Sheikh Mohammed ibn Ismail ibn Ahmed ibn Idris Fatani
Sheikh Mohammed bin Ismail al-Fatani was known as Sheikh Nik Mat Kecil Fatani (Sheikh Mohammed Saghir) among close family members and then later was also preferred by friends. He himself preferred to be known as "Sheikh Mohammed Ismail ad-Daoudi al-Fatani", because Sheikh Daoud Fatani was known as one of the first scholars from the Malay region, and perhaps because Sheikh Daoud Fatani brought him up and nurtured from a young age, and people assumed he was the son of Sheikh Daoud Fatani; actually he was the Sheikh’s grand nephew and the Sheikh himself never married and never had any children.
Birth: Date: 1260 Ah / 1844 AD.
Location: Pulau Duyung Village, an island at the river-mouth of the town Kuala Terengganu in the state of Terengganu in Malaya (in 1963 it became Malaysia).
The parents had always lived in Patani, a Muslim Malay state in the south of Thailand.
War broke out in Patani, Yala, Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu after constant harassment from the Buddhist rulers in the Kingdom of Siam, and the war lasted for a long time, and in 1832 the state of Patani fell after a massive raid by the Siamese armies, from then on it was governed directly by Siamese administration.
Due to continued harassments, massacres, murders, disappearance of Muslims, many Muslim families emigrated to Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu. Sheikh Ismail bin Ahmad (Sheikh Mohammed's father) emigrated with his wife Wan Zainab to Terengganu, Pulau Duyung where the baby Mohammed was born.
Growing up years:
Mohammed bin Ismail grew up with his parents in his early childhood in this village and then the family returned later to Patani. In 1845, Sheikh Daoud al-Fatani return from Makkah to visit Patani and to visit his parents and his roots. He had gone to Makkah many years earlier to seek knowledge. Sheikh Daoud also visited his niece Zainab, daughter of his brother Sheikh Wan Idris. Upon seeing the grand nephew(Muhammad ibn Ismail), who was only two years old at that time, the Sheikh decided to bring back with him, the fortunate baby to Makkah, and the child lived in the care and upbringing of Sheikh Daoud Fatani, until he died in 1848.
His schooling days:
Muhammad ibn Ismail began to seek knowledge at an early age in Makkah, and he became interested in the quest of knowledge. He matured into adulthood with a strong will to be independent and developed an excellent sense of responsibility. This early start put him far ahead of his peer group.
After the death of Sheikh Daoud Fatani, the child Muhammad ibn Ismail ad-Daoudi al-Fatani 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 Wan Fatimah sister of his mother Wan Zainab.
He studied various religious faculties including the origins of jurisprudence, interpretation of the AlQuran and Hadith, and other religious branches.
He was also a student of Sheikh Abdullah bin Ibrahim Fatani.
At the same time he was also a student of Sheikh Mohammed, a scholar who was then present in Mount Hindi in Makkah.
These educational efforts at that early age made the young Mohammed bin Ismail a well-known 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. After writing many books he became 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 teacher in the early years of his beginnings in seeking knowledge at an early age:
Sheikh Daoud al-Fatani, who brought him to Mecca and worked to care for, raise and educate him (1847).
Sheikh Abdul Qadir bin Abdullah al-Fatani (1260 H/1844 AD.)
Sheikh Abdullah bin Ibrahim bin Tahir Fatani (1286 H / 1869 A.D.)
Sheikh Abdul Qadir bin Abdul Rahman (1316 H /1898 AD.)
Many more scholars that Sheikh Muhammad bin Ismail seek knowledge from in Mecca, but the available sources did not name these sheikhs.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Ismail taught many students from Patani, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and other Malay-speaking people from southeast countries who were in Saudi Arabia, particularly in the Hijaz area and 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, eloquence 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 God rest his soul. Sheikh Muhammad ibn Ismail clearly referred to this 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 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:
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)
His family life: Sheikh Mohammed bin Ismail was married to four wives:
Khadija (no records) no children.
Amna Farrash from AlFayyoum Egypt with 7 chidren: Abdullah, Mohammed Nour, Mohammed Amin, Fatima, Kalthoum, Khadija and Daoud.
Nik Mas, a wife from Kelantan with 1 son Abdul Rashid
In 1328, Sheikh Mohammed bin Ismail travelled to Malaysia to meet his relatives in Terengganu and Kelantan. He also visited Patani and Bangkok, Thailand, and then returned to Mecca in 1330.
His efforts in jurisprudence:
Sheikh Mohammed bin Ismail sailed in the islamic sciences and described him with the qualities of high morality of piousness, piety and depth of faith, and his scientific standing, and the praise of the scholars on it, was enough to become cruel among his group in Mecca at that time and this was from the fact that he was one of the most famous scholars in the 13th/19th century, and had a scientific status
He was highly respected in the Makkah community. Sheikh Mohammed Nur, his son was described it as "Sheikh Mohammed Nur, son of the virtuous scholar Sheikh Mohammed Saghir al-Fatani."
Bottom line: Sheikh Mohammed bin Ismail Fatani, known as Muhammad Saghir al-Fatani, was one of the most famous scholars of his time and writer even now, and he became famous in Makkah, and in the Malay States.
The death of Sheikh Mohammed bin Ismail al-Daoudi al-Fatani (May God rest his soul) was the result of an illness (high blood pressure) on Saturday, 1333/4/20, 1915/3/6, and he was buried in the Cemetery of Al-Ma'ala, at the age of 71.