Sunday, 7 April 2013

Hadramaut, Yemen

Yemen is Yaman in Malay. Hadramaut is spelled many ways - Hadramaut, Hadramawt, Hadramout, etc. The people of Hadramaut are Hadrami or Hadromi. Some Malays have used the term Al-Yamani as a suffix in their names to indicate that their ancestors hailed from Hadramaut. I am not a student of Arabic but I hear the soothing and welcoming words "Ahlan wa sahlan ... min Yamani, mu barrokah Hadramaut" from one of the tourism promotional videos. The opening words alone tell us of a background of a very different culture from what we are used to (western culture), of a highly cultured people and civilisation, that which is careful about what is said, and that touches the hearts. That is Hadramaut.

Why is Hadramaut important?

Hadramaut is important for many things in our human civilisation. There are many things discussed and buzzed about Hadramaut. Two ancient cities of Hadramaut are of note - Tarim and Seyoun (Seioun and other spellings).

The Quran (Surah Hud) also mentions of the ancient peoples who once lived there and then disappeared. The expansive graves at Tarim have appeared in a history documentary on the National Geographic (on ASTRO). The documentary mentioned and showed that Nabi Hud (Hood) a.s. and Nabi Salleh a.s. are buried here.

Hadramaut is the centre of higher learning, for almost everything. Hadramaut is what science and medicine are about. It is from a peaceful mind that thinks, the peaceful life of the Hadromi, that the mind can grasp new knowledge and man comes to accept his surroundings as provided to him by the Supreme Creator. That peaceful mind is the source of a lot of knowledge, and the Hadromi people have traveled far and wide to spread their knowledge, not only of Islam, but everything they knew.

Hadramaut has never been acknowledged to be of any significance in the universities of the west. Westerners failed to know that Hadramaut is the source of a lot of knowledge we have today. Hadromis are responsible for the spread of real knowledge of our existence. Medicine is only a small part of the much larger and infinite store of knowledge that man needs.

There are institutions of learning. The main one is Darul Mustafa. Many young men go to study there. Learning is in small groups, like what we do today, which is the best way to learn in the face-to-face learning mode. The teacher is perched slightly higher than the students who sit around him, this, to enable knowledge to transcend easily, which we have it reversed and which results in many failures of our modern learning system. Students are not seated on chairs but on soft carpets. There is a separate learning institution for women. There is a separate institution for syari'ah.

What is most special is the way the Hadromi men live their lives. There is buying and selling at the local markets - trading cattle and grains. There is dancing at night and tea is served in the open cool night with mats spread for everyone. The young and old men smile a lot; smiling itself is advocated for health and social reasons, but not laughing, which actually darkens the heart - something that the rest of the world believes is good for health.

I think it is high time, that we all take a good look at what Hadramaut had done for generations before us and how we can take up Hadramaut and place it high among the cities we already know. We cannot simply forget Hadramaut.

YouTube videos:
Hadramaut video 1
Hadramaut video 2
Tarim, Hadramaut video 3

Masjid An-Nur Bandar Hilir, Melaka

I'm writing again on a famous old mosque in Malacca which my forefathers laid down. The details are from a man named Mahadhir Mohamad. I don't know him, but he has knowledge of my family and ascendants. Here's the story ...

Masjid An-Nur Bandar Hilir, Melaka was founded by a Javanese man named Dato' Shahbudin bin Haji Mohd Amin. He was from Cheribon, Tanah Jawa, that's as much as the plaque says ... The mosque was built in 1820 (much later than its contemporaries at Tengkera in Malacca and Batu Uban in Penang).

Note: Cheribon (English) is now Cirebon (Indonesian).

Masjid An nur
Bandar Hilir Melaka
Dibina pada tahun 1820
Dato' Shahbudin bin Mohd Amin
Berasal dari Cheribon
Tanah Jawa

Founder's plaque.
Photo from Mahadhir Mohamad.

The mosque was first a family home in Banda Hilir. Religious activities then led it to first become a madrasah, and later, a mosque. Dato' Shahbudin passed away and is buried at Tanah Perkuburan Islam, Jalan Panjang (also called Lorong Panjang) in Malacca. The cemetery is some distance from the mosque. His grave and gravepost are painted yellow. The gravepost has a blue metal plate that reads:

Makam Datuk Shahbudin bin Hj Mohd Amin
Pengasas Masjid Annur Bandar Hilir Melaka

Makam Datuk Shahbudin at Tanah Perkuburan Islam, Jalan Panjang, Malacca. Photo from Mahadhir Mohamad.

There were several imams who were placed in charge of the mosque at Banda Hilir in Malacca. A modern yellow plaque with blue words lists the names of the imams, but no dates are available on record. Thus, the exact terms that they served are unknown.

Senarai Nama Imam
Lembaga Masjid An-Nur
Bandar Hilir, 75000 Melaka

1. Tn Hj Ashari bin Mohd Salleh
2. Tn Hj Mohd Shariff bin Ismail
3. Tn Hj Mohd Nordin bin Ismail
4. Tn Hj Ahmad bin Awal
5. Tn Hj Jaafar bin Hj Ashari
6. Tn Ustaz Ibrahim bin Hj Hashim
7. Tn Hj Halim bin Hj Ali
8. Tn Hj Osman bin Majid

List of Imams.
Photo from Mahadhir Mohamad.

I have filled in the approximate dates for the first 3 imams (the terms that they served), based on my research. As far as I know from my late father, the imams were related (semua imam Masjid Bandar Hilir bersaudara). However, Mahadhir Mohamad said only the first 5 imams were related, and were also related to Mahadhir Mohamad and me. The last 3 imams were appointed and were not related to the first 5 imams.

Hj Mohd Sharif bin Ismail was my paternal great grandfather - I have his Will (Wasiat). According to my father, his grandfather Hj Mohd Sharif died aged 38. Hj Mohd Sharif had 3 sibs - himself was the eldest, bearded Hj Mohd Nordin @ King George VI (middle brother) and Zainal @ Tok Zainal Klang (youngest brother) lived in Klang and was a private tutor to Sultan Abdul Samad of Selangor.

I supposed the dates can be worked out based on the birth and death certificates of the imams mentioned. Some people/relatives today may still remember them.

1. Tn Hj Ashari bin Mohd Salleh, circa 1820-
2. Tn Hj Mohd Shariff bin Ismail, circa 1860-1912
3. Tn Hj Mohd Nordin bin Ismail, circa early 1900s; circa 1912-?


In 1960, there was a request from the villagers of Kampong Banda Hilir for a replacement of a 'Sidang Kampong' who retired at 60, but was not replaced. Here is the article published in the newspaper on 16 April 1960:

Melaka, Juma'at.-Pendudok2 di kariah Kampong Banda Hilir yang berhampiran dengan bandar, telah merayu kepada kerajaan negeri supaya mengadakan seorang sidang untuk menjadi Ketua Kampong mereka bagi menggantikan Sidang Tua yang telah diberhentikan oleh kerajaan bahru2 ini.
Keputusan menghantar rayuan ini telah dibuat oleh penduduk2 di kampung itu kelmarin.
Inche Nasir bin Awal, Sidang dari kariah Kampung Bandar Hilir itu telah diberhentikan baharu2 ini oleh Kerajaan kerana beliau telah berumur lebih dari 60 tahun.
Menurut Peraturan bahru Kerajaan, sidang2 yang telah berhenti kerana sebab2 umur tua, tidak akan diganti. 
Jadi ketua
Tuan Syed Omar Al-Habshi, seorang penduduk di kariah itu yang juga menjadi salah seorang anggota Lembaga Masjid Kampong Banda Hilir memberitahu Berita Harian bahawa kira2 seribu orang penduduk di sekitar kariah kampungnya memerlukan pimpinan seorang sidang.
"Kami mahu kerajaan mengadakan seorang ganti Sidang di tempat kami untuk menjadi ketua kami sekelian. Kami menuntut pemilihan yang diadakan kelak hendaklah diadakan dengan jalan pilihan rakyat," kata Tuan Syed Omar. Taken from Berita Harian, 16 April 1960, Page 5.  PENDUDOK2 MERAYU DI-ADAKAN SIDANG KAMPONG

In May 1960, Tuan Syed Omar Al-Habshi who was a Committee member of Lembaga Masjid Banda Hilir, said the Government asked the villagers to name their Sidang. Only Encik Daim bin Mat, a Kariah Masjid Banda Hilir registered himself as the new Sidang for the 13 May 1960 elections for Sidang.
Melaka, Rabu. - Permohonan penduduk2 di kariah Masjid Kampung Bandar Hilir yang baharu2 ini merayu kepada Kerajaan supaya mengadakan seorang sidang di kampung mereka bagi menggantikan sidang tua di kampung itu yang telah diberhentikan kerana usianya lebih dari 60 tahun, telah berhasil.
Baharu2 ini Penghulu Ismail bin Abdul Latiff mengumumkan bahawa pemilihan seorang Sidang baharu di kariah itu akan diadakan pada 13 Mei ini.
Tuan Syed Omar Al-Habshi, seorang ahli Jawatankuasa Lembaga Masjid Banda Hilir memberitahu Berita Harian hari ni bahawa Kerajaan telah memberi peluang kepada penduduk2 di situ mencalunkan diri masing2 untuk jawatan itu.
Berita Harian difahamkan bahawa setakat ini hanya seorang sahaja yang telah mendaftarkan diri untuk jawatan Sidang itu.
Beliau ialah Encik Daim bin Mat seorang penduduk di kariah itu. Taken from Berita Harian, 5 May 1960, Page 2. Kampong memileh sidang sendiri

The land surrounding Masjid Banda Hilir has been gifted to Masjid Banda Hilir by Hj Mohd Sharif bin Ismail (tanah 1 ekar diwakafkan kepada Masjid Banda Hilir). The tanah wakaf of Masjid Banda Hilir was entrusted to his middle brother (Hj Mohd Nordin bin Ismail) and later his son Rahim bin Hj Mohd Nordin, and then my late father (Hj Abdul Rashid bin Hj Mohd Yusope bin Hj Mohd Sharif bin Ismail).

Today, Masjid Bandar Hilir has about 1 acre of gifted land (tanah wakaf). The confines of this gifted land are in a land map sent to me by Mahadhir Mohamad today, 7 April 2013. However, the numerals and map numbers are unclear.

What else needs be done?

There are desperate cries to make Masjid Banda Hilir a heritage site (tapak warisan) but that hope is still facing obstacles as making heritage sites comes under Kementerian Warisan and not the Chief Minister of Malacca. Someone needs to look into this matter so that we can save this ancient mosque from possible future demolition, in the name of progress. I really hope that those of you who are residing in Malacca and near this mosque can help. I am living in Kelantan.

Once the story surrounding Masjid An-Nur Banda Hilir is complete, insyaAllah, then someone can sit down to write a book about the former house at 262-T Banda Hilir and the history of the mosque. The mosque front perimeter wall was bombed during the Japanese war and was re-built. There are photos of the people of the mosque and the reconstruction of the perimeter wall in the post-war.


Masjid Banda Hilir was expanded in the early 1960s as published on 15 December 1962 and 11 January 1963.

Melaka, Juma'at.-Masjid Kampong Banda Hilir di pekan Melaka, akan diperbesarkan lagi bangunannya.
Tuan Syed Omar Al-Habshi, setiausaha Lembaga Masjid tersebut memberitahu Berita Harian bahawa perbelanjaan membesarkan bangunan itu dijangka akan memakan perbelanjaan sebesar $5,000/-.
Menurut beliau Pejabat Ugama Melaka memberikan bantuan sebanyak $500.00 manakala penduduk2 kampung baharu dapat mengumpulkan sebanyak $1,000/- sahaja.
Beliau menyeru seluruh penduduk2 Islam di Persekutuan supaya memberikan bantuan khairat masing2 untuk embenaan masjid itu melalui list2 derma yang sedang diperedarkan sekarang. Taken from Berita Harian, 15 December 1962, Page 8. MASJID AKAN DI-PERBESAR.

Melaka, Khamis. Masjid Jame' Banda Hilir akan diperbesarkan lagi dengan perbelanjaan $1,000.
Jawatankuasa Lembaga masjid itu telah menrima pengakuan derma sebanyak $1,000 dari ahli kariah dan $500 dari Pejabat Ugama Islam Melaka.
Baki wang yang diperlukan sedang diusahakan melalui lis2 derma. Taken from Berita Harian, 11 January 1963, Page 7. MASJID JAME' BANDA HILIR

The mosque was further renovated and expanded in 2007.

This mosque is used daily, including for Friday afternoon prayer (Solat Jumaat).

This mosque is now a heritage mosque (masjid warisan).

Panglima Mat Berani

When the Portuguese attacked Malacca, the sultan and his people defended all that they could from the Portuguese. Among the brave men of Malacca was Panglima Mat Berani, who defended the sultan and Malacca before he died a martyr (mati shahid). Panglima Mat Berani's grave is somewhere in Malacca-Muar area. He is remembered whenever the story of the Portuguese attack on Malacca in 1511 is mentioned.

Who was Panglima Mat Berani?

The story of Panglima Mat Berani is narrated in a blog operated by Hafez J Malim at