What made HAMKA a versatile leader? – Usaid Asmadi

How did HAMKA manage to become such a multifaceted intellectual icon that he was?

Indonesian Professor Dr Haji Abdul Malik bin Abdul Karim Amrullah (1908–1981) or famously known as HAMKA was a distinctive Islamic figure.

He was renowned throughout the archipelago as multifaceted: he was a religious scholar and a clergy, but he was also an author. He wrote in numerous genres, including fiction.

HAMKA was also a great leader. He was an eminent statesman, a distinguished politician and a persistent fighter for national independence.

To top it all, he was once a prisoner because of the cause he fought for.

Not possessing any certificate or degree from any formal educational institution, it is impressive that he was able to publish more than a hundred writings that influenced Islamic reform of the local culture back then.

Which brings us to a significant question: how did HAMKA manage to become such a versatile and prolific intellectual icon? 

Musfi Yendra, a youth figure from West Sumatra, Indonesia, highlighted four key factors that developed HAMKA into who he was:

1. His strong passion for acquiring knowledge

HAMKA was passionate in sharpening his skills and knowledge. He was self-driven, without anybody telling him to be so.

Thus, he dedicated his time to reading and learning from the works of established authors. He also got himself immersed in the intergenerational dialogues and discourses of the time.

2. His belief in social engagement

HAMKA went beyond solitary intellectual enrichment to engage himself with the society out there as his audience. He worked between reading, engaging in discussion with others, and writing.

This was how HAMKA’s pattern of thought developed.

3. His deep conviction and conscience

A trip down HAMKA’s life will enlighten you about his vast and variety of community participation.

HAMKA wasn’t all bark but no bite. Not only that he taught people about Islam, he also partook in the Jihad movement. His conviction made him practise what he preached.

4. His sterling piety

This was HAMKA’s biggest strength. Never swayed by any doubt or distraction, his commitment to the truth of his faith was absolute and cemented his piety for all to see.

What should HAMKA mean for you, as a 21st Century youth?

If you ever dreamt of becoming a better you, or better – as great as HAMKA – you may want to consider the imperative of those four fundamentals that had made HAMKA an iconic figure that he was.

By the way, the first step is to start moving. Otherwise, you are just all dreaming.

HAMKA proved that he could. When will you?

(Translated, adapted and edited from the original Malay writing of the author, 21 June 2018)

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