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Jum'ah, 16 Dzul Hijjah 1441 (Thursday, August 6th, 2020)
April 30th, 2008 03:39

Malay Islamic Scholar and Poet

Malay Islamic Scholar and Poet

Almost all of the books made by Raja Ali Haji, especially those which contain valuable advices, are always attached with the sample of reality in daily life of that time.

Something that was rarely found at the time, an Islamic scholar who was also expert on political, constitutional, historical, law and literary studies. Raja Ali Haji was one of them. Besides of his piety on religious cases, he also productively wrote many books outside of religious study. His works were regarded as worthwhile literature in the 19th century.

He was a Bugis descendant who was born in Riau Province, Indonesia. His father, Raja Haji, was a famous hero from Bugis who was likewise the Fourth Yamtuan Muda (Prime Minister) of the Johor-Riau Sultanate. Under his role, the Johor-Riau Sultanate reached the golden age that was well-known as the center of international commerce harbour and cultural exchange.

Raja Ali Haji‘s writing skill was inherited from his father, Raja Ahmad. He was the first person who went to Mecca to accomplish the pilgrimage amongst the Riau people at the time. Likewise, he was a figure who compiled and published the epic of Bugis history in Riau and its relation with Malay Kings.

The childhood of Raja Ali Haji was spent to accompany his father accomplishing the pilgrimage and wandering around for business. Such experience then greatly influenced his personality as a figure who had broad knowledge. He was a prominent scholar who was frequently asked for fatwa (religious guidance) by family. Furthermore, he was a teacher for religious teachers in Riau Province at the time.

In twenty, he held the significant position in the sultanate. When he was 32 years old, together with his cousin, Raja Ali bin Ja‘far, Raja Ali Haji roled the Lingga region to assist Sultan Mahmud Muzaffar Syah who was too young at the time.

He was promoted as royal religious counselor when Raja Ali bin Ja‘far became Yamtuan Muda. Holdinng significant position in the sultanate government had no serious effect towards his productivity in writing. He gave abundant contributions on some spheres: religion, Malay literature, politic, history, philosophy and law. Such contributions then improved his popularity both as a pominent Islamic scholar and an eminent writer.

In the case of Malay literature, one of his works entitled Hikayat Abdul Muluk – that was made in 1846 A.D. – was the first published literary work amongst the other Riau writers. Most of his works are greatly influenced by Islam and Malay tradition.

Likewise, Intizam Wazaif al Malik (Systematic Rule of the King‘s Role) was also famous amongst the writers concerning on Maly literature. It contains numerous good advice dealing with the proper behaviour of a king and Islamic regulation. The book was written to commemorate the death of Yamtuan Muda Raja Ali bin Ja‘far in 1857 A.D.

Another one of his works entitled Samarat al-Muhimmah Difayah li al-Umara wa al-Kubara wa li ahl al-Mahkamah (Reward of Religius Duties for King, Roay Official, and Judge) was written two years after the writing of Intizam Wazaif al Malik. On this book, he states strictly that a king disobeying God and forgetting his duty cannot be accepted as the leader anymore and must be replaced with another king.

It seems that he greatly admired the figure of Imam Ghazali. We often find on his books stating one of Imam Ghazali‘s books entitled Ihya Ulum ad-Din. Al Ghazali‘s influence can be clearly seen on his thought about the ideal figure of king who is capable of avoiding mundanity and emphasizing on people‘s interest. Other Islamic scholars who have overwhelming influence towards his personality are Ibnu Taimiyah and al-Hasan Ali bin Muhammad Habib al-Mawardi.

Besides Samarat, Tuhfat an-Nafis is another one of his monumental works published in 1860 A.D. Many people argue that it was the work of Raja Ahmad, his father, that was edited and accomplished by Raja Ali Haji. The book tells the history of the Johor-Riau Sultanate, starting from the establishment in Palembang until its development in Singapore.

The Genealogy of Malay and Bugis (1859 A.D.) is another one of his books. It tells the experience of five Bugis brothers who were the ancestors of Panyengat kings.  Those two works above are worthwhile legacies in the history of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Malay Archipelago. In addition, those books also tells other historical moment occuring in Malay areas for about two centuries.

Two other books of him are Bustan al-Katibin li as Sibyan al-Muta‘alimin (Garden of poets and learners) published in 1875 A.D. and Kitab Pengetahuan Bahasa (Grammar handbook) have not finished yet. The writing of those books are stopped when Raja Ali Haji died in 1870 A.D. Those books provide the solution for lust and any problematic case. Based on those two books, the main solution for such cases is Islam.

Some other books are Gurindam Duabelas, Siti Sianah, Suluh Pegawai, Taman Pemrata, and Sinar Gembala Mustika Alam. Every book he made contains wise advice attached by the reality in daily laife of the time.

Twenty years later, his family established Rusydiah Club concerning with social counseling and Islamic books publishing. The foundation was established to remind the contribution of Raja Ali Haji and his works.


Source: Republika, April 21st 2006.

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