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DAR UL ARQAM. A voluntary, nongovernmental, grass-roots Islamic da’wah movement, Dar ul Argam was founded in Malaysiain 1968 by Sheikh Imam Ashaari Muhammad At-Tamimi. Its fundamental aim is to revive Islamic religious belief and values and to practice them in a comprehensive way in everyday life. Its first adherents were ten low-income people inKuala Lumpurwhom Sheikh Ashaari guided in the essentials of the

Qur’an and other basics of duty and doctrine. He sought to inculcate in them an awareness of the need to review and reform their individual identities in the context of their inherited religious and cultural values. The emphasis on self-assessment, self-correction, and the formation of an Islamic personality was the essential foundation of the movement.

During its first two years Dar ul Argam kept a low profile. Its activities took the form of a study group housed at its first center in Datok Keramat,Kuala Lumpur. It was here that the movement was named Dar ul Argam, in memory of the Prophet’s companion, Arqam ibn Abi Arqam, who volunteered his house in Makkah (Mecca) as the early Muslims’ first meeting place.

Dar ul Argam began to bring its mission to a wider public in its third year, 1970. Shaykh Ashaari’s initial propagation was through public Islamic lectures held in private homes as well as in mosques, schools, offices, and universities. These were subsequently augmented by publication of books, magazines, and newspapers, production of audiovisual materials such as video and cassette tapes, exhibitions of the Islamic way of life and the new world of Islam as envisaged by the movement, and the staging of Islamic concerts and cultural shows. The Dar ul Argam Centre was moved in 1973 to its pioneering Islamic village in Sungei Pencala, 2o kilometers outsideKuala Lumpur.

In 1979 Dar ul Arqam’s activities expanded to the international arena through its da’wah missionaries sent overseas. In 1988 Sheikh Ashaari himself undertook intensive missionary programs and diplomatic contacts outsideMalaysia. Consequently Dar ul Argam branches were opened, with largely indigenous membership, inSingapore,Indonesia,Thailand, thePhilippines,Brunei,Britain,France,Germany, theUnited States,Australia,New Zealand,Pakistan,Jordan,Egypt,Uzbekistan, andChina. Its membership rose from 70 in 1976 to 6,000 in 1987 and 10,000 in 1993.

This geographical and numerical expansion is due largely to Dar ul Arqam’s attempt to present Islam in a harmonious, practical, and exemplary way. It has established forty-eight self-contained Islamic villages all overMalaysiato exhibit the viability of an Islamic sociopolitical and economic system. It has set up 257 schools inMalaysiaand eleven abroad with a total enrollment in 1994 of 9,541 students and 696 teachers. It has published four newspapers and fifteen monthly magazines with a total circulation of 928,000 copies per month.

For its publications Dar ul Arqarn operates its own computer center and desktop publishing system. The movement also owns recording studios for its electronic media. By 1993 the studios had produced 45o audiocassettes and 500 videocassettes including documentaries, religious talks, fard `ayn classes, interviews, general and special tarbiyah sessions, dialogues, children’s programs, Islamic concerts, and Islamic songs. Dar ul Argam also runs an advertising agency, a company that provides predictive maintenance services, and a company that provides consultancy services, management courses, and workshops in the area of high technology. It operates an Islamic Medical Centre inKuala Lumpur, three clinics in regional centers, and small clinics in almost every Dar ul Arqarn village, including two specializing in dental treatment.

In Sungei Serai, Hulu Langat, Selangor, Dar ul Arqam in 1991 turned its Islamic village into an Islamic arts training center, theSchoolofIslamic Cultureand Arts (MAKSI). The movement is well known for its public presentations of Islamic culture, poetry, and music.

Dar ul Arqarn also operates a twenty-acre agricultural complex in Batu Hampar, Perak, where the Al Arqarn Centre of Agricultural Training is also situated. It cultivates agricultural land in almost all of its villages, growing a variety of food crops, and it also operates fish farms, poultry farms, and flower nurseries.

In the field of economic development, Dar ul Arqarn has produced forty-five brands of foodstuffs, cosmetics, toiletries, and drinking water and owns 417 businesses of various kinds. Abroad, Dar ul Arqarn runs businesses and farms inUzbekistan,Indonesia,China, andSingapore. In August 1993, at Dar ul Arqam’s First International Economic Conference held inChiangmai,Thailand, Sheikh Ashaari declared the establishment of the Al-Arqam Group of Companies. Indicating the movement’s more serious involvement in market economy, the group comprises twenty-two sections devoted to a wide range of activities.

Dar ul Arqam’s achievements are accomplished independent of external assistance. They are attributable both to the commitment of its members and to an organizational structure resembling that of a nation. The highest leadership is provided by Sheikh Ashaari as the Sheikhul-Arqam or Emir. The founder-leader is supported by a ministerial structure of vice-emirs and their deputies, supplemented by the movement’s regional government equivalent to state and local levels. There are also twenty-three Amirs-without-State. Incorporated in this structure are thirteen ministers with the title Amir Shukbah, responsible for sections controlling guidance and education, information, economics and trade, welfare services, Islamic propagation and international relations, agriculture, treasury, health, law, human development, lands and mines, science and technology, and culture and tourism. The “national” officers constitute the Majlis Syuyukh (Ahlul Halli wal Aqdi), which formulates and ensures the execution of the movement’s policies. The Majlis is administered by a secretary who is also the deputy chief secretary of the movement.

Dar ul Argam has exerted noticeable influence on religious, social, and political life of Muslims, particularly inMalaysiaand other ASEAN countries. It has offered an exemplary, practical realization of Islam, reflecting the workability of an Islamic system in today’s world. It also demonstrates the role of Sufism, in particular Aurad Muhammadiah embraced by the movement, in realizing Islamic teachings through the mobilization of the masses from below.

This has not been done without adverse response from Malaysian Islamic religious authorities. At least three different campaigns have been launched against Dar ul Argam. Initially the movement was accused of Islamic extremism and of calling Muslims backward to the “age of the camel,” isolating its members in its village in Sungei Pencala and ignoring this world for the sake of the hereafter. The movement was then condemned as deviant for practicing the Sufi tariqat of the Aurad Muhammadiah. At this stage, the publishing permits of Dar ul Arqam’s newspapers and magazines were revoked; some books of Sheikh Ashaari and all Dar ul Arqam’s noneconomic activities were banned; the negative image of the movement was heightened through the media, Friday sermons, and other means; and the founder-leader himself was threatened with arrest under the Internal Security Act. At the peak of opposition to the movement, Ashaari leftMalaysiain 1988 to spread his movement abroad and he remains an expatriate.

Of late, the movement has been accused of desiring to topple the present Malaysian government and of being “more dangerous than the communists.” These allegations relate intimately with the government’s fear of Arqam’s political potential: its self-reliance and ability to mobilize the masses, the unshaken obedience of its followers to the leadership, and its growing influence among the mainstream political elites in the country. Al- though some believed that Dar ul Argam could not be banned legally because, as basically a religious study group, it is not bound by the Malaysian Society Act to register with the Registrar of Societies, the gvernment’s National Fatwa Council outlawed the group in August 1994 because it posed “a danger to public order.”

Membership in Dar ul Argam reflects its Sufi origins. Members need not fill out a form nor pay a fee. As long as one upholds the rules of Islam, participates in Dar ul Argam programs, and sacrifices for the sake of the religion, one automatically becomes a “family member of Abuya” (“father,” a title of Sheikh Ashaari), a member of Dar ul Argam. Members are united by their spiritual practice of the tariqat Aurad Muhammadiyah, founded inMeccaby al-Sayyid Muhammad ibn Abdullah Al-Suhaymi, a Muslim scholar of Indonesian origin. Sheikh Ashaari was initiated into the tariqat by his uncle, Lebai Ibrahim, at the age of sixteen and currently serves as the head of the tariqat. Dar ul Argam from the outset has thus been a Sufi movement. The Sufi teacher-disciple bond reinforces obedience to the leadership with systematic spiritual and material practice.

The charisma of Sheikh Ashaari is also important in attracting members of the movement and a factor for unity. Born in 1938 to a religious family in Kampong Pilin, Rembau, Negeri Sembilan, he attended local primary and regional Islamic schools. While still a student, he was appointed as a government Islamic religious teacher, a career he pursued from 1956 to 1976. From 1958 to 1968 he was an active member of the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), holding various leadership responsibilities. He also served for five years on the Information Committee of the Jamiatul Dakwah Islamiah movement, and held the post of Dakwah Chief of theFederalTerritorybranch of the Malaysian League of Muslim Youth (ABIM). Today Sheikh Ashaari has no personal wealth despite the economic successes of his movement.

The objective of Dar ul Arqam’s struggle is to uphold the five basic tenets of the shari `ah: the obligatory (wajib), the commendable (sunat), the permissible (harus), the forbidden (haram), and the detestable (makruh). These must be observed at every level from self to world in both human-God relations (hablum-minallah) and interpersonal relations (hablum-minannas). The ultimate aim is to please God; the means of doing so are the reconstruction of one’s worldview and the practical realization of authentic values. If this is achieved, one is considered to have complied with the objective of living, to worship God in all activities. Sheikh Ashaari gives five guidelines for making one’s activities worship of God: first, the intention behind the affairs is for the sake of God alone; second, the aim of the activities complies with the shari `ah; third, their execution is also within the shari `ah; fourth, their consequences are positive from the Islamic viewpoint; and fifth, the basic tenets of Islam as expressed in the hablum-minallah are not neglected.

Dar ul Argam tries to accomplish this objective through da’wah, first from below at the individual and grass-roots level, and then at the top. Sheikh Ashaari adheres to two main principles: first, “Change ourselves, then preach to others,” and second, “Win people’s hearts, not parliamentary seats.” The former reflects Dar ul Arqam’s self-correction and self-realization, and the later its grass-roots approach. Sheikh Ashaari himself is convinced that Islam will rise again through da’wah and education, not political activity. He believes a second golden age of Islam will begin in theFar East, in the Malay world.

[See also ABIM; Da’wah, article on Modern Practice;Malaysia.]


25 Years of Darul Arqam: The Struggle of Abuya Syeikh Imam Ashaari Muhammad At-Tamimi.Kuala   Lumpur, 1993.

Ashaari Muhammad, Hj. Huraian Ke Arah Membangun Negara dan Masyarakat Islam.Kuala Lumpur, 1981.

Ashaari Muhammad, Hi. Matlamat Perjuangan Menurut Islam.Kuala Lumpur, 1984.

Ashaari Muhamad, Hj. Aurad Muhammadiah Pegangan Darul Arqam: Sekaligus Menjawab Tuduhan.Kuala   Lumpur, 1986.

Ashaari Muhammad, Hi. Inilah Pandanganku.Kuala Lumpur, 1988. Ashaari Muhammad, Hi., trans. Abdul Khaleq Jaafar (This is Our Way).Kuala Lumpur, 1989.

Ashaari Muhammad, Hi. Inilah Sikap Kita.Kuala Lumpur, 1990. Muhammad Syukri Salleh. An Islamic Approach to Rural Development: TheArqam Way.London, 1992.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/dar-ul-arqam/

  • writerPosted On: November 6, 2012
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