Nuruddin ar-Raniri

Nūr al-Dīn b. Muḥammad b. ‘Alī b. Ḥasanjī b. Muḥammad Ḥamīd, surnamed al-Rānīrī (or among the Malays known with a spelling Nuruddin ar-Raniri). a scholar of Indo-Arab stock, was born in an Arab family whose founder had settled down in Rānīr, i.e., present-day Rander in Gujarat. He came to Acheh in 1637, after the death of the famous ruler Iskandar Muda (1607-1636) and lived here till 1644, when he returned to India. Short though his sojourn was, he has not fallen into oblivion in Acheh: the present State Theological Institute (Institut Agama Islam Negeri) in Bandar Acheh bears his name. What with his mordant public stigmatization of current mystical doctrine, what with his numerous polemics and paraenetic writings, and last but not least by his encyclopaedic Bustān al-Salāṭīn he won himself an abiding place in Indonesian cultural history. His works were widely read, also in later times, as is evidenced by the number of copies preserved in various libraries; moreover, some of these were translated into other Indonesian languages and two even into Tamil, and through this intermediary into Arabic.

Ideologically he was the great-inquisitor, who condemned the ideas of his predecessor, Shams al-Dīn of Pasi, as well as the ideas of the poet and mystic Hamza Fansuri. He had their works burnt on the big square in front of the mosque of Banda Aceh and several adherents of their doctrines condemned to death. He held his position under Iskandar Thānī (1636-1641) and also during the first years of the first woman sultan in Aceh, Safiyyat al-Dīn. In August 1643, however, an adherent of the doctrines of Shams al-Dīn came back from his studies in Arabia and started a campaign against al-Rānīrī. This campaign no doubt also had its economic and political aspects. al-Rānīrī fell into disgrace, had to leave Aceh quite abruptly in 1644 and returned to Gujerat, where he died as a respected scholar in 1658.