The writer of many books and a teacher at Masjidil Haram between 1880 – 1915, he was popularly known as Sheikh Mohammed Saghir (Sheikh Nik Mat Kecik). He himself preferred to be called Sheikh Mohammed Ismail Ad Daudy Fatani due to his close ties with the famous ulamak Sheikh Daud Abdullah Fatani who brought him from Terengganu to grow up and study in Mekkah. Many assumed he was the grandson of the Sheikh who was well-known around Mekkah as the first prominent scholar from Jawi, but the Sheikh never married and had no children. But Sheikh Nik Mat Kecik was the grandson of his brother Tuan Idris though the mother Tuan Zainab.
Sheikh Nik Mat Kecik was born in Pulau Duyong Kuala Terengganu, an island in the east of Malaya (later known as Malaysia) in the year 1844.
Three years later Sheikh Daud passed away in Mekkah and was buried in Taif. He left behind many books and students who spread his teachings in Mekkah, Patani, Kelantan, Terengganu, Indonesia and Singapore.
Tuan Zainab daughter of Tuan Idris married Wan Ismail son of Wan Ahmad. They were living in Patani in the south of Thailand. At that time nearby states to Patani, Narathiwat, Yala, Kelantan
Kedah and Terengganu were Malay Muslims states. However, the rulers of the Kingdom of Siam (Thailand) were Buddhists and there were constant harassments from the Siamese army on these states.
In 1826 the state of Patani fell after a massive raid by the Siamese army, from then on it was governed directly by Siamese administration.
Due to continued harassments, massacres, murders, disappearance of prominent Muslim leaders, many Muslim families emigrated to Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu. Sheikh Ismail bin Ahmad (Sheikh Mohammed's father) emigrated with his wife Tuan Zainab to Terengganu, Pulau Duyong where the baby Mohammed was born.
After the death of Sheikh Daud Fatani, the child Muhammad ibn Ismail began to receive personal home-schooling tuition from prominent scholar Sheikh Abdul Qadir bin Abdul Rahman al-Fatani (also known as Sheikh Abdul Qadir Makkah) who was his cousin, being the son of Sheikh Abdul Rahman and Tuan Fatimah sister of his mother Tuan Zainab.
He studied various religious faculties including the origins of jurisprudence, interpretation of the AlQuran and Hadith, fiqah and tasauf.
He was also a student of Sheikh Abdullah bin Ibrahim Fatani and a student of Sheikh Mohammed, another scholar who was then present in Mount Hindi in Makkah.
These educational programmes at that early age made the young Mohammed bin Ismail a wellknown scholar in various fields of Islamic Studies.
Sheikh Mohammed became a writer, he chose to write religious books in Malay instead of in Arabic to cater for Malays who were not conversant with Arabic language living in Mekkah. After writing many books he became well-known and his books began to be used as textbooks in religious schools in Malaya, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. In a short time, while he was still in the prime of youth, he was already well-known in Makkah for his knowledge.
His teachers over the period included:
Sheikh Daud al-Fatani, who brought him to Mecca and raised and educated him (1845 - 1847).
Sheikh Abdul Qadir bin Abdullah al-Fatani
Sheikh Abdullah bin Ibrahim bin Tahir Fatani
Sheikh Abdul Qadir bin Abdul Rahman
Sheikh Mohammed bin Ismail taught many students from Patani, Malaya, Indonesia, Singapore and other Malay-speaking people from southeast countries (known as Jawi) who were living in Saudi Arabia, particularly in the Hijaz area and near the Two Holy Mosques, in the late 19th century to the early 20th century.
Many students listened to his lectures in Masjidil Haram and a few other institutions (such as at Ismail Che Daud and Rumah Wan Suh). He normally taught the knowledge of tawhid, fiqh, Arabic literature and Islamic virtues.
Sheikh Mohammed ibn Ismail in his teaching make references to the Sunnah of Rasulullah (Peace Be Upon Him) and His Companions with the aim of correcting the faith in Islam based on The Quran and the Sunnah.
His teachings was based on the doctrine of jurisprudence of Imam Shafi'i, may Allah rest his soul. Sheikh Muhammad ibn Ismail clearly referred to this preference in his books.
The scholars continued his efforts spreading the knowledge to other parts of the Malay and Indonesia states when they returned home and established privately-run village religious schools (called “pondok”).
"Sheikh (Mohammed bin Ismail) was one of the famous Patani scholars," said Azman Ta'i. He had written several books, including “Matla’ul Badrain”.
His most famous works included:
Matla’al Badrin wa Majma’al Bahrin (1303)
Al Bahr Al Wafi wan Nahr Al Safi (1331)
Al Bajhat Al Mardiyyah fi Fawaid Al Ukhrawiyyah (1296)
Al Dar Al Basim fi Ashab Al Kahfi wa Al Roqim (1310)
Al Dar Al Masnun wa Jawahir Al Maknun
Al Firqadain wa Jawahir Al ‘iqdain (1311)
Al Kawakib Al Durri Nur Al Muhammadiyyi (1304)
Solawati Al Barqi (1323)
Wishah Al Afrah wa Isbah Al Falah (1312)
Sheikh Mohammed bin Ismail was married three times:
Khadija (no records) no children.
Amna Farrash from AlFayyoum Egypt with 7 children: Abdullah, Mohammed Noor, Mohammed Amin, Fatima, Kalthoum, Khadija and Daud.
Nik Mas, from Kelantan with 1 son Abdul Rashid
Sheikh Mohammed bin Ismail excelled in the Islamic sciences and his peers described him with the qualities of high morality and integrity, pious, humble.
His understanding of scientific knowledge received praises from other scholars. These attributes were envied by his contemporaries in Mekkah because during that time very few religious scholars were trained to understand the sciences.
He was highly respected among the Mekkah community. Sheikh Mohammed Noor, his son was described as "Sheikh Mohammed Noor, son of the virtuous scholar Sheikh Mohammed Saghir al-Fatani."
He was the only person given the licence as Mutawwif by the Rulers of Hijaz to bring in pilgrims from Jawi states.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Ismail Fatani, known as Mohammed Saghir al-Fatani, was one of the most famous scholar and writer and his books are still used as textbooks even now. He was wellknown in Mekkah, and in the Malay Jawi States of Patani, Malaysia. Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Ismail al-Daudi al-Fatani (May Allah give him His Mercy) died after an illness (high blood pressure) on Saturday, 1333/4/20, 1915/3/6, at the age of 71 years and he was buried in the Cemetery of Al-Ma'ala,