Tuesday, April 16, 2024 | 15:28 WIB

The loss of a Sufi writer

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RIP Abdul Hadi Widji Muthari

Jakarta, IO – A poem written by Prof. Dr. Abdul Hadi Widji Muthari, a Sufi writer and professor at Paramadina University. Abdul Hadi was the first professor appointed from Paramadina University’s Society of Academicians, the university he co-established with the founder, Prof. Dr. Nurcholish Madjid; hence, the university has a faculty of philosophy and civilization. 

Scholar and writer Abdul Hadi passed away on Friday, January 19, 2024, at the Gatot Soebroto Army Hospital (RSPAD), Jakarta, at the age of 77 years, and was buried in the Bojong Kulur Village Public Cemetery at Vila Nusa Indah 3, Bogor Regency, West Java. The news of his passing was imparted by his daughter, Gayatri Muthari. 

Quoting from the Ministry of Education and Culture’s website: Abdul Hadi was born on June 24, 1946, in Sumenep, Madura. Abdul Hadi grew up in a devout Muslim family. His father was a Chinese Muslim, and his mother was a descendant of the royal family of Surakarta Palace. His parents owned “An-Naba Islamic Boarding School”, an Islamic boarding school in his hometown. 

Abdul Hadi was married to Tejawati, dubbed Atiek, and had three daughters: Gayatri Widotami, Dian Kuswandari, and Ayusa Ayuthaya. 

Abdul Hadi completed his primary and secondary education in his hometown and continued to high school in Surabaya. After graduating, he pursued higher education at the Faculty of Letters at Gadjah Mada University. He studied at the Department of Philology and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree (1965-1967). After that, Abdul Hadi moved to the Faculty of Philosophy at the same university, until he was granted a doctorate (1968-1971). 

Abdul Hadi also studied cultural anthropology at the Faculty of Letters at Padjadjaran University, Bandung (1971-1973). However, he did not complete a degree, as he had to work to support his family. He then moved to Jakarta. In 1991, he was offered a position as a guest writer and lecturer on Islamic Literature at the Center for Humanities Studies, University Sains Malaysia in Penang. 

During his time as an educator, he completed his studies at the university and obtained a Master’s Degree (M.A.). In 1997, he was awarded a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) with his dissertation “Aesthetics of Sufi Literature: A Hermeneutic Study of the Works of Shaykh Hamzah Fansuri”. His dissertation was published as a book titled “Oppressed Sufism: A Hermeneutic Study of the Works of Shaykh Hamzah Fansuri” by Paramadina Publishing in 2001. 

As a cultural actor and intellectual, Abdul Hadi worked as the editor of “Gema Mahasiswa” (published by UGM, 1967-1969), editor of the Central Java edition of “Mahasiswa Indonesia” in Yogyakarta (1969-1970), editor of the West Java edition of “Mahasiswa Indonesia” in Bandung (1971-1973), editor of “Trade and Industry” magazine (IKADIN, 1979- 1981), managing editor of “Budaya Jaya” magazine (1977-1978), advisor of the cultural page “Dialog” of Berita Buana Daily (1978-1990), special staff for the Writing Section of the state-owned publisher Balai Pustaka and executive chairman of the Literature Committee of the Jakarta Arts Council (1984-1990). He was also invited as a Creative Writing lecturer at the Faculty of Letters, University of Indonesia and the Jakarta Arts Institute (1985-1990) and a guest lecturer in Islamic Literature and Philosophy at the University of Science, Malaysia (1991-1997). His last position was a lecturer at Paramadina University, Jakarta, while also teaching Islamic Aesthetics and Philosophy at the Faculty of Cultural Sciences, University of Indonesia. In June 2008, he was appointed as a professor of philosophy of religion at Paramadina University at the age of 62. 

As a creative writer, Abdul Hadi produced a number of poetry collections, including Laut Belum Pasang (Litera, 1971), Cermin (Budaya Jaya, 1975), Potret Panjang Seorang Pengunjung Pantai Sanur (Pustaka Jaya, 1975), Meditasi (Budaya Jaya, 1976), Tergantung pada Angin (Budaya Jaya, 1977) and Anak Laut Anak Angin (1984). His most recent book of poetry is Pembawa Matahari (Bentang, 2002). A collection of poems by Abdul Hadi W.M. in English called “At Last We Meet Again” (1987) and a poem collection with Darmanto Yatman and Sutardji Calzoum Bachri in English was published in Calcutta, India, in 1976, with editor Harry Aveling, entitled “Arjuna in Meditation”. These poems have been translated into various languages, such as English, German, French, Japanese, Dutch, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Arabic, Urdu, Bengali and Spanish. 

Abdul Hadi also worked as a book editor, reviewer and translator of Islamic literature and world literature, producing a number of books, including Sufi Literature: An Anthology, Rubaiyat Omar Khayyam, Iqbal’s Poem Collection: Message to the Eastern Nations (translation of poetry and discussion, 1986), Message from the East: Muhammad Iqbal, Rumi and Poet (translation of poetry and essays, 1987), Faust I (translation of Gothe’s works, 1990), Islamic Calligraphy (a translation of Hasan Safi, 1987), Kehancuran dan Kebangunan (1987, translation of a collection of Japanese poetry) and Hamzah Fansuri: An Essay on Sufism and Poems (Mizan, Bandung, 1995). 

The essay collection published as books include Kembali ke Akar Kembali ke Sumber: Esai-Esai Sastra Profetik dan Sufistik (Pustaka Firdaus, 1999), Islam: Cakrawala Estetik dan Budaya (Pustaka Firdaus, 1999), and Oppressed Sufism: A Hermeneutic Study of the Works of Hamzah Fansuri (Paramadina, 2001). 

Abdul Hadi also participated in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, United States (1973-1974), the London Poetry Festival in London, England (1974), the International Poets Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands (1974), the Shiraz Festival, Iran (1976), the Asian-African Authors Conference, Manila, Philippines (1976), the Mirbad Poetry Festival, Bhagdad (1989) and numerous regional and international literary forums and poetry festivals in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam and many regions in Indonesia. 

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Abdul Hadi also received numerous awards for his achievements in poetry writing, such as the literary magazine Horison for his poem “Madura” (1968). Abdul Hadi W.M. also won the Best Poetry Book Award from the Jakarta Arts Council in 1977 for his poetry collection Meditation (1976). 

Through the Department of Education and Culture, the Indonesian Government awarded Abdul Hadi an Arts Prize for his achievements in poetry writing (1979). The Royal Thai Government in Bangkok, through the Crown Prince, awarded the ASEAN Literature Prize to Abdul Hadi W.M. in 1985 for his work titled Tergantung Pada Angin (a poem, 1983). 

Farewell, our eminent writer Abdul Hadi. Now, you have returned to your eternal home. (rp)

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