Habib Noh



Sayyid Noh bin Sayyid Mohamad bin Sayyid Ahmad Al-Habshi1 (b. 1788, en route to Penang–d. 27 July 1866, Singapore), or more popularly known as Habib Noh, is regarded as one of the seven wali (saint) in Singapore because of the many miracles attributed to him.2

Early life
Habib Noh was born in 1788 on board a ship  that was bound for Penang from Palembang in Sumatra. The ship had travelled all the way from Hadramaut (present-day Yemen). Legend has it that there was a storm at the time of the saint's birth. His father named his newborn "Noh" in honour of Prophet Noh (Noah), upon which the storm calmed.3

The family name – Habasy or Habashah – is Arabic for Ethiopia, a reference to an ancestor who resided there for nearly 20 years. Habib Noh was a descendant of the Prophet Muhammed. His father, Habib Muhammad, was known for his compassion towards would-be thieves who tried to steal from him. The Penang governor rewarded his efforts at reducing crime in Penang with a monthly token of $30.4 Habib Noh grew up in Penang under the care of his aunt, Sharifah Seha, and later worked at Telok Air Tawar in Butterworth. Habib Noh’s maqam (tomb) at Palmer Road remains honoured in Penang, where he is known as Tuan Putih (“White Master” in Malay).5

Accomplishments
In 1819, Habib Noh was invited by Habib Salim bin Abdullah Ba Sumayr, a Naqshbandi sufi from Hadramaut, to take up residence in the newly established trading port of Singapore. Habib Noh became an influential and highly revered figure in the Muslim community. He travelled throughout Malaya, teaching the tenets of Islam to the people.6 Habib Noh was known for his compassion, especially to children and particularly orphans, and often gave them sweets and money. More importantly, he gave regular talks and advice to the community and even to children. Habib Noh was also recognised for performing the tahnik, a ritual of offering honey to a newborn followed by a supplication. Such was his influence that even today, parents bring their babies to his tomb for such blessings.7

A reflective and religious man, Habib Noh was known to pray through the night, sometimes at Muslim cemeteries where he would recite holy verses and pray for the dead until dawn. He often escaped to Mount Palmer where he would perform khalwat, a form of worship through invocation and contemplation.8

Habib Noh was believed to have spiritual powers, such as the ability to transport himself, purportedly to as far away as Mecca. Stories also abound of him miraculously healing people, especially children, for whom he had a strong affinity. He also had an ability to foretell events, particularly of people with needs or illnesses.9

Habib Noh was also known to be fascinated with Chinese operas, often taking front- row seats. Although he did not understand the language, he claimed to receive insights from these performances.10

A controversial figure, Habib Noh was seen by the authorities as a Robin Hood of sorts, often obtaining goods from shopkeepers for the poor.11 He was imprisoned several times for petty crimes although shopkeepers were often more than willing to have him take their goods to help the impoverished.12

Death
Habib Noh died at the home of Temenggong Abu Bakar, a member of the Johor royal family, in Telok Blangah on 27 July 1866 at the age of 78. Thousands from Singapore, Johor and the surrounding islands paid him their last respects. Habib Noh was buried on the peak of Mount Palmer as he had requested, and a shrine – Keramat Habib Noh – was built over the tomb.13 The tomb was first refurbished in 1890 by Syed Mohamad bin Ahmad Alsagoff (Nongchik), a member of the prominent Alsagoff family in Singapore, and again in the 1980s with a building constructed over it for preservation reasons.14

A Batavian merchant and close friend, Haji Mohammad Salleh, wanted to build a surau (Muslim prayer hall) for Habib Noh but the latter died before its completion. The prayer hall was finally completed in 1902 and faced the tomb of Habib Noh. It was demolished and replaced with a mosque, the present-day Haji Muhammad Salleh Mosque, in 1903.15

Family
Habib Noh’s wife, Anchik Hamidah, a Malay from Penang, died in childbirth. Their first daughter, Sharifah Ridwan, died when she was 13 years old. Their second daughter, Sharifah Badariyah, married a Sayyid Muhammad bin Hasan Al-Shatrie from Penang, and their daughter, Sharifah Ruqaiyah (Rugayah), was betrothed to Sayyid Alwi bin Ali Aljunied of the Aljunied family in Singapore. They had five children – Sharifah Muznah, Saiyid Abdur Rahman, Sharifah Zaynah, Saiyid Abdullah Aljunied and Sharifah Zubaidah. Sharifah Ruqaiyah died in 1891.16

Father: Sayyid Muhammad bin Sayyid Ahmad Al-Habshi, an administrator in the colonial government in Penang.17
Mother: Sharifah Bahiyyah Binte Aqil Bin Yahya.18
Step-mother: Ku Pahmah Binte Ku Zainal Abidin.19
Step-brothers: Habib Arifin (Ariffin); Habib Ahmad Salikin; Habib Zainal (Zain) Abidin.20
Sister: Sharifah Aloyah.21
Wife: Anchik Hamidah, from Wellesley Province, Penang.22
Daughters: Sharifah Ridwan; Sharifah Badariyah.23

Variant names
Habib Nuh24; Saiyid Noh Bin Saiyid Mohamad Bin Saiyid Ahmad Al-Habsyi.25


Author
Bonny Tan



References
1. Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 34. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM)
2. Al-Mukmin. (1985, August 30). Habib Noh terkenal dgn kesalihannya. Berita Harian, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 35. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM); Imran bin Tajudeen. (2012, November 1). Masjid Haji Muhammad Salleh and Makam Habib Noh. Retrieved April 14, 2016 from Our Stories, Singapore Stories website: http://singapurastories.com/2012/11/masjid-haji-muhammad-salleh-makam-habib-noh/; Ensiklopedia sejarah dan kebudayaan Melayu. (1999). Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kementerian Pendidikan, Malaysia, pp. 824–825. (Call no.: Malay RSING 959.003 ENS); Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, pp. 31–36. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA); Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee . (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, pp. 34–46. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM)
4. Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 38. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM);Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, p. 32. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA)
5. Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 35. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM); Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, pp. 30–36. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA)
6. Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, pp. 42–43. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM)
7. Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, pp. 33–36. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA); Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 44. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM); Al-Mukmin. (1985, August 30). Habib Noh terkenal dgn kesalihannya. Berita Harian, p. 4; The miracle worker of old Singapore. (1972, September 1). New Nation, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, p. 34. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA)
9. Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, pp. 37–45. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA); The miracle worker of old Singapore. (1972, September 1). New Nation, p. 11; Ismail Kassim. (1974, September 28). Keramat is no more a mystery.... New Nation, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi . Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, p. 34. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA); Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 45. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM)
11. Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 43. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM)
12. Al-Mukmin. (1985, August 30). Habib Noh terkenal dgn kesalihannya. Berita Harian, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, p. 46. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA); Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, pp. 36, 63. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM); The miracle worker of old Singapore. (1972, September 1). New Nation, p. 11; $1m facelift for mosque, shrine. (1986, December 15). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
14. Al-Mukmin. (1985, August 30). Habib Noh terkenal dgn kesalihannya. Berita Harian, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, p. 51. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA)
15. Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, pp. 45, 69. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM); Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, pp. 34, 51. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA); Imran bin Tajudeen. (2012, November 1). Masjid Haji Muhammad Salleh and Makam Habib Noh. Retrieved April 14, 2016, from Our Stories, Singapore Stories website: http://singapurastories.com/2012/11/masjid-haji-muhammad-salleh-makam-habib-noh/
16. Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, pp. 32–33. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 GRA); Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 39–40. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM)
17. Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, p. 31. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA); Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 35. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM)
18. Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 35. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM)
19. Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 36. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM)
20. Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, p. 31. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA); Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 36. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM)
21. Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 36. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM)
22. Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi . Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, p. 32. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA)
23. Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, p. 32. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA); Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 39. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM)
24. Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, pp. 30–35. (Call no. RSING 297.4092 GRA)
25. Mohamad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (Ed.). (2010). Lambang terukir: Dalam mengisahkan manaqib Habib Noh bin Muhamad Alhabsyi yang syahir. Singapore: Masjid Al'Firdaus, p. 34. (Call no.: Malay RSING 297.4092 LAM); Muhammad Ghouse Khan Surattee. (2008). The grand saint of Singapore: The life of Habib Nuh bin Muhammad Al-Habshi. Singapore: Masjid Al-Firdaus, pp. 30–35. (Call no.: RSING 297.4092 GRA)



The information in this article is valid as at 19 August 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Al-Habshi, Sayyid Noh, 1788-1866
Philosophy, psychology and religion>>Religion>>Islam
Ethnic Communities
Muslim saints--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Religious Leaders
Religious leaders
Heritage and Culture