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Malay Figure

Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani


1. Biography

Sheikh Ahmad bin Muhammad Zain bin Mustafa bin Muhammad bin Muhammad Zainal Abidin, was well known as Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani, born on 10 April 1856 AD / 5 Sya`ban 1271 H in Jambu, Jerim, Pattani, South Thailand. His parents were inherited of Daulah Fathani Darussalam prominent person. While his grandfather, Sheikh Mustafa al-Fathani, who titled “Datuk Panglima Kaya Fathani” was a judge who decided the legalization of king and prominent person inauguration in Daulah Fathani Darussalam, South Thailand. He was born when his country was oppressed and colonized, therefore forced him and his parents to move to Mecca, Emirate Arab.

Before moving to Mecca, Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani had studied theology from his father, Muhammad Zain and a Daulah Fathani Darussalam scholar, Sheikh Abdul Kadir Mustafa. On 1860, he moved to Mecca follow his parents to study theology. In Mecca, he had opportunity to study theology from some scholars, both Malay and Arab scholars who live in this city. Thus, he grew in environment and culture that very appreciated knowledge. While he was in Mecca, he showed that he was a diligent kid. He was known that he had amazing ability to memorize. When he was still young, he had been able to teach Arabic grammar (nahwu and sharaf).

Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani then went to Baitul Maqdis to learn medical science/physician science. Based on the story, he was the first Malay man who was expert in physician science and got special education in that field. The medicine education that he got had differentiated between him and another traditional physicians that time. In Baitul Maqdis, he got inspiration to write his books titled “Thayyib al-Ihsan fi Thib al-Insan”. After that, he came back to Mecca to continue the study from Pattani teachers, such as Sheikh Daud bin Abdullah al-Fathani. Few years later, he went to study in Egypt; a country that was very famous as an Islamic study center with the greatness of Al-Azhar University. In this country, he was noted as the first student from South-East Asia. After coming back from Egypt, he taught in Mecca for more and less 15 years.

Based on the story, while he was studying in Egypt, Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani had started writing books about Arabic grammar. His works then were known by a lot of people thus he was considered as one of Arabic expert in Mecca. His expertise in Arabic was heard by the King of Mecca, therefore he was promoted to the kingdom language expert (now is Emirate Arab) under Turki Usmani governmental. He was included as Malay scholar who was expert in various sciences and wrote more than 100 books. His works were written in various languages: 32 in Arabic, 22 in Malay language, and 36 in tashih study. He died in Mina when he was doing pilgrimage on 11 Zulhijah 1325 H / 14 January 1908 AD and buried near to the cemetery of Umul Mukminin “Siti Khadijah” in Ma`la, Mecca, Emirate Arab.

2. Thought    

We cannot deny that the Indonesia scholar web that was established since 17th century had supported the Islam scientific and intellectuality spreading in Malay. The scholars had big role in supporting Islam civilization progress. One of the scholars is Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani.

According to Mohd. Shaghir Abdullah (a Malay manuscript historian and researcher), the action of Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani in spreading various sciences in Malay could not be considered as small thing. Because, beside writing hundreds of books in various sciences that had been spread in Indonesia, he was also meritorious in teaching a lot of scholars, both scholars from Indonesia, Pattani (South Thailand), and Malaysia. Among others were K.H. Muhammad Khalil (Madura, Indonesia), Sheikh Basyuni Imran Maharaja Imam Sambas (West Borneo, Indonesia), Sheikh Muhammad Mahfuz at-Tarmasi (Pacitan, East Java, Indonesia), Sheikh Abdul Hamid (Asahan, West Sumatra, Indonesia), Tok Kelaba al-Fathani (Pattani, South Thailand), Sultan Zainal Abidin III (Trengganu, Malaysia), Abdullah bin Musa (Mufti and Johor Judge, Malaysia), and many more.

Based on the story, Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani was expert not less than ten sciences, such as: Islam and Malay thought, politic, governmental, economy, technology, education, medical, social, history, geography, sociology, calligraphy, and agriculture. From those sciences, the thought about medical that was written on his work “Thayyib al-Ihsan fi Thib al-Insan” was a very interesting topic to discuss because the medical treatment method by using various plantations and herbal which were discussed so much recently, in fact that had been discussed deeply by the scholar from Pattani more than 100 years ago. Unfortunately, the history about medical treatment method that he wrote was not known by the new generation.

On his work “Thayyib al-Ihsan fi Thib al-Insan”, Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani said some of his opinions about medical treatment method in Malay world. He suggested to the kings of Malay to provide budget for researching about various kinds of plantations that were provided in their kingdoms area. It was because there were so many plantations that could be made as herbal medicine to cure many kinds of diseases. According to him, European, Chinese, Indian, and other people had used the plantations in Malay kingdom area as medicine from a long time.

According to Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani, medical science was a science that taught the human being how to control health and to cure every disease. Therefore, we could not deny that medical treatment with any method had its advantage. Related to this, he quoted the Prophet`s Hadis (record of actions or sayings of the Prophet) which said that there were three matters that could not be left by intellect people: first, the knowledge that could be life provision in the last world; second, the job that supported the world and religion life; third, medical science that was useful for curing any disease.

Through his work “Thayyib al-Ihsan fi Thib al-Insan”, Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani also explained the cause of a disease. For example: people who restrained the belch could make cough, shivered, and heart disease. People who restrained the yawn could make shiver, hoarse, and wrinkle. People who restrained sneeze could make headache, blurred vision, and deaf. People who were always in hunger could make deaf, blurred vision, and headache. He suggested to everybody to have breakfast and dinner because could keep the eyes health. Besides, he also suggested to everybody to drink warm mineral water frequently because could avoid the cough.

Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani`s thought that was explained on his work “Thayyib al-Ihsan fi Thib al-Insan”, was a result of his study from the medical method which was written by Ibnu Sina and medical method which was developed in his era. The work “Al Qanun fi al-Tibb” or “Medical Norms” was the biggest contribution that was given by Ibnu Sina. Al Qanun could be said as a complete medical encyclopedia. This book reanalyzed the medical science. Ibnu Sina not only combined the science but also created original work that included some general medical, medicines (760 kinds), diseases from the head to the feet, especially pathology and pharmacopoeia. Therefore, it could be seen that Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani tried to combine between Ibnu Sina`s medical method and traditional method that used herbal in Malay kingdom area.

3. Works

As a scholar who was expert in various sciences, Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani had made over than 160 book titles, but only part of them that we can read now, such as:

a. Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani`s works in Arabic:

  1. Al-Fatawa al-Fathaniyah (first volume). Kuala Lumpur: Khazanah Fathaniyah, 1996.
  2. Al-Fatawa al-Fathaniyah (second volume). Kuala Lumpur: Khazanah Fathaniyah, 1997.
  3. Faridat al-Fara`id fi `Ilm al-`Aqa`id. Kuala Lumpur: Khazanah Fathaniyah, 1996.
  4. Jumanat al-Tauhid.
  5. Munjiyatul “Awam li Manhaj al-Huda min al-Dzalam.
  6. Minhaj al-Salam.
  7. Hadiqat al-Azhar war Rayahin (first volume). Kuala Lumpur: Khazanah Fathaniyah, 1992.
  8. Thayyib al-Ihsan fi Thibbil Insan.
  9. Tashil Nayl al-Amani fi Syarh al-`Awamil al-Jurjani.
  10. Mir`at al-A`aji.
  11. Al-Tsimar al-Syahiyah fima la Yastaghni al-Mubtadi`un `anhu min al-Masa`il al-Nahwiyah.
  12. Anbiyat al-Asma` wa al-Fa`al.
  13. Aqidat al-Najin.
  14. Badru al-Tamam.
  15. Bahjat al-Mubtadi`in wa Farhat al-Mujtahidin.
  16. Bisyarat al-`Amilin wa Nadharat al-Ghafilin.
  17. Ghayat al-Idrak fi al-`Amal bi Kurat al-Aflak.
  18. Al-Ibriz al-Sirf fi Fann al-Sarf.
  19. `Ilmu al-Isti`arah.
  20. `Ilmu al-Sarf.
  21. Manzumat al-`Awamil.
  22. Matn al-Madkhal fi `Ilmu al-Sarf.
  23. Nazm Nur al-An`am.
  24. Al-Risalah al-Fahaniyah fi `Ilm an-Nahwi.
  25. Risalah fi al-`Amal bi Rub` al-Da`irah.
  26. Sabil al-Salam fi Syarh Hidayat al-`Awamm.
  27. Tadrij al-Sibyan ila Tasywiq al-Bayan.
  28. Tahqiq Matn al-Sakhawi fi `Ilm al-Hisab.
  29. Tahqiq Wasilat al-Tullab li Ma`rifat A`mal al-Layl wa al-Nahar bi Tariq al-Hisab.
  30. Tasrih al-Ghawamil fi Syarh al-`Awamil.
  31. `Unqud al-La`ali`.
  32. `Unwan al-Falah wa `Unfuwan al-Salah.
  33. Luqtat al-`Ajlan fima Tamassu ilayhi Hajat al-Insan.

b. Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani`s works in Malay language:

  1. Badai`uz Zuhur: Segugus Bunga Nan Indah (2 volumes). Kuala Lumpur: Khazanah Fathaniyah, 1997.
  2. Tarikh Turki `Uthmaniyah.
  3. `Iqd al-Juma`an.
  4. Arabic-Malay Dictionary and Malay Spelling Sound.
  5. Tarikh Lampung Pecah.

c. Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani`s Tashih works:

  1. Mathla` al-Badrain wa Majma` al-Bahrain.
  2. Al-Kaukab al-Durriy fi al-Nur al-Muhammadiy.
  3. Ad-Durr al-Basim fi Ashhabi al-Kahfi wa al-Raqim.
  4. Kitabu al-Farqadain wa Jawahir al-`Iqdain.
  5. Bidayat al-Hidayah.

4. Achievements

Sheikh Ahmad al-Fathani was one of Malay big scholars who lived in Mecca, Emirate Arab who was considered as the Malay world biggest thinker until now. He had been given an honor by Turkey government to be member of Arabic and Malay language expert team on 1884 in Mecca.



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