In more than three years of my stay in Tuban, a city 96km west of Surabaya, I had never made any visits to Pondok Pesantren Maulana Maghribi, or better known as Pesantren Perut Bumi, even though it's just about a few kilometers from my dorm.
Yesterday, on a hot Tuesday afternoon, blogger Ahmad Jhony and I visited the Pesantren, just to cure our curiousity. Pondok Pesantren Perut Bumi is located in the village of Wire, Gedongombo, Tuban, East Java.
I was welcome by a friendly young man in the entrance of the pesantren. Together with us is a group of students from Jombang and Jember; they came here by bus, with all members wearing white dress.
In addition to Arabic ornaments and writings on the wall and door, it also has a warning sign that says, "Wajib salam." We say "Assalamualaikum, Peace be upon you" as we took off our sandals.
The pesantren is made of a cave, which was discovered in 2001, on the land of KH Subhan, a Muslim cleric from Modo, Lamongan. He decided to build a pesantren after he dreamt of a pretty woman named Putri Ayu who asked him to take care of the cave.
Putri Ayu, believed to be the spirit of the cave, according to Subhan, stays in the Perut Bumi, which literally translates as "earth bottom."
I joined the jama'ah. And to my suprise, there's a mosque inside the cave, complete with the lighting, sound system, and air conditioner.
As Jhony and I sat in the mosque, a man with a white cap stood in front of the jama'ah, holding a microphone and inviting us to say dzikir in loud voice, a ritual that, for Jhony and me, is really new. They call it istighasah. This ritual is common among members of Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama.
Inside the cave, our phone lost its signal, and the signs on the wall forbade us to take pictures, smoke and throw garbage.
The pesantren was named after saint of Islam Syaikh Maulana Maghribi, whose footstep is said to be found in the cave. Sayikh Maulana Maghribi lived in the 14th century.
Subhan has spent more than Rp 2 trillion since the cave was first built in 2002. He welcomes donation but refuses begging it from people by sending proposals to the rich like what other pesantrens do.
"I made the pesantren myself, with my own money, and it's haram for me to ask any money or help from the goverment," Subhan said.
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