Mahfudz of Tremas was the most respected Javanese `alim of his
generation. Born in Tremas (Pacitan district, East Java), he spent the
better part of his life in Mecca, where the most influential Javanese
kyai of the early twentieth century became his students. He takes the
credit for widening the range of works studied in the Javanese pesantren
to include the canonical hadith collections and usul al-fiqh, topics not
previously studied there.
Mahfudz' paternal grandfather, `Abd al-Mannan Dipomenggolo, founded in
1830 the pesantren of Tremas, the oldest presently existing. He had
studied in the famous pesantren of Tegalsari under its illustrious kyai,
Kasan Besari (Hasan Basri), where one of his fellow students was the
Surakarta court poet-philosopher Ronggowarsito. Later he visited the
Middle East and studied with Sayyid Muhammad al-Shatta' in Mecca and
with the shaykh al-Azhar, Ibrahim Bajuri (d. 1277/ 1860-1). After `Abd
al-Mannan's death (1862), his son `Abd Allah succeeded him as the kyai
of the pesantren Tremas.
Mahfudz was `Abdallah's eldest son. He received his first religious
education from his father, studying the works that his grandfather had
been licensed to teach by his Arab teachers. At a young age, he was sent
to Mecca to continue his studies with the prominent Shafi`i scholar
there, Sayyid Bakri (Abu Bakr b. Muhammad al-Shatta' ad-Dimyati, the son
of his grandfather's Meccan teacher). All his life he remained close to
the learned Shatta' family (originating from Dimyat in Egypt), into
which he was virtually adopted; he was buried in the Shatta' family
graveyard. He also studied with Sayyid Bakri's colleague and rival,
Muhammad Sa`id Ba-Basil (who succeeded Ahmad b. Zayni Dahlan as Mecca's
Shafi`i mufti) and various Indonesian `ulama resident in Mecca: Nawawi
Banten (Nawawi b. `Umar al-Jawi al-Bantani), `Abd al-Ghani al-Bimawi and
Muhammad Zayn ad-Din al-Sumbawi, all of whom taught in the Masjid al-Haram.
Mahfudz did not return to Java, preferring to remain in Mecca, where he
was becoming a very prominent teacher. When his father died in 1894, it
was a younger brother, Dimyati, who became the kyai at Tremas.
Ironically, the fame of Tremas seems to be in large measure due to
Mahfudz, although he never taught there. In Mecca, he had among his
students Hasyim Asy'ari, Bisri Syansuri and Wahab Chasbullah (`Abd al-Wahhab
Hasb Allah), who later, in 1926, were to found the Nahdlatul Ulama (Nahdat
al-`ulama), Indonesia's major traditionalist Muslim organisation. These
men are his best-known of his students, renowned because of their
political activities. Besides them, he educated numerous others,
including some who became influential teachers in their own right, such
as `Ali al-Banjari (a Meccan resident of South Borneo origins), Muhammad
Baqir al-Jugjawi (of Yogyakarta, but resident in Mecca), Muhammad Ma`sum
al-Lasami (the founder of the pesantren of Lasem in northern Central
Java), `Abd al-Muhit of Panji Sidarjo (another important pesantren, near
of Mahfudz' students founded pesantren upon their return to Java, which
contributed to his lasting impact on the pesantren world. If in the
twentieth century the pesantren curriculum is more varied than
previously, this is in no small measure due to Mahfudz' influence.
Hasyim Asy'ari, one of Mahfudz' favourite disciples, established after
his return to East Java the pesantren Tebuireng near Jombang and became
the first kyai to teach Bukhari's canonical hadith collection, an
innovation in the pesantren curriculum, due to Mahfudz, that gradually
spread. Other Javanese kyai became through him acquainted with such usul
al-fiqh works, also previously unknown, as Subki's Jam` al-jawami`
and Ibn Haja's Sharh Mukhtasar.
Mahfudz was also a prolific writer, the author of books on various
Islamic sciences (all of them in Arabic). The one book still regularly
reprinted and used in the pesantren is his Minhaj dhawi al-nazar,
one of the more advanced works on Arabic syntax (a commentary on
Bayquni's work). His most celebrated work, however, is the four-volume
Shafi`i fiqh text Mawhiba dhi al-fadl, a commentary on `Abd Allah
Ba-Fadl's Al-muqaddima al-hadramiyya that probably is the major
Indonesian contribution to fiqh literature. The Mawhiba is rarely
if ever taught in the pesantren; it is used by the senior kyai as a work
of reference and is one of the works most frequently cited as
authoritative in fatwa by Javanese `ulama.
Mahfudz' other writings include two voluminous works on usul al-fiqh,
Nayl al-ma'mul (a supercommentary on Zakariya Ansari's Lubb
al-usul and its commentary Ghayat al-wusul) and Is`af al-mutali`
(a commentary on a versified version of Subki's Jam` al-jawami`),
and another fiqh work: Takmilat al-minhaj al-qawim (additions to
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami's Al-minhaj al-qawim).
was not only interested in the intellectual sciences but also in
Qur'anic recital (qira'a), on which he wrote no less than five
books: on the readings of Ibn Kathir, Nafi`, Ibn `Amr and Hamza, and on
the qira'a `ashara. Finally he authored two bio-bibliographical
texts, Kifayat al-mustafid li-ma `alla min al-asanid (on the
lines of transmission from the authors of classical texts to his own
teachers) and Al-saqaya al-mardiyya fi asami kutub ashabina al-shafi`iyya
(a survey of Shafi`i fiqh works and their authors). None of these works
seem to be available in print, however.
H. Aboebakar, Sedjarah hidup K.H.A. Wahid Hasjim dan karangan
tersiar (Djakarta: Panitya Buku Peringatan alm. K.H.A.
Wahid Hasjim, 1957), p 88.
Mahfuz b. `Abd Allah al-Tarmasi, Mawhiba dhi al-fadl
`ala sharh muqaddima Ba-Fadl (n.p.: Matba`a al-`amira al-sharafiyya,
`Umar `Abd al-Jabbar, Siyar wa tarajim ba`d `ulama'ina
fi al-qarn al-rabi` ashar li al-hijra
(Mecca: Mu'assasa Makka li al-taba`a wa al-i`lam, 1385/1965-6), pp.
Yasin b. M. `Isa al-Padani, Al-`iqd al-farid min jawahir al-asanid (Surabaya:
Dar al-Saqqaf, n.d.), passim.
Muhammad S.H., Mengenal Pondok Tremas dan perkembangannya (Tremas,