A Story of Niki Sumantri Maintains Religious Tolerance

“During six months following Dai Tepian Negeri (Muslim Preachers on Indonesian Outer Islands) program, I gained a lot of experience. The dynamics are more complex, and I am and more challenged to improve them slowly. I am grateful to be part of spreading Islam here,” said Niki Sumantri, a Muslim preacher on the outer island in Haitaman Hamlet, Menleten Village, East Tasifeto District, Belu, East Nusa Tenggara.

Niki while teaching children in Haitaman Hamlet. (ACTNews/Muhamad Ubaidillah)
Niki teaches children in Haitaman Hamlet. (ACTNews/Muhamad Ubaidillah)

ACTNews, BELU  — Niki Sumantri (25) is busy scribbling papers every night preparing lesson materials. He tried to find the right formula for his students in Haitaman Hamlet, Manleten Village, East Tasifeto District, Belu, East Nusa Tenggara.

Niki is a Muslim preacher who was sent by Aksi Cepat Tangap to the outer islands of Indonesia. Haitaman Hamlet, where Niki works, is located 18.2 kilometers from the Indonesia-East Timor border in Sarabau.

Niki admitted that he had a lot of experience and saw firsthand the dynamics of people on the border. “During six months following Dai Tepian Negeri (Muslim Preachers on Indonesian Outer Islands) program, I gained a lot of experience. The dynamics are more complex, and I am and more challenged to improve them slowly. I am grateful to be part of spreading Islam here,” said Niki when met by ACTNews after teaching, Sunday (4/18/2021). For example, Niki continued, many parents, were still indifferent to encouraging their children to recite the Al-Qur’an.

According to Niki, Muslims in Haitaman are converts and many adults work as laborers and farmers. They rarely interact with their children at home.

“In Haitaman, many fathers work as laborers or drivers and they return home once a week or a month. Many mothers are farmers or firewood gatherers in the forest. The parents rarely interact with their children. The children aren't encouraged to learn the Quran. Only 4 out of 12 children learn the Qur’an. Therefore, we need massive religious counseling here,” he explained.

Valuable Experience

Niki admitted that he was amazed by the living conditions of people in Haitaman Village. People with different beliefs live side by side. The harmony shows when they work together to meet their needs.

“To buy one tank of water, people collected money, so later the water is used together for drinking and cooking. There is an agreement that water cannot be used for bathing and washing. They are committed to this rule,” said the man from Serang, Banten.


Ustaz Niki Sumantri (ACTNews/Ubaidillah)

One of the Muslims in Haitaman, Siti Halimah acknowledged this fact. According to Siti, fellow villagers who live side by side with the same problems must live harmoniously and work together to resolve the problems. “It is hard to obtain water here, we have to collect money to pay IDR 120 thousand for one tank. Everyone pays and can use the water in conditions that the water is not used for bathing and washing. There is no discrimination between Muslims and others. All of us agree with this rule,” said Halimah. There are 22 Muslim families in Haitaman. The presence of Islam in Haitaman makes a distinctive impression.[]