The Unsung Saint

Masjid Nurul Abrar, which hosts the saintly tomb

Who would have thought that within modern establishments – skycrappers, malls, and office buildings, this little mosque hosts the sanctuary of a saint? Who would have known that in the midst of day-to-day busy, city life – employees heading to or returning from work, street peddlars showcasing their goods, and some lining pools of cabs and motorcycles – there lays a presence of a man of God?

The tomb of Sayyid Abu Bakar bin Sayyid Aluwi Bahsan Jamalulail

The tomb, or maqaam, of Sayyid Abu Bakar bin Sayyid Aluwi Bahsan Jamalulail, situated within the compound of Masjid Nurul Abrar, was never mentioned in any circulating traditions or stories. Well, at least, I’ve never heard of any. Unlike, other tombs of saints, which often become ‘almost famous’ – having numerous people relating their history, or even having it written in books or manuscripts, the tale of this saint has seemed to gradually vanish through time. Or, perhaps… I just haven’t found the right person to share it.

In the year 1997, the first time a renown Islamic scholar and Sufi shaykh from the West, Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, came to visit Indonesia, he was brought to this saintly location along with a few others saints’ tombs nearby.

According to several accounts from locals and mosque-keepers, the earliest President of the Republic Indonesia, Bung Karno, had frequented the site many times during his life.

“Who is this Sayyid?” I wonder.

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