In Kota Bharu he continued his schooling under
a well known Tok Guru,
Tok Khurasan from Afghanistan.
Subject: MSANEWS: The Living Legend of Nik Abdul Aziz
Source: Harakah Online
Organization: Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS)
Date: June 6, 1996
Title: THE LIVING LEGEND OF NIK ABDUL AZIZ
By: Sulong Kamarudin
MSANEWS NOTE: YAB - Yang Amat Berhormat - His Excellency
MB - Menteri Besar - Chief Minister
Wakil Rakyat - People's Representative
I have been fortunate to have met many Federal Ministers and State
Chief Ministers in my life time. In fact, I have even had the honour
of personally meeting the Prime Minister as well as the Deputy Prime
Minister, past and present.
Some of these personalities awed me. You could almost feel the power
they commanded. Sometimes I came away from these meetings with an
impression I had met a person of intelligence and intellectuality.
Then again some of the people I met gave me the impression that we
have clowns running this country. They were alright until they tried
opening their mouth; then you really got to know the person.
Fortunately they represented a minority. If not this country would
really be in trouble.
When I was told I would have the pleasure of meeting YAB Datuk Tuan
Guru Haji Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the Menteri Besar of Kelantan, I
started to have cold feet. It is not that Ministers scare me; as I
said I have met many. When you get to know them better you come to
realise that they are just ordinary people like you and me. The only
difference between them and us is they are in a position of power. Nik
Aziz however was an unknown, and it is this unknown that made me feel
I stressed that my meeting with Nik Aziz was not to be an interview.
The excuse I gave was I did not want the meeting to turn out too
formal or official and an interview would make everybody stiff and too
conscious of what they were saying. The truth is, it was I who was
feeling uncomfortable as I really did not know what to expect and I
feared that I would 'break' under the pressure of a formal interview.
After all I have never formally interviewed a Minister before.
On that note the meeting turned out very relaxed and it was more like
a meeting between two old friends rather than a first time meeting
between an interviewer and an interviewee. The tea we sipped and the
cakes we ate in between the informal chit chat helped create a down to
earth atmosphere to the whole session. Being around Nik Aziz gave you
It took me a few minutes to get into the mood. I was more flustered
than the person I was supposed to be interviewing. What do I say to a
man who, to me, is a living legend? I suppose the best place to start
would be at the beginning so I opened the discussion by asking the
basic question, "When was Tuan Guru born?"
Nik Aziz was born in 1931 at Pulau Melaka, a kampong not far from Kota
Bharu. This would make him 65 years old today. However, because of
this healthy lifestyle, Nik Aziz is far from over the hill even at
this age. You could see he was a man of energy and very vibrant even
though our meeting was being held at the end of a long day. To most
people they would be about ready to retire but for Nik Aziz his day
was only half way through.
Nik Aziz's day starts at 5.00am when he gets up to prepare for Suboh
prayers. This is a mandatory routine for him even though he may have
had a late night before attending a ceramah or peresmian until the
midnight hours. Tuan Guru's sleep would be interrupted halfway when he
would wake up to do his Tahajud prayers unless on that odd one or two
days in a year when he would be down with an attack of flue or some
other minor ailments.
After that it is off to school where he still teaches in his religious
classes as he has been doing for more than thirty years. The nights
are spent mostly attending ceramahs and other majlis. In between that
he also has to run the state and attend to other matters such as
meeting visiting dignitaries, attending the rulers conference, EXCO
meetings, and so on.
Earlier I had the impression I would be meeting a frail old man who I
would have to treat gently. Instead it turned out that Tuan Guru is a
healthy and fit man for a person of 65. The only 'serious' ailment
Tuan Guru suffers from is gastric but this does not seem to effect him
to the extent that he would have to miss any fasting days, mandatory
or otherwise. I commented that many of us seem to experience the same
thing. Normally if we miss breakfast we would suffer from hungers
pangs but during Ramadhan, maybe due to psychological reasons, we can
complete a full day of fasting with no side effects.
Nik Aziz comes from a prominent family. However not much publicity is
given to this fact and the general impression is Tuan Guru is merely a
kampong preacher of humble lineage. Now please do not get me wrong.
Nik Aziz and his ancestors are people of humble character; it is only
that they are not of humble birth. Nik Aziz's father was a student of
the famous religious teacher, Tok Kenali. Invariably he too became a
famous Tok Guru himself. His father before him, that is Nik Aziz's
grandfather on his father's side, was Raja Banjar. He carried the
title of 'Pembawa Lembing Sultan', the equivalent of a Sultan's
In fact, Nik Aziz is of royal blood but the family chose to drop the
royal title because in those days the royals were placed second to God
and they were not allowed to mingle with the common folks. However,
because of Nik Aziz's father's religious background he needed to get
close to the rakyat and this would have been impossible as a 'royal'.
He therefore chose to become a 'common' man and devote his life to
teaching religion in the kampongs. He also considered it syirik for
the people to revere a fellow human being and as a royal this would
have been difficult to avoid.
You can see that Nik Aziz has continued the family traditional of
being down to earth and humble. Their family never 'reclaimed' their
royal title and maintaining an identity of a kampong preacher suits
Nik Aziz fine. He seems happier as a Tuan Guru rather than a 'Tengku'.
When not teaching religion Nik Aziz's father spent his spare time
tending to his fruit orchard and rubber estate. This is a 'hobby'
continued by Nik Aziz. In between his heavy schedule Nik Aziz can be
found walking around his kebun or strolling through the kampongs with
his trusted shotgun. Nik Aziz would shoot squirrels and other crop
pests as a sport. He would not, however, shoot birds or other harmless
creatures which are of no danger to the farmers' crops.
Of course these jaunts through the kampongs gives the local police
chief heart attacks due to the security problem it poses but Nik Aziz
says he feels very safe walking freely among the rakyat, confident
that his sincerity in serving them is protection enough.
Nik Aziz was only about nine or ten years old when the Japanese
invaded Malaya. It was during this time that Tuan Guru fell from his
horse and was in a coma for 4 months. Due to the war, medical
attention was lacking and hospitalisation was out of the question. Nik
Aziz was left at home to 'fight' for his life on his own.
After he recovered Nik Aziz was sent off to a pondok school in Jertih
for his education where he had to sit out the war with no news from
home. It was too risky to travel so he had to stay put and tend for
himself. He did not know whether his family was alive or safe until
after the war when he could go back to Kota Bharu.
In Kota Bharu he continued his schooling under a well known Tok Guru,
Tok Khurasan from Afghanistan. Among his contemporary was Haji Ahmad
Mahir, the previous Timbalan Menteri Besar of Kelantan's father, who
went on to become the Mufti of Kelantan.
After receiving his basic education in 1951, and at the age of 20, Nik
Aziz decided to follow his father's footsteps and start his own kebun
in Rantau Panjang. He was there for barely 28 days when he got struck
down with a fever and for the next 3 months he was again in a coma.
On recovering from his sickness Nik Aziz decided that he was not cut
out to be a farmer so he went on to continue his religious education
instead. He spent the next ten years from February 1952 till February
1962 in India, Pakistan and Cairo where he not only picked up his
religious knowledge but also a command of Urdu, Parsi and Arabic. He
went by air which just went to show the status his family had in
Kelantan society then when the 'common' mode of transport at that time
was by ship.
When Nik Aziz returned in 1962 he established his own school where he
still teaches until today. The mornings and afternoons were spent in
school while in the evenings Tuan Guru taught in the government
sponsored Sekolah Dewasa about three times a week. Religion is a state
matter so to enable the Federal government to set up these schools
they had to be called 'Sekolah Dewasa' though they also taught
religion in these schools.
It was about this time that the 'Kafir-Mengkafir' issue was being
hotly debated amongst the UMNO and PAS members and many Ulamaks were
being arrested by the government under the ISA. UMNO Kelantan decided
to organise a Conference for the Alim Ulamak and all the Sekolah
Dewasa teachers, who were assumed to be pro-government, were invited
to attend. The purpose of this Conference was to find points to
counter the 'Kafir-Mengkafir' issue.
Nik Aziz played a prominent role in this Conference by playing the
'devil's advocate" and arguing the case for PAS. He was not a PAS
member yet then but he thought someone should at least play the
'opposition' role in debating all the issues as the opposition was not
there to defend themselves. Nik Aziz brought out many issues which
went unanswered until today.
In 1967 Haji Ahmad Perai, the Wakil Rakyat for Kelantan Hilir and now
called Pengkalan Chepa, died in a car accident and a by-election was
held. Nik Aziz was chosen to stand on the PAS ticket which he won
easily though the majority dropped from 6,000 to 3,000 votes. His
'opponent' whom he defeated was Tengku Nor Asiah.
I asked Tuan Guru Nik Aziz about the rumours of the various attempts
on his life. Tuan Guru just laughed and replied that they were merely
rumours. Maybe there were one or two occasions when strangers were
seen hanging around his house and the authorities were just being
cautious. After all, he is very lax with security and if someone
really wanted to get rid of him it would have happened a long time
I also brought up the point that many people say that PAS in Kelantan
is Nik Aziz and Nik Aziz is PAS. Without Nik Aziz there would be no
PAS in Kelantan. How would this effect the future of PAS when Tuan
Guru is no longer around to lead the party? Would that mean the end of
PAS rule in Kelantan?
Nik Aziz replied that this was the same thing they said about Asri.
But when Asri left PAS the party continued. Tuan Guru feels that his
eventual exit from PAS would not have any adverse effect on the party.
Anyhow, to ensure a smooth succession, Tuan Guru makes sure that from
time to time he allows the second echelon leaders to take his place
officiating functions and meeting the people. This would not only be
good training for these second layers but it would also allow the
people to get more accustomed to them. Nik Aziz would never place the
party in an awkward situation that a vacuum is created once he has to
I asked Tuan Guru what is it about UMNO that he is against. He
declared he is not against UMNO. It is only that UMNO is not
implementing some of the things obligatory under Islam. It is his job,
as a religious teacher, to remind UMNO of these faults or deviations.
If UMNO can see itself to correcting these mistakes there would be no
more 'problems'. He is not an enemy of UMNO or is working against UMNO
for the sake of opposing. He is just here to remind everybody, PAS or
UMNO, about right and wrong as compulsory under Islam.
Tuan Guru Nik Aziz is an advocate of a Muzakarah between UMNO and PAS.
He feels UMNO and PAS should sit down and discuss the many issues
splitting the Malays and Muslims in Malaysia. He is confident that a
solution can be found for Muslim unity as long as both parties are
sincere and open in discussing Islam and can accept what is obligatory
under Islam. PAS is ever ready and ever willing to hold this
Muzakarah. It is UMNO that is reluctant. Probably UMNO is not prepared
to face the truth or is worried about antagonising their non-Muslims
members in the Barisan Nasional by seeming too Islamic.
Tuan Guru Nik Aziz has ten children. Only one of them is working while
the rest are still studying. Seven of his children are married who
have given him ten grandchildren. From the sound of things he has not
decided whether to stop here and retire. From the way things are going
Kelantan would probably see Tuan Guru Nik Aziz around for some time
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