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Global Muslims in the Age of Steam and Print

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A Sufi Century

The Modern Spread of the Sufi Orders in Southeast Asia

Michael Laffan

Placing Southeast Asia in a Global Umma and a Sufi Century

With the global spread of Western power and the ensuing decline of indigenous polities in monsoonal Asia throughout the nineteenth century, members of key transregional Sufi brotherhoods, known individually as tariqa (from the Arabic word for "way" or "path") and divided by specific techniques and genealogies, engaged in active competition across the Indian Ocean. They did so in the name of broader orthodoxy and their putative founders alike, whether as Shattaris, linked to the heritage of Siraj al-Din {ayn}Abdallah Shattar (d. 1406), who had been active in India, or as Naqshbandis, committed to the teachings of the earlier, Bukhara-born Baha{ham} al-Din Naqshband (d. 1389). This chapter shows how the outcome of contestation between such groups was decided both by their relative connection to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in the Hijaz, which startlingly swifter modes of steam travel increasingly facilitated, and by the new forms of print technology being engaged at modernizing sites from Istanbul and Cairo to Bombay and Singapore. Certainly this is not a uniquely Southeast Asian story, as can be gathered from Nile Green's Bombay Islam and this volume's chapters 2 (by Amal Ghazal) and 11 (by Homayra Ziad), which cross the threshold of the twentieth century to show the ongoing repercussions of the use of print in conceptualizing the global umma and its seemingly universal concerns. Even so, there is still much to be gained by highlighting this region (now home to the second-largest concentration of Muslims on earth) as a locus of wider social changes that swept across Afrasia, and by seeing how what Green labels "Customary Islam" prepared the way for modernist action.1 As such, it is a story that helps us place an often overlooked region into a worldwide Muslim community that was reconceiving itself across oceans and, just as important, against the Western hegemony to which it was beholden for territorial definition.

Prior to leaping straight into the Age of Steam and Print, however, it is worth taking brief stock of how Southeast Asia engaged with the umma in the first place. Certainly Islam came late to the region. It was only from around the thirteenth century that the rulers of the many polities that dotted the sprawling archipelagic crossroads adopted the faith of some of the great dynasties to the West, joining a religious tradition whose adherents had long been found in the cosmopolitan ports of southern India and China and taking on a universal system of script, titulature, and rituals that connected every believer to the focal node of Mecca and the example of the Prophet. By the time Europeans began to arrive in Southeast Asia in the sixteenth century in quest of the lucrative spices of the famed Moluccan archipelago, they found a network of Muslim-dominated ports, stretching almost the whole way from India to China, where daily prayers were a regular part of popular praxis. Europeans also saw how the mosques built from Aceh in the west to Ternate and Manila in the east acted as sites of instruction in the basic principles of belief and, for those with the financial capacity and time, instruction in the texts of Islamic jurisprudence intended to regulate all aspects of social congress.

That said, beyond the occasional observation in later European sources of prayer beads in the hands of local rulers and visiting scholars, whether Malays, Egyptians, or even Rumis (as many Turkic speakers were known), we have little clear sense of what role the Sufi tariqas played in the process of conversion and then in the maintenance of Mecca-conscious orthodoxy. Still, struck by the powerful weight of evidence from later periods, coupled with the crucial observations of missionaries in the nineteenth century, Orientalist scholars of the high colonial era began to suspect that some sort of pantheistic Indic Sufism must once have provided inspiration for converts eager to throw off the old faiths of their ancestors, which an inherently austere faith of the Arabian desert supplanted.2

Yet there is quite some irony in the fact that aside from a brief period of Sa{ayn}udi dominance early in the nineteenth century, Mecca and Medina had long been redoubts of the Sufi orders. Hence any aspirant mystic worth his (or her) salt claimed a connection to both cities, as indeed did many Southeast Asian Muslims, whom Arabic speakers knew collectively as Jawa and individually as Jawi. The latter term remains in use today, to designate Arabic-script Malay, a language that has long served as the key scholarly link of the archipelago. From the seventeenth century at the latest, Jawi sojourners supported by their distant sovereigns would often return home with the latest or supposedly purest form of Meccan knowledge, embodied for the elect in Sufi tariqa rituals. These rites were often differentiated by the manner of their dhikr (remembrance of God) and the specific silsila (chain) of authority that allowed their brotherhoods to assert that such practices had been sanctioned by the Prophet, whose mantle so many local rulers claimed as exclusive protectors of the faith. The orders furthermore at times policed the spread of alleged heterodoxy within the community at large, challenging any rival mystical teachers as flouters of the law and enablers of sin, especially if they could be shown to be heedless propounders of the doctrine of the Wujudiyya, which posited an essential indivisibility of God and creation (wujud).

Scholars often situate such campaigns within a long history of Islamic "reformism," as the trend of policing the public bounds of belief is often termed.3 Reformist or not, these campaigners were able to make their pronouncements only because they enjoyed the backing of key rulers. This was clearly the case with the spread of the Shattariyya in seventeenth-century Aceh and then of the Egyptian-oriented Sammaniyya in eighteenth-century Palembang, farther south on the Sumatran coast.

However, as we shall see, matters would change, and quite radically, given that the Age of Steam and Print overlapped and served to define what I term an inherently populist Sufi century. For much as {ayn}Amir al-Naggar has declared the thirteenth century-which he characterizes as lacking in ties between the rulers and the ruled-to be that of the Sufi orders in Egypt, I propose a similar reading for the nineteenth century in Southeast Asia.4 The spread of European power and the consequent weakening of local court authority allowed new pietist movements to attract greater public participation in Sufi ritual and to cast the dances and litanies, not to mention the associated social practices, of their regally backed rivals as anathema or simply outdated.

It is equally worth noting that even if the genealogies of Islamic reformism allow us to connect the scholarly dots between eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Jawi and Arab intellectuals moving on the transoceanic paths linking the port of Makassar on Sulawesi, say, with Shihr in Yemen or even with Sri Lanka and the Cape of Good Hope, the sources say little of peoples outside the courts. Popular participation in Sufi movements seems to appear only when particular teachers are finally wedded by the teleology of nationalist historiography to what are now cast as anticolonial struggles against the Dutch, who had usurped, and thereby united, much of the Southeast Asian archipelago by the First World War.

An oft-cited example of a specifically Sufi struggle in quest of "national" independence is the so-called Banten Jihad, which broke out in the West Javanese town of Cilegon in 1888.5 Instead of investigating it, however, I prefer to open the temporal bounds of this chapter by reconsidering the much earlier Padri Movement of West Sumatra, which is said to have coalesced around three returning pilgrims inspired by the occupation of Mecca by the first Sa{ayn}udi state in 1803.6 Even if this movement declared at an end with the Dutch taking of the highland fort of Bonjol in 1837, has retrospectively obtained a Wahhabi tint in popular memory and scholarship, there are good reasons to see it as a vehicle for the manifestation of the new populist and puritanical Sufism in island Southeast Asia.

By starting with the Padri events on Sumatra and moving forward in time in the region at large, beyond the period of the revival of Sufi fortunes at Mecca after the Ottoman-backed expulsion of the Wahhabiyya in 1818, one can see that the new populist push exacerbated intertariqa contestation in Southeast Asia, especially on the neighboring isle of Java. I also note that such Sufi challengers harnessed the crucial means of modern modes of travel and the transmission of knowledge through printing by the 1870s, inadvertently laying the groundwork for the expansion of the Salafiyya movement that-as may be seen in chapters 2, 3, and 11-finally condemned so much Sufi-related activity as backward heterodoxy.

Shattaris Remembered as Naqshbandis, Naqshbandis Remembered as Padris

In 1986, Imam Maulana Abdul Manaf Amin, a scholar of Batang Kabung in the Minangkabau Highlands of West Sumatra, completed his Kitab al-Taqwim wa-l-Siyam (Book of rectification and fasting). In this work, Abdul Manaf lays out the method for determining the new moon by calculation (hisab) in preference to observation (ru{ham}ya). He could appeal to long local precedent in this respect, though matters had not always been thus. In what seems an unrelated diversion in his book, Abdul Manaf writes of how the Shattari Sufi lineage once prevailed in West Sumatra, after the sainted Burhan al-Din (1646-1704) established it at the town of Ulakan at the end of the seventeenth century. Abdul Manaf makes this interpolation to point out that whereas the various scholarly descendants of Burhan al-Din used calculation for determining most dates, they preferred observation of the crescent moon to mark the commencement of the fasting month of Ramadan. However, the arrival of the rival Naqshbandi Sufi order in the highlands around 1792 shattered the regional consensus. For it was at this juncture that the new master of the school at Cangking, Tuan Shaykh Kota Tua (also known as Tuanku Nan Tua; d. 1824), proclaimed that the commencement of Ramadan should also be calculated rather than witnessed. Beyond this, Abdul Manaf implied that Shaykh Kota Tua had attacked many of the Shattari teachers for claiming that Shaykh Burhan al-Din had been a proponent of Wujudi pantheism.7

On the face of it, here we have recorded memories of a specific date signaling the introduction of the Naqshbandiyya in West Sumatra and the outline of a doctrinal difference that separated them, quite publicly, from their Shattari rivals. After all, the start of the fast a day early or late is a profound marker of social distance in Muslim societies. Yet there are problems with taking Abdul Manaf's modern account at face value, for a yawning gulf of decades separates it from the events it describes. I also suggest that it backdates later doctrinal concerns that overlaid and amplified earlier political ones. Indeed, it is clear from an account written in the 1820s by Shaykh Kota Tua's immediate successor, Faqih Saghir (also known as Jalal al-Din Ahmad of Samiang), that his master had been a leading proponent of the Shattariyya and had instituted a program in the 1790s for the eradication not of Wujudi ideology but of the popular social practices of cock fighting, gambling, tooth filing, and consuming opium and alcohol. In the process he and his agents stirred up the remnants of the royal family and their supporters at Ulakan. Hostilities soon commenced in what its participants long knew as "the war of religion," whose partisans some ulama agitators termed "white ones" (like themselves) and "black ones."8

This all began beyond the gaze of most Europeans, who were in the process of reassigning parts of the region for exploitation in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. When the British based at nearby Bencoolen (Bengkulu) started to hear about the new movement and the violence it initiated, they cast it as led by Mecca-inspired returnees and preachers, whom they dubbed "Padres" or "Padris." This was their long-standing parlance for Muslim (and other non-Christian) priests, by analogy with the Catholic clergy.9 It appears too in Faqih Saghir's account, written at the behest of the Dutch after their first interventions in the conflict, in the early 1820s, on the side of the traditional elite and the Shattari masters who remained loyal to them.

A full-scale uprising on Java led by Prince Dipanagara of Yogyakarta (c. 1785-1855) forced the Dutch to take their time in tackling their priestly foes. In what became known as the Java War (1825-30), Dipanagara called on the island's expanding community of self-declared white ones in a war against the court and the Dutch, whose power supported it.10 Galvanized by the sight in the ranks of their enemies of so many members of the burgeoning network of Islamic schools (known on Java as pesantren), the Dutch began to wonder about the nature of Islamic power. Even so, they did not yet have the ability to ask detailed questions about the doctrinal inspiration of their foes and chose rather to collect manuscripts for subsequent study, as was the case in Sumatra after the fall of the last redoubt of Imam Bonjol, in 1837. It was only in the 1840s that metropolitan scholars began to moot their identification as fellow-travelers of the Wahhabis of Arabia.11

This is not to say that Wahhabi was the only appellation that subsequent observers suggested. Another term brought into focus by people familiar with the terrain of the old jihadists and their descendants but with little training in Islam or Islamology was Hanafi. In 1871, for example, A. W. P. Verkerk Pistorius (1838-93) described an Islamic teacher he had known on Sumatra's west coast in the 1860s, Shaykh Muhammad of Silungkang, as a member of the Hanafi legal school (madhhab).12 This was the official juridical school of the Ottoman State and one at clear variance with the Shafi{ayn}i line, to which practically all Southeast Asians adhere. Certainly Pistorius believed that this teaching, which he suggested a Shaykh Barudah (or Barulah) of Tanah Datar was also advocating, was sharply different from most local practices, with its periods of sequestration known as suluk and the commencement of Ramadan a day early. Similarly, Arnold Snackey wrote in the 1880s about the late Shaykh Da{ham}ud of Sunur as a member of the Padri movement, who, having been dislodged by his (apparently Shattari) rival in the 1820s, had returned to Sumatra from Mecca as an advocate of the Hanafi school.13

I suggest, however, that none of these West Sumatrans were Hanafis. Shaykh Da{ham}ud expressly declared himself to be Shafi{ayn}i in his own writings.14 Rather, the appellation Hanafi indicates their having affirmed their Meccan credentials by advocating Ottoman-backed calendrical practices. And members of the Naqshbandi Sufi order who moved into Southeast Asia after the Ottoman restoration of the holy places certainly favored such methods. Beyond this, the Malay world used suluk-the term that Verkerk Pistorius noted in his articles-to refer to the Naqshbandi practice of sequestration in their rituals of initiation. And while we cannot necessarily identify either the Padri instigator Shaykh Kota Tua or his disciple Faqih Saghir as Naqshbandis, there is clear evidence that the returned Shaykh Da{ham}ud and then Faqih Saghir's son, who studied under Da{ham}ud in Mecca, were proponents of the Naqshbandiyya for which the school at Cangking ultimately became known.15

Hints of Sufi Rivalries Elsewhere

We know that the reforms attempted by a once-Shattari shaykh and his Mecca-oriented disciples resulted in violent contestation and a shift in allegiance to a Sufi order that was active once more in the holy places with the vanquishing of the Wahhabiyya in 1818. As we have already noted, one of the ways the new and explicitly Mecca-connected Naqshbandis distinguished their practices from those of the Shattari Sufis was in advocating (Hanafi) calculation rather than the sighting of the new moon. And while we do not necessarily find the explicit claim of Hanafi influence on Southeast Asian Muslims in the dilettante observations of diplomats and missionaries, similar debates were observed in other parts of the archipelago. In the 1850s, for example, the British consul at Brunei wrote about how the court had become doctrinally divided from the surrounding countryside once a certain hajji returned from Ottoman Mecca around 1840 and challenged the state-sponsored philosophy, which had been twinned to some form of Sufi praxis. We also learn from this observer that the rival parties, which engaged in heated theological arguments about whether or not God could be assigned a personality, marked themselves off from each other by publicly commencing the fasting month on different days.16

Similar dissent had occurred in the 1840s in the former sultanate of Banten, West Java. According to one account of the affair, a Dutch official had been forced to intervene in a public spat when a group of new ulama challenged the officially sanctioned commencement of Ramadan.17 While the precise details of the case are elusive, these teachers may well have been connected to the same web of concerns, as, perhaps, was another movement noted much farther east, at Madiun in 1855, where a Dutch observer referred to members of a sect known locally as the Agama Dul. Apparently a new group of sectarians said to be followers of teachings propounded by the caliph Abu Bakr (573-634) were gathering under "priests" to perform ecstatic dances to the beat of a drum and in the presence of women and the young. The observer further noted the disdain for this new group evinced by "the chiefs and the priests of the orthodox Islamic faith" who had doubtless informed him of the movement's existence and who similarly hoped that it would soon die out.18

In his important work Mystic Synthesis in Java, Merle C. Ricklefs proposes that these sectarians were followers of an Arab teacher buried at Jepara, on Java's north coast.19 As we have seen, the members of the indigenous bureaucracy (who were generally Shattari if they had any Sufi linkage) claimed that the new "priests" followed the teachings of the first caliph, Abu Bakr. This assertion likely rested on Naqshbandi declarations that both Abu Bakr and {ayn}Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 661) had transmitted their method of dhikr, one of the more unusual claims vested in the pedigree of the Naqshbandiyya. Beyond this, their dances sound rather more Naqshbandi than Shattari. Indeed, the exertions they required were cited thirty years later in widespread rumors of an impending uprising led by the Sufi masters of Mecca and as explicit justification for the suppression of the Naqshbandiyya in central Java, after which the Orientalist C. Snouck Hurgronje (1857-1936) was engaged to make a study of the Sufi orders and their impact on the Netherlands Indies.20

Certainly, by the 1880s the Dutch believed they had much to fear from Mecca, whether in terms of doctrine or the vectors of disease, the combatting of which has been the subject of work by William R. Roff and now Eric Tagliacozzo (see chapter 5).21 Some had even suggested that the Well of Zamzam, in the Grand Mosque itself, was a major source of cholera. This was an allegation that Snouck Hurgronje debunked, having seen fit to collect water samples from Zamzam in between playing the part of a sincere convert and student of religion in Mecca, albeit one who looked somewhat askance at the activities of the Naqshbandis.22 In any event, as a result of his time in that city in 1885, followed by a tour of Java from mid-1889 to early 1891, Snouck Hurgronje saw that town after town of Java had informal schools with teachers with links to the Meccan Naqshbandiyya or one of its Southeast Asian offshoots.23

There was, however, a crucial difference on Java from what had obtained in West Sumatra, given that the rise of the once-scorned Naqshbandis had not come on the heels of fraternal violence. For in the wake of the catastrophic Java War, the surviving Javanese courts had been driven closer to the Dutch and well away from the networks of Islamic learning that had supported Dipanegara (who was sent into exile on Sulawesi, where he copied down the litanies of both the Shattariyya and the Naqshbandiyya).24 For his part, Snouck Hurgronje was a scholarly witness to the tail end of a process by which many Javanese had made the hajj and joined the long queues of aspirant Naqshbandis visiting the masters ensconced in Mecca. The emissaries of the great Daghestani teacher Sulayman Affandi had been particularly effective over the previous decades in leading a Mecca-centric transition from a Shattari Sufi orthodoxy tied to the moribund courts to the more populist interpretation of the Naqshbandi Sufis. In some cases, formerly Shattari teachers would even return to Southeast Asia and offer training in the new forms of dhikr in addition to the Shattariyya, easing the transition and recognizing that they were becoming part of a global community. Perhaps one of the most interesting men in this respect whom Snouck Hurgronje met in Java was Muhammad Talha of Kalisapu, Cirebon. Shaykh Talha claimed not only to teach at least two Sufi rites, the Khalidyya and the Qadiriyya wa-Naqshbandiyya (see below), at his well-appointed school but even to have had training in "Hanafi" law.25

Steam and Print: The Crucial Conjunction

Much of what the Dutch colonial official Snouck Hurgronje saw was connected to the exponential rise in Southeast Asian participation in the hajj that resulted from the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the ensuing increase in steam shipping between Arabia and the hubs of Penang, Singapore, Batavia, and Surabaya. It was further facilitated by the internal development on Java in particular of roads and train lines intended to secure both Dutch control of the island and the rapid transport of crops to the same ports where increasing numbers of scholars-Javanese and Arab-were establishing independent schools. One particularly famous teacher of the late nineteenth century was Kyai Salih of Darat (d. 1904), whose pesantren was near the busy port of Semarang, the end point of Java's first train line. He was well known for his Javanese glossings of Arabic works-though not necessarily Sufi works, for not all of the teachers active in the traditional schools necessarily advocated tariqa activities.26

These schools formed a natural, and often lucrative, opportunity. They were often designated as tax-free holdings or ancestral endowments by their patrons, and many of their leaders-regardless of whether they offered additional training to the elect in the form of Sufi praxis-were able to gain the support of members of the indigenous bureaucracy who had their feet in two worlds: the Jawi- and Arabic-literate Muslim one that was rapidly adopting lithographic technology, and the typographic Roman-script one advancing under Dutch rule. Certainly Muslim scholars were aware of the opportunities opened by knowledge of colonial scripts and structures of power, which they could use to their advantage in shaping the bounds of the orthodox community.27 One should not ignore the impact and dissemination of literature in the spread of the new teachings. In the course of carrying out his surveys of the many schools of Java, with their frequent connections to Sufi teachers of one group or another, Snouck Hurgronje often noted the presence of printed works in the hands of various shaykhs. Muhammad Talha, for example, had a two-volume edition of Ibrahim al-Jaylani's Al-Insan al-kamil (The perfect man) that had been published in Cairo in 1876, in addition to an edition of epistles composed by Sulayman Affandi in Mecca and then lithographed in Istanbul in 1883/84. I suggest that, by the 1880s, the possession of such prestigious texts was often a mark of teachers of rank, who were also able to hand out (or sell) printed copies of their (very Meccan) pedigrees and commend the manuals that would be made available from places such as Singapore.28

The story of Sufism and print in Southeast Asia still requires serious attention, much as it does in China and West Africa. The current holdings in library collections are limited, to say the least, reflecting the concerns of older generations of collectors and officials, who often sought evidence of manuscript continuities with an imagined past rather than quotidian print affirmations of a modern present. Additionally, much of the sometimes ephemeral material that was connected with the orders was brought in from beyond local shores rather than being produced on the lithographic presses of Singapore and Surabaya that began to function in earnest in the 1850s.29 Perhaps the first work from those presses with a bearing on questions of Sufism was not a manual for its practice but rather a pamphlet condemning its excesses. This was released in 1852/53 by Salim ibn Sumayr (d. 1853), a leading Hadrami-born Yemeni scholar and long-term resident of Batavia.30 In his tract, which reflects the general concerns of the Arabocentric {ayn}Alawiyya Sufi order, Ibn Sumayr attacked a certain Jawi called Isma{ayn}il al-Minankabawi, who had recently arrived in Singapore and enjoyed success in gathering disciples for the Naqshbandiyya there and in nearby Riau and Kedah on the peninsula.31 Isma{ayn}il al-Minankabawi was most likely a follower of Da{ham}ud of Sunur, referred to earlier, given that he had been involved in the redaction of a work by that scholar in Mecca that extolled the practices of the holy city as compared with the putative backwardness of those of their Sumatran homeland. This was reprinted several times in Singapore, although in the misleading form of a guide to the hajj, alongside al-Minankabawi's guides to the Naqshbandiyya.32

In time the presses of Singapore spilled forth other books that might be seen as relevant to Sufi readers, augmenting such prestigious works as the latest compilations of saintly biographies or do-it-yourself manuals such as the Jami{ayn} Usul al-Awliya{ham} (Compilation of the principles of the saints), a conveniently indexed treatise on the Naqshbandiyya order composed by Ahmad ibn Mustafa al-Kumushkhanawi (also called Gümüşhanevi; c. 1812-c. 1893). Some of the most popular texts were compilations of odes in praise of the Prophet, such as those of Ibn al-Dayba{ham}i (1461-1537) and Ja{ayn}far al-Barzanji (1690-1764), at whose recitation it was popularly believed that the Prophet himself would join the believers.33 There were also numerous ephemeral tracts confirming the Sufi path as one for all believers rather than just a small elite. One cheap and frequently reprinted pamphlet, the Sha{ayn}ir Shari{ayn}a Dan Tariqa (Poem of Shari{ayn}a and tariqa), announced to the general reader (who was increasingly aware of the possibilities of travel) that the struggle with the self in the face of the world was incumbent on all, not just the saints. In addition, it warned of the dangers of being captured and made a coolie at any number of foreign ports from Bombay to Tokyo!34

Beyond such general calls for the believer to cultivate the self and fend off base passions (and rapacious sea captains), Muslims literate in Malay would have been able to access printed works from Mecca itself starting in 1884, when the prominent Southeast Asian scholar (and noted Sufi) Ahmad al-Fatani (1856-1906/7) began to oversee the production of Malay works on that city's new typographic press. This press also saw the issuance of a fatwa by the Meccan jurist Ahmad ibn Zayni Dahlan (1816-86) condemning Sulayman Affandi and his activities.35 Indeed, the scholastic and regal elites of Mecca and the Malay world had not thrown their hands up in the face of the thousands of aspirant Sufi hajjis. They still sought to cultivate and channel popular manifestations of belief. Along the coasts of East Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, the still-active sultans of so many small polities, such as Deli, Serdang, and Kedah, remained (or tried to remain) the ultimate arbiters of what was allowed. In Kelantan in 1905, for example, the young Muhammad IV, whose lands were under Thai suzerainty, wrote to Ahmad al-Fatani for advice in regard to the nocturnal meetings and dancing of a new teacher who represented the Ahmadiyya Sufi order, a fraternity that was as popular in the northern Malay Peninsula as the Naqshbandiyya order was in the straits and on Java.36

There were also controversial orders that sought to ride the coattails of the Naqshbandiyya Sufis' popularity or obtain the opportunities gained by the Ahmadiyya. Of particular influence was the Qadiriyya wa-Naqshbandiyya, a hybrid order established in Mecca in the 1860s or 1870s by Ahmad Khatib of Sambas, on the west coast of Borneo. His networks subsequently spread across the archipelago and were strengthened by his successor, {ayn}Abd al-Karim of Banten. Snouck Hurgronje even met the latter in the holy city and identified him as influential and potentially dangerous to the Dutch, if not for the content of his statements then for the power attributed to him by his followers, who often carried his printed manuals or used them as the basis of their own manuscript copies.37

We may recall that after the scare of the early 1880s the Dutch became far more alive to the potential inspiration of Islam in the expanding web of their Asian possessions and to the activities of the seemingly ubiquitous and still illegible Sufi orders. Such concerns led to Snouck Hurgronje's dispatch to Arabia and then, after the infamous Cilegon massacre by some of {ayn}Abd al-Karim's followers in 1888, to Java. It is somewhat ironic, then, that after making his studies of Java, Snouck Hurgronje downplayed the fears that he had peddled in the press on either side of his journey to Mecca. He had come to see tariqa Sufism as less a globally coordinated threat than an antiquated form of folk practice. Indeed, it appears from his letters that he believed it had more to tell the Dutch about the origins of Islam in the region than about any threat they might face in the future.38

Sufism Supplanted

Like libertines they sway

yet like donkeys they bray.

Thinking themselves on the path of the devout,

they are more in error than those who doubt.

Ahmad ibn Zayni Dahlan, Risala Raddiyya {ayn}ala Risalat al-Shaykh Sulayman Afandi, 5

As Snouck Hurgronje built up his network of contacts in the Indies, he came to rely heavily on informants to whom he was introduced in Mecca or who had already made themselves known to the Dutch authorities. One particularly active figure was the Arab polemicist and printer Sayyid {ayn}Uthman ibn Yahya (1822-1914) of Batavia, who was well known for his many tracts attacking the Naqshbandiyya, which the state subsidized after the disaster at Cilegon. Indeed, he saw himself as a follower of Salim ibn Sumayr.39 Beyond this he sought to affirm his position by echoing the printed admonitions of Ahmad Dahlan in Mecca.

But if Sayyid {ayn}Uthman campaigned ceaselessly in the name of both Islam and colonial security for the curtailment of the many mystical teachers, his works-even with their references to contemporary authorities in Mecca-lack the punch of a much more forceful antagonist active in the holy city in the 1890s. This was Ahmad Khatib al-Minankabawi (1860-1916), the descendant of a Padri judge, and a claimant to the salaried post of imam in Mecca's Holy Mosque. Of course he was but one of many prayer leaders within the sacred precinct, but he made sure to advertise his title on each of the many works he sent to the archipelago for printing and dissemination. At first he attracted the hostility of Snouck Hurgronje for his attacks on matrilineal law in West Sumatra and then of Sayyid {ayn}Uthman for opposing the building of a Friday mosque in Palembang. However, he subsequently gained the plaudits of the latter polemicist when he released the first of three tracts excoriating the emissaries of the Naqshbandiyya in his place of birth.40

Ahmad Khatib al-Minankabawi published this tract at Padang in 1906, initiating a print war with his Naqshbandi opponents, during which he often ripped through their printed texts, from the {ayn}Awarif al-Ma{ayn}arif (Knowers of the sciences) of al-Suhrawardi to the aforementioned Jami{ayn} Usul al-Awliya{ham} of Gümüşhanevi and the Fath al-{ham}Arifin (Victory of the Gnostics) of Ahmad Khatib of Sambas. That said, it should be emphasized that Ahmad Khatib al-Minankabawi was not technically a foe of all forms of tariqa mysticism. As he confesses near the close of his third such tract, he had been drawn to the Naqshbandiyya in his youth, though he became incensed at the fact that so many of his Southeast Asian kin were streaming to Mecca to be inducted (in that order) without proper attention to their knowledge of the law.

For years I sought people of gnosis . . . so I made myself their slave, and took "the path of the people" [tariqat al-qawm] and joined their program. Yet I found none other than tricksters who sold religion for the world, seeking a livelihood by using the name tariqa. Thus did I learn the truth of the words of the writer of the recent Hayat al-Qulub [Life of the hearts], namely that its people were sundered [from true knowledge] in the fourth century. Yet here we are now in the fourteenth century, a century in which there is nothing other than empty propaganda, much like yours!41

Given Ahmad Khatib al-Minankabawi's otherwise moderate tone toward the ideal of Sufism, his critiques do not form a break in the long history of Sufi polemics but rather mark the typographed continuation of contests in which scholars attempt to restrict sober tariqa knowledge to the elect.

Yet by the time he released his polemics, the latest group of self-declared reformers-Malays and Arabs-active in Singapore, and thus freer to write in some senses, had begun in 1908 to take aim at various practices related to the Naqshbandiyya, the Ahmadiyya, and the Qadiriyya wa-Naqshbandiyya. They did so in a key monthly periodical, Al-Imam, which had commenced operations in 1906 and which soon cast the vast bulk of the shaykhs of the Naqshbandiyya as mere purveyors of talismans who had discouraged Muslims from the path of advancement and competition on the global stage. The editors certainly mocked any teaching that held that the Prophet had urged that the old and the young should lock themselves away for days on end or that men and women should gather together to recite odes to the beat of a drum or commit outrages of propriety when the lamps were dimmed. This was the time of a rising Asia: Japan had vanquished Russia in war, and great things were promised in the form of the Hijaz Railway and the new reformist teachings of Muhammad {ayn}Abduh and Rashid Rida in Cairo.42

Beyond this, it was clear that, rather like Emily Ruete, whom Jeremy Prestholdt discusses in chapter 10, Al-Imam's reformers felt the need for both an awareness of and representation in a world larger than the umma. Indeed, they cited the opinions of the colonizing British at times, to attest to their own backwardness and to stimulate the Malays into action against their old masters, be they talisman-selling shaykhs or supposedly idle aristocrats. Still, a great many readers were perplexed. For even if Al-Imam's champions cast their polemics in a way that invited distinction between valid and invalid Sufi practices, their charged language led a great many Sufi shaykhs to urge their students and extended family networks to desist reading the pages of this upstart journal. It also seems that the board split between its Arab and Malay members, with the former continuing to extol their natural leadership potential in a new series of papers while the latter took their critiques of the Sufi orders a step further, earning them the epithet Wahhabi and reifying an imagined lineage that stretched back to the Padris of Sumatra. In the near future the rhetoric of a great many Muslim organizations that sprang up in colonial Southeast Asia would be one of action and similar discontent with the Sufi orders, whose shaykhs sometimes watched in anger as their youthful disciples gravitated toward new forms of mass participation, such as welfare societies, associations, and eventually political parties, which ultimately absorbed the Sufis of Southeast Asia's long nineteenth century.