Tuan Tulis - The Untold Story Of The Saint

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November 3rd 2013
Published: November 3rd 2013
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(Mousoleum of Tuan Tulis)“He wrote the path to righteousness”“He was never an Imam…but the Saint of Allah”

On my way to Gemas from KL, I was a bit worried that I will lose my way there. My brother Cikgu Rafdi, kept calling me “Kau kat mana sekarang?”every half hour. Taking a slow drive, passing thru few villages and I came across a small town called Tanjung Ipoh…I laughed to myself… “Sini pun ada Ipoh meh?” and to my attentive eyes on the road, I saw a signage “Makan Tuan Tulis”. “Now who can that be?” Must be someone special, with historical background, I believe. The Malay community here should know about him. But then, I just put the idea aside, as I kept driving, asking myself, how much distance more to reach Gemas, was on my mind, really. I finally reached Gemas, stayed over for two nights. There was a small Homestay programme on the 2nd day. I met the group of 11 Europeans, The Vegans, very friendly people and we just engaged ourselves with the programme arranged by the Gemas Homestay Committee. Isn’t it strange, the 2nd night, while the Vegans enjoying the dinner and the cultural show, I went to seek En. Bahrain, a ketua kampong for Ulu Ladang in Gemas. He was alone sitting enjoying the programme like all of us. We chat for awhile, and the chat kept on going, when he mentioned about Makam Tuan Tulis. I was so attentive to him, despite his low voice, with the musicians playing their music so loud, I could only grasp a few pointers about Tuan Tulis. ….and so I went the very next day to seek out the infamous Tuan Tulis. Unfortunate, the mosque was amazingly quiet and I felt disappointed. It was closed. I went back about ten days later. On my way into the Kg. Kuala Talang, I called out to Tuan Tulis, “Please, Please Tuan Tulis, let me take pictures of your sacred mausoleum and write a story about you. I have no ill intention but to write a blog about you in English, as there were none in English in the website, nor Malaysian Archives or in the Negeri Sembilan National History”. My call was answered that day. I met a group of Tabliks from Kelantan state (a religious group that goes from mosque to mosque, to preach, to learn from each other, to fellowship locally or in overseas). The leader, En. Nik, opened the door for me and we entered together with his friend. He said, this is also his first time inside the mausoleum and also the first time of hearing about a great man, Tuan Tulis. A week later, I went there again, because I was not satisfied on the articles written in the websites. There were so many different stories, but which is the actual story?Only the people in Kg. Kuala Talang knows a little bit more, maybe more accurate than visitors. So I made the call first before I made my trip. I would like to thank four persons from Kg. Talang for the help in this article. The late En. Abdul Aziz for his handphone number written on the door of Makam Tuan Tulis, that led me to En. Affendi (En. Abdul Aziz’s son), he told me to contact Puan Induk Seri and finally I met En. Abdul Khalid, who gave me the booklet regards to Tuan Tulis. He approved my blog on Tuan Tulis. Tuan Tulis Ismail, born in 1840, in Kampong Kuala Talang in Tanjung Ipoh near Kuala Pilah. According to En. Abdul Khalid, there was a confusion of names and of two separate identity. Tuan Tulis name was actually Ismail Jaaman. There was an Imam by the name of Ismail Hussein who runs the same mosque built by Tuan Tulis. He built the mosque in Kampong Kuala Talang in 1920. The mosque is about 1km from the main road. He was a religious teacher in a study hut in Kampung Lubuk Kawah, Temerloh, Pahang. His mother is Puan Siram from the Mungkal ethnic. His mother’s grave is at Masjid Sri Mungkal at the junction of Sri Menanti. His father is En. Jaaman from the Acheh Ethnic. Record shows, he once owns a piece of rubber estate with the title grant and was sold to Lebai Ujang bin Ibrahim. When Ismail Jaaman was young, he had wanted to marry a girl of his choice, his parents objected the girl, and instead he left the village with no knowledge where he was heading to. It was then 1870. He was 15 years old. He left for thirty three years. He came back at the age of 48. In 1895, Dato’ Bahaman, Rich People of Semantan (Orang Kaya Semantan) handed a book of scripture named Bahratul Mardiah, composition of Sheikh Daud Patani to Tuan Tulis. This book was then handed to Lebai Ujang (Datuk Penulis) in Kg. Kuala Talang. This book were not found and no records of who owns the book today. In 1903, there was a Chinese Muslim from Kg Kuala Talang, came to know there was an Ismail who studied religious study in Kg Ulu Semantan, Pahang. He went back and told the Kg. Kuala Talang villagers. His family went to seek him and brought him back They went through Kg Langkap, straight to Jelebu and then reach Kg Ulu Semantan, Raub, Pahang. In those days they walked the distance through the forest. Transportation were not available at that time. Tuan Tulis eventually followed his family back to Kg. Kuala Talang together with his teachings from the scriptures of Forokmasail, composition of the renowned Sheik Daud Patani. Tuan Tulis was his student. He could not afford books, so he wrote religious book for himself. He wrote the Holy Quran with his hand writing. Because of his diligence, honesty and sincerity, he was the writer for his teacher. That was why he was named Tuan Tulis. He wrote continuously from dawn to dusk, hardly left the table. Story told, for almost three years of pursuing his religious studies, he and the villagers hardly had proper meals, like rice, they only had sweet potato sprouts (pucuk keledek) and water spinach (kangkong). The ink is made from Keduduk (senduduk) - melastoma malabathricum, they boiled it and mixed with lime juice. The pen is made from branches of anau palm tree (sega anau). Tuan Tulis is slim and short, lights to wear black bamboo pants (bambu kain hitam) and a head gear or cap (kopiah-berketayap) with black head/shoulder scarf (selendang kain hitam). Tuan Tulis was once married Sinam, Dusin Family, Dusin sister. He fulfilled his parent’s wishes and he never went back to his wife’s residence at all. The marriage lasted 3 days. He was all towards religious practice and helping people through teachings of Al-Quran , the path to righteousness. He left his family for Mecca to seek knowledge. He left by ship, but he had no money with him. Fortunately a sea man (captain) knew about his plight, gave him a free ride in return to work on the ship. All the years in Mecca, he was a renowned teacher. His path to righteousness was immense and recognized. Miracles and Humility. 1st story, on one occasion, a lady came to his house asking for medicine and she brought him some steamed banana cake (lepat pisang). It was wrapped with banana leaves and kept it on the tray (boko). When Tuan Tulis opened the banana leaf , he saw a leech(pacat). The lady forbade him to eat, but he carried on eating. He said it was his good fortune (rezeki). (From a kind heart, food is not to be wasted). 2nd story, he mumbled “Allah, Mekah Terbakar” (Allah, Mecca on Fire”), when he was half shaving. This happened when his barber Lebai Nonai went in to back of the shop sharpening the blade. He came out and asked Tuan Tulis, “Where were you just now?” Tuan Tulis replied: “I went to Mecca (Mekah) to put off the fire”. (Calm our minds). 3rd Story, he saw some ants could not cross the puddle of water; he made a bridge for the ants to cross over to the other side. (We should pave the way for others). 4th story, he told his buffaloes not to eat the paddies of farmers, but to eat grass from this side of the fence. And they listened. (Be contented what we have). 5th story, he set free all birds from the cages. He fed the pigeons, made pigeon holes and let them lay eggs and breed new hatches. (One should set free our heavy hearts and sins). 6th story, in 1933, The Yang DiPertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan (The 7th) DYMM Tuanku Muhamad Shah Ibni Tuanku Antah was very sick and had his treatment in London. He said he met Tuan Tulis in London. Both of them knew each other when they were at home (Negeri Sembilan). Tuan Tulis will washed Tuanku’s body with water, where areas of his body was in pain. He even drank the water Tuan Tulis offered. He felt recovered and excused himself to go to his room to get something, maybe a gift. When Tuanku came out, mysteriously Tuan Tulis disappeared from his view. Only then did he realized, Tuan Tulis actually demised 10 years ago. 7th story, in 1936, Private Maulud bin Samad from Port Dickson camp, went home on his motorbike, to Kg. Kayu Ara, Ampang Tinggi around 5.00pm. At the bend road of Bukit Putus, he saw an elderly man walking, dressed in black bamboo pants, kopiah and a black shoulder scarf. He stopped and asked this elderly, “Where are you heading?” . The elderly man replied: “I am heading to Tanjong”? (Tanjong Ipoh). On the motorbike ride, they chat casually, then the elderly man advised the young private, to work diligently, proper and never be proud to others when you reach the height of your promotion. He then also asked the private for some money, the young man gave it to him. As soon as he felt the cold silence, he turned his head to check on the elderly man, he was no where found on the motorbike. In later, years, the young private became Major Maulub bin Samad. He remembered clearly what Tuan Tulis advised him, he went to the Makam to pay respect eventually. 8th story, two religious man came to visit Kg. Kuala Talang to seek Tuan Tulis. One came from Kelantan and the other from Kedah. They went to the Kg. Kuala Talang Mosque and asked the Imam, hoping to see Tuan Tulis. The Imam said, he left the world long time ago. To their surprised, they said they met Tuan Tulis in Mecca (Mekah) not long ago. These are the few stories told to me by En. Abdul Khalid, En. Bahrain and also excerpts from the booklet written by Haji Idris Bin Haji Jamin In the Mosque you can find news clippings of his story. He was awarded Quran Plaque by Tuanku Muhamad Yang lDi Pertuan of Sembilan. In the Mosque you can find news clippings of his story. He was awarded Quran Plaque by Tuanku Muhamad Yang Di Pertuan of Negri Sembilan. Tuan Tulis died at the age of eight three in the dawn (subuh)of the 10th day of Ramadhan. That was on the Monday 20 April 1923. The Yang Di Pertuan built the tomb in the compound of the Kampong Kuala Talang Mosque. Miraculously, the tomb today is mounted with hornet’s mount. I believe this is a good omen, for someone noble and pious. A humble Saint of Allah, who never once became an Imam until the day he demised. But a respected man before my eyes.

On the 2nd week of Hari Raya, I was told by En. Abdul Khalid's sister-in-law that the mount on the cemetery of Tuan Tulis was actually water well up from his cemetery. As years goes by, it became crystallized and turned out to be a huge crystal mount. She told me the crystallize grains cannot be found in Malaysia but of Mecca. A phenomenon we cannot explain. Hornets seem busy going in and out of the holes of the sacred mount. What is so special of the mount that only attracts the hornets? Why there are no other insects came to this Mausoleum? Why only on the Mount and not in the area around the mount? This baffles me.

Please be advise, all dates related to this blog of Tuan Tulis, are a bit confusing. I just followed the Malay

version provided by En. Khalid, the mosque caretaker.


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