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Gunung Jati, Sunan

(1,178 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
Sunan Gunung Jati (d. c. 1570), the great saint of Cirebon (Java, Indonesia), is popularly credited with the Islamisation of West Java in the early sixteenth century and is considered one of the Nine Saints (wali sanga), who are believed to have given Javanese Islam its distinctive cultural forms. He was also the common ancestor of the Muslim ruling families of the harbour states of Banten and Cirebon, which were carved out from the Shaivite-Buddhist kingdom of Pajajaran (Sunda). He established his son Hasanuddin as the first Musl…
Date: 2020-02-11

Khalwatiyya in Indonesia

(1,072 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
The Khalwatiyya Ṣūfī order was first introduced in present-day Indonesia by Yusuf Makassar (Yūsuf al-Maqāsarī, d. 1111/1699–1700), a scholar of aristocratic background from Gowa, in South Celebes (Sulawesi). He spent more than two decades (c.1055–81/1645–70) studying in the Arab world and was initiated in most of the important Ṣūfī orders of his day. He received in Damascus his ijāza (licence to teach) for the Khalwatiyya from Ayyūb b. Aḥmad al-Khalwatī al-Qurashī (d. 1071/1661), who represented the major line of Khalwatī affiliation, deriving from Aḥm…
Date: 2020-02-11

Mahfudz Tremas

(886 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
Kiai Haji Mahfudz Tremas (Maḥfūẓ b. ʿAbdallāh al-Tarmasī al-Jāwī, d. 1920) was one of the most respected Javanese scholars of his generation and probably the most influential. Born into a family of ʿulamāʾ (Muslim religious scholars) in Tremas (Pacitan district, East Java), he spent most of his adult life in Mecca, studying with the major scholars of his day and later teaching numerous students, mostly from Java. Most of the men who came to lead major pesantrens (religious boarding schools) in Java in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had studied at least one or two kitabs (…
Date: 2020-03-18

Ismāʿīl Minangkabau

(824 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
Ismāʿīl Minangkabau (Ismāʿīl b. ʿAbdallāh al-Khālidī al-Minankābawī) was a scholar and Ṣūfī of Sumatran origin based in Mecca in the first half of the nineteenth century, who played a key role in the transmission of the Naqshbandiyya Khālidiyya Ṣūfī order to Southeast Asia. He was one of the earliest deputies of ʿAbdallāh al-Arzinjānī, Mawlānā Khālid’s (d. 1827) khalīfa in Mecca, and remained affiliated with the Khālidī lodge on the hill of Abū Qubays under the latter’s successor, Sulaymān al-Qirīmī. Ismāʿīl was apparently the chief intermediary betwe…
Date: 2020-02-11

Hasyim Asy’ari

(1,204 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
Hasyim Asy’ari (Hāshim b. Ashʿarī) (1871–1947) was considered the most learned of the Javanese kiai (ʿulamāʾ) of his generation. He founded the Tebuireng pesantren in Jombang (East Java, Indonesia) and was the chief religious authority of the Nahdlatul Ulama (Nahḍat al-ʿUlamāʾ, NU) association, from its founding in 1926 until his death. Hasyim was born into a well-connected family of ʿulamāʾ in Gedang, Jombang, where his maternal grandfather ʿUthmān led a pesantren. His father, Ashʿarī, originally from Demak, in Central Java, was Kiai ʿUthmān’s favourite student a…
Date: 2020-02-11

Madrasa in Southeast Asia

(1,650 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
The madrasa in Southeast Asia is commonly known as pesantren or pondok. The root of the former term is the word santri, which may be of South Indian origin and means student (of religion); pondok is the local pronunciation of Arabic funduq and refers to the dormitory or row of huts in which the santri are lodged. In some regions the institution is known by yet other names, such as dayah in Aceh and surau in West Sumatra. The chief teacher of the pesantren is the kiai, who holds unchallenged authority over the institution. In Indonesia, the term madrasah refers to a different type of school, …
Date: 2020-02-11

Kitab kuning

(1,038 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
Kitab kuning , “yellow books,” is the name by which the Arabic textbooks and works of reference studied in Indonesian pesantren, Islamic religious boarding schools, are commonly known. Occasionally, the Arabic equivalent, al-kutub al-ṣufrā, is also used. The origin of the term is not entirely clear, but it probably refers to the colour and quality of the paper of cheap Egyptian mass-produced prints. By extension, the term also refers to the entire curriculum and the didactic methods of the traditional pesantren, especially as contrasted with that of reformist Muslim schools…
Date: 2020-03-18

Aḥmad Khaṭīb Sambas

(1,235 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
Aḥmad Khaṭīb Sambas (Aḥmad b. ʿAbd al-Ghaffār b. ʿAbdallāh al-Sambasī, d. c. 1292/1875) was the first Indonesian shaykh of the composite Qādiriyya wa-Naqshbandiyya Ṣūfī order and probably also the founder of the order, which soon became extremely influential throughout the Malay Archipelago. He was born in the West Borneo sultanate of Sambas in 1217/1802. Later legend has it that at a very early age he showed signs of spiritual powers (H. Abdullah, who lived in the region for many years, relates several anecdotes to that effect). After …
Date: 2020-02-11

Wahab Chasbullah

(828 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
Wahab Chasbullah (ʿAbd al-Wahhāb b. Ḥasballāh, 1888?-1971), was an Indonesian ʿālim (religious scholar, pl. ʿulamāʾ) and politician. He rose to the highest position in the anti-reformist association Nahdlatul Ulama (Nahḍat al-ʿUlamāʾ, NU) and became one of President Sukarno’s most loyal supporters and collaborators. Wahab was born into a family of kiai (ʿulamāʾ) that claimed descent from early Muslim rulers of East Java and was related, through intermarriage, to other prominent scholarly families. He received his early education in the family pesantren (Islamic school) at T…
Date: 2020-02-11

Ahl-i Ḥaqq

(4,084 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
The Ahl-i Ḥaqq (lit., “people of truth”) is a syncretistic religion or, according to some adherents, an esoteric Shīʿī community, that appears to have emerged first among the Gūrān of southern Kurdistan in the fifteenth or sixteenth century C.E. and that survives in various parts of Iran and Iraq, among Gūrān, Lurs, Kurds, Azerbaijanis, and Persians. A preferred self-designation of the community, especially in the Kirmānshāh region, is “Yārisān.” In the Iraqi part of Kurdistan, the Ahl-i Ḥaqq are …
Date: 2020-02-11

Kholil Bangkalan

(838 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
KH. (Kiai Haji) Kholil (Muḥammad Khalīl b. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf, d. 1925) of Bangkalan in Madura, affectionately known among the Madurese as Syaikhona (“our shaykh”) Kholil, was, in his day and long after his death, the most highly respected religious authority of Madura and a dominant figure among Javanese Muslims as well. Most of the prominent kiai ( ʿulamāʾ, Muslim religious scholars) of the early twentieth century had spent at least a brief period in his pesantren (Islamic religious boarding school). He had a reputation as a scholar of scriptural Islam but was especially …
Date: 2020-03-18

Ansor

(976 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
Ansor (Ar. Anṣār), established in 1934, is the youth movement founded by and affiliated with the Indonesian traditionalist Muslim association, Nahdlatul Ulama (Ar. Nahḍat al-ʿUlamāʾ), or NU. As in youth groups of other associations in the pre-independence period, scouting was a major part of Ansor’s activities: physical exercise (including martial arts), camping, and related skills, as well as moral training. Most members of Ansor were, or had been, students at pesantren, the Javanese boarding school variety of madrasa, and to some extent the organisation provided them w…
Date: 2020-02-11

Ahmad Sanusi bin Abdurrahim of Sukabumi

(768 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
Ahmad Sanusi bin Abdurrahim of Sukabumi (1888–1950) was born into a family of ʿulamāʾ and studied with his father and other West Javanese ʿulamāʾ. He completed his education with a seven-year stay in Mecca, learning at the feet of the leading Shāfiʿī scholars of the day. After his return to West Java in 1915, he quickly established his reputation as a teacher and moderate reformer of pesantren education as well as a critic of the colonial administration. His first contacts with the nationalist movement had been in Mecca, where he joined the local branch of the…
Date: 2020-02-11

Kiai

(1,146 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
Kiai (kyai, kiyahi) is a term of respect, used especially for charismatic religious teachers in Java and throughout Indonesia. The term is also used more generally for respected older men, and the dead were addressed as kiai (as attested by numerous gravestones). The title is also given to certain royal heirlooms considered sacred, such as Kyai Slamet, a white buffalo kept at the Surakarta court, and Kyai Sekati, the sacred gamelan of the Yogyakarta court. Most commonly, however, the term refers to religious teachers who lead a traditional Islamic school (pesantren) and teach classic…
Date: 2020-02-11

Jumadil Kubra

(1,084 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
Jumadil Kubra (Jumādī l-Kubrā) is a legendary saint whose name occurs in Javanese chronicles ( babad) as the common ancestor of several of the Nine Saints ( wali sanga) credited with the Islamisation of Java. In the much abbreviated genealogies given in these chronicles, he is the person connecting the Arabian and Southeast Asian stages of Islamic history. A typical genealogy begins with the prophet Muḥammad and then lists in succession his daughter Fāṭima, her son Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī, and his son Zayn al-ʿĀbidīn, followed by w…
Date: 2020-02-11

Idrīsiyya, in Indonesia

(1,055 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
The Idrīsiyya of Indonesia is a Ṣūfī order belonging to the intellectual and spiritual tradition associated with the North African master Aḥmad b. Idrīs (d. 1253/1837, in Ṣabyā, Yemen), which is generally known as the Aḥmadiyya-Idrīsiyya. The teachers of the Indonesian order claim that their primary affiliation is with the Sanūsiyya but there are also considerable similarities with the Dandarāwiyya branch of the Aḥmadiyya-Rashīdiyya, which is active in Malaysia. The first Indonesian shaykh of the Idrīsiyya, ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ (1884–1947), was born into a religious famil…
Date: 2020-02-11

Abdurrahman Wahid

(2,594 words)

Author(s): van Bruinessen, Martin
Abdurrahman Wahid (ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Dākhil b. ʿAbd al-Wāḥid b. Hāshim b. Ashʿarī, 1940–2009), popularly known as Gus Dur, was arguably Indonesia’s most influential Muslim religious leader of the late twentieth century and its most controversial. He led the traditionalist Muslim association Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) from 1984 to 1999 and was Indonesia’s fourth (and first democratically elected) president (1999–2001). 1. Education and intellectual development Abdurrahman came from a family with important religious and political connections. His two grandfathers, …
Date: 2020-02-11