Monday, February 25, 2008

The Singapore Quran


The mushaf Singapura is on display at Masjid Kampong Siglap, the Darul Quran Centre of Singapore.
A few years ago I went to Shah Alam, where there is a Centre for Quran Calligraphy, called Yayasan Restu. It was the most wonderful place in Malaysia I have ever been to. Apparently it began because one day the former PM of Malaysia, Dr M, was in another Muslim country and he discovered that except for a few very old fogies, nobody is left with the discipline of writing Qurans anymore, especially since printing has become more feasible. Also, he was perturbed that the Saudi mushaf had become ubiquitous in the Muslim world, and that it was becoming mistaken for THE mushaf Uthmani (which to my surprise and consternation, a great majority of Muslims I know believe to be true). So he came back to Malaysia and ordered that, as the Melayu boleh apa-apa saja, his countrymen will reclaim this almost-lost art of calligraphy and Quran manuscript.
So they embarked on the exercise of designing and writing the mushaf Malaysia. The thought and spirituality that went into the exercise was so inspiring - they really took it to heart that this is the Divine Word and had to be treated with utmost reverence and thought at every step.
They used only natural dyes from nature, like different types of wood and spices, to mix into ink, so as not to use artificial chemicals to write, as they believed that to write the word of God it is befitting to use products from nature, which we know, glorifies God.
The paper used was of the highest possible quality, and there were commissioned pieces which were made of paper guaranteed to last 700 years!
And the artistic design that went into the decoration of the side margins and symbols - all of them were based on existing artistic motifs found in ancient Malay woodwork or craftsmanship, or using stylised representations of local flowers. Beautiful.
Then came the actual khat - calligraphy - itself. They set out to use the Jawi style of writing, with large, circular strokes with a natural reed stick pen. There was a team of writers just writing away page after page, dipping their reed pen into natural ink.
The whole thing was beautiful. I could never look at the mushaf Madinah the same anymore. Somehow the barakah was with the Malaysian one. Not to mention the Malaysian one contains bright colours instead of sombre dark green and beige.
I bought several of the mushaf Malaysia, and my sons, who are undergoing the tahfiz programme, prefer it to the Madinah version, for some reason.
I myself prefer it because it is bright and good to the eye, and gives off the impression of nur.
When Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad came to Singapore the previous time, he talked excitedly about 2 things in Malaysia - ISTAC and this place.
I can understand why. Now it seems that we have commissioned them to design a mushaf Singapura. I think it is a great idea.

5 comments:

nagfa said...

salam,

this is one of the better blogs with come across; rational discourse of Islam in a multi-racial multi-faceted cosmopolitan. keep up with the great work!

salam,
nagfa

MudPie said...

Thanks for dropping by and giving the nice comment.

umu nabil said...

Salaam bro,

What is the difference between the Saudi mashaf & mashaf Uthmani? Don't the mashafs printed in Makkah & Madinah use the Uthmani system? *blinks*

Jazakallah khairan!

MudPie said...

Wa'alaikumussalaam wa rahmatullah

Mashaf refers to the papers, literally, the paper design, the type of manuscript used, the scripting system.

When one says Othmani, one refers to the Qur'an, in its content, as the official alQuran, compiled and made official (rasm) by Syidina Omar r.a. So it is called the Rssm Othamani.

All Qur'ans today are Rasm Othmani, but may be of different mashaf. For a long time the most common mashaf was the obe commissioned by the Khalifah of the Ottoman Empire, and used the baghdadi style of manuscript. A few decades ago, the Saudis designed and produced the Madinah mashaf. All are Rasm Othmani. However, many shops and schools started to tell Muslims to buy only the Madinah mushaf claiming that it is the only authentic Rasm Othmani. This is of course not only false, but defames all other Qurans. My kid's madrasah teacher gave me a "lesson" on why I should buy the Rasm Othmani Quran (referring to the Saudi version), which was the "authentic" Quran, instead of the "Indian" Quran.

Anyway, as ahlussunnah waljamaah, we accept the Saudi mashaf and Indian mashaf, the Malaysian mashaf, even the Singapore mashaf, as different versions of the same Rasm Othmani. That is, design and layout and typeface are different, but content and arrangement is word for word exactly the same.

Hope that clarifies. SubhanAllah.

ummu nabil said...

Oh yes, that clarifies it much :)