ACTNews, CIREBON – The voices of children reciting the Qur’an were heard from a shack built on a dry river in Jatiseeng Kidul Village, Ciledug District, Cirebon Regency. The voices echoed amid the sound of motorbikes passing through the road in front of them.
Children in headscarves and caps were seen getting in and out of the shack, hugging the Qur'an and Iqro books. Some were seen accompanied by their parents. Every day from 2 p.m. till dusk, the shack is filled with children who come to learn to read the Qur’an.
"For seven years, this shack has been used as a classroom for the children to learn to read the Qur’an,” said Ustaz Zainuddin (73) whom the locals affectionately call Abah Udin (Father Udin), Wednesday (10/13/2021).
Having earned a bachelor's degree in the Arabic language, Abah Udin felt guilty if the children in his village were left with no one to teach Islam to them.
Before being used to teach the Qur’an, the shack used to be a goat pen. However, it was later left unused and abandoned.
He began teaching at his own home, but due to flash floods that hit his house, the class had to move to the shack. He had tried to move the class back to his house again, but the children did not feel comfortable. When asked why they feel comfortable learning at the shack despite the foul stench from the river, they simply said, “It’s cool here.”
Abah Udin is guiding the children to recite the Koran. (ACTNews/M. Ubaidillah)
"I just do what they want. What matters is that they are happy and willing to learn the Qur’an,” said Abah Udin who is a father of three.
He began fully dedicating himself as a Qur’an teacher in 1994. Before that, he teaches only once a week because he was busy working at a sugarcane plantation.
“I feel that Allah has warned me not to stop teaching the Qur’an. At that time, the sugarcane plantation caught on fire twice in a row and suffered crop failures. Also, the money that I earned from the plantation ran out quickly. In the end, I quit my day job to focus on teaching the Qur’an,” explained Abah Udin.
To fulfill his and his family’s needs, he raises goats, works as a gardener and farm laborer, earning IDR 50,000 for each job that he does. “This is my former goat pen. The goats are all sold out,” joked Abah Udin.
The shack formerly used by Abah Udin to raise his goats is now used as a classroom. (ACTNews/M. Ubaidillah)
Despite living a simple life, Abah Udin is grateful for being able to share with local children. Every Friday night, Abah Udin's wife, Nurhalati, cooks to be eaten together.
Nurhalati said her husband only wants to live to benefit the people around him. “I just want the children to be able to recite the Qur’an. I don’t want to die before benefitting those around me," he explained.