Biography of Abdullah ibn Abdul Kadir (1798-1854)

Malaysian writer, born in Malacca, and son of a descendant family of Arabic and Tamil. He/She received the title of «munshi», i.e. «master», when he/she taught Malay language to Indian soldiers and, later, British and American missionaries. He/She was a great admirer of the founder of the city of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles, who worked as a Secretary and interpreter. At the death of his father, Abdullah took office, devoted to works of a copyist and custom-made. In 1815, Abdullah began the task of translating into English the Christian Gospels, and in 1835 they were already ready for printing; the same work performed in respect of Hindu Fables. His most important work is the story of Abdullah, novel of autobiographical nature he/she wrote between 1840 and 1843, and which was published in 1849. The story is written in a realistic and critical tone that contrasts with the characteristics and style of the Malayan courtly literature; in the novel the author frequently used colloquial language and large numbers of Malay proverbs, as a means of exemplification on human weaknesses. His next work is the title story of the journey of Abdullah, in which recounts a journey from Singapore to Malacca.

He died suddenly during one of their frequent pilgrimages to Mecca, in Jeddah. The publication of his newspaper was made posthumously. His continuous contact with Western thought marked his literary production, which was seen by some nationalists with suspicion, until with the arrival of the new century this concept changed, and his work came to be point of reference for the new generation of writers of the modern Malay literature greatly. Abdullah has been recognized as the first Malay author able to depart from the Malaysian literary conventions imposed by tradition, to set a style of his own, characterized by the use of colloquial language.