The background of the thesis is based on concern about the misunderstanding of the concepts of Jihād, Sharī’ah and Sufism by some Western scholars, some non-Muslims and even Muslims themselves. Since most of the existing studies of these three concept focus on the Middle East as the origin of Islam, this thesis instead will focus on the Malays-Indonesian Archipelago. Another reason is that many Muslim scholars in Indonesia turn to non-Indonesian Muslim scholars to guide their teaching and learning discourse. As a result of this, Most of the Malay-Indonesian Muslims scholars seem to ignore their genealogy in the past. The phenomenon also gives the impression that Muslim Malay scholars in the past have made no direct, indirect or important contributions to the present Islamic discourse. This thesis is an effort to show that Muslim scholars in the past have left an important legacy for their following generations.
However, unfortunately, their heritage has not been properly studied. Little attention has been paid to original sources and to the social conditions of Islam in the Malay world. Therefore this study is very important for a better understanding on Islam in the Malay world with its internal dynamics and special characteristics. The foundation this thesis lays is the methodology being used to conduct this research. The methodology developed by Karl Mannheim, known as “Sociology of Knowledge.” has been chosen as the basic approach of the thesis because it has similarities with the study of critique of the Hadīth in the Islamic tradition.
Like the study of the critique of the Hadīth which tries to take into account the origin of the content of Hadīth (Matn al- Hadīth) by observing its transmission and the transmitters (the way the Hadīth was narrated, transmitted: Riwāyah and Dirāyah al Hadīth), the transmitters (Rijālul Hadīth), the contents as well as the comparative study of the content of the Qur’anic messages (Muqāranah Bayn Matn al Hadīth wa al Qur’ān). The similarities between both approaches may be explained by the fact that Mannheim came from a Jewish family whose traditions about the understanding of the sacred texts are closed to Islamic traditions, Semitic traditions.
This thesis tries to dismantle the origins of the meaning of the text from its semantic features and special terminology, which in Islamic literature is known as lughatan (semantic meaning) wa istilāhiyyan (terminological meaning). After that, this thesis tries to observe the historical context based on the sacred text of the Qur’an and the historical context of the early period of the Prophet and Muslim society in understanding the concept. This thesis shows that the dynamic of Islamic discourse of the Malay Muslim scholars in the 17-18th century had a close links with the dynamic of Islamic discourse in the Middle East known as the Haramayn circle at that time.
Therefore, to understand the heritage of the Malay Muslim scholars it is necessary to understand the dynamics of Islam in general. In the course of time, the continuity of the ideas takes different forms when these ideas are dealing with various cultures being practiced by Muslims in many places. Cultural diversity in Muslim societies therefore, can be said as one of the elements which enrich the development of Islamic thought. The thesis argues that among Malay Muslim scholars, the exemplars of Muslim scholars who understood the concept of Islamic teachings as a whole can be found in the figures of Yusuf al Maqassary and Dawud al-Fatani. For this, the reason, this thesis argues is that the greatest Muslim scholars are those who understand the inner and the outer aspects of Sharī’ah based on the guidance of the sacred books of Islam (Qur’ān and Hadīth) supplemented by the heritage of earlier Muslim scholars.
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