The Real Cry of Syed Shaykh al-Hady




Gordon, Alijah (Ed.)

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Malaysian Sociological Research Institute


Syed Shaykh al-Hady, militant reformer of Islam and Muslims, has yet to be fully recognized nationally in Malaya for his contribution to the liberation of Muslim consciousness. Syed Shaykh has yet to be recognized internationally for the part he played in this Malay extremity of the reformist movement started by the modernising theoreticians of the Islamic world, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Egypt’s Muhammad ‘Abduh, Rashid Rida and others. Syed was one of the founders of al-Imam (The Leader) in 1906, a Jawi-Malay journal published in Singapore and dedicated to islah, reform and renewal. In 1926-8, now based in Penang, he created al-Ikhwan (Brethren), the newspaper Saudara (Brother), as well as the Jelutong Press. In these Syed Shaykh Mohd. Tahir Jalaluddin, Imam Abu Bakar Ash ‘ari, and others courageously attacked abuses wrongly sanctified by a misinterpretation of what was the intrinsic direction and nature Islam, which they contended was at all times progressive and life-giving. They adamantly stood against taqlid, the blind following of tradition, which Prophet Muhammad had warned would lead us ‘to crawl into the lizard’s hole’ if our forefathers had done so. Cover photograph: Syed Shaykh al-Hady, grandfather and adoptive father of Datuk Dr. Syed Mohamed Alwi al-Hady who stands at his knee; 1925. Reading the criticisms of this Kaum Muda (New Faction) vanguard of over 90 years ago, one is struck by the realisation that many are still valid today, that Malay society in its religious-culture and religious-structure still stands in need of courageous islah thinkers if the life force of the Malay Muslim mass is to be allowed to come out from under the remaining coconut shell where no sun can shine in. This compendium is dedicated to that vision.




Gordon, A. (1999). The Real Cry of Syed Shaykh al-Hady. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Malaysian Sociological Research Institute.