Sayyid ‘Abdul Qadir Shahul Hamid al-Naguri
No meaningful discussion of the Singapore Nagore Dargah can take place without at least a cursory look at the life of the man in whose honour the building was erected. While many legends abound, we would like to focus on two aspects of his life relevant to modern Singapore.
The first is his spiritual inspiration to the Muslims, Hindus and people of other faiths in South India to rise up against the Portuguese colonialists. By this, he shares the ideals of the founding fathers of Singapore who strove valiantly against the British.
It is the sterling example and precedent set by men like him that inspire Muslims to join forces with people of all faiths when it comes to the common good of humanity.
The second is the pluralism he espoused when dealing with people. Whilst being a staunch Muslim, he exhibited great compassion and warmth to adherents of all religious denominations. In the process, he won the admiration and respect of non-Muslim Kings, poets, and sages.
It is the practical example of the Prophet and his spiritual heirs such as Sayyid Abdul Qadir that give Muslims models upon which they engage and conduct themselves as minority citizens.
Sayyid ‘Abdul Qadir and Singapore
Though Sayyid ‘Abdul Qadir was an avid traveller, there is no record of him setting foot on the soil of historic Temasek. But he plays a poignant role in the spiritual genealogy and tradition of Muslims in 21st century Singapore.
While there are no official numbers to corroborate, it is known that a significant number of Singaporean Muslims (Arab, Chinese, Indian and Malay) adhere to the Qadiri path (الطريقة) in Islamic spirituality (التصوف). Sayyid ‘Abdul Qadir was an active proponent of this way.
It is for this reason that though the Singapore Nagore Dargah has traditionally been associated with the Indian Muslims, and especially the Tamils, it is a sacred space for all Muslims in Singapore. This is especially so for those who follow the spiritual tradition of Islam.