Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Zulhijah 24, 1442: The 'loving sheikh' from Lubuk Merbau...

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.


The Declining Day (Al-'Asr) 1. By the declining day, 2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss, 3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.

A few years ago, when I was in Kuala Lumpur, I took the opportunity to visit a bookstore. At the bookshop I searched for a series of 'kitabs' (books) named 'Bahru Al-Madzi' written and compiled by our very own international renowned ulama, Sheikh Muhammad Idris Abdul Rauf Al-Marbawi. 

At that time, one of Sheikh Idris's book, 'Bahru Al-Madzi - Syarah Mukhtashar Shahih At-Tirmidzi Juzuk 13') was being used as a text book during a 'tazkirah' (Islamic lesson) at a 'masjid' near my house. 

Who was this Sheikh? Perhaps many of us do not know this figure who was famous among students and intellectuals in Egypt and Makkah. So let us find out more about this Sheikh...

There are 22 'juzuk' (volumes) of 'Bahru Al-Madzi' (Lecture on 'Shahih' At-Tirmidzi) by the great Malay scholar; the one I was looking for was 'Juzuk 13' (the 13th Volume) which discusses topics on food, good deeds and relationship.

Since during his class (kuliah Subuh) on every Sunday morning after 'subuh' (dawn) prayers, the 'ustaz' would just start reading from the book after finishing 'Juzuk 12' (Volume 12), I started looking for the book.

Well dear readers, hadiths mentioned in the book are very detailed indeed - readings from its early pages proved it - in Chapter 1 the hadith is about eating dates with cucumber.

Sheikh Idris quotes Abdullah ibn Jaafar 'radiyallahu anhu' (may he be pleased) says, “Rasulullah sallallahu alaihe wasallam (s.a.w.) ate Qith’thaa (Arab cucumbers) with dates.”

Cucumber has a cold effect and dates have a hot one. By combining the two it becomes mild. From this hadith we gather that it is recommended that the effect (hot or cold) of things eaten should be taken into consideration. Cucumber is insipid and tasteless, and dates are sweet which results in the cucumber also tasting sweet. 

Sheikh Idris usually begins his lectures with these soothing words: "Ketahuilah kiranya, ya saudaraku..." (Please, be informed my dear brothers..." This 'catchy phrase' by the Sheikh is his trademark; he makes readers feel very close to him; he is like a 'fatherly or a brotherly figure' advising his children or brothers and sisters. 

So, Sheikh Idris is close to his readers and those who follow his writtings and teachings. And some readers, I included, have fallen in love with his 'Bahru Al-Madzi'.

The ustaz during our 'kuliah Subuh' also mentioned another hadith in which Aisha radiyallah anha reports that, “Rasulullah s.a.w. ate watermelon with fresh dates.” 

In Tirmidhi and other narrations, in explaining this, Sayidina Rasulullah s.a.w. also said, “The cold effect of one removes the heat of the other, and the heat of one removes the cold effect of the other.” 

Anas radiyallahu anhu says, “I saw Rasulullah s.a.w. eat together musk-melon and dates.” 

Some ulamas have translated this also as watermelon instead of musk-melon, the reason being, as in the first narration, here also the cold effect is intended. But it is clear that musk-melon is meant here. The reason for eating dates is also that it gives the melon a sweeter taste. It is not necessary that one’s benefit be gauged everywhere. It is possible that this is due to some other benefits.

According to this humble servant the eating of watermelon with dates has its own benefit and that is to create evenness in the effect of both, so that it becomes mild. The eating of musk-melon with dates has its own benefit and that is that if the melon is insipid and tasteless, many a time, due to it being insipid sugar is mixed before it is eaten. Therefore it is not necessary to give the same reasons for both watermelon and musk-melon. 

The ustaz during our 'kuliah Subuh' showed us the way to eat Arab cucumber with dates and also water melon with dates. He said in 'one hand hold the cucumber or a piece of watermelon and in another hold the date'. 'Bite the cucumber and then the date and when both are in the mouth, start chewing them'; the 'show put on' by the ustaz made the audiences burst into laughter! 

Our ustaz have high respect for Sheikh Idris; each time he begins his lesson by mentioning contributions of the Sheikh to the Muslim ummah especially those living in the Malay archipelago. He said the Sheikh's 'kitab' was the only one from the Malay world that was being lectured at the Haram Masjid. 

"It is common for 'kitabs' by ulamas from India and Pakistan being taught at the Holy Land but I have not come across any from this part of the world except for Sheikh Idris's," he said. 

So, who is Sheikh Muhammad Idris Abdul Rauf Al-Marbawi? In a book 'Tokoh Ulama Nusantara' (Great Ulema of the Malay Archipelago) by Tajuddin Saman who is my former work mate in NSTP and translated by thefreelibrary.com; he wrote that Muhammad Idris Al-Marbawi (he was from Lubuk Merbau, Kuala Kangsar Perak thus he used the name Al-Marbawi) was born on 28 Zulkaedah 1313 Hijrah equivalent to 1893 AD in Makkah al-Mukarramah. 

At the age of 10 years, he was able to memorize a total of 10 constituents while several other books. When he was a teenager, he returned home to be with his family. 

Returning home, he was educated first at Sekolah Melayu Lubuk Merbau. Next, he pursued graduate studies at several pondok schools such as Sekolah Pondok Syeikh Wan Muhammad in Bukit Chandan, Kuala Kangsar; Pondok Tuan Hussain al-Masnudi in Kedah; Pondok Sheikh Ahmad Fatani in Bukit Mertajam and Pondok Tok Kenali in Kelantan. Upon graduation, he worked as a religious teacher in Perak. 

Sheikh Idris fame is not only in the Archipelago but also in Egypt and Makkah especially in the field of Arabic language, hadith, tafsir and fiqh. In 1924, he studied at Al-Azhar University in Egypt and got High Degree. 

Then, he began to compile the Arabic/Malay dictionary or more recognizable as 'Kamus Idris al-Marbawi', published in 1937. Until now, the dictionary has been printed repeatedly, not less than 24 times. Then starting from here, he continued to explore the challenging in writing. The book, entitled 'Bahrul Al-Madzi' discussed about 8,200 religious issues and the relationship between the life of the Hereafter. He also produced several books of tafsir al-Quran in Malay Language. Among these are Tafsir Qu'ran Marbawi, Tafsir Qur'an Nurul-Yaqin and Tafsir Surah Yassin. 

Besides that, there a few publication which are entitled Bulughul Maram, MuNjam al-KaNnat, JamiNul Ulum, Usul al-Islam and Nizamul Hayah. 

All the books written by Sheikh Idris enrich the precious Islamic heritage in the Archipelago and expose the intellectuality of Muslim community. 

Due to the contributions and prospects in the field of religion and literature, on 5 July 1980, Sheikh Idris was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by National University of Malaysia (UKM). Award bestowed by the Chancellor of UKM, Tunku Ja'far Ibni al-Marhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman during convocation. At that time, he was 86 years old and was recorded as a scholar who has produced 21 works in various aspects of Islam. 

In 1987, he was enthroned as the first Maal Hijrah National Figure based on contributions and high knowledge of Islam in the archipelago, especially in Malaysia. Sheikh Idris also received a cash prize of RM 40,000, a medal and certificate. The prize was presented by the then Prime Minister Dato' Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad in a ceremony Maal Hijrah celebration, in front of approximately 3,000 people were present, including ambassadors from Islamic countries, in the Islamic Centre Kuala Lumpur. When receiving the award, the Maal Hijrah figure was 95 years old.

He died shortly after receiving the award. Sheikh Idris leave a child, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He was buried in the Muslim cemetery in Kampung Lubuk Merbau that is next to the grave of his first wife, Hajah Khadijah Mohd Edham.

Sheikh Idris departure is still remembered and his name is commemorated by the Muslim society either young or elderly. The great and significant contribution by him was the Kamus Al-Marbawi. This dictionary continues to be remembered and used by students in any kind of study either high or low levels and can be seen up to now. 

As for me, I have fallen in love with 'Bahru Al-Madzi'. 'Jazak Allah Khayr' Sheikh Muhammad Idris Al-Marbawi; "May Allah reward you (with) goodness."

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