There is No Khatib for Friday Prayer in Payum Village

The experience of being a preacher on the outskirts of the country made Diki see many things related to the condition of Muslims in Merauke, such as the unusual habit of appointing a Khatib for Friday prayer and poor road access.

Santris at Yayasan Santri Perbatasan Timur Islamic Boarding School recite the Quran. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, MERAUKE – Merauke is the easternmost region of Indonesia. The people of Merauke are diverse and live side by side. However, the Muslim population is a minority, and most Muslims in Merauke is converted.

Diki Saputra, one of ACT's Preacher on Outer Island who was assigned to the Eastern Border Santri Foundation, Rimba Jaya Village, Merauke District, Merauke Regency, said that when he arrived in Merauke in October 2020, he saw something strange when it was time for Friday prayers. Until 01.00 p.m Central IndonesiaTime no congregants had come to the mosque.

This happened at Kampung Payum mosque, Merauke District. Seeing that the Friday prayer time was getting late, Diki finally went to the mosque and became the first congregant to come. Not long after, other congregants arrived.

"I was shocked when I heard the rules for Friday prayers. The first person who comes to the mosque will be the Khatib ( a person who delivers the sermon (khuṭbah)). I don't know why. Do they not want to be Khatib, or do they not know how to become Khatib? Hence, do not be surprised if there is a Friday prayer until 01.00 p.m Central Indonesia Time no congregants has come," said Diki, Wednesday (10/6/2021).

Diki continues access to Jagebob 12 Village, Jagebob District, Merauke Regency is also poor and extreme. It takes 12 hours from the center of the Merauke district.

Diki explains that from the center of Merauke Regency to Jagebob 9 Village, it is a six-hour drive and takes another six hours from Jagebob 9 to Jagebob 12. “We leave in the morning and arrive in Jagebob 12 at dusk,” he said, Monday (10/11/2021).

The road is still dirt. Small vehicles with tires for asphalt will not be able to run through it. People had to ride big cars with modified tires.

“People have to ride a car with big and high tires. If we ride a small car, it cannot run. If we force it, the car's engine can catch fire,” explained the man who was born in Aceh.

Despite being isolated, Muslims in Jagebob 12 live comfortably from managed agricultural products. However, the educational facilities at Jagebob 12 are still incomplete. There are only elementary and junior high schools. Jagebob 12 children must go to the city center to study at senior high school.

Preacher on Outer Island is a program for sending Muslim preachers to the outskirts of Indonesia. The preachers are in charge of preaching and guiding minority Muslims or converts who are on the outer Islands.[]