Sheikh Burhanuddin was a great Aalim from Ulakan on Sumatra island in present-day Indonesia. He died in 1704 CE.
His father was from the Koto ethnic group and his mother from the Guci ethnic group. Burhanuddin is a member of the Guci ethnic group since the kinship structure of the Minangkabau people is based upon the matrilineal lineage. His original name was Pono. Pono went to Tapakis to study under the prominent Aalim, Yahyuddin, known as Tuanku Madinah. On the advice of Sheikh Abdur Rauf Singkel, Burhanuddin studied Islam from 1621 to 1651 CE. Sheikh Abdur Rauf also changed his name from Pono to Burhanuddin.
Sheikh Burhanuddin went to Ulakan, Sumatra and built a surau (a religious communal building) at Medan. He succeeded in propagating Islam in central Sumatra. Burhanuddin adhered to the Shattariah Sufi school of thought. A Quranic recital centre was established in Pamansiangan Luhak Agam. Ulema came to further their knowledge of Islamic teachings in Ulakan. The influence of Ulakan was substantial in the development of Islam in Minangkabau. This small town was where Islamic propagation began in the 17th century. The western shore of Aceh was under Dutch dominance when Burhanuddin built a surau there.
It was in this town that Burhanuddin developed Islam for 39 years in trying times. His influence on Islam in Sumatra is still felt up to today.