Thursday, 17 February 2011

Singapore Arabs

Raffles opened Singapore in 1819 and brought in the Arabs for trade. The Singapore Arabs came mainly from Hadramut in South Yemen (Selatan Yaman) who were already traders in Yemen.

Many Singapore Arabs also came from Indonesia, mainly from Java and Sumatra. Among the famous Indonesian Arabs who migrated to become Singapore Arabs included the Aljunaid, Alsagoff and Alkaff clans. These three clans were rich and famous as they owned businesses and lands in several parts of Singapore.

Beside trading, the Singapore Arabs built mosques and helped spread the teachings of Islam. Singapore has 59 mosques.

Link to YouTube video on The Arabs of Singapore.

The Singapore Arabs were very wealthy. Some were Sheikh Haji. The Singapore Arabs could afford to rent up to four steamships (kapal wap) for the hajj pilgrimages. There was once when the Indonesian pilgrims (jemaah) could not return to Indonesia as the Dutch East India colonial government had prevented their re-entry. The pilgrims were thus retained in Singapore and boarded the homes of the rich Indonesian Singapore Arabs.

Syed Ahmad Alsagoff was the Singapore Ambassador to Turkey. His mansion was named Constantinople Estate.

Syed Ibrahim Alsagoff was the Arab Consular to Singapore. He founded Madrasah Alsagoff.

Syed Ahmad bin Muhammad (of Alsagoff clan) married to Hajjah Fatimah, a rich Bugis princess. They had a son named Muhammad who was nicknamed Nungcik. Syed Muhammad Alsagoff's eldest daughter was Sharifah Badriah who owned the entire row of houses in Arab Street.

Hajjah Fatimah founded Masjid Kampung Glam in Singapore. Kampung Glam developed into a busy trading place. There were people smoking shisha (hookah) which contained aromatic herbs and smoke.

The Alkaff clan owned hundreds of rented houses in Kampung Kwitang in central Jakarta. In Singapore, they owned lands and lavish houses which have been turned into recreational parks, restaurants and botanical gardens.

Muhammad bin Abdurrahman Alkaff was the first Alkaff to arrive in Singapore from Java but he later died. His brother, Shaikh Alkaff succeeded him and managed the Alkaff lands in Indonesia, Singapore and Hadramaut. However, the Alkaff lands in Singapore were forcibly taken away by the Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Kuan You (LKY) at very low price. Their lavish homes were taken over by ABRI at the time of the Konfrontasi between Indonesia and Malaysia. The Alkaff clan founded the Masjid Alkaff in Kampung Melayu in Singpore.

After WWII, the business and economy of the Singapore Arabs declined but their madrasah (religious schools) continued to build up and gained international recognition and fame.

Ali bin Muhammad Jamalullail, dari anak cucunya menurunkan Keturunan leluhur Al-Qadriy, Al-Assry, Al-Baharun, Al-Junaid.

As the Alsagoff and Alkaff had done, the Aljunaid built Madrasah Aljunaid near the Muslim community of Kampung Glam in Singapore.

Lulusan madrasah ini banyak dibiayai oleh Al-Azhar University di Kaherah . Madrasah ini memiliki 1,200 murid dari TK sampai SLTA. Di madrasah ini pemerintah Singapura yang sekular mengizinkan para siswinya untuk berjilbab, dan prianya berkopiah hitam.