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Oman Fathurahman, Kawashima Midori, and Labi Sarip Riwarung (eds.), The Library of an Islamic Scholar of Mindanao: The Collection of Sheik Muhammad Said bin Imam sa Bayang at the Al-Imam As-Sadiq (A.S.) Library, Marawi City, Philippines: An Annotated Catalogue with Essays. Tokyo: Institute of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Studies, Sophia University, 2019 (Occasional Papers No. 27), 460 pp. ISSN: 2189-5058.

Mulaika Hijjas
p. 310–312
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Oman Fathurahman, Kawashima Midori, and Labi Sarip Riwarung (eds.), The Library of an Islamic Scholar of Mindanao: The Collection of Sheik Muhammad Said bin Imam sa Bayang at the Al-Imam As-Sadiq (A.S.) Library, Marawi City, Philippines: An Annotated Catalogue with Essays. Tokyo: Institute of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Studies, Sophia University, 2019 (Occasional Papers No. 27), 460 pp. ISSN: 2189-5058.

Texte intégral

1The book is an impressive achievement, both for the depth and diligence of the scholarship presented within its pages, and for the long-term fieldwork and profound engagement with local stakeholders that brought it into being. Kawashima only briefly recounts how the groundwork for this research was laid, beginning in 2000 (v-viii), and hardly mentions the armed conflict that has broken out in the region between Islamist militants and the forces of the Philippine government, the most tumultuous eruption of which was the five-month siege of Marawi City in 2017. This political context means that the research presented in this volume, an attempt to uncover the Islamic intellectual history of Mindanao and Sulu in the 19th century, is all the more valuable.

2The attention to the library as the unit of analysis is also both innovative and timely in the context of Islamic Southeast Asia, where scholarship to date has often proceeded on the basis of the individual codex, usually divorced from any geographical or social context. It is precisely by considering the manuscripts discussed here as the “library of an Islamic scholar of Mindanao”—a collection of books traceable to a particular person, in a specific place and time—that this volume promises to advance our understanding of Southeast Asian Islamic intellectual history and manuscript culture. The case of the southern Philippines is particularly intriguing, since this was the latest region of insular Southeast Asia to embrace Islam. Though this gives it additional interest as a comparator for the earlier but better studied centres such as Aceh or Riau, it has been rather neglected in scholarship to date (apart from earlier work by Kawashima, 2002, 2003, 2014, 2016, and Fathurahman, 2019).

3The volume consists of three parts: an introduction and history of the collection by Kawashima and Fathurahman; a series of five essays by various authors on selected aspects of the manuscripts; and the catalogue proper. The two chapters in Part 1 set out the background, including the rationale for the catalogue, and the history of the collection once owned by Sheikh Muhammad Said bin Imam sa Bayang (1902-1974) of Lanao del Sur, Mindanao. In Part 2, Kawashima’s essay explicates one of the particularly interesting manuscripts in the collection, recounting the hajj voyage and return to the Philippines of Sheik Muhammad Said’s ancestor and eponym, Sayyidna Tuan Muhammad Said, in 1803. Nurtawab’s essay examines a Malay tafsīr, or Qur’anic exegesis, from the collection, showing that its main source is the well known Jalālayn exegesis. Riwarung’s fascinating but all too brief contribution documents writing materials used in the Maranao region, including palm spathes and bamboo sheaths, as well as paper made out of bamboo shoots and cassava, and sources of pigments. A second article by Kawashima discusses papers and covers used in the manuscripts. As well as expected materials such as leather covers, European rag paper, Chinese paper and dluwang bark paper, Kawashima also notes intriguing examples of material used for repairs, such as repurposed periodicals, notebooks, packaging and fabric, suggesting the flow of commodities as well as ideas into the southern Philippines. Gallop’s substantial article on illumination found in these manuscripts also explores the theme of cultural interaction, focusing on decorated frames, technical illustrations, the motifs of the “three fish with one head” and of the ring of Solomon, and, finally, paratextual elements such as marginal inscriptions. This analysis—ranging, in the case of the fish motif, from ancient Egypt to 1960s American counterculture—is a masterful demonstration of precise and painstaking tracing of visual elements to reveal “the genesis and peregrinations of the text itself” (p. 242).

4The catalogue offers detailed information about the 65 manuscripts in the collection, providing much more information about such matters as codicology and the contents of the texts than are available in most comparable catalogues. Particularly welcome are the references to existing scholarship on a given text, which often serve to highlight just how much of the Southeast Asian kitab tradition remains to be seriously explored. Following the catalogue are extensive appendices, reproducing transcriptions and translations of key texts taken largely from the manuscripts, as well as thorough indexes, including of personal names. The numerous images of pages from the manuscripts, some in colour, will also be appreciated by students of Islamic manuscripts generally.

5There is some repetition in the exposition (for example, of the location of Bayang, or the identity of Sheik Muhammad Said), suggesting that the work is less a unified volume than an amalgamation of the catalogue with several originally independent articles. This, together with occasional varying usages (i.e. the Sheik’s name is used in different versions), might have been ironed out. Another desideratum would be further information about access to the manuscripts: do digital copies exist? Is it possible to consult the originals at the Al-Imam As-Sadiq Library?

6If the contents of Sheikh Muhammad Said’s library do not turn up any great surprises—most of the titles also appear in existing inventories of manuscript and printed kitab—this suggests the uniformity of Islamic learning across insular Southeast Asia and westward across the Indian Ocean, in spite of still prevalent claims of syncretism and divergence. There are, in addition, some works in Maranao and Magindanao that are unique to the collection. All these, together with the rich description of texts, illumination and codicology, mean that this volume provide much material for an enhanced understanding of the localisation of Islam in Sulu and Mindanao.

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Mulaika Hijjas, « Oman Fathurahman, Kawashima Midori, and Labi Sarip Riwarung (eds.), The Library of an Islamic Scholar of Mindanao: The Collection of Sheik Muhammad Said bin Imam sa Bayang at the Al-Imam As-Sadiq (A.S.) Library, Marawi City, Philippines: An Annotated Catalogue with Essays. Tokyo: Institute of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Studies, Sophia University, 2019 (Occasional Papers No. 27), 460 pp. ISSN: 2189-5058. »Archipel, 99 | 2020, 310–312 .

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Mulaika Hijjas, « Oman Fathurahman, Kawashima Midori, and Labi Sarip Riwarung (eds.), The Library of an Islamic Scholar of Mindanao: The Collection of Sheik Muhammad Said bin Imam sa Bayang at the Al-Imam As-Sadiq (A.S.) Library, Marawi City, Philippines: An Annotated Catalogue with Essays. Tokyo: Institute of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Studies, Sophia University, 2019 (Occasional Papers No. 27), 460 pp. ISSN: 2189-5058. »Archipel [En ligne], 99 | 2020, mis en ligne le 02 juin 2020, consulté le 17 octobre 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/archipel/1899 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/archipel.1899

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Auteur

Mulaika Hijjas

SOAS, University of London

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Droits d’auteur

Association Archipel

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