(11/11/1921 – 26/9/2007)
85 years of age
Kiyai Muhammad Hassan Asy’ari was born at Kampung Pekalongan, Kacamatan Tambak, Bawean Island, Indonesia, on Friday, 11 November 1921, corresponding to 10 Rabi’ al-Awwal 1340. He received his early education from his father, Kiyahi Mustafa Al-Bakri who was a well known religious teacher in his village. Kiyai Asy’ari was a diligent and intelligent student. At the age of 14, he travelled to Java to pursue his studies at Pondok Pasanteren Paterongan, Jombang, East Java, under the tutelage of Kiyahi Muhammad Romli At-Tamimi, a Mursyid of Thoriqah al-Qadiriyyah wa al-Naqsyabandiyyah in East Java. Kiyai Asy’ari studied from Kiyahi Muhammad Romli for several years. He also received instruction from the following teachers in Java:
- Al-Allamah Kiyahi Muhammad Romli At-Tamimi
- Al-Allamah Kiyahi Hasyim Asy’ari Tebuireng (Head of Nahdhatul Ulama)
- Al-Allamah Kiyahi Hasbullah
- Al-Allamah Kiyahi Zainul Hasan Genggong Kraksan
- Al-Allamah Kiyahi Muhammad Uthman bin Nadi Al-Ishaqi
In keeping with Boyanese tradition of having young men travel abroad for experience and to search for a way to support themselves, Kiyai Asy’ari went to Singapore in the 1940s.
Initially, he worked at the Singapore Tobacco Company as a driver. But he also conducted religious classes in several places in Singapore. With an insatiable thirst for knowledge, he continued attending the religious classes of several prominent ulama in Singapore, among them:
- Syed Abdullah bin Syeikh Balfaqeh, Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah’s second principal.
- Sanusi bin Mahmood, Singapore’s first Mufti
- Ahmad Zohri Mutamim
He was also one of the khalifah tasked to guide a group of students from Thoriqah Al-Qadiriyyah wan Naqsyabandiyyah at Masjid Alkaff, Peng Gheck Avenue, Potong Pasir, Singapore, under the guidance of Mursyid Al-Allamah Kiyahi Syeikh Muhammad Uthman bin Nadi Al-Ishaqi Surabaya.
Kiyai Asy’ari did not like to make himself prominent. He would dress like others, and would wear a baju melayu (a Malay shirt), a Samarinda sarong, and would wear on his head a black songkok, covered with a white shawl. He was always careful with his words although his intuition was very sharp, and he would use allegories and metaphors when he wanted to reprimand or remind his students, regardless of whether he was teaching or not. In fact, his reminders were full of wisdom and very gentle such that they would melt the hearts of those who came to seek his guidance. People would often come and seek his opinions and supplications, and it was said that he possessed an ability to correctly predict the future and that his supplications were granted by Allah.
There is no doubt as to his religious knowledge. When asked for religious opinions, he would always answer with relevant references from primary sources such as Tuhfatul Muhtaj, Nihayah and others. His experience and his understanding in Tasawwuf were admirable, and this was evident from his explanations in plain language of the difficult book al-Hikam by Ata’illah Iskandari. Only an expert in the field of Tasawwuf would be able to decipher and internalise a book such as this.
Even though he was not fluent in spoken Arabic, his ability in that language was unquestionable. He could read traditional Islamic textbooks in Arabic such as Matan Ajrumiyyah and Alfiah Ibnu Malik and he also conducted classes for the following books:
- Ihya’ Ulumiddin, by Hujjatul-Islam Imam Ghazali (Arabic edition) – Tasawwuf
- Siyarus-Salikin, by Syeikh Abd. Samad Al-Falimbani (Malay edition) – Tasawwuf
- Hidayatus-Salikin, by Syeikh Abd. Samad Al-Falimbani (Malay edition) – Tasawwuf
- Minhajut-Tolibin, by Imam al-Nawawi (Arabic edition) – Fiqh
- Sabilul-Muhtadin, by Syeikh Muhammad Arsyad Al-Banjari (Malay edition) – Fiqh
- Siratul-Mustaqim, by Syeikh Ar-Raniri (Malay edition) – Fiqh
- al-Hikam, by Ibn Ataillah Al-Iskandari (Malay edition) – Tasawwuf
- Minhajul Abidin, by Hujjatul-Islam Imam Ghazali (Malay edition) – Tasawwuf
- Aqidatun Najin (Malay edition) – Tawhid
- Syarah Jauharatut (Malay edition) – Tawhid
- Zadul Muata’llim (Malay edition) – Fardhu ‘Ain
- Tafsir Jalalain (Arabic edition) – Tafsir
- Riyadhus Salihin, by Imam Nawawi (Arabic edition) – Hadith
- Mustika Hadith (Malay edition)
- Syarah Alfiah Ibnu Malik (Arabic edition) – Nahu
- Matan Al-Jurmiyyah (Arabic edition) – Nahu
- Amthilah Tashrifiyyah (Arabic edition) – Sarf
- Matan Ar-Ruhabiyyah (Arabic edition) – Faraidh
Kiyai Asy’ari assisted in the publication of the book Ar-Risalah Khawashiyyah written by Kiyahi Musta’in Romli, and this was printed by Malaysia Press Sdn Bhd in 1961. He also translated the following books from Arabic to Malay:
- Al-Khulashatul Wafiyyah written by Kiyahi Syeikh Muhammad Uthaman Al-Isshaqi . It was printed by Pustaka Nasional.
- Manaqib Syeikh Abdul Qadir Al-Jailani written by his grandfather Kiayahi Abdul Latiff. His translation ran parallel at the bottom of the original Arabic text.
Among those who had the privilege to study at his feet are:
- Ustaz Husein Unang (Lecturer at Uiniversiti Malaya, Malaysia)
- Ustaz Muhammad Rais (President, Syariah Court, Singapore)
- Ustaz Salleh Sinwan (Lecturer at Marsah Johor Baru, Malaysia)
- Ustaz Hanafi Syafie (Khat expert and religious teacher in Singapore)
- Ustaz Zainal Arifin Syarbini (Lectuer at Universiti Darul Aman, Terengganu, Malaysia)
- Ustaz Afandi Ahmad (Quranic Reciter and Teacher, Singapore)
- Ustaz Masbur Ahmad (Religious teacher in Singapore)
- Ustaz Salim Ridhawi (Quranic Reciter and Teacher, Singapore)
- Ustaz Asy’ari Sahal (Religious teacher)
- Ustaz Ahmad Shamsuddin Ahmad (Teacher at Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah)
He passed away during Fajr on the 14th of Ramadan 1428, corresponding to 26 September 2007.
May Allah bless his soul.
(Source: Ustaz Ahmad Shamsuddin bin Ahmad)