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La publication dans le numro 60 d 'Archipel par C. Guillot & L.

d'une stle funraire releve en 1934 dans le cimetire de Bb Ma' l la
Mecque et portant le nom de Hamza b. 'Abd Allah al-Fansr, mort en
93 3 H/1 527, que les auteurs identifient avec le grand pote soufi malais
suscit plusieurs ractions parmi les spcialistes de l 'histoire et de la
turme alaises. La majorit d'entre elles saluaient la dcouverte du premier
lment permettant enfin de situer dans le temps ce mystique musulman dont
la personnalit semble avoir t abolie par la notorit de son oeuvre.
The publication in issue 60 of Archipelago by C. & L. Guillot Kalus
a funeral stele raised in 1934 in the cemetery of Bab Ma ' there at the
Mecca and named Hamza b . 'Abd Allah al- Fansuri , death
93 H 3 / 1527 , which the authors identify with the great Malay Sufi poet
prompted several reactions among specialists of history and litera
Turme draw sheets . The majority of them greeted the discovery of the first
element finally to locate in time the Muslim mystic whose
personality seems to have been abolished by the notoriety of his work.

L'un des spcialistes actuels de Hamzah, Vladimir 1. Braginsky, ne fut

pour sa part convaincu ni par la stle elle-mme, ni par les arguments
avancs par les auteurs de l'article en question et fit parvenir la revue un
texte dans lequel il expose les raisons de ses doutes.
Vu l'importance de l'enjeu historique li l'interprtation
One of the current specialists Hamzah , Vladimir Braginsky 1. , was not
for his part nor convinced by the stele itself, nor by the arguments
Developed by the authors of the article in question and did achieve a
text in which he explained the reasons for his doubts.
Given the importance of the historical issue concerning the interpretation
this stele ,
Editorial saw fit to bring to the attention of the various players
elements of the debate . One will find below a statement of objections
VI . Braginsky followed by a brief response from the authors of the

En rponse Vladimir I. Braginsky

II n'est pas question pour nous de vouloir polmiquer en reprenant un
un les points abords par V. Braginsky. Le lecteur pourra juger lui-mme de
la valeur des arguments avancs par les uns et les autres. Il nous a
paru ncessaire d'apporter quelques prcisions au sujet de l'tablissement
texte de l'inscription tel qu'il nous est parvenu - puisque nous n'avons tou
jours pas russi obtenir la photo de la stle, supposer que cette
soit encore en place - et d'ajouter une remarque ainsi qu'un lment en
faveur de notre interprtation.
L'argument principal avanc par Braginsky, savoir le doute sur le degr
de fiabilit de la fiche trouve dans les dossiers lgus par Gaston Wiet,
vrai dire gure surprenant. Nous nous tions, bien sr, pos la mme
tion ds la dcouverte de la fiche en cause et il nous semblait avoir donn
dans l'article les raisons nous ayant amens accepter cette lecture.
Apparemment, nos arguments n'y taient pas exposs avec assez de
aussi, allons-nous les prsenter de nouveau mais en fonction cette fois-ci
doutes mis par Braginsky.
It is not a matter for us to want to argue resuming a
the points raised by V. Braginsky. The reader can judge for himself
the value of the arguments advanced by each other. He however we
appeared necessary to make some clarifications about the establishment of
text of the inscription as it reached us - because we have tou
day failed to get the picture of the stele, assuming that the latter
yet in place - and add a remark and an element
for our interpretation.
The main argument Braginsky, namely doubts about the degree
reliability of detail found in records bequeathed by Gaston Wiet, is
indeed surprising. We had, of course, asked the same c
tion from the discovery of the profile in question, and we seemed to have
in the article the reasons that led us to accept this reading.
Apparently, our arguments were not exposed with sufficient clarity,
Also, are we going to resubmit but according this time of
doubts raised by Braginsky.
Record registration is by the hand of Gaston Wiet . This one
was not only "a form director of the Museum of Arab Art in Cairo ,
Who HAD beens compiling the Corpus of inscriptions of Mecca " but it was
Above all - and this is most important for our purposes - a world authority
incontestable and uncontested in his time in the field of Arabic epigraphy.

The sheet is part of an important set of instructions that had to be

integrated as such in the Corpus for which Gaston Wiet wrote at
time of his death, the explanatory text. In other words, this is not
not a worksheet but a final plug! Thereof door
as the title the following text, written with a typewriter:
"Epitaph Hamza Ibn Abd Allah Al-Fansuri. 933H. - Basalt stele,
24 x 36. Ten lines naskhi; fine print in relief. Unpublished. "Follows
Arabic text writing, hand written by Gaston Wiet. This is therefore a
plug ready for editing and scientific authenticity of which is to guarantee
Gaston Wiet itself.
This learned epigraphist would probably have been surprised to be fined
lessons regarding precautions to take in reading and construed
tatiodnes Arabic inscriptions and it is hardly necessary to note that not a
epigraphist level Gaston Wiet would have confused a beautiful nisba
once better known as al-Mansuri (or similar nisba), with the
al-Fansuri. We hope it is useless to insist more! We
is of course difficult to know if he knew (he or Mohammed al
Hawary) Fansur or even possibly Hamza al-Fansuri but we can
doubt. If he had known it, he would certainly have mentioned in
his comment, as he did for other businesses of the same
On the other hand, culture was huge but was cer Fansur
tainly far from his interests. His reading of the deceased's name
and its nisba appears as "spontaneous". Moreover, this same
Reading apparently asked him no problems SINCE no sign
expresses a possible doubt. As it should be, if he was facing a incerti
tudequ elconque, he did know. The question mark after the last
word our sign is a proof. Similarly, other fo sheets
rming the whole mentioned often wear of question marks,
ellipsis or a comment indicating the poor condition of sup
port. It seems therefore that, for copying text, you can
grant full trust Gaston Wiet.
About Notes on internal analysis of the text, Braginsky
is especially concerned about the presence and direction of al-Murabit
qualifier. It
notes that "They [the authors] translate it as a" combatant at the border
That assumes this word Confirms That It is PRECISELY the Malay Sufi poet
Hamzah. " By reading our text carefully, you see that we
does not claim that the word al-Murabit confirms that this is the
Malay poet but our reflection the choice between two possibil
itdse translation. To demonstrate the fragility of this translation, in
the time and environment concerned, Braginsky cites the studies of LviProvenal
and Marais, who were both leading experts in the West
Muslim - if not the Far West - but which can not
be invoked as references to the meaning of that term in
eastern lands. As for Article Nasser Rabat in the new edi
tion of the Encyclopaedia of Islam to which it refers as it is entitled
"Ribat" not "Murabit". But the two terms, certainly in etymology,
have certainly known semantic divergent fates. In any
cause, the time and Hamzah region there are no processed. The word
al-Murabit undoubtedly have taken a particular meaning in a medium
Specifically, we have also mentioned in commenting the translation
we have adopted. Braginsky believes that "By That Time [as late as
1527], this word - just like the very institution of frontier ribt (a
fortified settlement) - HAD lost Such a Meaning [to fighter

border] and primarly Was Understood as a "resident of a Sufi ribt" (year

analogue of Khanqah) or a "saint". It is true that the meaning of this term
certainly evolved, but accept the proposal would lead to Braginsky
total disregard for example dozens and dozens of entries (!) and other texts of a different nature - in the Mamluk era
why al-Murabit almost always found among the qualified
cant sultans or emirs. But it seems hard to imagine that these
high officials have been "residents of Sufi ribats" or
they can simply be called "saints." In concluding this
about, we can only note that the problem of the meaning of
this term becomes much more complex when one moves away from
Maghreb. Indeed, for the rest of the Muslim world, one has to
Today no reliable study on this subject, the texts with the qual
ificatif or can clarify its meaning not having
been scrutinized from this angle.
Braginsky arguments questioning the authenticity of the registra
tioent the proposed identification of the deceased, arguments directly
related to
text or presented as an example , oddly tend to " scare off"
the origin of the deceased to the Maghreb , as far as possible from the
Malay World.
But the fact that the proposed name of the deceased "independently" and
mentpa " Dr. Gaston Wiet on his record is the same as that of the great
Malay ic no longer possible to evacuate this new data .
Curiously, the epigraphic data was quite neglected as
source for the study of the history of the first centuries of Islam in the
Malay world . It is true that in most regions - except good sure that Aceh
- these data are scarce and are not always easy to
decipher and interpret. Nevertheless, they can cause surprises
he 'll have to live with.
When writing of this article , a detail that we got away
seems useful to mention here as an additional argument for
the identification of the deceased of the stele of Mecca with the Malaysian
In the section of the BK1 , " Korte Mededelingen " he loved ,
P. Voorhoeve was about manuscripts from the Malay World
laconic philological remarks which interest is almost always
inversely proportional to the brevity of their development.
In this section of No. 108 of the said magazine (!), He noted that one of
texts published by Van Nieuwenhuijze in his thesis on Sams'l-din van Pasai
(K manuscript, pp. 385-386) cited three quatrains whose paternity was
attributed to "Tuan di Mekah" ("The master of Mecca") for the first and
Hamzah Fansuri in the second when nothing was said about the author
third. He then remarked that in a manuscript kept at the
National Library of Paris (mal.-pol. 235 f.l5v-21r), there were the
same text as the K handwritten statement by Van but Nieuwenhuijze
both versions included many variae lectiones. One
of these was that where K manuscript had "Tuan di Mekah" of it
BN gave "Syaikh Hamzah." Voorhoeve logically deduced in
that "Tuan di Mekah also designated Hamzah."
In northern Sumatra and especially in Aceh, this twist com
Tuan asked the title or Teungku followed by a place name, or not by di
- The use of the preposition of honorary value added by
C. Snouck Hurgronje (2) - is commonly used to designate a per

personality respected by place of residence or birth (3).

Everyone knows, for example, or di Tiro Tiro Teungku called "Cik"
(Old) to distinguish it from other famous scholars from the same
Tiro village or resident. It is in this case a sort of nisba. Thus,
Voorhoeve notes that the second quatrain, sponsored Hamzah Fansuri
according to the K manuscript is assigned by the text of the BN to "Tuan di
a challenge scribe, he said, to restore in "Tuan di Pancur (Fansur)." The
"Shaikh al-Fansuri" Arabic is somehow Malay "Tuan
di Fansur, "" The Master [originating] from Fansur "
But more interesting for our purposes is the fact that this same round
nure is also used to form a posthumous name of the deceased
and especially revered saints. However in this case, very often otherwise
still, the rental returns rather than the place of origin or residence of
died during his life as would a nisba but his burial place.
Among the three most venerated saints of Banda Aceh Snouck Hurgronje quotes
Tuan (or Teungku) (4) and di Bitay Teungku (or Tuan) di Kuala. The first
would be, according to tradition, a Syrian or a Turk came as gunner
Aceh in the early sixteenth century and his tomb is (or was in any
If at the time of Snouck Hurgronje) in the Gampong of Bitay; the second
is none other than the famous seventeenth-century scholar al-Abdurrauf
Singkili, origi
nary Singil, which you can still see the grave at the mouth
(Kuala) of the Aceh River. It is now more known
posthumous "Syah [Syaikh] Kuala". Both titles mentioned so mean
respectively: "The master buried Bitay" and "Master buried
the Mouth ".
In the long list of saints that gives Aceh Snouck Hurgronje (5>
we can verify that the posthumous name by which they are known co
eflect in the vast majority of cases in the same structure:
Tuan / Teungku; di optional; burial place.
In his note, Voorhoeve was careful to explain this appellation
"Tuan di Mekah" considering he probably lacked elements for the
do. He only knew that Hamzah had visited Mecca, as
the latter says himself in his work, but simply could not stay
nothing justified the nickname, correspondent, remember, the place of
residence or
original. The discovery of the tomb of Mecca now explains this
acihais idiocy (?), otherwise incomprehensible. This is clearly the
Hamzah posthumous name therefore means "The master buried in Mecca."
The use of this circumlocution also shows that Aceh's disciples
Hamzah - Syams-ul-din first - were perfectly aware
that their master was dead and lay in the Holy City.
4 - The preference for one of these two equivalent terms, Tuan (Malay ) and
Teungku ( aci
hate ) would have a meaning according to C. Snouck Hurgronje . The first
appear to be applied
rather foreign saints and the second to local saints. The author , however,
adding that the use often belies this rule (The Achehnese , II , p. 293 ) .
Himself, at
along the two volumes of his work, for example because of numerous
references to a saint
foreign, highly revered in Aceh in his time, he either called Tuan di
Bitay or Teungku di Bitay .