Convergences and Divergences in Understanding a Malay Sufi Text of the 17th Century


  • Mohamad Nasrin Mohamad Nasir National University of Malaysia (UKM)



Classical Malay literature, Shams al-Din Sumatra'i, Persian literature and language, Sufism, manuscript studies


This paper investigates the seventeenth-century Acehnese Sufi text known as Haqq al-yaqin fi ‘aqidat al-muhaqiqin (The Certified Faith of the Belief of the Verifiers). Written by the Malay Sufi, Shams al-Din Sumatra’i (d.1630), the paper shows that this text contains aspects of Persian mysticism - although it should not be merely read as a rehash of that brand of mysticism. Persian mystical texts became well-known in Southeast Asia beginning with the famous Hamzah al-Fansuri ( Shams al-Din Sumatra’i was one of Hamzah’s most important students and, similar to Hamzah, was well-versed in Persian. In the Haqq al-Yaqin, Shams al-Din quotes from two main Persian writers, i.e. Mahmud Shabistari and ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Jami. In this paper, however, we will focus on his usage of Shabistari’s Gulshan-i Raz and its commentary, the Sharh Gulshan-i Raz by Muhammad Lahiji Gilani. The main question driving this paper is whether Shams al-Din’s usage of these quotations converges with Shabistari’s own understanding of them. In other words, did Shams al-Din merely follow Shabistari thereby constituting little more than an imitator of Persian mystical writings and commentaries? Answering this question is crucial for an understanding of how early Muslim scholars viewed text and interpretation as part of their individual identities as scholars. Such findings will also be useful for demonstrating the successful dialogue between the Persian Islamic world and the Malay Islamic world via tasawwuf or ‘irfan.


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How to Cite

Mohamad Nasir, Mohamad Nasrin. 2016. “Convergences and Divergences in Understanding a Malay Sufi Text of the 17th Century”. ICR Journal 7 (3):399-410.