned responsibilities

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Article Index
A Confluence of Love from Allah and the Buddha
Allah-assigned responsibilities
Messengers of Great Love
Training to be independent
School doubles as home
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Allah-assigned responsibilities
Raise gentle, altruistic, and loving Muslims to rectify the misconceptions that the world has unjustifiably attached to Islam.
Located in Parung, Bogor, north of Jakarta, the School was founded in 1998 by Elder Habib Saggaf, a descendant of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed. Elder Habib is a well-respected and well-liked religious leader. He has an aura of wisdom about him, but often impresses people with his easygoing personality. Understandably, two of his favorite conversation topics are his numerous students and the School, which he single-handedly started and nurtured to become what it is today.

“In the beginning, I wasn’t thinking of establishing a religious school,” said Elder Habib, now 60 years old. He explained that he was approached by a strange man who claimed he had dreamed of Habib. The stranger had searched all over Indonesia for Elder Habib before finally finding him and inviting him to Parung to start a school. Whenever he recounts this incredible episode, Elder Habib adds that it must have been Allah’s will for him to come to Parung to carry out this duty.

Although the School offers many classes found in many secular schools, the emphasis of its curriculum is the study of, and compliance with, the Islamic scriptures. According to Elder Habib, Islam is gentle and kind, a religion that can bring people peace and happiness. “It is a loving religion. Unfortunately, many people gravely misunderstand Islam and have the misconception that it brings war and disturbs peace.” He has resolved to counter this misconception by teaching the true practice of Islam to the School’s students in their formative years.

With this mission on his shoulders and many people chipping in to help, Elder Habib is helping the students to develop into decent Muslims who can counter the misconceptions that the outside world has attributed to the Islamic faith. Since its inception in 1998, the School has offered tuition-free instruction in a wide range of classes from kindergarten to college level. Room and board is also provided free of charge. Offering an excellent education for free has attracted students from all over Indonesia, including orphans and children from destitute and broken families. I asked Elder Habib how many students came when the school first started. He smiled and held up one finger. “One, just one student. That’s how we got started.” Now, more than 6,000 students are enrolled at the School. When faculty, staff, and support personnel are included, there are about 7,500 people to feed each day.

In addition to food, the faculty and staff must receive regular paychecks. All of this entails a huge expenditure of money, but the only source of income is donations. Because donations are often variable and unpredictable, the School frequently faces tight budgets.

Despite the difficulty in making ends meet, Elder Habib told us that he could not turn a prospective student away. Every child needs guidance and lessons. Furthermore, many children will literally walk away hungry if not admitted to the School. How can he say ‘no’ to them?

“I have always felt a heavy burden on my shoulders. I pray to Allah for strength and guidance to carry on. Allah indeed has sent us the representatives from Tzu Chi to assist us.” Elder Habib’s gratitude to Tzu Chi was clearly evident on his face and in his voice.



 

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