The Origins of Islamic Reformism in Southeast Asia: Networks of Malay-Indonesian and Middle Eastern 'Ulama' in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

By Azyumardi Azra | Go to book overview

5
Seventeenth Century Malay-Indonesian
Networks III: Muhammad
Yusuf al-Maqassārī

Our discussion of the Malay-Indonesian connection of the networks of ’ulamā‘ up to now has centred mainly on Aceh. The third figure of Islamic renewal in the archipelago, Muhammad Yusuf al-Maqassārī (1037–1111/ 1627–99), brings our discussion into a vast region, from South Sulawesi (Celebes) and West Java to Arabia, Srilanka and South Africa. In order to get a better grasp of al-Maqassārī'Maqassari role in Islamic development in these places, we must also deal in passing with the religious and intellectual life of the Muslims in these respective areas.

There have been a number of studies devoted to al-Maqassārī, in both Indonesia and South Africa. 1 But most of them centre only on his career in the archipelago or when he was in exile in South Africa; very little attention has been given to his scholarly connections within the international networks of ’ulamā’. This fails not only to trace the origins of al-Maqassārī'Maqassari teachings but also to recognise his role as one of the early transmitters of Islamic reformism to the region where he lived.


FROM SULAWESI TO BANTEN AND ARABIA

Muhammad Yusuf b. ‘Abd Allah Abu al-Mahasin al-Taj al-Khalwati al-Maqassārī, also known in Sulawesi as ’Tuanta Salamaka ri Gowa‘ (Our Gracious Master from Gowa), according to the Annals of Gowa, was born in 1037/1627. 2 Despite myth and legends concerning the parents and events surrounding the birth of al-Maqassārī, probably fabricated after his death, his family was among those which had been fully Islamised.

As a result, from his early years of life, prior to his departure to Arabia, al-Maqassārī was educated according to Islamic tradition. He initially learned to read the Qur'ān with a local teacher named Daeng ri Tasammang. Later he studied Arabic, fiqh, tawhld and tasawwufwith Sayyid Ba

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