Social studies about religious elite in Aceh showed that the presence of teungku dayah in the community is very central and determinant. This central position is related to their capacity as religious elite who is well-informed and dignified.
According to Nirzalin, a lecturer of Sociology, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Malikussaleh Lhokseumawe, in their capacity as a member of the religious elite who is well-informed, teungku dayah serves as Islamic religious teacher and dayah as an Islamic traditional education institution. They became the most important media in the transformation process of Islamic knowledge and serves as the main instrument for those to reinforce dignity, strengthening social cohesion, doing socio-political agency and other social actors between themselves, community and the external world.
"But in the middle of the New Order period amidst the closed and repressive structure, the dignity of political agency of teungku dayah started to experience a crisis in Aceh. The paradigm of development supported by this regime had encouraged them to prefer to cooperate with the triangle power, which were technocrat as bureaucracy, businessmen as supporters of economic growth and the military who guard security stability. The New Order regime vulgarly marginalised teungku dayah from the structure and agent of development in Aceh,” Nirzalim said recently in his open exam of doctoral program in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences UGM.
In the structure, Nirzalin said, their role was replaced by technocrat and in the development they were pushed aside by bureaucrats who have technical skills. The marginalisation of teungku dayah in the social life during the New Order is not only in terms of economic development but also political. “The New Order regime’s anti-Islamic movement that politically and historically opposed the one in power had encouraged the regime to apply double standards in treating Muslims," he said at the Auditorium of Graduate Program in the Faculty.
In his dissertation Crisis of Political Agency of Teungku Dayah in Aceh, Nirzalin said that under the jargon Islam Religious Rituals Yes' and 'Islam Politics No', the New Order made it difficult for the manouvre of various Islamic political activities while at the same time opening vast opportunities for Islam Religious Rituals.
In this manner, the regime oppresed their main political opponent, namely Islam Politics activists including teungku dayah. But at the same time, the authority took advantage through image building which seemed “friendly” towards Islam. “This is especially seen in the Islam adherents in the rural areas that are still strongly attached to logo or religious symbolism, logocentrism," said the husband of Nurhida and the father of three children.
Thus, teungku dayah, besides their weakness in territorial capacity were weak in economic side, too. In reality, they are not the wealthy people who could afford to fund their own dayah. In the more dominant structure of teungku dayah, the relations of the New Order and teungku dayah are no longer a duality as that in the previous era, but became a dualism or top-down with the structure of above teungku dayah or agent.
In the dominated situation, the New Order then made use teungku dayah for their political symbol interest in justifying their political policy in Aceh. “Intensively, under the authoritarian-bureacratic political behaviour, the New Order mobilised teungku dayah as their legitimate tool to justify their practices of development and military operation in tackling the Free Aceh Movement in Aceh,” he concluded.