Januari 07, 2015

Abdurrahman Siddiq Banjari

(`Abd al-raḤmān Ṣiddīq b. MuḤammad `Afīf b. MaḤmūd b. Ḥ. Jamāl al-Dīn Albanjarī)
[Indonesia; 1857(?) - 1939]

A GREAT-grandson of Muḥammad Arshad al-Banjarī (in the female line), who settled in Sapat, Inderagiri Hilir (Riau), and who wrote several works in Malay, most of them commenting on or elaborating upon Arshad's work.

We know little about Abdurrahman Siddiq's early life. According to oral tradition, he was born in Dalam Pagar, the village near Martapura in Southeast Borneo that grew around Arshad's mosque and shrine, and that he received his first education there. In his later works, he gives his father's name as Muḥammad `Afīf and his grandfather's as Maḥm?d al-Banjarī. Neither appear to have been prominent as `ulamā; we do not find them mentioned in other sources.

It is alleged that at the age of twenty-five, Abdurrahman Siddiq set out for the Holy Land, by way of West Sumatra, where he is believed to have studied several years first (Ensiklopedi Islam: 26). He then lived and studied in Mecca and Medina for several years (five years, according to some, nine according to others). Among his teachers there were Sayyid Bakrī (Abū Bakr Shaṭṭā’ al-Dimyāṭī), Muḥammad Sa`īd Bā-Baṣīl and Nawawī Banten. During the last year of his stay he allegedly taught in the Masjid al-Ḥarām himself.

Upon his return to the Archipelago, Abdurrahman Siddiq at first settled in Bangka. After some fifteen years on this island, he moved to Sapat in Inderagiri Hilir, East Sumatra (around 1904, or according to others in 1912). He established the first madrasah in this district, in the village of Parit Hidayat. Here he also wrote various works in Malay, some of which were printed at the Al Ahmadiah Press in Singapura (the successor of the press of the same name on Pulau Penyengat, established by the ruling family of Johor-Riau). Several of his other works only survived in manuscript and saw their first printings in Banjarmasin in the 1980s. In 1919, at the behest of Sultan Mahmud Shah (the Raja Muda), Abdurrahman Siddiq was appointed as the muftī of the Malay kingdom of Indragiri. He occupied this office until his death in 1939.

His major works are:

- Shajara Arshadiyya, dealing with his famous great-grandfather (extensively used by Abdullah 1990). It was printed in Singapore in 1921, together with another work by Abdurrahman Siddiq, Risāla takmila qawl al-mukhtaṣar.

- Risāla takmila qawl al-mukhtaṣar. This is a commentary on Muhammad Arshad's Risāla qawl almukhtaṣar, which treats the signs of the imminent coming of the Mahdī and the Day of Resurrection.

- Risāla `amal ma`rifa (completed in Inderagiri in 1332/1914, published by Hasanu in Banjarmasin in 1982). A simple compendium of tasawwuf, expounding a moderate version of waḥdat al-wujud doctrine, with appropriate quotations from Ibn al-`Arabī, Ab? Bakr al-`Aydarvs, Abu'l-Ḥasan al-Shādhilī, Mu-ṭafā al-Bakrī and Muḥammad b. `Abd al-Karīm al-Sammān. The latter allegedly was one of Arshad's teachers, and it is possible that this little book draws on a family tradition and in fact contains (as is claimed by some Banjarese) Arshad's mystical teachings, which he never cared to write down himself.

- Asrār al-ṣalāh (completed in Inderagiri in 1334/1915, published in Banjarmasin in 1982). A mystically coloured treatise on prayer, the proper attitude in praying, and on the benefits thereof. In the printed edition this is followed by a catechism for children.

- `Aqā’id al-īmān (completed in Inderagiri in 1338/1919, published in Banjarmasin in 1405/1984-5). On doctrine, concentrating on the twenty attributes of God and their theological implications. It appears to be largely based on Sanusi's well-known works on orthodox doctrine.

Abdullah (1990:84) and the Ensiklopedi Islam (p. 27) list several other titles but give little or no information as to their contents. 

Bibliography: UU. Hamidy, Peranan suku Banjar dalam kehidupan sosial budaya di Kabupaten Inderagiri Hilir (Pekanbaru: Lembaga Penelitian Universitas Riau, 1981); Hj.W. Mohd. Shaghir Abdullah, Syeikh Muhammad Arsyad Al Banjari pengarang Sabilal Muhtadin (Kuala Lumpur: Khazanah Fathaniyah, 1990), pp. 45-47, 84; Anon., "Abdurrahman Siddik", Ensiklopedi Islam (Jakarta: Departemen Agama R.I., 1987), vol. 1, pp. 26-28.[]


Martin van Bruinessen, "Abdurrahman Siddiq Banjari", Marc Gaborieau, Nicole Grandin, Pierre Labrousse & Alexandre Popovic (eds), Dictionnaire biographique des savants et grandes figures du monde musulman périphérique, du XIXe siècle à nos jours, (Paris: CNRS-EHESS, 1998 [Fasc. 2]), hlm. 11.

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