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Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah, Pekan Buku Indonesia 1954, p217.jpg
Hamka in 1954
Abdul Malik

(1908-02-17)17 February 1908
Died24 July 1981(1981-07-24) (aged 73)
Jakarta, Indonesia
Other namesHaji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah
Notable work
Al-Azhar Exegesis
Tenggelamnya Kapal van der Wijck
Di Bawah Lindungan Ka'bah
Main interests
Al-Qur'an Exegesis, Islamic law, Islamic history, tasawuf, and literature
Signature of Hamka.svg

Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah, better known by his pen name Hamka (17 February 1908 – 24 July 1981) was an Indonesian ʿālim, philosopher, writer, lecturer, politician and journalist.[1]

First affiliated with the Masyumi Party, until it was disbanded due to connection to PRRI rebellion, Hamka was jailed because he was close to other PRRI members. He also served as the inaugural chief cleric of the Indonesian Council of Ulemas, and was active in Muhammadiyah until he died. Al-Azhar University and Malaysian National University both granted him honorary doctorates, while Moestopo University of Jakarta appointed him a Distinguished Professor.

Hamka is further honoured by being the namesake of Hamka Muhammadiyah University, and is named as an Indonesian National Hero.[2]

Early life

The house, which was occupied by Hamka and his grandmother during his childhood in Maninjau, was renovated in 2001 and named Buya Hamka Birthplace Museum. The museum now holds most of his books, publications, and related goods.
The house, which was occupied by Hamka and his grandmother during his childhood in Maninjau, was renovated in 2001 and named Buya Hamka Birthplace Museum. The museum now holds most of his books, publications, and related goods.

Hamka was born on 17 February 1908 in Agam, West Sumatra, the eldest child of seven. Raised in a family of devout Muslims, his father was Abdul Karim Amrullah, a clerical reformer of Islam in Minangkabau, also known as Haji Rasul. His mother, Sitti Shafiyah, came from a lineage of Minangkabau artists. His paternal grandfather, Muhammad Amrullah, was a member of the Naqshbandiyah.

Prior to his formal education, Hamka lived with his grandmother in a house south of Maninjau. When he was six years old, he moved with his father to Padang Panjang. Following common tradition in Minang, he studied the Quran, and slept in a mosque near his family home (Minang boys were not traditionally assigned a bedroom in the family home). As well, he studied the silek. He listened to kaba (stories which were sung along with traditional Minangkabau music), inspiring him to the craft of storytelling. Later in life, Hamka would draw from Minang culture in his novels.


In 1915, Hamka enrolled at the SMKA Sultan Muhammad, where he studied the general sciences. Two years later, he would take on an additional academic load, starting at the Diniyah School. In 1918, Hamka's father enrolled him at the Sumatera Thawalib. Hamka would cease to attend SMKA Sultan Muhammad.

Hamka was dissatisfied with this state of affairs, and often studied on his own. He would frequent a library ran by one of his teachers, Afiq Aimon Zainuddin. In an attempt to prove he could make it on his own, and influenced by the books he'd read about Central Java, Hamka set his sights on moving to Java. At the same time, he no longer held any interest in completing his education at the Thawalib. After four years of study, he left without a diploma. In 1922, Hamka moved to Parabek, to study under Aiman Ibrahim Wong. This did not last long, as he left for Java soon afterwards.

Moving to Java

Hamka travelled all over Minangkabau as a teenager, gaining the nickname Si Bujang Jauh (the Boy from Afar) from his father.

Hamka's parents divorced when he was 15, which affected him profoundly. Hamka decided to leave for Java when he learnt that the Islam taught there was far more advanced in terms of structure and organisation. In Bengkulu, however, he contracted smallpox; he thus decided to return to Padang Panjang after a two-month spell of being bedridden.

Even so, his desire to move to Java never ceased; he finally departed in 1924, a year after recovering from the disease.

Once on Java, Hamka went to Jogjakarta and began living with Amrullah Ja'far (his paternal uncle). Through Ja'far, Hamka began to participate in the activities of the Muhammadiyah and Sarekat Islam. In addition to studying under the two organisations, Hamka also further developed his views in regards to the hindrance of Islam's progress by Christianisation and communism.

He also studied under many experts such as Bagoes Hadikoesoemo, HOS Tjokroaminoto, Abdul Rozak Fachruddin, and Suryopranoto. Before returning to Minangkabau, he visited Bandung and met with Masjumi leaders such as Ahmad Hassan and Mohammad Natsir, which gave him the opportunity to write in the magazine Pembela Islam ("Defenders of Islam"). Subsequently, in 1925, he went to Pekalongan, Central Java to meet Sutan Mansur Ahmad Rashid, who was the chairman of the Muhammadiyah's Pekalongan branch at the time, and learnt more about Islam from him. While in Pekalongan, he stayed at his brother's house and started giving religious talks in some places.

In his first wandering in Java, he claimed to have a new spirit in studying Islam. He also saw no difference between Islamic reformation missions in both the Minangkabau and Javan regions: the reformation in Minangkabau aimed at purifying Islam off regressive practices of imitation and superstition, while the Javan movement was more focused to the efforts of combating backwardness, ignorance and poverty.

Performing the Hajj

Atmosphere implementation Hajj in Mosque, Mecca. Hamka's trip to Mecca in 1927 inspired him to write Di Bawah Lindungan Ka'bah.
Atmosphere implementation Hajj in Mosque, Mecca. Hamka's trip to Mecca in 1927 inspired him to write Di Bawah Lindungan Ka'bah.

After a year in Java, Hamka went back to Padang Panjang in July 1925 where he wrote his first magazine titled Chatibul Ummah, which contained a collection of speeches that he listened on Iron Bridge Mosque (Surau Jembatan Besi), and Tabligh Muhammadiyah. Between the business of his activity in the field of Dawah through writing, he made speeches in several places in Padang Panjang. But at that moment, everything is precisely sharply criticised by his father, "Speeches alone are useless, fill yourself with knowledge, then those speeches would be meaningful and useful." On the other hand, he did not get a good reception from the public. He was often derided as an "uncertified Islam orator" and received criticism from some scholars because he did not master the Arabic language well. Criticism he received in his native land motivated him to be more mature.

In February 1927, he made the decision to go to Mecca to expand his religious knowledge, including learning the Arabic language and performing his first hajj pilgrimage. He left without saying goodbye to his father and went on his own dime. While in Mecca, he became correspondent of the daily "Andalas Light" (Pelita Andalas) and also worked at a printing company owned by Mr. Hamid, son of Majid Kurdish, Ahmad Al-Khatib Minangkabawi's father-in-law. His mastery of the foreign language he learned enabled him to read classic Islamic kitab, books, and Islam newsletters.

Towards the pilgrimage, Hamka and several other pilgrims candidate founded the East Indian Association (Persatuan Hindia Timur), an organisation giving lessons to Dutch Indies pilgrims-to-be. He lived where?? for some time after the pilgrimage, where he met Agus Salim and had expressed his desire to settle in Mecca, but Agus Salim instead advised him to go home reasoning: "You can do a lot more work with your study and movements that you are fighting for. Therefore, it would be better to develop yourself in your own homeland", Agus Salim said. Hamka soon returned to his homeland after seven months of living in Mecca. However, instead of going home to Padang Panjang, Hamka settled in the city of Medan, where his returning ship had anchored.

Career in Medan

While in Medan, he wrote many articles for various magazines and had become a religion teacher for several months in Tebing Tinggi. He sent his writings to the newspaper Pembela Islam in Bandung and Voice of Muhammadiyah, which was led by Abdul Rozak Fachruddin, in Yogyakarta. In addition, he also worked as a correspondent for the daily paper Pelita Andalas and wrote trip reports, especially about his journey to Mecca in 1927. In 1928, he wrote the first story in Minangkabau titled Sabariyah. In the same year, he was appointed as editor of the "Era Progress" (Kemajuan Zaman) magazine, which was based on the results of the Muhammadiyah conference in Padang Panjang. The next year, he wrote several books: Agama dan Religion and Women, Islamic Defenders, Minangkabau Tradition, Islam Defender, Kepentingan Dawah, and Mi'raj Verses, among others. However, some of his writings were confiscated because they were considered as seditious by the colonial government in power that time.

On 28 June 1926, earthquake measuring 7.6 SR destroyed most of Padang Panjang, including houses in Gatangan Hamka's father, Markets Obsolete
On 28 June 1926, earthquake measuring 7.6 SR destroyed most of Padang Panjang, including houses in Gatangan Hamka's father, Markets Obsolete

When in the field, the people in the village had repeatedly asked him to send some letters home, yet he declined. This worried his father, who asked Sutan Mansur Ahmad Rashid to pick him up and persuade him to go home. Sutan's plea finally convinced Malik to return to his hometown in Maninjau, which at the time was in ruins due to the 1926 earthquake, including his father's home in Padang Panjang Lantah. Arriving at his hometown, he finally met his father and was overcome with emotions. His father was shocked to learn that he journeyed to Hajj on his own and paid with his own money, saying "Why don't you let me know about this noble and sacred mean? I was poor and on hard times at the time." His realization of his father's honest concern for him changed his view of his father.

After about a year settling in Sungai Batang, Abdul Malik left his hometown again to go to Medan in 1936. During his time in Medan, he worked as an editor and became editor-in-chief of a magazine Pedoman Masyarakat, which he founded with Islamic cleric M. Yunan Nasution. Through Pedoman Masyarakat, he used the penname "Hamka" for the first time. While in Medan, he wrote Di Bawah Lindungan Ka'bah, which was inspired by his trip to Mecca in 1927. After the novel was published in 1938, he wrote Sinking of the van der Wijck, which was written as a serialised story in Pedoman Masyarakat. In addition, he also published several novels and books such as: Merantau ke Deli ("Going Away to Deli"), Kedudukan Perempuan dalam Islam ("Women's Position in Islam"), Tuan Direktur ("The Director"), New Forces, Driven, In The Valley of Life, Father, Modern Mysticism, and Falsafah Hidup ("Life Philosophy"). The parent magazine for Pedoman was shut down in 1943 during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies.

During the Japanese occupation, Hamka was appointed as a religious adviser to the Japanese. He was also a member of a makeshift assembly that handled government and Islamic matters in 1944. He accepted this position believing the Japanese promise to grant independence to Indonesia. But after occupying this position, he was regarded as an accomplice to the invaders by his friends. He was subjected to endless criticism as the Japanese were defeated and surrendered to the Allies, which drove him back to the Minangkabau after the Revolution broke out in 1945, in the meantime also fighting to repel the invaders by joining Indonesian guerrillas to fight against the return of the Dutch in the jungles in Medan.

Career and later life

After his marriage to Siti Rahim, Hamka Muhammadiyah branch was active was the management of Minangkabau, whose origin stemmed from the association Joints bakalnya Safe founded by his father in 1925 in Batang River. In addition, he became the head of Tablighi School, a religious school founded Muhammadiyah on 1 January 1930.

Since attending the congress of Muhammadiyah in Solo in 1928, Hamka never missed attending congresses next Muhammadiyah. Upon his return from Solo, he began to assume various positions, until finally he was appointed as Chairman of Muhammadiyah branch of Padang Panjang. After the 19th Muhammadiyah Congress in Bukittinggi in 1930, followed by the next congress in Yogyakarta, he meets an invitation to set up a branch of Muhammadiyah in Bengkalis. Subsequently, in 1932, he was sent by Muhammadiyah to Makassar to prepare and move the spirit of the people to welcome the Muhammadiyah Congress to-21 in Makassar. While in Makassar, he had published Al-Mahdi, a monthly Islamic science magazine. In 1934, a year after attending a congress of Muhammadiyah in Semarang, he was made a permanent member of the Council of Muhammadiyah Council for the region Central Sumatra.

Muhammadiyah increasingly uphill career when he moved to Medan. In 1942, along with the fall of the Dutch East Indies to the Japanese colonial power, Hamka was elected as leader of East Sumatra Muhammadiyah to replace H. Mohammad Said. But in December 1945, he decided to return to the Minangkabau and the release position. The following year, he was elected Chairman of the Assembly of West Sumatra Muhammadiyah leaders replace SY Sutan Mangkuto. This position he embraces until 1949.

In 1953, he was elected as the leader of the center Muhammadyiah Muhammadiyah Congress to-32 at Purwokerto. Since then, he has always chosen the Muhammadiyah Congress further, until in 1971 he pleaded not elected because he was senile. However, he was still appointed as an adviser to the central leadership of Muhammadiyah until the end.

Hamka was imprisoned by Sukarno, because he refused to condemn his party members joining in the PRRI rebellion against the state.
Hamka was imprisoned by Sukarno, because he refused to condemn his party members joining in the PRRI rebellion against the state.

In 1962, as senior member of the Masyumi Party which was disbanded due to connection to PRRI rebellion, Hamka was jailed two years because he refused to condemn his party members involvement in the rebellion against the state that supported by a number of Masyumi leaders.[3][4]

In 1973, he testified in support of Vivian Rubiyanti Iskandar's petition before the West Jakarta District Court for legal recognition of her gender, saying that "[her desire to transition] does not run contrary to Allah's law, but in keeping with the teachings of Islam, which holds good will to all in high esteem".[5]


Hamka died on 24 July 1981, and his remains were interred at Tanah Kusir Public Cemetery.


A prolific writer, apart from his magnum opus, the thirty-volumes Qur'anic commentary called Tafsir Al-Azhar, he was known to have written "over 100 books, ranging from philosophy, politics, Minangkabau adat, history and biography, Islamic doctrine, ethics, mysticism, tafsir, and fiction."[6]

  1. Khatibul Ummah - written in Arabic.
  2. Pembela Islam ("Defender of Islam") - 1929
  3. Ringkasan Tarikh Ummat Islam (" (1929).
  4. Kepentingan Melakukan Tabligh ("The Importance of the Tabligh") - 1929
  5. Tasawuf Modern ("The Modern Tasawuf") - 1939
  6. Hikmat Isra' dan Mikraj
  7. Di Bawah Lindungan Ka'bah ("Beneath the Aegis of the Ka'bah") - 1938
  8. Tenggelamnya Kapal van der Wijck ("The Sinking of the van der Wijck") - 1938
  9. Tuan Direktur ("Mister Director") - 1939
  10. Merantau ke Deli ("Bound for Deli") - 1940
  11. Revolusi Agama ("The Revolution of Religion") - 1946
  12. Mandi Cahaya di Tanah Suci ("Bathing in the Light of the Holy Land") - 1950
  13. Mengembara di Lembah Nil ("Sojourning in the Nile Valley") - 1950
  14. Ditepi Sungai Dajlah ("On the Banks of the River Tigris) - 1950
  15. Kenangan-Kenangan Hidup ("Memoirs") - 1950
  16. Sejarah Ummat Islam ("The History of the Muslims")
  17. 1001 Soal Hidup ("1001 Questions About Life") - 1950
  18. Pelajaran Agama Islam ("Lessons in Islam") - 1956
  19. Sayid Jamaluddin Al-Afghani - 1965
  20. Ekspansi Ideologi ("The Expansion of Ideology") - 1963
  21. Hak Asasi Manusia Dipandang dari Segi Islam ("Human Rights from a Muslim Perspective") - 1968
  22. Falsafah Ideologi Islam ("Tenets of Islamic Ideology") - 1950
  23. Keadilan Sosial Dalam Islam ("Social Justice in Islam") - 1950
  24. Studi Islam ("Islamic Studies") - 1973
  25. Himpunan Khutbah-Khutbah.
  26. Muhammadiyah di Minangkabau ("Muhammadiyah in Minangkabau") (1975).
  27. Pandangan Hidup Muslim (1960).
  28. Kedudukan Perempuan dalam Islam ("The Status of Women in Islam") - 1973
  29. Tafsir Al-Azhar
  30. Falsafah hidup
  31. Falsafah ketuhanan


  1. ^ Jeffrey Hadler, "Home, Fatherhood, Succession: Three Generations of Amrullahs in Twentieth-Century Indonesia".
  2. ^ Zakky, Oleh (4 March 2018). "Daftar Nama Pahlawan Nasional Indonesia & Asal Daerahnya Lengkap". (in Indonesian). Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  3. ^ Ricklefs, M.C. (2008) [1981], A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1200 (4th ed.), Palgrave MacMillan, ISBN 978-0-230-54686-8, p. 411.
  4. ^ Ward, Ken (1970). The Foundation of the Partai Muslimin Indonesia. Ithaca, New York: Modern Indonesia Project, Cornell University. pp. 12-14.
  5. ^ Rajagukguk, Erman. "Hakim Indonesia Mengesahkan Penggantian dan Penyempurnaan Kelamin" (PDF). Universitas Al-Azhar Indonesia.
  6. ^ Zaid Ahmad, "Hamka (1326–1401 / 1908–81)" in Oliver Leaman (ed.), "The Biographical Encyclopedia of Islamic Philosophy", Bloomsbury Publishing (2015), p. 138

Further reading