Islamic “communism” from a remote village in Sumatra

All started by a spiritual Sufi leader KH. Ali Mas’ud ibn Abdullah. He opened the jungle together with his followers and established a small village in the 1970s. His community grew but still relatively low profile, barely known to the outsiders. When he passed away in 2011, his son, Tuwan Guru Imam continued his father’s legacy. More than that, he, along with his followers, transformed that village, which they call Kampung Darussalam (the village of peaceful land), into a unique example of many things: economic independence, self-sustainability, communal work. Some even said that this is an example of “Islamic socialism” in its true sense.

Around 1600 people live in the village in which everyone works voluntarily. They do not recognize the fee or salary system. They don’t own personal property. All belong to the community. They cook in one ‘public kitchen’, and eat with the same menu, every day! Everyone works according to their skills and ‘hobby’.

Living in 20 hectares of land, they have their own clinic, a microfinance institution, schools, farming lands, a furniture workshop, barber and tailor shops, a market, and even their own micro mining site where they get crude oil! They also stay in relatively similar huts. At the center of the community are a mosque and Baitul Mal (House of Wealth) from which nerve of the economic life of the village is managed.

Also, keep in mind that everything in this village is free. Yes, all your foods, books, productive equipment, marriage party, all covered by the Baitul Mal of the village.

All this, as you can guess, reminds me of what socialism and even communism are. There are some other experimentations to live in a communal life like this elsewhere. The most prominent example was the kibbutz in the early days of Israel. But this one is unique, at least for me because the foundation of this unique village is Sufi teachings.

For the Tuwan Guru Imam, who is still very young, the very basic idea of living together in his community is love and peace. Love and Peace, for him, is the essence of Islam. The belief system should be materialized into real actions, into real changes that benefitted human being. And it should be done through love, peace, and mutual trust among its members. Interestingly, in several of his interviews, he emphasized that this is the real democracy and social humanity: all dignity and prosperity should come from, for, and by the people.

This village now has attracted many outsiders. A dentist, teachers, artisans, politicians, simple farmers, migrated (which they call hijra) to this village to voluntarily choose a simple happy life.

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