Our Surabaya evening was destined to turn into a rather late night. After the Jawa Pos, we crossed town to visit the compassionate compound of Ustadz Khoiron Syu’aib and his capable wife, Ibu Raudlotul Jankaroti. The Taman Pendidikan Islam is situated in the middle of the former entertainment district of Bangunsari. This amusement quarter used to be packed with brightly lit karaoke bars blasting top hits across the streets and shady dancers roaming the dark alleyways.
Although this has recently changed, due to the grip of Ibu Risma’s reign, there are still needy and vulnerable women and children, remnants from those days of profligacy, typical of a port city.
The Ustadz’s legendary institution is an oasis of hope and peace, set up with the purpose to show and teach the lost souls of Bangusari the essence and compassion of Islam.
The Ustadz himself was attending a seminar in another province, so Ibu Raudlotul showed us around her tranquil compound and offered us delicacies from her kitchen.
Intrigued by the harmony of this place, we wanted to explore further the roots of Javanese Islam in Surabaya. Ibu proposed an impromptu pilgrimage to the holy site of the Sunan Ampel Cemetery. This was the tomb of one of Java’s early missionaries from the Middle East, the holy Sunan Ampel, the spiritual force behind Java’s first Islamic Kingdom, who passed away in 1481.
Author: Joana Schliemann