WaLi AllaH

Friday, June 16, 2006

granddaughter of Habib Noh

Sharifah Rogayah

Why is there a solitary Muslim tomb resting in Chinatown? What is the mystery behind this tomb? Most passerby feel indifferent to its odd existence while some devotees deem it as a sacred Keramat to which regular offerings, prayers and even rituals were made. Nobody knows exactly who is buried underneath although it was marked as "Shrine of Sharifah Rogayah" who is said to be the granddaughter of Habib Noh. The descendents of Sharifah Rogayah denied that was her burial however. The only clue besides the engraved plaque of the so-named is as paranormal as a divine dream by a young boy in which Habib Nob revealed himself and instructed him to look for his grand-daughter. The young boy traced to this location and hence became the caretaker of this shrine. SPI brings to you the raw bits of this mystery with an up-close interview of that young boy. Also the concept of Keramat and its related worship in the Muslim context are explained.

Interview at the Shrine of Sharifah Rogayah


SPI Bomoh was interviewing the caretaker of the Shrine of Sharifah Rogayah for paranormal information

This project was undertaken by SPI Department of Spiritual Research.

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Date and Time
30 July 2005, Saturday. From 5.00pm to 6.15pm

Interviewee
Mohamed Ridhwan Bin Mohamed Hassan, 18 years old, stall helper

Interviewers
Bomoh, Sunkist, Duck, Elaine & Wisely

Background of subject-matter
Shrine is the only tomb in the hilltop narrow strip of pathway. Under the purview of National Parks Board, the shrine was registered with MUIS (Islamic Council of Singapore) in 1984 and granted the permission for the shrine to remain as it is.



Dream of the Holy Man - Visisted by Habib Noh?

According to Mohamed Ridhwan (a.k.a Ahmad Ridhwan), sometime in 1999 when he was 12 years old, he claimed to have been visited by well-known local holy man Habib Noh (whose shrine is located on a hilltop at Palmer Road, sharing the same compound with Hj Mohd Salleh Mosque) in his dream on a Thursday night. Habib Noh, spoke to Ridhwan in Arabic and when he couldn¡¦t understand the language, Habib communicated to him in Malay. In the dream, Habib, dressed in white robe, introduced himself and made a request to Ridhwan that he would like him to find the tomb of his only grand-daughter Sharifah Rogayah located around Tanjung Pagar area and to be its caretaker. With no further instruction or advice, Habib then disappeared.

When Ridhwan woke up the next morning, he consulted with his family and revealed the dream he had. Not having any knowledge in the subjectmatter and the exact location of the shrine, Ridhwan went to MPH bookstore to look for a street directory in order to find out more about Sharifah Rogayah¡¦s shrine. He discovered the locality of the shrine and looked for it.

While trying to find the exact spot, Ridhwan met with one Malay elderly man known as Pakcik Osman who was then working at the nearby Yang Kit Pool. Pakcik Osman then directed Ridhwan to the shrine.

Once the shrine was located, Ridhwan has been visiting and cleaning the shrine on a weekly basis. Though his parents was not so keen at their son¡¦s new undertaking, they raised no objections. Ridhwan has since been known and referred to as the keeper of the shrine¡¦s.


Hj Mohd Salleh Mosque, on a hilltop at Palmer Road
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Another Paranormal Encounter - Visited by a Sharifah Rogayah?

After about a year of maintaining the place (cleaning the place, removing dirt and unlawful offerings as well as changing the cloth for the shrine¡¦s stone-sign ¡¥nisan¡¦), Ridhwan claimed that he was visited by a mysterious lady entity.

It happened when he was cleaning the shrine¡¦s compound when suddenly he felt a tap on his left back shoulder. Unable to move, as if deliberately froze by an unseen force, he heard the voice (of a lady) introducing herself as ¡¥Umi¡¦ (an Arabic fond-calling term for mother). Umi expressed thanks to Ridhwan for cleaning the shrine. When Ridhwan was able to turn around, he could not find the lady and nor was he able to locate where the voice could have came from. There was no one around the area at the time of the incident. When asked by SPI whether Ridhwan could ascertain that the mystery voice could have originated from the deceased ie Sharifah Rogayah, Ridhwan could not confirm it and appears to rather not to confirm it since he has no knowledge of how Sharifah Rogayah would look like, nor did he see the mystery lady to know that she is Sharifah Rogayah.

Since 1999, Ridhwan has seen many visitors, some regulars and others just one-time visitors. Typically, there would be an Indian Muslim gentleman who regularly offered prayer at the shrine on Thursdays. From time to time, there would also be a Malay lady who would recite the Holy Koran.


Habib Noh Thanked Him in a Dream

In 2001, Ridhwan claimed that Habib Noh visited him in his dream, for the second time to say thanks for taking care of his grand-daughter's shrine. No other contacts with Habib occurred since then.


1. The headstone has traces of green paints. The tomb in the past may be painted green that symbolizes Islam,
or it is the color stained by the cloth that wrapped on it in the past?
2 - 3. Flower offering brought by SPI. A close-up is here.
4. Brooms and chairs, probably used by the caretaker and worshippers for cleaning and for gathering respectively


Divine Power Protects the Grave from Exhumation

In 2003, while cleaning the shrine, he was visited by an old (about 80 years of age) Indian Muslim man who informed him that he used to be a resident in that area. The unnamed old man claimed that the area used to be a cemetery before it was converted into a kampung area. All the graves were exhumed and relocated except for one grave, the site where Sharifah Rogayah rested. It was claimed that workers were unable to unearth the remains and there were reported cases of landslides. Realizing that there might be divine powers protecting the grave, the grave was then left as it is and was since upgraded by the community and referred to as shrine (or makam in Malay).

The old man added that in the 1900s till the 40s, the shrine was maintained and kept by the Alkaff family. The shrine was then abandoned at the start of World War II. From the 50s till early 80s, there have been no reports on the shrine and nobody knows who was the one who renovated the shrine to the current condition. So how and who renovated the shrine to such well condition, is still a mystery.


A Mysterious Medium Came to Offer Advices

From time to time, Ridhwan would witness different people of all walks of life and of different religions making offerings near the Shrine. There were cases of shrine worshippers cordoning off the area by tying yellow strings around the trees surrounding the shrine. Normal offerings would include incense and joss sticks burning, and flowers.

Once according to Ridhwan, a man came to him and offered to be an ¡¥intermediary¡¦ between Ridhwan and Sharifah Rogayah. At the shrine, the man claimed to be able to communicate with Sharifah Rogayah and has advised Ridhwan to take 3 different flowers from the offerings on the grave, and to go home and bath with it. The man said that upon performing the flower-bath rites, Sharifah Rogayah would grant whatever that Ridhwan would wish for. The man added that such instructions were given to him by Shariah Rogayah for Ridhwan as a way to reward Ridhwan for his dedication in keeping the shrine clean. Ridhwan said that he does not believe the man and therefore did not do as instructed.

Ridhwan claimed that he has not experience any other paranormal activities or experiences apart from what was disclosed above.


1 - 2. The direction of the shrine facing is checked, to see whether it is facing Mecca. 3. A flower pot that holds offerings and incense
4. The investigators, Duck and Elaine


The ghost photos that weren't
1. The giant and the dwarf? It is just camera trick of SPI Bomoh in the foreground and Douglas on the background
2. A black shadow seems to be passing by Elaine's shoulder. Look carefully, there is another man in blue tee on the left hand side
Obviously they are just pedestrians walking along the pathway behind Elaine
4. Urban legends says that Keramat attracts pigeons. On the photo there are several pigeons heading towards the keramat.
A logical answer to this is, the birds used to and expect to find "food" from the offerings on the keramat such as crackers and sweet!


A Keramat or Just a Grave?

When SPI asked Ridhwan whether he would consider the shrine as a keramat, he categorically believe that it is not so. Ridhwan mentioned that he has taken a keen interest in the study of keramats and shrines in Singapore since being ¡¥appointed¡¦ the caretaker of the Shrine of Sharifah Rogayah. Ridhwan believe that the shrine of Sharifah Rogayah remains no more than a resting place of a pious Muslim lady who is connected in terms of bloodline to the most famous Muslim holy man residing in Singapore in the mid of 1800s.

Waliullah/WaliAllah

Asalaam Alaykum

Wali (plural Auliya'a) is an Arabic word, literally meaning protector or guardian, also adopted in various other Islamic cultures.

In the spritual tradition of Islam, a Wali, or Waliullah/WaliAllah is a friend of God.

Usually these people are members of Sufi (mystic) communities who are considered to have a special relationship with Allah. Famous Walis include Ali, son-in-law of Muhammed; Fatima, daughter of the prophet.

About Wali (i.e. Wilayat), the Qur'an has said:

إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ [Quran 5:55]

Only Allah is your Wali and His Messenger and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while they bow. (Shakir)

It is a well known hadith among Muslims that Ali (Muhammed's cousin and son-in-law) paid the poor rate while bowing (in prayers) by offering his ring to the beggar and only then were these verses revealed unto Muhammed.