Sunday, July 8, 2007

Haji Abdullah Abbas Nasution, an Islamic religious scholar who also uses the pen for da'wa.

Haji Abdullah Abbas Nasution
Translation by Haji Hashim Bin Samin

Haji Abdullah Abbas Nasution was born in Langgarbon March 1, 1912. He received his early education from his father until the age of 10. In 1920, he was admitted into Langgar Malay School. In 1923, he continued his education at the Pondok (hut) Arabic School in Penang and Jitra, Kedah.

From 1928 to 1932, he went on to further his education at Tok Kenali Pondok Religious School at Kota Bharu Kelantan, and at the Maahad Muhammadi, also in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. From 1937 to 1940, he completed his studies at the Pondok School of Ahamadiah Bunut Payung, in Kota Bharu Kelantan. He then returned to Kedah to teach at the Pulau Pisang Pondok School in Jitra, before moving on to Haji Mohsin Pondok School in Titi Besi, Kepala Batas. At the end of 1940, Haji Abdullah Abbas Nasution opened his own school, which was known as Madrasah Maahad Ehya Al-Ulum Ad-Diniah, in Tanjung Pauh, Jitra. The school provided lessons on Islamic Religious Knowledge, the Malay Language, Arabic and English. From 1940 to 1967, Madarsah Maahad Ehya Al-Ulum Ad-Diniah had produced around 4000 graduates who were very knowledgeable on Islam.

Besides teaching, Haji Abdullah Abbas Nasution was also active in Islamic missionary work, through his writing. He had been actively involved in writing since the early 1930s. In 1933, he tried his skills by becoming part-time contributors to newspapers. He was at that time, still studying in the Tok Kenali Pondok School in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. He open used such pseudonyms as A.A. Pilpasani, AAN and Ibni Arabi. His writng, which were often religious in nature, wou;d be published in such papers as Saudara, Warta Malaya of Singapore, and Sahabat of Penang. Besides articles on religion, he also contributed everyday news for these papers. Among the subjects of his reports were news of chicken thefts, fights between people, and news on crime.

Haji Abdullah next turned to translation of religious texts from its original Arabic form into Malay. Among the work he had translated at this early period were Tarbiah Al-Ijtimabiah (Social Affairs), Tarbiah Al-Wataniah (Egyptian Political Science) and a few other texts. Apart from translation, he also did his own writing and produced a few texts book such as Sejarah Melayu Raya (A History of the Malays) in which was noted the history of the Malay people from the Sri Vijaya era to the arrival of Islam in South East Asia. In 1940, Haji Abdullah began his work of translating the Koran, which was finally published in 1959. He also wrote an analysis of the Koran, a work he completed within eight years. On the whole, Haji Abdullah Abbas Nasution had written and translated about 100 books and articles on various subjects in the years between 1933 and 1980. Most of these books were on Islam, its culture and history. He also wrote on a general history of South East Asia. He had also written on his own family's genealogical history and a few other books on Geography, Economics, Political Science, Social Science, Education, and many other fields including his own autobiography. All these were either written in the khat tuluth jawi script or simply typewritten.

Haji Abdullah Abbas Nasution was also active in the Kedah Ulama Association (PUK). At the earlier part of its formation, Haji Abdullah was considered to be one of its founders and strongmen. He was at that time the Head of his own pondok school, the Maahad Ehya Al-Ulum addiniah of Tanjung Pauh, Jitra, Kedah. As a founder member of PUK, he was registered as the eighth member of the Association. He was later appointed as its founding Secretary and later as the Association's Honourary Secretary.

As the founding Secretary and the Honourary Secretary of the Association, he was given the task of formulating its constitution, which he did, based on the Penang Straits Born Association (a Penang Indian Muslim charity organization). Haji Abdullah Abbas Nasution was appointed as the Assistant Secretary of the Kedah Ulama Association (PUK) and served from January 1946 to 1949. The Association had at first, based its movement in Alor Setar (it had its headquarters in Mahmud College) before deciding to move to Guar Chempedak a year later. This had to be undertaken as Mahmud College was a government institution and the Association was a non-government organization. As it was a non-government organization, its activities were beset by governmental rules and regulations. This had the effect of the Association being less free to pursue its objectives. On the other hand, the Associaiton, which was based at the Al-Taufikiah Al-Khairiyah Religious Chool in Guar Chempedak, enjoyed more freedom as the school was a private institution, which was not subjected to any governmental rules and regulation. From 1949 to the 1950s, Haji Abdullah Abbas Nasution served as the PUK's Religious Education Head replacing Sheikh Abdul Halim Othman who incidentally, was PUK's first Religious Education Chief.

In the political arena, Haji Abdullah Abbas Nasution used to hold such posts as Secretary of the Kedah Malay Organization and Secretary of Kubang Pasu UMNO Division. He later became PAS (Pan-Malayan Islamic Party) Secretary for Kubang Pasu and Kuala Nerang, Chief of Kedah PAS Ulama Council, and a member of PAS Central Committee. He had also involved himself with the anti-Malayan Union movement by attending the important Congress of Malayan Malay Organizations which was held at the Sultan Sulaiman Club in Kuala Lumpur, on March 1, 1946. He had attended as a representative of both PUK and the Kedah Malay Organization. He was also present at a meeting of a Malayan Ulama Assembly held in Butterworth in 1952. Haji Abdullah Abbas Nasution did not limit his activities to religious affairs only, as he was also active in social affairs. An example was his involvement in the Companionship of Pen Pals (Persaudaraan Shabat Pena or Perspam). Besides that he was also well known as an orator as could be seen in his delivery of a talk entitled 'The Life and Struggles of Tok Kenali' at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia on February 21, 1978. He often attended seminars on politics, economics, history, education, language, literature and culture.

Haji Abdullah Abbas Naution died on January 4, 1987 at the age of 78. His struggle through PUK to unite Muslims, especially in Kedah has left a positive impression in the effort to Islam throughout the Nation. For that reason alone, he should be remembered by later generations of Muslims.