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ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN:

REIMAGINING THE INTELLECTUAL LIFE OF


RAJA ALI HAJI OF RIAU

KELVIN LAWRENCE
(B. A. (Hons.), NUS)

A THESIS SUBMITTED
FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS
DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY
NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE
2006
Acknowledgements

1 Corinthians 9: 20-1

I have incurred uncountable debts of gratitude to many individuals in the course of


writing this thesis.

Thank you God for your grace, guidance, strength and bountiful blessings in every area
of my life throughout the last two years. Thank you for setting me on an exhilarating
spiritual, intellectual and emotional journey. Above all, thank you for using this journey
to humble me and please continue to gently deepen my in this regard. This work is
dedicated to the glory of Your Name and for the furtherance of Your Kingdom!

Thank you Sophie for your enduring love, patience, prayers, listening ear, constant
encouragement, wonderful ideas and much needed criticism, in this most wonderful and
exiting period of my life. I would not have enrolled for this degree if not for you, and
could never have finished it without you. Most importantly, thank you for being Gods
designated messenger in my life.

Thank you Papa and Mummy for your unconditional love and support. Without the both
of you, and the love you exemplify, I shudder to think where I would be. Thank you also
to my brothers and extended members of my family for the bond of love we share
through thick and thin. In innumerable ways, you continue to be Gods channel of
blessings in my life.

Thank you Prof. Barnard for suggesting this research topic. Thanks also for getting on my
case so that sloth did not get the better of me. Your patience and detail-mindedness in
looking through numerous drafts will always be cherished. The generous sacrifice of your
time and innumerable suggestions that helped improve this piece of work will never be
forgotten. I owe you a lot ... Thank you also for suggesting Dr. Jan van der Putten as a
co-supervisor. Above all, thank you for being a teacher and a friend.

Dr. Jan, where would I be without your contributions? Thanks for helping with primary
sources especially since so many of my sources came from your office that it became a
virtual short-cut to the Dutch and Indonesian archives. Thank you for the time you
lavished on my written and spoken gibberish. Thank you for painstakingly looking
through numerous drafts and making key suggestions until the very end. As an
undergraduate, I first came to appreciate Raja Ali Haji through your books. As a graduate
student, our many exchanges have led to a much deepened knowledge and respect of this
nimble-minded thinker from Riau. I could go on thanking you for many things, for such
is the debt I owe but let me mention the most important one of all, thank you for
exemplifying humility.

Thank you Prof. Gordon for continuing to take an interest in my academic pursuits, and
for all the tools you equipped me with in my undergraduate years. They continue to put
me in good stead.
Thank you to the Nav-teens family, who has welcomed me into your fold unreservedly.
Special thanks to Robert, Supra, Yin Wah, Oliver and King Mun for your friendship,
guidance, and concern. Thank you for taking an interest in my endeavors, and for the
much needed words of encouragement and prayers along the way. I look toward future
opportunities of fellowship and partnership in the service of our Lord.

Finally, thank you to the great ones who have invigorated me and fired my imagination in
the last few years. Thank you Leopold Von Ranke, thank you Michel Foucault, thank you
Immanuel Kant, thank you Raymond Aron, thank you W.E.B. Du Bois, thank you Paul of
Tarsus, thank you W.E. Maxwell, thank you A.W.Tozer, thank you Herman Melville,
thank you Watchman Nee, thank you C.S. Lewis, thank you J.P. Moreland, thank you
Dallas Willard, thank you Tony Jones, thank you Alasdair McIntyre, thank you Karl
Barth, thank you N.T. Wright, thank you Marshall McLuhan, and thank you Raja Ali
Haji many thanks
Table of Contents

Acknowledgements i

Table of Contents iii

Summary iv

Introduction Much Ado about Little? 1


Two Interpretations 4
A Third Understanding? 11
A New Consideration 14
Wider Implications 16
Implications for Southeast Asian Intellectual History 18
Methodology 20

Chapter 1 A European Influence? 24


A Fifteen-Year Friendship 25
Intellectual Exchanges 27
More than Effective Communication 29
European Influenced? 35
Influences Before and Independent of Von de Wall 38
Of Influences and Audiences 43
Afterword 47

Chapter 2 Raja Ali Haji and his Audiences: Accommodation and Edification 49
One Injunction, Two Expressions 51
One Genre, Two Genders 53
One Story, Two Versions 57
Beyond Epistemology: Audience Accommodation 65
Audience Edification 67

Chapter 3 Raja Ali and his Audiences: Ambiguity Corroboration,


Departures and Difficulties 69
Malay Letters 69
Abandoning the Letter Writing Manual 74
Syair Awai 77
Intizam Wazaif al-Malik 80
Afterword 83

Conclusion A Nimble-Minded Thinker 84

Bibliography 91

Appendices 97
Summary

Raja Ali Haji was one of the foremost Malay writers of the nineteenth century

with more than a dozen works in a variety of fields including history, law, jurisprudence,

language, grammar, statecraft, and Malay verse and poetry. Notwithstanding a paucity of

information, biographical and otherwise, there is a substantial amount of scholarship

about Raja Ali Haji. Most of the scholarship on Raja Ali Haji has focused on different

aspects of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual life, and is based mainly on those of his works that

have been preserved. Much of this scholarship has concentrated on whether he was an

Islamic thinker, or an exponent of Malay literary culture who embellished Malay cultural

practices with Islamic thought. In the last decade, some documents have been discovered,

the bulk being correspondence between Raja Ali Haji and a colonial officer that were

written over a period of fifteen years. Prompted by the oft-neglected work of Amin

Sweeney concerning authors and audiences in the Malay World, these letters lead to new

understandings of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual life that reflect not only what influenced

him but also his ability to craft his writings with the needs of a particular audience in

mind. Raja Ali Haji must be appreciated for much more than his sound grasp and display

of an Islamic epistemology. Neither should his traditional disposition as an exponent of

Malay literary culture be treasured to the exclusion of his other qualities. Instead, it is

better to appreciate him as a self-conscious and nimble-minded thinker who was not

dogmatically shackled by a particular epistemological paradigm. Even if it is undeniable

that it was the Islamic paradigm that furnished him with considerable intellectual

acumen, he possessed the intellectual agility to temper his intellectual output to suit

audiences who were variously disposed, both intellectually and socially.


Introduction Much Ado about Little?

Looking for Raja Ali Haji 1

My eyes move along a line of words


from the nineteenth century
my eyes collide against his poem of twelve couplets

bewildering my eyes and penetrating my thoughts


from the palace, an arrow enters his eyes
but his heart stands steadfast on the scriptures from which he speaks

whomsoever acknowledges God


His directives and proscriptions he does not contravene

when this well known pujangga 2 of Riau


cleverly insinuates and bravely launches an arrow
the educated the nobility and the ruler
do not feel the bitterness of the insinuation

when this pious pujangga consciously


traces the words, dissects the Scriptures
he shouts in the seventh couplet
with venomous and stinging words
removing the skin and baring the contents
when we do not conduct proper investigations
that is a sign that the task will go awry

I will not find Raja Ali Haji anywhere


other than in his grave on Penyengat island
lonesome under the frangipani tree
children pass right by it without paying attention
he has only the weeds and grass for company
but in the twelfth couplet
I find words that sting

not a little he angrily speaks


his sting is like the seventh verse of Muhamads chapter
if you want to defend Gods religion
He will help you
And will make your foothold firm
but presently I have yet to find
someone just like that great and enchanting pujangga

1
Suratman Markasan, Puisi Luka dan Puisi Duka (Puisi-Puisi Pilihan 1979 2002) (Pustaka Nasional:
Singapore, 2004), pp. 96-8. My translation. Unless otherwise indicated all translations in this thesis are my
own. For Malay version, see Appendix 1, pp. 97-8.
2
The word pujangga has been used in several senses, such as thinker, writer, poet, intellectual, and literary
figure. See Hajah Noresah bt. Baharom, ed., Kamus Dewan, (Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka,
1994), p. 1064. However, given the ambiguity surrounding its usage as will be seen later in this thesis, I
maintain the Malay term in the translation. See pp. 7-10 of this chapter for further elaboration.

1
Where is he, where?

Suratman Markasan

In the above poem, Suratman Markasan refers to a Malay cultural icon, Raja Ali

Haji of Riau, and quotes selected portions of this nineteenth-century figures best known

piece of verse, Gurindam Dua Belas. 3 Suratman evinces deep familiarity with this

cultural figure, and confidently makes use of Raja Ali Hajis religious persona and

reputation to criticize contemporary leaders of Malay society for their hypocrisy, and lack

of integrity and piety. Suratman accomplishes this by using Raja Ali Haji in counterpoint

to the supposed deplorable moral condition of present day leaders. This use of Raja Ali

Haji is so well-crafted, evocative and persuasive, that one is quickly drawn into this

juxtaposition, and may easily be led to believe that Raja Ali Haji can be readily grasped

as an established historical reality. However, this perception is highly removed from the

main problem scholars face when studying Raja Ali Haji a paucity of information,

biographical and otherwise. 4

Raja Ali Haji was a member of the Malay-Bugis royal household of Riau in the

nineteenth century. He was probably born in 1809 at Penyengat, a very small island

3
Suratman Markasan (1930 - ) is a widely respected elder statesman of Malay literature of the second half
of the twentieth century. He first carved out a reputation as a skillful writer of novels in the 1950s, and is
also known as a poet besides being a respected literary critic. After graduating from the Sultan Idris
Teachers Training College in Perak, he worked as a teacher for several years in Singapore. He then went on
to obtain an honours degree from the University of Singapore, before serving as an officer with the
Singapore Ministry of Education. Among his more famous works are Ta'ada Jalan Keluar (No Way Out)
(Singapura: Marican, 1962); Subuh Hilang Senja (Dawn has Given Way to Dusk) (Shah Alam, Selangor:
Marwilis Publisher, 1989); Puisi Luka dan Puisi Duka: Puisi-Puisi Pilihan 1979-2002 (Poems of Hurt and
Disappointment: Selected Poems from 1979-2002) (Singapore: Pustaka Nasional, 2004); Perempuan
Kerudung Hitam (Women with a Black Cowl) (Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1991). Also
see Ahmad Kamal Abdullah, ed., Puisi-Puisi Nusantara (Poetry from the Malay Archipelago) (Dewan
Bahasa: Kuala Lumpur, 1981), pp. 260-1, 294.
4
Jan Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, ed., Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan = In Everlasting Friendship:
Letters from Raja All Haji (Leiden, Netherlands: Dept. of Languages and Cultures of Southeast Asia and
Oceania, University of Leiden), 1995, pp. viii-x.

2
opposite present day Tanjung Pinang. He was the son of Raja Ahmad, and grandson of

the legendary Raja Haji, both of whom were high-ranking Bugis officials of Riau. 5

There is a lack of information on Raja Ali Hajis childhood, as well as most of his

adolescence. It is generally believed that, along with his illustrious father, he made the

pilgrimage to Mecca in 1829. It is also accepted that he acquainted himself with the

works of great Islamic scholars during his sojourn there.6 Following in the tradition of his

forefathers, he came to be involved in the Islamic-influenced administration of the polity

of Riau. He was an active court administrator and eventually rose to become an advisor to

the viceroy of the Riau court at the relatively young age of 32. There is evidence that he

was called upon by neighboring polities for advice on religious matters, which more often

than not were linked to matters of statecraft, and also on issues pertaining to records of

the Malay past. Given his political standing in the polity of Riau in a period when the

Dutch became increasingly interested and involved in the region, Raja Ali Haji became

acquainted with Dutch colonial officers such as Eliza Netscher and Herman Von de Wall.

The best documented of these relationships is with Von de Wall, a German

commissioned by the Dutch colonial government to compile a Dutch-Malay dictionary. 7

In addition to his political role, Raja Ali Haji is often considered to be among the

foremost Malay writers of the nineteenth century, with more than a dozen works in a

variety of fields including history, law, jurisprudence, language, grammar, statecraft, and

5
Raja Ali Haji, The Precious Gift (Tuhfat al-Nafis), An annotated translation by Virginia Matheson and
Barbara Watson Andaya (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 25-41.
6
Barbara Watson Andaya and Viginia Matheson, Islamic Thought and Malay Tradition: The Writings of
Raja Ali Haji of Riau (ca. 1809-ca. 1870) in Anthony Reid and David Marr, ed., Perceptions of the Past in
Southeast Asia, (Singapore: Heinemann Educational Books, 1979), pp. 108-28.
7
Van der Putten and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, pp. viii - x.

3
Malay verse and poetry. 8 It also appears that he continued as an advisor to the court until

his death sometime after 1872. 9

Notwithstanding a dearth of biographical details, there is a substantial amount of

scholarship about Raja Ali Haji. Much of this scholarship has concentrated on different

aspects of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual life, and is based mainly on those of his works that

have been preserved, with peripheral aid from biographical and contextual snippets. 10

This concentration on his intellectual life is also reflected in the above poem where

Suratman describes Raja Ali Haji as both a pujangga and an intellectually adept figure of

Islamic authority and piety. In doing so, Suratman, knowingly or otherwise, makes use of

the two entrenched interpretations of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual character. Suratmans

lyrical synthesis of both these interpretations, however, shrouds the historiographical

discord between the two schools of understanding of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual

orientation.

Two Interpretations

The interpretation of Raja Ali Haji as an Islamic thinker is comprehensively

articulated in an article co-authored by Barbara Watson Andaya and Virginia Matheson.

It appears to be an offshoot of their translation of the Tuhfat Al-Nafis, widely considered

to be Raja Ali Hajis magnum opus. This interpretation also echoes, without any material

departure, Mathesons other works that analyze the structure and sources of the Tuhfat, as

8
Peter G. Riddell, Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World: Transmission and Responses (London: Hurst &
Co., 2001), p. 28.
9
Van der Putten and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, pp. viii-x.
10
Ibid, p. viii. See the individual contributions in Zahrah Ibrahim, ed., Tradisi Johor Riau (Kuala Lumpur:
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1987) and Al Azhar dan Emustian Rahman, ed., Kandil Akal Dipelantar Budi:
Persembahan kepada Raja Hamzah Yunus (Pekan Baru: Yayasan Kata Pekanbaru, 2001) for a sense of the
scholarship on Raja Ali Haji.

4
well as the life and culture of nineteenth-century Riau. 11 This interpretation of Raja Ali

Hajis intellectual orientation is based mainly on an analysis of the form and content of

the Tuhfat, read in light of his two Islamic-influenced works, the Intizam Wazaif al-

Malik and Thamarrat al-Mahammah. 12

The Tuhfat recounts the history of Bugis involvement in the Malay World over a

period of more than 150 years, between the last decade of the seventeenth century and the

middle of the nineteenth century, in considerable detail. It is prosaic, with the barest

sprinklings of verse to emphasize particular points. 13 According to the Tuhfat, the

regicide of the ruler of Riau, Sultan Mahmud, who had no heir, led to a tussle for the

throne. This weakened the Riau polity and led to constant rumblings of rebellion among

its many tributaries and vassals. The ruling class of Riau enlisted the aid of mercenary

Bugis warriors to reestablish their hegemony. The Bugis were successful in their

campaigns and, as a reward for their achievements, the Malay rulers of Riau and the

Bugis sealed a pact that gave the Bugis administrative control over Riau. 14 This

eventually led to the Bugis becoming the most powerful political faction in Riau. The

skill, courage, industry of the Bugis kept the ambitious neighboring polities in check, and

the Bugis also helped Riau gain considerable commercial success. According to Raja Ali

11
Andaya and Matheson, Islamic Thought and Malay Tradition, Andaya and Matheson, Tuhfat; Virginia
Matheson, Questions Arising from a Nineteenth Century Riau Syair, Review of Indonesian and Malayan
Affairs 17 (1983), pp. 1-61; Virginia Matheson, The Tuhfat al-Nafis: Structure and Sources Bijdragen tot
Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 128 (1971), pp. 379-90; Virginia Matheson, Suasana Budaya Riau dalam
Abad ke-19, in Zahrah Ibrahim, ed., Tradisi Johor Riau, pp. 103-34.
12
Raja Ali Haji, Intizam Wazaif al-Malik (Systematic Arrangement of the Duties of Ruler) and Raja Ali
Haji, Thamarrat al-Mahammah (Benefits of Religious Duties) in Hassan Junus, ed. Raja Ali Haji dan
Karyanya (Pekanbaru: Pusat Pengajian Bahasa dan Kebudayaan Melayu Universitas Riau, 1996), pp. 160-
74, 175- 243.
13
Matheson and Andaya, Tuhfat, p. 61; Abu Hassan Sham, ed., Puisi-Puisi Raja Ali Haji (Kuala Lumpur:
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1993), pp. 157-8. For a more detailed account of the Tuhfat, see Chapter 2 of
this thesis.
14
Matheson and Andaya, Tuhfat, pp. 93-4.

5
Haji, this aroused the jealousy of Malay members of the court at Riau, who were

gradually displaced in matters of state, to wage slanderous campaigns against the Bugis.

Notwithstanding their best efforts, these Malay nobles were caught out time and again, in

Raja Ali Hajis view, by the sheer wisdom and shrewdness of the Bugis. After every

failed attempt to unseat the Bugis, the two parties reconciled by reaffirming the historical

pact between them, with promises exchanged anew. 15 After this period of struggles

between various regional polities, the Bugis had to deal with the commercial and military

might of the European presence in the archipelago. Though the Bugis did achieve some

success in dealing with this threat in the short term, they could not stave off ultimate

capitulation. Riau, served poorly by the shortcomings of a dilatory and inept Malay ruler

who failed to adhere to Islamic precepts, eventually became a Dutch vassal in 1857. 16

Given Raja Ali Hajis preoccupation with the role and importance of the Bugis in

the polity of Riau in the Tuhfat, Andaya and Matheson acknowledge that a principal

theme (of this text) is the justification and legitimization of Bugis intervention in the

Malay world. However, Andaya and Matheson quickly point out that

the very dominance of this theme (legitimization of Bugis intervention) has


obscured other elements present in the text. When the Tuhfat is considered in
conjunction with Raja Ali Hajis previous didactic works, it becomes apparent
that he was not only concerned with the deeds of his Bugis forbears. He was also
a Malay intent on preserving the old traditions and a devout Muslim anxious
about the condition of the Islamic community. His view of the past, therefore,
was not directed simply by a desire to glorify his ancestors or to justify the role
they had played in Malay history. On one level, the Tuhfat is indeed an account,
as seen through Raja Ali Hajis eyes, of the association between his Bugis
forbears and Malay kings; on a deeper level, however, it is an effort to express
his views on society as they had been put forward in earlier writings such as the
Thamarrat al-Mahammah and the Intizam Wazaif al-Malik. These works
provide the key to understanding Raja Ali Hajis presentation of history, and the
influence of his Muslim ideals is clear when one reads his theoretical teaching
texts and identifies the same themes in the Tuhfat. Completed towards the end of

15
Ibid., pp. l01-2.
16
Ibid., pp. 283-4. Surat-surat Perdjandjian Antara Kesultanan Bandjarmasin dengan Pemerintahan2
V.O.C dan Hindia-Belanda 1635-1860 (Djakarta: Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia Kompartimen
Perhubungan dengan Rakyat, 1965), pp. 90-115.

6
Raja All Hajis life, the Tuhfat is the culmination of years of experience,
scholarship, and examination of the motivations of men and their relationship
with God. Raja Ali Hajis perception of the past cannot be divorced from the
development of his religious thinking, which in turn was fundamentally
influenced by the writings of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, the great Persian
theologian who died in AD. -1111. At the end of the eighteenth century al-
Ghazalis major work, Ihya ulum al-din (The Revitalisation of the Religious
Sciences), had been re-introduced to the Islamic world and the interest thus
aroused continued throughout the period of the Wahabi revival. Raja Ali Hajis
admiration of al-Ghazali is attested by the frequency with which he refers to the
Ihya, often recommending specific passages for further reading. 17

Several Malaysian scholars, such as Mohd. Taib Osman and Abu Hassan Syam,

on the contrary, argue that Islamic influences do not adequately explain Raja Ali Hajis

intellectual orientation. To them, the Islamic dimension is but one facet of Raja Ali Hajis

works. They contend that Raja Ali Haji did not embrace Islamic thought to the exclusion

of his traditional dispositions, or even subordinate this traditional heritage to Islamic

thought, but instead used Islamic teachings in a manner highly typical of a pujangga of a

Malay court. For instance, in one of his better-known works, Mohd. Taib Osman explains

that Raja Ali Haji must be thought of as a pujangga, a term that has no exact Western

17
Barbara Watson Andaya and Viginia Matheson, Islamic Thought and Malay Tradition, pp.115-6. Al-
Ghazali (1058-1111) is one of the most well-known and influential Islamic thinkers of the medieval period.
With works that encompassed Islamic jurisprudence, theology, philosophy, science, and mysticism, like
Ihya ulum al-din (The Revival of the Religious Sciences), Maqasid al falasifa (The Intentions of the
Philosophers), Tahafut al falasifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers), al-Risala al-Qudsiyya (The
Jerusalem Epistle), al-Mustafa min ilm al-usul (The Essentials of the Islamic Legal Theory), al-Munqidh
min al-dalal (The Deliverer from Error), and Mishkat al-anwar (The Niche of the Lights), he was widely
recognized as a man of many talents. He was exposed to various branches of Islamic religious sciences and
Sufi practices in his home town of Tus, and later in Gurgan and Nishapur in the northern part of modern
day Iran. He was eventually appointed to head the Nizamiyyah College at Baghdad in 1091. He busied
himself at this college by lecturing on Islamic jurisprudence and also spent a lot of time refuting heresies,
besides responding to questions from various segments of society. After experiencing a deep spiritual crisis
in 1095, he left Baghdad, and renounced his career and all forms of worldliness. Two years of wandering
followed in which he made the pilgrimage to Mecca. He then returned to Tus, where he spent his time in
writing, Sufi practice, and teaching his disciples. In the latter part of his life, based on his spiritual
experiences, he sought to revive Islamic faith by basing it on Sufism. W. Montgomery Watt, Muslim
Intellectual: A Study of Al-Ghazali, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1963); Kojiro Nakamura, Al-
Ghazali, Abu Hamid (1058-1111) June 13, 2001. <http://www.ghazali.org/articles/gz1.html> (22 July
2006).

7
equivalent although it is often translated as court intellectual. 18 A pujanggas task was

to provide intellectual stimulation, which came with a strong moral dimension, at the

classical court. This stimulation was based on a combination of traditional values and

Islamic precepts. 19 Taib Osman fully acknowledges the Islamic influences in Raja Ali

Hajis works, but argues that the Islamic content must be seen for what it is the moral

dimension typical of a pujanggas pronouncements. Like the Matheson-pioneered

interpretation, Taib Osman too makes reference to the Tuhfat, Intizam and Thamarrat and

Salasilah Melayu-Bugis. 20 However, he notes that the Salasilah has not attracted that

much attention when compared to the Tuhfat. 21 He then goes on to make his case that

Raja Ali Haji is best understood as a pujangga by studying the Salasilah in tandem with

the Tuhfat, and also two other works of Raja Ali Haji, Bustan al-Katibin and Kitab

Pengetahuan Bahasa, in some detail. 22

In the case of the Salasilah, Taib Osman notes that it is a historical work, very

much like the Tuhfat. 23 The Salasilah covers the early historical episodes dealt with in

the Tuhfat, albeit in greater detail. It begins with the Riau courts plea for Buginese aid,

18
M.T. Osman, Raja Ali Haji of Riau: A Figure of Transition or the Last of the Classical Pujanggas? in
S.M.N. Al-Attas ed., Bahasa Kesustraan dan Kebudayaan Melayu: Essei-essei Penghormatan Kepada
Pendita Zaba, (Kuala Lumpur: Kementerian Kebudayaan, Belia dan Sukan Malaysia, 1976), pp. 40-2. It is
important to note that while Andaya and Matheson emphasize the decided Islamic influences in Raja Ali
Hajis works, they do make reference to the classical Malay milieu in which he lived and involved himself.
They, however, do not come close to suggesting that Raja Ali Haji was a Malay court intellectual, a
pujangga.
19
Taib Osman, Raja Ali, pp. 40-2.
20
Raja Ali Haji, Thamarrat; Raja Ali Haji, Salasilah Melayu dan Bugis (The History of the Malay and
Buginese People) in Mohd. Yusof Md. Noor, ed., Salasilah Melayu dan Bugis (Petaling Jaya: Fajar Bakti,
1984), p. 8.
21
Ibid., p. 42.
22
Taib Osman, Raja Ali, pp. 42, 50, 52. Raja Ali Haji, Kitab Pengetahuan Bahasa (Book of Malay
Language) (Pekanbaru: Proyek Penelitian dan Pengkajian Kebudayaan Melayu, 1986); Raja Ali Haji,
Bustan al-Katibin (Garden of Writers) (Singapore: Al-Haji Mohamad Said Al-Jawi, 1892). Arguments
based on the Salasilah form the main part of Taib Osmans argument. Hence, I use it to explain his
position. Details on the two other texts he uses can be found in Chapter 1 of this thesis.
23
Ibid., p. 43.

8
and tells of how five Bugis brothers of royal descent from South Sulawesi responded to

this call and became involved in the machinations, and eventually administration, of

Riau. It details the battles the Bugis waged against their main adversary, Raja Kecik of

Siak, and how success in these battles contributed to the restoration of order and

economic prosperity in the Riau-controlled Malay realm. The narrative ends in the

second decade of the nineteenth century with the descendants of these Bugis siblings

firmly established as the administrators of Riau and in the ascendant in other parts of the

Malay Archipelago. Besides encompassing a shorter historical period, the Salasilah,

unlike the Tuhfat, contains lengthy portions of verse. 24

Taib Osman notes that, just like in the Tuhfat, Raja Ali Haji professed objectivity

in his historical account in the Salasilah. 25 However, the difficulty in both instances is

how to reconcile his (Raja Ali Hajis) professed stance with the fact that he was almost

blatantly biased towards the Bugis role in the events narrated in the Tuhfat or the

Salasilah? Taib Osmans explanation is that in justifying the legitimacy of a ruling

family, Raja Ali Haji was still a traditional Malay historian where family honour and

the question of legitimacy was the uppermost consideration. 26 For instance, in

describing the struggle between Raja Kecik and the Bugis in the Salasilah, Raja Ali Haji

pushes the

historical significance of the struggle between the two factions to the


background by the literary treatment of the events, especially when they are
embellished in the syair (a type of Malay verse). The plight of the Johore rulers
was portrayed in a pathetic manner, showing their impotence against Raja
Kechik and subsequent equally pathetic approach to get the Bugis warriors to
redeem their honour. But more literary are the syair in the Salasilah which
romanticize the events, such as the warriors taking leave of their wives, the

24
Raja Ali Haji, Salasilah, pp. 29, 94, 101-8, 153, 180-8, 235. For a more detailed account of the Salasilah,
see Chapter 2 of this thesis.
25
Taib Osman, Raja Ali, p. 44.
26
Ibid.

9
futility of Raja Kechiks warriors in facing Bugis military prowess, the
treacheries of Raja Kechik and the description of ceremonies and feasts. The
vestiges of the traditional historian being a literary pujangga rather than a
chronicler are therefore clearly seen here. 27

Comparing Taib Osmans and Andaya and Mathesons use of the Salasilah is

instructive in understanding the different interpretations of Raja Ali Haji. Though

Andaya and Matheson mentioned the Salasilah in their paper, they did not analyze this

text. This suggests that they did not rely on it in making their argument that Raja Ali Haji

can be understood as an Islamic thinker. A close reading of the Salasilah suggests at least

one reason why it was left unanalyzed. Its Islamic content is peripheral limited to the

salutation at the beginning of the text. This makes it very different from the Tuhfat,

Intizam and Thamarrat in that it is difficult to say that the Salasilah stemmed from the

pen of writer who had an established Islamic worldview. As such, in terms of texts

considered in both articles, Taib Osman is effectively making his argument using a text

that was left unanalyzed by Andaya and Matheson.

Abu Hassan Syam is another scholar who thinks of Raja Ali Haji as a pujangga,

as seen in his edited compilation and transliteration of Raja Ali Hajis poetic works. 28

Though Abu Hassan uses the term intellectual and pujangga interchangeably, he

appears to be in full agreement with Taib Osmans understanding of Raja Ali Haji. In

Abu Hassans commentary on Raja Ali Hajis many lengthy poems and pieces of verse,

27
Ibid., p. 45. According to Van der Putten, the Malay syair is a poetic form consisting of an indefinite
number of four-line verses with a simple structure and rhyme, has been used abundantly to convey all sorts
of stories and themes; See Jan Van der Putten, Versified Awai Verified: Syair Awai by Raja Ali Haji
Indonesia and the Malay World, 72(June 1997), p. 99. Matheson says that thematically, the Penyengat
syairs fall into two broad categories, those which treat didactic or religious topics and those which are for
entertainment. According to Matheson, in Raja Ali Hajis introduction to the Salasilah, he explained that
he inserted syair in his work to give his readers a sense of pleasure when they are tired, weary, or fed-
up. Raja Ali Haji also used syair to to open out and to expand on points mentioned in the prose
narrative. See Matheson, Questions Arising, pp. 1, 8, 10.
28
Abu Hassan Sham, Puisi-Puisi.

10
he emphasizes that many of these poems are didactic constructions fashioned in a form

readily familiar to the Malay community of that day. This emphasis is ostensibly aimed at

supporting Raja Ali Haji as a traditionally disposed, or Malay, intellectual as opposed to

an Islamic one. 29 Abu Hassans methodology involves the analysis of the literary form,

and to a lesser extent the content, of Raja Ali Hajis poetic works, besides making clear

the continuities these works have with older Malay literature. 30

A Third Understanding?

A number of previously unknown letters and documents by Raja Ali Haji were

discovered in the 1990s. The most important of these are two folios at the Indonesian

National Archives in the Jakarta archives containing more than 200 documents, mostly

correspondence from Raja Ali Haji to Von De Wall.31 The editors, Jan van der Putten and

Al Azhar imply, or at the very least leave it open to their readers to make the inference,

that a European influence on Raja Ali Haji emerges from these letters. For instance, the

editors note that on at least one point, information contained in the letters forces us to

revise and refine the traditional picture of Raja Ali Haji as a zealous Islamic writer and

scholar who hated the Dutch(as) he was labeled by his contemporary Eliza Netscher,

an opinion that has been echoed by many scholars after him. 32 Instead, they argue that,

(the) image that emerges from the letters is much more that of a pious teacher
who devoted himself to his task of edifying the Malay people, who saw great
benefit in working together with the colonial administration for educational
purposes, and who became good friends with a European scholar with whom he
shared a profound interest in the Malay language, and with whom he

29
Abu Hassan, Puisi-Puisi, pp. 3-35, 86-157.
30
Ibid.
31
Van der Putten and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, pp. 1-34. For a more details on Von de Wall, see Chapter 1 of
this thesis.
32
Ibid., p. viii.

11
collaborated on the compilation of a Malay-Dutch and a monolingual Malay
dictionary. 33

It is important to note that Raja Ali Haji wrote all of his major works, except Gurindam

Dua Belas and Bustan, between 1857 and 1872. It was during this period that he was in

close contact with Von de Wall and may have come to understand European thought. It

should also be noted that the interaction with Von de Wall took place during a period of

European encroachment, which is said to have had an impact on Malay writing. 34 This

raises the possibility that alongside the apparent Islamic and traditional influences, the

vast majority of his works, particularly his histories and works on statecraft, may have

been European-influenced.

Matheson is the only scholar from the earlier period of this historiographical

debate to have considered this new material. In 1996, after discussing the correspondence

between Raja Ali Haji and Von de Wall in some detail, she argued that the letters confirm

that for Raja Ali Haji, the paradigm was Arabic and the methods of Arabic scholars. 35

It is clear that these new sources have not altered her earlier understanding of Raja Ali

Haji as an Islamic thinker. Even more recently, from her introduction to a publication of

the Tuhfat as part of a series on canonical Malay literature, Matheson continues to view

Raja Ali Haji as an Islamic thinker who revised classical Malay writing under Islamic

influence, with the work of Al-Ghazali playing a particularly strong influence. 36

33
Ibid.
34
Ibid., pp. 12-25.
35
Virginia Matheson, Revisiting Riau With Knowledge: Teaching Texts and Concepts, in Karsono H.
Saputra, ed., Tradisi Tulis Nusantara, (Jakarta: Masyarakat Pernaskahan Nusantara,1997), pp. 226-48.
36
Virginia Matheson Hooker, Tuhfat al-Nafis (Kuala Lumpur. Yayasan Karyawan dan Dewan Bahasa dan
Pustaka, 1998), pp. v-xv. As all the Arabic scholars and literature considered by Matheson in both these
articles are clearly those from the period of Arabian history after the birth and rise of Islam, she uses the
terms Islamic and Arabic interchangeably. The same has been adhered to in this thesis.

12
The emergence of a possible third understanding of the influences on Raja Ali

Hajis intellectual life leads to the realization that there is more to understanding Raja Ali

Hajis intellectual orientation than the reasons and supporting evidence given by the

various schools of thought. These differences in understanding are also attributable to the

use of different texts, or different sets of texts, and the varying emphasis placed on a

particular theme or themes in a particular text, by different scholars. Emphasis on Raja

Ali Hajis decidedly Islamic works support an understanding of him as an Islamic

thinker, focus on his literary productions underpin understandings of him as a pujangga,

and correspondence with a European colonial officer raises the possibility of a European

influence.

This observation in itself makes a reconsideration of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual

life particularly viable as one can return to the crux of the Andaya-Matheson and Taib

Osman debate and attempt to understand Raja Ali Hajis intellectual orientation in light

of all, not some, of his works. Here, the latterly discovered sources can be mined, and

contrasted with older understandings, for a potentially richer understanding of Raja Ali

Haji. Further, in the course of looking at the fresh evidence, there will be an opportunity

to consider if there was indeed a European influence operating on Raja Ali Haji during a

crucial period of his writing. Such a study should, at the very least, lead to an intellectual

portrait of Raja Ali Haji that is not partial to particular sources or specific emphases

within these sources.

13
A New Consideration

While it is tempting to go on and analyze Raja Ali Hajis intellectual life based on

his complete oeuvre using the labels of Islamic thinker, pujangga, and European

intellectual, it is needful to pause and take into consideration the oft-neglected

contributions of Amin Sweeney who warned scholars not to approach a composition of

oral (i.e., nonliterate) or manuscript culture with the expectations of one who is to read a

work produced by print culture. Sweeney advocates an approach to Malay texts that

takes into account the modes of composition, presentation, and consumption possible in

a given medium as it opens up the way for us to battle down our presuppositions and

preconceived criteria, and at least attempt to analyze and understand (the) material on its

own terms via an awareness of the systems of preserving, retrieving, and transmitting

knowledge operative in that society. 37 He emphasizes that the question of the identity of

a writers audience has an important bearing on the writing. Sweeney elaborates that, in

traditional Malay society, the principles used to create both oral and written composition

were essentially similar. The vital distinction to be made is rather between aural and

visual consumption. Traditional Malay writing was intended to be heard, and this aurality

continues to exert its influence even in this age of mass literacy, and that authors

clearly understood that a text is a transaction with an audience, thereby requiring close

attention to the make-up and needs of the audience in concern. 38

Sweeneys contributions are especially instructive in the case of Raja Ali Haji as

the main interpretations of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual outlook are derived from an

analysis of works that were created in a pre-print culture. Heeding Sweeneys approach

37
Amin Sweeney, A Full Hearing (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), p. 13.
38
Ibid., pp. viii, 3, 242- 266, 307.

14
avoids the unfortunate situation where Raja Ali Haji works are handled as the product of

a print culture, and with little regard for the audience. 39 But more importantly, it adds an

extra dimension in the quest to make sense of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual life. Instead of

basing interpretations only on biographical information about the author, and uncovering

the possible epistemological frameworks that influenced both the content and literary

form of his works, as done by previous commentators, one is now alerted to consider how

the circumstances and needs of his potential audience affected his intellectual output. In

paying attention to this dimension of Raja Ali Hajis works, there is an enhanced

perception of his intellectual mode of operation.

A brief glimpse of Raja Ali Hajis concern for his audience, reflected in his desire

to produce material that was meaningful and well-suited to them, is available from a

letter to Von de Wall dated 12 March 1872:

the dictionary that is intended is not like the dictionary of my dear friend.
The one that I intend to produce is of a particular type of Malay, that of Johor
and Riau-Lingga. Stories and bits of Malay syair will be added to the brief
explanations, so that it will please the hearts of the young. Also to benefit those
who ponder the words and meaning of the Malay language that are not of Johor
and Riau-Lingga stock. 40

Raja Ali Haji tells Von de Wall that the monolingual Malay dictionary he is preparing for

the Malays is very different from the one he is preparing with Von de Wall. In the

monolingual Malay dictionary, Raja Ali Haji has explained certain words in his

dictionary with stories and poems in order to please younger people and to make it easier

for them to absorb the information. Further, he thinks that such a dictionary will be of

use not only to the young in Riau but also to Malays from other parts of the

39
Interestingly, in Revisiting Riau, Matheson notes that (it) is hard now to believe that when I
completed my doctoral thesis in early 1973, Sweeneys work on orality, literacy, and formulaic
composition, were still to be published. It is hard to believe I once wrote without (it).
40
Van der Putten and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, pp. 107-8, 211-2. For the Malay version, see Appendix 2, p. 98.

15
archipelago. 41 This letter surely offers a hint that the identity of the audience was an

important consideration for Raja Ali Haji. From this short excerpt, it can be observed

that Raja Ali Haji was thinking about dictionary entries in light of at least three different

audiences Von de Wall, the young of Johor and Riau Lingga, and other Malays. This

raises the awareness that in considering the works of Raja Ali Haji it will be prudent to

bear in mind his possible audiences, express and implied, and specific and general. This

approach in studying Malay texts on the whole, much more the works of Raja Ali Haji,

has received far from sufficient attention, and may allow for a vigorous reconsideration

of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual life.

Wider Implications

Sweeneys concern that an approach to Malay literature that opens up the way

for us to battle down our presuppositions and preconceived criteria, and at least attempt

to analyze and understand (the) material on its own terms, is perfectly consonant with

the work of Southeast Asian historians in the last 40 years, who have consciously

attempted to break away from historical scholarship where the primary concern had been

the activities and influences of outsiders Indians, Arabs, Chinese, Europeans, Hindus,

Buddhists, and Muslims in Southeast Asia. Instead, scholars now produce works where

Southeast Asians themselves take, or are relatively proximate to, center stage in the

historical narrative. 42 This change can be attributed to several factors, the most important

41
Ibid., p. 19.
42
The definition, understanding and use of the terms Southeast Asia and Southeast Asian continue to
be debated. See Abu Talib Ahmad and Tan Liok Ee, ed., New Terrains in Southeast Asian History (Athens,
OH: Ohio University Press, 2003); Paul H. Kratoska, Remco Raben, Henk Schulte Nordholt, ed., Locating
Southeast Asia: Geographies of Knowledge and Politics of Space (Singapore: Singapore University Press,
2005). In this thesis, I use J. D. Legges understanding of the term. See J. D. Legge, The Writing of

16
being the work of J. C. Van Leur. Writing in the 1930s about the Dutch East Indies, Van

Leur argued that a more correct view of Indonesian history can be sought by jettisoning

ill-fitting foreign categories premised on foreign materials and replacing them with a

system of categories of its own, built up with the available (Indonesian) historical factual

material. Van Leurs clarion call received a second wind when it was translated into

English after World War Two, and was extended to the rest of Southeast Asia in the late

1950s at the famous London seminars chaired by D. G. E. Hall, and in the early 1960s via

seminal essays by Harry Benda and John Smail. 43

Since then, scholars have busied themselves in employing indigenous sources and

suitable methods of interpreting these sources. Traces of the pursuit of autonomous

history in the study of Raja Ali Haji are observable in the works of Matheson and

Andaya, and Abu Hassan and Taib Osman. Indigenous sources in the form of Raja Ali

Hajis writings have formed the bulk of the subject of analysis for all these

commentators. Further, in the case of Abu Hassan and Taib Osman, a local category in

the form of pujangga has been used to explain Raja Ali Hajis intellectual orientation.

Even when Andaya and Matheson speak of Islamic influences, it is not an a priori

imposition of a foreign category, but based on a reasoned attempt through careful textual

study and comparison. Applying Sweeneys approach to Malay literature to Raja Ali

Hajis texts takes us further than the use of indigenous texts. It allows for the use and

Southeast Asian History in Nicholas Tarling, ed., The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 1-50.
43
D. G. E. Hall, A History of South-east Asia (3rd ed.) (New York: St. Martins Press, 1968); John Smail,
On the Possibility of an Autonomous History of Modern Southeast Asia in Laurie J. Sears, ed.,
Autonomous Histories, Particular Truths: Essays in Honor of John R.W. Smail (Madison, Wis.: University
of Wisconsin, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 1993), p. 62; Harry Benda, Continuity and Change in
Southeast Asia in Collected Journal Articles of Harry Benda (Yale: Yale University Press, 1972), p. 127;
James S. Holmes and A. van Marie, ed., Indonesian Trade and Society: Essays in Asian Social and
Economic History by Jacob Cornells van Leur (The Hague: van Hoeve, 1955).

17
understanding of such texts in a manner more closely aligned to Raja Ali Hajis designs

for them. This aid towards understanding his works on their own terms can lead to a

better a more autonomous - understanding of his intellectual life.

Implications for Southeast Asian Intellectual History

The interpretation of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual life and orientation that emerges

from the endeavors above can then be compared to a related but smaller development in

the area of Southeast Asian Intellectual History, namely the attempt by some Southeast

Asian intellectual historians to specifically reflect Van Leurs concerns in their subfield

of study. In Southeast Asian intellectual historians attempts to eschew foreign

frameworks as a means of understanding Southeast Asian traditions of thought, they have

sought to replace foreign influenced frameworks with a system of categories built up with

the available Southeast Asian historical material. This has meant avoiding Western

notions of an intellectual and also scholarly Western understanding of intellectual

history. 44 European frameworks and categories, especially given the predominance of

Western colonial sources for the modern period, would distort indigenous notions of

thought and intellectual endeavor.

Writing intellectual history in the West involves looking at ideas and their impact

upon societies. When Western historians do so, they tend to look for the origin of new

ideas in the efforts of individual thinkers a search for individual intellectual creativity.

44
It is acknowledged that there is variety of conceptions of Intellectual History in the West. In this study, I
am referring to what practitioners consider more traditional understandings of Intellectual History. See
David K. Wyatt and Alexander Woodside, eds. Moral Order and the Question of Change: Essays on
Southeast Asian Thought (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Southeast Asia Studies), 1982, pp. 1-9;
Stefan Collini, et al, "What is Intellectual History," in Juliet Gardiner, ed., What Is History Today?
(Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1988),105-19; Robert Darnton, "Intellectual and Cultural History," in Michael
Kammen, ed., The Past Before Us (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980); Christopher Lasch, "A
Typology of Intellectuals" Salmagundi, No. 70-1 (Spring-Summer 1986): 27-43, 102-7, 204-16.

18
They examine the growth of civilization as if it were not just the transformation of

economic production and of social classes, but the evolution as well of the political and

scientific ideas which recognizable historical individuals have expounded, such as the

theories of Plato, Augustine, Decartes, Newton, Kant, Marx or Weber.

This bias towards the individual in intellectual history has a number of

consequences. One of them, which appear not to have been successfully challenged, has

been the underestimation of Southeast Asians in the history of world civilization.

Southeast Asia, it is tempting to argue, has contributed no great ideas, great books, or

has never produced a great thinker.45 Some Southeast Asianists have responded to this by

inquiring as to whether intellectual creativity must only be demonstrated through the

labor of individual thinkers. Instead, they suggest that an understanding of Southeast

Asian societies show that there are other means of demonstrating intellectual creativity,

such as that dedicated to religious purposes, as that found in a Pagan, or a Borobudur.

These scholars argue that there is as much high-level intellectual activity in these

archeological monuments as in the famous treatise of a solitary philosopher or

theologian. 46

Even between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries, when Southeast Asians

localized the classical traditions they had inherited such as religious systems, Confucian

learning, or Indic literary traditions such as the Ramayana and Mahabrata there was

hardly any individualist bias. Southeast Asian intellectual life remained rather

anonymous in that the number of unattributed and even undated works easily

outnumbered works of clearly attributed authorship. One important reason for this was

45
Wyatt and Woodside, Essays on Southeast Asian Thought, pp. 4 -5.
46
Ibid., pp. 4-7.

19
that the producers of written texts in much of Southeast Asia saw their work as a process

of collective moral edification, and not individual self-expression. Individuals had no

sense of trying to earn a uniquely special individual place in history. Such texts

commonly tended to present a view of an ordered universe, the right understanding of

which was essential to human action and behavior. These works also assumed that

potential readers or listeners shared the general outline and fundamental principles of the

order to which their authors referred, and it was unusual for them to present their views

as individual opinions or judgments. 47

Differently from such attempts to distinguish between European and Southeast

Asian intellectual orientations based on the alleged absence of an individualist bias in

Southeast Asian intellectual traditions, this study of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual life will

show that there are other ways to appreciate the intellectual traditions of Southeast

Asians, namely through examining the factors that influenced the productions of texts

and the specific intellectual abilities that were required by such considerations.

Methodology

In Chapter One, I will build on Van der Putten and Al Azhars work and consider

whether Raja Ali Haji was European-influenced. First, the blossoming of the relationship

between Raja Ali Haji and Von de Wall, as seen in the letters to Von de Wall will be

studied to discern a European influence. Second, two short but scientifically-styled

documents on Malay language and culture provided to Von de Wall by Raja Ali Haji, and

Raja Ali Hajis eulogy of Von de Wall, will be analyzed. These documents are possible

indications of a European influence on Raja Ali Haji stemming from his contact with this
47
Ibid., p. 5-6.

20
European. Third, the provisional conclusions suggested by the above analyses will be

compared to the features of some of Raja Ali Hajis works written before his

acquaintance with Von de Wall, such as the Bustan and Gurindam Duabelas, to ascertain

whether prolonged contact with a European led to any change in Raja Ali Hajis

intellectual output. The differences, if any, will be studied to grasp the reasons behind

these changes, and to determine whether they suggest a European influence, or have

some other epistemological bearing. All these analyses will shed light on whether Raja

Ali Haji understood, and even used, a European mode of thought in categorizing and

structuring information and knowledge. Next, by pursuing Sweeneys suggestions, I will

attempt to discern if a deep concern to accommodate his audience had an impact on his

writing beyond the excerpt of the letter to Von de Wall quoted above. A comparison of

Raja Ali Hajis contributions to Von de Walls Dutch-Malay dictionary, and the entries in

Raja Ali Hajis own monolingual Malay dictionary, the Kitab, will be used to aid this

inquiry. If there are increasingly strong suggestions that Sweeneys ideas do apply to

Raja Ali Haji, then the hitherto historiographical preoccupation with who (biographical

details of Raja Ali Haji), what (the nature, content, and supposed epistemological basis of

his works), and how (the literary forms used to present his ideas), needs to be

supplemented with a second who Raja Ali Hajis audiences. Due attention needs to be

given to Raja Ali Hajis concern for and attention to his audience, and his ability to

accommodate them in his writings.

In the next chapter, I will consider if this Sweeney-influenced interpretation of

Raja Ali Haji extends to those works of Raja Ali Haji which he did not discuss in his

correspondence with Von de Wall. I will compare three sets of Raja Ali Hajis works in

21
this regard and ask the question whether Raja Ali Hajis knowledge of individual

audiences, and their nature and needs, made him communicate differently with each of

them. First, I will compare two expressions a specific passage in the Thamarrat and a

section of the Syair Siti Sianah of a religious injunction on the use of the tongue, and

consider the possible reasons for them being communicated differently. Next, I will

compare a feature common to both the Syair Siti Sianah and the Syair Suluh Pegawai,

and try to determine why they received different treatment in different syair. Further, I

will compare two of his most important historical narratives, the Tuhfat and the Salasilah,

and the attempt to learn more about why a common basic plot was narrated differently. In

the course of making the above inquires, I will also assess the viability of the proposition

that Raja Ali Haji was also a pious teacher who devoted himself to his task of edifying

the Malay people. 48 This fresh facet of Raja Ali Haji will aid a better understanding of

the social dimension of his intellectual orientation.

In Chapter Three, I will consider other works and letters of Raja Ali Haji that do

not fall within, or lend themselves easily to, Sweeneys thesis on Malay writers and their

audiences. Raja Ali Hajis letters to Haji Ibrahim, a fellow Malay scribe, offer insights

into how Raja Ali Haji communicated with a Malay individual, as opposed to the general

audiences of the Tuhfat and Salasilah. This opportunity may shed light on whether

audience accommodation encompassed personal correspondence. This is particularly

interesting given the cultural practice of traditional Malay letter-writing, an art that is

especially sensitive to the relative social standing of the writer and recipient. Raja Ali

Hajis correspondence with Roorda van Eysinga offers an opportunity to study the

48
Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, p. viii.

22
implications of communicating with a European within this practice of traditional Malay

letter-writing. Conversely, the ramifications of abandoning the conventions of Malay

letter writing in his letter to Netscher make for a particularly intriguing study. Finally,

there are the more intractable works like the Syair Awai and the Intizam where both the

nature of the work and the postulated audience are somewhat ambiguous, thereby posing

a different type of difficulty for the application of Sweeneys ideas to Raja Ali Haji. Such

apparent difficulties are beneficial, however, as they serve as a buffer against the

temptation towards providing an all encompassing explanation of Raja Ali Hajis

intellectual life. It also helps highlight one of the latent aims of this thesis; to follow all,

and not a selective portion of the extant evidence, and offer an intellectual portrait of Raja

Ali Haji that reflects the ambiguity of reality.

Finally, I will offer an interpretation of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual life based on

the sub-issues raised in the preceding chapters. This interpretation will then be compared

to Wyatt and Woodsides provisional formulation of Southeast Asian intellectual life,

noting the differences in approach and the beneficial implications of the approach

adopted in this thesis.

23
Chapter 1 A European Influence?

15 December 1866

To you Sir, I persistently appeal, because our friendship began via the
arrangement of the government representative, Resident Nieuwenhuyzen, whose
words to me were This is the one person strongly recommended by the
government to gather Malay words, so I hope that Raja Ali Haji will help him as
much as possible. And I answered The order of the government and the
command of the resident I will carry out, do my best to fulfill. Only after that, I
was brought after prayer at sunset to meet you. 1

In the above letter, Raja Ali Haji recalls his first meeting with Herman Von de

Wall in 1857. Von de Wall arrived in the Dutch Indies in 1829, and had service stints in

Java, Cirebon, Borneo, Kutai, and Pontianak over the course of the next 25 years. He

developed an interest in the Malay language and Islam, and in 1855 was tasked with the

compilation of a Malay grammar, a Malay-Dutch and a Dutch-Malay dictionary(as

the compilation of)a Malay-Dutch dictionary was regarded as a matter of the utmost

importance by the Dutch government faced with an ever more urgently felt need for a

standard spelling and vocabulary for educational purposes. 2 By 1857, Von de Wall had

arrived in Riau, and in the above letter, Raja Ali Haji details how Von de Wall had been

introduced to Raja Ali Haji by F. N. Nieuwenhuyzen, the Dutch Resident at that time. 3

The first preserved piece of written correspondence between Raja Ali and Von de Wall is

dated 16 September 1857, several months after Nieuwenhuyzens introduction. After this,

Raja Ali Haji corresponded fairly regularly and had personal meetings with Von de Wall

1
Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, p. 68, 167. For the Malay version, see Appendix 3, p. 98.
2
Ibid., pp. 4-5.
3
Ibid.. F.N Nieuwenhuyzen, was the Dutch of Resident between 1855-8. It was during his term as resident
that Sultan Mahmud of Riau was deposed. His relationship with the indigenous rulers was difficult and it is
recorded that the locals in power petitioned the government, asking for his removal. He eventually left Riau
to become the resident of Pekalongan in 1858. Van der Putten and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, p. 277.

24
over the next 15 years, with the last piece of written correspondence dated 31 December

1872. 4

A Fifteen-Year Friendship

Stylistic studies of the 113 letters Raja Ali Haji wrote to Von de Wall reveal a

somewhat formal beginning to this association between a European scholar interested in

the Malay language and his informant. 5 However, it was not too long before pieces of

communication like the following,

9 January 1858

Truly, I have gratefully received a measure of advice from my friend on several


occasions. I have imposed on my friend several wishes, and my friend has
patiently acquiesced to these requests.
As I have informed my friend, I have hitherto been acquainted with many white
folks and dignitaries who have been interested in being my acquaintances. But
you can investigate and find that never have I made so many wishes and
requests. Only with my friend have I been so pampered. Because I observe that
my friend is very sincere with me that I lose my shyness, and hope that our bond
of friendship continues forever and that my friend extends his forgiveness on the
occasions I may have overstepped and been found lacking in our dealings 6

were exchanged. Apparently, it took about a year for Raja Ali Haji to take a liking

towards Von de Wall, and for a friendly and trusting atmosphere to take the place of a

more distant formality. Several times in the course of the next decade, as the quoted parts

of these three letters indicate,

22 April 1862

This is the truth about my circumstances. It is from my sincerity towards my
friend that I explain this matter, because I feel that my friend is like a relative to
me, I am sure that my friend will shield from view anything that could prove
embarrassing for me, should there be such.

4
Ibid., pp. 1-4, 118
5
Ibid.. To avoid repetition, details on the established tradition of Malay letter-writing are provided in
Chapter 3 of this thesis where this Malay art is more central to the discussion.
6
Ibid., pp. 36-7, 135. For the Malay version, see Appendix 4, p. 99.

25
7

7 December 1866

These are three secrets of the heart that I have stated. Because I am sincere
towards my friend, I utter these words to my friend. To anyone else, I would not
dare reveal this, frightened as I am of being ridiculed.
8

30 May 1869

Further, I inform my friend, in the case of the monetary aid, if my friend is
happy to do so, this month I would like to receive an additional half months
remuneration of 45 ringgit. In the upcoming month I will receive only half a
months due of 15 ringgit, because I want to celebrate the Prophets birthday on
the twelfth day of the month Rabiulawal. But this is our secret. People should
not know of this weakness of mine. I want to ask someone to go to the straits
(Singapore) to buy some food, and other paraphernalia. It is sufficient that my
friend is the only one who knows so that I will not be shamed.
9

there were repeated sharing of personal secrets between the informant and the colonial

officer. There is also indication that Raja Ali Haji had no reservations even when it came

to financial matters, and was willing to trust that Von de Wall would be discreet and not

embarrass him by revealing his sometimes dire financial situation. The sum of all these

appears to be that a high level of trust and sincerity was the basis on which these two men

forged a close friendship. Any remaining reservations as to the existence of such a bond

should be dispelled by Raja Ali Hajis sharing of the following intimate concern with

Von de Wall:

31 July 1872

This is a problem, but it is a secret shared with my friend, that my sexual


prowess is much reduced. God, God, is there no medication from the doctor
anymore. If it is dysfunctional, what is the use of living? What is the advice of
my friend towards me? This is especially important as I have just gotten a young
concubine. This is a matter that troubles me.
10

7
Ibid., pp. 54-6, 154. For the Malay version, see Appendix 5, p. 99.
8
Ibid., pp. 65-6, 164-5. For the Malay version, see Appendix 6, p. 99.
9
Ibid., pp. 82-3, 186-7. For the Malay version, see Appendix 7, p. 100.
10
Ibid., pp. 114-5, 217-8. For the Malay version, see Appendix 8, p. 100.

26
Honesty about sexual dysfunction between two men, probably in any era as it ostensibly

was in Raja Ali Hajis, is ego-deflating. The revelation thereof was probably so

embarrassing, that Raja Ali Hajis willingness to trust Von de Wall in this matter should

be a good indication of the nature of their relationship.

Though we have only Raja Ali Hajis part of this correspondence, it should not be

thought that the benefits of this relationship were one-sided, favoring only Raja Ali Haji,

thereby discounting the reciprocal nature of this relationship. Based on what is suggested

by the following letter of Raja Ali Haji to Von de Wall,

23 January 1871

I have received news from Datuk (a mutual acquaintance) that my friends


ailment has not healed, so I am very disheartened by my friends illness because
there is no specific medicine. Tomorrow or day after tomorrow, I will visit my
friend as this is the practice in the case of relatives and good friends. 11

Von de Wall also received care and attention from Raja Ali Haji, indicating a measure of

reciprocity in their relationship. 12

Intellectual Exchanges

Alongside growing personal bonds, this relationship had a marked intellectual

facet as indicated in the following letter.

11 December 1866

Let me acknowledge it to my friend that all the words that you left with me have
been examined. And I find that there are 16 words for which it is not sufficient

11
Ibid., pp. 99-100, 203-4. For the Malay version, see Appendix 9, p. 100.
12
It is acknowledged that, strictly speaking, Raja Ali Haji had done nothing more than express good
intentions in this letter. But given the physical proximity of their respective abodes, Raja Ali Haji on
Penyengat, and Von de Wall at Tanjung Pinang, and that that they did meet in person as indicated in other
letters of Raja Ali Haji, such as that dated 11 December 1866 (found below), it is not too far fetched to
think that Raja Ali Haji would easily make good on his intentions.

27
to merely provide the definition, without me explaining it to my friend in
person. So that the meaning is precisely determined. 13

As an informant, Raja Ali Haji helped Von de Wall with knowledge-based aspects of

Malay words, and also made plans to visit the German to explain certain ambiguities that

required more personalized contact. Raja Ali Haji also introduced Von de Wall to Malay

cultural products such as the syair:

1 September 1870

And here I give you a syair composed by a relative of mine, Raja Daud, entitled
Siarah Said Qasim written when he was in the employ of the (Dutch)
government. .. this I present to my friend. You can read it for relaxation.
14

and informed him on how it could be read without scrutiny with recreational ends in

mind. There were also detailed discussions and exchanges over how different methods of

defining words affected their meaning as explained in the following letter:

12 May 1862

When I examined it (a Dutch-Malay Dictionary), in the chapter entitled Sin the
word semu (pretence) is defined using the Dutch language and alphabet. I
wonder what it means, because in Malay, such words cannot be truly defined
using short explanations because the meaning of pretence is similar to that of
abuse, cheat, trick, betray and spoiling someone. There will be big
differences when interpreted and the true meaning will be unobtainable, unless it
is stated along with illustrations of all behaviors. 15

The short or simple explanations [mufrad, that preferred by Von de Wall], were not

always sufficient and had to be elaborated upon in a longer explanation [mufassar]. In

some cases, only these longer explanations could do justice [in Raja Ali Hajis opinion]

to the different facets of the meaning of the entry. 16

13
Ibid., pp. 66-7, 165-6. For the Malay version, see Appendix 10, p. 101.
14
Ibid., pp. 98, 202-3. For the Malay version, see Appendix 11, p. 101.
15
Ibid., pp. 56-7, 154-5. For the Malay version, see Appendix 12, p. 101.
16
Ibid., p. 22.

28
The length, warmth, honesty and intellectual exchanges raise the possibility that

these two men from different cultures with different mindsets and worldviews had

successfully grappled with such differences, and had overcome them sufficiently to forge

a good working relationship. It also appears that intellectual differences of opinion were

not a damper on social relations. This suggests that Raja Ali Haji was quite successful in

his role as an informant, reflecting his ability to communicate matters concerning Malay

language and culture to someone outside his cultural milieu.

More than Effective Communication

The following piece of verse, a eulogy for Von de Wall, however, raises the

possibility that Raja Ali Haji was more than merely a good communicator across a

cultural divide

Greetings embellished with respect

From me, the son of Ahmad


Sent to my friend
A person who gives counsel and attention

That is Mr. Von de Wall, an authority

In the task of searching for words


He has worked for some time
And traveled all the land and villages

His energy in looking for knowledge

Is that of a person who goes around gleaning things

Everywhere he encounters words


Unremittingly he asks questions
He finds straightforward words
Manifest and latent, rude and refined

Whichever respectable and mandatory

To their meaning he is true

Earnestly checking the words


Each one has to be certain

29
New words and original words

All those words he knows. 17

Raja Ali Hajis observations of Von de Walls vigourous pursuit of knowledge,

questioning attitude, inquisitive nature, perspicuity, penchant for certainty, strife for

exhaustiveness, and predisposition towards economy of explanation, corresponds well

with scholarly understanding of the nineteenth-century European mindset. Commentators

are of the opinion that the nineteenth-century European mind rested on the assumption

that social processes can be objectively observed, generalized upon, and formulated into

law like propositions. In the case of language, nineteenth-century European intellectual

pursuits involved attempts to give systematic form to language so that the word sign

(expresses) the constant link connecting the objective influence with subjective

expression. 18 As such, Raja Ali Hajis description of the workings of Von de Walls

mind is rather similar to contemporary scholarly opinion of a nineteenth-century

European intellectual. 19 This is rather impressive and suggests that Raja Ali Haji was at

the very least paying attention to, and had the ability to discern how Von de Wall thought

and functioned, and also the ability to put it down attractively in verse. Even if the degree

17
Jan Van der Putten, His Word is the Truth: Haji Ibrahims Letters and other Writings (Leiden,
Netherlands: Dept. of Languages and Cultures of Southeast Asia and Oceania, University of Leiden, 2001),
pp. 55-6. For the Malay version, see Appendix 13, p. 102. Translation by Van der Putten
18
Peter Alan Dale, In Pursuit of a Scientific Culture (Univ. of Wisconsin Press: Wisconsin, 1989), pp. 14,
22. For an extended explanation of the notion of a European Mindset, see Eugen Weber, Movements,
Currents, Trends: Aspects of European Thought in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Lexington,
Massachusetts: D.C. Heath , 1992), pp. 1-18, 135-40; Roland N. Stromberg, European Intellectual History
since 1789 (Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice Hall, 1994), pp. 1-13, 77-131; Timothy J. Reiss, Knowledge,
Discovery, and Imagination in Early Modern Europe: The Rise of Aesthetic Rationalism (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 1-16, 19-69.
19
The little we know about Von de Walls educational background suggests that he completed his
secondary education. He received a classical education, which entailed knowledge of classical languages
like Greek and Latin. Additionally, he also had mastery of modern languages, German, Dutch and French,
among others; Rapport von 20 Sept. 1854, (9 Sept. 1855, no.1/694), pp. 59-60, Besluiten en Verbalen.
Ministerie van Kolonien, Algemeen Rijksarchief, Den Haag.

30
of certitude of such inferences of Raja Ali Hajis knowledge of Von de Walls mindset is

discounted somewhat, as it is in the nature of eulogies to be excessively laudatory, this

should not detract from the fact that such observations would only be possible if Raja Ali

Haji was sensitive to this Europeans mindset and worldview. In this way, Raja Ali Haji

showed himself to be acutely attuned towards the intellectual machinations of another, in

that he mapped out quite clearly the intellectual orientation of a cultural Other.20

Beyond awareness, understanding, and the ability to articulate Von de Walls

European mode of thinking, Raja Ali Haji also produced the following document. It is an

appendix to a letter dated 21 June 1858, excerpts of which read as follows:

This is one way to craft a Malay syair. Be it known by you, one who seeks to
craft a Malay syair or quatrain, that you need to know beforehand the manner of
balancing it, its rhyming structure and deformities, because every task is not
without its accompanying learning for its practitioners so that they are not in the
dark about mistakes and deformities. It is because of this that I produce a
schema that can be used by anyone who wants to craft a Malay syair. To
effectively craft a Malay syair, there are three matters. First, it must be
sufficiently balanced; second, the rhyming must be correct; third, no deformities
linked to repetitions, what more oddities. This is what I deem three matters.

The first matter is about balance. Be it known to you, a Malay syair is made up
of four hemistiches; each hemistich is balanced by four words.For instance:

Listen Sir to a story


Perhaps something about it is amiss
Crafted by the poor disreputable wanderer
Correct it Sir and make it proper

The second matter concerns rhyming [explanation follows]

(example)

20
Raja Ali Hajis Malay contemporaries have been known to have penned eulogies. For instance, Haji
Ibrahim penned a eulogy for Von de Wall, and Raja Ali Hajis son, Raja Bih wrote one about Van
Ophusijen. See Haji Ibrahim, Syair Raja Damasik in Warisan Melayu Riau, Volume 1, Proyek
Pengembangan Budaya Riau (Pusat Pengajian Melayu, Universitas Islam Riau Pekanbaru, 1994/1995),
pp.88-402; Van der Putten, His Word, pp. 99-102. Whilst three eulogies do not make a tradition, and even
if such ability was not a specific skill exclusive to Raja Ali Haji, this does not affect the argument that the
contents of this eulogy indicate that Raja Ali Haji was rather intimately acquainted with Von de Walls
intellectual orientation. Further, a comparison of Raja Ali Hajis and Haji Ibrahims respective eulogies of
Von de Wall show that Raja Ali Hajis piece is much more detailed and comprehensive. See Appendix 14,
p. 103. For more on Haji Ibrahim, see Chapter 3 of this thesis.

31
The third matter is about deformed syairs, a syair is deformed for three reasons.
First, its meaning is unknown. For example:

(example)

Some are deformed in terms of meaning and not rhyme

(example)


This is the end of the matter which I have revealed a little from how to construct
a syair, a rhyme, and a twelve couplet poem to those who want to construct such
in Malay so that it will not be odd and deformed to those who are in the know. 21

In this document, Raja Ali Haji offered instructions to any reader who may be interested,

on how to create a Malay cultural product, a syair. With great precision and rigor, he

provides a step-by-step explanation on how to ensure a balanced syair, which rhymes

well and is free from deformities, and how to discriminate between a good and bad syair.

In this highly systematic and concise explanation of a Malay cultural product, he

painstakingly elaborates each of his points with an example. In doing this, Raja Ali Haji

mirrored his own observations about Von de Wall as expressed in the eulogy to an extent.

Thus, it appears that Raja Ali Haji may have behaved in the manner of a European

intellectual as described above. This is to say that Raja Ali Haji effectively held out a

Malay socio-cultural product in an objective fashion, generalized about it by explaining

its salient features and characteristics, and formulated guidelines of construction using

law-like propositions. Notably, such written expression is a presentation of knowledge in

a style hitherto unknown, or not at all common at the very least, in Malay literature. 22

21
Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, pp. 119-22, 222. For the Malay version, see Appendix 15, pp.
104-6. The contents of the letter are not related to this document. The letter does not elaborate the
circumstances or purpose behind the composition of this piece. It merely informs Von de Wall that such a
document has been appended.
22
In the opinion of Dr. Jan van der Putten, this is the first poetica in Malay known to us.

32
The closest counterpart to Raja Ali Hajis syair explanation, in terms of style,

within his corpus of work would be the following:

Issue

This is a method of constructing every Malay word from circumstantial


expressions and phrases or corroboration with adjectives or formal corroboration
or abstract corroboration, and everything below .

First, with convincing proof. Second, through hereditary information. Third,


through calculations that are not based the instrumental sciences.

Question Answer

Hitam legam Black has a meaning, what does dark black mean
(black) (dark
black)
Letih lesu Tired has a meaning, what does weak mean
(tired) (weak)
Keras mangkas Hard has meaning, what does very hard mean
(hard) (very hard)
Lembek benyek Soft has a meaning what does very soggy mean
(soft) (very
soggy)

23

This document contains Raja Ali Hajis response to Von de Wall regarding the long list

of word pairs Von de Wall had sent him, inquiring as to their meaning and usage. After

briefly and systematically making three points about Von de Walls inquiry in general,

Raja Ali Haji uses a set of columns, designated as question and answer to

systematically address each of the 89 word pairs. This form of explanation, like the

23
Van der Putten and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, pp. 129-32, 228-9. For Malay version, see Appendix 16, pp.
107-10.

33
exposition on syair, is once again probably without counterpart in the nineteenth-century

Malay World.

In fact, the style of explanation found in these documents of Raja Ali Haji is more

similar to the following excerpt from the pen of a highly lauded Malay literary figure of

the twentieth century:

11. Writing a Shaer

189. A work that is called a shaershows the following

The meaning of Shaer dan Saer

shaer has its origins in Arabic, its original meaning being feelings or a
knowing that emerges via emotional paths

193. What is called shaertakes on a specific look...

(1) No part of it becomes an allusion


(2) Because there is no allusion there are no parallel lines with matching
meanings
(3) (further explanation)

195. Examples of normal-type shaer are as follows

(four examples) 24

This excerpt is from a twentieth century Malay textbook, with the intellectual influence

behind such literary explanations being ostensibly colonial. An excerpt from a post-

colonial Malaysian publication, though it has a slightly different focus, reads as follows:

v. Shaer, Gurindam dan Seloka


a. Shaer:

Characteristics, Content and Types of Shaer

Although a shaer is made up of four-line stanzas, each stanza cannot stand on


its own. The end of each line of a stanza in a shaer rhymes with the sound at the
end of each line taking the form of a, a, a, a, or b ,b ,b ,b

24
Zainal Abidin bin Ahmad, Pelita Bahasa Melayu (Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Fifth
Ed.,1962), pp. 177-9. It should be noted that Zaabas explanation of syair is based on a comparison with
pantun. For the Malay version, see Appendix 17, p. 111.

34
The shaer form can be used to relate various life stories 25

The principles of construction scientifically-styled explanations of both these

examples have much more in common with the syair explanation and list of 89 word

pairs produced by Raja Ali Haji, than anything that has been preserved from the period in

which Raja Ali Haji lived. 26 As such, it should be noted that it was in his association with

Von de Wall that Raja Ali Haji demonstrated an understanding of, and also utilized a

mode of thought characterized by objectification, categorization, and systemization and

structuring of information and knowledge. Given the confluence of the production of

such scientific documents and his close relationship with Von de Wall, it needs to be

seriously considered if Raja Ali Haji used a European epistemological framework to

produce such documents.

European Influenced?

Virginia Matheson, having looked at the syair explanation and list of 89 word

pairs discussed above, describes Raja Ali Hajis style and tone in explaining the last two

documents noted above as concise and business-like. She readily recognizes this style

or mode of thinking as stemming from a European system of knowledge. 27 However,

she argues that a European influence on Raja Ali Haji should not be assumed too quickly

as he may have used this approach to the presentation of knowledge only to be helpful

25
Annas Haji Ahmad, Sastera Melayu Lama: Untuk Tingkatan Menengah dan Atas (Penang: Sinaran,
1965), pp. 66-71. For the Malay version, see Appendix 18, p. 112.
26 When I compare the two pieces above with Raja Ali Hajis, his explanation through the close

consideration of particular examples is easier to follow, appear to be more rigorous and is less abstract,
thereby making it a much more helpful explanation.
27
Matheson, Revisiting Riau, p. 241-5.

35
and cooperative towards Von de Wall.28 To Matheson, this form of help and cooperation

does not suggest that Raja Ali Haji was prepared to abandon his chosen system of

knowledge for the European one, as for Raja Ali Haji, the paradigm was Arabic and the

methods of Arabic scholars. 29 Matheson is of the opinion that in a situation where there

were two competing epistemologies, Raja Ali Haji chose one over the other. She cites

the following letter:

12 March 1872

the dictionary that is intended is not like the dictionary of my dear friend. The
one that I intend to produce is of a particular type of Malay, that of Johor and
Riau-Lingga. Stories and bits of Malay syair will be added to the brief
explanations, so that it will please the hearts of the young. Also to benefit those
who ponder the words and meaning of the Malay language that are not of Johor
and Riau-Lingga stock 30

to show that for Raja Ali the needs of the Malays were greater than those of the Dutch.

Raja Ali was writing primarily for his own people, and in a way which was enjoyable

for them to read. 31 Matheson also interprets this letter to suggest that

Raja Alis insistence that concise explanations were sufficient for the Malay-
Dutch dictionary, yet his provision of very detailed information for his own
people, suggests that the Malays needed particular care and attention, which the
European audience did not warrant. 32

Both this letter, dated 12 March 1872, and the attendant explanation do not clearly

support Mathesons argument that Raja Ali Haji chose between two competing

epistemologies as emphatically as does an earlier letter from 1870:

28
Ibid., p. 245.
29
Ibid.
30
Van der Putten and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, pp. 107-8, 211-2. Though this letter has been quoted in the
introductory chapter of this thesis, it is reproduced here as it is crucial to any attempt at interpreting
Mathesons argument.
31
Matheson, Revisiting Riau, pp. 243-4.
32
Ibid., pp. 244.

36
1 September 1870

I have informed my dear friend about a matter pertaining to the dictionary, about
the word relationship, especially in a genealogy, has this matter been dealt
with or not? Try to examine the chapter entitled kaf and ending with r, I
forgot which. If I have yet to send this to you, I can do so as the elaborate
definition of this word relationship which I am working on is of more general
use. Because of this, I will complete it in two days. When done, I will bring it to
my dear friend.

I also know that my friends intent do not lie with elaborate meanings, my dear
friend only wants the brief definitions. Therefore, I have also prepared the latter.
However, I will use the elaborate definitions in the dictionary I propose for the
Malays. 33

Raja Ali Haji used two Arabic terms mufassar and mufrad to differentiate between

two types of definitions. Raja Ali Hajis use of such Arabic vocabulary to explain himself

to Von de Wall, can be taken as a snapshot of how Raja Ali Hajis mind operated. Such

evidence is rare, and should be appreciated for what it reveals Raja Ali Haji did think

using categories and concepts clearly beholden to an Islamic epistemology. Such insights

suggest that Raja Ali Haji operated using an Islamic framework even in his intellectual

exchanges with Von de Wall. There is also no evidence from the preserved documents

that Raja Ali Haji used or adopted any Dutch or European terms in his communication

with Von de Wall. As such, it is plausible to think that Raja Ali Haji was able to discern

that an aspect of his own operating epistemology matched Von de Walls objective,

categorical, systematic and structured disposition towards information and knowledge,

and it was in this way that Raja Ali Haji, in Mathesons language, accommodated his

audience.

33
Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, p. 98. For the Malay version, see Appendix 19, p. 112.

37
Influences Before and Independent of Von de Wall

An analysis of texts such as the Bustan, finished by Raja Ali Haji somewhere

between 1850-1, reveals that an Islamic influence existed alongside the production of

what Matheson terms concise and business-like documents more than half a decade

before Raja Ali Haji came into contact with Von de Wall. The Bustan, in Raja Ali Hajis

own words, is

a text prepared for those who want to know all the Malay letters and writing
and I have arranged this for him by way of one prefatory note, several
subsections and one conclusion that I call the Bustan al-Katibin, Garden of
Writers for children who want to learn. 34

This text effectively (draws) out a grammatical system for the language; it is highly

structured and categorical, beginning with a long introductory section and followed by 31
35
subsections, each dealing with a specific aspect of the Malay language. Like most of

his works, there is an Islamic salutation at the beginning, and as in the Tuhfat, the proper

learning of language is encouraged by tying it to moralistic injunctions, besides the

extolling of the virtues of learning and wisdom, while also indicating the need for deep

study if one is to grow in knowledge. For instance, Raja Ali Haji reminds his readers that

the beginnings of an advantage are intelligence and good manners and not due
to origins and being well-bred. However well-bred one may be, if one has no
knowledge and intelligence, and good manners also take a plunge, they will be
disgraced

The mark of intelligence is to be quick of understanding

The fruits of intelligence improve decision-making and the mark of it is


friendship with the choicest of good people

For anyone of evil behaviour, his noble origins are of no use.

Therefore more attention is paid to knowledge and intelligence in thick treatises


than on religious knowledge, and discussions on logic, and other topics in the

34
Raja Ali Haji, Bustan, p. 1. For the Malay version, see Appendix 20, p. 112.
35
Taib Osman, Raja Ali, p. 51.

38
works of al-Ghazali and others. 36

All through this work, Raja Ali Haji offers didactic instruction on the Malay language,

displaying a very systematic orientation towards knowledge, an attention to detail, a

desire to be thorough, and a good measure of critical judgment. A good example of this

would be his instructions on how to write a letter,

At the beginning of the letter, it has to begin with Bismillah-ir-rahman-ir-


rahim. Then, with Al-ham-dulliah, that is praise to God and whatever else
that may be reasonable and useful for the purposes and meaning of the letter that
is to be sent. Then include praise of the Prophet and his family and friends. Then
only is it followed with humble greetings and anything that is suitable and
reasonable. Then only come the words that separate the words of praise with the
words intended that is waba'du or amma ba'du, and this is better still and
more meaningful than from saying what has already been mentioned, and more
fluent, than from saying if there is something after that because amma ba'du
means and if there is something after that. If there is something after that do
not repeat the first word, unless it is because of emphasis, that too is alright like
our words, as evil as possible, as naughty as can be or hope a million
hopes, make reference to a similar type. In this way there is need for short
words with significant meanings that can be understood, and try not to overuse
the words of praise beyond what is meet. At the end, record praises to the
Prophet, and include the date, and month, and day, and time, and place a seal. At
the appropriate place, add the writers address, and that of the recipient. Then
when done with writing the letter, it has to be reread. And no one else should
reveal what is in the letter to anyone else, without the permission of the owner of
the letter. 37

Raja Ali Haji details every step of the process, from the salutation to the ending, with a

reminder to re-read it upon completion, and also an ethical injunction that privacy of the

contents not be breached. This nature of the Bustan makes it quite clear that any

disposition on the part of Raja Ali Haji towards systemization, structuring and

categorization of information and knowledge, and also objectification to a lesser degree,

cannot be deemed to have been the result of the European influence of Von de Wall.38

36
Raja Ali Haji, Bustan, p. 7. For the Malay version, see Appendix 21, p. 113.
37
Ibid., Bustan, p. 69. For Malay version, see Appendix 22, p. 113.
38
It is certainly possible that someone or something other than Von de Wall could have impacted Raja Ali
Haji with a European influence. For instance, as will be seen in Chapter 3, Raja Ali Haji was in contact
with at least two other Europeans. However, as there is no evidence suggesting any influence by these two
Europeans, this line of enquiry will not be pursued.

39
Further, it must not be forgotten that one of the earliest indications that an Islamic

influence operated on Raja Ali Haji comes from his most famous piece of verse,

Gurindam Duabelas, published by Netscher in Tijdschrift van het Bataviaasch

Genootschap in 1854. This too predates his correspondence with Von de Wall, and as

seen from its use by Suratman to denounce contemporary religious hypocrites above, and

also based on the following excerpts of this piece of verse,


This is a Couplet of the First Issue

Anyone who does not hold on to religion on occasion the name cannot be
mentioned
Anyone who does recognize the four (stages of the Sufi path) that is someone who
is knowledgeable
Anyone who knows God his words and warnings he will not disobey
Anyone who knows themselves he has known God for a long time
Anyone who knows the world he knows the wayward things
Anyone who knows the end of days he knows the vain world

This is a Couplet of the Ninth Issue

Know the act is not good but persists with it that is not a human but the devil
The evil acts of an old woman that is the devils leader
To all the Kings subjects there the devil is pampered
Among most of the young people there is where the devil rides
Gatherings of men and women that is the devils banquet
If there is a thrifty old man the devil does not like to make friends
If young persons are well-taught with the devil they can contend 39

the content clearly is religious, and the Islamic worldview unmistakable.

Besides the Islamic influenced style and content of his works, the little that is

known about the life and culture of nineteenth-century Riau also shows that Raja Ali Haji

lived and grew to maturity in a social context influenced by the presence of many Islamic

teachers and scholars. Though there is disagreement over exactly when such a substantial

presence became established, there is no dispute that by the beginning of the nineteenth

39
Abu Hassan Sham, Puisi-Puisi, pp. 277-82. For Malay version, see Appendix 23, p. 114.

40
century, at the very latest, this was a reality. From the time of Raja Ali, the eighth Bugis

viceroy of Riau, onwards, succeeding generations of the ruling and noble classes of Riau,

received instruction from these Islamic scholars from Arabia. Some of these rulers were

so fascinated, and influenced by these teachers that this led to a high degree of piety, if

not religiosity, among their numbers. This religious fastidiousness also, for instance, led

to Raja Ali, the eighth Viceroy of Riau, to issue edicts against gambling and cock-

fighting among the general population. The preserved literature of this period also shows

the presence of classical Islamic texts, and Islamic influenced indigenous productions. In

fact, it was within such a cultural milieu that Raja Ali Haji is said to have had an

opportunity to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca with his father in his late teens, supposedly in

1829. 40

It was probably such influences that equipped Raja Ali Haji to eventually make

the following comments in a letter to Von de Wall,

12 May 1862

I have received a language dictionary; the initial sections of which read as
follows. This dictionary is one that explains the Malay language and Dutch
language. Then it gives the Malay defined in Dutch in Roman letters, but mixes
words from the court language with common words, refined and rude words,
and also Arabic words. I do not know who wrote it. 41

Raja Ali Haji virtually spells out a litany of imperfections that mark a Malay-

Dutch dictionary that had come into his possession. He goes on to note other

shortcomings as well, such as the way in which the unknown author has mixed refined

language with the vernacular, and the Arabic admixture. He prefers it to be more

40
Virginia Matheson, Suasana Budaya Riau, pp. 113-8, 121-5, 130-4.
41
Van der Putten and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, pp. 56-7, 144-5. For the Malay version, see Appendix 24, p.
114.

41
systematic, orderly, and that the author differentiate between words from different

registers. Importantly, these comments appear to be gratuitous and an independent

commentary on the part of Raja Ali Haji, expressing his apparent dissatisfaction with

such a poor job. There is no reason to think that Von de Wall had given him this text, nor

posed any questions to prod critical thinking. As such they allow yet another glimpse of

how Raja Ali Haji operated intellectually, independent of Von de Wall. It reveals that

Raja Ali Haji had a systematic orientation towards knowledge, paid attention to detail,

and exercised a good measure of critical judgment along with a certain fearlessness and

independent mindedness. That Raja Ali Haji put forward this opinion unstintingly,

without any prompting, and without any fear, is good indication that he was far from

lacking in confidence and capable of robustness in his intellectual discussions with Von

de Wall.

With such a variety of instances used to corroborate Mathesons argument, it is

very difficult to argue that Raja Ali Haji operated from a European epistemological basis.

Instead, it must be said that he probably honed his intellectual abilities, as Andaya and

Matheson argued, under Islamic influences. 42 Such abilities were a reality even before his

acquaintance with Von de Wall and though he may have come to decipher Von de Walls

intellectual orientation quite accurately, Raja Ali Haji did not need to come under a

European epistemological influence to be of aid to Von de Wall. Coincidence between

aspects of Raja Ali Hajis operating epistemology and Von de Walls preferred mode of

the presentation of knowledge seemingly equipped this Malay informants ability to

accommodate this European.

42
See introductory chapter of this thesis for more details.

42
Of Influences and Audiences

The ability to accommodate his audience also offers some hints about how one

can better understand Raja Ali Hajis works, and thereby provide important insights into

his intellectual machinations. For instance, in the letters from 1870 and 1872 referred to

above, Raja Ali Haji explains why the definitions required by Von de Wall, and the

definitions he had in mind for his intended dictionary for Malays were significantly

different. A better, albeit indirect, insight into what was entailed in accommodating

different audiences can be derived from comparing such instances from what has been

preserved from the two dictionaries that came out of this Malay-European encounter in

the ninetieth century. 43 In defining the word ajal, for instance, Von de Wall and Raja Ali

Hajis entries read as follows respectively,

Adjal, period of time; a moment of time, a time at which a debt has to be paid.
Aladjal, in Malay also without the article; Adjal, the decided time of death; the
end of life decided upon before; death.
Aladjal, the hour of death. 44

Span of Life/Lifespan

This originates from Arabic and the Malay definition is derived, but the Malays
are known to use this word like their own. So this is included in discussions of the
Malay language because it is appropriate. A span of life/life span is the
promised span of a persons life as written in the Muslim tablet of fate that ones
years are for a particular number of years, months, days and seconds. There is
nothing premature and nothing delayed as contained in Gods word in the Koran,
which means that when one reaches the end of their lifespan, there is not the
slightest delay and not even a second premature. The belief of Ahlil Sunah wal
Jumaah is the right belief, that those who die because they are murdered have also
died at the end of their lifespan. To be denied is the belief of the Mutazilites with
their words that those who die as the result of being murdered do not die at the
completion of their lifespans, because if they were not killed they would not have
died. The belief of this group is wrong and rejecting them are members of Ahlil
Sunah wal Jumaah like Sekh Ibrahim Laqani in Jauharat Al Tawahid with the

43
The assumption being made here is that the definitions in Von de Walls dictionary, though ultimately
penned by Von de Wall, reflect the influence of Raja Ali Haji and offer an indication of what Raja Ali Haji
had in mind when he spoke of two different types of definitions, mufassar and mufrad, being needed to
accommodate two different audiences.
44
H. Von de Wall, Maleisch-Nederlandsch Woordenboek, op last van het Gouvemement van
NederLandsch-Indie Samengesteld Deel I. (Batavia: Landspdrukkerij, 1872), p. 49. For the Dutch version,
see Appendix 25, p. 114.

43
saying that those who died as the result of being murdered die by reaching the end
of their lifespan as well. And beliefs different from this belief should not be
accepted, therefore do not use the belief of the Mutazilities. Murder is the reason
for that persons death. And that lifespan is the promise that is written in the
Muslim tablet of fate. 45

The definition in Von de Walls dictionary, though more encompassing in the sense that

it indicates four derivations of the word, is terse and functional, taking up no more than

five lines. Raja Ali Hajis entry, on the other hand, takes no cognizance of derivations,

and is much longer. Raja Ali Haji notes the words Arabic provenance, and explains the

meaning of the word by looking at its contested theological history. Here, the entry has a

clearly didactic intention, and Raja Ali Haji takes on the persona of a teacher explaining

something to his students, telling them to embrace a particular theological perspective.

In the case of another word, Upu, Raja Ali Hajis dictionary entry is as follows:

It is the name of the children of Bugis rulers in the country of Luwuk, the name
of the rulers highest ranked important children, all five from one father and
mother. The five of them came to Johor-Riau when the Johor kingdom had been
taken over by a raja from Siak, whose name was Raja Kecik. And Sultan Abdul
Jalil was already killed by Raja Kecik at Kuala Pahang, leaving his son Sultan
Sulaiman and daughters. Then the children of the Bugis rulers came, and
battled Raja Kecik, taking the kingdom of Johor from the clutches of Raja Kecil.
Then Raja Kecik was defeated, and only then was the kingdom of Johor returned
to the descendents of the Johor rulers. Following this was the appointment of the
child of the Johor rulers, with the title Sultan Sulaiman Badrul Alam Syah. The
children of the Bugis rulers became the Viceroy with vows of faithfulness
between the two parties, the Viceroy vowed to establish traditions for the
upcoming generations, with the Viceroy administrating the kingdom of Johor
and upholding the kingdom. After that the Bugis ruler (the rest of the text is
illegible, copyist) 46

Instead of only defining the word, and doing it directly, Raja Ali Haji narrates the

historical episode of how the Bugis came to be involved in the matters of the Johor polity

to illustrate the meaning of the word. Von de Wall, on the other hand, as seen below,

45
Raja Ali Haji, Kitab, pp. 122-3. For the Malay version, see Appendix 26, p. 115.
46
Ibid., Kitab, pp. 137-8. For Malay version, see Appendix 27, p. 115.

44
oepoe, Bugis title, in that land it is given to the sons of the reigning king. It
is conferred by the rulers of Riau, of Bugis extraction, it is comparable
toBaginda. 47

requires only three lines to define it.

Finally, if in his letters Raja Ali Haji talked about producing a dictionary that

would attract the interest of the younger Malays, a good indication of what he probably

had in mind is found in the entry for ikal, as seen below:

A persons hair that is not stiff and not curly, therefore having the best quality of
hair. Therefore it is fortunate if one has such hair whether man or woman
because that is what is mostly done by Malays in love stories, this is the
characteristic of the women desired.

Her hair is like (meaning unclear)


Her countenance is tearful
I face you and I reminisce when I am back
Every night the heart is not at ease

The forehead is sublime with the delicately curling of hair about the ears
The more it is scrutinized the prettier it becomes
Like Galuh Ratna Wilis (a mythical queen)
Like a painting just drawn

Oh my golden sister
What am I but a humble traveler
If there is no enlightened compassion
My life will be very short. 48

The need to make it appealing to the Malay audience of his polity, along with the hope

that it would be of aid even to those who are not from Riau and Lingga who had occasion

to use the dictionary, is effected through the use of verse. In Raja Ali Hajis view, this

was a rather effective means of communicating with a Malay audience. Von de Walls

highly divergent scientific temper, on the other hand, is equally clear when he lists down

five derivations as seen below:

47
Wall, Maleisch-Nederlandsch Woordenboek, p. 678. For Dutch version, see Appendix 28 p. 116.
48
Raja Ali Haji, Kitab, pp. 123-4. For Malay version, see Appendix 29, p. 116.

45
ikal, adjective., curly of a bunch: wavy.
noun., the curliness., its quality.; the state of being curly. etc.; curl
ikalken, imperative of A
mengikalken, in some regions mengikalken, do something to make it
curly,
berikalken, being in the process of making something curly
diikalkan, being made curly
terikalken, to have the possibility of making it curly
perikalken, emphatic form of A
ikal-ikal, absolute superlative; of the root; very curly. 49

These three sets of comparisons offer a sharpened sense of what it probably meant

for Raja Ali Haji to accommodate his audiences. On the one hand, Raja Ali Haji needed

to help Von de Wall in the production of brief definitions; on the other, Raja Ali Haji had

to use religious, historical and literary illustrations to communicate with Malays. It surely

required a good degree of intellectual flexibility and agility on the part of Raja Ali Haji.

Raja Ali Hajis ability to navigate such divergent streams must be factored into any

attempt to make sense of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual ability and orientation simply

because such ability does involve a measure of intellectual dexterity. It is also important

to note that this flexibility was a self-conscious one. In the 1870 letter, Raja Ali Haji

noted that he understood what Von de Wall wanted short definitions for the dictionary

entries and informs Von de Wall that he has provided such definitions. On the other

hand, Raja Ali Haji also provided Von de Wall with the schema of longer definitions,

which Raja Ali Haji planned to use in a dictionary specifically prepared for Malays. That

such divergent schema are referred to in the same letter indicates that Raja Ali Haji was

conscious about writing for two different audiences, a European civil servant and

Malays, and that he was able and willing to cater to the individual needs and orientations

of both.

49
Wall, Maleisch-Nederlandsch Woordenboek, p. 816. For Dutch version, see Appendix 30, p. 116.

46
In light of Sweeneys ruminations on authors and audiences in the Malay world,

the presence of such an accommodation toward audiences points out the possibility that

making sense of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual efforts may involve more than locating his

works within a particular epistemology or influence. The variety of ways in which Raja

Ali Haji, a prolific and experienced Malay writer, crafted the different entries in his

monolingual Malay dictionary, suggests that he was acutely aware that such tropes were

needed in texts written for consumption by such an audience. Within such an

environment, interesting stories that help gain the attention of an audience, were at a

premium; as were bits of rhythmic verse that lent liveliness to the piece. In Sweeneys

words, it can be said that Raja Ali Haji made the dictionary for Malays interesting and

lively, as he was aware that it was a transaction with an audience. 50

Afterword

Hitherto, the methodological mainstay of scholarship on Raja Ali Hajis

intellectual life was via the tracing of influences operating on him, ultimately placing him

exclusively within one epistemological category or another. Andaya and Matheson deem

him an Islamic thinker while Taib Osman and others, stressing his traditional disposition,

call him a pujangga. In fact, this method of tracing influences is the reason behind the

existence of this chapter an inquiry into whether there was a European influence on

Raja Ali Haji, especially in the light of the discovery of his correspondence with Von de

Wall and the accompanying seemingly European influenced documents. Though Raja Ali

Hajis adoption of a European epistemology appears unlikely, this method continues to

50
Sweeney, Full Hearing, pp. viii, 3, 307.

47
prove illuminating and has shed light on several aspects of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual

life.

More importantly, it appears that a keen sensitivity to the needs of his audience

that emerges from his letters should be used to understand Raja Ali Hajis intellectual

output. His manner of presenting information to Von de Wall, a concise and business

like style of writing, is particularly evident in Raja Ali Hajis communication with Von

de Wall. This is best interpreted as evidence of how Raja Ali Haji catered to his

audiences orientation towards knowledge, namely Von de Walls European intellectual

disposition. Likewise, his eulogy of Von de Wall can now be seen in another light.

Because of the importance of audience sensitivity for Raja Ali Haji, he was attuned to

catering to the mindset and worldview of his audience. He was able to accurately distill

Von de Walls intellectual modus operandi, and spell it out in verse. Even if it is accepted

that sensitivity to audience goes some way in explaining his communication with Von de

Wall, there is a need to further explore the saliency of this observation in Raja Ali Hajis

other works, before one can argue that this was an important aspect of his intellectual

orientation and not merely indicative of good communication skills.

48
Chapter 2 Raja Ali Haji and His Audiences: Accommodation and Edification

Ninth: Deception

Some of the damaging characteristics of the deceiving tongue is the wrong of


mukhalif al-wad that contravenes the al-kalim al-fahisy that is the use of harsh
and critical words. Therefore kings and nobles must cleanse their tongues in
three regards because when kings and nobles lie with no compunction, they
render themselves unsuited to becoming kings.

And when they are guilty of internal or external wrongdoings. And when kings
and nobles speak in a disgraceful manner by swearing and ridiculing when
giving an audience, flower-filled gardens are changed into faeces-disposal
areas/sewers, that is to say that the audience area is likened to the gardens and
the disgraceful utterance likened to the sewer. 1

In the above excerpt, Raja Ali Haji urges rulers, nobility, and judges on control of

the tongue so that what emanates from the mouth of a Muslim leader will be in

accordance with Islamic morality. Raja Ali Haji proceeds directly to the point, identifies

specific sins associated with different misuses of the tongue, and pursues them

systematically before finishing with a stinging metaphor on how ugly it is for royalty and

nobility to use their tongues inappropriately. This is achieved in two paragraphs,

rendering it an example of remarkably efficient non-rhythmic prose. Even without the

succinctness, such writing fits very well with Andaya and Mathesons understanding of

Raja Ali Haji as an Islamic thinker as it is a clear instance of Islamic exhortation. Further

support that Raja Ali Haji operated out of an Islamic epistemology can easily be found

among his works, as most contain numerous instances in which he offers advice on

proper Islamic conduct, alongside exegesis and explanation of religious and moral

precepts. For example, in the following excerpt from a syair,

Syair Siti Sianah

Of Speech that is the tongue

1
Raja Ali Haji, Thamarrat, p. 230. For Malay version, see Appendix 31, p. 117.

49

The tongue is very famous,
It dirties the inside and is shallow;
It has given rise to both Muslims and infidels,
Because of it man is corrupted.

Preserve the tongue from Sin,


Not keeping ones promise has been noted;
Gossip, complain, abuse and sin,
Arguing and objecting bring anger

Do not curse anything,


Humans, animals, wood and stone;
It does not matter if one is unsure,
Be quiet with demons and ghosts.

All idle chatter,


You must guard against;
The stories that bring love of the world,
On the Day of Judgment you will surely be exposed.

These are some of the evils


The work of the tongue dear Sir
Declared so that it is known
Matters that are prohibited by God. 2

Raja Ali Haji uses five stanzas of rhythmic verse to convey a very similar message on the

use and abuse of the tongue. However, unlike the first excerpt, he does not identify the

specific wrongs involved. Instead, he appears content to point out, in a somewhat

discursive fashion, how the tongue can be used in ways prohibited by God. Rhythmic

verse instead of non-rhythmic prose, a discursive and not positivistic style of writing, and

writing with functional as opposed to more legal and theological ends in mind, are among

the salient differences between the two excerpts cited. As the content of both excerpts are

highly similar, the question arises as to why Raja Ali Haji chose to communicate using

different degrees of specificity and literary genres.

2
Abu Hassan Sham, Puisi-Puisi, pp. 409-10. For Malay version, see Appendix 32, p. 118.

50
One Injunction, Two Expressions

The first excerpt from the Al-Kazib is a small part of the Thamarrat, an 80-

page manuscript entitled Desirable Fruits for partaking by Rulers and Nobles Who Have

Responsibilities at the Court of Law. 3 As the title indicates, this piece was written

expressly for royalty and nobility who serve at legal courts. It is divided into three

chapters with the first explaining the concept of Islamic kingship, with guidelines on the

appointment and deposition of rulers, ministers and judges. The second chapter deals

with the duties and responsibilities of a legal court, and offers instructions on how to

differentiate between Islamic laws and traditional indigenous observances. The final

chapter, containing the Al-Kazib excerpt, discusses personal cleanliness physical and

spiritual and emphasizes how this should be observed by rulers, ministers and judges.

As for the socio-political context of this text, it is held that during Raja Ali Hajis lifetime

and long after his death, it was widely dispersed, sometimes in edited form, in different

parts of the Malay world, such as in Johor, Pahang and Terengganu. 4

In contrast, the second excerpt Al-lisan represents stanzas 339-44 of a 574-

stanza syair called the Syair Siti Sianah. This syair, though it appears to be rather long, is

in fact one of Raja Ali Hajis shorter literary compositions. It deals with Islamic

teachings on how one should wash oneself before praying, on how and when to pray,

fasting, womens issues like menstruation and childbearing, tithing, Islamic mysticism

and how the five senses and respective sensory organs can serve as entry points of human

corruption. Save nine introductory stanzas in the voice of the author, the rest of this syair

3
The full title Malay title is Thamarrat Al-Muhimmah Dhiayafatan Hl Umrai wa al-Kubrai li Ahl
AlMahkamah Buah-buahan yang Dicita-cita jadi Jamuan bagi Raja-raja dan Orang Besar-besar yang
Mempunyai Pekerjan Di Dalam Tempat Berhukum.
4
Hasan Junus, Raja Ali Haji, pp. 169-74.

51
is presented as a dialogue between two women Siti Dianah, the wife of a religious

figure and Siti Sianah. The latter is also the wife of another religious figure, and her

husband is a member of a royal family. Given the use of female literary interlocutors, and

the womens issues dealt with in this poem, commentators surmise that this syair is

directed towards women. 5

Studies of the content, form, and presentation of ideas in these two texts, along

with very limited information about its socio-political context, and specific identification

of the audience in the Thamarrat, suggest that a sound explanation for the differences

between the two texts is that they were produced for two different audiences. As seen in

his letters to Von de Wall, Raja Ali Haji himself explains that popular communication

needs to be attractively packaged, and it appears that the rhythmic, conversational and

discursive, presentation of a religious injunction as found in the Al-lisan is an example of

such communication. 6 Also, it is not difficult to imagine that the ostensibly functional

aims of Al-lisan do serve a popular audiences practice of their faith rather well. A

theological understanding, with specific breaches of the religious code identified, on the

other hand, would probably be more suited for a judge at a legal court. An austere,

prosaic and positivistic presentation of such ideas as found in Al-Kazib also coheres well

with the anticipated needs of such an audience. Raja Ali Hajis use of a respectful tone in

Al-Kazib also corroborates the argument that this piece was meant for high-ranking

members of society, and not for popular consumption.

5
Abu Hassan Sham, Puisi-Puisi, pp. 13947.
6
See Chapter 1 of this thesis.

52
One Genre, Two Genders

While the use of different literary forms can be indicative of different audiences, a

comparison of the Syair Siti Sianah and another syair, Syair Suluh Pegawai, can also

show how Raja Ali Haji manifests audience sensitivity even within a single literary

genre. The Syair Suluh Pegawai contains details about the requirements of marriage for

men, advice on the preferred moral qualities to be sought in a spouse, regulations on how

to relate to ones fiance, instructions on the setting of an appropriate dowry sum,

guidelines on how to properly celebrate matrimony, a catalogue of the responsibilities of

a man towards his wife, tips on how to detect infidelity, rules pertaining to divorce, and

responsibilities towards aged parents. 7 The Syair Suluh Pegawai is in the voice of the

poet, and has a pronounced didactic tone. It deals with marriage and is expressly

addressed to officers

Sir, this is what I am beginning to declare


Matrimonial laws I will declare
All Officials can comprehend
So that they distance themselves from inappropriate actions or deeds 8

who are presumably male. With this focus on male responsibilities, it is deemed by

commentators to be written with men as the intended audience though there is a very

brief section, eleven of 325 stanzas, within this syair that is apparently addressed towards

women. Notwithstanding this anomaly, this syair is viewed as the counterpart to Syair

Siti Sianah, which was written for women. 9

The 11 stanzas in the Syair Suluh Pegawai that address women read as follows,

Advice to Women

7
Abu Hassan Sham, Puisi-Puisi, pp. 1339.
8
Ibid., p. 307. For Malay version, see Appendix 33, p. 119.
9
Ibid., pp. 133-47.

53
This is what follows Oh Woman
Obey your husbands
Dont betray dont resist
Make yourself ever faithful

Dont ever intend treachery


What more a lack of trust
Compulsory tasks and not those that are commendable
If resisted will attract a curse

First on earth it brings shame


And in the hereafter the body will be beaten
The news will travel everywhere
Because behavior is not appropriate

Particularly enraged will be the Lord l-Izzati


If the order of your husband is not followed
You need to abide sincerely
To your husband be loyal

Dont be proud that you look pretty


More than all creatures
Assuming that you have no equal
Then your husband will be made fun of

Dont ever be proud of your origin


Your high status, polity, and village
Looking at your husband like a deer
Arrogant in speech and language

Not obeying his commands


Harsh words always emitting
Face is soured in front of him
Making the husband heartbroken

Dont do that
It will make clear that your are a demon and evil spirit
Your worth is not even a nugget (dollar)
You are not fit as a daughter-in-law

You will be sad every day


Your husband will hate you to a high degree
If your husband is particularly intelligent
He will sit quietly

But his heart has been wounded


Because of your despicable activities
Your husband will be depressed
You will have no end of it

Only to have nightmares


Incurring the wrath of God
Facing difficulties from two realms
Misfortune increasing every day 10

10
Abu Hassan Sham, Puisi-Puisi, pp. 325-6. For Malay version, see Appendix 34, pp. 119-20.

54
They exhort wives on how they should behave in relating to their husbands. This section

has a counterpart, albeit one that is much longer, that takes up 32 stanzas in the Syair Siti

Sianah, excerpts of which read as follows:

The Behavior of a Wife towards Her Husband

The behavior of a wife and her husband


I will state very clearly;
Practice it with sincerity of heart
The world hereafter will be safe for you

The commands of a husband obey,


Cleansing of the body dont pass over (neglect);
Do not think of someone else,
Do not cast a roving eye

If you want to go out, seek permission


If not, going out is prohibited
Even to your parents house
That is the law of the prophet

Food and drink must be well-prepared


Place of rest make ready
Regardless if his situation is rich or poor
So long as regulations are not left to the wayside

It is compulsory to care for him in sickness,


Do not give him heartaches;
Even if he has many relatives
Do not make it an issue of discussion

Thus is the behavior Oh Woman


Be obedient to your husband
Dont quarrel and dont fight
Make yourself ever loyal

Dont be proud that you look pretty


More than all creatures
Assuming that you have no equal
Then your husband will be made fun of

Dont ever be proud of your origin


Your high status, polity, and village
Looking at your husband like a deer
Arrogant in speech and language

Dont be proud of your youth


Your husband will be ridiculed
Whatmore if you make things up

55
Following the inclinations of your heart

Youth is only surface deep


In not too long, it will become slack
If you rest during the day
A pleasant appearance will be dispatched shortly

Behaving like that,


That is a woman of the devil and evil spirits
Your worth is less than a nugget (dollar)
You are not fit as a daughter-in-law

Some women like to gallivant


Hither and tither with others in groups
More so when the moon is bright
Visiting friends and acquaintances

Moving about like that will bring Gods wrath


Very wrong according to Islamic law
In hell the body will be split
In this world, cursed by God. 11

When the respective sections of the Syair Suluh Pegawai and Syair Siti Sianah are

compared, it can be observed that Raja Ali Haji offered different constructions to

ostensibly different audiences. In both pieces of verse, wives are advised to respect, be

faithful to, not to betray, to care for, and serve their husbands. In Syair Suluh Pegawai,

this message is couched in general terms, as is becoming of a didactic piece containing

legal exhortations, written with officials in mind. Syair Siti Sianah has a similar content

but is constructed using informal banter between two women to carry the message.

Crucially, Syair Siti Sianah goes beyond instructions on general responsibilities. Instead,

as is becoming of a discussion between two women, it includes details on the domestic

responsibilities of a wife, indicating how she needs to take care of her husbands food and

drink, his place of rest, and to nurse him should he be unwell. Notwithstanding other

similarities, this is a material difference between these two syair, and it is not surprising

that such detailed instructions are exclusive to a syair specifically aimed at an audience

11
Ibid., pp. 435-7. For Malay version, see Appendix 35 pp. 121-2.

56
who regularly experience such matters, namely women. Such is not found in a syair

whose main audience is male officers, which instead has only a minor sub-section aimed

at women. It appears that Raja Ali Haji tempered the content of his message to suit

different audiences, differentiated along gender lines in this instance. In doing so, he also

contended with the reality that different forums needed different constructions.

One Story, Two Versions

Besides works on Islamic jurisprudence, statecraft and literary productions, Raja

Ali Haji is well-known for his historical works like the Tuhfat and the Salasilah. 12 The

Tuhfat is made up of two chapters with the first chapter being something of an

introduction to the second chapter. The first chapter, additionally, provides a detailed

genealogy of virtually every major character included in Chapter Two. This genealogy

comprehensively links the rulers of Riau with the kerajaan(s) of the larger Malay world

Kedah, Perak, Terengganu, Siak, Kalimantan, Singapura, Johor and Pahang. This is

seemingly the substratum of the text and it appears that if one should lose their way in the

complicated narratives in Chapter Two, one could seek recourse to the structure in

Chapter One to recover ones bearings. 13 Chapter Two of this text encompasses a period

of some 150 years in considerable detail, with only the barest of outlines offered in this

thesis with greater focus on the main issues.

It begins with a reference to how the Johor-Riau polity is linked to the great

Melaka of old. It then details the infamous regicide of Sultan Mahmud and the

installation of the Bendahara in his place in 1699. This weakened the Riau polity and led

12
Andaya and Matheson, Tuhfat; Raja Ali Haji, Salsilah.
13
Virginia Matheson, Introduction in Raja Ali Haji, Tuhfat al-Nafis (Kuala Lumpur: Yayasan Karyawan
dan Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1998), pp. xiv-xv.

57
to constant rumblings of rebellion among its many tributaries and vassals, and set the

stage for over a century of internecine struggles among the various polities in the Malay

world. In the case of Riau, a successful attack by Siak in 1718 set the stage for its

involvement in a protracted series of struggles among the rival polities.

Then comes the key event in Raja Ali Hajis narrative the moment the ruling

class of Riau enlisted the aid of the mercenary Bugis to defeat Siak. Given this Bugis

success, the Malay rulers of Riau and the Bugis sealed a pact that gave the Bugis the

highest administrative powers in Riau. 14 This eventually led to the Bugis becoming the

most powerful force in the Riau polity. Siak, and other neighboring polities, tried to

defeat Riau on other occasions but never experienced any sustained success, mainly

because of the skill, courage, and industry of the Bugis leaders. This key event also

supplies the main reason why Raja Ali Haji wrote the Tuhfat:

In this book, however, it is not my intention to give an extended account because


there are already many such accounts, both handwritten and printed, composed
by people who lived long before me. What I want to do is to set out the pattern
of events which concerned both Malay and Bugis kings during the times of the
Kings of Johor, and those of the Bugis areas, and the island of Perca, so that the
way their lines mingled and the reasons for this may be understood. The words
and style are succinct in order that anyone wishing to understand them will be
able to memorize and comprehend them easily. 15

Having spoken of the historical links between Malay and Bugis rulers, Raja Ali Haji goes

on to detail the story of how five Bugis brothers became

mighty victorious warriors, supreme over their enemies, heroes in the western
lands, renowned from the Bugis lands to Johor and all its subject territories.

Opu Daeng Menambun became King of Mempawah,

Opu Daeng Marewah became Yang Dipertuan Muda in Riau and all its subject
territories. He was entitled Kelana Jaya Putera, and it was he who defeated Raja
Kecik, the Yamtuan of Siak, taking Riau and all its subject territories from his

14
Matheson and Andaya, Tuhfat, pp. 93-4.
15
Ibid., pp. 12-3.

58
hands and giving them to Raja Sulaiman. He then installed Raja Sulaiman as
King of Johor and all its subject territories.

Opu Daeng Cellak became the second Yang Dipertuan Muda in Riau and its
subject territories...

Opu Daeng Kemasi became Pangeran Mangkubumi, governing the kingdom of


Sambas with all its subject territories.

The story of the princes wanderings will come in part two of this book, God
Almighty willing. 16

It is recorded in the Tuhfat that Riau went on to experience considerable commercial

success under the stewardship of the Bugis. This made the Malay nobles of Riau, who

had effectively been displaced by the Bugis, jealous of the increasing Bugis superiority

and dominance. Though these Malay nobles benefited from this prosperity, they

constantly sought means to undermine the Bugis position. The nobles almost

periodically, for instance, waged slanderous campaigns only to be caught out by the sheer

wisdom and shrewdness of the Bugis. After every failed attempt to unseat the Bugis, the

two parties reconciled by reaffirming the pact between them, with promises exchanged

anew. This helped keep a tenuous alliance intact for more than a century and a half. 17

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Malay World was in a state of

flux because of the struggles between various regional polities, The chief source of

uncertainty in the subsequent years up into the 1860s, in the view of Raja Ali Haji, was

brought about by the presence of colonial powers the British and the Dutch in the

archipelago. Besides fending off Malays, the Bugis now had to deal with European

commercial and military might. The Bugis tried various means to deal with this threat,

from attempts at collaboration and uneasy cooperation on the one hand, to outright

16
Ibid., p. 27.
17
Ibid., pp. l01-2.

59
military conflict on the other. Though they achieved some success in dealing with this

threat in the short term, they could not stave off ultimate capitulation. These struggles

marked the beginning of the decline of Riaus political influence in the Malay world, and

marked the ascendancy of the Europeans. 18

The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 made the Dutch the dominant European power

over a vast geographical locality that encompassed Riau. For about 50 years, the Dutch

frowned on Riaus influence in the archipelago, even as they focused their attention on

Java. The tensions between these Europeans and Riau were exacerbated, with the Dutch

constantly looking for means to stifle or erode Riaus influence. According to Raja Ali

Haji, the Dutch gradually wore down Riaus resistance, aided by the shortcomings of a

dilatory and inept Malay ruler who failed to adhere to Islamic precepts, with Riau

eventually becoming a Dutch vassal in 1857. 19 The last statement also brings to the fore

the religious dimension of this text. There are numerous references to Islam in the Tuhfat,

and in fact, short sections of it are written in Arabic. Towards the end of the Tuhfat one

can also observe how Raja Ali Haji uses Islamic standards, as part of a reformist agenda,

to criticize poor regal leadership political and moral. Raja Ali Haji was of the view that

it was poor leadership that led to questionable social practices like casual male-female

relations, the consumption of alcohol, and cock-fighting. 20

The Tuhfat, written in prose form, was completed in the 1860s. It is clearly an

attempt to produce a credible record of Bugis involvement in the Riau kerajaan between

1715 and the late 1860s. 21 Raja Ali Haji used two main methods to secure the credibility

18
Ibid.
19
Ibid.
20
Ibid., pp. 283-4.
21
Ibid., pp.12, 308.

60
of his narrative attention to detail and critical use of sources. Great care is taken to set

down accurate dates of the events recorded. 22 Raja Ali Haji also identifies his sources

besides making critical comments both directly and indirectly as to their reliability. 23

Early commentators explained that this attention to credibility indicates an Arabic

influence, and that Raja Ali Haji learned this during his trip to Mecca as a youth. 24

The Salasilah, on the other hand, is

the account and history of the origins of the kings of Mempawah and
Pontianak and Matan and Sambas and Riau and Selangor and those who became
members of royalty in some of them either on the paternal side or on the
maternal side 25

It covers a shorter historical period, namely how the Bugis came to be involved in the

Malay world, specifically Mempawah, Pontianak, Matan, Sambas, Riau and Selangor.

Like the Tuhfat, the Salasilah also is marked by a genealogical substratum. The edited

version is divided into 21 segments of differing lengths, with each segment being an

episode of Bugis history. The text begins by noting that the Bugis have their origins in

the eastern part of the archipelago, in South Sulawesi. It then relates how the Bugis

received a plea for aid from the Riau court to help in dealing with political instabilities

stemming from rebelling tributaries. The Bugis royal house responded by dispatching

five Bugis brothers of royal descent to the aid of the Riau court. Upon arrival, these

warrior siblings set to work and militarily overpowered the rebellious factions,

particularly a Raja Kecik-led Siak. The military battles with Siak are recounted in great

detail, emphasizing the political and military genius of the Bugis warriors. As a reward

22
Ibid., p. 42.
23
Ibid., pp. 22-6.
24
Virginia Matheson, Introduction, p. xxiii.
25
Raja Ali Haji, Salasilah, p. 8. For the Malay version, see Appendix 36, p. 123.

61
for their success, the ruler of Riau gave the Bugis the highest administrative position in

the polity. This paved the way for the Bugis to become heavily involved in the

administration of Riau. Their successes and presence were said to have contributed to the

restoration of order and economic prosperity in the Malay realm. The narrative ends in

the first few decades of the nineteenth century with the descendants of these Bugis

siblings firmly established as the administrators of Riau and in the ascendant in other

parts of the Malay Archipelago. 26 As in the Tuhfat, Raja Ali Haji pays great attention to

detail and is concerned with the credibility of his narrative. 27 Besides encompassing a

shorter historical period, the Salasilah also contains lengthy portions of verse. 28

As seen in the previous two subsections, Raja Ali Haji once again covers the same

ground a historical episode on this occasion in two different texts. There are,

however, some differences in the way he narrates these two historical episodes, and these

differences may offer a possible explanation for the production of two different texts.

First, unlike the Tuhfat, the pact sealed between the Sultan of Johor and the Bugis that

gave the latter the highest advisory and administrative status in the polity is not

repeatedly emphasized in the Salasilah. It is only mentioned once, as seen below:

When the dance was over, the followers of the five kings arose and declared,
Today, Raja Sulaiman has assumed the title Sultan Sulaiman Badrul Alam
Syah, the king of Johor and Pahang and Riau and all its vassals. The court
heralds were then asked to call the Prime Minster, the minister of Defence, and
the prince paid homage. When this was done, the pact between the Bugis and the
Malays was declared to the public at large with the swearing on the Koran
between the Bugis and the Malays. 29

26
Ibid., pp. 29, 94, 153, 235.
27
Ibid., pp. 1, 29.
28
Raja Ali Haji, Salasilah, pp. 59-66, 77-86, 101-7, 261-75, 277-9.
29
Ibid., p. 94. For the Malay version see Appendix 37, p. 123.

62
Second, while the relationship between the Bugis and Malays is traced in detail in the

Tuhfat, it is also an important part of the Salasilah. However, there is more interest in

recounting details about Bugis lineage and heritage in the latter. For instance, the Tuhfat

begins with the Malay genealogy and only covers the Bugis lineage in the second part of

the text, but the Salasilah begins with the Bugis lineage, before briefly mentioning the

Malay line. 30 Finally, the Salasilah is narrated using prose, interspersed by extensive

portions of verse, unlike the prosaic Tuhfat.

Taken together, it does appear that while the Bugis are clearly important, even

central in these texts, Raja Ali Haji, an esteemed writer of Bugis descent, makes no

attempt to hide this in any way in the Salasilah. It begins with the Bugis lineage,

descends into considerable detail about how they came to assume their importance in a

Malay realm, and ends with the Bugis in ascendancy in various parts of the Malay world.

This focus may suggest that the Salasilah was written for Bugis descendants of the five

legendary warrior siblings. That this may be a popular audience is also attested to by the

extensive use of verse, which Raja Ali Haji himself has noted elsewhere in a similar

context is used to make the text more appealing. On the other hand, Malays appear to be

the target audience for the Tuhfat, given the reversed sequence of genealogies. Also, the

repeated mention of the MalayBugis pact in the Tuhfat appears to be there to remind

Malays, who were known to be envious of the Bugis position, of how the Bugis came to

occupy such a position on the basis of a pact that their services to Malay rulers fully

justified.

Besides comparative analysis, further support for these findings can be found

within the text of the Salasiah itself, where Raja Ali Haji writes:
30
Andaya and Matheson, Tuhfat, pp. 129, 174-5; Raja Ali Haji, Salasilah, pp. 6, 29.

63
I am compelled and it pleases me and I want to record it by producing this text
so that it is preserved in this manner till my children and grandchildren in the
future with Gods help and blessings on all his servants. 31

If descendants here are interpreted as those of his Bugis posterity, then this does confirm

that the Salasilah was written for a Bugis audience. This is in contrast to the rather

ambiguous conclusion of the Tuhfat:

We have reached the end of this book The Precious Gift and have completed the
tales and stories about the Malay kings and the Bugis, which involved the
descendants of the five brothers, the Opus, the princely Malay descendants of
the late Abd al-Jalil who died at the princely Malay descendants of the late Abd
al-Jalil who died at the Pahang estuary, and those of the late Raja Kecik of Siak.
If in the future any of my descendants wish to add anything to this chronicle,
they may. However, it must be done well, written lucidly and correctly, and set
out in accordance with the facts, so that it can be followed and in order that it
may be used in the passing of our time and days. 32

The conclusion is no more than a recapitulation of the central motif of the text, and

though descendants are mentioned, they are thought of as potential redactors, and nothing

else. Though this ambiguity surrounds the Tuhfat, it is one of the more studied of Malay

texts, and some help may be gleaned from the extant scholarship on the Tuhfat.

Many scholars have characterized the Tuhfat as a transitional work within Malay

literary tradition. For instance, Peter Riddell argues that Raja Ali Hajis approach to

historiography represents a revolutionary new stage in the Malay world. 33 Riddells

argument relies mainly on Raja Ali Hajis attention to detail and his critical use of

31
Raja Ali Haji, Salasilah, p. 276. For Malay version, see Appendix 38, p. 123.
32
Andaya and Matheson, Tuhfat, p. 308.
33
Riddell, Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World, p. 189. For other articulations of the idea of a
transitional literature, see Noriah Taslim, Sejarah Melayu Dalam Tuhfat Al Nafis: Sikap Ali Haji Terhadap
Warisan Tradisi; and Timothy P. Barnard, Saudara, Sejarah, dan Siak: Apa yang dipersoalkan Raja Ali
Haji, in ed. Al azhar dan Emustian Rahman, Kandil Akal, pp. 211-29, 242-5. For a recent overview of
Malay historiography and its evolution, see Vladimir Braginsky, The Comparative Study of Traditional
Asian Literatures: From Reflective Traditionalism to Neo-Traditionalism (Richmond: Curzon, 2001), pp.
230-306.

64
sources. He does not deny that there is a legitimizing, or even a didactic dimension, to the

Tuhfat, as can be found in traditional Malay literature like the Sejarah Melayu. But he

does not think that these dimensions, which represent continuities with older Malay

works, should obscure the purportedly revolutionary element. These new elements are

most important to this text. This is why Riddell has no qualms about deeming the Tuhfat

a historical work. In fact, he goes on to say that in writing as he did, Raja Ali Haji

acknowledged an acceptance of modern historical methods. 34 Even if one does not

fully accept Riddells arguments, there is sufficient cause here to suggest that Raja Ali

Haji had in mind great Malay literary traditions when he wrote the Tuhfat, and was

probably attempting to contribute to this tradition, and to use his contribution as an

opportunity to legitimize the Bugis presence in the Malay world.

As such, it is not too much of a stretch to think that both these historical

narratives, though recounting aspects of the same story, were aimed at two different

audiences. The Salasilah, the earlier of the two is directed at the Bugis, reminding them

of their roots. The Tuhfat is aimed mainly at a Malay audience, possibly even the larger

Malay world, in the style of the Sejarah Melayu, in the tradition of other Malay hikayat,

with the aim of legitimizing the historical Bugis presence at the Malay court.

Beyond Epistemology: Audience Accommodation

In each of the three sets of texts considered above, Raja Ali Haji is seen taking a

theme, and presenting it differently in different works. The reason for this different

presentation is best explained as his attempt to address different audiences, seeking to

cater to different needs and expectations, and wanting to elicit different responses and
34
Riddell, Islam and the Malay-Indonesian World, pp. 188-91.

65
achieve different ends with each audience. As such, it is increasingly plausible to think

that Raja Ali Haji behaved as if he were part of a culture where a text was a transaction

with the audience. His sensitivity to his audience not only goes some way in explaining

his communication with Von de Wall, and his production of two different dictionaries. It

is also a salient feature of five of his other works considered in this chapter. As such, any

assessment of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual life and orientation must not only take into

account his awareness and knowledge of two, or three different epistemologies, but also

his ability to temper his writings with his audience in mind. In fact, if anything, this

ability to adapt the content to differing audiences is probably the only constant in all his

works. The needs of his audience appear to have had a strong formative influence on his

intellectual products.

This broader basis of interpreting Raja Ali Hajis intellectual persona helps shed

light on the long standing conundrum over the Salasilah as a site of historiographical

conflict, with Andaya and Matheson not fitting it within their framework and Taib Osman

using it to bolster the pujangga argument. This discord will not be resolved by deciding

between two competing epistemologies or intellectual orientations, as it goes beyond

such considerations to that of intended audience. Epistemological considerations clearly

influenced Raja Ali Hajis works, and as Andaya and Matheson point out and

corroborated by the arguments in the previous chapter, the prevailing framework was

Islamic. However, Raja Ali Haji was not unself-consciously subservient to this Islamic

heritage. Instead, he was also very concerned with the audiences he was addressing, and

that is probably a reason why the Salasilah is rather different from the Tuhfat.

66
Audience Edification

Not only does epistemological preoccupation prevent the appreciation of Raja Ali

Hajis keen intellectual ability to accommodate his audiences; it also obscures from view

a social dimension of his intellectual orientation. As hinted in his letters to Von de Wall,

as expressed in his preface and concluding remarks to both the Tuhfat and Salasilah, and

the didactic orientation of his histories, dictionary and pieces of verse, there was a social

dimension to his intellectual orientation. Raja Ali Haji was a teacher who devoted

himself to his task of edifying the Malay people. 35 It needs to be recognized that the

moralizing thrust of his works is not to be viewed as an impersonal extension of his

theological dogmas into the pedagogical realm. This sincere desire to edify Malays is

particularly evident in a remark in the Bustan, which reads as follows:

To anyone who teaches this text, there are several matters in them. Some of
these matters must be taught to the students in orderly fashion on all subjects.
Do not advance the student to another issue until the student has completely
understood it and committed to memory the matter being studied. Some matters
the student has to inspect and think about every word of the text. There may be
some that are heavy-sounding, teach and grant understanding to the student with
easier words that he will easily understand. 36

Though Raja Ali Haji required high levels of discipline and decorum from students, he

pared down his expectations, and sympathetically suggests that if the use of a particular

term makes learning somewhat difficult, students can be taught using simpler terms in

order to aid their understanding.

Epistemology, audience accommodation, and heartfelt desire for betterment of the

people; all these appear to be integrated aspects that need to be taken into account in

35
Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, p. viii.
36
Raja Ali Haji, Bustan, p. 17. For the Malay version, see Appendix 39, p. 124.

67
coming to terms with Raja Ali Hajis intellectual life. While these newly uncovered

characteristics of Raja Ali Hajis intellectual orientation cohere with all of his works

considered above, the next chapter will consider if the understanding suggested in this

thesis actually extends to all his other works, and the implications thereof.

68
Chapter 3 Raja Ali and His Audiences: Ambiguity
Corroboration, Departures and Difficulties

Datuk Haji Ibrahim, it is clear that my intent is truly towards the work,
acknowledging my efforts for a place where I can work and study, and a printing
press, I hope that the government will grant, for two reasons

First, for my relief, so that I do not suffer from lack.

Think about it, for one scribe, at least six ringgit a month 1

The above excerpts are from an undated letter from Raja Ali Haji to Haji Ibrahim, a

contemporary from his own cultural milieu. 2 Though the content of this letter can be

grasped rather easily, important aspects of this correspondence will remain elusive if one

is not acquainted with the nuances of Malay letter-writing.

Malay Letters

Malay letter-writing has a long history and is a highly formal and stylized mode

of correspondence. This is evidenced by one of the features of this craft the existence of

compendium-like manuals on letter writing. Such manuals typically contained many

examples of introductory salutations, opening phrases, religious invocations, directions in

the selection and use of appropriate greetings, guidelines on how to broach a particular

topic, and instructions on how to conclude a particular piece of correspondence.

Importantly, when it came to the use of appropriate greetings, there were different

formulas prescribed for different categories of persons, taking into account the nature of

1
Van der Putten and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, pp. 127-8. For the Malay version, see Appendix 40, p. 124.
2
Haji Ibrahim, a Malay dignitary of Bugis descent on the island of Penyengat, was a well-known Malay
dragoman who, besides Raja Ali Haji, was Von de Walls other major informant. Like Raja Ali Haji, Haji
Ibrahim also corresponded with Von de Wall for more than a decade. Quite similar to Raja Ali Hajis
letters to Von de Wall, Haji Ibrahims letters also shed light on the work he did for Von de Wall besides
some of Haji Ibrahims personal preoccupations. For more details, see Van der Putten, His Word, pp. 1-2,
88-175.

69
the relationship between, and relative socio-political status of, the writer and recipient.

For instance, a prince writing to another prince will often use respectful terms of

relationship such as ayahanda (father), kakanda (older sibling), adinda (younger

sibling), anakanda (child)according to the relative ages of the parties a District

Officer or Magistrate would be paduka sahabat beta, and an unofficial European of good

position or a man of little official status would be sahabat beta. This indicates that a

Malay letter writer needed to indicate his identity vis--vis the identity of the recipient,

and use only particular terms of reference suited to their relative standing in society. 3

In his letter to Haji Ibrahim, three terms were used by Raja Ali to reflect this

writer-recipient relationship Datuk, awak and kami. Raja Ali Haji initially addressed

Haji Ibrahim with the use of Datuk, a term of respect. If this term of respect is considered

in isolation, it may suggest that Raja Ali Haji used it to address Haji Ibrahim, someone

who had a higher social standing relative to Raja Ali Haji. Contextual knowledge,

however, reveals that Raja Ali Haji was a high-ranking member of the royal house, with

his uncle and cousin having held high political office as Viceroys of Riau. Haji Ibrahim,

on the other hand, was a lower ranking dignitary. This suggests that the use of Datuk was

probably indicative of nothing more than Raja Ali Hajis knowledge of, and use of a

shortened version of, Haji Ibrahims official title, Datuk Orang Kaya Muda.

Issues of status sensitivity and attribution only begin to emerge with Raja Ali

Hajis use of awak (you), a personal pronoun, in referring to Haji Ibrahim. The use of this

term indicates an intimate relationship between the two (persons). It is also held that

3
Annabel Teh Gallop, The Legacy of the Malay Letter/Warisan Warkah Melayu, with an essay by E.
Ulrich Kratz, (London: British Library, 1994) pp. 12-30; Van der Putten, His Word, pp. 2-15; R. J.
Wilkinson, Notes On Malay Letter-Writing in R. O. Winstedt, Malay Grammar (Oxford: Claredon Press,
1957), pp. 183-205.

70
awak can be used for someone with a slightly lower or equal status than the writer. 4

As such, there is some ambiguity involved in the use of awak. It can suggest that Raja Ali

Haji and Haji Ibrahim were of equal status; it may also suggest that Haji Ibrahim was

inferior in status to Raja Ali Haji, or it simply spoke of the intimacy between the two.

The second of these possibilities is consistent with what is known about Raja Ali Haji

and Haji Ibrahim, in that Haji Ibrahim had a lower status. Finally, any lingering

ambiguity that their relationship was one between equals is quashed when Raja Ali Haji

used the term kami to refer to himself as kami is recognized as a first person pronoun

used towards people of lesser rank and status. 5

When the combined effect of the different terms of reference used in this letter are

taken into account, it can be seen that Raja Ali Haji was aware of and operated within an

established cultural practice by using appropriate cultural signifiers to identify and

indicate the relative status of writer and recipient. This shows that besides his textual

output, the content of his letters to and his collaboration with Von de Wall, there was

another aspect of Raja Ali Hajis cultural milieu where he was required to manifest

audience sensitivity. Further, Raja Ali Haji was much more than a mere user of this

cultural practice. He demonstrated a deep theoretical cognizance of this cultural practice

when he offered detailed instructions on letter writing as seen in the section of the Bustan

quoted above. 6

Another example of Raja Ali Hajis subscription to this tradition of Malay letter

writing is a letter to Roorda van Eysinga, dated 6 February 1846. Raja Ali Haji wrote:

Light of the sun and the moon

4
Van der Putten, His Word, p. 37.
5
Ibid.
6
See Chapter 1 of this thesis.

71
All praise be to God, the Truth, who has the power to rule in the world and in
the hereafter, and prayers to our Prophet who has elevated rank and status, and
to his Family and Companions who will receive mercy and intercession on
Judgment Day. Having finished praising the Lord and the prayers to the sublime
Prophet, it is also accompanied by Truly this is a sincere letter cleansed of dirt
and blemish with which are enclosed greetings and respect and salutary words
from me Raja Ali Haji son of Raja Ahmad son of Viceroy Raja Haji, a witness
to the way of Allah, who presently resides in Riau on the island of Penyengat
Indrasakti. Hopefully it will be conveyed by the Lord of the Universe to the
presence of my friend Mr. Philippus Roorda van Eysinga who lives in comfort
and kindness and dignity in Batavia. I beseech the benevolent Lord may He
grant him a long life in good health and may his wisdom and insight be
increased forever and always in perpetuity. 7

A third of this letter involves religious invocation. It is followed by a section where Raja

Ali Haji introduces himself, followed by a greeting to, and some praise of, Roorda van

Eysinga, with this part of the letter ending with a blessing pronounced on this European.

Raja Ali Haji writes in a manner consistent with his own advice on letter-writing in the

Bustan, as this letter reflects all the elements addressed there. The introductory note, and

total absence of the slightest degree of informality may suggest that Raja Ali Haji stuck

to the formulae almost exclusively as this was a Dutch official he had never met in

person. 8 Even for an introductory note, the degree of formality is highly pronounced and

very rigid, and unlike Raja Ali Hajis first letter to Von de Wall. 9 Of course, in the case

of Von de Wall, the first preserved letter came after they had met in person, and the same

cannot be said of Roorda van Eysinga. Further, based on the extant evidence of Raja Ali

Hajis contact with Europeans, Roorda van Eysinga was probably the first European Raja

7
Van der Putten, His Word, p. 19. Philippus Pieter Roorda van Eysinga, (1796-1856) first came to the
Dutch Indies in 1819, where he became an eleve for indigenous languages in Batavia in 1820. His term at
the Department of Internal Affairs resulted in a dictionary and some translations. He went back to the
Netherlands in 1830, and returned to the Dutch Indies where he worked on another Dutch-Malay
dictionary, which was published in 1855. Four letters between him and Raja Ali Haji have been preserved,
and Roorda van Eysinga was also responsible for the publication of Raja Ali Hajis Syair Abdul Muluk,
along with its translation, in a Dutch journal. Van der Putten and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, p. 278.
8
Van der Putten, His Word, pp. 20-1. For Bustan quote, see Chapter 1 of this thesis.
9
For letter to Von de Wall, see Chapter 2 of this thesis.

72
Ali Haji corresponded with, and it might be said that he took what occurs to be the safest

possible route in abiding by a recommended formula for communication with

Europeans. 10 In a way, this letter shows how Raja Ali Haji reached out to his audience,

albeit in a different fashion. This attempt at reaching the audience is pursued by working

from an established knowledge base, a Malay cultural practice in this case.

Comparing this with his letters to Von de Wall is also instructive. It appears that

as he got to know his audience, Raja Ali Haji was able to move on to write in a way that

reflected the growing degree of familiarity rather closely. This indicates that Raja Ali

Haji possessed sufficient flexibility to move on to work from a mixed and dynamic

platform one that reflected both his cultural knowledge base in combination with his

growing knowledge and familiarity of his audience. Yet again, Raja Ali Hajis perception

of his recipient affects the written product.

It is interesting to ponder that though scholars have long been aware that the

respective status of the writer and intended recipient received much attention in Malay

letter-writing, there has never been sustained consideration that such an idea would rear

its head when a Malay writer set out to write something other than letters, such as

histories and even verse. This is especially so in a situation when literacy was not

widespread and all forms of writing presumably fell to the few who could write. After

more than two centuries of scholarship on Malay texts, such awareness, at least in regard

to the audience of Malay literature, has only been consciously and systematically pursued

10
While Raja Ali Haji may have come into contact with other Europeans, there is only evidence of
sustained contact with Von de Wall, and Netscher (considered in the next part of this chapter). Though four
letters to between Raja Ali Haji and Roorda van Eysinga have been preserved, there is no indication of a
flourishing, only a brief and formal, relationship. It will be very interesting if one can learn more about how
this apparent first contact with a European affected an audience sensitive Malay writer in his subsequent
interaction with other Europeans. See the introductory chapter to this thesis and Van der Putten, His Word,
p. 18-20.

73
along the Sweeney-pioneered lines of inquiry. In any case, the importance of the

audience, and the writer vis--vis the audience, in the Malay cultural practices of letter-

writing and text production, and Raja Ali Hajis cognizance of both these practices,

indicates that audience sensitivity impressed itself on Raja Ali Haji in more than one

way.

Abandoning the Letter Writing Manual

If adherence to Malay letter writing formulae marked his correspondence with

both Haji Ibrahim and Roorda van Eysinga, a recently found letter from Raja Ali Haji to

Netscher appears to break this pattern. 11 Dated 17 April 1866, it begins as follows:

His Way is the Truth

Truthfully, I mendicant of God the Most High, Raja Ali Haji, son of Raja
Ahmad, son of the late Viceroy Raja Haji, ask for help in a particular matter
from the Resident of Riau, the government representative of Riau and Lingga
and its territories. I, one who is financially poor, ask for help from the
government, that I dream of erecting a building in a quiet locality that will be
made a place of learning for Malay children and anyone who wants to study
knowledge of Malay, its writing and structure.

Also the study of theology and others as far as I have acquired, that is what I
want to offerAnd one more is the printing press to print texts that I write that
are useful to Muslims or others for other peoples, if they want it, we can
write... 12

Totally absent are the elaborate greetings and formality that mark his letters to Roorda

van Eysinga. Instead, this letter to Netscher begins with a very brief identification of the

11
Eliza Netscher (1825-1880) first came to the Dutch Indies in 1842, and served as a colonial
administrator. He served at the office of the Governor-General of Batavia from the 1850s, and was made a
special commissioner of Malay affairs. He published on Malay literature and culture, and was appointed the
Resident of Riau from 1861-70. He is well-known for a major work on the history of Dutch involvement in
the Malay realm, published in 1870. Van der Putten and Al Azhar, Di Dalam, p. 277.
12
Raja Ali Haji to Netscher, 17 April 1866, Found in: National Archives of Indonesia, Riau no. 221/3;
number of letter 82. A facsimile and a transliteration of this letter was kindly provided by Dr. Jan Van der
Putten in September 2005. For the Malay version, see Appendix 41, p. 124.

74
writer, and quickly acknowledges the legal authority of Netscher as Dutch resident. Even

if one gives consideration to Raja Ali Hajis rather long second and fourth sentences, this

is almost immediately followed by the point of the letter a request for aid from the

colonial government. It requests funding for the building of a house that will serve as a

quiet area for the education of Malay children and the provision of a printing press. The

latter would be used to print books written by Raja Ali Haji for the edification of

Muslims and others. 13

Further, instead of appealing to the good graces and sympathy of the Dutch

official, as Raja Ali Haji had frequently done in the cases of Von de Wall and also in the

case of Roorda van Eysinga, Raja Ali Haji makes this request to Netscher on the basis of

a provision in a Dutch legal code on colonial rule, as seen below:

Further, in that matter, with Gods will, has come into my hand a Dutch
Governments legal text, in the eight chapter and article number 128 on the
matter of education, it clearly manifests the justice of the Dutch government in
the East-Indies and because of this, with faith I set forth my request with the
hope of aid from you, Sir, the Resident of Riau. 14

This compounds the irregularity of this letter, and makes it difficult to interpret. If this

letter is taken to be official communication with the colonial government, then there is an

established formula, like that found in the letter to Roorda van Eysinga that should have

been used. Also, such letters usually involve polite requests, and not legal requests. This

raises the question as to why Raja Ali Haji eschewed established letter writing

conventions, especially practices that he had adhered to in other circumstances.

13
I have learned much about Raja Ali Hajis evolving relationship with Netscher, and benefited from an
elaborate explanation of the content and context of this letter from Raja Ali Haji to Netscher, by reading a
draft of an article recently submitted for publication by Jan van der Putten, entitled Of Missed
Opportunities, Colonial Law and Islam-phobia.
14
Raja Ali Haji to Netscher, 17 April 1866. For the Malay version, see Appendix 42, p. 125.

75
One possibility is that Raja Ali Haji was sufficiently familiar with Netscher that

the formalities could be dispensed with as in the case of Von de Wall. But even in the

case of Von de Wall, there were more often than not some courteous preliminary

greetings and salutations, along with inquiries into the well being of the recipient. 15 Van

der Putten offers some illumination here by explaining the differences between this letter

of Raja Ali Hajis from his other letters to European officials by locating it within the

changing nature of Raja Ali Hajis relationship with Netscher. Van der Putten notes the

terseness of this letter, and the lack of respect and decorum on the part of the writer;

and says that this is not explained by saying that Raja Ali Haji knew Netschers

European fondness for pithiness and accommodated him. In fact, to suggest a certain

degree of intimacy in their relationship [Raja Ali Haji and Netscher], is inconsistent with

the general tone of the letter [which] is quite cautious. Instead, this letter reflects Raja

Ali Hajis increasingly frayed relationship with Netscher, and is best viewed as Raja Ali

Hajis response to the unfavourable disposition the resident had developed towards this

Muslim scholar. 16 Van der Putten elaborates that one of Netschers fears about Raja Ali

Haji during the latter years of his position as resident was that fanatical Muslims, led

by Raja Ali Haji, would drive the colonial officials into the sea. Netscher saw Raja Ali

Haji as the instigator of all troubles the viceroy was causing in relation to the

reorganization of the local administration. (This happened during a) period that the

Dutch colonial enterprise began to straighten up to ward off the threat of the Pan-Islamic

movement led by returning Hajis from the Middle East. 17

15
For examples, see letters in Chapter 1 of this thesis.
16
Van der Putten, Of Missed Opportunities, pp. 7-8.
17
Ibid., pp. 10-16.

76
When this letter to Netscher is viewed in the context of the changing nature of

Raja Ali Hajis relationship with Netscher, it can be seen that the nature of the letter is

still linked to the audience, albeit in a slightly different way. Raja Ali Haji had an

apparently damaged relationship with the intended audience the colonial officer. The

resulting absence of personal goodwill probably meant that this Malay writer had to look

for alternative means of reaching such an audience. In rather dire circumstances, Raja Ali

Haji manifested great astuteness and dexterity in locating, and then attempting to exploit

a Dutch legal code based on his position as a subject of the Dutch colonial realm of Riau.

This was probably the only basis left open to him, and this letter provides an opportunity

to appreciate how skillful this Malay writer was in locating and leveraging on whatever

basis remained of his attenuated relationship with a particular audience. This is another

reason why any assessment of his intellectual life should be understood in light of his

ability to discern and construct appropriate platforms to reach out to different audiences.

Syair Awai

The letter to Netscher is not the only piece of preserved material attributed to Raja

Ali Haji with a rather unconventional beginning. This is also true of the Syair Awai,

which begins as follows:

Awai 18

The actions of a person who hopes for success but all of a sudden does not
obtain it is called awai and that is the illustration that has been taken out of the
Malay dictionary.

There is an old lady


Her name was known as Tun Hawa
Deceptive behavior was one of her traits

18
The word Awai as used by Raja Ali Haji does not appear to have an exact English equivalent, with
disappointment and left empty handed being the closest approximations. See Kamus Dewan, p. 75.

77
To the minister became an in-law

One of her children


Stays in the home the highest dignitary
Her name is Miss Siti Dang Lila
There she was blemished

Siti is pretty looking


And in that lies the matter
Desirable in whatever she did
Taken advantage of by her brother-in-law

That being the brother of the minister


His post is that of a (left) herald
His name Tun Perbata Sari
He is not yet married 19

This syair has a very different opening from the usual opening of a syair. Instead of a

rhyming quatrain, as was conventional, Syair Awai begins with a prosaic definition of the

word awai, very much like a dictionary entry. This definition is immediately followed by

a 274-stanza piece of verse. These 274 stanzas relate the misadventures of a shipmaster

that is very eager to get married. On two occasions he is cheated by a maiden, and when

he is finally successful, he marries the concubine of a king that has since been rejected by

his majesty after serving her function of bearing him children. The shipmasters

misadventures are meant to illustrate the meaning of the word awai the actions of a

person who is very eager to succeed in something, but suddenly fails, always leaving

him with the short end of the stick. 20

This mixture of features makes it very different from Raja Ali Hajis other lyrical

compositions, though it is somewhat similar to some of his dictionary entries where he

uses verse as an aid towards understanding a particular word. 21 However, this strangeness

dissipates somewhat when the short definition is read closely. The last part of this

19
Van der Putten, Versified Awai Verified, pp. 99-133. For Malay version, see Appendix 43, p. 126.
20
Ibid., p. 101.
21
See Chapters 1 and 2 of this thesis for examples of Raja Ali Hajis dictionary entries and lyrical
compositions.

78
sentence says that this definition has been taken out of a dictionary. Van der Putten is of

the opinion that the dictionary referred to here is the Kitab, as there are nine instances in

the Kitab where Raja Ali Haji uses syair to explain particular words, reflecting what Raja

Ali Haji had told Von de Wall about his dictionary being different because he only

selected words used in Riau and Johor and he would elaborate on the meaning of the

words in stories and poems, in order to encourage the young to study it. 22 Van der

Putten further argues that (w)hen one compares the syairs subtitle with the concise

explanation in the dictionary (Kitab), it becomes clear that Raja Ali Haji wrote it for his

dictionary (Kitab), for it is an almost verbatim copy of part of the explanation It was

not incorporated in his dictionary (Kitab), because it grew too long or was considered

unsuitable for some other reason. 23

Though the abrupt beginning to this work and its mixed features make it atypical

in comparison to the rest of Raja Ali Hajis works, understanding it as a dictionary entry

similar to nine other entries in the Kitab makes this piece another instance of the lengths

Raja Ali Haji went to in order to help his audience grasp definitions through elaborate

and attractive illustrations. The excessive length may be an indication that he got carried

away in the course of composition, thereby belying a measure of self-indulgence

resulting from his fondness for narrative verse. The explanation notwithstanding, it

should not distract from Raja Ali Hajis concern to communicate effectively with his

audiences.

22
Ibid., p. 100. For elaboration on the nature of the Kitab, see Chapter 1 of this thesis.
23
Ibid.

79
Intizam Wazaif al-Malik

Unlike the last two works of Raja Ali Haji with unconventional beginnings, the Intizam is

a short, well-crafted, complete and self-contained document that begins as follows:

Begins the mendicant of God the Most High, Raja Ali son of Raja Ahmad who
presents this edifying work with advice in memory of the presence of the
24
revered Viceroy Raja Ali.

It is expressly written in memory of Raja Ali Hajis cousin, Yang Dipertuan Muda Raja

Ali, sometime after the latters death in 1857. Though it begins with a personal

dedication, and is written expressly in remembrance of someone dear to Raja Ali Haji, a

regal figure Raja Ali Haji extols as a model of admirable Islamic leadership in the Tuhfat,

commentators tend to underemphasize these aspects of the Intizam. Instead, they think of

this piece with its guidance on Islamic kingship as a much less detailed version of the

Thamarrat, written with indigenous rulers in mind. 25 Commentators are of this view

mainly because of how this text is structured. This alleged guide-book begins with three

quotations from the Koran which exhort mankind to unite, not to constantly oppose each

other, and not to give ear to whispers encouraging evil, but instead to heed whispers that

direct one towards good deeds and peace among all. It is then said that a competent

Islamic ruler is expected to work towards facilitating the realization of these edicts. In

order to be able to do this, the ruler needs to know how to conduct himself wisely, as has

been formulated in Islamic teachings. These principles are briefly elaborated in the text.

The Intizam is prosaic and written in a formal style, using a serious and respectful tone. 26

24
Hassan Junus, Raja Ali Haji, p.163. For the Malay version, see Appendix 44, p. 127.
25
Ibid., pp. 160-1, 169-171. Andaya and Matheson, Tuhfat, pp. 201-6. For details on Thamarrat, see
Chapter 2 of this thesis.
26
Ibid., pp. 160-3.

80
However, understanding it simply as a guide for rulers like the Thamarrat fails to

take into account a recurring feature of the Intizam, first noticeable in the third sentence

of the Intizam:

Therefore, this is a presentation to God, and whether my dear younger brother


practices it to satisfy the earthly and heavenly matters, and whether my younger
brother does not practice it, it is sufficient for me to shorten the list of my
accusations in the last days... 27

First, Raja Ali Haji is evidently writing this to someone he calls his younger brother and

not to a general audience of rulers. Second, Raja Ali Haji is also writing it to procure

benefits for himself in the final judgment to reduce his list of accusations. Even if one

leaves aside these self-benefiting features, this part of the text complicates the task of

identifying the audience Raja Ali Haji had in mind. And if younger brother is the

recently deceased Raja Ali, then it appears that Raja Ali Haji penned this for his recently

deceased cousin, as if he were alive. All this makes the issue of identifying the intended

audience difficult, to say the least. And though, as commentators note, this text does

assume a highly exhortative formulation immediately after this sentence, it should also be

noted that personal references like younger brother are interspersed amidst these

exhortations, such as after the three Koranic quotes. 28 Importantly, Intizam closes on a

strong personal note, as seen in the penultimate paragraph:

This is the end of this summary memorial, sufficient for the beginnings of this
task that reasonably falls to my younger brother at this time. And if God
lengthens my days, never will I forget to remind you my younger brother,
whatever God reveals to my heart that is muddled, whether you use if or not, but
you should help provide reminders, as in Gods words from the Koran, be it
noted by you that the work of reminding brings benefits to those who have
faith. 29

27
Ibid., p. 163. For the Malay version, see Appendix 45, p. 127.
28
Ibid., p. 164.
29
Ibid., p .169. For the Malay version, see Appendix 46, p. 127.

81
In light of all these personal features, Raja Ali Haji appears to be communicating with an

individual who is alive and who has ruling responsibilities at the point when this work

was written. Though there is insufficient contextual information to accurately identify

who this person was, such a reference does suggest that younger brother might be read

literally to suggest a living individual. If so, the individual addressed is indeed younger

than Raja Ali Haji, and because he is alive, he is not the recently deceased Raja Ali. This

last section of the text is helpful in that it does somewhat dissipate the ambiguity brought

about by the third sentence of the text. This most strongly personal section of the Intizam

also marks an accompanying shift in tone from didactic to emotional when Raja Ali Haji

speaks of the state of his heart.

In most of Raja Ali Hajis works considered in this thesis, it has been possible to

identify the intended audience. In so far as the Intizam is similar to the Thammarat, with

its long didactic sections, this can be said to be the case. However, there is another side to

the Intizam. It was probably written in memory of the dearly departed and ostensibly for a

younger brother whose identity is unknown to us. It also reveals Raja Ali Hajis self-

consciousness about how the act of reminding can elicit divine favor, and it ends on a

personal and emotional note. In the absence of sufficient contextual information,

determining the audience of this piece is rather difficult, if not impossible. This is an apt

reminder that even if notions of audience accommodation are added to epistemology,

given the state of the source material concerning Raja Ali Haji, some aspects of his times,

works and life will continue to remain obscure. Nonetheless, transacting with the Intizam

offers one a rare glimpse of the more personal and emotional side of Raja Ali Haji. This

rarity is significant in itself, and should be treasured.

82
Afterword

All the letters and works of Raja Ali Haji considered in this chapter, in

comparison with those discussed in previous chapters, do not easily lend themselves to a

Sweeney-sparked understanding of Raja Ali Haji. Nonetheless, the inherent element of

audience sensitivity in Malay letter writing does stress the importance of the audience. In

his letters to Haji Ibrahim and Roorda van Eysinga, Raja Ali Haji showed himself to be

well-informed in this matter, and can be said to have demonstrated the importance of

sensitivity to ones audience in the Malay world, albeit via a different path. The letter to

Netscher, in eschewing this cultural practice, nonetheless reflects the state of the

relationship between writer and recipient. Hence, in an unintended fashion, the

relationship between the author and recipient continues to linger in the background, and

goes some way towards explaining this piece. When the somewhat anomalous nature of

the Syair Awai is demystified, it becomes clear that it was constructed in an attempt to

illustrate the meaning of a word in a manner Raja Ali Haji thinks to be best suited to

indigenous readers, very much like nine other entries in the Kitab. Though the intractable

nature of the Intizam remains, it is best thought of as an exception rather than to be

thesis-defeating. This exception offers a rare glimpse of an emotional facet of Raja Ali

Haji and is also a sober reminder of the difficulties faced in coming to terms with Raja

Ali Hajis intellectual life.

83
Conclusion: A Nimble-Minded Thinker

Notwithstanding the relative paucity of source material before 1995, Raja Ali Haji

continued to receive much academic attention as an historical subject with much of the

work focusing on different aspects of his intellectual life. In light of newly-discovered

material, the intriguing scholarly debate on the nature of his intellectual orientation can

be revisited. Adding the analyses of the newly discovered letters and other documents to

existing scholarly opinion can lead to fresh perspectives of his intellectual orientation.

It is difficult to disagree with Andaya and Matheson, based mainly on the Tuhfat,

Thamarrat and Intizam, that Raja Ali Hajis outlook was very much that of an Islamic

thinker. Taib Osman, premised on the Salasilah, and to a lesser extent the Kitab and

Bustan, also makes a compelling case that Raja Ali Haji is best thought of as a pujangga

of the traditional Malay order. Additionally, it is difficult to deny that prima facie

European-influenced documents did emerge from his relationship with Von de Wall. The

emergence of a possible third understanding of the influences on Raja Ali Hajis

intellectual life, however, leads to the insight that there is more to understanding Raja Ali

Hajis intellectual orientation than the reasons and supporting evidence given by the

various schools of thought. It appears that these differences in understanding are

attributable to the use of different texts, or different sets of texts, and the varying

emphasis placed on a particular theme or themes in a particular text by different scholars.

Emphasis on Raja Ali Hajis strongly Islamic-influenced texts supports the Andaya-

Matheson interpretation; focus on his more literary output helps understand him as a

pujangga, while the business-like documents that stem from exchanges with a

nineteenth-century European suggest a European influence.

84
A closer study of these business-like documents, however, read in context of the

letters that frame their production and exchange, and in light of the chronological

sequence of the production of Raja Ali Hajis other works, reveals that Raja Ali Hajis

rational, systematic and scientific predisposition stemmed from an Islamic, and not a

nineteenth-century European, influence. However, although Raja Ali Hajis

epistemological framework was Islamic, it should not be too quickly suggested that this

explains everything about his intellectual machinations. Such a narrow explanation

suggests that he viewed things through an Islamic lens in a rigid or dogmatic fashion.

This is far from borne out by many of his other texts, where Raja Ali Haji displayed deep

sensitivity to the needs of his different interlocutors, and seemingly strove to

accommodate them based on his sensitive understanding of their intellectual inclinations

and social positions.

In Raja Ali Hajis correspondence with Von de Wall, Raja Ali Haji was able to

provide Von de Wall with Malay language-related information fashioned in a manner

required by his European audience. To do this, Raja Ali Haji matched Von de Walls

requirements with an apposite aspect of his Islamic intellectual outlook.

Contemporaneous involvement in two different dictionary projects that involved two very

different types of entries consciously tailored for different audiences speak strongly of

Raja Ali Hajis ability to accommodate a variety of audiences. In producing the Tuhfat

and Salasilah, Raja Ali Haji displayed great familiarity with two different audiences

Malay and Bugis. He effectively wrote the Bugis contributions into the Malay

imagination in the former by skillfully using an established Malay narrative form, and

refashioned a portion of the same historical narrative with Bugis posterity in mind. He

85
addressed the Bugis by rearranging particular aspects of the account, interspersing it with

different forms of presentation, and emphasizing the Bugis contributions to the historical

episode. Further, in comparing the two expressions of the proper uses of the tongue from

the Thamarrat and Syair Siti Sianah, Raja Ali Haji related one Islamic injunction to two

different audiences in a manner that took into account their different dispositions and

needs. Not only did he adjust the content relative to a particular audience, but he also

exploited different literary forms in communicating with different audiences. The

differences in detail in his advice to wives in the Syair Suluh Pegawai and Syair Siti

Sianah suggest that some of his literary products are best understood as attempts to be

gender sensitive, as the former is part of a syair written for matrimonial officers,

presumably men, with the latter written for a female audience.

Most of Raja Ali Hajis works and letters that have been preserved consistently

reflect his sensitivity towards, and his ability to accommodate, his audience. However,

not all his works can be explained using this framework, though it is often the case that

the relationship between author and audience continues to lurk in the background. His

instructions on letter-writing in the Bustan and his letters to Haji Ibrahim and Roorda van

Eysinga, reveal his mastery of the theory and practice of the art of Malay letter writing.

This art is particularly sensitive to the nature of the relationship between writer and

recipient, and their respective social status, and this is reflected in an elaborate schema of

address and greeting. By subscribing to this cultural practice, Raja Ali Haji reflected the

concern of addressing ones audience accordingly, albeit on a different basis from

Sweeneys thesis. A damaged relationship with Netscher, on the other hand, makes for a

terse letter marked by the total absence of the formalities typical of Malay letters. Raja

86
Ali Hajis plea, solely based on a colonial legal code, reflects the severely attenuated

nature of their relationship as one of colonial overlord and colonial subject. Even this

nonconformity in praxis, interestingly, is best explained based on the state of relations

between author and audience. Syair Awai, a dictionary entry that never quite made it into

the Kitab, possibly reveals a Malay cultural figure so caught up in the raptures of literary

production, that the resulting piece was excessively long and deemed unsuitable for

inclusion. Nonetheless, this manner of illustrating the meaning of a word is similar to

nine other instances in the Kitab which Raja Ali Haji thinks will better fit the needs of an

indigenous audience.

Dedicated to a dearly departed relative and righteous ruler, identifying the

intended audience of Intizam is bedeviled by a lack of contextual information, some

ambiguous expression, and a measure of personal and emotional content. Though this

places it outside the ambit of Sweeneys thesis, this exception should be embraced and

not denied or suppressed, as it reveals an often obscured aspect of Raja Ali Hajis

persona.

Notwithstanding possible difficulties, departures and exceptions, Raja Ali Hajis

manifest ability to sensitively communicate with the different audiences encountered

throughout the course of his life was truly remarkable. It shows that meeting the needs of

his audiences was very important to him, and this does make Sweeneys observations

about the relationship between Malay author and audiences highly relevant. Consistent

with Sweeneys ruminations, Raja Ali Haji did display awareness that textual productions

were transactions with the audience, and that the author needed to be adroit enough to

temper his works with his audience in mind. Though beholden to an Islamic

87
epistemology, his ability to accommodate his various audiences makes it very evident

that Raja Ali Haji had a reasonable acquaintance with other epistemological frameworks

and intellectual dispositions European and Malay, and even the personal inclinations

and idiosyncrasies of his audiences.

Further, this ability to accommodate was often intertwined with the desire to edify

his audiences. It was explicit in the case of Malay and Bugis youth as seen in his letters to

Von de Wall and the Salasilah. In his works aimed for other audiences like members of

the court, religious officials and nobility in the Syair Suluh Pegawai and Thamarrat, and

even Europeans like Von de Wall, Raja Ali Hajis desire to edify was implicit. This is

evident in that Raja Ali Haji wanted his respective audiences to love and respect

principles of Islamic morality and Malay language and culture.

There is such depth and richness to Raja Ali Hajis intellectual life that can be

derived from a consideration of all, not selective portions and themes, of the extant

source material. Raja Ali Haji must be appreciated for much more than his sound grasp

and display of an Islamic epistemology. Neither should his traditional dispositions, as is

becoming of a pujangga, be treasured to the exclusion of his other qualities. Instead, it is

better to appreciate him as a self-conscious and nimble-minded thinker who was not

dogmatically shackled by an Islamic epistemological paradigm. While it is undeniable

that it was the Islamic paradigm that furnished him with considerable intellectual

acumen, he possessed the intellectual agility to temper his intellectual output to suit

audiences who were variously disposed, both intellectually and socially. To the Bugis, he

was Bugis; to the Malays, Malay; to Von de Wall, a systematic, rational and scientific

informant; to Muslim judges, a jurisprudential exponent; to a popular audience, a skilled

88
lyricist, to Haji Ibrahim, a fellow Malay dignitary conscious of their relative social

statuses; to Roorda van Eysinga, a member of the royal court of Riau-Lingga; and to

Netscher, a recalcitrant colonial subject. When all of the extant evidence on Raja Ali Haji

is considered, it can be said that Raja Ali Haji did attempt to be all things to all men. On

the occasions when this understanding must be set aside, the traces of self-indulgence and

glimpses of the emotional side of this highly lauded cultural figure are prized insights that

truly make him a more readily apprehendable historical reality.

Having lowered a little bucket into the great ocean of Southeast Asian

intellectual life, I am able to note several things with regards to Wyatt and Woodsides

framework on understanding Southeast Asian thought. 1 First, this study of Raja Ali

Hajis intellectual orientation is not able to confirm or disconfirm that the differences

between European and Southeast Asian intellectual orientations can be based on the

alleged absence of an individualist bias in Southeast Asian intellectual traditions. This is

as the nature of the extant source material made a different approach towards

understanding intellectual life informed by Amin Sweeneys work on Malay authors

and audiences more appropriate. As such, I did not get the opportunity to test Wyatt and

Woodsides framework. Some of Raja Ali Hajis letters to Von de Wall hinted that

Sweeneys idea was relevant, and this led to a different way of considering Raja Ali

Hajis intellectual life.

Second, having used Sweeneys approach, and if his ideas are found to be

relevant to particular Southeast Asian subcultures, I argue that this approach makes it

possible to handle such Southeast Asian texts with acute attention to the intended

audiences of that text. Such an approach will help surface an oft-neglected, if not under-
1
Wyatt and Woodside, Essays on Southeast Asian Thought, p. 2.

89
emphasized aspect of Southeast Asian literature, and thereby possibly suggest new

insights into Southeast Asian thought. As seen in the Wyatt and Woodside-edited

volume, even though all the contributors invariably handle texts as a means towards

uncovering understandings of Southeast Asian thought, none have done so while

considering the possibility that a Southeast Asian text might be viewed as a transaction

with the audience.

Finally, in the area of Southeast Asian studies and history, where scholars,

especially historians, continue to be in pursuit of the Van Leurian ideal of an autonomous

history, Sweeneys work can be very helpful. This is as handling Southeast Asian source

material in a manner that approximates how indigenous Southeast Asians handled them

in the past surely helps open up the way for scholars to battle their presuppositions and

preconceived criteria, and at least attempt to analyze and understand the material on its

own terms. This will surely take scholars a step closer towards an autonomous rendition

of the Southeast Asian past.

90
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Raja Ali Haji to Netscher, 17 April 1866. National Archives of Indonesia, Riau no. 221/3;
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Raja Ali Haji. Bustan al-Katibin (Garden of Writers). Singapore: Al-Haji Mohamad Said
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Rapport von 20 Sept. 1854, (9 Sept. 1855, no.1/694), pp.59-60, Besluiten en Verbalen.
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96
Appendices
Appendix 1

Suratman Markasan, Puisi Luka dan Puisi Duka (Puisi-Puisi Pilihan 1979 2002)
(Pustaka Nasional: Singapore, 2004), pp. 96-8.

Mencari Raja Ali Haji

Mataku bergerak dalam baris kata


pada abad sembilan belas lalu
terbentur mataku dengan gurindam duabelasnya

memukau mata bathin menembus fikir


dari panah istana menusuk matanya
masih tegak hatinya berdiri di atas kitab-Nya berbicara

barangsiapa mengenal Allah


suruh dan tegah-Nya tiada ia menyalah


pabila pujangga terbilang zaman Riau
bijak menyindir berani memanah
orang berilmu raja berpulau sultan berteluk
tidak terasa pahitnya sindiran

ketika dengan sedar pujangga alim itu


menyusur kata menguliti kitab-Nya
dia menyeru dalam pasal ketujuh
dengan sebutan berbisa pedih
terkupas kulit tersadai isinya
apabila kita kurang siasat
itulah tanda pekerjaan akan sesat

tak akan kutemui Raja Ali Haji di mana-mana


melainkan pusaranya di Pulau Penyengat
yang sepi di bawah pohon kemboja
anak-anak lalu lalang di tepinya tidak menghiraukan
hanya ilalang dan rumput menemaninya
tapi dalam pasal keduabelas
kutemui kata pedas yang menyengat

tidak sedikit dia gusar bicara


kerana patukannya barangkali Surah Muhammad ayat ketujuh
jika kamu hendak membela agama Allah
Dia akan membela kamu

97
Dan meneguhkan tegakmu
Tapi sekarang belum kutemui
Orang sebangsa pujangga besar mempesona itu

Di mana dia, di mana?

Suratman Markasan

Appendix 2

Van der Putten and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, pp. 107-8, 211-2.

Bermula adapun kamus yang hendak diperbuat itu, yaitu bukannya seperti kamus yang
seperti paduka sahabat kita itu. Hanyalah yang kita hendak perbuat bahasa Melayu yang
tertentu bahasa pada pihak Johor dan Riau Lingga jua. Akan tetapi dibanyakkan
bertambah di dalam qissah-qissah cerita-cerita2 yang meumpamakan dengan kalimah
yang mufrad, supaya menyukakan hati orang muda2 mutalaahnya, serta syair2 Melayu
sedikit2. Di dalam hal itupun memberi manfaat jua kepada orang2 yang mempikirkan
perkataan dan makna bahasa Melayu pada orang2 yang bukan ternak Johor dan Riau dan
Lingga.

Appendix 3

Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, p. 68, 167

kepada tuan juga kita merandung, karena permulaan persahabatan kita dengan aturan
wakilnya gubernemen tuan residen Riau Nieuwenhuijs, dengan katanya kepada kita, Ini
ada satu tuan orang yang baik2 dititahkan gubernemen memungut bahasa2 Melayu, maka
haraplah saya boleh Raja Ali Haji tolong seboleh-bolehnya. Maka jawab saya, Yang
titah gubernemen serta perintah tuan residen itu seboleh-bolehnya saya kerjakan mana2
yang terpikul atas saya, yakni yang tertahan atas hal tubuh badan saya. Kemudian
baharulah saya dibawanya berjumpa tuan pada malam hari bada l-maghrib, yaitu tahun
1273 pada bulan Safar.

98
Appendix 4

Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, pp. 36-7, 135.

Bahwa sesungguhnya kita menerima kasihlah kepada sahabat kita dengan beberapa
banyak serta beberapa kali. Kita menyusahkan sahabat kita dengan beberapa kali hajat,
padahal sahabat kita sabar serta disampaikan hajat kita.
Syahdan yang kita memberitahu kepada sahabat kita hal diri kita, yang selama2 ini
banyak juga berkenal2 dengan orang putih dan orang besar2 yang sudi2 berkenal-kenalan
dengan kita, akan tetapi boleh sahabat kita siasat, belum pernah kita membanyakkan hajat
dengan permintaan dan lainnya. Hanyalah sahabat kita seorang saja yang kita banyak
berbuat manja. Sebab kita lihat sahabat kita banyak ikhlas dengan kita, jadi hilang malu
kita, serta kita harap berkekalan perikatan sahabat antara sahabat kita dengan kita
selama2nya, serta berbanyak2 maaf di atas kita apa2 yang terlebih dan terkurang daripada
adab bahasa kita kepada sahabat kita adanya.

Appendix 5

Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, pp. 54-6, 154.

Itupun daripada sangat ikhlasnya serta putih hati kita kepada paduka sahabat kita maka
kita terangkan hal kita ini, karena pada perasaan kita yang sahabat kita itu saudaralah
kepada kita. Pasti sahabat kita tutup juga mana2 yang jadi kemaluan atas kita adanya.

Appendix 6

Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, pp. 65-6, 164-5.

Syahdan inilah tiga perkara yang rahasia hati saya yang saya nyatakan. Daripada sebab
sudah putih hati saya kepada tuan, maka terkeluarkan perkataan ini kepada tuan. Jika
yang lain daripada tuan, tiadalah berani mengeluarkan dia, takut saya jadi
dipersenda2kan orang.

99
Appendix 7

Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, pp. 82-3, 186-7.

Dan lagi kita maklumkan kepada paduka sahabat kita, seperti wang pertolongan itu, jika
jadi keringanan kepada paduka sahabat pada bulan ini jika boleh terima tengah dua bulan
sekali, yakni empat puluh lima ringgitlah. Nanti pada bulan yang satu lagi itu kita
terimalah separuh sahaja, yakni lima belas ringgit. Itupun jika patut kepada paduka
sahabat kita. Karena kita hendak bersediakan Maulud pada Rabiulawal, hendak
menyuruh ke Selat mencari sedikit2 makan-makanan dan barang2 yang patut. Akan
tetapi inilah rahasia kita. Janganlah orang2 tahu kedaifan kita. Memadailah paduka
sahabat seorang sahaja yang tahu supaya kita tiada mendapat malu adanya.

Appendix 8

Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, pp. 114-5, 217-8.

Ini satu susah, akan tetapi rahasia kitalah kepada paduka sahabat kita, yaitu syahwat kita
inilah yang kurang benar2. Allah Allah, tiadakah obat daya upaya dokter di situ lagi.
Sebab kita jika sudah rusak itu apa gunanya lagi dunia ini. Jadi susah kita, lebih daripada
susahkan penyakit. Bagaimanakah kiranya ikhtiar paduka sahabat kita memberi ikhtiar
kepada kita. Istimewa pula ini baharu pula kita dapat satu gundik budak muda. Maka hal
kita inilah, itulah yang susah kita.

Appendix 9

Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, pp. 99-100, 203-4.

Kita dapat khabar daripada Datuk hal penyakit paduka sahabat kita belum juga lagi
senang, jadi kita pun terlalu dukacita daripada penyakit paduka sahabat kita itu sebab
perobatan tiada yang tentunya. Sekarang esok atau lusa bolehkah kita datang melihat
paduka sahabat kita itu barang sesaat ziarah, karena adab kesakitan sanak2 saudara dan
sahabat handai.

100
Appendix 10

Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, pp. 66-7, 165-6

Syahdan adalah kita memaklumkan kepada paduka sahabat kita, adalah segala bahasa2
yang paduka sahabat kita tinggalkan kepada kita itu sudah kita periksa. Maka kita dapat
ada enam belas bahasa yang tiada boleh memadai dengan diberi saja maknanya,
melainkan tiada dapat tiada dirupakan kelakuannya di hadapan paduka sahabat kita,
supaya boleh tahkik maknanya.

Appendix 11

Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, pp. 98, 202-3.

Dan lagi ini ada kita kirimkan syair karangan saudara kita Raja Daud, yaitu syair Siarah
Said Qasim tatkala ia mengerjakan gubernemen. inilah kita hadiahkan kepada paduka
sahabat kita adanya. Boleh dibaca2 permainan.

Appendix 12

Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, pp. 56-7, 154-5.

Kemudian saya periksa2, dapat di dalam bab Sin suatu bahasa semu, dimaknakannya
dengan bahasa Holanda dan huruf Holanda. Entahkan apa dimaknakannya itu, karena
bahasa Melayu semu tiada dapat dimaknakan dengan makna yang pendek akan sebenar2
maknanya, karena makna semu itu berhampir-hampiran dengan makna aniaya dan
dengan makna tipu dan dengan makna perdaya dan dengan makna khianat dan
dengan makna merusakkan seorang. Akan tetapi berbeda yang amat berlainan jika
ditafsirkan dan tiada boleh mendapat sebenar-benar maknanya, melainkan dengan
dinyatakan segala kelakuan yang berbuat dan kena perbuat baharulah putus maknanya.

101
Appendix 13

Jan Van der Putten, His Word is the Truth: Haji Ibrahims Letters and other Writings
(Leiden, Netherlands: Dept. of Languages and Cultures of Southeast Asia and Oceania,
University of Leiden, 2001), pp. 55-6.

Salam dihiasi dengan hormat

Daripada kita ibnu Ahmad


Datang kepada pihak sahabat
Orang yang mempunyai tadbir dan hemat

Yaitu Tuan Von de Wall kuasa

Pada pekerjaan mencari bahasa


Bekerjalah ia beberapa masa
Berjalan segenap negeri dan desa

Daripada kuatnya mencari ilmu

Seumpama orang pergi beramu

Di mana2 bahasa ia bertemu


Bertanyalah ia tiadalah berjemu
Mendapatlah ia bahasa yang terus
Lahir dan batin kasar dan halus

Mana2 yang patut mana yang harus


Kepada pahamnya sudahlah tulus
Memeriksa bahasa bersungguh hati
Satu2nya hendakkan pasti

Bahasa yang baharu bahasa yang jati

Semuanya itu ia mengerti

102
Appendix 14

Haji Ibrahim, Syair Raja Damasik in Warisan Melayu Riau, Volume 1, Proyek
Pengembangan Budaya Riau (Pusat Pengajian Melayu, Universitas Islam Riau
Pekanbaru, 1994/1995), pp.88-402.

Tuan Von de Wal nama dirinya


Asisten Residen nama gelarya
Di Tanjungpinang tempat diamnya
Dengan segala anak isterinya

Itulah tuan mencari bahasa


Segala cakap dia periksa
Setiap hari senantiasa
Dengan Melayu amat biasa

Segala cakap bahasa Melayu


Daripada binatang sampai ke kayu
Segala nama segar dan layu
Hingga sampai perbahasaan kuyu

Minta izin pada dianya


Masuklah aku ke tempat kitabnya
Lu kuambil suatu hikayatnya
Raja Damsyik nama ceritanya

103
Appendix 15

Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, pp. 119-22, 222.

Timbangan Syair

Ini satu kaidah memperbuat syair Melayu. Ketahui olehmu hai orang yang berkehendak
kepada memperbuat syair Melayu atau pantunnya maka hendaklah mengetahui dahulu
kaidah timbangnya dan sajaknya dan cacatnya, karena tiap2 pekerjaan tiada dengan ilmu
diperlajarkan kepada ahlinya maka yaitu tidak sunyi daripada tersalah dan cacat. Maka
dari karena inilah aku perbuatkan satu kaidah yang akan boleh menjadi penjagaan siapa2
yang berkehendak pada mengarang syair Melayu. Bermula kesempurnaan syair Melayu
itu yaitu tiga perkara. Pertama, cukup timbangannya; kedua, betul sajaknya; tiga, tiada
cacat dengan sebab berulang-ulang apalagi janggal. Itulah aku perbuatkan tiga pasal.

Pasal yang pertama pada menyatakan timbangannya. Ketahui olehmu, adalah syair
Melayu tamam sajaknya empat misra, yakni empat keping tudung pintu diumpamakan
orang. Maka tiap2 satu misra empat ditimbang dengan empat kalimah yakni empat
kata2. Adapun satu kata itu siku2 disebut orang satu2nya. Mafhumlah orang sama ada
nama atau perbuatan atau huruf. Akan tetapi huruf itu terkadang jika dihimpunkan
dengan kalimah jadi satu pula. Falhasilnya empat misra itu jadi enam belas kata2. Inilah
misalnya:

dengarkan tuan suatu rencana dikarang fakir dagang yang hina


barangkali ada yang kurang kena tuan betulkan jadi sempurna

Pasal yang kedua pada menyatakan sajak. Bermula adalah sajak itu yaitu huruf yang
jatuh pada akhir tiap2 misra, maka yaitu atas dua perkara. Pertama, yang terlebih bagus;
kedua, yang kurang sedikit. Adapun yang terlebih bagus yaitu yang serupa yang jatuh
dahulu daripada akhir misranya itu, yaitu inilah misalnya:

dengarkan encik dengarkan tuan dengarkan saudara muda bangsawan


nafsu dan hawa hendaklah lawan supaya jangan kita tertawan

Kedua, yang kurang sedikit bagusnya akan tetapi betul juga sajaknya, inilah misalnya:

ayuhai saudaraku yang pilihan menuntut ilmu janganlah segan


jika tiada ilmu di badan seperti binatang di dalam hutan

Pasal yang ketiga pada menyatakan syair yang cacat. Bermula cacat kepada syair itu
yaitu atas tiga perkara. Pertama, cacat kepada sajak yang xxx pada ...
tetapi makna dan maksud tiada berketahuan. Adapun yang cacat pada timbangannya,
inilah misalnya:

hai sahabatku yang berbudi lagi berakal janganlah kamu lalai dan jahat dengan
nakal

104
Hendaklah kamu berusaha serta rajin ketika mudamu apalah patut bekerja
dengan tawakal mencari bekal

Dan jika hendak dibetulkan timbangannya serta mafhum maknanya, bersamaan juga
maksudnya inilah misalnya:

hai sahabatku yang berakal janganlah kamu lalai dan nakal


hendaklah kamu rajin tawakal ketika mudamu mencari bekal

Adapun yang cacat pada berulang-ulang yang bukan takid, yaitu inilah misalnya:

ayuhai encik ayuhai tuan menuntut ilmu apalah tuan


carilah sahabat carilah kawan menuntut bersama sertamu tuan

Syahdan adapun berulang-ulang ayuhai berulang-ulang carilah itu kepada empat


misra itu tiada cacat, dan berulang-ulang tuan pada akhir2 misra itu yaitulah jadi
cacat.
Adapun yang cacat pada maksud tiada cacat kepada sajak, yaitu perkataan di dalam
empat misra itu berlainan mafhumnya jadi tiada berketahuan. Inilah misalnya:

dengarkan tuan suatu peri di dalam laut hiu dan pari


mengenangkan untung nasibnya diri mukanya manis berseri berseri

Bermula adapun pantun yaitu seperti timbangan syair juga, ada juga yang bagus
sajaknya, ada juga yang cendera sedikit akan tetapi tidak ketara jika dibacakan, dan jika
disuratkan ketara juga. Inilah misalnya yang bagusnya:

cincin bandu permata sailan jatuh ke padang pati temu


jika rindu pandangkan bulan jatuhlah pandang di sana bertemu

Adapun yang kurang sedikit bagusnya, inilah misalnya yang tiada berbetulan sajaknya
pada akhirnya:

rumah besar tengku di hulu atapnya batu sisik tenggiling


syaitan siapa datang mengaru nasi ditelan serasa lilin

Syahdan inilah kaidah syair dan pantun.


Bermula adapun ikat-ikatan yaitu perkataan yang bersajak juga pada setengah
misranya. Akan tetapi satu bait yang di atasnya menempati tempat galang2, dan satu bait
yang di bawah menempati tempat kaitnya, tiadalah berputusan perikatannya itu, jika
berlainan yang di atasnya dengan yang di bawahnya sekalipun. Maka inilah misalnya:

Allah taala Tuhan yang esa menjadikan memakan sekaliannya


Barangsiapa hendak termasa ikhlaskan ibadat kepadaNya
menjadikan memakan sekaliannya tiada berhingga maklumat Tuhan
ikhlaskan ibadat kepadaNya nafsu dan hawa hendaklah tahan

105
tiada berhingga maklumat Tuhan dibukakan kepada segala arifin
nafsu dan hawa hendaklah tahan kepada surga kita dipimpin

Syahdan adapun gurindam, maka yaitu tiada tertentu banyak timbangan dan tiada pula
ditentukan cukup empat misra. Sekira2 patut pada sajaknya, jangan janggal kepada satu
bait memadailah. Maka inilah misalnya:

cari akan teman tetapi pilih yang budiman


tutur kata jangan kasar supaya tiada orang gusar
tutur kata hendaklah lembut supaya segera orang mengikut

Intiha.
Syahdan inilah akhir barang yang kubukakan sedikit daripada kaidah syair dan pantun
dan ikat-ikatan dan gurindam kepada orang yang berkehendak memperbuat yang tersebut
itu dengan bahasa Melayu supaya jangan jadi janggal dan cacat kepada orang yang
mengetahui ilmu itu adanya.

106
Appendix 16

Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, pp. 129-32, 228-9

Sebuah daftar yang belum selesai dengan beraneka ragam kata majemuk

Pasal
Inilah satu kaidah tiap2 idafat perkataan bahasa Melayu daripada takrif takid hal atau
takid sifat atau takid lafzi atau takid manawi maka segala yang tersebut di bawah ini
maka tiada dapat tiada dan tiada sunyi daripada tiga perkara. Pertama dengan dalil yang
qati yakni putus. Kedua dengan khabar yang mutawatir. Ketiga dengan kira2 yang tiada
dengan ilmu alat. Adapun yang terlebih tinggi itu yaitu dalil dan di bawahnya khabar
yang mutawatir daripada orang yang ahlul-shuqat dan di bawahnya kira2 yang tiada tahu
akan alat qanun ilmu alat ini susah jadi seumpama menimbang sesuatu dengan
dikira2kan dengan tangan tiada dengan neraca maka di mana jua yang galib kebetulannya
maka yaitu muhal adanya. Syahdan adapun perkara idafa ini yang eloknya ditaruh pada
akhir kamus karena ia seolah-olah ilmu mastiklah sendirinya adanya. Intiha bermula
dimulai di sini takid lubs yakni tersamar maka berkehendak kepada dalil seperti kalimah
susung kalak dan sunsung kalak dan susun kalak dan sunsang kalak adanya.

Soal jawab
Sunsang Kalak sunsang ada maknanya kalak apa maknanya
Lintang Kedak lintang ada maknanya kedak apa maknanya
Jelur Jalar jelur-jalar apa maknanya
Tunggang Langgang tunggang ada maknanya langgang apa maknanya
Herot Benyot herot ada maknanya benyot apa maknanya
lintang Pukang keduanya ada maknanya rupanya bagaimana
Kibang Kibut kibang-kibut apa maknanya bagaimana rupanya
Lalu Lala lalu ada maknanya lala apa maknanya bagaimana
misalnya
Sembab Berab sembab ada rupanya berab apa rupanya
Lekuk Lekik lekuk ada rupanya dan makna lekik apa maknanya
rebah Rempah rebah ada maknanya rempah bagaimana rupanya
Maki Hamun maki ada maknanya hamun apa maknanya
Sumpah Seranah sumpah ada maknanya seranah apa maknanya
Kata Nesta kata ada maknanya nesta apa maknanya
Pontang Ponting pontang-ponting bagaimana rupanya

107
Rangah Pongah rangah-pongah bagaimana kelakuannya
Bongkak Pongah bagaimana kelakuannya apa bedanya
hitam Legam hitam ada maknanya legam apa maknanya
Putih Melesih putih ada maknanya melesih apa maknanya dan
rupanya
Putih Matah putih ada maknanya matah apa maknanya
Letih Lesu letih ada maknanya lesu apa maknanya
Keras Mangkas keras ada maknanya mangkas apa maknanya
Lembek Benyek lembek ada maknanya benyek apa maknanya
Tawar Hambar tawar ada maknanya hambar apa maknanya
Obat Kelat obat ada maknanya kelat ada juga makna akan tetapi
apa maksudnya karena obat tiada tentu kelat
Hutang Bareh hutang ada maknanya bareh apa maknanya
Keropas Kerapis keropas-kerapis keduanya itu apa maknanya
Jalang Luktung jalang ada maknanya luktung apa maknanya
Kelam Kabut kelam ada maknanya kabut apa maknanya
Terang Benderang terang ada maknanya benderang apa maknanya
Susur Galur susur ada maknanya galur apa maknanya
Cekik Kedadak cekik ada maknanya kedadak apa maknanya
Dolak Dalik dolak-dalik bagaimana macam perkataannya
Ramah Tamah ramah ada maknanya tamah apa maknanya
Guna Biasa guna ada maknanya biasa bagaimana kelakuannya
Sok Sek sok-sek keduanya itu apa bahasanya
Celum Celam celum-celam apa maknanya dan kelakuannya
Lus Las lus-las bagaimana kelakuannya
Beras Petas beras ada maknanya petas apa maknanya
Ikan Jukut ikan ada maknanya jukut apa maknanya
Jalan Raya jalan ada maknanya raya apa maknanya
Licin Lecat licin ada maknanya lecat apa maknanya
Riuh Rendah riuh ada maknanya rendah ada maknanya akan tetapi
mengapa ditakidkan kepada riuh
Hangar Bangar hingar ada maknanya bangar apa maknanya mengapa
ditakidkan bau-bauan dengan bunyi-bunyian
Semak Samun semak ada maknanya samun ada maknanya mengapa
ditakidkan fiil dengan isim
Keluh Kesah keluh-kesah hal keduanya bagaimana kelakuannya
Kolang Kaling kolang-kaling apa pula maknanya dan bagaimana
kelakuannya

108
Pukul Bantai pukul ada maknanya bantai ada maknanya takid apa
namanya
Porak Parik porak-parik ada maknanya bagaimana kelakuannya
Porak Peranda porak ada maknanya peranda apa pula maknanya
Musuh Masah musuh ada maknanya masah apa maknanya
Tabor Tebar tabur-tebar keduanya itu zahir maknanya
Tarik Runtun tarik runtun keduanya ada maknanya tetapi ada beda
dan apalah bedanya
Runtun Rintak
Unjuk Ulur unjuk ulur keduanya ada makna zahir
Pintak Pinta pintak-pinta keduanya zahir maknanya
Kusut Masai kusut ada maknanya masai apa maknanya
Tua Renta tua ada maknanya renta apa maknanya
Muda Belia muda ada maknanya belia apa maknanya
Pucat Mania pucat ada maknanya manai apa maknanya
Gemuk Gedempong gemuk ada maknanya gedempong apa maknanya
Kurus Mering kurus ada maknanya mering apa maknanya
Sabur Lemur sabur ada maknanya limur apa maknanya
Senja Kala senja ada maknanya kala ada maknanya mengapa
ditakidkan nama binatang dengan nama waktu
Hujan Lesak hujan ada maknanya lesak apa maknanya
Lalu Lalang lalu ada maknanya lalang ada maknanya apa
maksudnya
Marah Berang marah ada maknanya berang apa maknanya
Simpang Siur simpang ada maknanya siur apa maknanya
Bengkang Bengkok bengkok ada maknanya bengkang apa maknanya
Gelap Gelita gelap ada maknanya gelita apa maknanya
Romping Ramping rompang-ramping bagaimana rupanya
Coba Cabir cobar-cabir bagaimana rupanya
Ketok Metik ketok ada maknanya metik apa maknanya
Kempul Kempul kempul-kempul ada maknanya
Gebeng Gebeng gebeng-gebeng ada maknanya
Kincang Kirap kirap ada maknanya kincang apa maknanya
Cuit Gamit cuit gamit ada maknanya pada fiil apa yang
dibubuhkan
Lemah Lunglai lemah ada maknanya lunglai apa maknanya
Siah Layah siah apa maknanya layah bagaimana rupanya

109
Kangkang Koyak kangkang koyak ada maknanya ketika mana
diletakkan perkataan takid itu
Jungkang Jungkit jungkit ada maknanya jungkang apa maknanya
Patah Riuk patah ada maknanya riuk apa maknanya
Pujuk Cumbu pujuk ada maknanya cumbu apa maknanya
Pangku Belay pangku ada maknanya belai bagaimana rupanya
Bijak Bestari bijak ada maknanya bestari apa maknanya
Bodoh Boyak bodoh ada maknanya boyak apa maknanya
Birah Birah keduanya ada makna sudah jadi apa maknanya
Luluh Lantak luluh ada maknanya lantak ada maknanya rupanya
bagaimana
Hancur Luluh keduanya zahir maknanya apa nama takidnya
Punah Ranah punah ada maknanya ranah apa maknanya

110
Appendix 17

Zainal Abidin bin Ahmad, Pelita Bahasa Melayu (Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan
Pustaka, Fifth Ed.,1962), pp. 177-9.

11. Mengarang Shaer.

189. Karangan yang di-namakan shaer oleh.menunjukkan demikian

Erti Shaer dan Saer

shaer berasal daripada bahas Arab, ertinya yang asal, perasaan atau tahuan yang
terbit dengan jalan terasa

193. Yang di-kata shaermengambil rupa yang khas..

(1) Tidak ada pada-nya kerat-kerat yang menjadi pembayang maksud,


(2) Oleh sebab tiada pembayangitu maka tidak ada pula kerat-kerat yang berjodoh itu,
(3) Oleh sebab tiada pembayang, dan tiada kerat-kerat yang berjodoh itu, make tidak-
adalah isharat penetangan bunyi

195. Chontoh-chontoh shaer atas rupa yang biasa itu boleh-lah di-lihat saeperti di bawah
ini

(1) Elok Sempurna adab tertibnya,


Sopan dan santun gerak-gerinya;
Halus dan manis barang laku-nya,
Menarek hatiku gemar kapadanya.

(2)

(3) Kembang jambangan Jawi Peranakan,


Harumnya semerbak Bandar dan pecan;
Kumbang nan dating berakan-akan,
Dari Segala rantau sirokan.
(4)

111
Appendix 18

Annas Haji Ahmad, Sastera Melayu Lama: Untuk Tingkatan Menengah dan Atas
(Penang: Sinaran, 1965), pp. 66-71

v. Shaer, Gurindam dan Seloka


a. Shaer:

Sifat, Isi dan Jenis2 Shaer


Walaupun saher terdiri dari rangkap2, empat baris, sa-suatu rangkap stidak dapat
berdiri sendiriHujung tiap2 baris dalam rangkap saher sama sajak-nay dengan bunyi
hujong lain2 baris dalam rangkap itu dan berbentok a, a, a, a, atau ada kala-nay b,b,b,b.

Bentok shaer dapat di-gunakan untok menyampaikan berbagai2 kesah hidup baik yang
berupa hikayat

Appendix 19

Van der Putten, and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, p. 98.

Syahdan adalah kita menyatakan kepada paduka sahabat kita, pasal daripada perkara
kamus tentang daripada bahasa galur, adakah sudah terbuat atau belum. Coba periksa
pada bab al-Kaf awalnya akhirnya Ra, kita lupa. Jikalau belum ada kita kirimkan, boleh
dibuat karena bahasa galur lagi tengah mufassarnya yang am manfaatnya. Sebab itu
kita panjang dua hari lagi habislah. Apabila habis, kita bawa kepada paduka sahabat kita.
Syahdan yang kita pun tahu juga yang maksud paduka bukannya perkara mufassar,
hanyalah dikehendaki paduka sahabat itu hanyalah bahasa makna mufrad jua. Maka
sudah juga sedia makna mufrad. Adapun makna mufassar pada kamus yang dicadangkan
khas pada orang2 Melayu jua adanya.

Appendix 20

Raja Ali Haji, Bustan al-Katibin (Garden of Writers) (Singapore: Al-Haji Mohamad Said
Al-Jawi, 1892), p. 1.

Inilah suatu kitab yang tersimpan bagi orang yang berkehendak atas mengenal segala
huruf Melayu dan suratannya dan aku atur akan dia atas suatu mukaddimah dan beberapa
fasal dan satu khatamah yakni aku namai akan dia Bustan al-Katibin yakni
perkebunan jurutulis bagi kanak2 yang hendak belajar.

112
Appendix 21

Raja Ali Haji, Bustan al-Katibin (Garden of Writers) (Singapore: Al-Haji Mohamad Said
Al-Jawi, 1892), p.7.

Bermula kelebihan itu akal dan adab dan tiada dengan sebab asal dan sebab
bangsa, jikalau beberapa bangsa pun jika tiada ilmu dan akal dan adab niscaya
ke bawah juga jatuhnya, yakni kehinaan juga diperolehnya.
tanda berakal itu dengan segera paham...
buah akal itu membaikkan ikhtiar dan tandanya bersahabat dengan orang yang
pilihan daripada orangyang baik2;
barangsiapa jahat adatnya sia2lah bangsanya
Maka berpanjanganlah bahasanya bicara ilmu dan akal ini pada kitab yang panjang2
daripada bicara 'ilmu l-kalam dan pada bicara ilmi mantiq dan lainnya daripada segala
kitab2 Imam Ghazali dan lainnya.

Appendix 22

Raja Ali Haji, Bustan al-Katibin (Garden of Writers) (Singapore: Al-Haji Mohamad Said
Al-Jawi, 1892), p. 69.

Bermula perkataan pada surat perkiriman itu, maka hendaklah dimulai dengan Bismillah-
ir-rahman-ir-rahim. Kemudian dengan Al-ham-dulliah yakni, memuji-muji Allah
Ta'ala. Mana yang munasabah dan waqa pada pekerjaan dan maksud surat yang
dikirimkan itu. Kemudian shalwatkan Nabi serta keluarganya dan sahabatnya. Kemudian
baharulah diiringi dengan salam dan ta'zim dan mana-mana layaknya dan manasabahnya.
Kemudian baharulah datangkan perkataan yang menceraikan perkataan puji-pujian
dengan perkataan yang dimaksud yaitulah waba'du atau amma ba'du dan terlebih baik
dan terlebih semakna daripada menyebutkan daripada kalam almalakur, dan terlebih
fasihat lagi pula daripada diberi makna. Adapun kemudian daripada itu karena makna
amma ba'du itu. Adapun kemudian daripada itu dan jangan pula berulang perkataan yang
satu. Maksudnya, melainkan jika karena menta'kidkan yaitu boleh juga. Seperti perkataan
kita, sehabis-habis, habis, jahat, dan sejahat-jahat, atau seperti haraplah beribu-ribu
harap. Kiaskan pada yang sejenisnya. Demikian lagi hendaklah perkataan sedikit lapaz
itu banyak maknanya yang boleh dipahamkan, dan seyogyanya jangan sangat
membanyakkan puji-pujian yang melampaui dengan layaknya, dan demikian lagi
hendaklah tiap-tiap akhir perktaan itu shalawatkan Nabi , serta ditaruh terehnya, dan
bulan, dan harinya, dan waktunya, dan hendaklah ditaruh mahur pada surat itu pada
tempat layaknya, serta khod dirinya, yakni khot yang punya, serta perkiriman itu.
Demikian lagi apabila selesai surat itu disuratnya hendaklah dibaca dahulu dimuka.
Bahkan dan lagi tiada harus orang yang lain mehobarkan barang yang didalam surat itu
kepada seseorang lain, jika tiada dengan izinnya yang punya surat itu adanya.

113
Appendix 23

Raja Ali Haji, Gurindam Dua Belas, in Abu Hassan Sham, ed., Puisi-Puisi Raja Ali Haji,
pp. 277-82

Ini Gurindam Fasal yang Pertama

Barang siapa tiada memegang agama sekali-kali tiada boleh dibilangkan nama.
Barang siapa mengenal yang empat maka itulah orang yang makrifat.
Barang siapa mengenal Allah suruh dan tegahnya tiada ia menyalah.
Barang siapa mengenal diri maka telah mengenal akan Tuhan yang bahri.
Barang siapa mengenal dunia tahulah ia barang yang terpedaya.
Barang siapa mengenal akhirattahulah ia dunia mudarat.

Ini Gurindam Fasal yang Kesembilan

Tahu pekerjaan tak baik tetapi dikerjakan bukannya manusia iaitulah syaitan.
Kejahatan seorang perempuan tua(h) itulah iblis punya penggawa.
Kepada segala hamba-hamba raja di situlah syaitan tempatnya manja.
Kebanyakan orang yang muda-muda di situlah syaitan | tempat berkuda.
Perkumpulan laki-laki dengan perempuan di situlah syaitan punya jamuan.
Adapun orang tua(h) yang hemat syaitan tak suka membuat sahabat.
Jika orang muda kuat berguru dengan syaitan jadi berseteru.

Appendix 24

Van der Putten and Al Azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan Persahabatan, pp. 56-7, 144-5.

Syahdan saya mendapat satu kitab logat, awalnya tersurat demikian bunyinya: Kitab
Logat yaitu kitab menyatakan bahasa Melayu dan bahasa Nederland. Kemudian
diperbuatnya bahasa Melayu itu, dimaknakannya dengan bahasa dan huruf Holanda, akan
tetapi campur baur bahasa dalam dan bahasa luar, dan campur baur lagi bahasa halus dan
bahasa kasar, dan campur pula bahasa Arab. Entahkan siapa mengarangnya.

Appendix 25

H. Von de Wall, Maleisch-Nederlandsch Woordenboek, op last van het Gouvemement


van NederLandsch-Indie Samengesteld (Batavia: Landspdrukkerij, 1872), p. 49.

..., adjal, ar. rad. ija-f, plur.adjal, s., tijdnrimle; vastgestelde lijd; tijd,
waarop eene, schuld moel, betaald warden.
, aladjal, in 't. mal., ook zonder den art.: adjal, de vastgeslelde tijd
van overlijden; het vooruit bepaald levenseinde; de dood.
..., aladjal, het' sterfuur.

114
Appendix 26

Raja Ali Haji, Kitab Pengetahuan Bahasa, pp. 122-3

A j a l

Bahasa ini asalnya bahasa Arab, makna Melayu pertangguhannya, akan tetapi I orang-
orang Melayu sudah masyhur memakai bahasa ini seolah-olah bahasa dirinya. Maka
termasuklah pada bicara bahasa Melayu ini karena patutnya. Syahdan adalah ajal ini
pertangguhan janji umur seseorang yang tersurat pada luh mahfud yang umurnya sekian-
sekian tahunnya, bulannya dan harinya dan saatnya. Maka tiada terdahulu dan tiada
terkemudian seperti firman Allah Taala didalam Quranul Aztrn, artinya maka apabila
sampai ajal mereka itu, tiadalah terkemudian satu juapun dan tiada terdahulu satu saat
juapun adanya. Syahdan pada iktikad Ahlil Sunah wal Jumaah yakni iktikad yang sah,
orang yang mat! Dengan sebab dibunuh itu maka yaitu mat! Dengan ajalnya jua. Maka
ingkar pula iktikad ulaina Muktazilah dengan katanya, orang yang mat! Dengan terbunuh
itu tiada mat! Dengan ajalnya, karena jika sekira tiada ia dibunuh tiada ia mati. Maka
iktikad ini kaum salah maka menolakkan dia ulama Ahli Sunah wal Jumaah seperti Sekh
Ibrahim Laqani di dalam matan Jauharat Al Tawahid dengan katanya yakni orang yang
mati terbunuh itu kematiannya dengan sampai ajal umurnya jua. Dan lain daripada iktikad
ini batal jangan diterima yakni jangan dipakai iktikad muktazilah itu.
Syahdan adalah bunuh itu sebab bagi matinya. Adapun ajal itu janjinya, yaitu mati
terbunuh yang tersiirat pada Luh Mahfud adanya.

Appendix 27

Raja Ali Haji, Kitab Pengetahuan Bahasa, pp. 137-8.

Yaitu nama anak raja-raja Bugis di negeri Luwuk, nama anak raja besarnya yaitu lima
orang adik-beradik, kelima-limanya itu satu bapa dan ibu akhtalaf. Adalah kelimanya itu
dating ke negeri Johor pihak Riau masa kerajaan raja Johor sudah diambil kerajaannya
oleh seorang raja pihak negeri Siak, yang bernama Raja Kecil. Dan Sultan Abdul Jalil
Raja Johoi sudah mati dibunuh oleh Rsgah Kecfl di Kuala Pahang, tinggal anaknya
Sultan Sulaman serta anakanak yang perempuan. Maka upu-upu itupun datnng, maka
lalulah di dilanggamya Raja Kecil itu, diambilnya kerajaan Johor dari pada tangan Raja
Kecik. Maka Raja Kecik pun alahlah, kemudian baharulah dikembalikannya kerajaan
Johor kepada anak raja Johor. Maka lalulah dilantik anak raja Johor itu bergelar Sultan
Sulaiman Badrul Alam Syah.
Anak raja Bugis itupun menjadi Yang Dipertuan Muda dengan sumpah setianya antara
kedua pihak, yaitu Yang Dipertuan Muda itu persumpahan menetapkan adapt turun-
temurun, yaitu Yang Dipertuan Muda memerintahkan kerajaan Johor beserta memangku
kerajaannya. Kemudian dari pada itu raja Bugis itupun (tidak dapat terbaca, penyalin )

115
Appendix 28

Wall, Maleisch-Nederlandsch Woordenboek, p. 678.

oepoe, boeg., titel, die in dat land aan de zonen van den regeerendeu
vorst gegeven wordt. Hij wordt door de riouwsche vorsten, Boegineezen
van afkomst, vergeleken bij.baginda.

Appendix 29

Raja Ali Haji, Kitab Pengetahuan Bahasa, pp. 123-4.

Yaitu rambut orang yang tiada kejur dan tiada keriting maka yaitu sebaik-baik sifat
rambut. Maka masyhurlah pada adapt ikal itu sifat kepujian baik lakwaki baik perempuan
sebab itulah kebanyakan dibuat orang Melayu di dalam syak cinta berahi demikian
bunyinya, pada sifat perempuan yang diberahikan.

Rambutnya ikal panah mengunang


Jamjam durja berlinang-linang
Abang menentang balik terkenang
Semalam-malaman hati tak senang

Beipatutan kening melentuk wills


Ttangkin ditatap mangkin majelis
Seumpama Galuh Ratna Wilis
Laksana gambar baharu ditulis

Ayuhai adinda emas kencana


Perhamba apalah dagang yang hina
Jika tiada kaahan mengena
Hidupnya abang hampirkan fana.

Appendix 30

Wall, Maleisch-Nederlandsch Woordenboek, p. 816

ikal, adj., krullend; van een bosch: golvend.


s., het krullende., als hoed.; het krullende enz. zijn; krul
...ikalen, imper. van A... A. meikalken,
mengikalken en gew.mengikalken, krullend enz. wen zijn
berikalken, be. zijn met
di ikalken krullend gemaakt enz. worden
terikalken krullend gemaakt enz. geworden zijn; kunnende worden
perikelken 3. emph.
ikal2 absol. van rad.

116
Appendix 31

Raja Ali Haji, Thamarrat al-Mahammah, in Hassan Junus, Raja Ali Haji dan Karya-
Karyanya, p. 230

Kesembilan: Al-Kazib

Setengah daripada sifat kecelaan kepada lidah al-kazib yakni dusta mukhalif al-wad
yakni menyalahi janji al-kalim al-fahisy yakni perkataan yang keji-keji. Maka hendaklah
raja-raja dan orang besar-besar itu menyucikan lidahnya sifat yang tiga perkara karena
apabila raja-raja dan orang besar-besar itu berbuat bohong yang tiada diharukan syara
niscaya kurang Wa/amya hingga menjadi saksi pun tiada harus.

Dan apabila raja-raja dan orang besar-besar itu menyalahi di luar lain di dalam. Dan
apabila raja-raja dan orang besar-besar itu bertutur kata dengan yang keji seperti
mencarut dan memakai-maki di majlis penghadapan tertukarlah kebun bunga-bungaan
dengan tempat memebuang najis yakni diibaratkan tempat majelis perkataannya raja
raja da orang besar-besar it kebun bunga-bungaan and perkataannya yang keji-keji itu
tempat orang membuang najis adanya, intaha.

117
Appendix 32

Raja Ali Haji, Syair Siti Sianah, in Abu Hassan Sham, Puisi-Puisi Raja Ali Haji
(Selangor Darul Ehsan: Percetakaan Dewan Bahasa dan Puataka, 1993), pp. 409-10

Syair Siti Sianah

Al-lisan iaitu Lidah

Anggota lidah sangatlah masyhur,


lalah mengotorkan dalam dan tohor;
lalah menzahirkan Islam dan kufur,
Dengan sebabnya manusia tercebur.

Peliharakan lidah daripada dusta,


Memungkiri janji sudah dikata;
Mengumpat mengadu maki dan dusta,
Bertengkar berbantah mendatangkan meta.

Janganlah melaknat akan sesuatu,


Manusia binatang kayu dan batu;
Tidak mengapa jika tak tentu,
Diamkan dengan syaitan dan hantu.

Segala perkataan yang sia-sia,


Wajib pula dipeliharakan dia;
Hikayat yang membawa kasihkan dunia,
Di Akhirat kelak kena perdaya.

Itulah setengah daripada kejahatan,


Pekerjaan lidah ayuhai tuan;
Diikhtisarkan sahaja supaya ketahuan,
Barang yang diharamkan olehnya Tuhan

118
Appendix 33

Raja Ali Haji, Syair Suluh Pegawai in Abu Hassan Sham, Puisi-puisi Raja Ali Haji, pp.
1339

Inilah tuan mula disebutkan


Hukum berkahwin hamba nyatakan
Segala pegawai boleh memahamkan
Supaya jauh perbuatan yang bukan

Appendix 34

Raja Ali Haji, Syair Suluh Pegawai in Abu Hassan Sham, Puisi-puisi Raja Ali Haji, pp.
1339

Nasihat kepada Perempuan

Demikian lagi wahai perempuan


Taat kepada suamimu tuan
Jangan menderhaka jangan melawan
Jadikan dirimu sangat setiawan

Jangan sekali berniat khianat


Apalagi kurang amanat
Pekerjaan nan wajib bukannya sunat
Jika dilawan mendapat laknat

Pertama di dunia mendapat malu


Di dalam akhirat tubuh terpalu
Masyhurlah khabar hilir dan hulu
Sebab perangai tidak kelulu

Sangatlah murka rabbul-Izzati


Perintah suamimu tiada dituruti
Hendaklah taat bersungguh hati
Kepada suamimu berbuat bakti

Jangan takburkan rupamu elok


Melebihi daripada segala makhluk
Menyangka dirimu tiada bertolok
Jadilah suamimu diperolok-olok

Jangan sekali takburkan bangsa


Martabatmu tinggi negeri dan desa

119
Memandang suamimu seperti rusa
Sombonglah tuan tutur dan bahasa

Tiada menurut apa perintahnya


Perkataan kasar selalu keluarnya
Muka dimasamkan di hadapannya
Jadilah suami pecah hatinya

Jika diperbuat demikian itu


Nyatalah kamu syaitan dan hantu
Hargamu tiada serial batu
Tiadalah harus dibuat menantu

Dukalah tuan sehari-hari


Suami pun benci tiada terperi
Jika suamimu bijak bestari
Duduklah ia mendiamkan diri

Tetapi hatinya rosaklah sudah


Kerana perbuatanmu yang haram zadah
Jadilah suamimu berhati gundah
Tiadalah kamu mendapat suadah

Hanyalah dapat syaqa yang ngeri


Dimurkai Tuhan Wahidul-qahhari
Mendapat sengsara dua buah negeri
Celaka bertambah sehari-hari

120
Appendix 35

Raja Ali Haji, Syair Siti Sianah, in Abu Hassan Sham, Puisi-Puisi Raja Ali Haji
(Selangor Darul Ehsan: Percetakaan Dewan Bahasa dan Puataka, 1993), p. 435-7.

Adab al-Zaujah ala al-zawaj laitu Adab Isteri Atas Suami

Adab isteri serta suaminya,


Beta nyatakan dengan terangnya;
Amalkan dengan sungguh hatinya,
Dunia akhirat selamat baginya.

Perintah suami ikut semata,


Sucikan tubuh janganlah leta;
Kepada yang lain jangan dicinta,
Janganlah pula berpanjang mata.

Hendak berjalan minta izinnya,


Jika tidak haram perginya:
Meskipun ke rumah ibu bapanya,
Begitulah hukum syariat nabinya.

Makan minumnya hendaklah selia,


Tempat ketiduran hadirkan sedia;
Ala kadarnya miskin dan kaya,
Asalkan tertib jangan sia-sia.

Sakit peningnya wajib pelihara,


Jangan diberi hatinya cedera;
Walaupun ia banyak saudara,
Jangan dijadikan pula bicara.

DemiMan adab ayuhai perempuan,


Taat kepada suamimu tuan;
Jangan menengkar jangan melawan,
Jadikan diri sangat setiawan.

Jangan takburkan rupa yang elok,


Melebihi daripada segala makhluk;
Menyangka diri tiada bertolok,
Jadilah suami diperolok-olok.

Jangan pula takburkan bangsa,


Martabat yang tinggi negeri dan desa;
Memandang suamimu seperti rusa,

121
Sombonglah kita tutur dan bahasa.

Jangan takburkan usiamu muda,


Jadilah suami kita persenda;
Apalagi mengada-ngada,
Menurutkan kesukaan di dalam dada.

Mudamu itu hanyalah sadur,


Tiada lama jadilah kendur;
Tambahan siang dibanyakan tidur,
Paras yang elok lekaskan undur.

Jika diperbuat seperti itu,


lalah perempuan syaitan dan hantu;
Harganya tiada serial batu,
Tiada harus dibuat menantu.

Setengah perempuan suka berjalan,


Ke sana ke man berhambal-hambalan;
Tabahan ketika terangnya bulan,
Berjalanlah ke rumah handai dan taulan.

Berjalan demikian dimurkai Allah,


Kepada syariat terlalu salah;
Di dalam neraka badan terbelah,
Di dalam dunia dilaknat Allah.

122
Appendix 36

Raja Ali Haji, Salasilah Melayu dan Bugis in Mohd. Yusof Md. Noor, ed., Salasilah
Melayu dan Bugis, p. 12.

Salasilah Melayu dan Bugis

(B)ahawa sesungguhnya inilah salasilah serta hikayat dan kisah asal raja-raja sebelah
Mempawah dan Pontianak dan Matan dan Sambas dan Riau dan Selangor dan yang
bermasuk-masukkan jadi kerabat di atas setengah-nya sama ada daripada pihak bapa dan
daripada pihak ibunya.

Appendix 37

Raja Ali Haji, Salasilah Melayu dan Bugis in Mohd. Yusof Md. Noor, ed., Salasilah
Melayu dan Bugis, p. 94.

Salasilah Melayu dan Bugis

Syahadan apabila selesailah daripada mengaruk itu maka muafakatlah pula


segala upu-upu yang berlima beradik itu, berbangkit pula seraya berkata,
Pada hari ini Raja Sulaiman menjadi Sultan Sulaiman Badrul Alam Syah raja
Johor, Pahang dan Riau dcngan segala takluk dacrahnya sekalian. Maka
disuruhnyalah bentara-bentara memanggil Datuk Bendahara dan Temenggung
dan Indera Bongsu pun menduli. Maka apabila sudah selesai maka segala setia
perjanjian antara Bugis dengan Meiayu itu pun ditakrifkanlah kepada segaia
orang banyak serta bersumpah-sumpahanlah dengan al-Quranul antara kedua
pihak Bugis dengan Melayu itu.

Appendix 38

Raja Ali Haji, Salasilah Melayu dan Bugis in Mohd. Yusof Md. Noor, ed., Salasilah
Melayu dan Bugis, p. 276.

(m)aka mencengangkan daku yakni menyukakan daku dan menghendaki lu merakam


akan dia yakni memperbuat akan dia kitab itu supaya berkekalan dengan demikian itu
hingga anak-anakku dan cucuku dibelakangnya dengan tolong Allah dan kurnianya atas
segala hambanya. Intiha.

123
Appendix 39

Raja Ali Haji, Bustan al-Katibin (Garden of Writers) (Singapore: Al-Haji Mohamad Said
Al-Jawi, 1892), p. 17.

Kepada barang siapa yang mengajar kitab ini maka didalamnya beberapa perkara.
Setengah daripadanya hendaklah ia mengajar muridnya dengan tertib daripada tiap-tiap
pasalnya. Jangan dipindahkan muridnya itu pada pasal yang lain sehingga selesai
muridnya daripada memahamkan dan mehafazkan pada pasal yang dibacanya itu.
Setengah daripadanya hendaklah ia baik-baik nazar dan pikir pada tiap-tiap perkataan
kitab ini. Barangkali ada yang berat bunyinya, ajarkan dan beri mafhum atas murid
dengan perkataan yang ringan, yang mudah ia memahamkan.

Appendix 40

Van der Putten and Al azhar, Di Dalam Berkekalan, pp. 127-8.

Datuk Haji Ibrahim, adapun keputus hakikat kami yang sebenar2nya pada pekerjaan,
memaklumkan hal kami pada pekerjaan rumah akan tempat bekerja dan mengaji serta
pekakas tab itu harap akan gubernemen itu mengaruniakan itu, yaitu atas dua perkara.
Pertama, jadi kesenangan atas kami, tiada jadi kesakitan barang suatunya. Coba
awak pikir, satu juru tulis sekurang-kurangnya enam ringgit sebulan.

Appendix 41

Raja Ali Haji to Netscher, 17 April 1866, Found in: National Archives of Indonesia, Riau
no. 221/3; number of letter 82.

Bahwa sesungguhnya al-fakir ala Allah taala yaitu Raja Ali Haji ibn Raja Ahmad Haji
ibn almarhum yang dipertuan muda Raja Haji almarhum minta satu pertolongan kepada
sri paduka tuan residen Riau wakil mutlak gubernemen atas negeri Riau dan Lingga
dengan segala takluk daerahnya. Syahdan saya ini orang yang daif minta perbantuan
daripada pihak gubernemen khassatan yaitu yang saya ada mencita hendak memperbuat
satu tempat rumah2 pada tempat yang sunyi sedikit akan dijadikan tempat pelajaran
kanak2 Melayu siapa2 yang suka rida kepada ilmu bahasa Melayu dan surat-suratan
daripada peraturannya dan lainnya. Demikian lagi ilmu al-din mana2 ilmu kadar yang
saya dapat sedikit2 itulah yang saya hendak bukakan. Dan lagi satu pekakas
mengerjakan tab mana kitab yang kita karang yang berguna kepada orang Islam atau
lainnya daripada bangsa yang lain jika ia suka maka yaitu boleh kita karangkan.

124
Appendix 42

Raja Ali Haji to Netscher, 17 April 1866, Found in: National Archives of Indonesia, Riau
no. 221/3; number of letter 82.

Kemudian di dalam hal itu dengan takdir Allah taala jatuh kepada tangan saya satu kitab
undang gubernemen Holand yang keadilan yaitu kepada bab yang kedelapan dan kepada
pasal yang keseratus dua puluh lapan pada perkara pengajaran maka nyatalah tampak
keadilan gupernemen atas tanah Hindia Nederland sebab itulah maka saya tawakal
memaklumkan hal diri saya ini yang bermaksud demikian itu serta berharap akan
pertolongan sri paduka tuan residen Riau.

125
Appendix 43

Van der Putten, Versified Awai Verified: Syair Awai by Raja Ali Haji,
pp. 99-133.

Syair Awai

Yaitu suatu pekerjaan seorang mengharap ia akan hasilnya tiba2 tiada diperolehnya
bernamalah awai maka itulah taswirnya yang dikeluarkan kitab kamus Melayu.

Ada seorang perempuan tua


Namanya konon Tun Hawa
Kelakuan perdaya juga dibawa
Kepada menteri jadi mentua

Ada seorang anaknya pula


Tinggal di rumah datuk terala
Namanya Encik Siti Dang Lila
Di dalam itu dapatlah cela

Siti tu cantik juganipanya


Di dalam hal itulah halnya
Sedap manis barang lakunya
dinakali oleh adik menantunya

Yaitu adik datuk menteri


Pangkatnya jadi bentara kiri
Namanya Tun Perbata Sari
Belum lagi ia beristri

126
Appendix 44

Raja Ali Haji, Muqaddima Fi Intizam in Hassan Junus, Raja Ali Haji dan Karyanya,
p.163.

Bermula al-faqir ilallahi taala al-Hajj Raja Ali ibn Ahmad yang mempersembahkan
hidayat ini akan jadi peringatan ke hadirat al-mukarram Yang Dipertuan Muda Raja Ali.

Appendix 45

Raja Ali Haji, Muqaddima Fi Intizam in Hassan Junus, Raja Ali Haji dan Karyanya,
p.163.

Maka inilah persembahan dengan Allah taala dan jika paduka adinda
amalkan memadai isitadat al-dunya wa aldan jika tiada paduka adinda amalkan memadai
atas diri paduka kekanda dari taqshir wa al-hujjatu fi yaum alqiamah

Appendix 46

Raja Ali Haji, Muqaddima Fi Intizam in Hassan Junus, Raja Ali Haji dan Karyanya,
p.169.

Hingga inilah akhir peringatan yang mukhtasar ini, memadailah pada permulaan
pekerjaan yang jatuh munasabah kepada paduka adinda pada waktu ini. Nanti jikalau
Allah taala panjangkan umur insya-Allah tiada sekali-kali kekanda lupa mengingatkan
paduka adinda mana-mana yang ada Allah taala ilhamkan kepada hati kekanda yang
keruh ini, baik paduka adinda pakai baik tidak melainkan lazimlah atas paduka
mengingatkan itu seperti firman Allah taala [AlQuran, Surah al-Dariyat, Ayat 55] yakni:
Ingatkan olehmu maka bahwasanya pekerjaan menginatkan itu memberi munafaat akan
orang yang beriman adanya.

127