Friday, 6 May 2011

Book launch: Straits Muslim

These photos were taken during the launch of the book, Straits Muslims: Diasporas of the northern passage of the Straits of Malacca (2009) at Muzium Islam, Jalan Perdana in Kuala Lumpur on 29 May 2010.

Datin Rosmah Mansur was Guest of Honour who launched the book
Prof Datuk Dr Wazir Jahan Karim, editor of Straits Muslims
Some of the crowd. It was full house
Exit after launch
Great grandchildren of Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar, the man who first translated Quran into English at Oxford University.

Prof Datuk Dr Wazir Jahan Karim

From the book, Straits Muslims: Diasporas of the Northern Passage of the Straits of Malacca, edited by Wazir Jahan Karim (Straits G.T., 2009).

Page 33 shows Dr Abdul Karim's wedding photo (circa 1930s-1940s with a Taj Mahal as prop). The wedding was held at a house in Larut Road (where is this?).

Page 36 shows a photo of Bismillah Begum Munawar.

Prof Datuk Dr Wazir Jahan Karim is the daughter of a famous dentist, Dr Abdul Karim bin Nawab Din.

Dr Abdul Karim married Bismillah Begum bt Munawar, the granddaughter of the famous writer, philosopher and Penang Mufti, Dr Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar. He was also the first person to translate the Quran into English at Oxford University.

Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar (1873-1954)

He was born in Lahore, India in 1873. Lahore is now in Pakistan. His father was a tailor. He had four siblings - all are brothers. He recited Quran from age three and went to school at age five. By age eleven, he became a hafiz (a person who is able to recite the Quran).

He studied Humanities and Arts in the Government College of Lahore and graduated in 1893. He completed a Masters in Arts at the University of Punjab in 1894. At 21, he studied Philology, Mathematics, and Science (known as Mathematical Tripos) at the St John's College in Cambridge University and completed it in 1896. He studied Advanced Arabic at the Imperial Institute of Modern Languages (1896-1900).

In 1896, after completing his studies at Cambridge University, he was offered two choices - to either serve the British Indian government service in India or the British Colonial Civil Service of the Straits Settlements in Southeast Asia. He chose the latter. In 1896 he was appointed a Cadet of the Malayan Civil Service.

He held several posts in Malaya between 1900 and 1928. Among them were:

Magistrate, Penang Supreme Court
Mufti, Penang
Third Magistrate, Singapore (1920 onward)
Acting Sheriff and Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court and Assistant Official Assignee, Penang
Acting District Judge, Penang
Acting Censor, Singapore
Acting Registrar of Companies, Penang
Civil District Judge, Singapore (1923 - 30 December 1928)

Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar wrote many books on Islam. He was the first person to translate Quran into English at Oxford University. I have two of his books (photos below). He wrote the following books between 1923 and 1954:

The Word of God and the Wonders of Science (1923-25)
The Translation of the Holy Qur'an (1928)
Philosophy of the Qur'an (1938)
Mohammad the Holy Prophet (1937)

Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar knew many languages including these below:
Qur'anic Arabic
Modern Arabic

Source: Wazir Jahan Karim. Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar (1873-1954). A Biographical Review. Straits G.T. Intersocietal and Scientific (INAS), George Town, Penang. 2008.

Wazir Jahan Karim. Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar (1873-1954). A Biographical Review. 2008
Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar. Life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). 2010. ISBN 978-983-44034-2-3
Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar. On God, Creation and Evolution. 2009. ISBN 978-983-44034-1-6

Newspaper reports of Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar (H. G. Sarwar):

Book - Straits Muslims

Page  42 has a photo of a younger Dato' Mushir Ariff with his wife, Dato' Zubaidah Ariff, photographed in Penang in 1956 (courtesy of Dato' Zubaidah Ariff). Dato' Mushir Ariff is the eldest son of Sir Dr Kamil Mohamed Ariff, a famous Penang doctor who was knighted, the only doctor knighted in the history of Penang and Malaysia. Dato' Mushir Ariff also headed the inquiry into the Bank Bumiputra saga in 1974 (I was in Form 4 at TKC).

Page 43 has a family photo of the Ariffs with their children, parents and in-laws (courtesy of Dato' Zubaidah Ariff).

Page 59 shows the 1935 Annual Dinner held at King Edward's College, University of Malaya in Singapore. Present in the photo were dentist Dr Mohamad bin Taib, Khamsiah bt Ali, Latifah Bee Ghows and Dr Mohamed Din. The caption states that Dr Abdul Karim bin Nawab Din was the first Malayan to obtain the F.R.C.D.S. from the University of Manchester.

Page 60 is the same photo used for TEMD. Only three people can be identified - Dr Mohamed Said, Dr Megat Khas and Dr Abdul Karim bin Nawab Din. The others could be our Malay doctors but their names are unknown.

Page 61 shows dental graduates of KE VII College, Singapore in 1936. Present (possibly) were  Dr Nuruddin Salleh and Dr Abdul Karim bin Nawab Din.

Usman Awang's verse on the ethnogenesis of Malays

Melayu di tanah Semenanjung luas maknanya
Jawa itu Melayu, Bugis itu Melayu
Banjar juga disebut Melayu, Minangkabau memang Melayu
Keturunan Aceh adalah Melayu
Jakun dan Sakai asli Melayu
Mamak dan Malbari serap ke Melayu
Malah mu'alaf bertakrif Melayu
(Setelah disunat anunya itu)

Source: Straits Muslims, Wazir Jahan Kairm, Straits GT, 2009. p62 (endnote).

Boria and the Ethnogenesis of the Malays

Have you ever seen or heard of boria? It's not bosia but boria. It's not bo ria. It's boria! What is boria? What do you know about boria? Have you ever performed in a boria? Boria is also spelled as boeria. Boria or boeria could have been derived from 'Boleh Ceria' and then contracted to become boria. So, boria could mean and refer to, 'Let's party and be happy'. So let's be happy with boria.

1. Boria Bal is a village in Balkh Province in northern Afghanistan (Wikipedia).
2. Boria is a village in Poland (Wikipedia).

Boria is a Hindu caste in north India (Wikipedia).
Boria is a sub-group of the Pasi clan that practices endogamy (Wikipedia).
The Boria and Pasi do not intermarry.
The Boria speak Awadhi dialect. The Pasi speak Hindi.
A part of Pasi embraced Islam and became known as Turuk Pasi.
Turuk Pasi are Muslims.

Transmigration and ethnogenesis
The Indians came to Malaya and with them came a group that continued boria here? Whether boria was borned and propagated by the few Shite Muslims who came to Malaya remain unknown. The Sunni Muslim views of boria are unknown. The ulama' will view boria as haram when it combines men and women together in a staged performance. Whether boria has links to the Jews is also unknown.

Please read about boria in Straits Muslims: Diasporas of the northern passage of the Straits of Malacca by Wazir Jahan Karim, editor (2009), pp9-10; 52-57.

Boria is a staged dance performance meant for public viewing. It is usually performed in the village or at universities and elsewhere. It is performed for welcoming visitors to a village or part of a stage presentation. The boria (dance) is performed in a large group (10-20 people or more) and led by a leader and singer. The songs are often welcoming songs and now have taken to advisory overtones for civic mindedness.

Boria lyrics

"Boria Anak Tanjung" - Boria Pulau Pinang

Kalimah bismillah bermula kata
Alhamdulillah bersyukur kita
Perihal Pulau Pinang tajuk cerita
Boria Anak Tanjung membawa berita

Lainlah buluh lainlah parang
Lain dahulu lain sekarang
Perubahan Pulau Pinang yang cukup terang
Boria Anak Tanjung cuba menerang

Rakyat sekarang pesat pembangunan
Kembang ekonomi mengikut susunan
Bangunan indah kiri dan kanan
Pemimpin berdedikasi memainkan peranan

(Ulang *)

Rakyat hidup berbilang bangsa
Tolong menolong setiap masa
Menabur bakti membuat jasa
Aman damai hidup selesa

(Ulang *)

Akhir karangan menyusun jari
Cerita kami yang tidak terperi
Salah dan silap tanpa disedari
Ampun dan maaf pohon diberi

Lirik Lagu Boria Anak Tanjung @ Lirikami
Read more:

Boria today
Whatever the origins of boria we see today, who supported boria in the past, who supports boria today, boria is here to stay and has moved beyond our shores by little student ambassadors. It is a lively performance and a good way to welcome visitors and to make them feel at home. Lyrics for boria dance songs or performances have been greatly subdued from being vulgar  to conform to more acceptable Malay community standards. We will support boria that gives a good message to our young and our visitors alike. Boria was never a Malay creation but came to exist within the Malay society's many traditional performances, after years of multicultural acculturation. Boria came to us and has remained. 

Boria costumes. Photo from Penang Museum.

Boria performances
YouTube - Boria (Universiti Sains Malaysia 2008)
YouTube - Boria (Universiti Malaya 2010)
YouTube - Boria (Pennsylvania State University, USA - Malaysian Night 2010)
YouTube - Boria (Kampung Melayu, Penang)