By : Nia Deliana
A Lecturer in International Islamic University of Malaysia
Ismail Fajri Alatas, “Habaib in South East Asia” in The Encyclopedia of Islam Volume III edited by Kate Fleet, Gudrun Kramer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, and Everett Rowson, Leiden : Brill, 2018.
A subtitle “Habaib in Southeast Asia” authored by Ismail Fajri al Attas published in The Encyclopedia of Islam Volume III gives a brief description on the origin and role transformation of the Habaib in Southeast Asia as early as 15 th to the present time. It is crucial to note here that this referential works give no attention to the role of Aceh in the transformation of the Habaib in this region.
It begin with explaining the terminology of the words and its meaning. ‘Habib’ is a label awarded by the indigenous population as a gratitude to a prophet descendant traced their lineage to Ahmad bin Isa, the grand grandson of the prophet Muhammad SAW who emigrated from Basra to Hadhramawt in the 10 th century, in which later they pioneered numerous religious and political establishments. One of them is in Sufism field where Tariqat al Alawiyyah flourished and spread to Southeast Asia which persisted till the very present time. In these 4 pages narratives, Prof Alatas mentioned that the Habib was the earliest known Muslim missionaries in Southeast Asia, traced their existence to the 15 th century period. Yes, their origin in this area is pretty much debatable where one of the arguments indeed relates evidences of their existence as early as 9th century, appointing to inhibition of Lamuri, a long lost area once situated in the Northern part of Sumatra.