top of page
  • Denisa Mayari

Buya Hamka's Exploration of Religion and Romance

Prof. Dr. H. Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah, more famously known as Buya Hamka, was an influential Islamic scholar, author, and nationalist leader in Indonesia. He was born on February 17, 1908, in West Sumatra. He came from a family of Islamic scholars and began his education in the Islamic faith at an early age. More than a hundred books, including fiction, poetry, history, and religious materials, bear his name; they span his long and distinguished career. And maybe most surprisingly, Buya Hamka also has a prolific career as a writer of romance fiction.

Buya Hamka delved into the intricacies of human connection and emotions in his romance novels and other works of literature. He wrote to spread Islamic ideals and ideas and was inspired by the idea that literature may serve as a vehicle for communicating essential moral and ethical lessons. According to Buya Hamka, the teachings of Islam should be applied to all facets of life, including romantic relationships. He held that all of the complexities of existence, including romantic love, could be better understood if viewed through the lens of Islamic teachings and ideals.

When it comes to writing romance, Buya Hamka was thought to have been influenced by his familiarity with Islamic literature and his understanding of the Prophet Muhammad's teachings on love and compassion. It was widely believed that he felt Islam's teachings on love and relationships may provide advice or clarity for those navigating the complexity of romantic love. Buya Hamka frequently drew upon his familiarity with Islamic spirituality and religion in order to delve into the deeper philosophical and psychological questions surrounding human connection in his writings, as if love was a window into God's unconditional affection for humankind and a path to personal development.

Moreover, Buya Hamka was a perceptive observer of Indonesian culture and society, and he believed that writing romantic stories was a means by which to address social issues and promote Islamic values. He wrote to inspire and educate his fellow Indonesians, whom he hoped would come to appreciate their rich cultural history and learn more about their religion through his works. Buya Hamka typically wrote about the everyday people of his native Minangkabau community, who experienced social and personal difficulties, in his novels. One of his best-known works, "The Sinking of the Van der Wijck", explores issues of love, family, race, social conventions, and religious ideals in a way that reflects the realities of life in Indonesia.

The novel's protagonists, Zainuddin and Hayati, are both Muslims, and much of the story is set in Minangkabau, a largely Islamic community; therefore, religious themes are alive and well, arguably second after the central topic of adat or Minangkabau traditions. They're divided between their love for one another and their responsibilities to their families and religion. The social norms and expectations of their community also play a role in their decision-making process, as these expectations impact who they are permitted to marry. Buya Hamka presents the characters' faith as a guiding factor that affects their decisions and actions. Zainuddin, for one, finds comfort in prayer and clings to his religious beliefs in order to deal with his love and grief. He also demonstrates a high regard for Islamic principles as he strives to balance his feelings for Hayati with his religious responsibilities. 

In the backdrop of Islamic teachings and ideals, "The Sinking of the Van der Wijck" shows how faith and romance can meet and intersect. Buya Hamka demonstrates how a person's religious beliefs may direct and shape the romantic relationships they have, as well as how love can motivate people to advance in their spirituality and evolve as a person. To sum up, Buya Hamka was an Islamic scholar who wrote about love because he thought it was necessary to understand romantic relationships within the framework of Islamic teachings. A lot of religious figures avoid talking about love and relationships, but Buya Hamka recognizes that the intersection of religious and romantic ideas is inevitable, interesting, and not something to be avoided. He considered writing about romance as a way to promote Islamic ideals and confront social concerns in Indonesian culture, and he did so by drawing on his broad understanding of Islamic theology and spirituality to examine the emotional and psychological sides of human relationships.


bottom of page