Malay Concept of Man in History
Hussain Othman, (2007) Malay Concept of Man in History. Jurnal Peradaban Melayu, 5 .
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Official URL: http://jurnalperadabanipm.blogspot.com/2008/08/jurnal-peradaban-melayu.html
Universiti Tun Hussein Onn
Most often the Malay classical historical texts will only recorded the historical events related to the royal families and the noblemen. Why this happened? The most possible answer to this question is that the nature of the writing itself in which the king himself was the person who ordered the history of his kingdom to be recorded for the benefit of his children to come or in another word “…the works were authored under the command of the king”. The humble servant who accepted the command therefore should follow the direction precisely. Another possible answer is that the Malay literature was transformed almost entirely into written form soon after the coming of Islam and the written script is the Jawi script. In this regard, we need to understand that almost all of the early authors of the Malay historical literature who mastered the writing skill in Jawi scripts hailed from the court of the kings. Not only that, they were also appointed as official scribes of the kings, working and living around the court of the kings (Harun Mat Piah, 1993: 52-53). It is from the Malay court, the place from where everything begins, the behest of the king or royal family to compose historical writings felt upon the authors usually led by the Bendahara. The writing process initiated by the king or royal family and engaged by the court officials certainly focuses around the court, the life of the king, his family and the greatness of his kingdom. That is why finally the contents of these texts and including the titles itself carried the meaning of history as sejarah or sulalat, meaning “the genealogical tree of the royal family”. There are however some misconceptions in looking through at the issue of special treatment on the king, royal family, dignitaries and the kingdom in the classical Malay historical texts with regard to the concept of man in Malay history. Firstly, people tend to draw a simple conclusion that each Malay king is so eager to record their history in a glorious manner so that they will be commemorated as a great man of the universe by their descendants and people to come. If this is the case, there must be at least one great historical book for each of the Malay king and which is not really the case. In actual fact is that their history was indeed recorded posthumously, i.e. only after their death and their reigns were concluded the history was then compiled under the instruction of their descendants, and most often it was executed after some hundred years after their times. Even then, the description of their greatness was not explicitly and constantly exposed. Another important point was that if the king really wanted his lifetime to be recorded in a glorious manner, he should do it instantly and we might during this present time discover that every historical remain will prove the king’s intention. As such Massignon (1959: 109) wrote, “It is true that some religions allude to “great souls”. Hindus call them mahatmas, Arabians abdal, and Christians saints, but they are usually ignored during their lifetime.” Secondly, often people are inclined to see the story of the kings in the classical Malay historical texts as purely based on the concept of the kingship or raja. Not many tend to look at a Malay king as a man, the fact is that each of them is a man and therefore they should be treated as a man. As a man, he should carry on his shoulder certain duties and responsibilities according to his religion. It was true that the history of the Malay kingship is among the major characteristics of the Malay historical texts. But, we must not then focus the concept of man in Malay history based on the concept of Malay kingship. Rather, we must direct our attention to the concept of duties and responsibilities. Having experienced the three great religions of the world namely Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, the Malays had indeed accumulated a number of great ideas and concepts including the concept of man. Fortunately, this aspect of the concept of man was also embodied in the classical texts of the Malay history particularly in the selected texts of this study.
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