Kiyai Agung Asnawi Banten -- The Forgotten 18th Descendant of Raden Patah KingK.H. Syekh Asnawi Caringin Banten was a great Islamic theologian, who was persistent in devoting himself for the sake of the people. Most people called him “Mama Asnawi”. He protected the community like the shade of a Banyan tree.
According to the story, he was one of those who spread Religion of Islam in Banten (West Java). Now, his tomb is frequently visited by Moslems from many provinces.
He was in fact an Islamic priest, a fighter from Caringin Banten, West Java. A lot of visitors have come to find out about his great effort in Islamizing the community, especially that in Banten, West java.
He was born in Caringin Village, Banten in 1850. His father’s name was Abdurrahman and his mother Ratu Sabi’ah, who was the 17th descendant of Sultan Agung Mataran or King Raden Fatah aka Jin Bun – A son of the last Emperor of Majapahit Kingdom.
When he was 9 years of age, his father sent him to Mecca to study more of Islam religion. In Mecca he was to meet an internationally famous priest named Syaikh Muhammad Nawawi al-Jawi al-Bantani, who was one of Imams of Masjidil Harom Mosque in Mecca. He was born in Serang, Banten in 1813 and passed away in Mecca in 1897.
Kiayi Agung Asnawi Banten, due to his smartness, was able to absorb the lesson well more quickly and was sent back to Indonesia to spread Islam in his hometown, Banten.
Upon his return from Mecca, he began preaching in various regions of West Java. His expertise and the knowledge he had made him famous. Since then on he became a role model for the community in Banten. At that time, Indonesia was still being colonized by the Dutch.
Mental and moral deterioration of Banten society at that time made Kiyai Agung Asnawi more intent in his preaching, which sparked fire of independence in all his preaching. The warriors of Banten (Jawara/ Pendekar Banten) intimidated him due to their movement being disturbed. However, the sadistic and ruthless warriors of Banten were conquered by him hand down. This made him more famous and the Dutch colonist considered him to be one of those to be careful about.
In his preaching, he also taught spirit of nationalism – anti-colonist spirit to the then Banten community until he was finally arrested by the Dutch colonist and was imprisoned in Tanah Abang ( a part of Jakarta now) and exiled to Cianjur (where a famous Gudung Padang is), West Java on charges of staging a rebellion against the Dutch Government. He was in exile there for about a year. Finally, what he did was supported by the people, noblemen and warriors of West Java.
Since the fall of Sultanate of Banten, there had been a number of rebellions, most of which were headed by religious figures – Pandegelang Rebellion headed by Mas Jakarta, Cikande incident, Wakhia Rebellion, Usup Incident, Pungut Incident, Kolelet Case, Jayakusuma Case and the last, which was the most well known was Geger Cilegon headed by KH. Wasid.
During his isolation, K.H. Syech Asnawi kept on carrying out his preaching to the nearby society in Cianjur. When the situation eased off, he decided to return to his hometown, Caringin, Banten to resume the preaching by means of building a religious school of Masyarikul Anwar and a mosque of Syalafiah Caringin in around 1884. The Caringin Mosque is marked with a rectangle layout, where there are porches on all four sides.
Architecture of the mosque was sort of influenced by locality. This can be seen from the shape of the roof. The shape of windows and doors is that of foreign architecture – the windows and doors are in relatively large dimension. So are the pillars of the mosque that surround it.
According to the story, the wood the mosque is made of came from Kalimantan carried by K.H. Asnawi himself. The wood was believed to be unable to be chopped down. However, by the help of God’s power and his magical skill, the tree could finally be cut down.
K.H. Asnawi Banten passed away in 1937. He left 23 children from his five wives, all of whom passed away and were buried around the Caringin Mosque, which has existed for nearly 200 years.
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