A Critical Summary: One Hundred Years of Buya Hamka (1908-2008)
Padang, February 16, 2008
The philosophy of life declared by Buya Hamka is known as an extraordinary philosophical thought that it has been widely recognized by all Indonesian people, even by Singaporean and Malaysian. The other name for Buya Hamka is Datuak Indomo. The unique characteristic of Buya Hamka’s way of thinking is that he really much concerns on the specific way that is usable in this modern education system. Besides, Buya Hamka also concerns on the humanistic and social aspect that include theology, tafsir Al Qur’an, literature, fiqh, Islam history, and education. One of his famous and great books is Tafsir Al-Azhar.
Talking about Buya Hamka’s educational background, it is clear that he has entered the Islāmic school in Padang Panjang and in Parabak, that is Sumatra Thawalib. His teachers are Syekh Ibrahim Musa Parabek, Engku Mudo Abdul amid Hakim, and Syekh Zainuddin Labay el-Yunusiy. The last mentioned teacher is the one that Buya Hamka really likes. The approached used by Engku Zainuddin in teaching is not on the form of transferring of knowledge but also transferring of value. Surprisingly, Buya Hamka also learns about philosophical thought by Aristoteles, Plato, Phytagoras, Plotinus, Ptolemeous, and others. When Buya Hamka was in Yogyakarta, he read many great classic books, such as books written by Ki Bagus Hadikusumo, R. M. Soeryapranoto, Kyai Haji Mas Mansur, H. Fachrussin, and A. R. Sutan Mansur.
There are four stages of Buya Hamka’s intellectuality. They are at first, the existence of intellectual conversion. In this stage, Buya Hamka has faced the dualistic way of thinking. He saw the Arab oriented way of life in Indonesia. However, through the Zinaro library, in which he reads many other philosophical thoughts, has influences the enhancement of his way of thinking. Secondly, the searching for intellectual identity. It is the time when he accumulated the modernist Islam in his mind. Thirdly, the pre-intellectual development stage. It is the time when he has done great efforts through Muhammadiyah either in Minangkabau or in Medan. Fourthly, the second intellectual development stage. It is the time when Buya Hamka expand his developed mind.
According to Hamka, human is the God’s creäture that has many potentials. It is only to those who develop their potentials all the time will get the magnificent meaning of life. Even in the greatest thing, Buya Hamka also explains that the mind should be guided by good education because it is the medium in analyzing all phenomenon existing in nature. Al-Qur’an has always taught this side since it was written by Zaid bin-Tsabit. Therefore, Buya Hamka declares that becoming a highly valued and good person in this earth cannot only exist by learning all classic books but it is fully on the way someone produces technologies that enable other human being to magnify their life atmosphere with no burdens in the environment. In addition, great human are those who always criticize themselves rather that criticizes other people.
Three works which are well-known as Buya Hamka’s masterpieces are Lembaga Budi (1939), – Moral Institution, Falsafah Hidup (1940) – Life Philosophy, and Lembaga Hidup (1941) – Life Institution. Dealing with his intellectual development, as stated by G. F. Pijper, Buya Hamka is categorized into the third typology, that is standing strongly to the basic of Islam religion, without ignoring contemporary thought, as long as it is in the same corridor with Islāmic values.
In conclusion, the philosophical thought, that Buya Hamka has, has developed the way he views Islam. As a child who was grown up in Islāmic circle, he becomes a philosophical thinker but remains in control. His intellectuality has sharpen the way he gives his opinion about family, politic and especially Islāmic literature, as seen through his three masterpieces.
This writing is a critical summary of a seminar that is done in order to commemorate one hundred years of Buya Hamka. The ideas of this writing is partly inspired from a paper written by Prof. Dr. H. Samsul Nizar, MA. He is a professor of Tarbiyah faculty in Indonesian Islāmic Religion Institute of Imam Bonjol, Padang. The title of the paper is “Renungan Pemikiran dan Falsafah Hidup Hamka” (The Deepest Thought of Life Philosophy by Hamka).