Biography of Sheikh Imam Nawawi al-Bantani

Biography of Sheikh Imam Nawawi al-Bantani
Sumber Gambar: foto istimewa

List of Contents

1          Life story and Family
1.1       Born
1.2       Family History
1.3       Passed away

2          Sanad of Knowledge and Education
2.1       Wandering for Knowledge
2.2       His Masters
2.3       Establishing an Pesantren

3          His Successors
3.1       His Students

4           Careers
4.1        His Service. Ma'shum Lasem
4.1.1     Struggle of Sheikh Nawawi
4.1.2     Reject Wahhabism
4.2        His Work

5.          His Speciality
5.1        The Forefinger Shines and Can Be a Light
5.2        Seeing the Ka’aba from a Distant Place
5.3        The Body That Remains Intact
5.4        Prayer in the mouth of a big snake

6.            Honorary Degrees

7.         Chart Geneology


1. Life story and Family

 1.1 Born
Abu Abdul Mu'thi Muhammad Nawawi bin 'Umar bin Arabi al-Jawi al-Bantani or commonly called Sheikh Imam Nawawi al-Bantani was born in Tanara, Serang, Banten, in 1230/1815 AD.

His father, Sheikh Umar al-Bantani, was a scholar figure who still had a kinship relationship with Maulana Syarif Hidayatullah or Sunan Gunung Jati (Cirebon) until Muhammad SAW.

Linkage, Sheikh Nawawi al-Bantani include the following:

  1.     Syekh Nawawi al-Bantani
  2.     Syekh Umar al-Bantani
  3.     Syekh Arabi al-Bantani
  4.     Syekh Ali al-Bantani
  5.     Syekh Jamad al-Bantani
  6.     Syekh Janta al-Bantani
  7.     Syekh Masbuqil al-Bantani
  8.     Syekh Maskun al-Bantani
  9.     Syekh Masnun al-Bantani
  10.     Syekh Maswi al-Bantani
  11.     Syekh Tajul Arsy al-Bantani (The princess of Sunyararas)
  12.     Sultan Maulana Hasanuddin
  13.     Sultan Syarif Hidayatullah
  14.     Syarif Abdullah Umdatuddin Azmatkhan
  15.     Sayyid Ali Nurul Alam Azmatkhan
  16.     Sayyid Jamaluddin Akbar Azmatkhan al-Husaini (Syekh Jumadil Kubro)
  17.     Sayyid Ahmad Jalal Syah Azmatkhan
  18.     Sayyid Abdullah Azmatkhan
  19.     Sayyid Abdul Malik Azmatkhan
  20.     Sayyid Alawi Ammil Faqih (Hadramaut)
  21.     Sayyid Muhammad Shahib Mirbath (Hadramaut)
  22.     Sayyid Ali Khali' Qasam
  23.     Sayyid Alawi ats-Tsani
  24.     Sayyid Muhammad Sohibus Saumi'ah
  25.     Sayyid Alawi Awwal
  26.     Sayyid al-Imam 'Ubaidillah
  27.     Sayyid Ahmad al-Muhajir
  28.     Sayyid 'Isa Naqib ar-Rumi
  29.     Sayyid Muhammad an-Naqib
  30.     Sayyid al-Imam Ali Uradhi
  31.     Sayyidina Ja'far ash-Shadiq
  32.     Sayyidina Muhammad al-Baqir
  33.     Sayyidina Ali Zainal Abidin
  34.     Sayyidina Husain
  35.     Sayyidina Ali bin Abi Thalib dan Sayyidah Fatimah az-Zahra binti
  36.     Sayyidina Muhammad SAW 

1.2 Passed Away
Sheikh Nawawi passed away in Mecca on the 25th of Shawwal 1314 Hijriyah or 1897 AD. His tomb is located in Jannatul Mu'alla, Mecca. His grave is next to the tomb of Sayyidina Abu Bakr Ash-Siddiq's daughter, Asma΄ bint Ab Bakr al-Siddq.

Even though he passed away in the Arabian land, until now every year there is always a commemoration of the death of Sheikh Nawawi al-Bantani in the country, to be precise at the pesantren An-Nawawi Tanara, Serang, under KH. Ma'ruf Amin. Haul Sheikh Nawawi is always crowded with Nusantara students, even foreign country.

2. Sanad Sanad of Knowledge and Education

2.1 Wandering for Knowledge
Since he was five years old, Syekh Nawawi has started to study Islam directly from his father. Together with his siblings, Sheikh Nawawi studied basic knowledge of Arabic, fiqh, monotheism, the Qor’an and interpretation. At the age of eight years with his two younger siblings, Tamim and Ahmad, Syekh Nawawi studied with KH. Sahal, one of the famous ulama in Banten at that time. Then continue the activity of studying with Sheikh Baing Yusuf Purwakarta.

At the age of not yet fifteen, Sheikh Nawawi had taught many people, until then he looked for a place on the beach so that he could more freely teach his students, which were increasing day by day. Only after he reached the age of fifteen, Sheikh Nawawi performed the pilgrimage and then studied with a number of well-known scholars in Mecca at that time.

2.2 His Masters

  1.      Sheikh Nawawi's teachers include:
  2.      Syekh Umar bin Arabi al-Bantani (Ayahnya)
  3.     Sayyid Ahmad Zaini Dahlan
  4.     KH. Sahal al-Bantani
  5.     Syekh Baing Yusuf Purwakarta
  6.     Syekh Ahmad Khatib asy-Syambasi
  7.     Syekh Ahmad Zaini Dahlan
  8.     Syekh Abdul Ghani al-Bimawi
  9.     Syekh Yusuf Sumbulaweni
  10.     Syekh Abdul Hamid Daghestani
  11.     Syekh Sayyid Ahmad Nahrawi
  12.     Syekh Ahmad Dimyati
  13.     Syekh Muhammad Khatib Duma al-Hambali
  14.     Syekh Muhammad bin Sulaiman Hasbullah al-Maliki
  15.     Syekh Junaid al-Batawi
  16.     Syekh Zainuddin Aceh
  17.     Syekh Syihabuddin
  18.     Syekh Yusuf bin Muhammad Arsyad al-Banjari
  19.     Syekh Abdush Shamad bin Abdurahman al-Palimbani
  20.     Syekh Mahmud Kinan al-Palimbani
  21.     Syekh Aqib bin Hasanuddin al-Palimbani

 2.3 Caretaker of pesantren

  He teaches in his yard. At first there were only tens of students, but as time went on the number grew more and more. They come from all over the world. Until he became Sheikh Nawawi al-Bantani as a scholar who was known to be skilled in the science of religion, especially about monotheism, fiqh, interpretation, and tasawwuf.

3. His Successors

3.1 His Students
Sheikh Nawawi's students who became scholars include:

  1.    Syekh Muhammad Mahfudz at-Tarmasi
  2.     Syekh Kholil al-Bangkalani, Madura
  3.     Syekh Tubagus Ahmad Bakri as-Sampuri
  4.     Syekh Tubagus Muhammad Asnawi al-Bantani, Caringin, Labuan, Pandeglang
  5.     Syekh Arsyad Thawil al-Bantani – The hero of  Cilegon war 1888 and Islamic spreader in  North Sulawesi
  6.     Syekh Abu al-Faidh Abdus Sattar bin Abdul Wahhab ad-Dahlawi, Delhi, India – the great teacher in Masjidil Haram
  7.     Sayyid Ali bin Ali al-Habsy – the great teacher di Masjidil Haram
  8.     Syekh Muhammad Zainuddin bin Badawi as-Sumbawi, Sumbawa, Nusa Tenggara Barat
  9.     Syekh Abdul Qadir bin Mustafa al-Fathani, Pattani, Thailand
  10.     Syekh Abdul Haq bin Abdul Hannan al-Bantani - Cucu Syekh Nawawi
  11.     KH. Saleh Darat as-Samarani
  12.     KH. Hasyim Asyari, Jombang – the founding father of Nahdlatul Ulama
  13.     KH. Ahmad Dahlan, Yogyakarta – the founding father  of  Muhammadiyah
  14.     KH. Hasan Genggong – the  founding father of  Pesantren Zainul Hasan Genggong
  15.     KH. Mas Abdurahman – the founding father of pesantren  Mathla'ul Anwar
  16.     KH. Raden Asnawi, Kudus
  17.     H. Abdul Karim Amrullah, North Sumatera
  18.     KH. Thahir Jamaluddin, Singapura
  19.     KH. Dawud, Perak, Malaysia
  20.     KH. Hasan Asyari, Bawean
  21.     KH. Najihun, Mauk, Tangerang
  22.     KH. Abdul Ghaffar, Tirtayasa, Serang
  23.     KH. Ilyas, Kragilan, Serang
  24.     KH. Wasyid – the combatan of  Cilegon war 1888
  25.     KH. Tubagus Ismail – the combatan of  Cilegon war  1888
  26.     KH. Arsyad Qashir al-Bantani – the combatan of  Cilegon war 1888
  27.     KH. Abdurrahman - – the combatan of  Cilegon war 1888
  28.     KH. Haris -  the combatan of  Cilegon war 1888
  29.     KH. Aqib -  the combatan of  Cilegon war 1888

4. Careers

 4.1 Struggle of Sheikh Nawawi
After three years living in Mecca, in 1828 AD, Sheikh Nawawi finally returned to Banten. arriving in his homeland, he witnessed many practices of injustice, arbitrariness, and oppression by the Dutch East Indies government against the people. By seeing the reality that was so unjust, the surge of jihad flared up.
As an intellectual who has a high commitment to the principles of justice and truth, Syekh Nawawi then preached around Banten waging resistance against the invaders until the Dutch government restricted his movements, such as being prohibited from preaching in mosques.

In fact, later he was accused of being a follower of Prince Diponegoro who at that time was waging resistance against Dutch colonialism (1825 - 1830 AD), until he finally returned to Mecca after pressure from the Dutch to expel him, right at the peak of the Prince Diponegoro Resistance in 1830. in Mecca he immediately returned to deepest the knowledge of religion to his teachers.

Sheikh Nawawi became famous when he settled in Shi'ib 'Ali, Mecca. He teaches in his yard. At first there were only tens of students, but as time went on the number grew more and more. They come from all over the world. Until he became Sheikh Nawawi al-Bantani as a scholar who was known to be skilled in the science of religion, especially about monotheism, fiqh, interpretation, and tasawwuf.

The name of Sheikh Nawawi al-Bantani became more famous when he was appointed as the Imam of the Grand Mosque, replacing Sheikh Achmad Khotib Al-Syambasi or Sheikh Ahmad Khatib Al-Minangkabawi. Not only in the cities of Mecca and Medina, he is known, even in Syria, Egypt, Turkey, and even Hindustan, his name is so famous.

Sheikh Nawawi held a central role among the ulama al-Jawwi. He inspired the al-Jawwi community to be more seriously involved in Islamic studies, but also played a role in educating a number of prominent Islamic boarding school scholars.

For Sheikh Nawawi, the Islamic community in Indonesia must be freed from the shackles of Colonialism. By achieving independence, Islamic teachings will be easily implemented in the archipelago. This thought encouraged Syekh Nawawi to always follow the developments and struggles in the country of the students from Indonesia and contribute his thoughts for the progress of the Indonesian people.

In addition to religious lessons, Sheikh Nawawi also taught the meaning of independence, anti-colonialism and imperialism in a subtle way. To produce patriotic cadres who will later be able to uphold the truth. Syekh Nawawi's struggle was not in the form of a physical revolution, but through education in fostering the spirit of revival and the spirit of nationalism.

In addition, the development efforts carried out by Sheikh Nawawi for the al-Jawwi community in Mecca also became a serious concern of the Dutch government in Indonesia. The productivity of the al-Jawwi community to produce alumni who have the integrity of religious scholarship and the spirit of nationalism is a concern for the Netherlands.

To anticipate the movement of the al-Jawwi community, the Dutch government sent a government advisor, Christian Snouck Hurgronje to visit Mecca in 1884 - 1885. Snouck's arrival was aimed at further research and to see firsthand the various things that have been done by Indonesian scholars who joined in the al-Jawwi community.

4.1 Reject Wahhabism
Even though at that time Saudi Arabia was ruled by a Wahhabism government, Sheikh Nawawi dared to disagree on the grave pilgrimage. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia forbids pilgrimages to graves on the grounds of heresy, but Sheikh Nawawi is not against this practice.

This opinion is based on the findings of Sheikh Nawawi regarding the legal provisions in Islamic teachings. Sheikh Nawawi even advised Muslims to respect the tombs of people who have contributed to the history of Islam, including the graves of the Prophet Muhammad SAW and his companions.

According to Sheikh Nawawi, Visiting the grave of the Prophet Muhammad SAW is a worship practice that is identical to meeting face to face (tawajjuh) with the Prophet and reminds the greatness of the struggle and achievements that deserve to be imitated.

4.2 His work
Sheikh Nawawi's intelligence and wisdom are unquestionable. The Egyptian cleric, Sheikh 'Umar 'Abdul Jabbar in his book "al-Durus min Madhi al-Ta'lim wa Hadlirih bi al-Masjidil al-Haram" (several past and present studies on Modern Education in the Grand Mosque) wrote that Syekh Nawawi has been so productive in writing that his works have reached more than a hundred titles covering various disciplines, many of which are in the form of syarah or commentaries on classical books.
Some of Sheikh Nawawi's works include the following:

  1.     al-Tsamar al-Yani'ah syarah al-Riyadl al-Badi'ah
  2.     al-'Aqd al-Tsamin syarah Fath al-Mubîn
  3.     Sullam al-Munâjah syarah Safînah al-Shalâh
  4.     Baĥjah al-Wasâil syarah al-Risâlah al-Jâmi’ah bayn al-Usûl wa al-Fiqh wa al-Tasawwuf
  5.     al-Tausyîh/ Quwt al-Habîb al-Gharîb syarah Fath al-Qarîb al-Mujîb
  6.     Niĥâyah al-Zayyin syarah Qurrah al-‘Ain bi Muĥimmâh al-Dîn
  7.     Marâqi al-‘Ubûdiyyah syarah Matan Bidâyah al-Ĥidâyah
  8.     Nashâih al-‘Ibâd syarah al-Manbaĥâtu ‘ala al-Isti’dâd li yaum al-Mi’âd
  9.     Salâlim al-Fadhlâ΄ syarah Mandhûmah Ĥidâyah al-Azkiyâ΄
  10.     Qâmi’u al-Thugyân syarah Mandhûmah Syu’bu al-Imân
  11.     al-Tafsir al-Munîr li al-Mu’âlim al-Tanzîl al-Mufassir ‘an wujûĥ mahâsin al-Ta΄wil musammâ Murâh Labîd li Kasyafi Ma’nâ Qur΄an Majîd
  12.     Kasyf al-Marûthiyyah syarah Matan al-Jurumiyyah
  13.     Fath al-Ghâfir al-Khathiyyah syarah Nadham al-Jurumiyyah musammâ al-Kawâkib al-Jaliyyah
  14.     Nur al-Dhalâm ‘ala Mandhûmah al-Musammâh bi ‘Aqîdah al-‘Awwâm
  15.     Tanqîh al-Qaul al-Hatsîts syarah Lubâb al-Hadîts
  16.     Madârij al-Shu’ûd syarah Maulid al-Barzanji
  17.     Targhîb al-Mustâqîn syarah Mandhûmah Maulid al-Barzanjî
  18.     Fath al-Shamad al ‘Âlam syarah Maulid Syarif al-‘Anâm
  19.     Fath al-Majîd syarah al-Durr al-Farîd
  20.     Tîjân al-Darâry syarah Matan al-Baijûry
  21.     Fath al-Mujîb syarah Mukhtashar al-Khathîb
  22.     Murâqah Shu’ûd al-Tashdîq syarah Sulam al-Taufîq
  23.     Kâsyifah al-Sajâ syarah Safînah al-Najâ
  24.     al-Futûhâh al-Madaniyyah syarah al-Syu’b al-Îmâniyyah
  25.     ‘Uqûd al-Lujain fi Bayân Huqûq al-Zaujain
  26.     Qathr al-Ghais syarah Masâil Abî al-Laits
  27.     Naqâwah al-‘Aqîdah Mandhûmah fi Tauhîd
  28.     al-Naĥjah al-Jayyidah syarah Naqâwah al-‘Aqîdah
  29.     Sulûk al-Jâdah syarah Lam’ah al-Mafâdah fi bayân al-Jumu’ah wa almu’âdah
  30.     Hilyah al-Shibyân syarah Fath al-Rahman
  31.     al-Fushûsh al-Yâqutiyyah ‘ala al-Raudlah al-Baĥîyyah fi Abwâb al-Tashrîfiyyah
  32.     al-Riyâdl al-Fauliyyah
  33.     Mishbâh al-Dhalâm’ala Minĥaj al-Atamma fi Tabwîb al-Hukm
  34.     Dzariyy’ah al-Yaqîn ‘ala Umm al-Barâĥîn fi al-Tauhîd
  35.     al-Ibrîz al-Dâniy fi Maulid Sayyidina Muhammad al-Sayyid al-Adnâny
  36.     Baghyah al-‘Awwâm fi Syarah Maulid Sayyid al-Anâm
  37.     al-Durrur al-Baĥiyyah fi syarah al-Khashâish al-Nabawiyyah
  38.     Lubâb al-bayyân fi ‘Ilmi Bayyân.

In addition, his commentary, al-Munir, is very monumental, some even say it is better than Tafsir al-Jalalain, the very famous work of Imam Jalaluddin as-Suyuthi and Imam Jalaluddin al-Mahalli. while Kasyifah al-Saja is a syarah or commentary on the book of fiqh Safinatun Najah, the work of Sheikh Salim bin Sumeir al-Hadhramy.

His works in the field of faith, for example, are Tijan ad-Darary, Nur al-Dhalam, Fath al-Majid. while in the field of Hadith, for example, Tanqih al-Qaul. His works in the field of Fiqh are Sullam al-Munajah, Nihayah al-Zain, Kasyifah al-Saja, and the most famous among the students of pesantren in Java is Syarah 'Uqud al-Lujain fi Bayan Huquq al-Zaujain. As for Qami'u al-Thugyan, Nashaih al-'Ibad and Minhaj al-Raghibi are works of tasawwuf.

5. His Speciality

5.1 The Forefinger Shines and Can Be a Light
Once upon a time on a journey in syuqduf (houses on camel backs) Sheikh Nawawi once composed a book using his index finger as a lamp.

This happened because there was no light in the shuqduf he was traveling in, while the idea of ​​writing a book was rapidly filling his head. Sheikh Nawawi then prayed to Allah so that his left index finger could become a lamp, illuminating the right finger that he would use to write. The book which was later born with the name Maraqi al-'Ubudiyyah syarah Matan Bidayah al-Hidayah had to be paid for with a defect on the left index finger, because the light that Allah gave to his left index finger carried a mark that did not disappear.

5.2 Seeing the Kaaba from a Distant Place
He also showed another character of Sheikh Nawawi when he visited the Pekojan Mosque, Jakarta. The mosque built by Sayyid Uthman bin 'Agil bin Yahya al-'Alawi (Betawi mufti descendant of the Prophet Muhammad) is still not facing the Qibla direction. In fact, it was Sayyid Uthman himself who determined the qibla for the mosque.

That way, when Sheikh Nawawi, whom he considered just an unknown teenager, blamed the determination of the Qibla, Sayyid Uthman was very surprised. Discussions ensued between the two of them, Sayyid Uthman still held that the Qibla of the Pekojan Mosque was correct, while the teenage Sheikh Nawawi was of the opinion that the direction of the Qibla should be corrected. When an agreement could not be reached because each of them defended his opinion vehemently, the teenage Sheikh Nawawi pulled Sayyid Uthman's sleeve and brought his body together so that they could be closer to each other, then said:

Sayyid Uthman was stunned. The Kaaba that he saw by following the index finger of the teenage Sheikh Nawawi was clearly visible. Sayyid Uthman was amazed and realized that the small teenager in front of him had been blessed with glory, namely the opening of nur basyariyyah.

With that speciality, wherever he is the Kaaba will still be visible. With great respect Sayyid Uthman immediately hugged Sheikh Nawawi's small body. Until now, in Pekojan Mosque, it will appear that the Qibla has been shifted and does not match the original.

5.3 The Body That Remains Intact
It has been the policy of the Government of Saudi Arabia that people who have been buried for a year must have their graves dug up. The bones of the corpse are then taken and put together with the bones of other corpses. Furthermore, all the bones were buried in another place outside the city and the grave that was dismantled was left open until the next body came one after another. This policy was carried out indiscriminately until it also hit the grave of Sheikh Nawawi.

After his grave was one year old, officials from the city government came to dig his grave. But what happened was an unusual thing. The cemetery officials did not find the usual bones, what they found was a body that was still intact. Nothing less, no abrasions and no signs of decay like a corpse that has been buried for a long time. Even the shroud covering the body of Sheikh Nawawi was not torn and not rotten at all.

The incident shocked the officers. They rushed to their boss and told him what had happened. After being investigated, the superior then realized that the tomb that was excavated was not someone's grave. For such an incident, finally, the government forbade the dismantling of Sheikh Nawawi's tomb. His body was then reburied as usual, and until now the tomb of Sheikh Nawawi remains in Ma'la, Mecca.

5.4 Prayer in the Mouth of a Big Snake
One day while on his way, Sheikh Nawawi rested in a place for the call to prayer and then prayed. After he got the call to prayer, it turned out that no one came, he finally finished and prayed alone. After the prayer, Sheikh Nawawi continued his journey, but when he looked back, there was a giant snake and his mouth was gaping. Finally he realized that he was praying in the mouth of a very large snake.

6. Honorary Degrees

Among the honorary titles assigned to Sheikh Nawawi al-Bantani are as follows:

  1. al-Sayyid al-'Ulama al-Hijaz (great master in Hijaz) atau Sayyidul Hijaz ( Hijaz’s keeper)
  2. Nawawi at-Tsani (second Nawawi). The first person who give this title to  Syekh Nawawi is Wan Ahmad bin Muhammad Zain al-Fathani
  3. al-Imam wa al-Fahm al-Mudaqqiq (the figure and the teacher who has deepest insight
  4. A'yan 'Ulama al-Qarn ar-Ram 'Asyar Li al-Hijrah (the master Islamic figure in 14 century
  5. Imam 'Ulama Al-Haramain (the priest in two holy cities)
  6. The God doctor (The first person who gave this title to  Syekh Nawawi was Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje)
  7. asy-Syaikh al-Fakih (this title given by pesantren community)
  8. The father of yellow book (this title given by Indonesian Islamic teachers).

7.  Chart Geneology

The following is a genealogy chart for the teacher of Syekh Nawawi Banten, which can be seen HERE, and a genealogy chart for his students can be seen HERE.

This article was previously edited Maret 19, 2021, and last edited September 15, 2022.