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Wahdatul Wujud

Wahdatul Wujud

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Published by: susastra on Aug 06, 2008
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Hamzah Fansuri: a Man of Literature and Religion
After the death of Prophet Muhammad SAW, Islam spread rapidlythroughout the countries on the eastern part of Arabia. The first Islamickingdom era, which lasted until half of the seventh century and governed bythe Ummayah dynasty, was marked by wars and glorious victories over thesurrounding kingdoms in order to expand the Islamic territory. During thetimes of 
Islamization
, various cultures assimilated with Arabian culturebrought by the soldiers. These acculturations and assimilations were the rootof Islam civilization. The next dynasty, the Abbasiyah, consolidated theirpower and in 750 AD, Islamic civilization had spread to the outer territory of the Abbasiyyah (Schimmel, 1986: 30).One of the biggest countries ruled by Islam was Persia. As one of thekingdoms with the oldest culture in the world and a much higher civilizationthan Arabia, Persian culture gave a tremendously deep influence in Islamiccivilization, especially in the fields of ethics, aesthetics, spiritual, andmaterial. Moreover, these Persian elements had perfectly been an integralpart of Islam civilization.After spreading throughout the east to India, Islam spread its wings toSoutheast Asia. Here it also penetrated almost every aspect of cultural life.In its journey exploring Indonesia, Islam also introduced the Persian culturewhich later gave permanent colors to local archipelago cultures (Liaw, 1991).One of the important parts of Islamic culture in Indonesia with strong Persianinfluence is literature. Through India, which at that time was ruled by theMughal dynasty, Malayan, Javanese, and Sundanese literature took thePersian elements as their own.In
Sejarah Melayu
, a local historiography of the Malacca Kingdom, thefamily tree of the dynasty was written on the introduction to legitimate thedynasty as the ruler of the Kingdom. Among the names of the ancestors,beside Alexander the Great who was considered the
 par excellence
of KingNursiwan Adil, there was a famous Persian King named Khosru Anursyirwan
 
(Sejarah Melayu, 1952: 25). Anusyirwan’s name could be found again asNursewan in Javanese literature which was a part of 
Hikayat Amir Hamzah
.This hero in Javanese literature written by Yasadipura entitled
Serat Menak 
 was named Amir Ambyah or Wong Agung Menak Jayengrana. The AmirHamzah tale has been told in various Indonesian literatures and containsmany Persian names in it. According to a research by Van Ronkel, theMalayan tale was actually an adaptation of the original Persian source, andthen it was converted to Javanese. (Van Ronkel, 1895)The same thing happened to
Hikayat Muhammad Hanafiyyah
(TheStory of Muhammad Hanafiyyah), which told the battle between Husein,Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, and Yazid, son of Muawiyah from theUmayyah Dynasty, in the beginning of Islam history that had cost Husein hislife. To this day, an annual ceremony is held in some areas in Indonesiaevery 10
th
of Muharam to commemorate the event (Baried, 1980, andBrakel, 1975). These stories were written in a Persian romance model(Braginsky, 1993: 23).Alexander the Great, king of the famous Macedonia, in Malayan and Javaneseliterature had been transformed into an Islamic king who conquered thekingdoms in Maghrib and Masyrik in order to spread the religion to thosekings.
Hikayat Iskandar Zulkarnain
(The Story of Alexander the Great) waswritten based on his biography, and was combined with other element fromthe
Syahnameh
or The Book of Kings written by Firdausi, the famous Persianauthor.There are many themes in these
hikayat 
—the Malayan romantictales—which were taken from Persian literature as in the
Hikayat Indraputra
 (The Tale of Indraputra), a well-known story in the archipelago.A literary text that has become the center of attention for scholars since the19
th
century is
Taj al-Salatin
(the Crown of Kings), which also has a strongPersian influence. This didactic literature contains a part which states theterms of a good king in the Persian model. Some says that the text was atranslation from the Persian language, but some other researchers declinedthis statement. The poem inside the text was written in the form of 
mathawi 
,
 
ruba’i 
, and
ghazal 
; those which were the Persian poetry forms (Liaw,1991:70). It seems that the influence of Persia in governmental and politicalscience was still powerful in the 19
th
century. We can see this in the writingof Raja Ali Haji, entitled
Thammarat al-Muhimmah
, which also described thecharacteristics and obligations of an ideal king according to the basics of oldPersian Kingdom.Above is a little description of how the Persian nuances affectedIndonesian literature. It is obviously clear that these nuances can also befound in other parts of Indonesian cultural artifacts. Among them are thecalligraphy arts with Farisi style as an example of the stylish flexible formslike those of the great Persian arts. (Akbar, unpublished).
Hamzah Fansuri and the Sufi Lyrics
 The enormous number of Sufi poems written by Hamzah Fansuri, hasmade his name often connected with the
tasawuf 
, especially in the
tasawuf 
 school of Wahdat Al-Wujud. Moreover, he is also well known for his lyricalpoems as a form of Malayan literature. This poetry form was adapted byHamzah from the
ruba’i 
, a chain of poems with four lines in every stanzasimilar to those of the Arabian-Persian literature (Teeuw, 1966: xi). The formof literature, which at first was used to spread religious themes, wasexpanded to other fields such as history, narrative-lyric, didactic lyric, andother themes.Although common people knew Hamzah Fansuri as a writer of 
tasawuf 
 lyrics, he actually had written several prose in the form of teachings. Threeprose which are still preserved are:1.
 
 Asrar al-Arifin
or ‘The Secrets of the Wise’.2.
 
Syarab al-Asyiqin
or ‘The Drinks of Lovers’.3.
 
 Al-Muntahi 
or ‘The Believer’.Meanwhile, 42 poems which are believed as his works have differentvariations of stanzas, from 9 to more than 30 (Drewes, 986: 142-143).

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