Hamzah Fansuri Not A Heretic – Dr Mohd Syukri Yeoh

By Asmahanim Amir
Pix Abdul Raai Osman

BANGI, 1 July 2015 – The  declaration of heresy against renowned Malay philiosoper and Islamic Mystic Sheikh Hamza Fansuri by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and the State Mufti Departments solely based on the  opinions of Western Orientalists, must be withdrawn simply because it is not true.

Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Malay World and Civilization (ATMA), Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Shukri Abdullah Yeoh said studies made by the Western Orientalists R A Nicholson, E G Browne, John Spencer Trimingham and Massingon cannot be used as an argument for declaring Shaykh Hamza Fansuri (born c. 1590) a heretic of Islam.

He pointed out that the studies cannot be used as a reference because in the surah Al-Nisa’ paragraph 144, surah Ali Imran verse 28 and al-Mumtahanah verse 1,  God had forbade taking unbelievers as companions let alone used their findings as the primary source of Islamic teachings.

“Opinions that Hamzah Fansuri was a heretic based on results of Western scholars as an argument especially by Fatah Haron, should be withdrawn and nullified,” he pointed out.

He was speaking at the ATMA discourse titled Poetry of The Pious Fakir Sheikh Hamzah Fansuri of the Qadriyyah Sect, here on June 16, 2015.

In the discourse, he also chided JAKIM and state Mufti Departments in issuing that edict.

Dr Mohd Syukri said Hamzah Fansuri was a true man of God and is the most renowned of Islamic mystics in the Malay world.

“A lot of messages had been transmitted through his divine poetry, especially the manuscript Syair Sidang Fakir (Poetry Of The Meeting Os The Pious Ones) which showed Hamzah Fansuri as a scholar devoted to Allah, the Qur’an and Hadith.

“They are of the opinion that Hamzah Fansuri tended to lean towards the Ismailiyah sect for using Nur Muhammad in ontology philosophy and cosmology.

“This use of Nur Muhammad is supposedly derived from the Syiah Islamiyyah belief that fits together with Greek and Persian philosophy, that is the philosophy of Neo-Platonisme and light as the symbol of Zoroastrianism,” he explained.

He also clarified that the use of the term Nur Muhammad started in the era when the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was appointed the Messenger of Allah and quite common in pre-Islamic poetry.

“Before the Prophet Muhammad was anointed the Messenger, there were a number of events which occurred, namely the  cousin of Siti Khadijah (the Prophet’s wife), Waraqah bin Nawfal recited poetry with the hope that  Muhammad would be  anointed prophet and how he was able to overcome the infidel Quraysh tribe, thereby dispersing his ‘light’ in the world,” he explained.

Dr Mohd Syukri added, in the writings Hamzah Fansuri had been channelling ideas and teachings using the language of poetry to touch the conscience of Syair Sidang Fakir’s readers and listeners.

“The message in the poems are not born solely from his personal thoughts and ideas  but enhanced with beautiful symbolic language.

“Sidang Fakir was a title of the poem Hamzah Fansuri delivered his message. It means the consensus of those who hold a spiritual journey to return to God against all odds.

According to him, Hamzah Fansuri continued to deliver the message to the community through his paeans with the message that knowledge of personal identity is protection in life and the focus of identification for man is to be the servant of God.

“Hamzah Fansuri also asserted that man to recognise himself because life is like a journey to a destination as described by the Prophet. By identifying oneself, man  will know the origin, purpose and place as may be returned as the word of God in surah Al-Baqarah verse 156 which says ‘We belong to Allah and to Him we return’,” he said.

Hamzah Fansuri is believed to be born in Barus or Panchor, North Sumatera at the end of the 16th century.

Dr Mohd Syukri said, Hamzah Fansuri had urged people not to be overly passionate in looking for luxury and convenience of this life as it will trap them in lust.

“Lust must be controlled in order to move up from one level to another level and the rising will receive the glory of God,” he said.

He added Hamzah Fansuri used his spiritual works to channel ideas and advice to society during his time and ideas submitted through a content analysis approach clearly showed he recognised the human intellect and the role of Language as the soul of the nation.