By Saipulizam Abd Ghani
Pix by Mohd Hairul Azmi Jahid
MELAKA, 16 Nov. 2011 – The coming of Islam to the Malay world has not only shifted the Malays’ religious adherence but also their culture and identity from the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism.
The scholarship traditions brought by Islam had also moulded the Malay psyche and tradition and steered it to its present disposition and character, said Chief Minister of Melaka, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam when opening the International conference on Islamic Civilisation and Malay Identity 2011 here today.
The two day conference organised by the Faculty of Islamic Studies UKM with the cooperation of the Melaka state government through its Malay World, Islamic World (DMDI) organisation and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO). Nearly 200 local and international experts and scholars on Islamic Civilisation and Malay Identity attended.
The conference is supported by the Institute of Malay World and Civilasation (ATMA) and the Institute of Islam Hadhari UKM. UKM’s support of the conference is in line with its commitment to enhance the culture of scholarship among the people.
Datuk Seri Mohd Ali said the influence of Islam has tremendous impact on Malay civilisation as can be seen in the Malay tradition of knowledge, culture, the arts, social and physical environment, economy and others.
Islam had not only brought about deep and extensive influence to the socio-cultural adherence of the local population but had brought about the setting up of a sistematic structure in the lives and mannerism of the Malays and had also been the driving force in the continuity of the history, language and culture of the Malays.
Islam is thus deeply embedded into the Malay identity and psyche and because of this the Malays are inseperable from Islam, he said.
Since the coming of Islam, the Malays had by tradition adopted Islam as their way of life. This had been passed down through generations to the extent that it is now unthinkable for a Malay not to be a Muslim.
The Dean of the Islamic Studies Faculty, Prof Mohd Nasran Mohamad said the focus of the conference is on education and how Islam had influenced the Malay psyche and culture. The Malaysian government and institutions of higher learning had also taken various measures to uphold Islamic values in the national education system.
Unfortunately questions about its influence in the evolution of the Malay identity and history remained. There is also a need to know to what extent the education system had influenced the Malay identity through the absorption of Islamic values.
More than 60 papers by local and foreign researchers and scholars had been tabled for discussions with six keynote speakers including former Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The organisers hoped such a gathering will become a platform to exchange ideas and cooperate in research and publications on the issue. It is also hoped that it would create a network of scholars and researchers over the issue of Islamic civilisation and the Malay identity from among the participants.