Tribute to the Sufi Masters


Many gems had lost in the Sultanate of Sulu after the royal government had successfully weakened by its enemy. The most important of all gems were the books written by the Tausug and Muslim scholars who became the Sultan’s advisers and state’s jurists by that time. One of the prime causes of the lost was due to the inhuman attitude of the colonizers particularly the Spaniards who managed to burn into ashes any references related to the Sultanate of Sulu. Luckily, there are still kitab kept by the Tausug in their dossiers. From that Kitab the Tausug were able to follow what had practised by their ancestors at the time when Islam in this island country is not yet penetrated by any sects.

Sufism or called in local language as llmu’ Mukali or Ilmu’ kamaasan is the type of Islamic discipline loved by the Tausug in general. Because Islam arrived to this island country was through the softness and mild touched of the Wali Allah and the Ahlul Bayt of Sayyidina Rasulullah.  

Among the known masters sowed the Kalima Tayyibah were the Makhdumin, Ba’lawi and the local masters who received divine knowledge ilmu tulun even without following any tarika [sufi path]. There are still many from among the Tausug nowadays have been guided directly by Allah swt.  This is perhaps due to the bloodline of the Tausug have link to Prophet Muhammad through Sayyidina Hassan, Hussain and from uncle’s prophet Ibn Abbas [the Makhdumin][1].

In the later time, among the sufi masters arrived to Sulu and have plenty of  murid among the Tausug were, Tuan Awliya Musa RA, Tuan Awliya Muhammad Sali @ Mat Salleh RA, Tuan Haman RA , Tuan Guru Hadji Gulam Hassan al-Bikangi @ Tuan Mudah RA , Sharif Muhammad RA, Habib Zakaria RA, Syeikh Hasbollah Ad dhohiri RA and many others.  These sufi masters according to the locals were all coming from outside Sulu.  

Below are the précis backgrounds of the later sufi masters arrived to Sulu.

TUAN AWLIYA MUSA RA according to his son he arrived to Sulu from Balabac Island. He was brought by huge crocodile across the deep sea to the shore of Luuk, Sulu. From there he managed to marry the Buranun and begot many children. This extraordinary man had many disciples in the rural areas of Sulu.

Tuan Awliya Muhammad Sali

TUAN AWLIYA MUHAMMAD SALI @ Mat Salleh RA, was a famous figure in Borneo history. No wonder he became hero nowadays in Sabah because he was a secret of Allah. He was the man who had confronted the British North Borneo Company. According to the source, Tuan Awliya Muhammad Sali was raised at the top of the hill of Mt. Kinabalu by a group of Awliya Allah. His origin though is unclear, there’s an account says that Tuan Awliya Muhammad Sali met a group of Awliya at Bangngas [island in front of Jolo] shore in his early age. On that day, a group of Awliyah Allah who boarded the banana stem [tangkay sin dahun saying] on air fetched Tuan Awliyah Muhammad Sali and brought him to Hill Maddai in Kunak, Sabah from there he transferred to the peak of Mt. Kinabalu. According to the source, Tuan Awliya Muhammad Sali is one of the masters in Mt. Kinabalu taught murid with mystical knowledge such as Ilmu’ Tawhid and others. Tuan Muhammad Sali is one of Tuan Gulam Hassan Al-Bikangi Masters at the time when Tuan Muda secluded at Mt. Kinabalu. Nowadays, this secret of Allah sometimes appeared to some fishermen as an old man on board a Bangka’ with cock. If the fisherman is not stingy Tuan Awliya Muhammad Sali gives any knowledge in return to him.  In the contrary, if the fisherman refuses to give fish to the disguised old man suddenly Tuan Awliya Muhammad Sali would then unveils his real identity and he won’t teach anything to him in return. This occasions many times happening to some people in the Island of Tawi-Tawi.

TUAN HAMAN RA was another pious man who had given extraordinary power by Allah swt. This man had undecipherable origin. Some Tausug says he was an Indonesian, but some says he was an Arab.  Whatever it is, this man had plenty of murid in Sulu. He performed karamah such as his cane, which serves as his compass able to search if there’s an event conducted in the place. He followed the direction of his stick when it fell down. Luckily, every time he did, there was always a special occasion being conducted. Even he wasn’t invited if his stick showing that direction he surely goes to the place. This man performs plenty of karamah and he was popular and respected by the Tausug of his time.

TUAN GURU HADJI GULAM HASSAN ALBIKANGI @ Tuan Muda RA was originally from Pakistan. This man had also special gift given by Allah as an answer to his pious life started from his early age. He moved to North Borneo with the reason that he wanted not to be disturbed his devotion to Allah by people who knew him there.  This man had an excellent character and ardently observed the divine laws. He loved all pious and other Allah’s creation.  This secret of Allah had visited Jolo in the 60’s. During his visit, he performed many karamah such as able to stop the siren at the Jolo Ice plant which made a noise 3 times a day in Jolo town. He did that by just saying “that won’t functioning anymore” at the time they were about to pray. The siren managed to make a noise again after he left Jolo. In one of the dawn prayers one of his murids locked him inside the bedroom, with the intention to test him. When his murid arrived to the Masjid he was mystified at the time he saw Tuan Muda there with the congregation. He almost cannot believe when he went home he saw his master still there lying on the bed. Two bodies at a time, that’s really Allah’s special gift to His secret. Tuan Muda had a lot of Tausug murid until now the teaching he spread still with the Tausug be it they in Sulu or in Sabah. This master buried in Kampung Binuang Lahad Datu.

The other masters such as SHARIF MUHAMMAD RA and HABIB ZAKARIA RA has no stories yet to trace about their backgrounds. However, the latter, Habib Zakaria left a Kitab[translated to the Bahasa Sug] with some of his Murid. His kitab has no title but according to the source the content of that Kitab is a summary of Fiqh Tasawwuf, Usuluddin, Addarun Nafis and Kashful Tasawwuf.

SYEIKH HASBOLLAH AD-DHOHIRI RA, was one of the Muslim scholars had relation with the Tausug. He married a Tausug woman and had able to visit Sulu. According to some of his relative in Sandakan, Syeikh Hasbollah had plenty of Murid Tausug. It is not wondering though Sandakan is a part of the Sultanate of Sulu territory. The write ups of this Syeikh are with his relatives. The Masjid in Sandakan, built in 1800’s during the reign of Sultan Badaruddin II, is named after him.

Insya’Allah, in the future we can collect more of the backgrounds of these special people. May this short tribute could open our eye to the reality of the Tausug; because many from among the Tausug nowadays are slowly devaluing the efforts of these masters. They just don’t realize how valuable these people are. They are the true Prophet’s Successors because they shared Allah’s knowledge to the people with gentleness and mild approach. Ya Allah send more of this sort of people to the Sultanate of Sulu. Ameen.