Bringing focus to Raja Ali Haji’s contributions

Azlan Othman

The Borneo Research Centre (PenBorneo) at the Brunei History Centre held a talk on ‘Epistemological Aspects of Raja Ali Haji’s Thought of the Reconstruction of Islamic Malay Tradition of Knowledge: A Reading in His Bustān al-Kātibīn li al-Şibyan al-Muta’allimin’ yesterday.

The talk, aimed at deciphering and recognising the contributions of Raja Ali Haji in the reconstruction of Islamic Malay tradition of knowledge, was delivered by Associate Professor and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Development Management at Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) Dr Anis Malik Thoha.

The event focussed on the epistemological aspects of his contributions with reference to his book Bustän al-Kātibīn li al-Şibyan al-Muta’allimin (Perkebunan Jurutulis Bagi Kanak-kanak Yang Hendak Berlajar).

“Perhaps this book, coupled with his monolingual Malay lexicography, represents Raja Ali Haji’s utmost attention to the Jawi literacy as an important part of the Malay culture that was in the process of degeneration at the time,” said the associate professor.

Dr Anis Malik Thoha also said, “Having had a look at his background, an in-depth and critical reading in the book absolutely prompts and resonates with conceptual evidences that vibrantly accentuate the strong character of Raja Ali Haji’s Islamic epistemology.”

The talk was part of an annual programme jointly organised by the Brunei History Centre and UNISSA to encourage the use of manuscripts as references in research among students.

Attended by invited guests from the Language and Literature Bureau, the Museums Department, UNISSA, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Religious Teachers University College of Seri Begawan (KUPU SB), Islamic Da’wah Centre and Balai Khazanah Islam Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, yesterday’s talk was also livestreamed on Facebook.

Dr Anis Malik Thoha (L) during the talk. PHOTOS: AZLAN OTHMAN
Invited guests at the annual event