Part II: Masjid Angke al-Anwar and its connections to the Pontianak Sultanate and Raden Saleh

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The grave of Prince Sjarief Hamid bin Sultan Sjarief Abdurrahman al-Kadrie, is located across a small alley in front of the mosque. Photo credit: Tamalia Alisjahbana (private collection)

IO – The late Mohamad Habib was a guardian of Masjid Angke and he traced back his family’s role as guardians of the mosque for 11 generations. He divided the graves in the Masjid Angke cemetery into three categories namely, the graves of the pioneer generation who opened the Bantanese settlement where the mosque was built, which had connections to the Sultanates of Banten, Cirebon and Demak. Then there is second category of graves which are the graves of Prince Tubagus Angke and his family and descendants. Finally, the third category which is the graves of the habibs. In Indonesia ‘Habib’ can be a last name but it is also a title used for a Muslim scholar from a family descended from the Prophet Muhammad. The graves of habibs are the graves of people who are of Arab descent.

Mohamad Habib one of the late guardians of Masjid Angke. Photo credit: copyright with Tamalia Alisjahbana

We therefore, come to the fifth ethnic group associated with Masjid Angke namely, the Arabs. Their graves are not earlier than from the 19th century because it was only in the 19th century that the Dutch colonial government allowed Arabs to settle in Batavia and its environs. The oldest and most important Arab grave is that of a prince from West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. His name was Prince Sjarif Hamid bin Sultan Sjarif Abdurrahman al-Kadrie from Pontianak.

The Prince’s grave is located across a tiny alley from the mosque. In the 19th century Prince Sjarif Hamid al-Kadrie settled in Batavia and formed a close connection to the mosque and its guardians and was later buried there in 1858. He was a son of the founder of the Sultanate of Pontiank, Sultan Sjarief Abdurrahman al-Kadrie, a wealthy Arab merchant who owned a number of sailing ships that traded in the Sawu Sea mainly with the islands of Flores, Sumba, Timor, Lombok and Bali. Many members of the al-Kadrie clan later settled in those islands.

In the 18th century the parents of Sultan Sjarief Abdurrahman first settled in Mempawah in West Kalimantan. His father was Sjarief Husein al-Kadrie who became the mufti in Mempawah at the time. A mufti is an Islamic scholar who gives legal opinions on Islamic law. Sultan Sjarief Abdurrahman married Princess Utin Candramidi who was the daughter of the Buginese Raja of Mempawah, Daeng Manamban. At the time Sultan Sjarief Abdurrahman was not yet a sultan and was given the title Prince Noer Alam by the Raja of Mempawah.

Later Sultan Sjarief Abdurrahman al-Kadrie took another wife, the daughter of the Sultan of Banjarmasin, Princess Sri Banun. In Kalimantan there were in the past a number of small Arab sultanates along the coasts and mouths of rivers, whereas the local Dayak people tended to have their kingdoms further in the interior or in South Kalimantan. Much as the British merchant James Brooke created a kingdom for himself in Sarawak, several wealthy Arab merchants were doing the same in parts of Kalimantan. In fact, Pontianak was the last kingdom or sultanate established by Arabs in Kalimantan namely, in 1771. Princess Sri Banun moved with Sultan Sjarief Abdurrahman to Pontianak when he established the Pontianak Sultanate there, and received the title Ratu Sepuh.

The flag of the Pontianak Sultanate Photo credit: Dre.comandante, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Sultan Syarief Abdurrahman died in 1808 and was replaced by his son, Sultan Sjarief Kasim bin Sultan Syarif Abdurrahman al-Kadrie who was an older brother of Prince Sjarief Hamid al-Kadrie, the prince buried at the Masjid Angke. As the Prince’s mother was not of the nobility he was not in line to inherit the throne of Pontianak. Consequently, Prince Sjarief Hamid busied himself with matters of trade and managed to accumulate quite a lot of wealth through his trading activities. He was apparently, a well-beloved figure in Pontianak due to his honesty and sense of justice.

After Sultan Sjarief Kasim died he was replaced by his brother, Sultan Sjarief Usman bin Sultan Sjarief Abdurrahman al-Kadri. Meanwhile, the Dutch took over the court system in Pontianak in 1823 and Prince Sjarief Hamid was appointed public prosecutor. Unfortunately, a conflict soon arose between the Sultan and the Prince and due to a formal complaint made by Sultan Sjarief Usman, the Dutch sent Prince Sjarief Hamid to Batavia where he had to face several charges against him. He left Pontianak with his brother, a widowed sister and 180 of his followers. A report in the newspaper Java Bode stated that the people in Pontianak were so saddened by the departure of the popular Prince that enormous numbers of people came to send him off as he prepared to leave. On his way to the ship that was to take him to Batavia people clutching his legs, had to be physically removed so that he could make his way on board the ship.

In Batavia the Netherlands Indies government made careful investigation of all the charges brought against the Prince and finally, came to the conclusion that they were unfounded. Nevertheless, the Prince decided to remain in Batavia rather than return to Pontianak. For the Prince’s services in helping to settle several disputes the Netherlands Indies government acknowledged his princely title and provided him with a monthly stipend of 1300 gulden per month. After his services in Bali and Lombok, the government further awarded him with a gold chain and pendent on which were inscribed the words, “for Prince Sjarief Hamid al-Kadrie in recognition of his services in Bali”.

As Masjid Angke was once called Masjid Bali and was originally built for the descendants of Kapitan I Gusti Ketut Badudu’s troops who had converted to Islam, it is interesting to note the strong and long standing connection between the Sultanate of Pontianak and Bali. As we shall see, there may in fact even have been an earlier connection between the Balinese of Angke and the al-Kadries of Pontianak.

Coat of Arms of the Sultanate of Pontianak, adapted by Sultan Hamid Alkadrie II of Pontianak in 1945. Photo credit: Aldontknow This W3C-unspecified vector image was created with Inkscape ., CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Since its establishment by Sultan Syarif Abdurrahman al-Kadrie, the Pontianak Sultanate has had a robust trade connection with Bali. The late Sjarief H.M. Max Jusuf al-Kadrie was a descendant of both Sultan Sjarief Kasim al-Kadrie and Sultan Sjarief Usman al-Kadrie of Pontianak and was regarded as the historian of the al-Kadrie clan in Jakarta. Before his death, he explained that a son of Sultan Syarif Abdurrahman al-Kadrie namely, Prince Abu Bakar bin Sultan Sjarif Abdurrahman al-Kadrie once lived in Bali and created many ties between the Balinese and the al-Kadries. He was known as the Admiral Prince of the al-Kadrie clan because of his many travels and he was finally buried in the village of Air Mata in Kupang, West Timor. Many al-Kadries had settled in Bali mainly in the area of Negare, at the villages of Loloan Barat and Loloan Timur, already as far back as the period of the VOC (Vereinigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) or United Dutch East India Company.

Prince Sjarief Hamid already had close ties with Bali before settling in Batavia. It is not surprising therefore, that he cultivated close connections with the guardians of Masjid Angke, as at that time there still existed a Balinese Muslim community related to the mosque. Consequently, when he died, he was finally buried in the grounds of Masjid Angke. Max Jusuf al-Kadri was of the opinion that the descendants of I Gusti Ketut Badudu converted to Islam most likely because of the influence of the al-Kadrie family who had settled in Kampung Gusti. He believes that there were probably already al-Kadries living there long before the arrival of Prince Sjarief Hamid in Batavia, and that it was probably through them that the Prince first came into contact with the guardians of the Mosque. In fact, he was of the opinion that the conversion of the Balinese of Kampung Gusti to Islam was probably aided and encouraged by the al-Kadries.

Kadriyah Place in Pontianak
Photo credit: Photo credit: Meidana, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Max Jusuf al-Kadrie explained how deep the connections between the al-Kadries and Bali are by pointing out the influence of Balinese traditions on the al-Kadries in the Pontianak Sultanate which may be seen in such things as the lid fashioned to close the container of flower water in which to bath the bride and groom, which is as in the Balinese tradition made from woven palm fronds decorated with birds and flowers. Like the Balisnese, the al-Kadries in Pontianak prepare a dish similar to the Balinese lawar, sans the pork, of course. Lawar is a dish made of grated coconut, mixed vegetables and minced meat, rich in spices and herbs. Many Pontianak al-Kadries when speaking will pronounce their words with an ‘e’ sound, as do the Balinese. At the entrance to the Kadriah Palace in Pontianak as well as at Sultan Syarif Abdurrahman al-Kadri’s tomb in Batu Layang (six kilometres from Pontianak), stand Balinese candi bentur gates.

In the early half of the 19th century not that many Arabs lived in Batavia, especially ones descended from the Prophet Muhammad. Consequently, they tended to know one another. One of the foremost Arabs in Batavia at the time of Prince Sjarief Hamid al-Kadrie lived there, was the famous 19th century artist Raden Saleh bin Sjarief Boestaman bin Yahya.

Raden Saleh Sjarif Boestaman (1811-1880) Photo credit: Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Raden Saleh was the most celebrated Indonesian artist of the 19th century. As a highly skilled painter he was sent in his youth to study art in the Netherlands. From there he continued studying art in Dresden, Germany. In his art classes he met a German nobleman who later became Duke Ernst of Saxe Coburg Gotha, the brother of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert. They became friends and Raden Saleh lived in Saxe Coburg Gotha for several years. It was probably the happiest period of his life. Raden Saleh is recognized in German art history as the pioneer of Orientalism in German art. During his time in Europe he came to know and to paint some of Europe’s foremost royalty.

Like the Prince, Raden Saleh was also a syarif (which is a title denoting that the person is a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad) but of the clan bin Yahya. It is because of him that we know what Prince Sjarief Hamid looked like because Raden Saleh painted a portrait of him in 1853, wearing the famous gold chain and pendant.

The painting of Prince Sjarief Hamid bin Sultan Sjarief Abdurrahman al-Kadrie, wearing his gold chain and pendent in a portrait by Raden Saleh.
Photo courtesy of Werner Kraus

If we look amongst the graves in the small Masjid Angke cemetery falling under the category of habibs, there are at least four graves belonging to the al-Habsyi clan. This is note-worthy because this clan also had connections to the Sultanate of Pontianak. Muhammad al-Habsyi who was the grandfather of the famous Habib Ali al-Habsyi of Kwitang was married to an al-Kadrie princess from the Pontianak sultanate whereas Habib Ali of Kwitang’s father, Abdurrahman bin Abdullah bin Muhammad al-Habshi was married to Raden Saleh’s sister, Syarifah Rogayah binti Husen bin Alwi bin Awal bin Yahya. He was a close friend of Raden Saleh and it seems likely that the Prince was introduced to Raden Saleh through the al-Habsyis.

The grave of Prince Sjarief Hamid bin Sultan Sjarief Abdurrahman al-Kadrie of Pontianak at Masjid Angke. Photo credit: Tamalia Alisjahbana (private collection)

In 1858 an announcement appeared in the Java Bode that on the 10th of July, Prince Sjarief Hamid died at 65 years of age. As usual, there was also a call to all creditors to whom the Prince may have owed money, inviting them to settle the Prince’s debts from the inheritance he had left behind.

Mohamad Habib, one of the late guardians of Masjid Angke revealed that before his death the Prince asked the guardians of the mosque that he be allowed to be buried on top of the grave of Prince Tubagus Angke. He said that there is a tradition that has been passed down through the centuries by the guardians of the mosque that Prince Tubagus Angke is buried in the mosque’s cemetery next to the grave of his wife. This was at a time when the mosque had not yet been built. At his request his grave was not been given any markers so that no one would come on pilgrimage to his grave. He had predicted that one day something would cover his grave completely, forever. So, when Prince Sjarief Hamid asked to be buried on top of his grave, the guardians immediately agreed seeing his request as the fulfilment of Prince Tubagus Angke’s prophecy.

Sultan Hamid II in 1950. Photo credit: Public domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Before finishing this account of the mosque’s association with the Pontianak sultanate, it may be interesting to note that Sultan Hamid II of Pontianak who became sultan after the Pontianak royal family were massacred during the Japanese Occupation, would according to his cousin, Max Jusuf al-Kadrie, visit the mosque and the grave of Prince Sjarief Hamid when he lived in Jakarta. It is perhaps fitting that Sultan Hamid II in his position as Minister of Social Affairs under President Sukarno was the creator of Indonesia’s state emblem the Garuda Pancasila with the nation’s motto: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika or Unity in Diversity. (Tamalia Alisjahbana)

Part III of this series will describe the very eclectic architecture of the mosque and its 2021 restoration by Lingwa.

Early design of Garuda Pancasila emblem by Sultan Hamid II. Photo: Public domain/ Wikimedia Comm

If you enjoyed reading this article you may also enjoy by the same writer:

Part I: https://observerid.com/part-i-masjid-angke-al-anwar-the-restoration-of-one-of-the-most-pluralist-and-unique-mosques-in-jakarta/

Part III:  https://observerid.com/masjid-angke-al-anwar-its-architectural-style-and-restoration-part-iii/