CSEAS Colloquium by Lily Hanefarezan Binti Asbulah: The Influence of Islam and Arabic Language in Malay Civilization: How Qalam Magazine Shaped Malay Community Thought during the 1950-1960s

Date & Time: Thursday, 25 January 2024, 13:30–15:00
Venue: 3rd Floor, Mid-sized Meeting Room, Inamori Bldg

Title: The Influence of Islam and Arabic Language in Malay Civilization: How Qalam Magazine Shaped Malay Community Thought during the 1950-1960s
Speaker: Lily Hanefarezan Binti Asbulah

In the 1950s, the Malay community was moving towards independence, preparing to form a nation and national identity. However, there was a conflict between traditional values, religion, modernity, and the Western values left from colonization because most Malays still held onto conservative religious practices and views. This strong belief in traditional values made it challenging for the Malay community to accept change and they were confused by the fast development and modernity around them. At this time, the Qalam magazine came out as a consistent read, urging everyone with good and sharp thinking to see the importance of a critical thinking culture as a tool to grow knowledge for the community’s wellbeing. Qalam magazine emerged as a significant voice, named after and inspired by the Quranic verse in Surah al-’ Alaq, symbolizing the power of knowledge and writing. Thus, this presentation will discuss the challenges and constraints in thought of the Malay community especially by analyzing 702 dialogues, a series of questions and answers from the Qalam magazine’s “1001 Masalah” section. How did Islamic and Arab language influences into the life of the Malay community then? To what extent were the thoughts of the Malay community formed by the effects of colonization through the documentation of topic “1001 Masalah”? This presentation will tried to answer these questions by helping us understand how Islamic and Arab language influences, along with the effects of past colonization, shaped the way the community thought. By utilizing qualitative analysis via Atlast.ti software, the research scrutinizes these dialogues to provide insights into the Malay community’s grappling with modernity and tradition during a transformative era. The findings offer a nuanced understanding of the cultural and intellectual transformations in the Malay community, reflecting the Qalam magazine’s significant role in this journey.

Dr. Lily Hanefarezan Asbulah is a Senior Lecturer at the Research Centre for Arabic Language and Islamic Civilization in the Faculty of Islamic Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. She currently holds the position of Distinguished Visiting Senior Lecturer at CSEAS, Kyoto University. Her areas of expertise include Arabic Linguistics, Cross-Regional Studies, Area Studies, and Measurement and Evaluation in Social Sciences. Her research interests encompass Corpus Linguistics, Southeast Asian Languages and Cultures, and the study of Arabic-Jawi in Historical Documents.