Syed Abdulrahman Taha Alsagoff


Syed Abdulrahman bin Taha Alsagoff (b. 1880, Singapore - d.1955) a.k.a. Engku Aman was a member of the wealthy trading Arab family, the Alsagoffs. The landowner was a philanthropist dedicated to administering Muslim charitable institutions closely associated with the Alsagoff family name.

Abdulrahman had strong roots linked with distinguished leaders in the local Arab community, their vision serving as his inspiration. The nephew and son-in-law of wealthy trader Syed Mohamed Ahmed Alsagoff and the great-grandson of the Arabic patriarch Syed Abdul Rahman Alsagoff, his maternal grandmother was Hajjah Fatimah, the wealthy Malaccan merchant who happened to also be the Sultana of Gowa in the Celebes. Being from Bugis royal descent, he was addressed as "Engku" while "Aman" was short for Abdulrahman.

Engku Aman had built up his wealth by establishing a company, S. A. T. Alsagoff Landowners and Estate Developers in 1915.

Engku Aman was one of the first two trustees of the SMA (Syed Mohamed bin Ahmed) Alsagoff Wakaff Funds), founded and endowed by his uncle. One-third of the investments from this Fund was set aside for charity which included the maintenance of the Alsagoff Arab School, Alsagoff Outdoor Dispensary and Muslim orphanages, namely Darul Ihsan (for boys) and the Darul Ihsan Lilbanat (for girls). His contributions as a trustee was overseeing the construction of the Alsagoff Arab School in Jalan Sultan in 1912. He then served as its supervisor for 43 years from 1912 to 1955. The madrasah taught a combination of religious and secular education and is now one of the oldest of the five madrasahs here. He presided over the reconstruction of the mosque, named after his great-grandmother, the Hajjah Fatimah Mosque in Java Road in the 1920s. He also served three times as the President of the Muslimin Trust Fund Association. It was founded in 1904, the first Muslim body to cater for the spiritual and welfare needs of Muslim Singaporeans.

Renowned as a rich landowner with properties in Nassim Road, Pasir Panjang, Pahang Street, Emerald Hill and even India, Engku Aman remained humble in his ways. He was strict with his children, hiring a religious teacher to watch over them while he worked in his home office. Lorong Engku Aman was the name of a lane given in the 1930s which ran parallel to Paya Lebar Road. Engku Aman resided in the large and only brick house in the village of attap huts there between 1922 to 1951. Every Thursday he would hold a feast for the villagers at his bungalow in Geylang. He often brought orphans to his resort bungalow in Pasir Panjang as a treat. Lorong Engku Aman was closed in 1989 but in August 1994, a new street in Geylang was named after him - Engku Aman Road.

His body lies in the Royal Cemetery in Johor Bahru. He had 4 wives and 16 children.

Career
1906 - 1954 : Trustee of Syed Mohamed Ahmed Alsagoff Wakaff Funds.
1912 - 1954 : Trustee of Alsagoff Arab School.
1920s : Supervised reconstruction of Hajjah Fatimah Mosque.
1911, 1912 & 1943 : President of Muslim Trust Fund Association.



Author
Bonny Tan



References 
Singapore days of old: A special commemorative history of Singapore published on the 10th anniversary of Singapore Tatler (pp. 56-57). (1992). Hong Kong: Illustrated Magazine.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN)

Engku Aman was a philanthropist and strict patriarch. (1994, August 20). The Straits Times, Home, p. 29.

The ex-Geylang resident with a road named after him. (1994, September 4). The Sunday Times, Sunday Plus, p. 1-4.

New street in Geylang named after man who once lived there. (1994, August 16). The Straits Times, p. 27.

Timely decision to name road after Engku Aman. (1994, August 17). The Straits Times, p. 29. 


Further Readings
Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. [1963]. The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824) - A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962): With biographical and contemporary sketches of some members of the Alsagoff family. Singapore: The Author.
(Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS) 



The information in this article is valid as at 1998 and correct as far as we can 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
Personalities>>Biographies>>Pioneers
Alsagoff, Syed Abdulrahman Taha, 1880-1955
Philanthropists--Singapore
Landowners--Singapore
Pioneers--Singapore
People and communities>>Social groups and communities

All Rights Reserved. National Library Board Singapore 2004.