By Syaikh Shoayb Ahmed
(Scholar From South Africa)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله رب العالمين و الصلاة و السلام على سيدنا و نبينا محمد و على اله و أصحابه أجمعين و بعد:
Ever since the Prophet Muhammad received the first words of revelation he passed on the message to his companions (Sahaba). They in turn passed it on to their students and in this way the process continued to this day.
Throughout the centuries there have been people involved in acquiring and imparting this legacy of the prophets. It is therefore essential that we acquaint ourselves with their lives and learn about their immense dedication to knowledge, their piety and refined character.
Furthermore studying their lives will be a source of mercy as is reported from the illustrious scholar, Sufyan ibn Uyaynah who said: ‘When the pious are mentioned, mercy descends.’
With this in mind, it was indeed humbling when my dear brother Ustadh Amirul Ulum requested that I write a foreword to his book. Although the book is written in his language which I am not familiar with, I requested one of my Indonesian students to read through it and inform me of its contents.
As a South African, I am very well aware that our Islamic legacy has an amazing connection with the Muslims of Indonesia in general and specifically with its ulama. One of the first scholars to set foot on South African soil was none other than Shaykh Yusuf al-Khalwati of Macassar. This link is strengthened when we realise that he shares teachers with the great Indian scholar Shah Waliullah al-Dehlawi.
So the legacy of Islamic scholarship in Indonesia is old and dates back to the very entrance of Islam to the region. Young students devoted years to study the Islamic sciences and the Arabic Language and thereafter they served the religion of Islam through writing and teaching and various other ways. Many quenched their thirst for Islamic knowledge by travelling to the blessed lands of Makkah and Madinah where they sat at the feet of illustrious and erudite scholars. Many even spent some time teaching in the blessed lands while others returned to their homeland.
Ustadh Amirul Ulum briefly discusses the entrance of Islam into the region and thereafter documents the biographies of some devout scholars beginning with Shaykh Muhammad Nawawi al-Bantani (1230-1316 A.H). He even discusses the life of one of the most famous Indonesian scholars of recent times who is none other than Shaykh Muhammad Yasin al-Fadani who has been referred to by scholars across the Muslim world as ‘musnid al-dunya. In his work, Amirul Ulum discusses their lineage, their education, their contribution to society, their academic contribution and their demise.
So the book is a tremendous effort by Ustadh Amirul Ulum to document the lives of some of the scholars of Indonesia and is a book that deserves to be translated into English so others could familiarise themselves with these luminaries.
May Allah accept our efforts and allow us to serve His Din.
10 October 2015 (26 DhulHijjah 1436)
Notes : Early writing quoted from the book al-Jawi al-Makki by Amirul Ulum