Monday, November 27, 2017

Historic visit to the Cape by Tuan Guru descendant

Sekretaris Muhammad Amin Faruq is re-united with his Tidorean ancestor after 127 years. © Shafiq Morton
HISTORY was made in the Cape this past month when a direct descendant of Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Qadi Abdus Salam (Tuan Guru), Sekretaris Muhammad Amin Faruq, toured the city together with the Sultan of Tidore, His Excellency Jo Hussain Abu Bakr Shah.

This was the first time that a delegation from Tuan Guru’s birthplace had ever visited the country. Sekretaris Faruq describes himself as the fifth generation from Sha’an Yughni, Tuan Guru’s third eldest son (of eleven), who was left behind in Tidore in 1779 when the Dutch exiled Tuan Guru to the Cape for political resistance.

Hosted by the Rakiep family, the delegation visited the Castle, the Slave lodge, the Awwal mosque, the Bo Kaap museum and parliament, amidst family functions and a symposium held at Islamia College. At parliament, the visitors were received by Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, himself a descendent of Tuan Guru.

The historic visit was the culmination of decades of passionate, but largely unacknowledged research by the late Hajji Nur Erefaan Rakiep in locating Tuan Guru’s family in the eastern archipelago, and establishing his own family heritage.

According to Sekretaris Faruq, Tuan Guru is the grandson of Habib ‘Umar Rahmat al-Faruq, who left Cirebon in northwest Java in the 17th century for Tidore. It has been established that Habib Faruq was a descendent of Sunan Gunung Jati, or Sharif Hidayutallah, one of the Wali Songo, or nine founding saints of Java.

An examination of the family chains, though sometimes broken, do reveal that Tuan Guru (via Sharif Hidayutallah) could have been a Hussaini Sayyid, from the line of Zain ul-‘Abidin to ‘Ali al-‘Uraidhi from Imam Ahmad al-Muhajir, who trekked to the Hadhramaut in about 820 CE from Basra in Iraq.

It is believed that the offspring of Sayyid ‘Alawi bin ‘Ubaidallah, descended from the house of Imam Ahmad Muhajir, travelled to the Far East, Pakistan and India. Sharif Hidayutallah (died circa 1558 CE) traces his lineage through Sayyid ‘Abdullah Azmat Khan of India. 

There are no links of Tuan Guru to Morocco, which has been the result of a confused transcription of “Molluca” or “Maluku”, the sea bordering Tidore.

The climax of the tour occurred on a baking hot morning, 30 October, when the Sultan and Sekretaris Faruq visited the grave of their long lost island ancestor, for the first time, at the Tana Baru above the Bo Kaap. It proved to be a deeply moving, and poignant, reunion with many tears.

In an interview at the grave, Sekretaris Faruq said that the visit of the Tidoreans had been a historic moment, as for years, nobody had known where Tuan Guru was. He said it was interesting that Tuan Guru had been honoured as “Mister Teacher” in the Cape, as in Tidore he had been given the honorific title “Jo Guru”, almost the same equivalent, before his exile.

The Sultan of Tidore said that his visit had been inspiring. He said that when he returned home he would seek an appointment with the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, to get Tuan Guru declared a national hero in the same way that Shaykh Yusuf of Makasar and Prince Nuku – who’d both resisted the Dutch – had been honoured.

Shafiq Morton is currently researching a book on Tuan Guru entitled “The Life and Times of Tuan Guru” under the aegis of Awqaf SA.

His Excellency Jo Hussain Abu Bakr Shah (right) wearing the ceremonial yellow of the Tidorean sultanate.