Mohamed Sanusi bin Mahmood

(08/10/1909 – 8/10/1995)
84 years of age

Mohamed Sanusi bin Mahmood was Singapore’s first Mufti – from 1967 to 1972 – and one of those rare ulama of that time who had a good command of Malay, Arabic and English.

He owed this capability to his outstanding educational background. From 1922 to 1931, he was schooled at Victoria Bridge School and then Raffles Institution. In 1929, due to his excellent results in the Senior Cambridge examination, he managed to skip two grades.

Not satisfied with his academic achievements in English, he went to study Islam and Arabic Language from his grandfather, the Mufti of Indera Giri, at Safat, Sumatra, from 1931 to 1932.

Upon his return to Singapore, he took personal tuition from Haji Abdul Hamid Lingga, staying at the latter’s house in Geylang Serai for five months.

In 1933 he travelled to Mecca and studied at Masjidil Haram and from several well-known Indonesian and Turkish ulama at their houses. In 1936, after three years in Mecca, at the age of 25, he was accepted to study at the famed Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, where he managed to obtained both Al-Ahliyah (B.A) and Al-‘Alamiyah (M.A) certificates. He was the first Singaporean to obtain the prestigious Al-‘Alamiyah from Al-Azhar.

In 1942, after spending six years at the university, he decided to remain longer and learnt at the feet of several prominent ulama in Egypt. Thus it was only in 1946 that he returned to Singapore, after having spent three years in Mecca and ten years in Egypt.

With an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, he returned again to Mecca in 1949 and stayed there, working and studying.

In 1951, he returned to Cairo and worked as Assistant Cultural Attaché to the Indonesian Embassy in Cairo from 1952 to 1954. From 1955 to 1958, he translated many books from Arabic to Malay for the Islamic Conferences in Cairo.

It was with this exceptional educational background, that he was asked to sit in several prominent chairs. He was appointed as Qadi at Singapore’s Syariah Court (1959-1960); President of the Syariah Court and Registry of Marriages, Divorces and Reconciliation (1960-1969); as Singapore’s first Mufti (1969-1972); and then as Religious Adviser to Jamiyah (1972-1990). He was also appointed by Jamiyah as translator for all three languages – English, Malay and Arabic.

Mufti Mohamed Sanusi wrote many books, such as “Kamus Istilah Islamiah Sanusi”, “Taman Mu’minin” and “Mengenal Islam dan Hubungannya Dengan Sains & Teknologi”.

He passed away peacefully on Sunday, 8 October 1995 at the age of 84, leaving behind eight children – six boys and two girls.

May Allah bless his soul.

(Source: Sulaiman Jeem, Abdul Ghani Hamid, Aktivis Melayu/Islam di Singapura, Singapore: Persatuan Wartawan Melayu Singapura, 1997 )


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