16 April 2010

Remains of Mbah Priok Not Moved: FPI

Men salvaging metal from vehicles that were destroyed during clashes between public order officers and local residents in North Jakarta on Thursday. (JG Photo/Safir Makki)
Men salvaging metal from vehicles that were destroyed during clashes between public order officers and local residents in North Jakarta on Thursday. (JG Photo/Safir Makki)

Remains of Mbah Priok Not Moved: FPI


Islamic Defenders Front chairman Muhammad Riziq said on Thursday that the remains of a legendary local cleric remained in the disputed area of Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta, suggesting that the Jakarta administration was lying by saying otherwise.

The administration insists that the remains of Habib Hasan bin Muhammad Al Hadad, the revered 18th century ulema commonly referred to as Mbah Priok, were moved to Semper, North Jakarta, five kilometers from the disputed cemetery, in 1997.

“That is utter nonsense. There are locals who know exactly what happened. There are descendants of Habib Hassan,” Riziq said. “People still visit the tomb and twice a year people pray to receive blessings. Why do we pray before an empty tomb?”

Only one mausoleum can be found inside the 300-square-meter cemetery complex. There are three coffins, one of which is believed to belong to Mbah Priok.

“Only a few people know which actually belongs to Mbah Priok. In Islam it is forbidden to idolize a mortal so the position is kept secret,” Riziq said.

The other two belong to Mbah Priok’s colleagues, Al Imam Al Arif Billah and Al Arif Billah Al Habib, according to the caretaker of the tomb, Muhammad Tohir.

Tohir said some people believed “the arrangements of the tombs” sometimes shifted on their own, through mystical powers. “Usually at Mbah Priok’s feast day, according to the lunar calendar,” the caretaker said.

In 1997, Tohir said, the government only moved surrounding tombs belonging to Mbah Priok’s descendants.

“The mausoleum used to be surrounded by other tombs. They were all clerics of the Al Hadad, Al Habsi, Al Idrus and Al Atthos clans,” Tohir said.

According to local legend, Mbah Priok arrived in the city from Saudi Arabia in the 18th century. His ship was capsized by massive waves and he was found by the locals along with a cooking stove, or periuk , in the Indonesian language.

Mbah Priok later introduced the locals to Islam and established a mosque and an Islamic learning center. The surrounding area is called Tanjung Priok and Pondok Dayung, in honor of the cleric.

Wednesday’s deadly clashes occurred because local residents believed public order officers sent to the location were going to move the tomb.

Jakarta Deputy Governor Prijanto said the plan was to renovate the tomb and declare it a city monument, and to tear down the surrounding illegal structures.

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