Contemporary Nusantara Exegete (2): Buya Hamka

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Buya Hamka is one of the prominent figures in Nusantara. Through his dedication and contributions in the field of knowledge, the name Buya Hamka has become increasingly recognized among the public. His role in politics and organizational endeavors has also propelled his career. In a testament to his significant contributions to the realms of scholarship and Indonesian politics, his life story was adapted for the silver screen on April 19, 2023.

Buya Hamka’s Profile


Haji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah, more commonly known as Buya Hamka, was born in the village of Molek, Maninjau, West Sumatra in 1908. The title “Buya” is a term of respect used by the Minangkabau people for an esteemed individual, akin to “father” in English. In Minangkabau, “Buya” holds the meaning of “our father,” a loanword from the Arabic language, where it translates to “abi” or “abuya.” On the other hand, “Hamka” is an abbreviation of his full name. During his childhood, Buya Hamka was more often addressed as Abdul Malik.

Buya Hamka hailed from a devoutly religious lineage. His father, Haji Abdul Karim Amrullah, also known as Haji Rasul bin Syekh Muhammad Amarullah bin Tuanku Abdullah Saleh, was a scholar who delved deep into religious studies in Mecca. He was a pioneer of the awakening of the youth and a prominent figure in the Muhammadiyah movement in Minangkabau. His mother’s name was Siti Shafiyah Tanjung binti Haji Zakaria. Buya Hamka was the eldest of four siblings. His younger siblings were Abdul Kuddus, Asma, and Abdul Mu’thi.

When Buya Hamka’s family moved from Maninjau to Padang Panjang in 1914, he began his education in the basics of religion and Quranic studies at home under his parents’ guidance. A year later, his father enrolled him in a village school. In 1916, Buya Hamka started attending a religious school established by Zainuddin Labai. During his early years, Buya Hamka’s routine involved attending the village school in the morning, religious school in the afternoon, and spending his evenings at the Surau with peers.

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