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Malay Culture

Maleman Pitrah Ceremony of the Wetu Telu Muslims in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia


1. The Origin

At Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Islam obligates all Muslims to pay zakat fitrah. This zakat is obligatory upon every (capable) Muslim, whether male or female, poor or rich, sane or insane, and child and adult. The head of the household must pay this amount on behalf of his/her own self, their spouse, children, and servants.

The word `fitrah` refers to the purity of human since his/her born. Thus, every Muslim believes that a person could back to his/her fitrah (purity) like a newborn baby when they pay the zakat fitrah. The payment of zakat fitrah can be done from the first day of Ramadan to the eve of Syawal (the month following Ramadan) before Idul Fitri prayers. 

The Wetu Telu Muslim community in Lombok pay zakat pitrah (fitrah) in their ways. The different ways can be seen in methods, times, places, collectors, recipients, and  distributions of zakat.   

Unlike the other Muslims who only recognize one kind of zakat fitrah, the Wetu Telu Muslims identify two types of zakat fitrahs that must be paid. The first zakat fitrah is pitrah urip. This is done to purify the family members who still alive. The second zakat fitrah is pitrah pati. This is paid to purify the souls of the ancestors or the family members who has passed away. These fitrahs will be paid to the Kiai: improving the payer`s life in this world and in hereafter (ngintik kebecikan lelek dunia kon akhirat).

The pitrah urip and the pitrah pati rituals are expected to be well as the gawe urip and the gawe pati ceremonies. All family members who still alive and who has been passed away will be engaged in these rituals. The pitrah which is paid by the family members for the deceased persons, and the performance of the begawe or the gawe rituals for the ancestor`s souls denote that there is a relationship between who still alive and who has passed away.  

The Wetu Telu Muslims usually pay the pitrah at the end of Ramadan before performing Idul fitri (lebaran tinggi) prayers. These pitrahs will be collected at their kampu (house) and gubug (small house). It will be brought to the ancient mosque by the couriers to the Kiai Kagungan. The assigning of pitrah is done after Isya prayer, and will be continued by performing mengosap ritual in every ancestor`s graveyard.

2. The Equipments

There are staple foods and fruits used in the zakat payment: 

  • Cereals e.g. rice, corn, and wheat.
  • Cassava, sweet potato.
  • Nut
  • Spice
  • Rice wine (made of black sticky rice) which is drunk by the Kiais at the night of pitrah payment, keeping away from feeling sleepy after staying up all the night to receive zakat. They usually drink a bit of the rice wine.
  • Fruits e.g. banana, mango, and coconut
  • Banana leafs.
  • Lekesan.
  • Cash money and kepeng bolong (Chinese coins).
  • Big basket used as a place of zakat.
  • Water.
  • Earthenware.
  • Gantang made of coconut shell for weighing the rice.

3. The Way of Performing the Ceremony

The local culture can influence various religious ceremonies, as we have seen in the pitrah which is paid by the Wetu Telu Muslims in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. The pitrah is paid to the Kiai Kagungan (Penghulu, Lebai, and Ketip) at the end of Ramadan before Idul fitri prayers in the ancient mosque. Definitely, the payment of pitrah can be done after the Kiais have performed the Isya` prayer, and the ritual will be ended usually before Subuh prayer.   

To perform the payment of pitrah shall be described as below:

  • At the end of Ramadan`s night, all the Kiais will gather in ancient mosque: the Kiai Kagungan (the Penghulu, the Lebai and the Ketip), the Kiai Raden, and the Kiai Santri. They do Isya prayer together(berjama`ah) which is led by the Penghulu.
  • Before Isya prayer, all of the Kiais will perform sunnah prayer (suggested prayer) two raka`at (refers to one unit of Islamic prayer or Salah) twice. After performing of sunnah prayer, then they will do Isya prayer together. 
  • After Isya prayer, the Kiais will perform sunnah prayers with two raka`at (ba`diyah).
  • The Kiai Kagungan and the Kiai Raden then sit down (with leg crossed) by facing the east. All the Kiais sit down in front of  Kiai Kagungan and Kiai Raden by facing the west.
  • All of the Kiai Santri recite scroll leather (gulungan kulit) containing Arabic letter. The contain of the scroll is a sermon that will be recited after idul fitri prayers.  
  • When one of the Kiai Santri groups recites the sermon, the other groups will pay attention to his readings. Senior Kiai Santri will listen and correct the false reading. This Arabic sermon means to educate and prepare the  Kiai Santri for reading and delivering sermon in idul fitri celebration.
  • After the Kiai Santri recites the sermon, the senior Kiai Santri will choose one of them to deliver idul fitri sermon in the next day. The Kiai Santri who is chosen is the best reader.
  • When the Kiai Santri recites sermon, the couriers of each kampu and gubug will enter the ancient mosque, one by one, to deliver their pitrah. They make queue by squatting down in front of the mosque door waiting their turns. The courier here is a man who has responsible to deliver pitrah, which are collected in every kampu and gubug, to the ancient mosque. Pitrah usually is placed in the big basket.  
  • Before entering the mosque, the couriers have to wash their legs and hands with water of earthenware nearby the mosque.
  • After entering the mosque, the couriers will be welcomed by Kiai Kagungan (Penghulu, Lebai, and Ketip).
  • The couriers will put the pitrah on the floor, and they then will be shaked their hand by Kiai Kagungan with saying Assalamu`alaikum and the Kiai will answer by saying Wa`alaikumussalam.
  • The Kiai and the courier then recite Allahumma salli ala Muhammad, waala ali Muhammad.
  • They hold on the big basket with their middle finger and index finger.
  • The couriers will mention certain name and place of the pitrah`s payer, for whom it will be distributed, and how much that will be paid.
  • The Kiai recites short Arabic prayers.
  • The basket containing pitrah will be delivered to the Kiai Santri. His stuffs will be taken, identified, and placed on the corner of the ancient mosque.
  • The courier goes home. He is replaced by other couriers. They do continually till the end of pitrah payment. The process of pitrah`s payment will usually be ended at 04.00 a.m.
  • After all of the couriers deliver the pitrah, the Kiai Kagungan will distribute it to specific persons: Kiai Kagungan, Kiai Raden and Kiai Santri.
  • All of the Kiais will perform subuh prayer together (berjama`ah) and will be led by Kiai Penghulu.
  • Around 05.00 a.m., all Kiais will go to their home by bringing the pitrah.
  • After arriving to their kampu, they will slaughter an animal (cow or goat) to be eaten together with all inhabitants after idul fitri prayer.

The descriptions mentioned above are the steps of the paying pitrah which is conducted by Wetu Telu Muslims in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.

4. The Prayers and Mantras

In giving pitrah, there are prayers recited by the courier and the Kiai Kagungan. These prayers and expressions are:  

  • Assalamu`alaikum is recited by the courier
  • Wa`alaikumussalam is recited by the Kiai
  • Allahumma sali ala Muhammad, waala ali Muhammad, is recited by the Kiai together with the courier.

The phrase of the paying pitrah, e.g.:

  • The courier says: Bismillahirrahmanirrahim, aku tesuruan cang Amad Ranjinom lelek gubug Padamangko seserahang limang gantang pitrah urip lan rolas oyong pitrah pati lelek dunia sampek akherat wajib perlu karena Allah, wajib perlu karena Allah, wajib perlu karena Allah. Allahumma Sali ala sayidina Muhammad wa`ala alidin Muhammad. Silak terima tanggap silak. (In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful. I have been asked by Amaq Rajinom of Padamangko to pay pitrah urip and pitrah pati. The due pitrah urip is 2,5 kilogram (5 gantang) of rice and pitrah pati is twelve oyong of rice from this world to hereafter, on behalf of Allah`s obligation, on behalf of Allah`s obligation, on behalf of Allah`s obligation. O Allah! Bestow blessings and peace on Sayyidina Muhammad and his family. Receive this pitrah please!). 
  • The Kiai replays: Bismillahirrahmanirrahim, aku terima pitrah Amaq Ranjinom lelek gubug Padamangko, limang gantang pitrah urip lan rolas pitrah oyong pitrah pati lelek dunia sampek akherat, wajib perlu karena Allah. Allahuma Sali ala Sayidina Muhammad wa`ala alidin Muhammad. (I accept this pitrah of Amaq Ranjinom from gubug Padamangko, five gantang pitrah urip and twelve oyong pitrah pati from this world to hereafter, on behalf of Allah`s obligation. O Allah! Bestow blessings and peace on Sayyidina Muhammad and his family).
  • Short Arabic prayers.

5. The Cultural Values

Giving pitrah which is conducted by the Wetu Telu Muslim community in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara has aims and wisdoms, which are related to relationship between human and his God, between human and human, and between human and the souls of the ancestors. The relationship between human and his God can be seen from the statement that is said “on behalf of Allah`s obligation” (wajib perlu karena Allah). The relationship among humans may be noticed from the process of giving pitrah to the Kiais. The Kiais, together with their prayers, give a retainer to the pitrah payer`s and their ancestors. The relationship between human and his ancestor`s souls can be seen from the pitrah pati due to the deceased persons.

The equipments and the ways of paying pitrah that are implemented by the Wetu Telu Muslim depict us that there are many ways to apply religious practices with their point of views. The use of lekesan, Chinese coins, rice wine, pitrah for the Kiai, pitrah pati, and the ways of performing of pitrah indicate us that religion is not a static matter, but a dynamic matter. It will be changed by the influences of local tradition into where the religion grows up.  

There are many criticism on the ways of paying pitrah of the Wetu Telu Muslim, especially regarding with wine, lekesan, pitrah pati, and pitrah only for the Kiai. Therefore, it can be concluded that the rituals are influenced by the point of view of human and community toward the sacred things. (TN/trj/19/10-07).

References :  

  • Erni Budiwanti, 2000, Islam Sasak, Wetu Telu versus Waktu Lima, LKIS, Yogyakarta.
  • Zakat Fitrah, from, retrieved at September 26, 2007.
  • Zakat Fitrah Simbol Kepedulian Sosial, from /cetak_detail.asp?mid=5&id=146412&kat_id=105&kat_id1=147&kat_id2=300, retrieved at September 26, 2007.
  • Alimuddin YI, Implikasi Menunaikan Zakat Fitrah, from  http://www.fajar. news.php?newsid=12092, retrieved at September 26, 2007.
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