Mohammed Ali bin Maksum bin Ahmad was born in Lasem, an old town in Central Java from the family of Minangkabau descent Sultan of Malacca. The son of Haji Ahmad and Hajjah Maksum Nuriyati Zainuddin, is also a descendant of Sayyid Abdurrahman Sambu aka Prince Kusumo bin Prince Ngalogo, aka Prince Mohammed Syihabudin Sambu Digdadiningrat alias Mbah Sambu. This lineage gave birth to many pesantren families that spread in the area of Central Java and East Java.
He spent his youth for study from pesantren to pesantren. Starting from his own father who was also a religious scholars, he later went to Kyai Amir in Pekalongan then proceed to Kyai Abdullah Dimyati (brother of Sheikh Mahfudz Attarmasi), Tremas, Pacitan, East Java. Since in Termas, he began to stand out and ultimately help taught and took care of pesantren and also wrote essay.
Shortly after take as son in law by the Kyai Haji (KH) Munawwir al Hafidh al Muqri Krapyak Yogyakarta, he was assisted by a merchant from Kauman Yogyakarta for a pilgrimage to Mecca. He also used this opportunity to continue study the Koran to the scholars of Mecca, Sayyid Alwi al-Maliki al-Hasni, Masyayikh Hamid Sheikh Mannan, Sheikh Omar Hamdan and others.
After two years studied of the Koran at Mecca, Kyai Ali returned to the land of Java. Originally, he wanted to stay in Lasem helped his father developed the pesantren. However, after the death of Kyai Munawwir Krapyak, Pesantren Krapyak asked him to continue the education development together with KH R. Abdullah Affandi Munawwir and KH R. Abdul Qadir Munawwir.
Finally, he spent all his time and efforts to maintain and develop Pesantren Krapyak, which was initially raised during Kyai Munawwir as forerunner of pesantren of Koran in Indonesian .
In the field of Islamic education, he pioneered the modern classical system which developed as madrasah today. He also became honorary faculty at the Universitas Islam Negeri Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta.
In areas of society and politics, he had been a council member of Constituent Assembly, a legislature during the President Sukarno era. In the organization of clerics, Nahdlatul Ulama, he had served as Rais' Aam Syuriyyah who successfully bring NU Jam'iyyah out of the political influence during the New Order era.
Besides took care of thousands of his pupils, he still spare his time to give lectures in the community, oversaw building developments and wrote books. Tasrif ul Kalimah, As Shorf al Wadlih, Risalatussiyam, Mantiq science, are some of his Arabic-language book.
Before he died in late 1989, from his hand had been born hundreds of clerics from thousands of his students in the period from 1946 to 1989. A few days before he died, Pesantren Krapyak host the NU congress, annual meeting of the most prestigious religious-scholars organization in Indonesia, which was attended by Indonesian president at the time, General Suharto.
Assisted by his wife, Nyai Hasyimah Munawwir, they have been established and developed the kindergarten, Madrasah Diniyyah, Madrasah Tsanawiyyah, Madrasah Aliyah, Madrasah Tahfidzil Qur'an and Madrasah Takhassusiyah for college students. (Afif)
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