The Wandering Thoughts of a Dying Man – Haji Abdul Majid bin Zainuddin

The Wandering Thoughts of a Dying Man – Haji Abdul Majid bin Zainuddin

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Abdul Majid b. Zainuddin, one of the leading Malay writers, controversialists, and teachers of the early 20th century, was born near Kuala Lumpur in 1887, son of an immigrant Sumatran trader. He was educated at Malay and English schools and eventually, as a result of his own persistence, was admitted in 1905 to the Malay Residential School, newly opened as an ‘Eton’ for the sons of the nobility.

During 11 years as the College’s first Malay Master, from 1907, he became acquainted with most of the leading Malay and British figures of his time, many of whom feature in the present book. Appointed the first Malay Assistant Inspector of Schools in 1918, he was transferred in 1924 to the newly created post of Malay Pilgrimage Officer, spending half the year in the Hejaz and half on intelligence work in Malaya. Relinquishing this for health reasons in 1939, he nevertheless had sufficient energy in 1940 to found one of the country’s most provocative journals for Malays, The Modern Light.

His autobiography – the only one known to have been written by a Malay covering these years – was scribbled, in pencil and in English, in three school notebooks in late 1941, two years before his death. It gives an entertaining – as well as highly personal and often partisan – picture of life in the Federated Malay States between 1900 and 1941.

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