Friday, 2 March 2012

Friday Sermon: Da'awa of Nine Saints in Java Island

Assalaamu'alaikum wa rahmatullah

Urmm, I was quite surprised to listen about these nine saints of Java Island in Friday sermon at our university masjid. It wasn't that we aren't aware about them. But I don't think that those saints have anything to do with Hindu gospels of Java Island like the Serat Dhadhanggul. I heard these Serat and I know the teachings behind the Serat is not from Quranic teachings or even Sunnah. It is a kind of Javanese meter and poetry. It could be of any story like about the Legend of Damar Wulan and Anjasmoro of Majapahit Hindu Kingdom in 15th century. When we talk about other paths, we should make sure it is clear.

I read and listened to many things about Hinduism traditions including the orthodox ones like Hinduism and I am aware about them including those Tantri-Sakti traditions in Java Island. Not so much different to my previous faith and practices when I was deflected except in traditions and school of thoughts. If we have to be strict, we will be very strict and stern even to our own customs and culture if they are incompatible with the Path of the God. We would never claim them as apart of the religion but declare them as customary as to avoid confusion.

What the preacher trying to say is maybe he wanted to emphasize about the methodology of da'awa where everybody has their own method. Perhaps he is also a Javanese. He mentioned that one should not claim that they are right and others are wrong. So, he poses the example of the Nine Saints or called as Wali Songo in Javanese. One of the saint is known as Sunan Kalijaga was among those Nine Saints that had brought the Javanese Hindu Kingdom in the island into Islam. He made the previous native Hindu traditions of Javanese compatible to the Path through cultural modifications. The method that he used for da'awa is step by step and not in a whole since the place like Java Island is the land of customs and culture. My opinion, I have no problem with this but one should mention the culture is not part of the teachings in Quran and Sunnah no matter how good it is or how compatible it is to Islam. It is just to avoid confusion and Islam is already the Nature of human-being. This kind of method of the Sunan Kalijaga had also being practiced in Indian sub-continent.

The preacher mentioned about the method of da'awa according to the steps from the verse of surah an-Nahl no. 16 verse 125: "Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His path, and He is most Knowing of who is (rightly) guided." 

Ok, I agree with this verse. We can practice this with also the support from Sunnah and prophetic traditions of the past. The preacher further mentioned that Sunan Kalijaga also faced criticism from fellow saint such as the one who is called as Sunan Ampel who raised the question that people might confuse their customs with religion since their customs have the root from Hinduism and Buddhism. Sunan Kalijaga still with his decision and he spread the Islamic da'awa to the people of Java Island through their cultural traits like wayang (shadow play) and Javanese Hindu poetry but with modifications. 

From what I had read, the acceptance of Islam by Javanese kingdom actually has another consequence where Javanese Hindu Brahmins in the palace were outraged and cursing the island before seeking refuge to other place since the Javanese king could not take back his faith declaration as a Muslim though he feel very hard to leave Hindu-Buddhism. One of the high priest or the palace Brahmin had mentioned about the people are going to follow other traditions which he means, the Arabs'. This event is also written in a Javanese poetry known Serat Dharmoghandhul.

I think this also has some cognitive line with what had happened to Paul of Tarsus who spread the teaching of Jesus Christ to the gentiles such as the Romans and the Greeks through his epistles and notes of the gospels. However Paul of Tarsus was accused as a person who violates the Covenant because some says that Jesus Christ was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel and he never personally meet Jesus Christ. He was not among the 12 tilmidaw (disciples) and was among those Orthodox Jews who hated Jesus Christ. 

Last time some people said that they thought I was an Indonesian. Perhaps they didn't want to offend me but it is actually very offensive for me to be mistaken as an Indonesian. I don't mind if people mistaken me for a Myanmarese or a Vietnamese or even Nepalese as I am a continent kind of person in nature. I am a Malaysian and I am very proud of my state which is the Sultanate of Kedah. My state exists earlier than Indonesia or Malaysia and it survives the period of colonialism though only as a sub-state and not a country. We have our own Islamic traditions and receiving Islamic preachers since 11th century and it goes on until now. We have our own melele (madrasah) or temple school system beside of those in Kelantan state and Patani. Our state had received kitabs from pre-Indonesia Pasai and from Holy Mecca. Maybe next time we could do some research about prominent ulamas from Kedah Sultanate. My dad has once collected the data about these people in South East Asia and he had written a book about them during his service with the newspaper agency. I don't know if I have the book with me.  

So, this is what we learned today from Friday sermon. About the Muslim preachers in 15th century Java Island. In Malayan Peninsula which is now apart of Malaysia, we have Seven Saints. One of them is known as Sayyid Habeeb Nuh al-Habshi rahimahullah. This guy is of Southern Yemeni descent. This one is around 17th century the same time where my first paternal ancestors landed in our beloved Kedah Sultanate.

Sealed with prayers for mercy, peace, and love, amin!

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