2015 Volume 4 Issue 2 Pages 259-277
This paper provides an in-depth exploration of a previously under-utilized Arabic source for the history of Islam in Southeast Asia. This text, Al-Nafas al-Yamani was compiled in the Yemen by 'Abd al-Rahman b. Sulayman al-Ahdal (d. 1250 H./1835 C. E.), and includes a biographical sketch of the Sumatran scholar 'Abd al-Samad b. 'Abd al-Rahman al-Jawi al-Palimbani. Through a close, annotated reading of that text this article develops new insights into the configuration of people and ideas populating specific nodes of trans-regional networks in Sumatra and Arabia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. At the same time, it also brings to light important dimensions of Sufi belief and ritual practice during this important transitional period of Islamic history in Southeast Asia. This material is then further explored through a discussion of some ways in which documents of this type might be approached by historians working on the intellectual and cultural history of early modern Southeast Asia more broadly.