Dr. Douwe Adolf Rinkes

Dr. Douwe Adolf Rinkes


A note on his life and work*

Dr. Douwe Adolf RinkesDouwe Adolf Rinkes was born at Joure, in the province of Friesland (Netherlands), on November 8, 1878. He was of true Frisian stock, both his father and his mother, Minke Minderts Hoekstra, being Frisian.

In the small town of Joure, the centre of the municipality of Haskerland, the Rinkes family had been living for generations. Jan Jans Rinkes, the greatgrandfather of D.A. Rinkes, was a well-to-do corndealer. His son Inne Jans, D.A. Rinkes’ grandfather, became burgomaster of Haskerland. But beside commercial spirit and administrative capacities other talents too showed in the family. The youngest brother of grandfather Inne Jans, Simke Heerts Rinkes, was a Latinist of repute, who after completing his study of the classics at the university of Leiden by writing a thesis on Cicero’s Oratio prima in Catilinam, was nominated vice-principal of the grammar-school at Arnhem. His untimely death at the age of 36 put an end to a very promising career.

D.A. Rinkes’ father, Jan Innes Rinkes, was again a man of business, but Douwe, the second son, but the eldest child in a family of five after the death of the first-born at a tender age, did not follow in his father’s steps. After attending the secondary school at Sneek, a small town in the neighbourhood of the Frisian lakes, famous as a yachting centre, he bade farewell to his native soil and moved to Wageningen to carry on his study at the School of Agriculture and Forestry. This school, established in 1874, afterwards (1917) developed into the present Agricultural University of Wageningen.

At the end of the two years’ course Rinkes passed the obligatory government examination in the colonial section of the school (1898) and was certificated in tropical agriculture. In the summer and autumn of the same year he did the last part of his military service as a sergeant in the reserve and in February 1899 he sailed for Java, on his own account and resolved to try his fortune outside the Netherlands, like so many of his fellow-students. His first situation in the Netherlands-Indies was that of an assistant at the Botanical Gardens at Buitenzorg (Bogor), where he was put in charge of the demonstration fields designed to illustrate the cultivation of marketcrops to the indigenous population.

Apparently a career in the Netherlands Indian Civil Service had much more to attract him than his initial occupation, in spite of the fact that at the beginning of the 20th century the supply of competent candidates for this overrated department of the colonial administration was far in excess of the demand. In consequence of this the training college for Civil Service men in the home-country, the “Indische Instelling” at Delft, had closed its doors. Its colonial counterpart, however, had continued to function, and it was to this school, the so called “Section B” of the Gymnasium Willem III[1] at Batavia (Jakarta), that Rinkes went in order to prepare for his prospective vocation.

The object that he had in view seemed to be attained when, in October 1903, he was appointed to the Civil Service in the rank of “aspirant controleur” (junior district-officer) and placed at Korintji, at that time in the territory West Coast of Sumatra.[2] But things took a different turn. His stay there was of short duration: within a year he was transferred to Java, where during a few months he served in the same rank in the Western part of the island, the Preanger regencies. In the beginning of 1905 he had to tender his resignation on account of illness and was temporarily appointed to the “Algemene Secretarie”, the central office of the Netherlands Indian government at Buitenzorg (Bogor), where the Governor-general had his residence. Shortly afterwards he was granted a two years’ sick-leave and returned to Holland.

It can hardly be doubted that the administrative function after which he had aspired so much that he had been willing to return to school for a period of three years, had fallen short of his expectations. Nevertheless, these years had not been unfruitful. The tuition he had received at “Section B” had made him realize where his real interest lay. This is apparent from the preface to his thesis, where Rinkes voices his feelings of indebtedness and gratitude towards his masters of “Section B” for their excellent teaching “which engendered my interest in oriental languages and literature and everything connected”. Among these teachers Hazeu and Van Ronkel are mentioned by name. Hazeu, an amiable and unassuming man of great abilities, who afterwards became professor of Javanese at Leiden, was in charge of the instruction in the Javanese language. He was an eminent Javanist, and the author of a still valuable synoptical work on the Javanese theatre and of several papers on Javanese literature and folklore which bear testimony to his exact knowledge and scientific approach. Moreover, he was possessed of an intimate knowledge of the Javanese world; his relations with it were manifold and especially with the Javanese literati of the central-javanese principalities he maintained a friendly intercourse. So no wonder that his lessons roused the interest of those among his pupils who were alive to the importance of a thorough knowledge and understanding of indigenous life and culture.

Van Ronkel’s chief subject in teaching was Malay language and literature. His activities in this field are well-known and need not to be mentioned here. An exhaustive list of his publications has been printed in Bingkisan Budi, the memorial volume offered to him on the occasion of his 80th birthday in 1950. In the period during which Rinkes was among his audience the lessons in Islamic law and institutions had also fallen to his task. A complete text of Van Ronkel’s lectures on these subjects during the years 1899-1904 — comprizing 475 pp. in manuscript — is in the possession of the Oosters Instituut at Leiden. From these lectures it is apparent that he treated the subjects in question in a comprehensive way. Moreover, the influence of Snouck Hurgronje, whose efforts had placed the study of Islamic law on a new footing and whose masterly work on the Achehnese had appeared only a few years before, shows ever and anon. In the course of the lessons Snouck Hurgronje’s name will have come up frequently, and many a time the importance of his scientific work in the domain of Islamic studies will have been brought to the fore.

When one bears in mind Van Ronkel’s lifelong interest in Malay literature and the numerous collections of Malay manuscripts which were catalogued by him, one may be sure that in connection with the origin of Indonesian Islam the source of many a literary work in the Malay language will have been dealt with. I have in my possession a little volume in 12°, presented to me by Rinkes on his return to Europe in 1927. It is the Bibliothèque Nationale edition of Vaugelas’ French translation of the History of Alexander the Great by Quintus Curtius, published in three parts, 1897-1902. On the fly-leaf it bears Rinkes’ signature, with the addition: O.I. ambtenaar, Buitenzorg, indicating that he must have acquired this book in 1905. It was a rather unlikely book to appeal to an ailing office-clerk, unless he had a special interest in the story of the great Alexander. Is it too hazardous a conjecture that it was his interest in the Malay version of the romance of Alexander that made him buy it? An interest provoked by Van Ronkel’s lessons in Malay literature?

However this may have been, Rinkes’ interest in Indonesian languages and literature had been roused to such an extent that after the two years spent in the Civil Service he resolved to take the shortest cut to studying them on the highest level attainable, viz. at the university of Leiden, where since 1871 the study of these languages had been added to the curriculum of the Literary Faculty and a doctor’s degree could be taken.

Short cuts are sometimes longest, and often arduous in the extreme. In Rinkes’ case the last proved very true. Since he had not attended a grammar-school he could not sit for any examination in the Literary Faculty before he had acquired his matriculation certificate. This meant that before going to Leiden he had to grind at Latin and Greek, in order to prepare for the matriculation-examination in the shortest possible time. It was his good luck that he found two very competent and experienced teachers in Dr. Sormani, principal of the grammar-school at Nijmegen — who in later years became widely known owing to his much used Dutch adaptation of Kaegi’s Greek grammar — and Dr. Van Konijnenburg, vice-principal of the same school. Coached by these two old hands at the trade he was able to enter for his matriculation after not more than one year’s study, so that in the autumn of 1906 the way to the university lay open before him.

This success may be considered sufficient proof of Rinkes’ intellectual capacities, energy and zeal, the more so when one takes into account that he had been invalided home. But another conclusive proof was still to follow. It is one of the peculiarities of the Indonesian languages program of the Dutch universities that it opens with a normally three years’ preparatory course of Arabic, Sanskrit, Islam and cultural history of India. Now it has been borne out by experience that this is a hard nut to crack, and that the intricacies of Arabic and Sanskrit grammar are more easily mastered by young people fresh from the grammar-school than by older students. Rinkes, being a public servant on leave, was hard pressed by time. From his two years’ leave one year had already been spent in preparing for his matriculation, so that he could not afford to do this part of the program at a more leisurely pace than his study of Latin and Greek. On the contrary, he could not even afford to keep step with the ordinary student, but had to quicken his pace and try to pass the “candidaats”-examination in a shorter time than that taken by other students. Fortunately his professors appreciated the difficulty of his position, so that from the very beginning he did not find them lacking in willingness to come to his aid. All of them, each in his own way, extended a helping had to this stubborn Frisian who attempted to achieve the well-nigh impossible and pursued the object that he had in view with the dogged perseverance for which his race is noted.

At that time Sanskrit and cultural history of India were taught by professor Speyer, who had filled the vacancy left by the retirement of H. Kern, the most prominent linguist in the Netherlands in the latter part of the 19th century. Speyer was the author of a book on Vedic and Sanskrit syntax, but he was also well-versed in Indian story-literature. He had published an English translation of the Jatakamala, the “garland of birth-stories” of the Buddha, and edited the text of the Avadanaçataka, a “century of edifying tales” belonging to the Hinayana. His interest in Indonesia was limited to the domain of archaeology: the sculptural rendering of Buddhist tales on various ancient monuments had drawn his attention towards the historical remains of Buddhism in Java.

In the preface to his thesis already quoted before Rinkes speaks very highly of Speyer’s lucid style of teaching and his unfailing readiness to help. Speyer’s almost paternal attitude towards his pupils must have impressed him rather deeply — as it did others — for he strikes a personal note and adds: “You were the first to render actual help, to alleviate my disadvantages, to spare your pupil all useless labour. I know for certain that without your aid I would not have succeeded; without your subtle cooperation the courage to holf on would have failed me”. Apparently Speyer’s friendliness served as an antidote to the despondency which from time to time must have come over him when, urged on by the strict demands of his other professor, Snouck Hurgronje, he passed in review the obstacles which he still had to take before reaching the goal. For, in contradistinction to Rinkes’ attachment to Speyer his relation to Snouck Hurgronje, the professor of Arabic and Islamic studies, seems to have been of a different character. Rinkes professes his profound reverence for Snouck Hurgronje’s immense learning; his heartfelt gratitude for the lavish way in which he imparted his knowledge to others; his deep respect for his painstaking accuracy. But it is evident that his awe of Snouck Hurgronje’s powerful personality precluded warmer feelings. He was, however, not overawed to the extent that there was no place left for criticism, and he even gave vent to this criticism in his thesis by observing upon Snouck Hurgronje’s method of teaching that “perhaps in some respects it might have been less discouraging, at least to me” — a candid statement not comparing unfavourably with the unqualified eulogies in commendation of their professors which others deem obligatory on such occasions.

Dr. D.A. Rinkes

Dr. D.A. Rinkes

This sign of discontent does not alter the fact that Rinkes was fully aware of the valuable, nay indispensable assistance which Snouck Hurgronje had lent him in other respects. For instance, it was only by his influence with the Colonial Office that Rinkes’ leave was extended with a period of two years and half, notwithstanding the inauspicious precedent of Van Ophuijsen, at that time professor of Malay at Leiden, to whom eleven years before in similar circumstances no extension of leave had been granted.

Rinkes passed his first examination in February 1908; accordingly he had about two years left for his final (“doctoraal”-) examination and the writing of his thesis. Thanks to the excellent tuition in Javanese and Malay which he had received at “Section B” and also to his subsequent practice of Indonesian languages in the Civil Service this final examination, comprizing Javanese, Malay and Indonesian linguistics, proved not unduly difficult. He mentions the pleasant hours spent with professor Van Ophuijsen, a talented self-taught man, well up in Malay and Batak, but dismisses Vreede, the professor of Javanese († 1908), with a cursory remark, and regrets that the preparation of his thesis did not leave him the time to attend the lectures of Vreede’s successor, professor Jonker, who besides being a Javanist had written a number of fundamental works on some languages of the Lesser Sunda-islands.

Considering that Rinkes passed his final examination in January 1909, only a few days after professor Jonker had held his inaugural address, and had to complete his thesis within the same year, this excuse is reasonable enough. When all is said, he seems to have been pretty well thrown upon his own resources, as far as Javanese was concerned.

For his thesis Rinkes turned again to Snouck Hurgronje who, as he says in the preface to this work, from the very beginning was likely to have to do most with his academic study. From this statement one may infer that from the onset Rinkes had in mind to direct his attention chiefly towards Indonesian Islam and religious literature. His aspiration tallied happily with Snouck Hurgronje’s wish to have the materials collected by himself in this field put to scientific use. So Rinkes became the first of a number of students who took their degrees with Snouck Hurgronje by utilizing his rich collection of manuscripts for their doctoral dissertations on subjects pertaining to Indonesian Islam.

Snouck Hurgronje, than whom no better guide to the contents of these manuscripts could be found, had only three years before returned from Indonesia, where he had been living for seventeen years. Already famous as an Islamist before he went to Indonesia — his book on Mecca[3], written after his stay there in 1885, had brought him international renown — he had planned initially to travel in Indonesia for a period of two years, in pursuance of his aim to study the significance of the Muslim faith in the lives of its adherents in a peripheral area of the Islamic world. But instead of returning to Leiden, where a professorship was awaiting him, he had entered the service of the then Netherlands Indian government as Adviser for Arab and Islamic affairs.[4]

It goes without saying that during the fifteen years of his official career in the Indies he had every opportunity of observing the religious behaviour of the population, and through his close association with religious circles he became familiar with the intimate side of Indonesian devotional life, which is apt to escape the notice of the casual observer.

Now Snouck Hurgronje had always stressed that in Islam it is law and doctrine and mysticism together which constitute sacred learning. But his observation of Indonesian Islam and his research into its historical development had made it clear that as regards the importance of each of these components in religious life the Indonesians had always valued right thinking far more highly than the fulfilment of the Law. In their opinion, however, right thinking was not so much thinking along the lines of scholastic theology as speculative philosophy about the Unique Being and its mysteries, as set forth in the writings of authors whose orthodoxy was open to question. Furthermore, the mystical fraternities with their various ways of attaining unity with the Supreme Being had for centuries occupied a large place in their religious education and practice. So mysticism, orthodox as well as heretical, had spread everywhere and in its most popular form had become a receptacle where degraded remnants of authentic mystical conceptions mingled with scraps of preislamic lore and ancient magic.

This situation is clearly reflected by many of the manuscripts gathered by Snouck Hurgronje in Java and Sumatra. Being mostly of the type of note-bboks wherein pupils of religious teachers set down everything that had interested them in the course of the lessons received, they represent faithfully what kind of instructions was given and which subjects were commonly treated. Moreover, many a page of these manuscripts is filled with the customary tariqa-matter of litanies, prayers and dhikr formulas as passed down to their pupils by teachers authorized to transmit the doctrines and the practices of the various fraternities which flourished in Indonesia.

Rinkes directed his attention to the oldest among these, viz. the Shattariyah. The subject chosen by him for his doctoral dissertation had already been outlined by Snouck Hurgronje in his capital work on the Achehnese. In the second volume of this book a number of pages (14-20) are didicated to “a remarkable Malay”, Abdurra’uf of Singkel by name, but known in Acheh as Teungku di Kuala, since his tomb is situated near the kuala of mouth of the Acheh river. This Abdurra’uf studied Muslim theology in Arabia for many years and with many teachers, but his spiritual guide and teacher in the way of God was Ahmad Qushashi of Medina (died 1661), who initiated him in the Shattarite fraternity. Ahmad Qushashi had many Indonesian pupils. As observed by Snouck Hurgronje (o.c. II p. 10 note 1) the salasilahs (i.e. spiritual genealogical tables, the “chains” of mystic tradition) of the most celebrated mystics in the Archipelago up to about 1850 generally have as their starting-point this Ahmad Qushashi of Medina who, in his turn, counted many teachers of Indian descent among his spiritual ancestors.[5]

Whereas most of these Indonesian pupils of Ahmad Qushashi’s have sunk into oblivion, Abdurra’uf has provided posterity with a short account of his life as a scholar, added to his book “Umdat al-muhtajin ila suluk maslak al-mufridin” (Support of those desirous to walk in the way of the “solitaries”). Now Rinkes set himself the task of giving a more elaborate description of Abdurra’uf’s training and tutorial activities, firstly passing in review the long list of his teachers and gleaning further particulars from his own works, and secondly analysing Abdurra’uf’s ‘Umda. The chief contents of this book are directions for practising the various methods of dhikr approved of by the pious men of yore. The last chapter, however, is a discourse on the ethics of the conscientious mystic, in which a number of precepts respecting moral conduct abstracted from the ethical literature of Islamic mysticism are summed up.

Finally Rinkes discussed shortly the propagation of the Shattariyah in Java, concluding with an outline of some of the subjects commonly dealt with in the Javanese notebooks which he had examined, primarily the doctrine of the seven grades (martabat tujuh), to the spread of which Muhammed b. Fadlullah al-Burhanpuri’s al-Tuhfa al-mursala ila ‘l-nabi (written in 1590) seems to have contributed considerably.[6]

On examining afresh the salasilahs of the Shattarite fraternity as given in the Javanese notebooks Rinkes found ample confirmation of Snouck Hurgronje’s statement that in many cases the Javanese had become acquainted with this order through the intermediary of Abdurra’uf. For Abdurra’uf had imparted his knowledge to a certain Abdulmuhyi who afterwards settled down in the kampung of Saparwadi, now called Pamijahan, in the neighbourhood of Parakan Honje, to the south of Tasikmalaya (Preanger regencies) and it is this Abdulmuhyi who figures as the first Javanese transmitter in many genealogical lists. His tomb at Pamijahan, situated on the slope of a hill outside the hamlet, is held in high veneration and attracts many pilgrims from Eastern Preanger. It is little wonder that the first item on Rinkes’ scientific program after his return to Java in January 1910 was a visit to Pamijahan, which village could be easily reached from Batavia (Jakarta), where he had been appointed Javanese master at the selfsame “Section B” of his early training. As a result of this visit he wrote his first paper on the “Saints of Java” published in the Tijdschrift of the Batavia Society. Unlike the articles which followed this one is based entirely on oral information gathered on the spot. It may be considered as a sequel to his doctoral dissertation and at the same time as a hors d’oeuvre to the series of papers which he had planned to write on the wali sanga, the “nine saints” of Javanese tradition.

Most unfortunately this series — after an auspicious start which the significant story of Seh Siti Jenar — came to an abrupt end when only four out of the “nine saints” had been dealt with.[7]
These saints are:
1° Seh Siti Jenar, buried at Pamlaten, near Cherbon;
2° Sunan Geseng, the saint of Kedu;
3° Sunan Bayat, alias Ki Pandan Arang, buried at Tembayat in the neighbourhood of Klaten, Central Java;
4° Pangeran Panggung, the saint of Tegal.

There are no indications as to who were still to follow, and it would be difficult to prognosticate in which way Rinkes would have brought this series to completion, since in Javanese tradition there is no certainty which saints are to be reckoned to the sacred nine and which are not. For, when all the famous saints of yore are passed in review, their number is far greater than nine.

For instance in the Encyclopaedie van Ned.-Indië 2nd ed. II: 90 fifteen saints are mentioned by name, among whom Maulana Maghribi, Sunan Bonang, Sunan Giri, Sunan Ngampel, Sunan Gunungjati, Sunan Kudus, Sunan Muria, Sunan Drajat and Sunan Kalijaga are said to constitue the wali sanga. Elsewhere we find different statments.[8] Apparently it is difficult to draw the line between the wali sanga and the saints of primarily local importance whose tombs are held in veneration by the inhabitants of more or less restricted areas. To be sure, the (sometimes alleged) tombs of the wali sanga are also held in high esteem by the population of the districts where they are situated, but nevertheless to belong to the corporation of the “nine saints” means to belong to a higher category than that of the local saints, since these nine holy men, all of them contemporaries according to legend, are said to have been of universal importance to the islamisation of Java. Not only that, as legend will have it, they were instrumental in bringing about the conversion to Islam but they mark the beginning of a new era in Javanese history and culture, the jaman kuwalen (era of the saints), which is subsequent to the jaman buda, the hindujavanese period.[9]

Therefore, it is a great pity that the series was interrupted before those among the walis who from various ponts of view are the more interesting ones, had been dealt with. Rinkes’ idea of gathering oral tradition in loco and publishing the data collected in this way together with those culled from printed sources and manuscripts — though excellent in itself — must have influenced the order of publication, since this order became dependent on his more or less haphazard visits to the tombs. Apparently at that time Rinkes had no occasion of visiting the southern part of central Java, where the tombs of famous saints like Maulana Maghribi, Sunan Giri, Sunan Ngampel and Sunan Bonang are situated, so that the discussion of these had to be postponed. In consequence we cannot but say that Rinkes’ papers on the saints of Java, valuable though they are, are still far from constituting a Javanese hagiology. Nevertheless, by opening out a new field of inquiry he showed himself a man of marked initiative, which entitles him to our gratitude, the more so because it can hardly be doubted that subjects like mysticism and saint worship did not appeal very strongly to his predominantly practical mind. The Frisians are said to be a ratiocinative race (Frisia ratiocinatur). Sensible, perhaps, of the justness of this characterization Rinkes acknowledged — in the preface to his thesis already quoted before — that “although we Frisians are by no means “wooden-minded literalists”[10], our soberness and inclination to pessimism do not predispose us particularly well to refeeling the mystical emotions of other people, if these are couched in such mysterious jingles”. Likewise, in his rendering of the miraculous stories about the saints, from time to time he cannot refrain from displaying his sceptical attitude, as if to stave off beforehand the imputation of believing himself the absurd things which only scientific interest brought him to relate.

After the publication of his last paper on the saints Rinkes did not publish anything of importance on Indonesian Islam or Idonesian literature. This is not so remarkable when one keeps in mind the gradual increase of his duties, both official and non-official. In the course of 1910 Rinkes, though remaining Javanese master at “Section B”, was appointed linguistic officer and seconded to the Adviser for Native Affairs, Dr. Hazeu. His chief duties were to promote the publication of reading matter for the indigenous population and to organise circulating libraries. In 1911 he was relieved from teaching, so that, besides seeing four of his papers through the press, he had time left for editing the Babad Tjerbon[11] and for writing prefaces to a Javanese reader composed by Ki Padmasoesastra[12] and to an index to the Javanese newspapers in the collection of the Batavia Society.[13] The publications last mentioned were promoted and supervised by himself, the former because he was in urgent need of more modern reading matter for his Javanese lessons, the latter because it was a prerequisite to the composing of a descriptive catalogue of the Javanese manuscripts in the library of the Batavia Society, just as the Javanese bibliography by Poerwasoewignja and Wirawangsa which appeared in two volumes, 1920-’21.[14]

The text of the Babad Tjerbon which he edited was taken from a manuscript in the possession of the late Dr. J.L.A. Brandes, who had prepared an abstract of its contents and numerous notes to the text. At the death of this eminent Javanist these were found among his papers, and as this babad also deals with the lives of many saints, the edition of this posthumous work of Brandes’ was meat and drink to Rinkes. Noticing that there were divergent redactions of the text which showed rather important differences he even conceived the plan of publishing afterwards the results of his comparison of the variant readings. But this plan came to nothing, nor did Rinkes ever find the time to carry out the more ambitious project of editing that part of the Serat Kanda which deals with the islamisation of Java.[15]

When Brandes died (1904) two voluminous works were still in course of publication, viz. Van der Tuuk’s Kawi-Balineesch-Nederlandsch Woordenboek, of which Brandes was the editor[16], and Brandes’ descriptive catalogue of the Javanese, Balinese and Sasak MSS. which had belonged to Van der Tuuk and were bequeathed by him to the Leiden University Library.[17] Rinkes undertook the thankless task of editing the fourth volume of Van der Tuuk’s magnum opus, so that in 1912, after an interval of eleven years since the publication of the third volume and eighteen years after the death of the author, this invaluable dictionary was at last complete. The other work had to wait till 1915, when the third volume appeared, and its publication was not completed until 1928, when Dr. Th. Pigeaud edited the fourth and last volume.

For in the beginning of 1912 Rinkes had been temporarily appointed Deputy-Adviser for Native Affairs, to assist Dr. Hazeu who, alongside of his advisership, had been put in charge of the department of education. About a year and a half afterwards Rinkes became Adviser, whereas Hazeu remained at the head of the department of education.

The post of Adviser was by no means a sinecure. It involved manifold and diverse duties, and what with the rise of the Sarekat Islam, which took place in the years 1910-1916, and the complications brought about by the first world-war, Rinkes’ term of office (1912-1916) was a very busy one.

It is beyond the scope of this short biographical note to go into his activities in his advisory capacity. Suffice it to say that in order to follow closely the development of the Sarekat Islam[18] he had to travel a good deal over Java. His findings were laid down in his reports to Governor-General Idenburg and these reports were not without their influence upon his policy with regard to this popular movement.[19] Since this policy was considered far too lenient by the majority of the European element of the population, alarmed as it was by the rapid growth of the Sarekat Islam and its sometimes rather crude signs of discontent with the existing order, Rinkes got his full share of the abuse showered upon the champions of a “weak-kneed ethical policy” by the colonial newspapers of those days. Fortunately it was not in him to worry at such attacks and in later years, when he was Head of Balai Poestaka, the well-known Government publishing house of vernacular literature, he even took a certain delight in conscientiously filing all criticisms written in the same strain which were directed against the institution that he had created and was fostering with so much care.

Dr. Douwe Adolf Rinkes

The founding of Balai Poestaka was prompted by a more or less accidental development of the situation rather than brought about by far-sighted planning. In December 1914 Hazeu went on leave to Europe. When he came back, in April 1916, he did not return to the department of education but for the time being was put in charge of the Bureau of Native Affairs which was temporarily left without chief on account of Rinkes’ voyage to Jiddah. He had been commissioned to go there because of the precarious situation which had arisen among the Indonesian pilgrims who were stranded in Arabia owing to difficulties of transport and now were suffering from lack of money. There was nothing remarkable in this commission, for it stands to reason that the Advisor for Native Affairs, whose office had so much to do with the pilgrimage, was sent to tackle this job.

Rinkes reported on the situation he had found in Jiddah and the measures he had taken and thereupon proceeded to Europe on leave, not to return before September 1917.

During his absence Hazeu was in control of the Bureau for Native Affairs and since he was many years Rinkes’ senior in service and had older claims to this post, the Government maintained him at the head of the Bureau as Commissioner for Native and Arab affairs, whereas Rinkes was nominated Head of the newly created Kantoor voor de Volkslectuur or Balai Poestaka, as its name was malaicized by its first chief.

Up till that time the publication of books in the more important vernacular languages had been the task of a commission (Commissie voor de Volkslectuur), made up of a restricted number of government nominated private persons and government-officials who had a liking for this kind of work and were willing to do it beside their professional duties. This commission, inaugurated in 1908, was affiliated to the Bureau of the Adviser for Native Affairs, who was its first chairman. For this specific kind of work he had one or two clerks at his disposal, so that his Bureau was the centre of these educational activities. As already mentioned before, this item of the Adviser’s manifold duties had been assigned to Rinkes of his appointment to the Bureau in 1912. From this year onward he had been chairman of the commission and had taken a very active part in its transactions.

At first the commission had directed its attention to the editing of more or less generally known legends and tales and of literature which would stimulate the taste for reading. It had books by European authors translated into Indonesian languages and also encouraged persons who showed an inclination to write fiction or travelogues to try their hand at writing. Although, after about ten years of steady labour, a number of books had been published and not less than 700 circulating libraries had been founded, it could not be denied that the commission had to work in a very roundabout way. Moreover, the printing of the books had to be done by private printing offices, whereas the marketing had to take place through the intermediary of the Government store of schoolbooks which, when all is said, could only be called a very inefficient and cumbersome way of bookproducing and bookselling.

But now that Rinkes had become available to shoulder the work of Volkslectuur exclusive of all other pursuits, the best expedient to concentrate and intensify the activities in this fiels was to transfer the authority and the prerogatives of the commission to an independent bureau under his direction. Equipped with a budget of its own this bureau in due course could also take in hand the sale and administration of the Volkslectuur publications and, eventually, their printing at its own printing plant. Besides, it could attend to the task of regularly reviewing the Indonesian and Chinese-Malay press, a task hitherto performed as best it could by the Bureau of Native Affairs.

With a scanty staff of lower personnel Rinkes started on his way. But he was not born in a family of traders for nothing: he knew how to make the most of the public money allotted to this much criticized institution which constituted an entirely new effort in the domain of adult education. Within a few years he had gathered around him a competent staff of Indonesian writers and editors, translators and proof-readers. He organized a sales department and a storehouse, spread a network of agencies all over the country and founded wellnigh two thousand circulating libraries in addition to those already existing. He even managed to set up a printing plant, housed in a bamboo shed, at considerable distance from his office.

His long cherished ideal of a complete publishing agency, inclusive of a printing plant under its own roof, materialized when the Government printing office moved into a new building and he could lay his hands on the abandoned premises. The spacious former case-room which could seat his numerous staff was made into editoral and administrative offices, whereas an entirely new printing plant was constructed at the back of the building. No longer at the mercy of private printers, now Rinkes could carry out his plans of publishing periodicals in a number of Indonesian languages. In 1918 he had already launched an illustrated Malay monthly, Sri Poestaka, which was sold on subscription but also sent to the libraries sponsored by Volkslectuur. This monthly was now followed by Pandji Poestaka (1923), initially an illustrated weekly but which was soon brought out twice a week, and the Javanese weekly Kadjawèn (1926), which after a short time was also published twice a week. Last of all came the Sundanese weekly paper Parahiangan (1927), so that, including the weekly review of the Indonesian newspapers, every day a new issue of one of these periodicals went to the press.

In the annual reports which from 1922 onward were published regularly one can follow the expansion of the bureau’s activities after it had passed through the years of consolidation. In the first years there was already a marked increase in output, owing to Rinkes’ strenuous handling of the business. From 1908-1917 the commission had seen to the publication of about 280 books and pamphlets. In the first report, however, the total amount of books and pamphlets published till the end of 1922 is given as 770, which means an increase of about 500 in a period of five years.

One of Rinkes’ most succesful ideas was the publication of an almanac, available in four languages, Javanese, Malay, Sundanese and Madurese. This most populair little book already in 1923 sold in 50.000 copies, whereas in later years its sale mounted to 100.000 copies. Considering the circumstances of those days these numbers were stupendous.

The ambulant bookstall was another bright idea of his. It consisted of a motorvan the sides of which could be turned into show-cases. Manned with salesmen, whose voluble tonques warranted them an attentive audience at every village market, these vans penetrated into the interior far outside the radius of activity covered by agents and contributed a great deal to propagating the name of Balai Poestaka.

The best propaganda for Balai Poestaka, however, was the wide range of its publications. There was, in fact, something for everybody: editions of works belonging to ancient literature; translations from European fiction; manuals of vocational training; books on horticulture and fruitgrowing, on infant-care and education, on bookkeeping and commerce; translations of acts and regulations intended for Indonesian functionaries of Government services, and what not. A considerable amount of time and care must have been spent on contacting and stimulating prospective authors and translators and supervising their writings before publication could be taken in hand, but one also wonders at Rinkes’ ingenuity at picking out new subjects every time. Most probably it was the other way round: whenever Rinkes happened to meet a man who could write on a subject with a certain competence he collared him and prevailed upon him to take up the pen.

It goes without saying that by making use of the Malay language for the treatment of so many subjects never treated before by Indonesian authors Balai Poestaka was helpful to the modernization of this language. Moreover, the Malay periodicals published by Balai Poestaka, being read everywhere, contributed to its spread throughout the archipelago.

Important too was that Balai Poestaka was not averse to accepting tales and novels written in imitation of European models but in which the scene was laid in an Indonesian environment. Since these novels usually dealt with problems of a social order much discussed by the younger generation, some of them ran into several editions. Whatever their reception by the literati of those days, nowadays they are considered the first specimens of modern style Indonesian fiction and therefore have found recognition even in circles which from the very beginning had looked askance at Government sponsored literature.

In 1920, after three years of strenuous work, Rinkes fell ill and was sent to Europe on sick-leave. His scientific work had long since come to a standstill and when he returned to his post in 1922, he did not resume it. Gradually he had drifted away from his colleague orientalists although with the younger ones among these his contacts had, in fact, never been very close. Apparently, while attending to the interests of Volkslectuur, his inborn business-instinct had developed at the cost of scientific research. Considering the end to which he put his knowledge and his experience there is no reason to blame him for that. Balai Poestaka was always on his mind and he even renamed “Balai Poestaka” the yacht that he had brought with him when returning from leave in 1922.[20]

In the last years of his career Rinkes lived under the impression that in spite of all outward show of appreciation of his work, the authorities did not pay much attention to his urgent demands for better trained personnel, preferably young orientalists who would be able to replace him on his retirement from office. Indeed, the activities of the bureau had increased to such an extent that it was in need of a number of professional orientalists to ensure the continuous progress of the work in hand. It was, however, his bad luck that at that time orientalists were much in demand with other services too and that nog many among them preferred Volkslectuur to other more scientific occupations. In 1926 the Government at last agreed to send him one of the younger orientalists but it was not until about 1930 that it finally conceded to his wishes. In 1927, however, Rinkes had retired and settled in the south of France living in Nice to the end of his days.[21] He could never be induced to take up again his valuable researches into Indonesian Islam which, unfortunately, his duties as Adviser for Native Affairs and Head of Balai Poestaka had brought to such an untimely end.

G.W.J. Drewes
Noordwijk, November 1960.

* This note was written at the request of the Malaysian Sociological Research Institute of Singapore for its forthcoming English edition of Rinkes’ papers on the saints of Java.


  1. Despite its lofty name this “gymnasium” (in Dutch = grammar-school) was a secondary school without Latin and Greek.
  2. Here he wrote his first paper: Een plechtigheid in Korintji, which appeared in Weekblad voor Indië, Soerabaja 1904, No. 23, pp. 303-306. In 1906 Djambi and Korintji were made into one residency, Djambi.
  3. Mekka, 2 Theile mit Bilder-Atlas, 1888-1889. The 2nd vol. was translated from the original German into English by J.H. Monahan and published in 1931 as: Mecca in the latter part of the 19th century: Daily Life, Customs and Learning.
  4. In this capacity he wrote the bulk of his official recommendations, now in course of publication as: Ambtelijke Adviezen van C. Snouck Hurgronje, uitgegeven door E. Gobée en C. Adriaanse (Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatiën, kleine serie 33), The Hague, 1957. Of this work two volumes, together comprizing about 1750 pp., are available by now. A third volume, which i.a. will contain an index to the whole work, is still to follow.
  5. As, for instance, the famous Indian saint Muhammad al-Ghawth (died 1562) whose tomb at Gwalior (Central India), built during the reign of Akbar, is one of the oldest masterpieces of Moghul architecture in India. Muhammad al-Ghawth is the author of a well-known manual of Shattarite mystical practice called al-Jawahir al-khamsa (the five jewels).
  6. Cf.A.H. Johns, Malay Sufism, in Journal Mal. Branch Royal Asiatic Society vol. XXX Part 2 (Aug. 1957), and my remarks in Bijdragen Kon. Instituut vol. 115 (1959) p. 283.
  7. It seems that a wide divergence of opinion with the editor of the Tijdschrift concerning the necessity of the long annexes with illustrative fragments from Javanese MSS. was born at the bottom of Rinkes’ decision to discontinue the series. A most regrettable decision, to which he clung even in later years, when continuation would have been welcomed.
  8. E.g. Babad Tjerbon (Verh. Bat. Gen. vol. LIX (1911)) canto XXIII: Maulana Maghribi, S. Bonang, S. Giri, S. Gunungjati, S. Kudus, S. Drajat, Pn. Majagung, Seh Bentong, Seh Lemah Abang (=Siti Jenar); Cod. or. Leiden no. 7406, a MS. from W. Java, p. 11: Pn. Bonang, Pn. Majagung, Pn. Cherbon, Seh Lemah Abang, Seh Bentong, Maulana Maghribi, Sunan Ampel Denta (=S. Ngampel), Sunan Giri, Sunan Kalijaga.
  9. In this connection it may be remarked that nine was a sacred number in the classificatory system of pre-islamic days, as it still is in Bali, so that it seems that the number of the saints did not result from addition, but is a survival of older conceptions concerning the powers which preside over the cosmic order and human life and efforts. Should this supposition be valid, then the difficulty of giving an exact enumeration of the wali sanga would be understandable.
  10. No doubt this expression was borrowed by Rinkes from D.B. Macdonald, who in his Development of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence and Constitutional Theory p. 172 wrote of Ibn Karram that we must see in him “one of those wooden-minded literalists for whom a metaphor is a ridiculous lie if it cannot be taken in its external meaning”.
  11. Published in the Verhandelingen van het Batav. Genootschap van K. en W. vol. LIX (1911).
  12. Javaansche Samenspraken, met eene inleiding door Dr. D.A. Rinkes, Batavia, 1911. This introduction contains biographical data concerning the author of these “Javanese dialogues”, Ki Padmasoesastra.
  13. Inhoudsopgave der Javaansche Couranten in de Bibliotheek van het Bat. Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen, door Raden Poerwa Soewignja, Batavia, 1911.
  14. Pratélan kawontenaning boekoe-boekoe etc., 2 vol., Batavia, 1920, 1921.
  15. The prospective publication of this text is mentioned in Tijdschrift Bat. Gen. vol. LIV (1912), p. 139 note 1.
  16. Vol. I, 1897; Vol. II, 1899; Vol. III, 1901.
  17. Beschrijving der Javaansche, Balineesche en Sasaksche handschriften, aangetroffen in de nalatenschap van Dr. H.N. van der Tuuk en door hem vermaakt aan de Leidsche Universiteitsbibliotheek. Vol. I, 1901; Vol. II, 1903.
  18. Rinkes’ view of this development was given in a short article of his hand in the Dutch weekly De Amsterdammer, Indië-nummer, Saturday Oct. 14, 1916.
  19. In Idenburg’s secret cabinet-letter of July 2nd 1913, no. 43/1 to the Minister for the Colonies Rinkes’ considerations are mentioned twice in a commendatory sense (Bescheiden betreffende de vereeniging “Sarekat Islam”, Batavia, 1913, pp. 72, 77).
    As to Snouck Hurgronje’s judgment on Idenburg’s policy towards the S.I. see his Verspreide Geschriften IV II p. 410.
    A sketch of the genesis of the policy framed by Idenburg was given by (his grandson) F.L. Rutgers, Idenburg en de Sarekat Islam in 1913. Amsterdam, 1939; see also Robert van Niel, The Emergence of the modern Indonesian Elite, The Hague 1960, pp. 95-97.
  20. Yachting was his favourite pastime. He was an active member of the Batavia Yacht Club and contributed an article on this club to Het Indische Boek der Zee, ed. by D.A. Rinkes, N. van Zalinge and J.W. de Roever, Kolff, Batavia 1925; 2nd ed. 1927 pp. 234-240. Other contributions of his hand deal with the legend of the Flying Dutchman (pp. 284-287) and the sea and seafaring in various literatures (pp. 293-310), both of them unpretentious talks on these subjects.
  21. He died Jan. 1, 1954.

In memoriam**

Dr. D.A. Rinkes in 1920, de tijd, waarin hij de Kon. Bataviasche Jacht Club vooruit wist te brengen.

Dr. D.A. Rinkes in 1920, de tijd, waarin hij de Kon. Bataviasche Jacht Club vooruit wist te brengen.

In een der dagbladen werd in het begin dezer maand met een kort bericht melding gemaakt van het overlijden van Dr. D.A. Rinkes in de ouderdom van 74 jaar. Zou dit feit in een tijdsgewricht als het onze niet de algemene aandacht op zich vestigen, toch zal door vele leden van de Jacht Club “Tandjong Priok”, althans van de ouderen onder hen, een moment van ontroering niet kunnen worden onderdrukt.

De heer Rinkes, doctor in de Oosterse talen, werd op 8 November 1878 te Joure geboren. Reeds op zeer jeugdige leeftijd was de jonge Fries, hoe kon het anders, een verwoed zeiler. Bij zijn komst in Indonesië, een paradijs voor watersportliefhebbers, kon hij zich naar hartelust aan zijn geliefde zeilsport wijden.

Van een zijner verloven naar Holland in Indonesië terugkerende, bracht hij de prachtige yawl “Psyche”, door hem herdoopt in “Balai Poestaka” (Instituut Volkslectuur, van welke instelling hij hoofd was) mede.

Te Djakarta geplaatst, werd Dr. Rinkes al spoedig de voorman van de toen nog slechts 150 leden tellende Bataviasche Jacht Club. Niet tevreden met de om vele redenen nogal onpractisch liggende oude haven aan de Tjiliwoeng, welke al spoedig te klein werd, zocht hij expansie in de richting van Tandjong Priok. De havenautoriteiten, geen weerstand kunnende bieden aan de dringende verzoeken van de voorzitter der steeds groeiende zeilclub stonden hem tenslotte een aan zee en terzijde van de haven gelegen terrein af. Een aan het terrein grenzend zoetwaterkanaal vormde een ideale ligplaats voor jachten.

Een jachtclubgebouw werd, dank zij de dadendrang en het doorzettingsvermogen van Dr. Rinkes, die met krachtdadige steun van de toenmalige Beschermheer der B.J.C., Z.Exc. Vice-Admiraal A.F. Gooszen, diverse banken en grote maatschappijen tot het geven van leningen wist te bewegen, op 7 Augustus 1926 in gebruik gesteld. Terecht werd Dr. Rinkes nu het erelidmaatschap der club aangeboden.

Gestadig breidde niet alleen de jachtvloot, doch ook het aantal leden zich uit. Met meer dan 2500 leden en een aantal van ruim 250 jachten van diverse klassen, motorboten en kano’s, is de Jacht Club Tandjong Priok, zoals haar naam thans luidt, in feite de schepping geweest van Dr. Rinkes, die in het tijdsverloop van 1920-1927 een zeilclub wist op te bouwen welke haars gelijke in de Orient moeilijk zal vinden.

Tot kort voor zijn overlijden bleef Dr. Rinkes na vele jaren met zijn “Balai Poestaka” de Middellandse Zee in alle richtingen te hebben doorkruist, ook in een tot woning ingericht motorjacht het water trouw.

Toch wilde het grillige lot, dat hij in zijn villa “Batavia” te Nice op 1 Januari j.l. afscheid van het leven zou nemen. Zo iemand, had hij zijn hart aan de zeilsport verpand. Zijn inspirerend voorbeeld heeft tot gevolg gehad, dat ook in andere plaatsen in Indonesië bloeiende jachtclubs zijn verrezen, waarvan de jaarlijks terugkerende interstedelijke zeilwedstrijden getuigenis afleggen.

Hij ruste in vrede.

J.M.B. Gelink,
Ere-lid J.C.T.P.


** ANWB Waterkampioen nr. 932 – Februari 1954.

De commandant van de "Jules Ferry" arriveert in gezelschap van Vice admiraal Gooszen en Dr. Rinkes, voorzitter van de Bataviasche Jacht Club op het terrein van de wedstrijden.

De commandant van de “Jules Ferry” arriveert in gezelschap van Vice admiraal Gooszen en Dr. Rinkes, voorzitter van de Bataviasche Jacht Club op het terrein van de wedstrijden.

Abdoerraoef van Singkel

Bijdrage tot de kennis van de mystiek op Sumatra en Java.

Academisch proefschrift ter verkrijging van den graad van Doctor in de taal- en letterkunde v/d O.-I. archipel,

aan de Rijks-Universiteit te Leiden,

op gezag van den rector-magnificus Dr. J. Kluijver, hoogleraar in de faculteit der wis- en natuurkunde,

voor de faculteit te verdedigen op donderdag den 14den october 1909, des namiddags te 4 ure,

door Douwe Adolf Rinkes, geboren te Joure.

Electrische drukkerij Nieuwsblad van Friesland, “Hepkema”, Heerenveen – 1909.


Hoewel de academische studie geenszins in alle opzichten aan de verwachtingen heeft beantwoord, bestaat er in elk geval zekere reden tot voldoening en dankbaarheid, nu het klaarblijkelijk voor oogen gestelde doel, door de medewerking van velen, werd bereikt.

In de eerste plaats past mij die aan de leeraren van de afdeeling B van het Gymnasium Willem III te Batavia, ik bedoel de Drn. Van Ronkel en Hazeu, de Mrs. Fromberg en Nederburgh (waarbij zich later nog de heer Pleyte kwam voegen), door wier uitstekend onderwijs (ik heb mij daarover vroeger reeds elders meer in detail uitgelaten), groote belangstelling voor de beoefening der Oostersche letteren en wat daarmee samenhant, werd gewekt.

De gelegenheid om aan die belangstelling uiting te geven door studie op breeder basis dan te Batavia kon worden verkregen, deed zich vrij spoedig voor, en ik maakte daarvan zonder dralen gebruik.

De strikt onmisbare klassieke kennis, om den leergang aan eene Universiteit in zijn geheel te mogen doorloopen, dank ik aan het onderwijs eerst van den abbé Poyard, toen en vooral aan het Gymnasium te Nijmegen. Door de voortreffelijke leiding en den paedagogischen takt, met name van den rector Dr. P.V. Sormani, en van den conrector Dr. J. van Konijnenburg aldaar, was de tijd aan het opdoen van de noodige examen-kennis besteed, ook voor zekere klassieke vorming geenszins van onnut, zoodat ik reden heb met groote voldoening op mijn verblijf daar ter plaatse terug te zien.

Toen kwam de Universiteit. Door den aard der studiën was die te Leiden voor mij reeds à priori aangewezen. Van verschillende zijden mocht ik reeds bij den aanvang steun en medewerking erlangen.

Hooggeschatte Heer Speyer! Uwe groote welwillendheid jegens mij, een geheel onbekende, zonder introductie, ging bijna de perken te buiten. Uwe buitengemeene helderheid van doceeren, Uwe exquise geleerdheid zijn mij van onberekenbaar nut geweest bij deze studiën. U was de eerste die mij daadwerkelijk hielp, die de bezwaren verzachtte, die alle nuttelooze inspanning voor den leerling wist te vermijden. Zonder Uwe hulp ware ik zeker niet geslaagd; zonder Uwe fijne medewerking zoude mij de moed om vol te houden, ontbroken hebben. De betuiging van mijnen hartelijken dank daarvoor kan dat alles geenszins vergoeden: moge het mij later vergund zijn bij U de overtuiging te wekken, dat een en ander niet aan geheel onwaardigen verspild is, en U aldus innerlijke voldoening voor Uwe bemoeienissen trachten te schenken.

Aangename uren bracht ik door op de colleges van Prof. van Ophuysen, met groote belangstelling nam ik kennis van de orgineele denkbeelden van dezen geleerde nopens Indonesische taalverschijnselen, vergeleken bij andere taalgroepen. Het is te hopen en te verwachten, dat deze opvattingen spoedig ook buiten collegezaal en studeerkamer vernomen zullen worden, daar zij de aandacht van ruimer kring van belangstellenden in hooge mate verdienen.

Mijne aanrakingen met Prof. Nieuwenhuis waren weinige, doch deze waren van den aangenaamsten aard.

De colleges van Prof. Vreede volgde ik te kort om daarvan veel profijt te kunnen trekken, de werkzaamheden aan dit proefschrift veroorloofden mij niet het belangwekkend onderricht van Prof. Jonker te genieten, wiens groote kennis van het Javaansch en van een aantal Oostelijke talen van den Archipel mij ongetwijfeld van groot nu zou geweest zijn.

Zooals het zich van den beginne liet aanzien, heeft mijn hooggeachte promotor, Prof. Snouck Hurgronje, de meeste bemoeienis met mijne studiën gehad. Diens beteekenis op velerlei gebied van Oostersche wetenschap c.a. is reeds meermalen elders, hoewel steeds nog onbevredigend, uiteengezet. Zijne studiën inzake den Archipel zijn langzamerhand, ook nog geenszins in hun vollen omvang, bekend geworden, en hebben nieuwen gloed gebracht in de onderzoekingen van geleerden en leeken. In “De Atjehers” (om alleen dit te noemen) heeft hij een werk gegeven, dat nieuwe zijden belichtte van zaken, die men steeds eenkennig beoordeeld had, dat problemen oploste, waarvan andere oriëntalisten het bestaan niet eens vermoedden, dat haast als tekstboek zou kunnen dienen voor een reeks van lateren, die de vele gegevens, daarin vervat, nader gaan uitwerken en behandelen. Door ons jongeren wordt hij in zekeren zin beschouwd als een moedjtahid, als de stichter van een madzhab: de mate van geleerdheid, die hij, en ook alleen hij, met zijn intellect, temperament en zijne werkkracht, vermocht meester te worden, is voor latere geslachten onbereikbaar. En uit zijnen rijken schat van kennis heeft hij medegedeeld, zonder weerhouding, zonder bedenking.

Wellicht zou de wijze van doceeren in sommige opzichten minder ontmoedigend hebben kunnen zijn, ten minste voor mij; over den inhoud van zijn onderwijs valt slechts te roemen. Geen detail ontsnapte aan zijne ontleding, geene bijzonderheid vermocht zich aan behandeling te onttrekken.

Diezelfde mildheid met zijne kennis, gepaard aan groote nauwgezetheid, bleek bij de werkzaamheden voor deze dissertatie. Niet alleen werden de daarvoor benoodigde Hss. e.a. werken met groot vertrouwen uit eigen boekerij mij beschikbaar gesteld, doch ook wijdde hij voortdurend een onvermoeide aandacht aan de fouten en verzuimen die ik beging, de weglatingen en overtolligheden, die zich voordeden, kortom, geen enkele kleinigheid bleef voor zijne alspeurendheid verborgen. Tot zelfs de nauwkeurige correctie der drukproeven dank ik aan zijne nimmer falende oplettendheid.

Heer Professor! U voor dat alles te danken, zou miskenning zijn: iemand, die uit zoo grooten voorraad put, mist zijne gave niet.

Wel echter wensch ik hier nog in dankbare herinnering te brengen de hulp die U mij verschafte bij de gunstige Regeeringsbeschikking, waardoor ik in staat werd gesteld, de eens begonnen studiën regelmatig te voleinden, en het naastliggende doel te bereiken. Niemand anders dan U zou het gelukt zijn dat resultaat te verkrijgen en de autoriteiten voor Uwe opvattingen te winnen.

Bij de verschijning van elk proefschrift moet het wenschelijk worden geacht, dat de voorrede een enkel woord bevat tot toelichting van de keuze van onderwerp. Te meer geldt dat hier, omdat degelijke arbeid op dit gebied staat en valt met de belangstelling, de toewijding van de betrokken persoon zelve. Het werk moet de bevrediging in zich dragen, daar de belooning in maatschappelijken zin bij lange niet geëvenredigd kan zijn aan de te besteden arbeid en inspanning, ten minste verre achter staat bij hetgeen elders in het practische leven, in handel en industrie voor overeenkomstigen intellectueelen arbeid wordt vergoed. Men schrijft dus in de eerste plaats uit neiging, om te voldoen aan de eigen behoefte tot werkzaamheid op eene wijs, die zich het best bij de betrokken persoonlijkheid aansluit.

De mystieke opvattingen in den Archipel hadden mij reeds lang belangstelling ingeboezemd, en het verheugde mij zeer de gelegenheid te hebben daarover nader te worden ingelicht. De mogelijkheid daartoe bestond alléén (ieder die eenigszins met de omstandigheden bekend is, zal dit toegeven) wanneer men zich door de degelijke en volledige zakenkennis van Prof. Snouck Hurgronje kon doen voorlichten en wegwijs maken. Aan dit laatste heeft het dan ook, zooals gezegd, geenszins ontbroken: zonder de veelvuldige toelichtingen van en besprekingen met mijnen promotor zoude de stof voor mij onverduwbaar zijn gebleven, en ik wil gaarne bekennen, dat er nog veel is, dat mij niet altijd even helder en duidelijk is geworden, maar men kan ook niet álles vragen.

Veel ook van hetgeen mij niet helder werd, moge wellicht op rekening van gebrek aan taalkennis, van den eenigszins ongewonen stijl en vooral de onvolmaaktheden der geraadpleegde teksten zijn te schrijven.

Bovendien echter laat zich het beoordeelen van mystiek in zekeren zin met dat van poezie vergelijken. Om over dit laatste onderwerp te kunnen schrijven, moet men toch zelf eenigszins poëtisch begaafd zijn, omdat anders de finessen, welke de dichter in zijne taal heeft willen leggen, den beoordeelaar geheel ontgaan. Evenzoo nu dient men zelf eenigermate mystisch te kunnen gevoelen, om die “hypertrophy of religious feelings”, die “monomania” (deze uitdrukkingen zijn van Sprenger) op hunne rechte waarde te schatten. Nu vrees ik dat dit laatste wellicht min of meer heeft ontbroken. Wel zijn wij Friezen geen “wooden-minded literalists”, maar onze nuchtere zwaartilligheid leent zich niet zoo gemakkelijk tot het na-gevoelen der mystieke gemoedservaringen van anderen, als die in dergelijken geheimzinnigen klinkklank zijn uitgedrukt.

Een geheel logischen gedachtengang en een evenredige indeeling heeft deze dissertatie verder niet in allen deele: voordat een volledig overzicht kon worden verkregen van de te behandelen stof, moest reeds aan uitwerking en rangschikking worden gedacht, en gelegenheid tot belangrijke wijziging bestond toen niet meer.

Het eerste hoofdstuk bevat een kort overzicht van enkele phazen van het Soefisme, dat uit de gezaghebbende Europeesche litteratuur werd samengesteld, en alleen bekende zaken in herinnering brengt, met name voor zoover die konden strekken als eene inleiding tot hetgeen in de volgende hoofdstukken wordt medegedeeld. Deze laatste zijn nagenoeg uitsluitend naar de oorspronkelijke geschriften bewerkt. Eene zekere dorheid en gewrongenheid van stijl was daarbij meermalen onvermijdelijk, omdat ik zonder steeds woordelijk te kunnen vertalen, toch altijd zooveel doenlijk aansluiting zocht bij de orgineele teksten. Het doel moest immers in de eerste plaats zijn den lezer in kennis te stellen met hetgeen de teksten bevatten, niet om subjectieve verklaringen daarvan te geven. Natuurlijk is eene vertaling zelve reeds eene interpretatie, vooral bij teksten als de hier behandelde, doch ik heb overal waar dit maar eenigszins noodig scheen, het orgineel in de noten laten volgen. Deze laatsten zijn, mede daardoor, talrijker en omvangrijker geworden dan ik gehoopt en gewenscht had, en hebben zich bij latere revisies, als ware woekerplanten, soms nog belangrijk uitgedijd ten koste van den tekst. Moge het dus niet steeds gelukt zijn zooveel mogelijk te zeggen in weinig woorden, als verontschuldiging kan strekken, dat: “je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte” (Pascal).

De geciteerde werken zijn, behoudens enkele uitzonderingen, in Bijlage I alphabetisch gerangschikt. De meeste aanhalingen werden gemaakt currente calamo: bij systematisch onderzoek zouden de citaten over allerlei onderwerpen, die werden aangevoerd, nog met vele te vermeerderen zijn geweest, zonder dat men daarmee echter het doel belangrijk nader zou zijn gekomen.

Werken, die overeenkomstige onderwerpen behandelen als hier ter sprake komen, doch die ik te laat in handen kreeg om ze nog voor deze studie te benutten waren:

Bij de transcriptie heb ik getracht zoo eenvoudig mogelijk te zijn. De vierde letter van het Arab. alphabet is door ts, de negende door dz, de elfde door z, de vijftiende door dh, de zeventiende door th, de twee volgende door ‘ resp. gh, de een en twintigste door q aangegeven, en de hamzah in het midden van een woord door ‘. Om typographische reden werd afgezien van eene aanduiding van andere eigenaardige consonanten, aleen in den index zijn de zesde, veertiende en zestiende letter, alsook de lange vocalen door cursief-druk onderscheiden. De uitgang ijjah is steeds ijah, het woord sajjid steeds said geschreven. Enkele inconsequenties zijn wellicht bij de revisie of correctie nog over het hoofd gezien.

Ongetwijfeld zullen ook de feilen in ander opzicht, die dit geschrift aankleven, vele blijken te zijn. Ik behoef echter zelf daarop de aandacht niet te vestigen: critici zijn er steeds genoeg, die wel zorgen dat de gebreken vooràl bij eene bespreking in het goede licht worden gesteld (Bij deskundige critiek houd ik mij voor eene kennisgave daarvan aanbevolen). Maar dan kan ik mij troosten met de wijze opmerking van den ouden Tiresias (Sophocles Antigone, 1023-4):

” – – – – – – anthropoisi gar tois pasi koinon esti touksamartanein.”

Een enkel woord nog tot U, dierbare Ouders, en vooral U, geliefde moeder! Niet steeds ontmoettet gij voorspoed in het leven, geenszins was Uw pad van zorgen vrij. Maar U beiden vondt in het welzijn Uwer kinderen vergoeding voor het overige, dat U ontbrak. De promotie van Uwen oudste zal thans ongetwijfeld mede tot Uwe verheugenis strekken: vergunt het mij daarom U dit geschrift op te dragen als een luttel blijk van mijne liefde en eerbied.