In spite of his age, he travelled frequently to remote areas in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. He was well known for his tireless effort to spread the word of true Islam and his unfailing support for Islamic unity. In addition to YAPI (The Foundation for Islamic Education) in Bangil, he established similar institutions in Irian Jaya and Ambon, the eastern parts of Indonesia. He also planned to set up an Islamic village nearby Cameron Highland north-east of Kuala Lumpur.
Sayyid Hussein Al-Habsyi was born in Surabaya, April 21, 1921. He was brought up in a religious environment. He teamed Islamic traditional sciences in AI-Kharyriyah, the oldest Islamic institution in Surabaya, founded by the family of Sadats. He continued his study in Malaysia for several years. When he returned to Indonesia, he was engaged in Islamic political activities. He held a high position on the executive board of Masyumi, the only Islamic political party at that time. In the first Indonesian general election, he was elected to the People's Consultative Assembly, in charge of the Committee on Human Rights.
He was a staunch advocate for the establishment of an Islamic state in Indonesia. In Masyumi, he fought for his mission. When President Sukamo finally banned Masyumi, and its leaders were imprisioned, Al-Habsyi decided to pay more attention to Islamic education. He was an Islamic educator in the real sense. He delivered lectures on Islamic sciences.
He also wrote many books. He travelled much, preaching and persuading people to Islam. He was not simply a preacher, however. To him, Islam was not only a collection of doctrines. Islam was a set of values to cherish, a way of life to practise, and a series of ideas to realise. When he made a decision, he had thought it over to what extent it would benefit Islam and the Muslims. Even in such matters as finding a house, choosing a son-in-law, or buying a piece of land, he always took Islam into account. It is not an exaggeration to say that even his breath was Islamic.
His main concern was Islamic unity. On the one hand, he strongly attacked any group that incited conflicts; on the other, he promoted tolerance, mutual respect and co-operation among Muslims. When Shi'ism was vehemently attacked, he bravely defended it. He was, however, very close to the Sunnite leaders who were working for Islamic brotherhood.
At his funeral procession, thousands of people sincerely shed tears. The majority of them were Sunnis. Even after his death, he was remembered as the token of Islamic brotherhood.
Some of Sayyed Hussein Al-Habsyi's books:
- May We Belong to a Certain Mazhab?
- Qadianism and Blasphemy
- Sunnah-Shi'ah: Two Biothers in Islam
- Islam-Christianity: A Critical Dialogue
- Was the Prophet Unfriendly?