Islamic, Malay arts not the same

IT HAS become common for members of the public to misinterpret the Islamic arts and Malay arts as the same, a visiting Malaysian professor said.

Professor Dato Dr Othman Yatim, a visiting professor at Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s (UBD) Academy of Brunei Studies, said it is important to understand differences between the Islamic and Malay arts as it may affect the identities of Muslims and Malays.

“The Malay arts is not all Islamic, they are not the same, it focuses on daily activities of Malay culture but there are similarities,” he said during the Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies (SOASCIS) Graduate Seminar Series at UBD.

Professor Dato Dr Othman said misconception of the two arts could distort the Malay community and Islamic community’s identity, resulting in confusion between the two.

He explained that the Malay arts focuses on flora and fauna, and showcase local knowledge through associations with nature and traditional architecture.

In contrast, the Islamic arts aim to emphasise the beauty and ethical values of Allah SWT through visual art –such as mosques and zikir, he said.

“The Malay arts uses arts and crafts (objects of daily use) to emphasise Malay culture, while the Islamic arts uses calligraphy, cosmology and geometry to glorify and devote oneself to Allah SWT,” he added.

Prof Dato Dr Othman Yatim

Prof Dato Dr Othman Yatim

The professor said the public must understand and be aware of the differences, in which he plans to educate the public through seminars and workshops.

“The youth is the target because they will continue practising our culture and identity for future generations, so they must know the differences at an early age,” he said.

Professor Dato Dr Othman also encouraged schools to educate students to ensure they understand the differences between the two cultures.

“We, as Malays and Muslims, have to know and preserve our identity by being aware because having the wrong perception is dangerous as it plays a major role in the unity of all Muslims in the world,” he added.

During the seminar, over 30 people attended to further their knowledge of the Islamic and Malay arts.

The Brunei Times

Sunday, August 23, 2015


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