By Abu Muhammad of Bahrus Shofah
English Translation by Bin Gregory Productions
Datuk Haji Abdul Kadir bin Hassan, may Allah have mercy on him, was born in Kampung Patingan (or Kampung No. 6), Kuching, Sarawak, on the 6th of August, 1928 (28th Safar 1347). His formal education began at SRK (Public School) Merpati Japang (my own school) until Standard 4 (10th grade), after which he attended the Madrasah Melayu (Malay Religious School, Kuching). While studying at school, he deepened his religious knowledge with local ulama (religious scholars), among them Guru Sulong bin Hussin and Tuan Guru Haji Yusuf bin Abdul Ghani. Datuk Abdul Kadir then entered Madrasah al-‘Arabiah al-Islamiah, an Arabic language school founded by Datu Imam Tuan Guru Haji Abang Murshidi, before continuing his education at Madrasah al-Juneid, Singapore. Among his other teachers were Ustaz Sharkawi bin Shaykh Othman, Shaykh Syazali bin Shaykh Othman and Shaykh Zainuddin bin Shaykh Othman (they being the children of Shaykh Othman as-Sarawaki) and many more ulama who taught at Madrasah al-Islamiah and Madrasah al-Juneid.
After finishing at Madrasah al-Juneid, Datuk Abdul Kadir served as a religious teacher at the Singapore Police Academy. He was also active in da’wah (calling to Islam) in many mosques throughout Singapore, and was frequently invited to give the Friday sermon at Masjid Sultan. Realizing that he needed to contribute to the people of Sarawak who were more in need of his service, he left his career in Singapore to return to his homeland. In Sarawak, he continued his duties as a religious teacher and resumed his da’wah efforts. Alongside that, he constantly endeavored to take his religious studies to a higher level, and in the end, with the assistance of Tan Sri Abang Ikhwan Zaini, he was given a scholarship to continue his formal education at the Islamic College of Malaya. Among his teachers there were Tan Sri Muhammad Abdul Rauf, Tan Sri Jalil Hasan, Ustaz Zulkifli Muhammad, Dr. Zaki Badawi and Ustaz Nik Mohd. Mahyuddin. After completion of his studies at the Islamic College in 1959, his ambition was to pursue further studies at Al-Azhar University. This was blocked by the British colonial regime which at that time did not want students to be sent to an Egypt under the control of President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Still, nothing could lessen his determination and drive to increase his religious knowledge. With a strong primary education in Islam, and his mastery of the foundational knowledge necessary for acquiring deeper religious knowledge, he rigorously studied the texts written by our ulama while at the same time constantly holding discussions with fellow travelers and local ulama. He was also extremely careful in answering questions put forward regarding issues of religion, referring always to the major religious works such as Sabilal Muhtadin, I’anatut Talibin and Bughyatul Mustarshidin. His love of knowledge and the ulama was such that he would transcribe by hand books that were unavailable in the marketplace at that time.
On the 1st of May, 1967, Datuk Abdul Kadir was appointed Mufti of the State of Sarawak. His appointment did not prevent him from continuing his da’wah work. His study circles continued as before, while he continued teaching classes on the book Sabilal Muhtadin at a number of suraus (neighborhood mosques) around the region. While he was well known as an alim (one of the ulama) and a caller to Islam, he can also be considered as a pious servant (of the Lord). As part of his regular devotions, he would read 3 juz (30ths) of the Quran every day and complete the reading of the Quran every 10 days. Tahajjud and qiyamullail (the night vigil) were constant practices of his, together with Salat ad-Dhuha (the mid-morning prayer) which was his routine practice before heading to the office. In the month of Ramadhan, he held fast to the practice of 20 rakaat (cycles of prayer) in tarawih (special night prayers during Ramadhan), even though the trend was toward 8 rakaat as preferred by those in power in the government at the time. As firm as he was in his certitude, he always carried himself with great humility. Once, when he was invited to lead the tarawih prayers by supporters of the 8-rakaat prayer, he honored the invitation, but when the 8 rakaat where finished, he withdrew and requested someone else to lead the witr (three rakaat closing the tarawih prayer), completing his tarawih later. Such was the character of Datuk Abdul Kadir: he was the gentlest of men and did not like to force his ways on others. So soft was his manner of speaking that he would win the heart of anyone who interacted with him, even the smallest of children.
Datuk Abdul Kadir returned unto the mercy of his Lord on Friday, the 15th of January 1988. May Allah have mercy on him always. Al-Fatihah.
The Fatwa (Ruling) of Datuk Abdul Kadir Concerning Zikir Marhaban (recitation of devotional poetry about the Prophet, peace be upon him).
What is the Islamic position regarding zikir marhaban as it is practiced by the Islamic community today?
• In truth, this represents a form of praising and wishing blessings and peace on the Exalted Messenger, peace be upon him.
• Standing at the moment when the birth of the Prophet is mentioned, together with singing the songs “Marhaban Jaddal Husaini”, “Ashraqul Badrul ‘Alaina” and others, out of respect for Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is in fact an excellent practice, and there is nothing in the Law that prohibits this, as long as one does not change the pronunciation of the words in such a way as to alter their meaning.
• Sayyid Zaini Dahlan, the Grand Mufti of the Shafi’i Madhab in Mecca (d. 1304H) was of the opinion that congregating to celebrate the birth of the Prophet, reciting accounts of his life, standing and praising the Prophet, peace be upon him, were praiseworthy actions. And it has been practiced in such a way by many of the ulama who are the leaders of the Ummah (muslim nation). (I’anatut Talibin, section III, page 363).
• Imam Taqiyuddin as-Subki, among the greatest scholars of the Shafi’i Madhab (d. 657H) was also of the opinion that standing upon hearing accounts of the Prophet’s birth was among the praiseworthy actions for honoring the Prophet.
• In short, there is no doubt that holding Zikir Marhaban as practiced in our community is not remotely contradicted in the Law but rather it is counted amongst the best of deeds.
Originally published in Bahasa Melayu at Bahrus Shofa.
Any errors or shortcomings in the text above are on the part of the translator. Corrections warmly welcomed.