Friday, October 07, 2005


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
نحمده ونصلى على رسوله الكريم


This essay proposes to examine the life and contributions of To’ Kenali of Kelantan, whose life coincided with the period when Kelantan was under the Siamese rule and then under the British sephere of influence, after the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. His studies in Islamic traditional education which started in his hometown and then pursued further at Mecca at the Sacred City, with a brief visit to Cairo, making him a revered intellectualand spiritual figure of the country, with such desire for positive changes among his people, led him to pursue an intensive life of Islamic educational and social reforms, with a number of institutions bearing the stamp of either his direct or indirect influence. Inspite of his intellectual attitude directed towards reform, he is intellectually a man of the traditional intellectual Sunni school, much influenced by Imam al-Ghazali, Shafi’i and Al-Ash’ari, affecting reform by a very cautious attitude, without making an intellectual break with the classical intellectual construct of mainstream Islam. Hence, his ability to gain the respect and following among the traditional scholars apart from him being accepted by those among the administrative elite in the state. The writer has to rely on the writers who had already made a study on him, apart from his perusal of some original sources; the interpretations are his own, guided by the facts observed.

His Life:

To’ Kenali (1), that is Muhammad Yusof (frequently referred simply as “Awang”)-may Allah has mercy on him - was born in kampong (village of) Kenali, Kubang Krian, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, the state in the East of Peninsular Malaysia, in 1870. This coincides with the period towards the end of the reign of Sultan Muhammad II of Kelantan. His father Ahmad was a farmer, a simple villager, nevertheless was a man devoted Islamic values. His mother, Fatimah, was a lady with fine character and strong believer of the values and practice of the faith. In the first number of the Islamic magazine Pengasuh (2) of which he was the first editor, he was named as “al-fadil Tuan Haji Awang Kenali”, and Sultan Muhammad IV named him as “Haji Awang Muhammad Yusof Kenali” in his royal address appointing him as one of the members of the Kelantan Islamic Religious Council. He was born about three years after the building of the Muhammadi Mosque of Kota Bharu, which later was to become a very significant center of Islamic learning, making it famous in South-east Asia. (3)

He was born into a poor farmer’s family making a living by planting paddy, with the mother helping in maintaining the household. This family situation living with little means influenced the future Islamic scholar to be man of asceticism and independent ways. When he was five years old his father passed away and he was taken care of by his maternal grandfather.

His educational Background:

At that time there was a strong awareness among the people to educate their children in the field of Qur’anic learning and the Islamic religious sciences. Hence Muhammad Yusof began his education with his own grandfather Che Salled or To’ Leh, who taught him the Qur’an, reading and writing. His grandfather was a man of sufficient learning and piety to be his guide, living with the philosophy of life seeking for the pleasure of his Lord in whatever he does. From his step-grandmother he was influenced by her views about the necessity of being careful concerning food and drink because taking forbidden meals and drink will impair one’s well being in this world and the hereafter.

Due to his love of learning since the earliest years of his life, soon he became proficient in the Qur’anic learning and in reading and writing. The story is being told that even at the early age of seven or eight the To’ Kweng –the title for the village chief at that time - engaged him as a clerk to help him to keep record of the yields from paddy, coconut and durian at that time from which taxes were taken. After the death of this To’ Kweng Ahmad, his son Ismail succeeded him in that post. This occurred some time after 1908 after To’ Kenali’s return from Mecca. (4)

When he was about eight or nine years old (1878-1879) he continued with his education in Kota Bharu, walking twice daily for four miles each way, for attending his classes in the capital, in the state mosque, Masjid Muhammadi. There were a number of religious scholars teaching at the mosque with several hundred students from every corner of the state. The mosque was surrounded by small huts of the students – called pondoks, which constituted the ‘hostels’ for them during their period of studying there. (5)

Among the famous scholars with whom To’ Kenali learned Islamic religious sciences then were: Encik Ismail or Haji Wan Ismail, the father of Dato’ Nik Mahmud, the Perdana Menteri or the Chief-Minister of Kelantan, Tuan Guru Shaikh Muhammad ‘Ali bin ‘Abd al-Rahman, known by the name of Wan ‘Ali Kutan, Tuan Guru Haji Talib Tuan Padang, and Tuan Guru Haji Ibrahim Sungai Budor. (6)

Apart from teaching at the central mosque of the state the scholars also taught in their own homes; for instance Haji Wan Isma’il, To’ Kenali’s first teacher after his grandfather, taught at kampong Banggul, not far from the central mosque; one of Haji Muhammad Yusuf’s fellow students studying under Haji Wan ismail was Idris bin Haji Hassan who in 1921 was appointed as the state mufti holding the post until his demise six years later.

It appears also that Muhammad Yusof studied in the early 1880s under one Haji Ibrahim at his pondok at Sungai Budor, in Kota Bharu. He also studied with Tuan Padang - that is Tuan Guru Haji Taib, originally from Sumatera, Indonesia. (7)

His Life and Education in Mecca:

Mecca is not only the center for the pilgrimage, the rite constituting the fifth pillar of the religion, but it also is a center for Islamic education. Thus for centuries Mecca became a center for advanced studies for these scholars wherein they spent their life in advancing their knowledge and understanding of Islam and at the same time they composed their writings in the Malay Language (called “Bahasa Jawi”) for enriching Islamic literature in that language. There they gained profiency in Arabic and the Islamic religious sciences of tafsir, traditions of the Prophet, fiqh or the Islamic Sacred Law, usul al-din or Islamic Theology and mysticism. Among these scholars can be mentioned such illustrious names like Shaikh ‘Abd al-Rauf al-Fansuri, Shaikh ‘Abd al-Samad al-Falimbani, Shaikh Daud al-Fatani, Shaikh Muhammad Arshad al-Banjari, Shaikh Nawawi Bantani (known for writing his works in Arabic), Shaikh Ahmad Khatib, Shaikh Ahmad al-Fatani, and many others. (8)

Teaching in the Sacred Mosque or Masjid al-Haram was done in small groups in circles – in halaqah – as was the practice for centuries; apart from this mosque there was the center of learning at Medina, at the Mosque of the Prophet, -peace and blessings be upon him, and then of course, there was the famous University of Al-Azhar, centered around the Mosque at Al-Azhar. Scholars from the Malay World flocked to these centers, to deepen their studies in the Islamic sciences and Arabic. After their return to the Malay World, they devoted themselves to the dissemination of Islam and its practices.

To’ Kenali must have felt such a great longing to advance in his studies at the sacred city of Mecca. Hence he undertook his voyage to Mecca in 1886, at the young age of about eighteen, and after a difficult journey of six months by sailing ship he set foot on the sacred soil of the Holy City of Mecca to perform the pilgrimage and further his studies.

Since he was from a poor family, he could only make the journey with the financial assistance of his friends and well-wishers in Kota Bharu who collected for him $50.00 (fifty Dollars then) to which his mother added another sum of $22.00 (twenty Dollars); for seven months he was without proper lodging there, and he was able to rest in the evening and at night at the mosque. He was in very difficult circumstances in the land of strangers, and he managed to solve some of his difficulties by cooking for his friends and acquaintances in their picnics in the valleys outside the Holy City. (9)

While he was in Kelantan Muhammad Yusof has already mastered such subjects as Arabic grammar and syntax (nahw and saraf) so that he would be able to follow his classical Islamic learning in the Arabic language. He was ready to follow the instructions in his studies in the Holy City. However, unfortunately because he was in difficult circumstances, he could only follow his lessons by listening, without being able to benefit from reading the texts. As a result, so the story goes, he has to go to the bookshops and ask the permission of the owners to see the relevant books with particular care and attention without buying them. Books in the waqf endowment in the sacred Mosque were also utilized by To’ Kenali to help him in his studies. He was also fortunate because he was able to borrow the texts from his teachers. Possibly because of his patience with his difficult circumstances and poverty he was able to advance very well in his studies due to his diligence and focus.

To’ Kenali’s intellectual horizon seems not to be confined to limited subjects of his studies alone. It appears that he frequently read and scrutinized manuscripts written by Muslim scholars and thinkers which were in circulation in the Muslim World at that time. He liked to examine the materials taught to him and ask questions about them, before being repeated by his teachers, in this manner he made more impressions of the materials of his learning on his mind and heart, and in this way also he was able to make comparisons between the materials learnt with his own experience and understanding. Possibly wide reading and positive critical attitude in his studies made him advance very well in his studies.

Teachers in the Sacred Mosque (Masjid al-Haram);

Among his teachers frequently mentioned, in the Masjid al-Haram were – among the most outstanding: Tuan Guru Wan Ahmad, his full name being: Ahmad bin Muhammad Zain bin Mustafa al-Fatani. (10) Apart from being a very famous and respectable teacher Shaikh Ahmad – may Allah has mercy on him – is also an important writer, second only to Shaikh Daud al-Fatani. (11). To’ Kenali became a very close student of this mentor who influenced him in his studies and life too. This towering figure in the Malay World who is to be the determining influence on To’ Kenali’s life, as will be seen from his activities later on, deserves more serious attention from researchers on Muslim Thought in this region. The fame of Shaikh Ahmad is still remembered in the Malay World, in Malaysia, Indonesia (especially Sumatera), and Cambodia, and Brunei. It is stated that Shaikh Ahmad changed the name of “Petani” with “p” –“t”-“n” to “f” (fa’) – ta’ (the ‘big’ ta in Arabic)-“nun” –) giving the name from “f-t-n” meaning “to be clever skilful and wise”(12). This is to avoid the meaning of “fitnah” from the old manner of writing it as if it is from “f-t-n” giving the name of “trials” and “dissentions”.

It is known that several other teachers from Patani and Indonesia attracted the attention of To’ Kenali; apart from that there were a number of Arab teachers who attracted his attention.

Among the Arab teachers whose knowledge were benefited by To’ Kenali were: Shaikh Hasbullah from Egypt, Shaikh ‘Ubaid, the mufti of the Maliki school of law, Shaikh Muhammad Amin, the imam of the Hanafi school of law, Shaikh Sayyid Bakri, Shaikh Muhammad Yusuf al-Khayat, Shaikh Sayyid ‘Abdullah bin as-Sayyid Muhammad Salih al-Zawawi, the mufti of Mecca and a teacher in the Sacred Mosque. (13)

Visit to Egypt:

After a period of about twenty years studying various branches of Islamic sciences and others, under the intimate guidance of that teacher Shaikh Ahmad al-Fatani, To’ Kenali was brought by Shaikh Ahmad al-Fatani to pay a visit to Egypt; this was in 1903; there were four members of the party: Shaikh Ahmad al-Fatani, To’ Kenali, Haji Nik Mahmud bin Haji Wan Ismail (the son of his old teacher in Kota Bharu, later to become the Chief-Minister in the Kelantan government), and one Haji Wan Ismail of Patani.The only brief record available concerning this short visit shows that it is of general interest about sight seeing and at the same time having importance from the point of view of learning and the development of education in Al-Azhar and other institutions of like nature in Egypt. After a short time of meeting with men of learning in Cairo, discussing matters about religion and Islamic education with them, the delegation returned to Mecca. The visit took place in the final decade of the life of Shaikh Muhammad ‘Abduh the reformer of Egypt, the student of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, the pan-Islamist.

In connection with this visit it can be understood that apart from visiting the ulama of al-Azhar in Cairo, the delegation also met Shaikh Yusuf al-Nabhani in Beirut; this is mentioned by Haji Wan Mohd Shaghir a few times. May be this is influential in the formation of the intellectual attitude of To’ Kenali later in having the respect for traditional Sunni intellectual legacy on one hand and favouring reforms in the Muslim society and their religious education on the other.

Death of Shaikh Ahmad al-Fatani and Return to Kelantan:

After a period of about four years, Shaikh Ahmad al-Fatani –Allah has mercy on him- passed away in Mecca on 11th Dhul-Hijjah, 1325(14th January 1908), and was buried in the famous cemetery of Ma’la, Mecca. Hence due to the loss of that guide, To’ Kenali for the first time felt a great void in his life; hence about two years after his teacher’s death he returned to Kelantan, while he was forty years old.

At that time Kelantan was under the rule of Sultan Muhammad IV who was entitled the Sultan of Kelantan or Raja Kelantan; there were consultations held between the leaders of the Kelantan Government and the representatives of the Siamese Government on the one hand and the representatives of the British on the other. The aim was to reach an agreement to place Kelantan under the British rule. In the following year (1909) Kelantan was under the rule of the British. The transfer of Kelantan from the Siamese to the British rule is stated in the treaty and then the treaty is followed by a letter from the High Commissioner, Sir John Anderson informing Raja Senik (of Kelantan) that:

His Majesty the King of Siam has agreed to transfer all rights over Kelantan, and The King of England will pay to the king of Siam the amount of debt due by my friend the Sultan of Kelantan and the King of England will in future appoint an advisor to assist my friend instead of the advisor appointed by the King of Siam and the King of Siam will no longer have anything to do with the affairs of my friend’s state, and my friend will have to look only to the King of England (14).

Hence the return of To’ Kenali from Mecca can be considered as a point marking a new period of Kelantan being under the British; hence his return is awaited for fulfilling his future role in bringing progress to the society with his knowledge and potentialities.

His Educational and Religious Activities in Kelantan:

Without wasting his time, To’ Kenali established the famous Pondok Kenali; he was lucky because at that time Kelantan was under the leadership of the Chief Minister-Datok Besar-Datok Perdana Haji Nik Mahmud bin Ismail, his companion during their student days under that guide Shaikh Ahmad al-Fatani. In fact their friendship started already when they studied in their childhood days under Ence Ismail, the father of Nik Mahmud; and in Mecca they were together under the guidance of Shaikh Ahmad al-Fatani. Dato’ Yusof Zaky Yacob states in his observation about To’ Kenali:

“If To’ Kenali inherited (the intellectual legacy) concerning knowledge of Arabic grammar (and syntax) and the advanced level of Islamic religious sciences (usul-al-din, al-fiqh, al-tasawwuf, knowledge about the Qur’an and Sunnah as clear from the texts of Shaikh Ahmad) from Shaikh Ahmad, then Dato’ Haji Nik Mahmud (the Chief Minister) inherited (from him) advanced knowledge and views about societal and political (issues) from that great and multi-faceted skilled teacher” (15).

The return of To’ Kenali once again made possible the renewal of the close friendship and co-operation of the two luminaries of the state, so that they could work for the progress of the society and the dissemination of the knowledge of the faith at an advanced level.

As stated above at first To’ Kenali returned to teach at the Pondok Kenali at his village. In fact he began to deliver his lessons at his own house at Kampong Paya, which was then occupied by his mother, Hajjah Fatimah. Before long students began to come to him from the surrounding villages and also from further off places; they came and set up their own small pondoks around him in the village so that they could study under him and be with him. By 1910 the first Pondok Kenali was flourishing extremely well under his able leadership, and from there his fame began to spread far and wide.

Later he began to teach once a week at the Muhammadi Mosque in Kota Bharu.In 1915 he was persuaded by Dato’ Nik Mahmud (by this time he was the Dato’ Betara Setia and assistant to the Chief Minister of the state) to move his household to the state capital; and so for the next five years he taught at the state mosque and at the Pondok Kubang Pasu, also in the capital.

At that time the Muhammadi Mosque was not only the center of learning for Kelantan alone, rather it was a center of learning for the region as a whole. It was frequented by many able teachers like Nik Abdullah and Haji Idris bin Haji Hassan. (16) After five years teaching in Kota Bharu in which period he made notable contributions in the religious life of the state as a founder member of the State Religious Council and editor of the fortnightly magazine Pengasuh (The Educator), To’ Kenali again returned to his village, his birthplace, Kampong Kenali.His fame as a revered teacher grew and never leave him; at its highest point, the community in the pondok grew up to a number of no less than three hundred students from all over the Penunsula, Indonesia, (especially Sumatera), Patani and Cambodia.

In carrying out his task as an educator and teacher, To’ Kenali it reported to have prepared graduated text-books in a number of subjects related to Arabic Language and the study of Islamic religious subjects. In the teaching of Arabic he has played considerable role in developing its teaching, and in other subjects he has made his contributions befitting the society which was his milieu. The more outstanding ones among his students were made “group teachers” (“kepala metalaah”)-leading the other students in preparing for their lessons and reading their prescribed texts; apart from such lessons To’ Kenali was also involved in giving lessons in religious subjects to children and adults based on certain religious texts.

Apart from giving his lessons on Arabic texts, To’ Kenali also read Malay texts in Jawi. Among the texts read by him are: Faridatul-Fara’id written by his mentor, Shaikh Ahmad al-Fatani, on Ash’arite theology, the text ‘Aqidatul-Najin written by Shaikh Zain al-‘Abidin al-Fatani, also on Ash’arite theology, Munyatul-Musalli of Shaikh Daud al-Fatani on fiqh concerning prayer, Furu’ al-Masa’il of Shaikh Daud al-Fatani on fiqh concerning advanced fatwas based on Shaikh ibn Hajar and Shaikh Ramli’s views, Bughyatu’t-Tullab of Shaikh Daud, a very detailed fiqh text on Shafi’I school concerning spiritual devotions, Kashf al-Litham a very detailed fiqh work in the Shafi’I school, Hidayatu’s-Salikin of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Samad al-Falimbani, a Sufi text, Sayr al-Salikin of the same author, based on the Bidayatul-Hidayah and Ihya’ ‘Ulumid-Din of al-Ghazali. He also read the Hikam of Ibn ‘Ata’illah (in its Malay version, said to have been authored by To’ Pulau Manis of Trengganu) for advanced level students. (17)

In relation to general religious education to adults, apart from reading texts, he provided moral tales, often humorous ones, to the kampong people so as to draw certain points he was trying to drive home to them. One of the characteristics of his way of instructions was that he did not use text- books. Though students might have texts in front of them, he never did. Besides indicating his amazing memory, this reflected the severe training he had undergone in Mecca during his difficult years in poverty in the Sacred City of Mecca. (18)

His Offices and Services in the State and the Community:

To’ Kenali-Allah has mercy on him- was in the front line of those who undertook the task of furthering the cause of Islamic religious education and the growth of cultural activities in the state.

As a teacher and educator, he taught at the mosque of the capital, the Mashed Muhammadi from about 1910, and more intensively from 1915, and then acted as a kind of head of Islamic education in the state and as assistant to the mufti; it was with his advice that Dato’ Bentara Setia (Haji Nik Mahmud Ismail) proposed the idea of the formation of the Majlis Ugama Islam dan Adat istiadat Melayu Kelantan (Kelantan Council of Islamic Religion and Malay Customs) which really came into being. (To’ Kenali was appointed as one of the twelve foundation members) in December 1915, and it is still active until to-day. Then in January 1918 the majlis convened the Meshuarat ‘Ulama (or the Meeting of the ‘Ulama) as a permanent body; To’ Kenali was one of the first members. Then in July 1981 when the majlis published the fortnightly magazine Pengasoh (The Educator), To’ Kenali was appointed as “principal honourary editor” (“Ketua Pengarang Kehormat”)(19) Later, with the help of the Meshuarat ‘Ulama, the column on “Question and Answer” was launched, dealing with religious issues of that time.

Further, of a more serious and intellectually daunting enterprise, To’ Kenali was entrusted with the duty of carrying out the Malay translation of Tafsir al-Khazin and Tafsir ibn Kathir (20) This exacting intellectual task resulted in the completion of part of the first of these two classical works of Sunni exegesis, however, unfortunately, the manuscript has not been published until to-day. (21).

Then there was at that time the monthly magazine Al-Hedayah which was first published in July 1923, whose chief editor was Ahmad bin Ismail; this literary magazine benefited from his advice and views which was often sought after by the chief editor. He was frequently seen at the chief editor’s office reading newspapers and periodicals of the day. He was a man dedicated to learning as can be clearly observed from the characteristics of his life; and it is interesting to note that in his collection of books can be found the manuscript of Chetera Raja Muda, an important source for the history of Kelantan, later on it was given by him to the writer of the famous work Hikayat Seri Kelantan (22)

In relation to social change and development, he established the Islamic society by the name of al-Jam’iyyah al-‘Asriyyah (The Contemporary Association) which served as a forum in which discussions were often held concerning controversial social and intellectual issues of the day, apart from being a center for the congregational prayer. For furthering its activities and goals the premises for the organization was established at the Jalan Tengku Putera Semerak in the center of Kota Bharu. Now the building is no more there, as a newly erected building is erected there, with the Jam’iyyah occupying one part of the whole complex at the same road in the town. Now it is a musalla for holding congregational prayer and a place for imparting Islamic knowledge from traditional Islamic texts after the evening prayer, apart from being a community center for holding sacred functions like the commemoration of the Prophet’s birthday and the ascension of the Prophet to the heavenly realms (al-isra’ wa al-mi’raj). (23).

His Influence in Islamic Education:

It can be observed that the influence and fame of To’ Kenali was spread widely and speedily throughout the Peninsula and the surrounding areas. Possibly this can be attributed to the many important positions and posts held by him in the state and the dedication and sincerity shown by him in his efforts at promoting Islamic education and learning and the growth of culture in the state in particular and in Malaya in general.

The highest point of his influence and fame manifested itself towards the end of the reign of Sultan Muhammad IV (1900-20) and in the early stage of the reign of Sultan Ismail (1920-44); both rulers of Kelantan were responsible for a lot of development for the state, especially in matters pertaining to the religious sphere. It can be stated that this created a very conducive atmosphere for the spread of To’ Kenali’s influence, facilitating him in his educational efforts and religious activities. This can be easily understood when we remember that both rulers respected To’ Kenali very much due to his learning and extremely pious character. Apart from that To’ Kenali was fortunate because he had a very intimate relationship and close co-operation with Dato’ Haji Nik Mahmud b. Haji Wan Ismail, who as Dato’ Setia and then as Dato’ Perdana Paduka Raja (the Chief minister) exercised much power in the state, and therefore this again facilitated him in his struggle and efforts therein.

In relation to the improvement of Arabic and Islamic education in the traditional pondok system and similar schools throughout the Peninsula, it can be said that this was partly due to the efforts of To’ Kenali. He devised a system of graduated instruction in Arabic grammar and syntax, which helped his students enormously in mastering the language. There is a famous ‘alim in Kelantan by the name of Haji ‘Ali Salahuddin bin Awang (24) who published these lessons of To’ Kenali in 1945 in a work entitled ad-Durus al-Kenaliyyah al-Ibtida’iyyah (To’ Kenali’s Elementary Lessons (in Arabic)). There was another student of To’ Kenali by the name of Shaikh ‘Othman Jalaluddin al-Kelantani (25) who had earlier published a similar collection (2nd edition 1358/1939/40) under the title Tasrif al-‘Arf (a table of Arabic verb declensions); both works were circulated widely throughout the Peninsula.

In his Tasrif al-’Arf Shaikh ‘Othman states (26):

Truly I have borrowed many morphological ideas of great value from my profound and learned teacher, one who has accumulated much valuable knowledge in the service of religion –that is Muhammad Yusof, better known throughout Malaya by his Kelantan title ‘To’ Kenali’

In his article concerning the contribution of To’ Kenali in Arabic studies, Abdul Hayie bin Abd Shukor mentions a number of useful in formations. (27) Among them are when To’ Kenali returned to Malaya in 1908 he was always with two texts on Arabic grammar, namely Hashiyah ‘ala Sharah al-Ashmuni ‘ala-l-Alfiyah, written by Muhammad bin ‘Ali al-Sabban (d.1792) and Mughni’l-Labib ‘an Kitab al-A’arib written by Jamal al-Din ibn Hisham (d.761) both of which were so liked by him.

Further he mentions the love of To’ Kenali for Arabic literature and poetry of high literary merits. And he liked to quote them in his lessons and at certain suitable occasions. Apart from this he also mentions that those who attended the study circles of To’ Kenali (halaqat) were encouraged to memorize the text Al-Ajrumiyah and Alfiyah of ibn Malik which contains a thousand lines concerning rules on Arabic grammar.

Establishment and Growth of Arabic and Religious Schools:

Apart from devoting himself to his teaching at Kota Bharu and his pondok school at Kubang Kerian, To’ Kenali’s influence in the arena of Islamic education has led to the emergence of religious schools, Muslim scholars, teachers and writers. Among the institutions established by his students were as follows:

1. The Pondok Ahmadiah at Bunut Payong, Kota Bharu, which was opened by Tuan Guru Haji Abdullah Tahir b. Haji Ahmad (28).

2. The Madrasah Manabi’ al-‘Ulum wa matali’ al-Nujum was established at Bukit Mertajam, Seberang Perai, Province Wellesley, by Tuan Guru Shaikh ‘Othman Jalaluddin al-Kelantani.

3. Madrasah al-Falah at Pulau Pisang, on the way to Pantai Cinta Berahi, now Pantai Cahaya Bulan, several kilometers to the north of Kota Bharu, was established by Tuan Guru Haji ‘Ali Salahuddin b. Awang.

4. Pondok of Haji Mat Pauh or Haji Muhammad Jambu. He is Haji Muhammad bin Idris, who first studied with To’ Kenali in Muhammadi Mosque for twelve years. Then he pursued his studies to a very advanced level in Mecca, where he could master classical fiqh texts of the Shafi’I school like al-Mahalli, fath al-Wahhab, and Tuhfah; and in hadith he was known to have mastered the texts of al-Bukhari, Muslim, al-Muwatta’ and others. The present writer can still remember when he was young he could hear people calling him Haji Muhammad Bukhari. The name Bukhari seems to originate from his having memorized the text of al-Bukhari.

Among his teachers in Mecca were Shaikh ‘Umar Hamdan and Shaikh ‘Ali Maliki.

After his return to Kelantan he established his pondok at Pauh, Panji, not very far from Kota Bharu, and then the pondok was established at Jambu, a bit nearer to Kota Bharu. His pondok was so successful that he managed to obtain the help of a number of assistant teachers to aid him.

Later, because of the Japanese occupation, his pondok dwindled, and finally it was closed.

It is reported that he was so proficient in fiqh and other disciplines that the state mufti Ahmad Mahir sought his aid in making difficult decisions in matters of law.

Apart from teaching he was also involved in writing. Among his writings are Tuhfah al-Sibyan li Ma’rifati Sahih al-Lisan and another one Luqtatul-‘Ajlan li Muhtaj al-Bayan, in Arabic; then there is al-Qaul al-Mufid li –Ifadatil-Mustafid, in Malay. Then there is a pamphlet in Jawi Malay entitled Adab Pergaulan (Conduct in Relationship), discussing ‘adab’ in relation to husbands and wives, children and their parents, teachers and their students, rulers and their subjects, and servants of Allah with their Lord. (29)

His other students who established their own pondok schools were Haji Awang Lambor (30), Haji Ghazali Pulai Chondong (31) Haji Yaakub Legur (32), Haji Mat Tubuh (33), Haji Abdullah Langgar (34), Haji Bidin Dungun (35), and Dato’ Haji Ismail (ex-mufti of Kelantan)(36), Shaikh Abdul Rahim Idris (37) and Haji Nor Bot (38).

Apart from these there are other institutions which are being established and administered by ex-students of To’ Kenali.

In more general terms, in relation to the vision of To’ Kenali in the realm of education, it is of extreme interest to note what Ismail Bakar has to say on the subject: (39)

In Kelantan, the situation was different (from what was happening in Penang and other places with the influence of Muhammad ‘Abduh and those of his school-uem) because it is a seat of learning in the field of Islamic education. At the time of the return of To’ Kenali from Mecca (1910) there were already a number of religious institutions of learning (pondok) which had been established by the well known ‘ulama like Haji Abdul Samad bin Muhammad Salleh (Tuan Tabal), Haji Wan ‘Abdullah (Tok Padang Jelapang), and also Haji ‘Abdul Rahman bin ‘Uthman (Tok Selehor Palekbang) .In the central mosque, Masjid Muhammadi, there were already classes held in the pondok system, carried on by a number of well known ‘ulama in Kota Bharu. However all the pondok institutions mentioned focused on religious subjects only like Qur’anic exegesis, Traditions of the Prophet, Islamic Sacred Law, Sufism and Arabic studies (grammar/syntax/balaghah).

He then goes on to state:

Even though To’ Kenali was considerably influenced by the reform concept (islah) of Muhammad ‘Abduh, however in the early stages he himself practiced the old system that is by establishing pondok schools and teaching only Arabic grammar, tauhid, Sufism, and Qur’anic exegesis, just like other pondok schools. However after his departure to Kota Bharu (1915) his vision changed, especially when he was entrusted by the then Chief Minister Dato’ Perdana Menteri Paduka Raja Kelantan, Haji Nik Mahmud, to devise plans for the establishment of Ma’ahad Muhammadi School (previously called Jami’ Merbau al-Isma’ili-uem) and formulate its curriculum suitable for a rather modern institution. It is here that To’ Kenali undertook to reform the religious education system by introducing a number of new subjects like history, geography, English, logic, literature (adab), ways of doing business, and elocution. Whereas the ordinary subjects taught in the pondok institutions like Islamic sacred law (fiqh), usul al-din (theology), fara’id, and subjects related to studies of Arabic still became the primary subjects of the school.

Then the above writer goes on to elucidate the wisdom of To’ Kenali in taking such steps in relation to Islamic education. He states (40)

In actual fact, what is of interest in dealing with the reform approach undertaken by To’ Kenali is that he did not take the radical approach hastily in reforming the thoughts of the Muslim Community in Kelantan, like the one taken by other leaders of reform. On the other hand he attempted to convey his ideas in a simple way full of wisdom. From what he has undertaken, it has become clear that what has been done by To’ Kenali was very gentle compared to has been done by Muhammad ‘Abduh. Because of this To’ Kenali did not have enemies even though he has differences of views with other ‘ulama of Kelantan.

And in seeing him as a reformer in his own right, within his religio-cultural environment, the writer assesses To’ Kenali as follows:

As a reformer To’ Kenali has his very unique vision which is futuristic in nature; he could see the problem especially faced by the Community clearly and the Malays who were involved in the traditional education of that time. This problem began to emerge when the British introduced the secular education which was market-oriented in nature.

Realizing this reality To’ Kenali was prepared to go down the field to affect a reform of the religious system of education by putting forward an alternative modern educational institution using an integrated curriculum consisting of a combination between religious and academic (subjects). This means that from the point of view of the schooling-system, he followed the Western model, however from the point of view of the contents, it is Islam orientated. The first experiment done by To’ Kenali establishing the Ma’ahad Muhammadi (previously called Jami’ Merbau al-Isma’ili) gave a positive impact and succeeded in narrowing down the gap of difference between those education along Western lines and those educated along Islamic religious lines. This is clearly proven when many students from Ma’ahad al-Muhammadi succeeded in continuing with their studies to higher levels in various fields…

And in relation to To’ Kenali’s simple and ascetic life combined with his spirit of high endeavour, this writer states (41) :

So as to compete with advanced nations, To’ Kenali has proposed that the Malays change their attitude of laziness and negligence to that of being full of a sense of responsibility to uplift the status of the nation. This can be done by focusing on searching for knowledge in a holistic manner apart from having confidence in one self and possessing clear objective in all matters. To’ Kenali made an attempt to put forward the success achieved by other nations especially the Europeans so as to instill awareness among Muslims so that they will advance forward to bring honour to the nation by changing their attitude and perception which were not in keeping with the development of the times. However the change must take place in a balanced manner keeping in view the welfare of this world and the hereafter. And for those who neglect the welfare of this world only by concentrating on matters relating to the hereafter, he explained that such an attitude is not correct, because wealth is also important for fulfilling the needs of men. Similarly for those who confine themselves to matters of worldly life only, they are regarded as those who are the losers because knowledge, wealth and actions (including religious actions) should be balanced.

Even though in his views he is seen so progressive, in his daily life he carried on the tradition of the Sufis living in a very simple manner, without showing any trace of ostentation and self-importance. It is here that one can see the inner strength of To’ Kenali, because he was successful in manifesting ascetic life as an ‘alim without being influenced by rank and high position in society. This is the usual dilemma of some ‘ulama who are unable to live as they preach. And as a result of this Sufi character in him some of those who have interest in reform (‘islah’) or the new trend (‘pembaharuan’) become confused because there is a conflict between the ideas and character of To’ Kenali.

Generation of Writers Influenced by To’ Kenali:

There is a generation of writers of Islamic works which emerged under the influenced of To’ Kenali. Among those who are esteemed in the society are as follows:

1. Shaikh ‘Othman Jalaluddin al-Kelantani (1867-1952) the founder of the Madrasah Manabi’ al-‘Ulum at Bukit Mertajam, the writer of tasrif al-‘Arf. (42). Among his other works are :Mir’at al-Iman wa Mirqat al-Ghilman (Mirror of Faith and Steps For Children), concerning Divine Unity, and Sufism, containing arguments for rejecting negative innovations in religious practices and beliefs; Misbah al-Hanan wa Miftah al-Jinan ( Lamp for the Heart and the Key for Paradise), containing discussions about Sufism and the purification of the heart; Siraj al-Islam wa Taj al-Ghulam (The Lamp of Islam and The Crown for The Young). Contains materials about the history of the Prophet. All these are published as one book; Fath al-Mu’in, a concise fiqh work, translated into Malay in three parts only, unfinished; Nujum al-Muhtadin wa rujum al-Mu’tadin ,containing materials about the history of the prophets, and discussions about the “kaum-tua and kaum muda”, that is the conflicts between the followers of the traditional school of fiqh and those who like to free themselves from the disciplined intellectual control of Sunni classical scholarship; Matali’ al-Anwar wa majami’ al-Azhar containing information about history of the ‘ulama, their differences of views, the differences in the Wahhabi , Zahiri, and Ibn Taimiyah schools as compared to the mainstream Ahlis-Sunnah wal-jama’ah; some information about the history of the writer himself; Anwar al-Huda wa Amtar al-Nada , being translation of the famous Tafsir al-Jalalain, first and second parts only; Al-Sharah al-Kabir , in Arabic, explaining the short statements made in the text; then the Tasrif al-‘Arf fi Tasrif al-Sarf on Arabic grammar, in Arabic, in poetry form, and with Malay translation for aiding students in understanding the text; ‘Alamat-‘Alamat Kiamat containing materials about the signs for the coming of the Last day based on materials from the traditions of the Prophet. There are two other works not found by the writer of his short biography. (43)

2. Haji As’ad bin Haji Daud (1886-1941), co-translator with Haji ‘Ali Salahuddin b. Awang of the legal work of Imam al-Shafi’i, al-Umm; he was influential in the development of religious education in Kelantan.

3. Haji ‘Ali Salahuddin b. Awang (1888-1968), the founder of the Madrasah al-Falah at Pulau Pisang, author of Al-Durar al-Kenaliyyah al-Ibtida’iyyah and other works, mentioned above.

4. Haji Ya’acob b. Haji Ahmad, known as Haji Ya’acob Lorong Gajah Mati, after the place where he gave his lessons and had his residence. (44)

5. Shaikh Muhammad Idris al-Marbawi, (45) an Islamic scholar who has made very important contributions in the development of Islamic education and literary history. He is famed for the popular Arabic –Malay Dictionary, called Qamus al-Marbawi, published in Cairo, in 1927, with several editions, and also published in Malaysia, Penang and Singapore. His other work, may be his monumental contribution to hadith literature in Malay is the famed al-Bahr al-Madhi, with exhaustive commentary of the collection of Imam al-Tirmidhi. It is published in twenty-two volumes, in Jawi, the earliest was published in Cairo.

6. Haji ‘Abdullah Tahir bin Ahmad, the founder of pondok Ahmadiah of Bunut Payung. (46). He was born during the reign of Sultan Mansor of Kelantan, who was known to have disciplined his Kelantanese subjects to wear proper attire covering their ‘aurat. He had his ‘soldadu’ or keepers of discipline in the state to observe people so that they were properly attired; otherwise they would be marked with blacking. Before furthering his studies in Mecca he studied at Pondok Kenali under To’ Kenali. Haji ‘Abdullah Tahir is the only student of To’ Kenali who established the biggest ‘pondok’ in the state at Bunut Payong. This pondok produced religious leaders of significant positions in the society like ‘ulama, kadis, teachers, and Islamic workers who played their various roles in the State and abroad. He is considered as a student of To’ Kenali who had most number students in the states of Kelantan, Kedah, and Pahang. He is told to have brought the study of Shafi’i fiqh to its heights in the state.(47)

After teaching at his Pondok at Bunut Payong, Haji ‘Abdullah Tahir undertook the leadership role together with his brother Haji Mokhtar in establishing the Jabahah al-Diniyah al-Islamiyah (Organization of Islamic Religious Scholars); this was the first organization of Islamic Religious Scholars in Kelantan which carried out Islamic da’wah throughout the state. This organization was officially recognized by the state, so much so that a representative of the organization was appointed by the Sultan to be a member of the Committee for drawing up the constitution of the state. (48)

7. Haji Ahmad bin Ismail, the chief editor of al-Hedayah (1923-26) and later the founder and editor of Al-Hikmah (1934-41) , a translator and adaptor of a number of works from Arabic.(49)

8. Haji Hassan bin Haji Yunos (1907- ) from Muar, Johor who studied under To’ Kenali and later graduated with distinction from al-Azhar University, becoming Assistant Mufti of Johore in 1940, and later a Mufti.(50)

9. Haji Ahmad Mahir bin Haji Ismail (1910-1968), who became the Mufti of Kelantan, until he passed away in 1968.Due to his ability in writing Haji Ahmad Mahir was appointed in 1933 as the chief editor of the magazine Pengasuh to take the place of To’ Kenali. When he became the mufti of Kelantan he authored a book entitled Kitab Suluhan Awam published by the Matbaah al-Ismailiah, Kota Bharu, Kelantan. His other works are Pedoman Kebangsaan dan Perlembagaan Negeri (National Guidance and State Constitution), published in 1949 in Kota Bharu. He also translated the Risalah al-Qawa’id of Sidi Ahmad ibn Idris into Malay, while he was the state mufti, published in 1949. Apart from writing he was interested in politics and this is clear from the fact that he was also involved in opposing the Malayan Union in Malaysian political history.(51)

Apart from above there are others who are not included in the list of his students who were active in this field.

His Demise:

After spending such an active life combining religious educational leadership and reform, Islamic journalism and training of many religious scholars ,writers and leaders, To’ Kenali at the age of 65 passed away on Sunday, 19th November, 1933, after an illness which affected his legs. The Pengasuh magazine in the issue of 11th December 1933 (vol. XIV no.433) published on its front cover the photograph of To’ Kenali and mentioned in the notice about him that no fewer than 2,500 people visited his funeral, and his funeral was attended by more than a thousand believers grieved at his departure. He was buried in what is known as “Kubur To’ Kenali”4 ½ miles on the road to Pasir Puteh from Kota Bharu. His grave is often visited by many people for its spiritual blessings. May his soul rest in peace. Amin.

His Children:

Apart from his students, To’ Kenali has a number of children who carried on his work in the society, though not in the same dimensions and with the same impact affected by him. He had four sons, all by the same wife, Puan Rokiah bte Mahmud, who was the daughter of the imam muda or the assistant imam of Kampong Kenali, whom he married not long after his return to Kelantan from Mecca in 1908. All the four sons had devoted their life to Islamic education and da’wah in their own various ways. The eldest was Haji Ahmad (b.1909) who became a teacher at the Pondok Kenali, much sought after for his public lectures and lessons, teaching in suraus in the state. Then there is Haji Muhammad Salleh (b.1911) who lived in Mecca since 1927 (apart from the return visit to Malaysia in 1962) and once again later; he is a teacher at Madrasah Dar al-‘Arfiah, and he authored a number of pamphlets.(52) There is Haji Muhammad (b.1913) also lived in Mecca for some years, where he is a pilgrim agent (shaikh haji) working with Shaikh Muhammad ‘Ali al-Rashidi. There is Haji ‘Abdullah Zawawi (b.1926), his last son, his youngest child, well-known for his skill as a reciter of the Qur’an (qari’) and famed as an avid reciter of Arabic qasidahs with his melodious voice. After graduating from the Kulliyah Shari’a or the faculty of Islamic Law in 1961, he was employed by the Saudi Ministry of Education. (53)

His Personality Values and Principles (54)


The personality, values and principles of To’ Kenali is described under several topics by Abdullah al-Qari in his work 20 Sikap Dan pandangan Tuk Kenali (Twenty [Indications of the] Attitude and Opinions of To’ Kenali). Of course it goes without saying that To’ Kenali is a Sunni adhering to Sunni theology and the Shafi’i school in matters relating to the sacred law, and this had decisive and determining influence in his thought, values and conduct.

Among the topics mentioned by Abdullah al-Qari in the above work concerning To’ Kenali’s attitude, values and opinions are as follows, namely: his self-reliance, which he practiced to such an extent that he even made his own wooden clogs, he himself went to the purchase his provisions; he cooked his own food while studying in Mecca, and even when he was a teacher at that canter of education in Kelantan, the Muhammadi Mosque, and sometimes he washed his own attire.(55)

His Asceticism:

To’ Kenali practiced the art of simple living and ascetic ways, in serenity and peace, with the attending moral and spiritual courage typical of his personality. He had suggested to the state authorities to bring down the Union Jack fluttering in the breeze in one district in Ulu Kelantan.

He was satisfied with his attire consisting of the “kain sarong”, one shirt, sometimes he goes without the shirt, wearing it only when he had to be in the royal presence of the Sultan; he mixed freely with his students and the common people, he was so self-effacing. His character bears the stamp of the Sufis of the classical period of Islamic spirituality, the impact of the Prophetic spirituality among its recipients.(56) The present writer would like to add that this is a personality who truly manifests the art of simple living and thinking, not otherwise.

Considering his attitude in relation to worldly matters, when he was asked the question as to how much should any one acquire worldly things, he replied that it should be as much as necessary , meaning that what is beyond the necessary is not demanded by the religion; this means that he is not supportive of the consumerist culture like the one promoted by the supporters of liberal capitalism of the present day, or life of excessive luxury. He even went without shoes, and he liked to perform the i’tikaf at the mosque, supporting his head with his arm while resting. A story is recorded how the Sultan of Kedah then asked who he was and he simply replied “ I am To’ Kenali (Patek To’ Kenali)”; the Sultan then said that this is a very famous name, and he was amazed at his simplicity.

Concerning his simple ways and non-attachment to the world, the chief editor of the magazine Al-Hikmah explains (57)

Allahyarham was difficult to be compared (with any one - UEM) in relation to (his) asceticism, piety, and self-effacement (Ar.’khudu’) in his speech and attire. In fact he is an ascetic (zahid) in all matters. I have mixed with him for fifteen years and intimately was associated with him, drinking from the honey of his wisdom with Allahyarham (i.e. may Allah have mercy on him - UEM) (as his student), (in such a long period) I have never heard from him a word which can jar one’s hearing, and he was extremely patient in facing trying situations.

It is indeed illuminating to observe in a man of the twentieth century the classic spiritual quality of asceticism in matters of personal life combined with an amazing degree of activism in educational and intellectual matters, judging from the range of his reading, including magazines, apart from classical Sunni texts and then observing his reforms in the society.

Approachability and Self-Effacing Attitude:

This quality is being observed by one of his ex-students in one article in the magazine Saudara, in 1933 (58):

Throughout his life the deceased did not hurt anyone’s feelings, not any one at all, because it is his nature not to hurt anyone even though he knows that the person is a gambler and a drinker, and he will only seek for ways and means so that advice is given to the person gradually (such a conciliatory and careful attitude with people has been developed to such a degree in him - UEM) because the deceased likes to know and discuss matters concerning politics (“siasah”) and is so fond of Malay and Arabic newspapers.

People could ask him questions and he would answer them promptly and easily at any time and place, and he accepted invitations easily from the rich and the poor without discrimination.(59)

His Attitude Concerning Tariqah or Sufi Spiritual Path:

In his time many sufi tariqahs spread in Kelantan and members of the ulama and the intellectual class practiced it. Among the tariqahs then popularly known were the Naqshabandiyah, Ahmadiyah and Shadhiliyah tariqahs.

When one Sidi Azhari arrived in Kelantan in 1914 and taught the Ahmadiyah tariqah, at Jalan Tok Semian, near the Muhammadi Mosque and also at Kampong Laut, opposite the Kota Bharu town, on the other side of the Kelantan River, some of the members of the ulama’ followed him. To’ Kenali did not practise any tariqah in the sense of tariqah as spiritual paths associated with any established spiritual leader like Ahmadiyah is named after Shaikh Ahmad bin Idris, Naqshabandiyah is named after Shaikh Baha’ al-Din al-Naqshabandi, and al-Shadhiliyah named after Shaikh Abul-Hasan al-Shadhili. But if tariqah is understood as a spiritual path involving the practice of certain invocations, prayers, and discipline of the soul by the cultivation of the spiritual virtues like repentance, patience, reliance on God, nobility of character, intimacy with God, and so on, then To’ Kenali can be considered as a successful practitioner of spiritual path even though he is not associated with any sufi brotherhood. And there is no indication in To’ Kenali’s life and statements that he frowns upon tariqah, as implied in the statements of Abdullah al-Qari, his biographer; To’ Kenali’s personality is the proof that he is a practicing sufi (60).

As a background material concerning this matter we can mention the letter of the Sultan of Kelantan then which was sent to To’ Kenali’s illustrious teacher, Shaikh Ahmad al-Fatani. This is recorded in the Al –Fatawa al-Fataniyyah:(61)

The letter from the Sultan mentioning the arrival of one Haji Ence ‘Id (Sa’id-uem) bin Haji Ence Din Lengger a student of Shaikh Muhammad al-Danderawi and many people becoming “majdhub” (drawn by Divine attraction to God), from among the young and the old, men and women. The letter mentions that such a phenomenon of people becoming “majdhub” in a few days was unheard of among the ulama’ of the state. This is followed by the reply of the Shaikh. Among the points mentioned by him were:

· Such a question for getting really verified information about such a phenomenon of “majdhub” should be addressed to those scholars who are scholars of Sufism who combine in themselves the knowledge of the Shari’ah and the knowledge of spiritual Reality (“antara Shari’ah dan haqiqah”) and who experienced the sweetness of the cup of Divine spiritual attraction with sound spiritual tasting (“merasa mereka itu akan lazat minuman piala jazbah dengan dhauq yang sahih”) (62).

· Quoting from Shaikh Ahmad al-Zarruq about the spiritual and intellectual principle that: every knowledge should be taken from those possessing it, hence sufi statements are not to be relied upon in matters of fiqh, unless he is known to be standing in the position of fiqh, and the statement of a faqih is not to be relied upon in issues of tasawwuf, unless he is known to be truly understanding tasawwuf and being in such a position;

· After mentioning he himself has taken the Ahmadiyah tariqah, and yet not tasting the “jadhbah”, he says that, on the authority of sufi texts, there are many categories of “majdhub”, and so on. And then among the revealing statements are: “(And then I say: people have called majdhub those who cry out the Name of Majesty (the nama Allah - UEM) or other words. If such utterances emanate from real spiritual state (“kedatangan hal yang sebenar atasnya”) and without being in the ordinary conscious state, then he is in one of the three from the (total of) four mentioned before. (And if) such (utterance) happens in the (ordinary) waking state and happening by certain involuntary (action) like someone sneezing, then that is included in the third category (mentioned) (And if) that happens by pretending (“dibuat-buat”) or by a satanic affectation (warid Shaitani) then that is not (true) majdhub”. (63)

From the above we can see the respect of Shaikh Ahmad towards Sufism and tariqah, and his own involvement and understanding of the authentic spiritual tradition of Islam. This trait can be seen in the personality of To’ Kenali even though there is no report about his adoption of any sufi tariqah.

Respect The Situation in Which One is In:

While To’ Kenali was teaching his students the message in Arabic poetry, he tells a story how there were a number of poor children in a pondok; their parents were not able to provide for them even their daily meals. Even though Islam does not encourage begging, the students went out, unabashedly, to beg at the nearby village. The boys told the villagers about the poverty of their parents and their difficult life in the pondok, making the villagers to sympathize with them; consequently the villagers brought to them a lot of rice, and they expressed their gratitude to the charitable people.

Then in the following year when they have memorized many lines of poetry in relation to their study of Arabic and its grammar and syntax, when they were with the villagers they kept on uttering the poems and the materials they have memorized; they forgot their courtesy and proper conduct with people , and when people advised them in a positive manner they ignored such advice, going on with their ways. Then a group of young men chased them from the village and they went back to their pondok hastily. When their teacher asked them about the unfortunate incident, they told him what had happened.

At that point the teacher advised them:

You do not have knowledge and practice of politics (siasah). You should not stay at this pondok only for learning religious knowledge; but this must be added with knowledge of siasah (or proper behaviour and conduct of affairs with people and may be understood as “administration based on wisdom”) - Knowledge of religion and politics (siasah) are inseparable (“tak boleh dipisah-pisahkan”); religious knowledge is for the guidance of your life and siasah is for building up of your life”.

Then To’ Kenali recites the following lines of Arabic poetry(64):

الدهر الى معشر ان ضمك
قد جبل الطبع الى بغضهم
دارهم ما كنت فى دارهم
وارضهم ما دمت فى أرضهم

If Time brings you to a group of people
And your nature is inclined to hate them all
As long as you are in their home (i.e. behave well)
And in their land as long as you are in their land

Then he continues:

“Your customary practice in your pondok is that you memorize the sacred verses of the Qur’an and the texts on grammar. When you do that when you are among your friends while they talk among themselves, they will not look upon you as not going against your adab or proper etiquette. But the customary practice among the villagers is different from the rest. In short, the situation in the pondok cannot just be brought into the village indiscriminately.” (65).

Then he continues: (66):

Whatever good things which we do may be looked upon by others as not good when it is done outside the bounds of the customary practice and norms of a certain area.

To’ Kenali’s Attitude Concerning Seeking Knowledge:

To’ Kenali has composed his own maxims in relation to seeking knowledge, based on his own experience. They are: (67)

العلم شىء بعيد المرام
لا يصاد بالسهام
ولا يورث عن الاباء والاعمام
بل هو شىء لا يدرك الا باافتراش المدار
وارتخاء الحجر
وكثير النظر
وكثرة الفكار
واجتهاد فى كتب البحار

Knowledge is something afar
Cannot be hunted with arrows
Nor inherited from fathers and uncles
Nay, it is not achieved except by making the earth as one’s bed (always being in the mosque)
And (feeling the ) softness of the stone (of the floor of the mosque)
And a lot of seeing (and thinking)(that is reading and observation)
And a lot of thinking
And striving (looking for knowledge) in oceans of books (giving detailed explanations of things)

And in looking for knowledge To’ Kenali has outlined a number of ways for achieving success; they are (68)

1. One must look for knowledge by oneself (apart from studying with teachers);

2. One must study it at its center; at that time religious knowledge was studied in Mecca; now it can be in other places. We can add by mentioning that there is al-Azhar and other suitable centers.

3. Being patient in going to the same center repeatedly in accordance with the situation;

4. By using a lot of observations concerning the sources of knowledge, including the world and the world of human experience (we can relate this to To’ Kenali’s love of reading newspapers);

5. Getting knowledge from major works of the various subjects so that one will get the detailed position of any matter that one is involved in.

To’ Kenali And Qur’anic Exegesis:

Among the subjects taught seriously by To’ Kenali was Qur’anic exegesis, and the tafsir which he used was Tafsir al-Jalalain, this is apart from the fact that he encouraged his students to translate the Tafsir al-Khazin.

In the book Anwar al-Huda , the commentary on Jalalain done by his student Shaikh ‘Uthman Jalaluddin there is the mention of the opinion of To’ Kenali on this matter. He states (69):

My mentor (“guru hamba”) al-‘Alim al-‘Allamah Shaikh Muhammad Yusuf Kenali, Kelantan, who passed away on the 2nd of Sha’ban 1352 of the year Of the Hijrah for several times he was asked in front of me so that he Comment upon the Qur’an without the tafsir, and he refused; he said:

We are not expert in the exegesis of the Qur’an (“kita bukan ahli bagi menafsir Qur’an”) without using the explanations in the tafsir (‘dengan ketiadaan syarah”) because we have not memorized the explanations in the tafsir and the words used in explaining the meanings of the Qur’anic verses (“kerana kita tiada hafaz akan huruf-huruf tafsir dan kalimahnya yang menerangkan maksud ayat Qur’an”).

According to him, anyone who wants to understand the recitation of the Qur’an he must memorize the “gharib” words of the Qur’an or the uncommon words, so that he will not make mistakes in understanding the deeper and wider meanings of the verses involved.

For instance, in relation to the explanation of the verse which means “Truly His Command is that, whenever He wills a thing, He says ‘be’ and it is”. (Ya Sin: 82) , when he was asked by one student of his in the course of learning the meaning of the verse: How is the command brought about with such innumerable creatures in the universe, then To’ Kenali smilingly replied that the meaning is not as literally found in the verse. The meaning is that the event is instantaneous in nature involving the effective operation and concurrence of the Will of God, and His Power, not meaning that literally He has to utter such words. (70) This manifests the profound understanding of To’ Kenali concerning Islamic theology and Qur’anic exegesis, and at the same time his attitude of compassion towards his students.

His meticulous attitude towards learning is so clear in his life; whenever anyone asks him for the meaning of explanations of Qur’anic verses mentioned in certain texts, he would not give the explanations off-hand, rather he would have the book brought to him, and after seeing it, he would give his explanations.

Tok Kenali and His Essays(71):

To’ Kenali has written a number of essays throughout the years. This is studied briefly by Abdullah al-Qari in his work Pusaka To’ Kenali.

Among those essays are as follows. ”Kemanusiaan”, Pengasuh , number 1, first issue, on 11th of July, 1918 with To’ Kenali as “al-fadil Tuan Haji Awang Kenali”, as the editor, pp.2-3; “Kemanusiaan dan bahagianya”, Pengasuh, number 2, 24th July, 1918, pp.5-6; “Me(n)jernih Kekeruhan”, ibid., number 3, pp.2-3; “Soal dab Jawab”, ibid., number 4, p.3; “Seruan (to the Malay Muslims)”, idid, number 5, pp.3-4; “Kenyataan dan Pengharapan Besar”, ibid. number 6, pp.1-2.”Soal dan Jawab” again ibid., number 9, 5th November, 1918, p.1.

Essay on Man:

In his essay concerning human condition, in the first number of the magazine Pengasuh he states:

(After mentioning the honourable position of man mentioned in the Qur’an in the verse meaning ‘Verily We have honoured the children of Adam, and man being created in the best of moulds in the verse ‘We have created men in the best of moulds… he states that) man is a creature who receives so much Divine attention compared to other creatures based on the saying from Allah (meaning): 'And He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth’ whereas (at the same time) even then you are a weak creature, based on the statement from Allah (meaning) and ‘We have created mankind weak’, not being able to all work by himself, hence some of them need (the cooperation) of the others (both) in relation to work pertaining to spiritual devotions and also customary life usages (“samaada pada pekerjaan ibadat atau pekerjaan adat”), especially the work of getting together (involves) what is commanded upon them which is not sufficient to be performed alone, hence there follows from the work of getting together a number of things which are commanded to be done, and a number of things which are being prohibited.

This is followed by the mention of the responsibility of the congregational prayer, the Jumaat prayer, the pilgrimage, all of which, he says are for the benefits of mankind and not for God. Then after mentioning the creation consisting of the inanimate kingdom, the animate kingdom, humanity and the angelic world, with various characteristics of each, with intellect and will in man, with intellect in the angelic world, with no passion, he states (72):

The second category (that is man having intelligence, will and passion, unlike the angels with no passion) if he obeys Allah he is more noble than the first category (consisting of the angels), and if he is disobedient (to God) he is worse than the third category (that is the animals, with desires only and without the intelligence).

Then he cites the maxim of the sages in relation to social nature of the life of human collectivity; he states (73):

And when getting together of mankind is something which must be done, as stated by the sages ‘al-insan madaniyyun bit-taba’: mankind is by nature living in social organization, then it follows that man needs to know a number appropriate collective behaviour (“mengetahui beberapa adab”); what is the meaning of appropriate behaviour (adab)? Appropriate behaviour comprises all the beautiful and good behaviour and modes of speech, and that is something (of such extreme importance that) it raises all nations, and with the possession of which anyone can obtain whatever he wants, and attain to his objectives, and it raises anyone from a lowly position to that of nobility (“yang rendah ke tempat yang tinggi”).

It appears to the writer of this present paper that To’ Kenali is referring to the importance of social organization and social life, as mentioned by ibn Khaldun in his al-Muqaddimah centuries ago; and he is also using the term “adab” in a wide sense, not only in the restricted sense of ordinary proper way of behaviour in daily life. This seems to be in line with the concept of “adab” in Adab al-Dunya wa al-Din of al-Mawardi.

As for the importance of history and social organization as envisaged by ibn Khaldun, it is interesting to note that the ex-student of To’ Kenali, Haji ‘Abdul Rahman Sungai Budor popularly called as Haji Nik Man Sungai Budor, was the first ‘alim in Kelantan to teach the Muqaddimah of ibn Khaldun to advanced pondok students in Kota Bharu. It is reported that he read the text of the Muqaddimah from page to page until the end. (74)

And for the attainment of success in life he urges people to have the attitude to change for the better and to mix in the society in a civil way. He states(75):

Don’t we observe that nations which do not mix with others (in civilized social organizations) like the Sakais (the tribes in the jungles of the country) living in the jungle, they are in a situation disliked (by others), whereas they have their intelligence just like those who live in the towns (“seperti orang yang hidup di dalam negeri juga”). Hence it is necessary that every person of intellect should change his position (of struggle in life) (“me(ng)edarkan tapaknya”) to an arena leading to heights (of success) in harmony with the proper conduct taught by religion (“bersetuju dengan adab ugama”) and also acceptable to the meritorious customary practices (“berkenaan dengan adab yang terutama”)

This does not sound congruous at all with the mistaken popular belief about him being uncaring for the life of the world at all. He sounds more like his teacher Shaikh Ahmad-may Allah bless him, who states in his Hadiqatul-Azhar (76):

And I, a humble servant (of Allah) cherish the ambition in my heart for so long that Allah the Most High will make me able to listen (to the good news) and will make me see with my eyes in my life-time that the great Malay Kings (then and also other leaders with them later), especially the kings of Petani and Kelantan, Trengganu and Kedah who are so noble and great (together with the other states now), and the King of Johor, so famous with high aspirations, and the famed King of Deli known for generosity and justice, all of them will greatly aspire with great aspiration focusing their attention and efforts (“menghadapkan inayah”) with might and main, towards making all their countries as treasuries of knowledge and the plantations of human skills, the while opening the eyes of (the people of ) their nation (in the Malay World) so that they look with respect upon intellectual prowess and skills (developing them and in that process) there will emerge glory for the Malays (“supaya ada kemegahan bangsa Melayu “) among the nations of the world, and their good name most exalted among mankind, and their ulama (and men of learning in all fields) increase in their excellence, and they will excel among among other ulama, and their religion will be so outstanding, over and above the religions (of the world), so that, those kings, by taking such steps (successfully making the Malay World as treasuries of knowledge and plantations of human skills and ingenuity) will get the pleasure of Allah, and manifold spiritual rewards, because the spiritual rewards of every person who benefited from their work and the spiritual rewards of those who have the ability and skill and imitate the ability, for eternity they will be given the share in the spiritual rewards, and they will further get good reputation and mention among all people, and will be registered in the books of kings and the really great, continuously in their life until the Last Day.

Then in short essay To’ Kenali says:

There is no excellence in a person by himself feeling for his importance alone, (that excellence will not really be manifest) except when that is witnessed by seeing eyes, and heard by human ears, as we witness the deeds of people of the past and the present, from among things which we never imagined in our dreams how they could achieve (such tremendous success) while we are not able to do so; this shows that we are a people who are not doing our work of bringing benefits for our people and nation, whereas if we think and observe those people of the past and the present, who have achieved life of advancement and administration shaking (affairs related to life on) land and sea, these people do not possess extra bones or muscles compared to us, their appearance is similar to ours. But because there is among them high aspirations and ambitions (“cita-cita dan angan-angan yang tinggi”) with continuous good deeds, bringing benefits to their people and nation, then they become fortunate people, achieving all that they desire, advancing in all arena (of life and civilizational fields) (“mara di dalam tiap-tiap medan”), so much that they leave for us things which we cannot compare the degree of their nobility (“tiada dapat kita bandingkan taraf kemuliannya”);

Then he reprimands the readers (77), stating:

Do we (all) not yet realize that we are among the negligent, sleeping, getting entertainment from our ignorance, waking up in getting the pleasures for our own selves? And do we not believe that such situation as ours will bring down all the marks of honour of our ancestors obliterating all the remnants of their excellence, pulling out by the roots the trees of their efforts, in fact that is not hidden from the observation of those with discerning vision (“tidak tersembunyi pada mereka yang mempunyai tilik”)? And is it sufficient that we only mention (these things) and yet t we do not take steps to fulfill those things which we want and avoiding those things which abhor? There is no day for us if we do not move (to improve our lot) to-day …

There is the note of urgency in his message; a wake-up call for the Muslims to advance in the path of religion, knowledge, skills, and the call is indeed extremely “pressing”. It is backed up by a strong sense of history and intimate knowledge about the changes taking place. His language is direct, forceful, having the power to “move” thoughts and souls. May be this is due to his spiritual sincerity and sense of mission. This is in harmony with the vision of Shaikh Ahmad in the Hadiqatul-Azhar above.

In the essay entitled “Sempurna Manusia dan Bahagianya” (The Perfection of Man and His happiness”) (78) he writes about some aspects of the perfection of man which are difficult to be attained, while some are relatively easy. Then this is followed by the lines meaning “You hope for salvation, but you do not follow its proper course; the ship does not sail on dry land.”

Then he divides humanity into three categories: those with angelic nature, doing only good things, bringing benefits only not causing harm; those with the nature of many animals, not bringing benefits and not causing harm; the last those who are like dangerous animals. Then he says “You should run (as if in a race) in the field of the first category so that you will get the flag of victory, and you beware of yourself so that you do not fall into the second category, and take the utmost care so that you do not fall into the vale of the third category”. (79).

Essay on Pro-active attitude in life

In the essay entitled “Me(n)jernih Kekeruhan” (Conciliatory Attitude) (80) he says:

We are bored from listening to the criticisms leveled by the foreign peoples who come to this country, some of them raining down accusations at the Ulama’, whereas (the situation in the society is such that the members of the ulama’ cannot do much), what can the scholars do when those people who listen do not observe their advice and exhortations.

Muslims are supposed to be as what the Prophet –peace and blessings be upon him - said (meaning) ‘The believer with another believer is like a building well erected, some of them strengthening others”.

Therefore we should follow advice which are in accordance with the Sacred Law or which are not against it; and we should do our work which does not indicate that we are an evil nation. It is not hidden to those who visit our country, coming from other countries, seeing our rules and customary practices, which differ from customary practices of other countries, for instance in relation to clothing and the customary practices relating to our association with each other, and other matters, whereas they have their associations with the ulama’; it seems that it is less than what is in our country; therefore if we cannot be better then they (lit. “higher”) then at least we should not be worse off than they, or at least we should be on par with them.

The above reflects his attitude in relation to keeping the image of Muslims in this country so that they do not show lower level of conduct as compared to other nations.

At the end of the short essay he notes the changes taking place in the country and prays to Allah that the changes will bring in improvements in the society, and more in line with the demands of the sacred law (“sampai kepada makam yang dituntuti oleh Syarak”) (81).

Short Reply To A Question on Advancement of Civilization:

In Pengasuh number 4, 22nd August 1918, there was a question asked:

A question from some one who had visited countries near to Europe: Is the Malay people a nation (“umat”) which we can hope that from them there will emerge men on whom we can place our hope (of success) in the field of civilization (“tamadun”) in words and deeds?

To’ Kenali replied concisely:

Reply: from some one who has never gone out from the kitchen of his people in his homeland (“daripada dapur anak putera buminya”) from thoughts which has emerged from shriveled brain (lit. dried brain: “otak yang kering”): that to the opinion of myself who is not very bright, it is so far away, or it is very difficult for us to see our people, the Malays, riding on the horse of high skills (“atas kuda kepandaian”) in the arena of advancement which is attained by people who succeeded in the field.

Then he mentions the reason for his remark:

The proof for such (a situation) is that I have seen the sons of my people (“anak-anak putera bumi sahaya”) are not different at the time when they were getting shade under the ears of the elephant (the Siamese rule) compared to them at the time when they are taking refuge under the chin of the lion (under the British); it seems that they have pushed in a nail like a screw at the planets (indicating that they have stopped having awareness at all at the changes of the times), and it has become immovable; and the world cannot change its ways from what is already known, whereas (in actual fact) we see that the world is changing , not static, so much so that we can write about its fixed ways in books. (82)

Thus we can see that To’ Kenali is emphasizing on the changes taking place then, and urging the Muslims to change so that they regain their honour and position as well as the honour of their religion. The message is the same as the message of his teacher, Shaikh Ahmad. And we can see that To’ Kenali still thinks and acts within the perimeter of the perspective of classical Sunni scholarship, and there is not the slightest trace of disapproval of the classical intellectual attitude.

His Message for Unity of Muslims of this Country:

In sending a very strongly worded message for affecting the unity of Muslims in the country he writes (83)

O people of the Malay Peninsula (“ahli Semenanjung Tanah Melayu”), come, let us agree on one word (that is unity) so that it is easy for us to co-operate with each other, and we have no need for one Malay Dr Sun Yat Sin who can call mus to agreement of unity and have harmonious relations with one another (“kepada ittifaq dan berjinak-jinak”) because I see that there is no one who can be like Dr Sun Yat Sen in the Malay Peninsula. It seems to me that for a person to be like Dr Sun Yat Sen he needs knowledge and wealth, and for this two to be combined in a person, at this time, is very difficult; some have knowledge but no wealth; others have wealth but no knowledge; and those with wealth and those with knowledge are so different in their objectives if the person of knowledge tells the person with wealth: (anything which should be done) he will say this person is going to cheat me.’ So he will wait until he can do that himself; nothing is done; but the path to unity, to me, is closed, because our people, the Malays, have a disease, even European doctors are unable to affect a cure; the disease is: some of them think that they are better than others, and it seems to me that there is no way so that we can get rid of this (disease)

In spite of that, he advises people who are capable of doing work so that they do it carefully and cautiously. He says (84):

Now I hope that those who are capable of doing their work should do so properly with caution, gradually, so that they can make the person who is averse in attitude to be intimate, so that the work is not tiring but fruitless, with the objective unattained.

Then he mentions in humility that he is not the “horse” for this endeavour; if there is anyone going to take up his work, he is prepared to leave. He states:

I admit that I am not a “horse” for this field (of endeavour); if there is anyone who can release me from this work, then I will stop from it, this is because it is not my intention to show off my good deeds looking for the praise of others; (I know this) because a writer is a target for the knuckles; if he does not close his eyes (neglecting what people say about him or do things against him) he will die of grief…

I have courage to plunge into the sea of fire which is always burning as long as the good ambition is there (in me), and I am not satisfied if I breath my last without seeing new changes which are good (for the religion and the people). (85).

Short Essay On Spiritual Guidance About Intention In Prayer:

Apart from writing on topics discussed above, he also gives spiritual guidance in relation questions on spiritual duties. For instance in relation to the question of intention in prayer, in a short essay entitled: “Kenyataan, Ingatan, Nasihat yang berkenaan dengan soal-soal hukum muqaranah” (86) he states:

Among the inhabitants of the State of Kelantan in several districts there those who pray their five daily prayers and they do not formulate the intention (of prayer) as the intention which is generally known, only they remember in their heart (at the time of the takbir): ‘Allah is Most Great’ only.

So since there crops up a question concerning the matter above mentioned, that is there has been quarrels among the people causing the situation to be obligatory on us to provide a reply giving advise and remembrance, so that this benefits the Muslims.

So we say that, those who pray by formulating the intention in that way, that is having in the heart the meaning “Allah is Most Great” only, in the ‘takbiratul-ihram’, without fulfilling at the same time or slightly before (the ‘takbiratul-ihram’) the objective (‘qasad’) (namely: ‘I pray’), ‘ta’arrud’ (that is remembering ‘the obligatory prayer’), and ‘ta’ayyun’ (remembering the stipulated prayer, say ‘zohor’ or ‘asar), that person is clearly in the wrong (“telah teranglah salahnya”); this is because he is contrary (in his opinion) to the consensus of the great scholars like Shafi’i himself and those imams who follow his school of law like Imam Nawawi, Imam Rafi’i, Imam Ghazali, and others in their works, big and small, like al-Umm, Ihya’, Tuhfah, Nihayah, and other works. In short, it is clear that such a position is contrary to consensus of the ulama’. (87)

This shows that To’ Kenali belongs to the Sunni intellectual position in holding to Sunni classical standard sholarship in his views. And this has preserved the attitude in the pondoks until the present day.

Short Stories of To’ Kenali:

Short stories of To’ Kenali has been recorded by Abdullah al-Qari in his works , and this is recorded also in his Pusaka Tuk Kenali,under the heading “Cerpen-Cerpen Tuk Kenali”. He has recorded them from oral sources. There are two books of Abdullah al-Qari concerning this topic, namely 12 Cerpen Tuk Kenali, and the other is Tuk Qadhi dan Tuk Guru. In this paper this topic is not taken into consideration.

Spiritual Devotions of Tuk Kenali;

Abdullah al-Qari has recorded the prayers and invocations of Tuk Kenali in his Pusaka Tuk Kenali (88)

They consist of the following, based on the informations from his students:

1. Called by his students “blessings of Tuk Kenali” (“selawat Tuk Kenali”); this excellence of invoking blessings and peace on the Prophet is universally known in Islam.

On Friday and on Thursday nights To’ Kenali is reported to recite :

اللهم صل وسلم وبارك على سيدنا محمد النبى الامى الحبيب العلى القدر العظيم الجاه وعلى أله وصحبه وسلم

O Lord, shower blessings and peace and give blessings on our leader Muhammad the unlettered Prophet, the beloved one, the one with high position, with greatness of degree, and on his family and companions, and bless them in peace.

2. The prayers and invocations of To’ Kenali in Ramadan. He slept little in Ramadan, spending time reciting verses of the Qur’an and making prayers.

3. He was always reciting the Chapter of al-Ikhlas of the Qur’an, even while he was walking and going about doing his duties. The blessings from this spiritual practice must have strengthened him spiritually, making him the saintly man that he is. (89)

4. He always recites the “do’a Tuk Kenali” as known by the people, after the daily prayers.This prayer is the prayer of Imam al-Ghazali as is found in the end of the text Ayyuhal-Walad.

5. It can be added that even though he was so much influenced by Sufism, including the discourse of al-Ghazali, he was not a practitioner of any tariqah. This influence is clear from him reading such texts as Hidayatu’s-salikin, Sayr al-salikin, both containing discourses of al-Ghazali from the Bidayatul-Hidayah and Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din and other texts. Of course his own life bears testimony to the influence of the spiritual and intellectual discourse of al-Ghazali.

Concluding Remarks:

In conclusion we can observe in To’ Kenali – May God bless his soul - the intellectual and spiritual figure of a traditional ‘alim steeped in Sunni traditional scholarship, with a very strong grasp of Sunni intellectual legacy, combined with an intense spiritual focus, and the simplest way of living, yet acutely aware of the changes taking place around him and in his society, and with a sense of urgency made an attempt to prepare his people through educational and journalistic efforts, so that they strengthen themselves for facing such changes and challenges. Even though he was schooled in the traditional mould, he was aware of the prevailing issues, even on the international scene, from his reading of magazines and newspapers, Malay and Arabic, thus he combined in himself the external appearance of the man of the old school, yet he was “modern” in his intellectual awareness. All this is combined with his concentrated spiritual collectedness, which kept him on the track, unswayed by the external events so challenging in social and cultural life. It is worthy of note that his reform in education and religious thinking does not make him break away from the traditional construct of the Sunni legacy, unlike other figures who stand for “reform” in the Malay-Indonesian World, tainted with rather shallow intellectual awareness compared to him. This is a figure in whom profound spiritual awareness is combined with social and educational activism, and he has left a legacy which is worthy to be reckoned with. He is a worthy student and follower of the great Shaikh Ahmad al-Fatani.

Wallahu a’lam.


* In the preparation of this essay the writer would like to express his heartfelt gratitude-jazakumu’Llahu khairal-jaza’ – to the present Chief Editor of Pengasuh, Ustaz Muhammad bin Mahmud for making available the copies of Pengasuh and other materials; to my esteemed friend Zaidi Mohd Hassan for his ready help with books and other printed materials and also useful discussions; the Chief-Librarian of the Kota Bharu Public Library, and his helpful staff for the generous loan of books and journals.

(1) The epithet ‘To’ in Malay is not to be confused with ‘datuk’ meaning grand father; it connotes a mark of respect indicating seniority in learning, good character, influence, or craft: like To’ Guru, a very respectable religious teacher, to’ ‘alim a very learned man, to’ penggawa, a chief in a district, to’ penghulu, a village chief, to’ fiqh, an alim in Islamic sacred law, to’ tasauf, a man learned in tasawwuf and practicing it, to’ nahu, a man learned in Arabic grammar, and so on; there is even the curious to’ Mesir for a man who is known to dream about going to Egypt, but unfortunately never did . Then there is the famed To’ Khurasan, an ‘alim from Khurasan, Abu ‘Abdullah Sayyid Hasan bin Nur Hasan, who was born in Pakistan, and active in Kota Bharu in giving his lessons on hadith in the 1920s. See Ismail Che Daud, “Tok Khurasan”, in Tokoh ‘Ulama Semenanjung Melayu (1), pp.435-450).

(2) See the magazine Pengasuh (Educator), number 1, 1981.

(3) For his life Yusoff Zaky Yacob “Tok Kenali 1870-1933)’ in Tokoh-Tokoh Ulama Semenanjung I, (edit) Ismail Che Daud, Majlis Ugama Islam dan Adat istiadat Melayu Kelantan, Kota Bharu, 2001, 255-266; and the significant contribution of Abdullah al-Qari Haji Salleh, “To’ Kenali: His Life and Influence”, in Kelantan, Religion, Society and Politics in a Malay State, (ed) William R. Roff, Oxford University Press, Kuala Lumpur, 1974, pp 87-100.The Muhammadi Mosque in which To’ Kenali had his lessons was a wooden mosque ; the mosque which is found at present was built later in the 1920’s, under the British, and with many modifications and additions to the original building.

(4) Abdullah al-Qari, op. cit. 88.

(5) The name “pondok” in Northern Malaya then, and even in Malaysia now, does not mean only the hut in which a student stays, but a generic name for a particular area in which such traditional system of Islamic education is available. The name “pondok” is then qualified either by the name of the locality or the name of the most prominent religious scholar in the institution. For example, there was then in Kota Bharu itself the Pondok Kubang Pasu, named after the locality Kubang Pasu, to the north of the town center. Abdullah al-Qari, ibid. 88.

(6) Yusoff Zaky Yacob, op. cit. p.261. Concerning Wan ‘Ali Kutan (about 1837-1913) see Tokoh-Tokoh ‘Ulama Semenanjung Melayu (1), (ed) Ismail Che Daud, Majlis Ugama Islam dan Adat istiadat Melayu Kelantan, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, 2001, pp.177-188.

(7) (Abdullah, 1967, 21).

(8) For general study on Malay Islamic scholars, see Peter G.Riddell, Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World, Horizon Books, Singapore, 2001; and for tradition of ‘pesantren” (or “pondok” education) and the utilization of the “yellow” books- the “kitab kuning” in Islamic traditional education in the Malay World, see Martin van Bruinessen, Kitab Kuning Pesantren Dan Tarikat Tradisi-Tradisi Islam Indonesia, Mizan Publishers, Bandung, 1995. Concerning scholarly and religious activities in the Malay World (Indonesia) in the 19th Century see Dr Karel A.Steenbrink, Beberapa Aspek Tentang Islam Di Indonesia Abad ke-19, Bulan Bintang, Jakarta, 1984.The present writer has also briefly touched upon some of these writers in “Peranan Intelektuil (Ulama) Islam di Malaysia dalam pembentukan Kebudayaan”, in Peradaban dalam Islam, Pustaka Aman Press, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, 1982, pp.223-245. And for biographies of Muslim scholars active in the Malay Peninsula of Malaysia, see Tokoh-Tokoh ‘Ulama Semenanjung Melayu (1), (ed) Ismail Che Daud, Majlis Ugama Islam dan Adat Istiadat Melayu Kelantan, Kota Bharu, 2001, with additional materials on scholars of Kelantan doing da’wah work in Cambodia (Kemboja), and Kelantan religious scholars who became muftis outside the state of Kelantan.

(9) Among those friends helping him in this manner were To’ Bachok and Tok Jelapang who became weel known as scholars or To’ Guru in Kelantan. For To’ Bachok see “Tok Bachok”, (about 1868-1953) see Tokoh-Tokoh ‘Ulama Semenanjung Melayu (1), pp.521-530), and for To’ Jelapang (or Tok Padang Jelapang) by Ismail Awang, see ibid. pp.325-335. See also Abdullah, 1967a, 26).

(10) For materials on life of Shaikh Ahmad al-Fatani see Wan Mohd Shaghir Abdullah on Syaikh Ahmad al-Fathani, Khazanah Fathaniah, Kuala Lumpur; and Syekh Wan Ahmad Patani (1856-1908) by Ismail Che Daud in Tokoh ‘Ulama Semenanjung Melayu (1), pp.139-163.

(11) On Shaikh Daud al-Fatani see Tokoh ‘Ulama Semenanjung Melayu (1), by Ismail Che Daud, pp.17-66. Also see the present writer’s Pengaruh Shaikh Daud Melalui Kitab-kitabnya (The Influence of Shaikh Daud Through His Texts), a paper presented in a conference in the Prince of Songkhla University, Thailand, three years ago.

(12) Lihat Tokoh ‘Ulama Semenanjung Melayu (1). p.262.

(13) See Abdullah al-Qari, Detik-Detik Sejarah Hidup Tuk Kenali, Al-Hidayah Publishers, 2001, p.37. In connection with the visit of To’ Kenali to Cairo meeting the ulama of al-Azhar and also Shaikh Yusuf al-Nabhani in Beirut, and its significane the writer is indebted to his friend Zaidi bin Hassan of Kota Bharu, Kelantan, in his e-mail 12th of July, 2003.

(14) C.O.273/353:F.O. to C.O. 10th March 1909, minute by R.E.Stubbs, f.132. For the text of the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909 see W.G. Maxwell and W.S.Gibson, Treaties and Engagements affecting the Malay States and Borneo, London, 1924. pp.88-95. See Shahril Talib, History of Kelantan, 1890-1940, Monograph no.21, MRAS, 1995, p.105.

(15) Yusoff Zaky Yacob, “Tok Kenali” in Tokoh ‘Ulama Semenanjung Melayu (1), p.265.

(16) Al-Qari, “Tok Kenali…” in Kelantan Religion, Society and Politics in A Malay State, (ed) Roff, p.92.

(17) Abdullah al-Qari, Detik-Detik Hidup To’ Kenali, Al-Hidayah Publishers, Kuala Lumpur, 127-128.

(18) Ibid.p.92.

(19) See Pengasuh, XVI. 433, 11 Dec.1933). The actual editor during its early years was Haji Muhammad bin Khatib Haji Muhammad Said (Dato’ Bentara Jaya) later entitled Dato’ Laksmana). Cf al-Qari, op.cit., p.93 fn.12.

(20) Tafsir ibn Kathir is the famous tafsir by ‘Imad al-Din Abu al-Fida Isma’il bin Kathir al-Qurashi, (d.774 A.H.). The Tafsir al-Khazin is an authoritative Sunni tafsir too, though less well known. It is by Imam Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim (678-741), popularly known as Tafsir al-Khazin.

(21) Al-Qari, op. cit., p.94.

(22) Muhammad, 1964/65, 63), Cf al-Qari,”To’ Kenali…” in Kelantan Religion, Society and Politics in a Malay State, p.94. In relation to his posts and duties Abdullah al-Qari mentions in his recent publication Detik-Detik Sejarah Hidup Tuk Kenali, Al-Hidayah Publishers, Kuala Lumpur, 2001 the following: member of the Majlis Ulama Islam of Kelantan (member of the Council of Scholars) from 7th December 1915-19th November, 1933; Chief Islamic education officer, responsible for leading the Madrasah Muhammadiyyah and the publication of text-books at that time.He is mentioned as Assistant-Mufti, that is he helped the work of the Mufti Haji Wan Musa and Mufti Hajim Ibrahim bin Yusuf.He was first editor of Pengasuh; then he was a member of the Majlis Agama Islam Dan Adat istiadat Melayu, Kelantan.He established the Jam’iyyah al-‘Asriyyah; translated a part of the tafsir “al-Khazin”, and parts of “al-Umm” of al-Shafi’i; translated “Tafsir ibn Kathir”; wrote a work on Arabic grammar and syntax, later published under the title Al-Durus al-Kenaliyyah al-Ibtida’iyyah by Haji ‘Ali Salahuddin;’ religious teacher at the Muhammadi Mosque.

(23) Until recently the present writer is one of the frequent visitors of this musalla.

(24) Born in 1902, Haji ‘Ali Pulau Pisang (known from his place his residence and his madrasah, taught in Kota Bharu for a number of years; was a long time member of the Meshuarat ‘Ulama of the Majlis Ugama Islam of Kelantan, and author of a number of works on Arabic language. He died in 1968 (Abdullah, 1967a, 113-15. Cf Kelantan Religion, Society and Politics in A Malay State, p.95 fn.14.

(25) For a concise and good biography of this scholar see Ismail Awang, “Syaikh ‘Uthman Jalaluddin”, in Tokoh ‘Ulama Semenanjung Melayu (1), pp.503-519.

(26) In ‘Abdullah al-Qari, “To’ Kenali…” in Kelantan Religion, Society and Politics in a Malay State, p. 95.

(27) in Pengasuh no. 552 (March-April, 1998). pp. 45-49.

(28) Born at kampong Sireh, Kota bharu, in 1897.Later Haji ‘Abdullah taught at the Muhammadi Mosque, and spent some time in Mecca at the end of 1920s, returning to stay at Bunut Payong.He was a member of the Meshuarat ‘Ulama from 1930s; he passed away in 1961. (Abdullah al-Qari, “To’ Kenali…”, in Kelantan Religion, Society and Politics in A Malay State, fn.16, p.95.

(29) Ismail Awang, “Haji Mat Pauh” in Tokoh-Tokoh Ulama’ Semenanjung Melayu (2), 218-223.

(30) See Ismail Awang, “Haji Awang Lambor” in Tokoh-Tokoh Ulama’ Semenanjund (2), 73-81.Haji Awang bin Haji Omar Lambor, dilahirkan di Lambor, Wakaf Baru, Kelantan, pada tahun 1900.Sewaktu remaja ia dihantar oleh bapanya belajar dengan To’ Kenali, kemudian pergi belajar di Meranti Pasir Mas, kemudian pergi ke Selehor, Tumpat, untuk meneruskan pengajiannya. Selepas itu beliau meneruskan pengajiannya di Mekah, kemudian kembali mengajar di Lambor.Murid-muridnya ada yang datang dari Pahang dan Trengganu. Beliau meninggal dunia pada tahun 1963.

(31) Haji Ghazali Pulai Chondong (1961-1969). One of the important scholars of Kelantan, known as a sufi. He was born in Kampong Lati, Pasir Mas, Kelantan, say in 1916.After studying the Qur’an and attending the lessons of his own brother, he went to continue his studies under Haji Yusof Kenali; after the death of To’ Kenali he went to study under Haji Omar bin Ismail Nuruddin of Sungai Keladi, Kota Bharu; then he went to study in Mecca. After his return to Kelantan he taught at Pondok Kampong Sipoi, To Uban, Pasir Mas, Kelantan. Then he went to Pulai Chondong and taught there. Among the texts taught by him were Tafsir Jalalain, Baidawi, Ihya’’Ulumud-Din, Minhaj al-‘Abidin, al-Qastallani and other classical Sunni texts. See Ismail Awang, “Haji Ghazali Pulai Chondong”, in Tokoh-Tokoh Ulama’ Semenanjung Melayu (2), pp.179-186.

(32) Haji Yaakub Legor (1892-1971). He is Haji Yaakub bin Ismail bin Abdul Rahman.He was born in Legor, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand, in 1892.Seeing his excellence in imbibing his lessons, his teacher brought him to Pondok Kenali; To’ Kenali was so pleased with his educational progress that he allowed Haji Yaakub answer questions directed to him;in 1919 Haji Yaakub was entrusted with the task of teaching at Muhammadi Mosque in Kota Bharu; thus he became one of the teachers there apart from To’ Kenali and others. He passed away in Legor in 1971.

(33) Haji Mat Tubuh (1904-1971) who was born without hands. To’ Kenali taught him so much so that he became an ‘alim in his time. He established his pondok in Beris, Bachok, Kelantan and gave his Islamic lessons there, and he became so well known as an educator.

(34) Haji Abdullah Langgar (1907-1976).

(35) Haji Bidin Dungun (1893-1977): his full name is Haji Zainal Abidin bin Mat Ali, a famous and very respected ‘alim of Dungun, Trengganu. Due to his efforts in Islamic traditional education there emerged religious leaders and politicians in the society. After some elementary education in his own village, he went for his further studies to Pondok To’ Kenali. By memorizing Alfiah, the Qur’an, and studying the traditions of the Prophet, finally he became a respected ‘alim and then returned to Trengganu to establish his own pondok. He is known to be a person who was very simple in his ways and his students were developed to be very devoted to their spiritual devotions. See Ismail Awang, “Haji Bidin Dungun”, in Tokoh-Tokoh Ulama’ Semenanjung melayu (2), pp.281-287.

(36) Dato’ Haji Ismail (ex-mufti of Kelantan) (1915-1988); he was born in Kampong Gong Kemuning, Pasir Putih, Kelantan.After studying in Pasir Putih, he went to further his studies at Pondok Kenali in 1929 and in between 1930 until 1937 he studied in the “halaqah” in the Muhammadi Mosque, Kota Bharu.Among his teachers there were To’ Kenali himself, Haji saad Kangkong, Haji Ali Salahuddin, Haji Ahmade Manan, and Haji Ahmad Mahir.After teaching at Maahad Muhammadi for anumber of years, he was appointed as the state mufti until he passed away.He is a co-writer of the Mestika Hadith and Mestika Hadith published by Pusat Islam or Islamic Centre of Malaysia. See Abdul Razak Mahmud, Pengasuh, “Dato’ Haji Ismail Dalam Kenangan”, 493, Julai-August, 1988, pp.5-6, 41.; also in Tokoh-Tokoh Ulama’ Semenanjung Melayu (2), pp.343-351.

(37) Shaikh Abdul Rahim Idris (1912-1990). He was born in Kampong Simpang Lido, Kota Bharu, Kelantan in 1912. His father was the state mufti from 1921-1927.After studying at Madrasah Muhammadiyyah (not to be confused with Maahad Muhammadi later) for six years, he studied in the Muhammadi Mosque, which was then a centre of learning then. Among his teachers there were To’ Kenali, Haji yaakub Legur, Haji Saad Kangkong and others. After two years he waent for further studies in Mecca; after studying for four years he was permitted to teach at the Sacred Mosque, Mecca. He alsao taught at madrasah al-falah there until his retirement from teaching in both institutions. Among his written works are Lunas Perceritaan (Tarikh al-Ka’bah al-Mu’azzamah), published by the Ministry of the Interior, Saudi Kingdom, 1371 of the Hijrah; Panduan Haji dan Umrah Dalam Empat Mazhab Shafi’I, Hanafi, Maliki, Hanbali, and Tarikh Masjid al-Madinah al-Munawwarah, printed in Matbaah al-Anwar, Cairo, 1966.

(38) Haji Nor Bot (1904-1994); his full name is Haji Muhammad Nor bin Haji Abdullah, He started his education by attending the lessons of Haji Othman bin Haji Abu Bakar near Kadok, Kota Bharu, beginning with Arabic grammar in Mutammimah, then in spiritual ethics in Bidayatul-Hidayah, then in aqidah with al-Durr bal-Thamin, then in fiqh with Sullam al-Mubtadi, then in fiqh Matla’ al-Badrain, and Furu’ al-Masa’il (advanced wirk in fiqh in Malay). He was most grateful for this effective education under Haji Othman. He also memorized Alfiyah and Matan Ajrumiyah. Then he went to study in Kota Bharu where he was taught by To’ Kenali and Haji Yaakub Legur. Under To’ Kenali he studied Arabic texts like Mukhtasar, Swhaikh Khalid, Mutammimah (all of which he had studied under Shaikh Othman), Azhari, Qatr al-Nada, Shudhur al-Dhahab (all of which deal with Arabic grammar and syntax). Under Haji Yaakub Legur he studied Jalalain (tafsir), al-Ashmuni (grammar and syntax)i, Fath al-Wahhab (fiqh), Kifayat al-‘Awamm, al-Hudhudi, and al-Dusuqi (the last three being texts in theology). Then he went to further his studies in Mecca. He returned to Kelantan and established his own pondok in which he educated many students who later became ulama on their own right and advanced the cause of Islamic education and da’wah work in the society. Among his students is the present Mufti of Kelantan, Dato’ Haji Hasbullah bin Mohd Hassan. See Abdul Razak Mahmud, “Haji Nor Bot Dalam Kenangan”, Tokoh-Tokoh Ulama’ Semenanjung Melayu (2), pp.373-381.

(39) Ismail Bakar “Tok Kenali Sebagai Ulama dan Tokoh Islam” (Tok Kenali as An ‘Alim and Muslim Personality), Warisan Kelantan, XVI.50-65.

(40) Ibid. p.59.

(41) ibid.

(42) See fn.23.

(43) See Ismail Awang, “Syaikh ‘Uthman Jalaluddin”, in Tokoh ‘Ulama Semenanjung Melayu (1), 511-517.

(44) Born in 1983; studied with To’ Kenali and then went for several years to study in Mecca, from about 1911; then returned to Kelantan and taught in Kota Bharu; wrote a number of tracts or risalah. Two of his children are noted for their literary contributions, especially Dato ‘ Yusoff Zaky Yacob, the founder of the Dian Press in Kota Bharu, and Tuan Haji Hassan, the founder of the Pustaka Aman Press, Kota Bharu. (al-Qari, op. cit. fn.17, p.96.

(45) He was born in Mecca of Perak Malay parents, in 1895, returned to the Peninsula in about 1910, spending some four years in Kelantan, studying under To’ Kenali (during this time he also wrote for the magazine Pengasuh). –Abdullah al-Qari, op. cit., fn 18 p.96. He was awarded honourary Doctor of Letters by the National University of Malaysia and made the Maal Hijrah Personality by the Malaysian government.

(46) Haji ‘Abdullah Tahir bin Haji Ahmad (1897-1961) founder of the Pondok Ahmadiah of Bunut Payong, Kota Bharu.For more materials on Haji ‘Abdullah Tahir see Tokoh-Tokoh Ulama’ Semenanjung Melayu (2)(ed) Ismail Che Daud, Majlis Ugama Islam dan Adat Istiadat Melayu Kelantan,1996, pp.49-64.

(47) Yusoff Zaky Yacob,”Haji ‘Abdullah Tahir”, in Tokoh-Tokoh Ulama’ Semenanjung Melayu (2), (ed) Ismail Che Daud, pp.62-63.

(48) ibid.

(49) Born in 1899, Ahmad Ismail spent his lifetime in the service of periodical journalism and the Islamic religion; after the Second World War became a member of the Majlis Ugama of Kelantan, and later was given the title of Dato’ Lela Negara Kelantan; he passed away in 1969.

(50) Born in 1907, was a prolific writer on religious subjects (Abdullah, 1967a, 121), and later became active politically, serving as the Chief-Minister of Johore until 1967. (al-Qari, in Kelantan Rel.igion, Society and Politics…,fn 20, p.96.)

(51) On Haji Ahmad Mahir, see Ismail Awang, “Haji Ahmad Maher”, in Tokoh-Tokoh Ulama’ Semenanjung Melayu (2), pp.149-166.

(52) al-Qari, ibid., p.97.

(53) Abdullah al-Qari “To’ Kenali, His Life and Inluence” , ibid.See Abdullah (1967a) 100-110.

(54) See Abdullah al-Qari, “To’ Kenali, Life and Influence”, op. cit., 97-99. and other works published like Pusaka Tuk Kenali, Pustaka Asa, Kenali, Kota Kharu, Kelantan 1988; Sumbangan Tuk Kenali Kepada Dunia Ilmu, Pustaka Asa, kenali, Kota Bharu, 1981; 20 Sikap Dan pandangan Tuk Kenali, Pustaka Asa, Kenali, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, 1988; Kelantan Serambi Makkah di Zaman Tuk Kenali, Pustaka Asa, Kenali, Kota Bharu, 1988; Keberkatan Tuk Kenali, Pustaka Asa, kenali, Kota Bharu, 1991; and the most recent Detik-DetikSejarah Tuk Kenali, Al-Hidayah Publishers, Kuala Lumpur, 2001.

(55) in 20 Sikap Dan Pandangan Tuk Kenali, p.3.

(56) cf.ibid.

(57) Cited in ibid. p.11.

(58) Saudara, number 29, November, 1933. See Abdullah alo-Qari, ibid.12-13.

(59) ibid.p.13.

(60) under the caption “Sikap Tuk Kenali Terhadap Tariqah?” ibid.13-18, then citing the views from writers who are associated with a certain school of thought which is anti-sufism, which does not represent mainstream Sunni Islam which is really the doctrine of To’ Kenali

(61) Shaikh Ahmad bin Muhammad Zain bin Mustafa al-Fatani, Kitab al-Fatawa al-Fataniyyah, Matbaah Fatani Press, Fatani, Siam (Thailand), 1377 (about 1957).pp.179-191.Concerning Ence ‘Id in the text, possibly the teacher is Shaikh Said Linggi who came to Kelantan before Shaikh Azhari.

(62) ibid. p.180.

(63) ibid.,p.182.

(64) ibid.p.41

(65) ibid.42.

(66) ibid.42.

(67) Abdullah al-Qari, Pusaka Tuk Kenali, Pustaka Asa, Kenali, Kota Bharu, 1988,pp.3-5.

(68) ibid.p.4.

(69) ibid. p.6

(70) ibid.,p.7

(71) ibid.,pp.9-16

(72) Pengasuh, number 1, 11th July, 1918, p.2.

(73) ibid. p.3.

(74) Tokoh –Tokoh Ulama’ Semenanjung Melayu (2), p27.

(75) Pengasuh, number 1, 11 July, 1918, p.3.

(76) In Hadiqatul-Azhar, edisi Wan Mohd Saghir, edisi Khazanah Fathaniah, Kuala Lumpur, 2001, p.22-23.

(77) Pengasuh,no. 1, 11 July, 1918, p.3.

(78) Pengasuh, no. 2, 24 July, 1918.pp5-6.

(79) Ibid.,p.6.

(80) Pengasuh,no. 3, 8th August, 1918, pp.2 –3.

(81) ibid.,p.3.

(82) Pengasuh, no.4, 22nd August, 1918,p.3.

(83) ibid.,no. 5, 7th September, 1918.p3.

(84) ibid.,p.3-4.

(85) ibid.p.4.

(86) See Abdullah al-Qari, Pusaka Tuk Kenali, p.9

(87) In Pengasuh,number 25, 30th June, 1919.p8.Cf Abdullah al-Qari, in fn (82).

(88) pp.20-32.

(89) There is an interesting remark about To’ Kenali from the famed spiritual leader of Trengganu, ‘Abdul Rahman Limbong. It is stated that “Haji ‘Abdul Rahman considers Tok Kenali from among the Sufis (“bukan dari golongan sufi”) but from among the jurists who are extremely truthful (“yang disifatkan oleh beliau sebagai orang betul”) - in Timah Hamzah, Pemberontakan Tani 1928 di Trengganu, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1981, p.40.


Abdullah al-Qari b.Haji Salleh, Detik-Detik Sejarah Hidup Tuk Kenali,Al-Hidayah Publishers, 2001.

---Sumbangan Tuk Kenali Kepada Dunia Ilmu, Pustaka Asa, Kubang Kerian, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, 1981.

---20 Sikap Dan Pandangan Tuk Kenali, Pustaka Asa, Kubang Kerian, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, 1988.

---Kelantan Serambi Makkah Di Zaman Tuk Kenali, Pustaka Asa, Kubang Kerian, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, 1988.

---Pusaka Tuk Kenali, Pustaka Asa, Kubang Kerian, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, 1988.

---Keberkatan Tuk Kenali, Pustaka Asa, Kubang Kerian, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, 1991.

Ismail Che Daud (ed),Tokoh-Tokoh Ulama’ Semenanjung Melayu (1),
Majlis Ugama Islam Kelantan dan Adat Istiadat Melayu Kelantan, Kota Bharu, 3rd edition, 2001.

---Tokoh-Tokoh Ulama’ Semenanjung Melayu(2),Majlis Ugama Islam Dan Adat istiadat Melaytu Kelantan, Kota Bharu,1966.

Pengasuh (Published by the Kelantan Council of Religion and Malay Customs), number 1, 11th July 1918 –number 36 of 7th December 1919.

Shahril Talib, History of Kelantan 1890-1940,Monograph no.12, Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1995.

W. A. Graham, Kelantan A State of the Malay Peninsula, James Maclehose And Sons, Glasgow, 1908.

William R. Roff (ed) Kelantan Religion, Society and Politics in A Malay State, Oxford University Press, Kuala Lumpur, 1974.


(Writers’ note: This is an updated and final version of the article. The following are to be noted:

Under Haji Mat Pauh (one of the students of To’ Kenali) the al-Qaul al-Mufid is noted to be in Malay.
Under Shaikh Idris al-Marbawi, his al-Bahr al-Madhi is in twenty-two volumes, upon rechecking, not twenty as mentioned earlier.
Under the the topic of To’ Kenali’s visit to Egypt is added the last paragraph concerning the incident and its significance in the intellectual attitude of To’ Kenali.(p.5)
In footnote three –fn.3-the additional information about the Muhammadi Mosque originally of wooden building, only later the permanent building being built under the British.
In footnote 61 additional information about Haji Said Linggi.


Blogger seh TM said...

Although most writers or scholars on the ulama in Malaysia claim that Tok Kenali was born in Kelantan, this is completeley untrue. Tok Kenali was born in Trengganu, possibly in Telok Menara in Kuala Trengganu. There are still land in the area which belongs to him though he did not bother to claim it. His name is Lebai Yusof.

From the oral history that I have garnered, including from two people who have met one of his sons, Tok Bakok during their sojourn in Kelantan then, Kelantan was his adopted home upon his return from Mecca, after having completed his services as the "ADC' to Sheikh Ahmad Fathani.

When he returned to Trengganu he was asked by his Sheikh to proceed to kelantan, which was having some problems with Siam. He returned with a wife from Mecca, who is believed to be from Mali. The wife is called by the locals as Tok Mali, which somehow later became Tok Bali.

Lebai Yusof when he was a young man worked for one Haji Abdul Latif, a Kelantanese whose main occupation was to open up new settlements. An old man from Endau told me that when then Sultan of Pahang gave Endau as a gift to the sultan of Johore to commemorate a marriage between their children, Haji Abd Latif was assigned the task of opening up the place.

Tok Kenali was with him throughout their stay in Endau. Infact some of the coconut trees planted by Tok Kenali still exist today alongside the Endau River.

Of course the Kelantanese will never accept this and have hidden this fact. The then sultan called him Awang Yusof, as the people of kelantan normally use this name on those from Trengganu. So he was Lebai in Trengganu and Tok in Kelantan.

THis is not an attempt to distort history but is a fact.

I have met two person who have met Tok Bakuk, Tok Kenali's also saintly son,who verified this hidden truth.

I have met an old man in Trengganu, one of his realtives who showed me some land titles showing land that belonged to Tok Kenali.

I also met an old man from Endau who told me of his Endau days.

Lebai Yusof followed a kelantan delegation to Mecca and later became ADC (jurukaka) to Shaikh Ahmad Fathani.

This is not meant in any way to belittle but I need to get this of my chest.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Almulongi said...


saya ingin tahu siapa kah penulis artikel ini?

sya ign pohon keizinan darpd phk tuan utk menterjemahkan karya ini ke bahasa melayu bg manfaat seluruh kaum muslimin.

sepanjang pembacaan sya ttg riwayat hidup tok kenali inilah satu2 nya esei yg cukup lengkap dan byk maklumat2 baru serta tersembunyi ttg tok kenali pdnya.

besar harapan sya agar pihak tuan dpt beri izin kpd saya terjemahkannya.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Hj Shaari Hj Mohd Yusof (hj.khasaf) said...

Salam tuan, Selama ini yang kita tahu hanyalah sejarah hidup ulama'dan kehebatan tokohnya!, tidakkah tuan teringin mengetahui akan ilmunya?.

JIka tuan ingin tahu akan ilmu sebenar Tok Kenali Kelantan mengenai mana sebenar-benar mengenal Allah, mengenal diri, sifat 20, cara khusyuk sembahyang, air sembahyang sebenar, sembahyang sebenar dan ingin mengetahui ilmu hakika dan makrifat Tok kenali, sila dapat kitabnya yang tersyuhur bertajuk MENGENLAL DIRI TOK KENALI KELANTAN DAN MNEGENAL MTK RIFAT TOK KENlli KELANTAN. karangan dari anak murid sebenar tok kenali.

Tuan boleh dapati melalui tempahan terus dari anak pengarang melalui talian 019 3010117 (hj Shaari hj. Mohd Yusof)

Kitab ini adalah sebenar-benar ilmu dari mulut Tok Kenali sendiri dan 187 muka surat dari tangan Tok Kenli sendiri. Ilmu dari mulut Tok Kenli itu ditulis dan disalin ooleh anak murid yanng bernama Hj. Mohd Yusof Cik Wook kelantan.

Setebal 530 muka surat yang oenuh dengan ilmu makrifat.

Untuk keterangan lanjut layari laman web. atau makrifat.tok.kenali.kelantan

6:50 AM  
Blogger Hj Shaari Hj Mohd Yusof (hj.khasaf) said...

T.kasih sy ucapkan kpd tuan yang selama ini memahami ilmu makrifat.Tidak ramai yang dapat mengerti akan ilmu yang disebalik huruf.Dari itu, sy mengucap syukur kpd Allah Taala. Melalui cetusan rasa tuan, sy dapat agak yang tuan adalah seorang yang mengenal. T. kasih Tuhan. Saya hj Shaari Mohd Yusof adalah pemilik kitab Tok Kenali. Allah......

5:27 PM  
Blogger Hj Shaari Hj Mohd Yusof (hj.khasaf) said...

Yg sy muliakan tuan ulamak nusantara. Sy sangat berbesar hati di atas kesudian tuan untuk mengemaskini semula kitab tok kenali, namun sedikit kebimbangan pada sy, kiranya diterjemah oleh mereka yang kurang kefahaman dan kurang arif dalam bidang tasauf. Bidang tasauf itu,adalah bidang ilmu rohani yang hanya dpt mengerti dan diterjemah oleh diri rohani shj.

Kiranya niat yang murni itu, dapat saya semak terlebih dahulu, alangkah baiknya, supaya karya yang diterbit itu nanti tidak menyimpang dari ilmu yang asal.T. kasih Tuan dari Hj.Shaari Mohd Yusof.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Hj Shaari Hj Mohd Yusof (hj.khasaf) said...

Tuan.harap tuan tdk menguzurkan diri, untuk dtg keseminar kerohanian tok kenali pd 12 jun ini di dewan besar masjid wilayah jln duta jam 8 pg hingga 5 ptg.t.k dr hj shaari

5:31 PM  
Blogger Hj Shaari Hj Mohd Yusof (hj.khasaf) said...

Tuan.harap tuan tdk menguzurkan diri, untuk dtg keseminar kerohanian tok kenali pd 12 jun ini di dewan besar masjid wilayah jln duta jam 8 pg hingga 5 ptg.t.k dr hj shaari

5:32 PM  
Blogger Hj Shaari Hj Mohd Yusof (hj.khasaf) said...

Tuan.harap tuan tdk menguzurkan diri, untuk dtg keseminar kerohanian tok kenali pd 12 jun ini di dewan besar masjid wilayah jln duta jam 8 pg hingga 5 ptg.t.k dr hj shaari

5:32 PM  
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5:31 PM  

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