The Prophetic Tempest

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This great poet’s name is Abu Thayyib, but he is better known as al-Mutanabby. His verses are clear, genius, and frankly stated. Poetry, for him, is the voice of the heart. It exists because it exists, exists, is not presented or manifested. However, that honest conscience wreaks havoc, as he experienced during his time as a poet. Because his poems were critical of anyone’s prophethood, he was accused of being a man who claimed to be a prophet (mutannabi), beaten, stoned, and expelled from village to village. He became an expelled human.

Abu Thayyib is unlike Abu Ishaq an-Nasibi, who doubted the prophethood of the prophets or Muhammad’s mother Zakariyya ar-Razi, who rejected all prophethood. Because he considers that prophethood is contrary to the fundamental principle of human existence, which is different from animals. Why should the prophets, even though they claim to come from one source, Allah, contradict each other, said ar-Razy. Although not as bad as that experienced by al-Mutanabby, they were also imprisoned in physical and intellectual prisons. In fact, the latter is the most pronounced. All their thoughts and writings were entirely obscured by the prowess of the fiqh experts and qadli, who were intimate with grandiose political rulers and the state.


This does not include al-Hallaj, who ended his life on the gallows, Dawud ibn Ali, Ya’kub Bin al-Fadli, and hundreds of others accused of zindiq during the caliphate al-Mahdi and his successor, the caliph al-Hadi. In addition, those accused of zindiq had to end their lives in front of judges such as Abd Jabar Al-Muntasib, Umar al-Khaluzi, and Muhammad Abu Isa al-Hamdawaihi.

In the historical book Tarikh al-Thabarial-Wuzara wa al-Khutob, and the longest anthology of Arabic poetry (6 volumes, 2,401 pages), al-Aghoni mentions accusations and judgments against the zindiq and poets are not a matter of religion or zindiqan itself. But almost purely a political issue. This is because the caliphs used the zindiqan to eradicate their enemies or political opponents, especially the Hashimites.

It turns out that in Indonesia, in the past, something similar happened to Siti Jenar. The more popular version states that this controversial figure violated the general view of the Muslims in power (the saints). However, the trial of the judges’ council (the Wali themselves), which is said to have tried Siti Jenar, turned out to be based on the results of a more comprehensive recent study (Nancy K. Florida), which was more of a deliberation that asked for an explanation from Siti Jenar about his beliefs. The narration (discursive truth) that we receive today explains that Siti Jenar and his teachings are heretical and have been successfully eradicated by the Wali in charge of religion and politics. However, it was very likely that the Wali themselves had doubts (against Siti Jenar’s misguidance, falsehood, and mistakes) and only eradicated it imaginatively.

Fortunately, the Wali was still considering various possibilities of seeing Siti Jenar, which did not happen when al-Mahdi and al-Hadi saw the zindiqs. However, the actions of the Wali in Demak, let alone the repressive policies of al-Mahdi and al-Hadi, remain unprofitable from any angle, besides clearly polluting the voice of God, which we should glorify.

Apparently, some of us Muslims are still proud and long for the legacy of the exiles of al-Mutanabby, the Qadhi, al-Mahdi, al-Hadi, and the Wali, who succeeded in marrying religion and politics to be used as weapons to dispel opponents and eradicate enemies. Unfortunately, it turns out that marriage is far more dangerous than politics itself.

Note: translated by editor from


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