President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo meeting with Maimun 'Mbah Moen' Zubair at Al Anwar Islamic Boarding School in Rembang, Central Java, in May 2014. (Antara Photo/Widodo S. Jusuf)

Indonesia Mourns Passing of Prominent Islamic Scholar 'Mbah Moen'


AUGUST 06, 2019

Jakarta. Indonesians are mourning the death of Maimoen "Mbah Moen" Zubair, a prominent Islamic scholar who passed away at age 90 in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

Mbah Moen, who was a senior figure in Nahdlatul Ulama, the country's largest independent Muslim organization, also served as the head of an Islamic boarding school in his hometown of Rembang, Central Java. He passed away in Mecca at 4 a.m. on Tuesday while on hajj at the invitation of the Saudi government. He is survived by 11 children. 

His family said he would be buried in Mecca.

"All praise to God; our family is willing to let Aba [father] be buried in Mecca. He made no final will, but many people say he wanted to pass away and be buried in Mecca," Majid "Gus" Kamil, one of Mbah Moen's sons, said in Rembang on Tuesday.

Gus said he and his brother, Taj Yasin Maimoen, who is also the deputy governor of Central Java, planned to fly to Mecca to perform a final prayer for their father.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Mbah Moen's body will not be returned to Indonesia and that he would be buried in Saudi Arabia.

"He will be buried in Mecca, according to information we have received from the family," acting foreign ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said on Tuesday.

He said Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi had instructed the Indonesian Consulate in Jeddah to assist with Mbah Moen's funeral arrangements.

He will be laid to rest in the Cemetery of Ma'la and Al-Hajun, where Khadijah, the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad, is buried.

Nationalist Figure

Mbah Moen was active in politics, having represented Rembang in the Regional Representative Council for seven years, and he served as chairman of the United Development Party (PPP) before focusing on his Islamic boarding school.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo expressed his condolences on Instagram on Tuesday.

"We knew that he was a charismatic preacher, whom the Muslim ummah often referenced, especially on Islamic jurisprudence studies. He was also very keen to convey the absoluteness of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia," Jokowi said.

Jokowi said he had visited Mbah Moen's Islamic boarding school, Al-Anwar Rembang, twice and prayed with him.

"The death of Mbah Moen is not only a great loss to me and Al Anwar Islamic Boarding School Rembang in Central Java, but also for the Islamic ummah and all Indonesians," the president said.

Mbah Moen often preached the view held by Nahdltul Ulama that there is no need for Muslims to establish a caliphate or Islamic state in Indonesia, because the country and its Pancasila state ideology were established on Islamic ideals. 

House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamzah said he always held Mbah Moen's advice in high regard.

"'Protect the religion, protect the state.' That was Mbah Moen's last message that impressed me the most," Fahri said. 

Businessman Erick Thohir, who led Jokowi's successful re-election campaign this year, also expressed his condolences.

"We have just lost a charismatic, embracing and nationalist figure," Erick said in a statement.