Cited as proof of Islamisation in khat, Yadim says Dong Zong’s reading selective

Examples of khat calligraphy in Balik Pulau, Penang August 6, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Examples of khat calligraphy in Balik Pulau, Penang August 6, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 — Putrajaya-backed missionary group Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (Yadim) has clarified today that its statement on khat as a way to understand Quranic teachings was directed towards Muslims and not adherents of other faiths.

In a statement, Yadim said Chinese educationist groups Dong Zong and Jiao Zong had taken its chairman Nik Omar Nik Abdul Aziz’s remark out of context in a desperate act to oppose the teaching of the Malay-Arabic calligaphy in vernacular schools.

“The statement should have been read in its full context by Dong Zong and Jiao Zong. Their selective reading (referring only to the sixth paragraph) was an irresponsible and desperate act,” said Yadim.

Both groups in a joint statement had cited Nik Omar who in supporting the lesson, said it would increase the younger generation’s comprehension of the Jawi script and Arabic language to help them learn, understand, and practice Quranic teachings.

They also cited scholarly writings such as a paper titled “Contribution of Arabic Calligraphy to Islamic Art: A Historical Study” by academic Mohd Bakhir Abdullah, as proof that khat is a form of Islamisation.

Yadim added today that it remained consistent that Jawi writing and martial arts are part of cultural heritage that has shaped the fabric of the country’s civilisation.

“With regards to this issue, we are taking a gracious and open approach to work with any organisation or party to discuss this matter in search of a solution instead of attacking each other.

“In the new era of Malaysia, differences of opinion have always been celebrated, but they have to be implemented within the framework of blessing that binds them all together,” it added.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Education announced that the vernacular schools will only teach the Jawi script at a basic level instead of the khat calligraphy.

Following a discussion by the Cabinet, the ministry said the introductory lessons will stay in vernacular schools, but only with the consent of students and each school’s Parent Teacher Association.