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Moris, Megawati. (2011). Islamization of the Malay Worldview - Sufi Metaphysical Writings. World Journal of Lslamic History and Civilization, 1(2), 108-116

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World Journal oflslamic History and Civilization, 1 (2): 108-116, 2011 ISSN 2225-0883 ©!DOS! Publications, 2011 Islamization of the Malay W orldview: Sufi Metaphysical Writings Megawati Moris Department ofUsuluddin and Comparative Religion, Kulliyyah oflslamic Revealed, Knowledge And Human Sciences, International, Islamic University Malaysia Abstract: In his seminal essay, Preliminary Statement on a General Theory of the Islamization of the Malay- Indonesian Archipelago, Syed
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  World Journal oflslamic History and Civilization, 1 2): 108-116, 2011 ISSN 2225-0883 © DOS Publications, 2011 Islamization of the Malay W orldview: Sufi Metaphysical Writings Megawati Moris Department ofUsuluddin and Comparative Religion, Kulliyyah oflslamic Revealed, Knowledge And Human Sciences, International, Islamic University Malaysia Abstract In his seminal essay, Preliminary Statement on a General Theory of he Islamization of the MalayIndonesian Archipelago, Syed Naquib al-Attas stated that Islam came to the Archipelago couched n ;;ufi metaphysics. According to him, Malay intellectual history began with the Islamization of the worldview of the Malays which was primarily effectuated by Malay Sufi scholars. They accomplished this through oral transmission and written works of their teachings n Malay on the intellectual aspects of Islam and especially on metaphysics. The first metaphysical writings n Malay appeared during the sixteenth century in Aceh and they marked the beginning of not only a wider transmission of Islamic teachings but a more profmmd or 'intensified' nnderstanding of the religion as well. This process of Islamization of the Malay worldview as proponnded by al-Attas continued even after the seventeenth century which marked its third and last phase in which fnndamental concepts related to the Islamic worldview continued to be exponnded, defined and clarified. To attest to his theory that it was through Sufi metaphysics basically that the Malay worldview was Islamized, in this paper I have chosen to present and discuss an example of writing on metaphysics written in Malay during the eighteenth century by 'Abd l ~amad al-Palirnbanl. In a section of his book entitled Siyar alsiilikin ilii 'ibiidat abb al-'iilamin (Ways of the spiritual travelers to the Lord of the worlds) 'Abd l ~amad wrote to examine and clarify on an Islamic conception of the nature of Being and Reality for the benefit of his Malay readers. ey words Worldview · Malay · Islamization· Sufi metaphysics · Writings INTRODUCTION In his seminal essay, Preliminary Statement on a General Theary af the Islamizatian af the MalayIndonesian Archipelago, Syed Naquib al-Attas stated that Islam came to the Archipelago couched in Sufi metaphysics and it was through ta~awwuf or Sufism that the intellectual and rationalistic religious spirit entered the minds of the Malays [1]. According to him, based on his study of the changing concepts of key terms in the Malay language during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Malay intellectual history began with the Islamization of the worldview of the Malays and it was primarily effectuated by Malay Sufi scholars. They accomplished this through oral transmission and written works of their teachings in Malay on the intellectual and rational aspects of Islam represented by 'philosophical mysticism and metaphysics (ta }awwu J and ratiomltheology (kaliim)'. The first expository writings on Sufi metaphysics in Malay appeared during the sixteenth century in Aceh and they marked the beginning of not only a wider transmission of Islamic teachings but a more profonnd or 'intensified' rmderstanding of the religion as well. Frmdarnental concepts introduced according to the Islamic worldview were expormded, defined and clarified to enable the readers to rmderstand clearly their meanings without the mental obstruction of concepts from the old worldview [1]. This process of Islamization of the Malay worldview as proponnded by al-Attas continued even after the seventeenth century which marked its third and last phase in which the same frmdarnental concepts continued to be expormded, defined, 'clarified' and 'corrected' although the first two earlier phases, he contended, had been successful. The Sufi metaphysical writings were a reflection of the change of ideas in the worldview of the people of the Malay Archipelago centered on a different conception of Being from what they had known in the Corresponding Author Megawati Moris, Department OfU suluddin And Comparative Religion, Kulliyyah Of Islamic Revealed, Knowledge And Human Sciences, International, Islamic University Malaysia. Tel: +60361965553, Fax: +6036196551 6. 108  World J Islamic History Civilization, 1 (2): 108-116, 2011 past. The 'correction' the Sufi scholars rmdertook in their works was to 'consolidate' or to complete the transformation to the Islamic worldview from the previous one on the frmdarnental question of the nature of Being [I] To support his theory that it was through Sufi metaphysics basically that the Malay worldview was Islamized, in this paper I have chosen to present and discuss an example of writing on metaphysics written in Malay during the eighteenth century by Abd al ~amad al-Palimbani In a section of his book entitled Siyar alsiilikin ilii ibiidat Rabb al-  iii am n (Ways of the spiritual travelers to the Lord of the worlds) Abd l ~amad wrote to examine and clarify on an Islamic conception of the nature of Being and Reality for the benefit of his Malay readers. The Malay Worldview Before Islam According to al-Attas, the Malays were more aesthetic than philosophical by nature. Before the coming of Islam, the Malays were more interested in the aesthetic aspects of Hinduism and neglected its metaphysical and philosophical elements [1, 2]. They either did not rmderstand fully Hindu metaphysics or they ignored it to prefer ideas acceptable to their O\Vll worldview which was still steeped in animism. Their lack of interest in the intellectual and philosophical elements of Hinduism was concluded from the dearth of translations of the more metaphysical Upanishads or srcinal writings of Hindu doctrines from the Vedanta despite centuries of Indian Hindu influence. What were chosen to be translated, first into old Javanese or Kawi and subsequently into Malay, were portions of the Mahtibhtirata; the Bhagavad Gitti and the Bhtiratayuddha that are epical, romantic or mythological in chiuacter [2]. For example, the Malay versions of the Bhtiratayuddha, was the Hikayat erang Pandawa Jaya and the story of Bhauma, son of Bhumi the Earth, was Hikayat Sang Barna [3]. Apparently, such Hindu-Malay literature was emphasized to meet the interest and demand in the court of the ruling elite group. Whatever few intellectual writings existed, such as the most famous work written by Prapanca of Majapahit namely, the Ntigara Kerttigama, was criticized by the court and religious establishment and hence remained insignificant in Javanese civilization [1] Al-Attas contended that elements of philosophy in Hinduism was transformed into art or filtered to the commmrity through the medium of art as formd for example, in the wayangs [1] In relation to Buddhism, despite Sumatra being an important center of Buddhism and Buddhist learning from the tenth to the eleventh 109 century there were no kno\Vll Malay translations of works on Buddhist theology or philosophy. Instead, the Javanese-Malay genius was exhibited and manifested again in the aesthetic, as symbolized by the temple complex of Borobudur in Java, considered to be one of the greatest artistic achievements of Malay civilization [1,2]. Sufi Metaphysical Writings n Malay Islam, a religion in which knowledge is given supreme importance and status, imbued the rational and intellectual spirit into the Malay psyche. As earlier stated Islam came to the Archipelago couched in Sufi metaphysics and efforts at clarifying this metaphysics which involved the frmdamental question of the nature of Being to the general population in a language they rmderstood are attributed to the works of two Sufi scholars namely, Hamzah al F~Url (d. ca. 1 016/1607) and Shams al-Dlnal-Sumajranl (d. 1 040/1630). Al Fa~Url was the first Sufi scholar to have given expositions on Sufi metaphysics in Malay and in this endeavor of writing philosophical or doctrinal Sufism in Malay systematically; he was closely followed by his student Shams al-Dln al-Sumatrani Malay became a scientific and rationalistic language as a result of it being used in the philosophical discourses of the Sufi scholars, pioneered by these two masters and its vocabulary and technical terminology were enriched in the process [1] The scholars' focus on answering and clarifying the question of the nature of Being in their writings reflected the Malays' concern in their minds to know and rmderstand the relationship between God, man and the world from the new Islamic perspective governed by the central concept of the oneness or rmity of God (taw hid). They needed to recognize clearly the metaphysical connection between the reality of the oneness of God and the apparent multiplicity of things that they perceive and experience in the world. In their effort to define and explain this essential relationship, the Malay scholars drew upon the teachings of earlier Muslim thinkers from the Sufi tradition, especially al-Shaykh al-akbar, the Greatest Master' Ibn al-'Arabl (d. 638/1240) and his commentators for example, Abd al-Karlm al-Jill (d. 83211428) and Abd al-Ralunan al-Jaml (d. 898/1492), who all dealt extensively with the metaphysical question of Being. Hence, their writings in Malay were based on Ibn al- Arabl s metaphysical framework of Being (wujUd) as expormded and elaborated upon by his commentators of the central doctrine of transcendent rmity of Being ( wahdat al-wujUd) and other related doctrines such as, the five Divine Presences (al-hadartit al-iltihiyyat alkhams) and the Perfect Man (al-insiin al-kiimil) [2,42,].  World J Islamic History Civilization, 1 (2): 108-116, 2011 As exemplified by the expositions and commentaries of al-Fari§Url and al-Surnatrani, for example the former's Shariib al-'iishiqin, Asriir al-'iiriftn and al-Muntahi and the latter's al-NUr al-daqii'iq andMirii t al-mu 'minin, the metaphysical teachings of Ibn al-' Arabi became very influential among the Malays during this period. These exponents of the Ibn al-' Arabi School in the Malay Archipelago in the seventeenth century, referred to as the Wujudiyyah, gathered many followers and they grew in strength and popularity. However, there was opposition to this group and its teachings which was led by NUr al Dln al-Ranlrl d. 1 068/1658) who upheld the existentialist position himself. He referred to his group as the 'true existentialists' or 'existentialists who affirm rmity' (Wujudiyyah Muwahhidiili) but referred to the group whose major exponents were al-Fari§Url and al-Surnatrani as the 'false or deviating existentialists' (WujUdiyyah Mulhidah). The controversy between the two groups was reflected in polemical writings written by for example, alRanlrl entitled Tibyiin i ma 'rifat al-adyiin and Hujjat al ~iddiq l daf i al-zindiq, but it was the latter Wujudiyyah who had their works blllllt and suffered persecution as a result of al-R.anlrTs condemnation of them as heretics and infidels. His main attack against them was that their metaphysical teachings on Being and Reality were pantheistic and that their particular doctrine on Being amormted to saying that God is identical and continuous with the world in substance which would be considered as heresy (zindiq) in Islam [ 4,5]. Many scholars, for example 'Abd al-Ra'uf al-Sinkj)j (d. 1105/1693), Muhammad Yusuf al-Maqassarl (d. 1110/1699), Abdal-~amadal-Palirnbanl(d. ca.l254/1839), Muhammad NariS al-Banjarl and Dawlld ibn 'AbdAllah al-Fajiinl (1265/1847), who wrote on ta~awwuf after the WujUdiyyah controversy continued to define, explain and clarify on the doctrines of wahdat al-wujUd and the levels of being in their works so that errors in rmderstanding and interpreting the doctrines among the people do not occur. For example, al-Attas claimed that the Malay scholars who came after the WujUdiyyah and who wrote on the doctrines did not rmderstand correctly and misinterpreted the metaphysical teachings as expormded by their srcinal thinkers[4]. The effect the intense polemical situation had on later Malay scholars especially of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was also to encourage a more reconciliatory position and less hostile attitude against the proponents of the Wujudiyyah [6]. Abd al-Ra'uf for example, in his treatise Daqii'iq al-hurq{ clarified some important technical terms used in the two doctrines, gave proofs from the Qur'an and hadith to support his arguments and used a subtle approach in stating his 110 disagreement with al-R.anlrTs charge of heresy (kufr) against the followers of l-F~url and al-Sumatranl [7]. This reconciliatory stance was followed up by scholars such as 'Abd al-~amad and al-Fajiinl who took the step further of examining and clarifying the metaphysical doctrines within the framework of al-Ghazzall's normative perspective and teachings on f(J$awwuf They achieved this in part by translating and commenting al-Ghazzall's works on ta~awwuf into Malay for example, Siyar alsiilikin and hidiiyat al-siilikin written by 'Abd al ~amad and minhiij al-'iibidin by al-Fatani and disseminated his teachings in the process [ 6]. 'Abd al-,;;amad's explication on the nature of Being and Reality in the doctrine of the seven levels of being (martabat tujuh) which I have chosen to discuss was written during the eighteenth century and hence represented one of the writings which attempted to explain and clarify Ibn al- 'Arabi's metaphysical doctrines in the light of al-Ghazzall's teachings on spiritual psychology ( 'ilm al-nafs) and ethics (akhliiq) as contained in his basic works on ta~awwuf such as, bidiiyat al-hidiiyah, minhiij al-'iibidin and ihyii' 'uWm aldin. The doctrine of the seven levels of being, a modification oflbn al-' Arabi's doctrine of the five Divine Presences, was introduced by Indian Sufi scholar Muhammad Fad Allah al-Burhanpurl (d. 102911620) to Malay scholars through his short but popular treatise alTuhjah al-mursalah ilii al-Nabi This doctrine, first explicated into Malay by al-Surnatranl, became very popular among the people of the Malay Archipelago [8- 11 ' In the next section, I will discuss 'Abd al-,;;amad's explication of the doctrine in a section of his book entitled Siyar al-siilikin ilii 'ibiidat Rabb al-'iilamin [12] (Ways of the spiritual travelers to the Lord of the worlds). This work, although the author stated is a translation of alGhazzall's Mukhta~ar ihyii' uliJm al-din [13] an abridgement of the ihyii' 'uWm al-din, is much larger than its srcinal Arabic since 'Abd al-,;;amad made many additions which include his O\Vll commentaries as well as those from other Sufi scholars [14,15,]. Abd l-~amad Al-palimba.nl sExplication o t he Doctrine of the Seven Levels of Being: 'Abd l-~amad included this metaphysical but not unrelated doctrine in the section on the Explication of the Reality of Divine Unity (al-taw hid) as the Foundation of Trust in God (al-tawakkul) in the thirty-fifth chapter ftheMukhta~ar al-ibyii' [13]. Here he explained the principles of the doctrine of the seven levels of Being within the framework of al-Ghazzall's teachings on Divine Unity. In al-Ghazzall's discussion of this  World J Islamic History Civilization, 1 (2): 108-116, 2011 chapter in the fhya , he explained that the formdation of trust in God is faith in Divine Unity whose mearung is articulated in the testimony of faith utterances: There is no God but Him (Sural al- j]iifftit, 37: 35); There is no sharer with Him, (SUrat al-An 'lim, 6: 163); To Him belong sovereignty and praise; and He is the One who possesses power over all things (SUrat alTaghiibun, 64: ). The one whose heart is controlled by these assertions, articulated by God Himself, belongs the faith which is the root of trust in God. This faith is operative by the very force of these assertions which produces a property indispensable to the heart and by which it is controlled. Al-Ghazzan wrote this faith is made up of four stages. The first stage is one of hypocrisy; there is verbal profession of Divine rmity, there is no god but God, but the heart is either heedless or denies it; the second stage is one of simple faith (i tiqfid) in which there is belief in the meaning of the testimony in the heart and it is to be formd in the generality of Muslims; the third stage represents those who are drawing near to God (muqarrabUn) whose testimony of faith are inwardly illuminated by means of the light of Truth (nOr al-haq). This takes place when they see many things but sees them to be emanating in their multiplicity from one Source. This stage is the one on which trust in Divine Unity and consequently trust in God is established [16]. 'Abd al,;;amad commented that the Sufis consider this stage as the 'unity of acts' (taw hid al-af iil) which includes also the 'unity of names' (taw hid al-asmii) and 'unity of attributes' (taw hid al-~ifiit and they named this stage as the 'unity of the elites' (taw hid al-khawii~~ . 'Abd al,;;amad qualified that this is the level of Divine rmity which travelers or wayfarers discuss and it can be achieved by following the spiritual path or Jariqah [12]. The wayfarer arrives at this station because the truth and reality of faith has permeated him inwardly. Finally, the fourth stage represents the witnessing of the righteous ones (al ~iddiqin and it is the farthest reach of faith in Divine rmity. For those who have arrived at this stage, alGhazzan asserted: The fourth stage is that of those who see only mrity (wahid) when they regard existence (wujud), which is the witness of righteous ones and those whom Sufis call armihilated by faith in the divine unity (al-fana' fi altawhld). For in the measure that they see only rmity they do not see themselves at all. And given that they do not regard themselves, taken up as they are into faith in divine rmity, they have indeed been released from themselves to become totally absorbed in faith in this divine mrity: that is, delivered from consideration of themselves and of creatures [13, 16]. ll 'Abd al-,;;amad commented that this is the stage of unity of the super-elites (taw hid khawii~~ al- khawii~~ and this stage of faith of rmity is what is really meant by the affirmations, There is no God but Allah and There is no existent except Allah . At this proformdest level it means nothing exists except God who is the Real and the Absolute Being, as what is meant by the hadith: God is and nothing is with Him. (kiina Alliih wa Iii shay a ma ahu) [17]. This final level of Divine unity is the concern of the verifiers (muhaqqiqin) and gnostics ( lirifin) among the Sufis. It is the stage in which direct knowledge of the one true Reality (al-haqq) is attained. It is at this point, 'Abd al-,;;amad strategically inserted the doctrine of the seven levels of Being whereby he stated that this highest form of knowledge (rna rifah) represents knowledge of the oneness or rmity of Being ( wahdat alwujUd) in which Being of God as Necessary Existence (wiijib al-wujud), as One (esa), with no partner (sekutu) and with anything similar from the created (baharu) is known by seven levels (tujuh martabat) [12]. For Ibn al-'Arabl and his followers, al-BurhanpUrl included, the frmdarnental principle governing their view of reality, hence of their metaphysics, is the oneness or rmity of God's Being and the consequent oneness of everything that exists. They view being or existence ( wujud) as belonging to God alone; only God truly is. Since God is the only Being, all other things therefore exist derivatively through His Being or exist in an illusionary manner. To the extent that things do exist, their existence is God's own Being which is One. However, since there cannot be two real existents, all existents are theophanies or manifestations (juhUr) of the one Being. Since Being is one reality, all things are one to the extent that they partake of existence [12]. The doctrine of the five Divine Presences and seven levels of Being explain the manner in which the one Being of God manifests Itself, or the modes in which God exhibits His O\Vll reality outwardly and which we see as a multitude of different kinds of things. Ibn al-'Arabl and his followers divide the things (al-ashy fi'; sing. shay '}-also called entities (al-a 'yfin; sing. ayn , realities (al-haqii iq; sing. haqiqah) and quiddities (al-miihiyyiit, sing. mfihiyyah)-from different points of view. When referring to this general category of existence which encompasses innumerable specific things through which God manifests Himself outwardly and hence, may be 'found'[l7] and known, they call it a 'Presence' (hairah). Although they consider 'levels of existence' (marfitib alwujUd) to be infinite, they reduce them to general categories of Divine Presences. The same holds true for the term 'world' ( filam) which are considered as signs
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