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7.1.07

Disertation: English Abstract

This research —which takes a philological and intellectual history-social approach— focuses on efforts to reveal meaning in religious manuscripts, in this case the manuscripts about Syattariyyah order that emerged in West Sumatra. Ten Syattariyyah manuscripts, written by three Syattariyyah ulama in West Sumatra —Imam Maulana Abdul Manaf Amin, H. K. Deram, and Tuanku Bagindo Abbas Ulakan— were primary sources for this research.

Aside from the ten manuscripts from West Sumatra mentioned above, in order to measure the dynamics of the teachings of Syattariyyah order in West Sumatra, two Arabic sources related to Syattariyyah, which are considered to be reference sources for teaching Syattariyyah order in the Malay-Indonesian Islamic world, were consulted. The first source is al-Simt al-Majid, a Islamic mystical book written by Syaikh Ahmad al-Qusyasyi, and the second is Ithaf al-Zaki bi Syarh al-Tuhfah al-Mursalah Ila Ruh al-Nabi, by Ibrahim al-Kurani.

As a result of an intellectual analysis of the early Syattariyyah manuscripts, we know that the Syattariyyah manuscripts in West Sumatra were an important intellectual link between the writers, starting with Syaikh Ahmad al-Qusyasyi, Syaikh Ibrahim al-Kurani, Syaikh Abdurrauf al-Sinkili, and reaching the writers in West Sumatra by way of Syaikh Burhanuddin Ulakan, an eminent student of al-Sinkili.

As can be seen from the manuscripts, the teachings of Syattariyyah order in West Sumatra generally carried on the traditions that had been previously formulated by prominent figures of Syattariyyah in Haramayn, represented by al-Qusyasyi, and also by the ulama of Syattariyyah in Aceh, in this instance represented by Abdurrauf al-Sinkili. These teachings are mainly related to the practices of zikir (religious recitation), behaviour and good manners in zikir, and the formulation of zikir.

However, there are noticeable differences, particularly in relation to the concepts of hakikat (religious truth) and the ultimate objectives of zikir in Syattariyyah order. In Syattariyyah in West Sumatra, the formulation of these concepts was more moderate than in the earlier teachings of al-Qusyasyi and al-Sinkili. The Syattariyyah manuscripts of al-Qusyasyi and al-Sinkili discuss the concept of fana —the negation of self or the loss of individual limitations, and becoming one with Allah, fana ‘an al-fana or fana ‘an fanaih, that is fana from fana itself— as religious truth and the ultimate objective of zikir. The Syattariyyah manuscripts of West Sumatra explain that religious truth and zikir are “sufficient” to cleanse the soul, which allows nearness with God, and to produce the feelings that allow for certainty and evidence of religious truth and His Being (Wujud).

This inclination towards moderation is even clearer in the formulation of mystico-philosophy doctrine. As is evident in the manuscripts written by al-Kurani and al-Sinkili, they were still teaching the wahdat al-wujud doctrine, though it was adapted to theories of orthodox Islam, and thus this doctrine —which met with strong opposition from the orthodox ulama— was more widely accepted. In the Syattariyyah manuscripts of West Sumatra, the teachings of wahdat al-wujud were not just more flexible, they were in fact removed from all the teachings of Syattariyyah order, as they were considered to be in conflict with the teachings of ahlussunnah wal jama’ah, and a deviation from the practices of syari’at.

As a result, particularly since the 19th century, the teaching of Syattariyyah order in West Sumatra without the wahdat al-wujud doctrine is just one of this order’s unique characteristics and tendencies. This is relatively different from the conclusions drawn by scholars in the past, such as B. J. O. Schrieke, Karel A. Steenbrink, Martin van Bruinessen, and several others, who argued that followers of Syattariyyah order in West Sumatra were the group most active in developing wahdat al-wujud, and clashed with Naqsybandiyyah order adherents who developed the wahdat
al-syuhud doctrine.

After having contact with several local traditions and cultures, the teaching style of Syattariyyah order was laden with local nuances. Teachings about the relationship between the external body and the internal self, for example, were formulated in what was known as “pengajian tubuh” (teachings of body). Syattariyyah teachings, apart from via conventional methods such as the recitation of al-Qur’an, were also delivered through traditions that included local characteristics, such as salawat dulang. Followers of Syattariyyah order in West Sumatra also developed what is known as “Basapa”, a Syattariyyah order ritual in Ulakan each Safar month (2nd month of the Arabic calendar), a tradition that was strongly influenced by local culture.