Oct 29, 2012

Remembering The Life Story Of An Islamic Scholar And Educator - Al-Marhum Ustaz Syed Abdillah Aljufri

Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon
28 September 2012 / 11 Zulkaeddah 1433

Remembering The Life Story Of An Islamic Scholar 
And Educator - Al-Marhum Ustaz Syed Abdillah Aljufri

Dear blessed jemaah,

Let us increase our taqwa to Allah s.w.t. Perform all of His commandments and avoid all of His prohibitions. Know that taqwa can only be strengthened through knowledge that helps us to know Allah s.w.t. better. Therefore, let us persevere in our search for knowledge to find the pearls of faith, until we obtain the pleasure of Allah.

My dear blessed brothers,

As an introduction to today’s sermon, let us reflect upon the hadith of the Prophet s.a.w. which means: 
“ The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets, for the Prophets did not leave behind dinars and dirhams, but they left behind knowledge; and whoever receives knowledge, he has indeed received an abundance of good fortune. ” - Hadith narrated by Imam Tirmidzi.
Therefore, my dear brothers, in our search for knowledge to know Allah, we must first recognize the scholars so that we can gain the knowledge left by our Prophet from his true inheritors. Hence, today I wish to share with you the story of another inheritor of the Prophet who has contributed and influenced our religious understanding with knowledge and wisdom. He is a knowledgeable man who promoted Islamic education in this country, and has remained a priceless legacy even after his demise. His passing was mourned by the Muslim community in Singapore. He is Al-Marhum Syed Abdillah Bin Ahmad Bin Ali Bin Muhammad Aljufri, or commonly known as Ustaz Syed Abdillah Aljufri.

Ustaz Syed Abdillah was born on 2 March 1938, or 29 Zulhijjah 1356. His father was of Hadramaut, Yemeni descent and migrated to Singapore.

He received his early education at Madrasah Khairiyah. He then continued his studies at Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah. Ustaz Syed Abdillah was one of the most illustrious students at the madrasah, but was not able to continue his education at an overseas university due to financial constraints.

Although he was not able to continue his university education, that has not prevented him from continuing to enrich his body of knowledge from reading, researching and learning from other distinguished scholars such as Al-Marhum Ustaz Syed Abdullah Balfaqih (former Principal of Madrasah Aljunied), Al-Marhum Habib Alwi Bin Tahir Al-Haddad (former Mufti of Johor) and even obtained accreditation or ijazah from him. He also received trainings from Syed Abu Bakar Bin Taha Alsagoff, Haji Ali Bin Haji Ahmad Said (Chief Kadi of Singapura and Head Imam of Masjid Sultan) as well as Al-Marhum Ustaz Ahmad Sonhadji Mohamed.

In fact, even after being recognized as one of the revered religious figure among the local community and despite his busy schedule, Al-Marhum continued to set aside time to study from his teacher Al-Marhum Sheikh Umar Bin Abdullah Al-Khatib, a great scholar from Yemen, and this continued until Sheikh Umar passed away. This discipline in obtaining knowledge is an attribute that we should all follow. We should not be complacent with the knowledge that we possess because that knowledge is continually developing. Surely there will be new issues that we will discover and use to improve our lives in this world and in the hereafter.

Apart from enriching himself with various disciplines of knowledge, Al-Marhum was also active in contributing towards the development of the community. He used to head Madrasah Al-Junied Al-Islamiah as its Principal. He was also the President of Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (PERGAS), chairman of Masjid Al-Ansar, as well as one of the oldest members of the MUIS Fatwa Committee since 1970 till the end of his life.

Let us observe, my dear brothers, how Al-Marhum understands the meaning of a hadith of the Prophet s.a.w. which means: 
“ The best of people are those who bring most benefit to the rest of humanity. ” -Hadith narrated by Imam at-Thabrani.

The knowledge that he obtained was translated into practices that contribute to the development of every aspect of our community. We need to be aware of the need to share our knowledge or expertise with members of our community. Do not ever have the attitude that we are not competent enough to have any skills to contribute to the development of our community. This is because there is no contribution too small in the eyes of Allah s.w.t.

My dear beloved and blessed brothers,

In addition to the knowledge that he possess, and his competence in public speaking and giving talks, Al-Marhum also leaves a deep influence in the development of Islamic education in Singapore.

Why did I say that, my brothers? At a time when there was no formal Islamic education being established yet, Al-Marhum was the first to be involved in the process of exploring and developing the religious knowledge curriculum that leads to the publication of the text ‘Pengetahuan Agama Islam’ or ‘Islamic Religious Knowledge’ for secondary schools first used in the early 80’s.

Al-Marhum was also instrumental behind the curriculum development of our mosque’s madrasahs while he was holding the position of Assistant Director of Religious Education at MUIS. In fact, Al-Marhum was also directly involved in the writings of religious textbooks for part-time madrasahs at the primary level.

Therefore, it can be said that Al-Marhum was not only a pioneer in developing the religious educational system here, but he also laid the foundation to ensure that the Islamic educational system will continue to evolve and keep pace with the changing times and age.

In fact, generally all of us here have enjoyed the benefits from the contributions of Al-Marhum. It provides us with the foundation of understanding our religion correctly and accurately, before we go deeper towards improving our religious knowledge and understanding.

The same can also be said of Al-Marhum’s literary contributions. Al-Marhum’s vast experience in the fields of dakwah and leadership has benefitted the community through the legacy of his writings. It is not surprising that his books have been reprinted several times because of the overwhelming response. Among his original works are ‘Tafsir Pelita Al-Quran’ (book of Quranic exegesis or tafsir), ‘Anda Bertanya Saya Menjawab’ (a book religious queries), ‘Pelajaran Tauhid’ (Islamic Creed) , ‘Bimbingan Ibadat Haji’ (Guide to Hajj Rituals), ‘Wirid Dan Doa’ and others.

Indeed, the efforts and contributions of Al-Marhum is compatible with the spirit of Iqra’, that is to release humanity from darkness and ignorance, as well as to shine and illuminate Muslims with the light of knowledge that will shine forever. Verily, the struggles of Al-Marhum in upholding Islamic education truly realizes the philosophy of Iqra’ which is beautifully embedded in surah Al-‘Alaq verses 1-5:

اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ
خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ
اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الْأَكْرَمُ
الَّذِي عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ
عَلَّمَ الْإِنسَانَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ
Meaning: “Read in the name of your Lord Who created. Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood. Read and your Lord is Most Honorable. Who taught by the pen. Taught man that which he knew not.”

So, the question that we must always ask ourselves is this, what is the legacy that we wish to leave behind? My brothers, we must ensure that at least we must support the effort to establish a legacy within our community. This is regardless of whether we contribute through our volunteerism or by contributing our wealth, time or energy through various community initiatives. Importantly, we must be able to present to Allah s.w.t. later of our deed that has everlasting benefits.

My brothers,

Clearly, the contributions of Al-Marhum Ustaz Syed Abdillah through the legacy of his writings and leadership, have contributed much to the development of a quality Islamic education that we enjoy today. May Allah bless the soul of Al-Marhum, and place him among the auliya’, syuhada’ and solihin. May Allah gives us the strength to follow in the footsteps of Al-Marhum and build a generation that will be transformative for our community. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin. 

 note: the above format slightly different from the original format-word

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