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Tracing "Malay" Manuscripts in the Arab or African Country Libraries

Once a friend of mine, Mawhiburrahman, a student at the Faculty of Philosophy, the Al-Azhar University, Cairo-Egypt, told me about his unintentionally finding of an Arabic manuscript in the Dar al-Kutub Library, which he has assumed as a work that was written by a Malay author.

I am very curious with his information, since I belief from the beginning that the Library certainly preserve some Islamic manuscripts that relate to the Malay world, especially Indonesia, and hardly studied by the researchers.

When Mawhib named the title of that manuscript as Ithaf al-Dza'iq wa Inqadz al-Ghariq fi Bayan Ahwal al-Thariqa al-Bakriyya al-Khalwatiyya by al-Samman, it brought me to guess that the manuscript is a Sufi treatise written by Muhammad b. `Abd al-Karim al-Samman (1718-1775), one of the most prominent Muslim scholars taught in Medina.

My guess seems to be true. The word “al-Bakriyya” most likely refers to al-Samman’s teacher, Mustafa al-Bakri. Of course, the author was not a Malay, but he was undeniably a famous mystic and murshid for some Malay Ulemas, such as Abdussamad al-Palimbani, Arshad al-Banjari (the author of Sabil al-Muhtadin), Masri Betawi (an Arab scholar from Betawi), Abdul Wahab Bugis, and others. The first mentioned one is the most celebrated of al-Sammani’s disciples, who is generally considered to be the person who introduced the Sammaniyya Order into the Archipelago.

Martin van Bruinessen has illustrated that the Sammaniya Order is a distinctive Khalwatiyya branch, in which al-Sammani combined elements from several Sufi orders he was initiated in (remarkably the Qadiriyya, Naqshbandiyya, and Shadhiliyya). Shaikh Yusuf al-Makassari was one who responsible to spread the Sammani influences in South Celebes, and propagate what is locally known as the Khalwatiyya-Samman Order.

However, I am not presently discussing about the personage of al-Samman or the Sammaniya and Khalwatiyya Orders. I am talking about the existence, and also the significance, of the Malay Islamic manuscripts, or at least Islamic manuscripts that relate to the Malay world, in such countries, especially in the Dar al-Kutub and Al-Azhar libraries, instead.

As far as the study of the Archipelago’s manuscripts (naskah Nusantara) concerns, researchers (primarily philologists) mostly pay their great attention to the manuscript collections in Europe libraries, such as the Leiden University Library, and tend to overlook the collections in the Arab or African countries, such as the Dar al-Kutub and the Al-Azhar University Libraries in Cairo, Egypt.

According to various information, such as contained in the Catalogue: World Survey Of Islamic Manuscripts by G. Roper (ed.), 1992, Volume 1, pp. 212-218, the total number of manuscripts in the Library of Dar al-Kutub, Cairo, Egypt, are 50,755: 47,065 are in Arabic, 996 in Persian and 2,150 in Turkish.

Probably we would not find the “pure” Malay manuscripts in a great number, especially those of non-religious category, in such libraries. However, I am in an assumption that the Libraries uphold Islamic manuscripts that have strong connection to the religious discourse occurred in the Indonesian-Malay world. Needless to say that the Malay Ulemas in the past have had a complicated intellectual network with the Mecca and Medina scholars, such as Muhammad b. `Abd al-Karim al-Samman, Ahmad al-Qushashi, Ibrahim al-Kurani, and many others. Azyumardi Azra has brilliantly shown such intricate network in his work.

Ithaf al-Dhaki, as a main source of my current research, is another evidence of the existence, and the significance, of the Islamic manuscript that relate to the Malay world in the Dar al-Kutub and Al-Azhar Libraries. Few years ago, I also have received a copy of Furu’ al-Masa’il wa Usul al-Masa’il by Shaikh Dawud al-Fatani, kept in the Dar al-Kutub Library.

Hence, I am no doubt that there are many other “Malay” manuscripts kept in those libraries; further observation and research need to be developed in order to collect much more comprehensive information regarding those manuscripts. I hope to have such opportunity to do this interesting work in the future.

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2 Kommentare:

philips vermonte said...

Bos Oman, it's good to find you on the internet! Long time no see...

philips vermonte

@Philips Vermonte said...

Hi, Philips, it's surprised that we 'meet' here...good luck with your study! keep contact, ya...