Oman Fathurahman has many dimensions as far as I am concerned. On blogging, he’s my “student”, on humility he’s obviously my teacher and as a person with pesantren background, he should be an inspiration for all santris (those who study and or graduated from pesantren) for his academic quest.
Make no mistake, we’ve never met nor have we ever exchanged emails. A couple of times he just left messages in the guestbook of this blog asking some technical matters regarding blogging nitty-gritty. There are times when a strong personality (good or bad) does not need to make any strong statement to make his or her true character visible. Oman is among those persons whose humble and simple personality is so clear to me to the extent that I want to meet in person someday just to say, “Hi!”
Of course, his qualification as “Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the Department of Oriental Studies (Malaiologi), University of Cologne, Germany” who are proud to be brought up in a pesantren has added up the already long list of santri-turn-researcher longer. And the fact that he’s now blogging in English make his blog content highly eligible and credible to be heard beyond Indonesia.
Speaking of pesantren graduates, I remember that in 1970s and 1980s the santris became a joke among Muslim intellectuals. At that time, the santris who held a PhD degree is a rarity. That’s why when Aswab Mahasin, a prominent intellectual got his PhD in 1970s he became the first and only PhD holder. Now, person like Oman Fathurahman become a common phenomenon some of them even teach in Harvard University.
Pesantren and santri represent the rural society–the majority of our population. It, therefore, symbolizes the backwardness or forwardness of our people. The higher their education the better not only for themselves, the majority, but also for the nation as a whole. And for that, one who comes from the same background with him should take inspiration from him not only for his unquenched thirst to pursue further study but also to maintain the humble attitude when you are at the top of the tower, a quality which becomes a long tradition among santri.
PS: Comments are welcome in any of the following languages: English, Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Jawa & Madura.