Abdurrahman Wahid - Early Life

Early Life

Abdurrahman ad-Dakhil Wahid was born on the fourth day of the eighth month of the Islamic calendar in 1940 in Jombang, East Java to Abdul Wahid Hasyim and Siti Solichah. This led to a belief that he was born on 4 August; instead, using the Islamic calendar to mark his birth date meant that he was actually born on 4 Sha'aban, equivalent to 7 September 1940. He was named after Abd ar-Rahman I of the Umayyad Caliphate who brought Islam to Spain and was thus nicknamed "ad-Dakhil" ("the conqueror"). His name is stylized in the traditional Arabic naming system as "Abdurrahman, son of Wahid".

He was the oldest of his five siblings, and was born into a very prestigious family in the East Java Muslim community. His paternal grandfather, Hasyim Asy'ari was the founder of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) while his maternal grandfather, Bisri Syansuri was the first Muslim educator to introduce classes for women. Wahid's father, Wahid Hasyim, was involved in the nationalist movement and would go on to be Indonesia's first Minister of Religious Affairs.

In 1944, Wahid moved from Jombang to Jakarta where his father was involved with the Consultative Council of Indonesian Muslims (Masyumi), an organization established by the Imperial Japanese Army which occupied Indonesia at the time. After the Indonesian Declaration of Independence on 17 August 1945, Wahid moved back to Jombang and remained there during the fight for independence from the Netherlands during the Indonesian National Revolution. At the end of the war in 1949, Wahid moved to Jakarta as his father had been appointed Minister of Religious Affairs. He was educated in Jakarta, going to KRIS Primary School before moving to Matraman Perwari Primary School. Wahid was also encouraged to read non-Muslim books, magazines, and newspapers by his father to further broaden his horizons. Hestayed in Jakarta with his family even after his father's removal as Minister of Religious Affairs in 1952. In April 1953, Wahid's father died after being involved in a car crash.

In 1954, Wahid began Junior High School. That year, he failed to graduate to the next year and was forced to repeat. His mother then made the decision to send him to Yogyakarta to continue his education. In 1957, after graduating from Junior High School, he moved to Magelang to begin Muslim Education at TegalrejoPesantren (Muslim school). He completed the pesantren course in two years instead of the usual four. In 1959, he moved back to Jombang to Pesantren Tambakberas. There, while continuing his own education, Wahid also received his first job as a teacher and later on as headmaster of a madrasah affiliated with the pesantren. Wahid also found employment as a journalist for magazines such as Horizon and Majalah Budaya Jaya.

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