Biography of Ustaz Ahmad Sonhadji
(author unknown but may Allah bless him or her)
Surakarta (Solo), CentralJava, Indonesia
18 August 1922 (24 Zulhijjah 1340H)
In 1927, at the age of five, he travelled with hisparents to Singaporeand lived with the Solo community at the Jalan Sultan area known as PasirGembur.
Later, his family moved to Rengat (Sumatra). (He returned to Singaporeand became a citizen.)
In February 1937, he furthered his studies in Singaporeat the Aljunied Islamic School. He finished his education in 1944 during theJapanese Occupation.
From May 1966 to end October 1970, he became areligious teacher at the Hassanal Bolkiah ArabSecondary School in Bandar Seri Begawan, BruneiDarussalam. Ahmad Sonhadji and his family returned to Singapore thereafter.
In August 1971, he took up a post as senior teacherat the Aljunied Islamic School. He was appointed as principal of theinstitution from February 1973 to end March 1980, when he retired. In September1980, he took up the post as the Imam (prayer leader) of Masjid Muhajirin.Previously, he was also a volunteer Imam at Masjid Al-Huda for 10 years. In March 1985, he was invited to be an advisor to the principal of the AljuniedIslamic School.
During the Japanese Occupation in 1942, he leftSingapore for Rengat (Riau) to establish a madrasah,the Perguruan Agama Islam Rengat(PAIR), together with his teacher, Ustaz Haji Marzuki bin Haji Shamsuddin.He returned to Singaporeto continue his studies for a year, before becoming a trainee teacher foranother year. Upon the end of the Occupation in August 1945, he ended his stintas a trainee teacher.
In early 1946, he set up the Madrasah Bustanul 'Arifin in Coronation Road, Singapore.After teaching for four months at MadrasahBustanul 'Arifin, he resigned to resume teaching at Madrasah Al-Junied during the day. He also offered privatereligious classes, known as Al-MadrasahAl-Diniah, at his home in the evenings.
1)TheIslamic Religious Council of Singapore(Muis):
He was a member ofthe Muis Council and had actively contributed in various workgroups constitutedunder Muis to deal with the community's religious issues. One of his keycontributions was through the Fatwa Committee, of which he had been a membersince 1975. He had always been a progressive and forward looking scholar, andhis ideas and thoughts were pivotal to advance many issues deliberated by theFatwa Committee such as organ donation and the inclusion of Muslims under HOTA,waqaf development, zakat administration, determination of the beginning of theIslamic calendar through mathematical calculations and discussions on Newater. He was stillteaching at Muhajirin Mosque, even in his late 80s.
2)Associationof Islamic Scholars and Teachers (PERGAS)
He was one of the early activists of PERGAS wherehe was elected as the secretary of the Educational Department. He was laterappointed as its Vice Chairperson and subsequently as advisor.
Ustaz Sonhadji had authored many books and his best-known work is thetranslation and interpretation of the Qur'an into the Malay language. It tookhim more than 25 years to complete this task and it has subsequently beenrepublished many times. His instructional book on performing the prayer hasalso been republished many times and is used by the majority of Muslims in Singapore.It has also been translated into other languages such as Korean and Sinhalese.
The Ustaz Ahmad Sonhadji Mohamad Collection at Singapore's National Library comprises more than1,000 publications in Jawi, Arabic and Malay, on Islam and the development ofIslam in Singapore and Southeast Asia and more than 500 manuscripts which are onloan. The manuscripts include notes of his sermons and interpretation of theQur'an for which he is most respected for in the region of Southeast Asia.
He is survived by a wife and ten children (ninedaughters and a son).
Many of his students have become important and respectedreligious leaders of the Muslim community in Singapore,Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. They include Singapore'sMufti, Syed Isa Semait and former Chief Officer of Brunei Darussalam Ministryof Religious Affairs, Pehin Haji Mohd Zain Haji Serudin.