Irsha>d Al-Ikhwa>n of Ihsan Jampes;

Kediri: Pesantren Jampes, n.d; Surabaya: Aneka Usaha, n.d.



Alumnus of Islamic Studies of the Faculty of Arts at Leiden University

Ihsan Jampes (d. 1952) is a typically Javanese Muslim teacher who lucratively gained a world-wide recognition for his seminal book, Sira>j al-T{a>libi>n, a commentary on Minha>j al-‘A<bidi>n by al-Ghazali (d. 1111). Published by Dar al-Fikr, Lebanon (no date indication can be found), the book deals with al-Ghazali’s teachings on Sufism. Jampes also wrote other books dealing with different topics. Some are still manuscripts. Another book he wrote is Irsha>d al-Ikhwa>n fi> baya>n Ah}ka>m Shurb al-Qahwa wa al-Dukha>n. As its title indicates, the book is on tobacco-smoking and drinking coffee. In 1930 he composed Tasrih al-‘Iba>ra>t, a commentary on Nati>jat al-Mi>qa>t by Kiai Dahlan Semarang. The book is about astronomy (‘ilm al-falak). In 1942, he authored Minha>j al-Imda>d, a commentary on Irsha>d al-‘Iba>d of Shaykh Zayn al-‘Abidin b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Malibari (d. 982 A.H).

The present review deals with the book Irsha>d al-Ikhwa>n. Here we have two editions of the book, the Surabaya and Jampes editions. They bear slightly different names, Irsha>d al-Ikhwa>n ila> Baya>n Ah}ka>m Shurb al-Qahwa wa al-Dukha>n and Sharh} Manz}u>mat Irsha>d al-Ikhwa>n li Baya>n Shurb al-Qahwa wa al-Dukha>n respectively. As can be seen, both publishers are different in writing down the title in terms of using the word ila> baya>n (Surabaya edition) and li-baya>n (Jampes edition). The Jampes edition sub-entitled the book correctly and added to the title the word Sharh (meaning: a commentary) which is absent in the Surabaya edition. This Jampes edition, I think, is the correct since the book under review is in fact a commentary on the naz}m (poetic version) entitled Irsha>d al-Ikhwa>n li Baya>n Shurb al-Qahwa wa al-Dukha>n by the same author.  Unfortunately, both have no indication of publication date. No colophone or an additional preface can be found which informs us when the original manuscript was made.

In his introduction, Jampes said that he was inspired by a small book entitled Tadhkirat al-Ikhwa>n fi> Baya>n al-Qahwa wa al-Dukha>n by Ahmad Dahlan Semarang, his teacher. He rewrote it down in a poem (naz}m) which was hope to be easily memorised by the beginners, and then he gave commentary notes to it. As common in classical works (kitab kuning), the author is preoccupied with linguistic explanation and pays less attention to historical settings of the subject-matter. For instance, he delineates the word qarn in the verse fi> awwal al-qarn al-‘a>shir (in the beginning of the tenth century), explaining the earliest use of qahwa (coffee) in the Muslim world. He clarifies that the verse means awwal alf sanna (beginning of a thousand years) because, he adds, one qarn is a hundred years.

The book consists of four chapters. Chapter one deals with the brief explanation of the origin of tobacco and coffee. Jampes’ illustration on the subject is completely based on Dahlan’s. No other sources are added. It is stated that tobacco came from Tabago, a small area in Mexico, South America and was brought home by European travellers to their home countries in 935/1560. It, however, became widely known in the world only after 977/1560. Meanwhile, coffee became popular in the Arab world in 1017/1600.

In the beginning of the tenth century, debates over the lawsuit of coffee drinking turned out to appear. In his al-Ashba>h, al-Ramli stated that al-Najm al-Ghazzi stated that it was Abu Bakr b. ‘Abd Allah al-Shadhili al-Aydrus who was the first to drink coffee. When he walked in his home yard he found a plant called bunn, name a tree which was later called coffee or qahwa in Arabic. Having consumed its seeds, he felt it helped release his brain and stay away from sleep. In addition, it was considered aiding to aid devotional exercises.

A number of ‘ulama declared the interdiction of coffee for the health (medical) reasons. They were ‘Abtawi al-Karim of Syria, Ibn al-Sultan al-‘Azhim al-Hanafi, and Ahmad b. Ahmad and his father, ‘Abd al-Haqq al-Sunbati. Unfortunately, no mention in the Ikhwa>n is made to explain the reasons of the outlawing of coffee.

Although this book is intended to cope with the lawsuit of both tobacco-smoking and drinking coffee, most portion of the book is centred on smoking. The main argument of both advocates and opponents of smoking legal status runs around the question whether or not smoking is detrimental to human body and brain.

Chapter two discusses on the opponents of tobacco-smoking. A number of ulama declared that smoking was religiously forbidden (h}aram). They are Shihab al-Din al-Qalyubi, Ibrahim al-Laqqani, ‘Atiyah al-Ajhuri and Tarabishi. They agreed on the reason of the banning of tobacco-smoking, that is, that tobacco is dangerous to body health and deteriorate brain function. Shihab al-Din al-Qalyubi said that although religiously pure (t}a>hir), tobacco is h}aram for its danger. In harmony with this, in his Iqna>‘ al-Khatib al-Sharbini stated that whatever exacerbates human body as well as brain is h}aram. Based on this, al-Bujayrimi asserted that tobacco-smoking (al-dukha>n) is h}aram. Furthermore, Tarabishi affirmed that the basis of interdiction of smoking tobacco and selling it also means outlaw of it. In other words, he said, banning in this case means h}aram as well. In line with this reason, buying tobacco also becomes h}aram. Tarabishi’s opinion was affirmed by Ibrahim al-Laqqani al-Maliki in his Nas}i>h}at al-Ikhwa>n bi-l-Ijtina>b li-Shurb al-Dukha>n. Opposing this opinion, ‘Ali b. Muhammad al-Ajhuri proclaimed that unless smoking tobacco is detrimental, it is permissible instead.

The interdiction of smoking was also declared by a number of Sufis. Sayyid Husayn b. Abi Bakr strongly denounced smoking by stating: “Whosoever [of smoker] does not repent forty days before he/she dies would probably be died in su’ al-kha>tima (unhappy ending).” In response to the lawsuit of smoking, another Sufi, ‘Abd Allah b. Ahmad Baswedan said, “everything of hashish is filthy.”

Chapter three concerns the lawfulness of smoking. A number of ulama from the Shafi‘ite, Hanafite, Malikite and Hanbalite Schools agreed on the lawfulness of smoking. ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulisi of the Hanafite School wrote Al-Sulh} bayn al-Ikhwa>n fi> H}ukm Iba>h}a>t Shurb al-Dukha>n. In this book, as Jampes said, al-Nabulisi considered smoking as muba>h} (permissible). This view was upheld by Shaykh ‘Ali al-Shabramallisi, Shaykh al-Sultan al-Halabi al-Fahhama, and al-Barmawi. In this regard, they only warned the danger of smoking and suggested that unless smoking makes danger, it is permitted. Al-Sultan al-Halabi and Shaykh ‘Ali al-Shabramallisi was of the opinion that it is not h}aram but makru>h (despicable). Al-Rushdi in his ha>shiya of Ramli’s al-Niha>ya puts forward that the permissibility of smoking is because of the absence of any textual corroborator which proclaims its interdiction. Shaykh ‘Ali al-Ajhuri explicitly states that smoking is h}ala>l (lawful) except for those who could get suffered from it. This view is in accord with Shaykh Ibn al-Hanafi, Ahmad al-Maliki, ‘Ali al-Ziyadi and al-Munawi Shams al-Milla. Al-‘Allamah al-Shaburi said that smoking is not h}aram in itself (li dha>tih). And that it is declared by some ulama as h}aram is of no religious basis.

Reviewing diverse opinions above, Jampes proposes the most reliable one (al-mu‘tamad) which is that of al-Bajuri (d. 1277), the author of Mukhtas}ar. According to this latter, smoking is makru>h. Jampes also quoted the opinion of other ulama such as Shaykh al-Kurdi, Shaykh Sa‘id Babasil, Ibn Musa al-Nisawi al-Ma‘arri. Babasil and Ibn Musa regarded smoking as permissible (jawa>z) but makru>h.

Further discussion in the last chapter is about various problems pertaining to smoking. One of them is that of putting cigars into a bag (mih}fazha) upon which holy words are written. The problem comes out when Shaykh Ahmad Nahrawi said that anything looking down the glorified words is forbidden (mah}ru>m). In this respect, Jampes interpreted Nahrawi’s opinion by stating that it is forbidden if glorified words are upon it and otherwise it is not, but only makru>h. This is also an analogical understanding of what Ibn al-Hajar al-Haytami in his Fata>wa> al-H{adi>thiya in which he dealt with the problem of putting something upon a paper on which Quranic verses as well as other glorified words are written. According to him, it is makru>h to put something like paper money (naqd) in a paper upon which religious knowledge except Quranic verses are written. If Quranic verses are written upon it, it is h}aram, he said.

Another problem discussed in the book is related to smoking while reading the Quran. In this regard Jampes is of the opinion that it is makru>h. The main problem, he adds, is whether it is intended to play down the Quran. If not, it is none of problem. Another discussion is related to the legal status of smoking for the fasters. Ibn Hajar’s description on the reasons of invalidity of fasting was quoted by some scholars to justify the permissibility of smoking for fasters. In his Sharh al-Minha>j, Ibn Hajar al-Haytami dealt with the coming of substance into fasters’ belly (jawf). He made exception of the vestige of food and smoke and smell. Including into this category is the coming of smoke into belly. In this regard, al-Ziyadi considered smoking not to break the fast. In contrast to al-Ziyadi, al-Bajuri, Bujayrimi and al-Mudabaghi agreed to declare that it breaks the fast. For them, the substance (‘ayn) Ibn Hajar meant is substance in the customary sense (‘ayn ‘urf), not concrete one. Furthermore, ‘Abd Allah b. Muhammad Hijazi al-Sharqawi clarified that al-Ziyadi’s opinion concerning the permissibility of smoking for fasters was proposed when the latter had not known about the real case. Later on after he had understood the case, he issued a fatwa> different from the previous opinion.

The banning of smoking in mosques is also dealt with in the book. The issue was raised by Shaykh Muhammad Babasil who referred to a fatwa> given by Shaykh Ahmad b. Zayni Dahlan (d. 1886). Fuqaha>’ (Muslim jurists) declared such smoking as h}aram provided that it will cause inconvenience and makes the mosque dirty. When dealing with i‘tika>f, Muhammad b. Ahmad ‘Abd al-Bari suggested not to smoke in mosques for it might lead to humiliation.

The last issue raised in the book is the advantage and disadvantage of smoking. For the opponents, smoking is regarded as wasteful (tabdhi>r). Jampes did not elaborate the issue further. Instead, he just referred to al-Bajuri who, agreeing with Ibn Qasim, stated that the original rule of smoking is makru>h. Included in this issue is that of cigars and coffee served by wives to their husbands. It is common especially in Java as well as other parts of Indonesia that cigars and coffee are served by wives to their husbands. This practice, according to Jampes, is not of waste. This is what Muhammad al-Halabi said as well.

The way Jampes dealt with the subject, as seen above, is representative of traditional points of view in Muslim scholarship. He relied mainly upon fiqh sources and ulama of four Islamic legal madhhabs. No Quranic prescriptions on the subject are quoted. However, his comparative analysis is the proof that he was open-minded and moderate. As stated earlier, no mention is made to explain historical settings of the subject-matter. As a consequence, we do not really know why the book was written. It is not clear whether it is related to, for instance, the Wahhabi movement which began to influence in Indonesia at that time, or it is connected to a custom common among the pesantren community in which he lived. A further research on Jampes is needed, I think.[]

Irshad al-Ikhwan of Ihsan Jampes” (book-review), International Journal of Pesantren Studies, vol. 3, No. 1 (2009), pp. 79-84.