Jejak Ulamak

Tok Kenali (Muhammad Yusof)

[Artikel ini adalah karya Ustaz Dr. Muhammad Uthman El-Muhammady, daripada laman web: url: atau]

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)
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