Biography of Tuanku Imam Bonjol: Background of His Life and Struggle History

Biography of Tuanku Imam Bonjol – The Minang people have so far been known as a tribe with customs that are not weathered, rain decks, hot decks (have a strong and unchanging stance) . Not only that, the tribe that used to call itself urang crew has given birth to many golden generations in the history of the Indonesian people and world history.

One of the figures that many of us know is the proclaimer, Mohammad Hatta. Not only being a pioneer of independence, Hatta was also known as a respected diplomacy expert. In addition, he is also known for his admirable simplicity. It’s not an exaggeration if the title of hero is pinned on him.

However, Hatta is not the only crew member who is honored and enshrined in the currency of the Republic of Indonesia (RI). The next known figure is Muhammad Syahab or better known as Tuanku Imam Bonjol.

This one figure is no longer a stranger to the ear. He was a scholar, leader and warrior who fought against the Dutch in the Padri War in 1803–1838. He became a figure who was very tough to be conquered by the Dutch at that time.

Who exactly is the figure of Imam Bonjol who is known to be polite and uncompromising towards the Dutch? The following is a brief biographical presentation of the figure.

Background of the Life of Tuanku Imam Bonjol

Tuanku Imam Bonjol.

Tuanku Imam Bonjol was born in Bonjol, Luhak Agam, Pagaruyung on January 1, 1772 with the name Muhammad Syahab. He was later known by the local community as Syekh Muhammad Said Bonjol or Inyik Bonjol.

Bonjol itself is a village in West Sumatra. This village is famous because Muhammad Syahab was born and fought with all levels of society in that place. They worked together against colonialism and fought for Indonesian independence.

Syahab is a scholar, fighter, and an elder figure by the community. He became a place to ask for advice, directions, and complain about all things, both related to religious and worldly matters. This is what caused him to obtain several titles, namely Peto Syarif , Malin Basa , and Tuanku Imam.

As one of the leaders of Harimau nan Salapan , Tuanku nan Renceh from Kamang, Agam appointed him as i mam (leader) for the Padri people in Bonjol. He eventually became better known as Tuanku Imam Bonjol.

Imam Bonjol’s life reflects exemplary and simplicity. It is appropriate if the Religious Research and Development Agency (Litbang) chooses him to write his biography, with the hope that his struggle can be used as a way of life for the next generation.

Imam Bonjol is the only son of the couple Bayanuddin Syahab and Hamatun. His father was a religious scholar who came from Sungai Rimbang, Suliki, Fifty Cities. Bonjol was born into a family of traders and enjoys traveling. This is what caused him to be sent to Malaysia to get a formal education at Sekolah Rakyat Desa (elementary school level) in 1779.

As an adult, he studied Islam with Sheikh Ibrahim Kumpulan in Bonjol in 1809–1814. Furthermore, between 1818 he deepened knowledge of the Naqsyabandiyah Order in Bonjol. He was also interested in studying noble manners, conduct, and wisdom.

He had several wives, but only one accompanied him to death, namely Hajjah Solehah. Through his marriage to Solehah, he was blessed with 10 children, namely five boys and five girls. His children are Hasan, Hasyim, Harun al-Rashid, Syahrudin, Djusnah, Sawwadjir, Hasanah, Rofiah, Cholidi, and Nur Baiti.

The habits of Imam Bonjol that should be emulated are as follows.

  1. Accustomed to sleeping in the mosque, but almost 2/3 of his time is spent praying and teaching;
  2. Always wears a white robe and turban;
  3. Often reduce sleep time at night to seduce Allah SWT;
  4. Eat with simple side dishes;
  5. Everyone who came to him was served well, without discriminating against anyone.

Imam Bonjol has expertise in the fields of Sufism and Jurisprudence. In addition, he also has expertise in traditional medicine. He is known in the community to be able to cure various diseases that are often said to be mysterious. Before curing these ailments, he performed istikharah prayers and prayed to God, so that his patients also recovered as if mysteriously too.

The role of Tuanku Imam Bonjol

1. As a Teacher

Imam Bonjol educates and teaches in every surau, mosque and Islamic boarding school he has built in every village, as well as being the leader of his congregation. After it went smoothly, he then handed it over to the disciple he trusted the most. The work was done with sincerity.

2. As a role model

As a role model, he is very close to the community, and vice versa. This is what makes him very concerned about the lives of his people, both his physical life and his spiritual life. If he sees members of his community who are having a difficult life, he will help them and encourage them to find a more profitable income.

3. As a Warrior

As a nation’s son who has lived since the Dutch colonial era, he had intended to fight against Islam through the media by establishing the Naqsyabandiyah Order. Through the tarekat, he taught his students about lessons related to colonialism.

Imam Bonjol and the Padri War

Imam Bonjol was a national hero who pioneered independence, a scholar, and the leader of the Padri War who opposed Dutch colonialism in Minangkabau lands in the 19th century. The Padri movement emerged in Minangkabau after three people returned from pilgrimage from Mecca in 1803, namely Haji Miskin, Haji Sumanik, and Haji Piobang who wanted to improve the Islamic sharia that was practiced by the Minangkabau people.

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Knowing this, Tuanku Nan Renceh supported the wishes of the three hadjis along with other clerics in Minangkabau who were members of the Nan Salapan Tiger. Harimau Nan Salapan then asked Tuanku Lintau to invite Yang Tuanku Pagaruyung Sultan Arifin Muningsyah and the Indigenous People to abandon several customs that were contrary to the teachings of Islam.

In several negotiations, there was no agreement between the Padri and the Indigenous People. Along with that, several villages in the Pagaruyung Kingdom were in turmoil. The climax of the Padri under the leadership of Tuanku Pasaman attacked the Kingdom of Pagaruyung in 1815 and war broke out in Koto Tangah.

This attack forced Sultan Arifin Muningsyah to step aside and flee from the royal capital. Based on Raffles’ notes who had visited Pagaruyung in 1818, he said he only found the remains of the Pagaruyung Royal Palace which had been burned down.

Due to being pressured in the war and the whereabouts of Yang Tuan Pagaruyung was uncertain, the Indigenous People led by Sultan Tangkal Alam Bagagar asked the Dutch for help on February 21, 1821, even though at that time he was actually considered not entitled to make an agreement on behalf of the Pagaruyung Kingdom.

As a result of this agreement, the Dutch made it a sign of the surrender of the Pagaruyung Kingdom to the Dutch government. Sultan Tangkal Alam Bagagar was then appointed as Regent of Tanah Datar .

The Dutch were finally involved in the war because they were invited by the Indigenous People. Dutch intervention in the war was marked by the attack on Simawang and Succubus Air by the troops of Captain Goffinet and Captain Dienema in April 1821 on the orders of Resident James du Puy in Padang. On December 8, 1821, additional troops arrived led by Lieutenant Colonel Raaff to strengthen positions in the area that had been controlled.

On March 4, 1822, Dutch troops under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Raaff succeeded in driving the Padri out of Pagaruyung. The Dutch then built a fort in Batusangkar under the name Fort Van der Capellen, while the Padri gathered strength and defended themselves in Lintau.

On June 10, 1822, the movement of Raaff’s troops in Tanjung Alam was blocked by the Padri, but Dutch troops were able to continue advancing to Luhak Agam. Furthermore, Captain Goffinet suffered serious injuries in the battle at Baso on August 14, 1822 until he died on September 5, 1822. In September 1822, the Dutch troops were forced to return to Batusangkar because they were continuously pressured by attacks from the Padri led by Tuanku Nan Renceh.

After receiving additional troops on April 13, 1823, Raaff tried to attack Lintau again, but the Padri fought persistently, so the Dutch were forced to return to Batusangkar on April 16, 1823. Meanwhile, Yang Tuan Pagaruyung Sultan Arifin Muningsyah returned to Pagaruyung at the request of Lieutenant Colonel Raaff in 1824.

However, the last Minangkabau king finally died in 1825 and was buried in Pagaruyung. Raaff himself died suddenly in Padang on April 17, 1824 after previously experiencing a high fever.

In September 1824, Dutch troops under the command of Major Frans Laemlin had succeeded in controlling several areas in Luhak Agam, namely Koto Tuo and Ampang Gadang. The troops later also occupied Biaro and Kapau, but Laemlin eventually died at Padang in December 1824 from wounds received in battle.

The resistance put up by the Padri was quite tough, making it very difficult for the Dutch to beat them. Therefore, the Dutch through their resident in Padang invited the Padri leaders, who at that time had been led by Imam Bonjol, to make peace with the Masang Agreement edict on November 15, 1825. This was understandable because at the same time the Dutch also ran out of funds in dealing with another war in Europe and the Diponegoro War.

During the period of the ceasefire, Imam Bonjol tried to restore strength and also tried to re-embrace the Indigenous People, so that finally a compromise emerged known as the Puncak Pato Plakat on Marapalam Hill, Tanah Datar Regency which embodied a consensus with Adat Basandi Syarak, Syarak Basandi Kitabullah , which meaning that Minangkabau customs are based on the Islamic religion, while Islam is based on the Al-Qur’an.

After the end of the Diponegoro War and the recovery of Dutch power in Java, the Dutch East Indies government again tried to subdue the Padri. This is based on a strong desire to control coffee cultivation which is currently expanding in the darek area (inland Minangkabau).

Until the 19th century, the coffee trade commodity was one of the main products of the Netherlands in Europe. The British historian, Christine Dobbin, called it more of a trade war because this was in line with the dynamics of social change in the Minangkabau people in the twists and turns of trade in the interior and the west coast or east coast. Meanwhile, the Dutch on the other hand wanted to take over or monopolize coffee.

The Netherlands then weakened the opposing force by violating the agreement that had been made before. They attacked the village of Pandai Sikek, an area capable of producing gunpowder and firearms. The Dutch troops then built a fort in Bukittinggi known as Fort de Kock to strengthen their position.

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Since 1833, a compromise of mutual resistance began to appear on the other side between the Indigenous People and the Padri. On January 11, 1833, several fortifications of the Dutch garrison were suddenly attacked, throwing things into chaos. It is said there were around 139 European soldiers and hundreds of indigenous soldiers killed.

Sultan Tangkal Alam Bagagar who was previously appointed by the Dutch as Regent of Tanah Datar , was arrested by Lieutenant Colonel Elout’s troops on 2 May 1833 in Batusangkar on charges of treason. The Dutch then exiled him to Batavia, although he denied involvement in the attacks on several Dutch posts. The Dutch East Indies government here did not want to take the risk of rejecting reports from its officers. The position of Regent of Tanah Datar was then given to Tuan Gadang in Batipuh.

Realizing this, the Dutch were not only facing the Padri, but Minangkabau society as a whole. The Dutch East Indies government then issued an announcement called Plakat Panjang in 1833. It contained a statement that the arrival of the Dutch to Minangkabau did not intend to control the country, they only came to trade and maintain security, the Minangkabau people would still be governed by their princes and were not required to pay taxes.

The Dutch East Indies government also argued that the arrival of its troops was to maintain security, build roads, open schools, and so on. This is what makes the people are obliged to grow coffee and have to sell it to the Dutch. However, the Padri and Minangkabau people ignored this.

The failure of the conquest really hit the policy of the Governor General of the Dutch East Indies in Batavia, which at that time was held by Dominique Jacques de Eerens. He then sent a warlord named Major General Cochius in early 1837 to directly lead a massive attack on Fort Bonjol. Cochius is a high ranking Dutch officer who has expertise in the war strategy of Fort Stelsel .

Furthermore, the Dutch intensively surrounded Bonjol from all directions for about six months (16 March–17 August 1837) led by generals and several officers. This joint force consisted mostly of various ethnic groups, such as Javanese, Madurese, Bugis and Ambonese.

There were 148 European officers, 36 native officers, 1,103 European soldiers, and 4,130 native soldiers, including the Sumenapsche hulptroepen hieronder begrepen (Sumenap alias Madura auxiliary troops). The list of names of the Dutch army officers included Major General Cochius, Lieutenant Colonel Bauer, Major Sous, Major Prager, Captain MacLean, First Lieutenant van der Tak, First Lieutenant Steinmetz, and so on. There are also indigenous (native) names such as Kapiten Noto Prawiro, Indlandsche Luitenant Prawiro in Logo, Karto Wongso Wiro Redjo, Prawiro Sentiko, Prawiro Brotto, Merto Poero, and others.

Troops from Batavia were brought in as an additional force for the Dutch army. On July 20, 1837, the force arrived by ship Perle at Padang, which included a number of Europeans and Sepoys and soldiers from Africa serving in the Dutch army. They were recruited from Ghana and Mali, consisting of 1 sergeant , 4 corporaals and 112 flankeurs , and were led by Kapitein Sinninghe.

The wavy and successive attacks were carried out by artillery troops armed with large cannons for approximately 6 months. Infantry and cavalry troops also continued to arrive. On August 3, 1837, Dutch troops led by Lieutenant Colonel Michiels as commander of the front field began to take control of the situation little by little.

On August 15, 1837, Bukit Tajadi finally fell and Bonjol Fort as a whole was conquered on August 16, 1837. However, Imam Bonjol was able to withdraw from the fort accompanied by several of his followers and continued towards the Marapak area.

While on the run and in hiding, Imam Bonjol kept trying to consolidate all of his troops which had been scattered and weak. However, it turned out that only a few of his troops were left and were still ready to fight again. This is because they have been fighting the Dutch continuously for more than three years.

Imam Bonjol finally surrendered to the Dutch in October 1837, with the agreement that his son who had participated in the war, Naali Sutan Chaniago, be appointed as a Dutch colonial official.

So, that’s a brief explanation of the Biography of Tuanku Imam Bonjol: Background of His Life and Struggle History . Appreciating the services of national figures, like Prince Diponegoro, is not only by remembering and thanking them in their hearts, but also by emulating their attitudes and actions.

Sinaumed’s can visit sinaumedia’s book collection at www.sinaumedia.com to get references about other heroes, starting from their life background, education, and struggle history.

The following is a recommendation for sinaumedia books that Sinaumed’s can read to learn about Indonesian history so they can fully interpret it. Happy reading.

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Author: Fandy Aprianto Rohman

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