However, a boarding school in Banyubiru Sub-district, Semarang District, is a place where the santri or santriwati, the students of Islamic boarding schools, are elderly, that is, on average, over 60 years of age.
Indeed, there is no age limit to gain knowledge, as is observed at the Kasepuhan Raden Rahmat Islamic Boarding School where dozens of elderly students appear eager to commence education activities that start at dawn.
Ahmad Winarno, 45, the founder and caretaker of the Kasepuhan Raden Rahmat Islamic Boarding School, remarked that after the dawn prayers and reading Al Qur'an together, dozens of elderly people at the Islamic boarding school participate in morning exercise at the edge of rice fields.
The faces of the elderly appear lit with cheer and happiness, and they are eager to follow the rhythm of shalawat, a religious chant praising Prophet Muhammad, Winarno stated.
The boarding school caretaker remarked that after exercising, the elderly then relaxed by massaging each other's backs while soaking in the sun.
Winarno revealed that the morning exercise aims to improve the elderly's physical condition, so that they are always stable and fit. The elderly can also interact with each other during the group exercise.
The school’s founder remarked that the elderly students number around 245. A total of 20 students live in the dormitory, 75 students that go back and forth, and 150 students that partake in the home care program that covers health checks, praying, and giving additional food.
Winarno noted that the activities of students here were divided into three: first being physical development, such as exercising and gardening of medicinal plants, while the second concerns affective development through social activities, lectures and discussions, and the third involves spiritual and emotional development through worship, such as reciting, prayers, and chants in praise of God (zikir).
Winarno noted that the Islamic boarding school had coordinated with the local health office to conduct physical development for elderly students.
"To conduct spiritual and emotional development, we coordinate with the local ministry of the religion office under the guidance of the Salatiga State Islamic Institute," he stated.
The Islamic boarding school also cooperated with the local social affairs office and the environment office to conduct affective development for the students.
Winarno stated that the Kasepuhan Raden Rahmat Islamic Boarding School had incorporated lessons of waste recycling for elderly students into the school curriculum.
The subject of waste recycling was suggested by activists from the Indonesian recycling community.
Winarno believes that the waste recycling material included in the elderly curriculum would help the elderly to increase their daily activities.
"Hence, in addition to regular activities, there are also activities to recycle waste. The goal is that the elderly can also retain their memory, and this can become a new habit that will certainly hone their memory, and they will care for their environment," he stated.
Winarno also highlighted that waste recycling aimed to train the sensitivity of feeling and develop environmental sensitivity, including for waste that has a philosophy. Despite waste being used goods, once processed, it offers high benefits and has high economic value.
Moreover, he noted that the main curriculum of the Islamic boarding school encompassed improving reading of Al Qur'an, memorizing Al Qur'an, practical fiqh studies, and learning related Islamic materials.
"Physical development, affective development, spiritual and emotional development, as well as the activity of community health posts (posyandu) are included in the curriculum of the Kasepuhan Raden Rahmat Islamic Boarding School," Winarno remarked.
Winarno stated that the Islamic boarding school was free for local residents.
However, for students living in the dormitory, the manager provides a cross-subsidized financing method based on the abilities of each student.
Winarno revealed that the Kasepuhan Raden Rahmat Islamic Boarding School was built to serve the elderly in his hometown.
"My intention is to find an activity partner for my mother, who is also an elderly person. Fortunately, Allah SWT gave me a way to devote myself to the elderly. We think this is a mandate, and we manage and will continue to strive. Of course, we also coordinate with the government and related parties for every activity we conduct," Winarno stated.
A good ending
Sri, 82, opted to live at the Kasepuhan Raden Rahmat Islamic Boarding School to deepen her knowledge of Islam in her golden years.
Sri has prepared herself to reach Husnul Khatimah, which translates to died in a state of a good ending.
The woman, whose husband had left her several years ago, decided to become a santri, a student of an Islamic boarding school, after getting information on the radio in Surabaya.
Her three children agreed and supported their mother's decision.
During the three months she lived in the pesantren, her heart and soul were at peace, something that eluded her while living in Surabaya.
Every day she studies Islamic materials from clerics and participates in various positive activities organized by the Islamic boarding school, right from before dawn to before bedtime.
Sri was amazed at the enthusiasm of students from the surrounding area that went to study at the Kasepuhan Raden Rahmat Islamic Boarding School.
They come every day after completing their work or other activities.
The vibe and conditions at this Islamic boarding school differ from what she had witnessed in Surabaya.
Several of them are more interested in going to malls than in reading Al Qur'an.
Alhamdulillah (thank God), Sri admitted that she felt at home at the Islamic boarding school.
Allah SWT has made it easier for me to study religion in my old age, Sri remarked.
The enthusiasm to improve reading Al Qur'an, memorize Al Qur'an, and study Islamic materials was also expressed by Tommy Muhammad.
This 55-year-old man decided to focus on studying Islamic religion and practicing it in his daily life.
He felt a sense of ease and comfort while studying Islamic religion at this Islamic boarding school.
While emphasizing the feeling of peace in his heart, he also hummed a song titled "Dengan Menyebut Nama Allah" (In the Name of Allah).
"Give up your life and death. Leave it to Allah alone. Give up your grief. This is so that your heart is always peaceful," he stated.
Sri and Tommy are staying at the elderly boarding school to prepare themselves to attain Husnul Khatimah.
What a beautiful life that ended with Husnul Khatimah. His departure will be remembered for all time. His name is always mentioned because his kindness will never be forgotten.
EDITED BY INE
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