The search for the middle path : islam and the tradisional malay performings arts

Ab. Aziz Shuaib, and Raja Iskandar Raja Halid, (2011) The search for the middle path : islam and the tradisional malay performings arts. In: Sharing Cultures 2011 - 2nd International Conference on Intangible Conference, 04 Julai 2011, Tomar, Portugal. (Unpublished)


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The 1991 banning of the Malay traditional performing arts of wayang kulit, menora and mak yong1 in the state of Kelantan, Malaysia by the ruling opposition Islamist party PAS created a furore among Malay cultural activists and sparked heated debates among politicians and academicians. The recent religious ‘fatwa’ banning the kuda kepang dance in the Johor state left many speechless, but for some, they saw it coming. There is growing alarm of an impending extinction of Malay intangible heritage, especially the performing arts, due to the rising tide of Islamization in Malaysia. For religious authorities, remnants of the old animist, Hindu-Buddhist beliefs and practices found in these arts are the main problem. Is Islam on a collision course with traditional performing arts? Is there room for compromise between religious authorities and traditional performing arts activist? The recent announcement by the government of Kelantan about revising the ban gives a glimmer of hope to the future of these ancient Malay art forms. This paper attempts to look into the Islamization of the performing arts and how artists are put in a dilemma between being practicing Muslims and preserving a heritage deemed ‘unIslamic’.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: Tradisional malay cultural activists - Animism - Islamist party
Faculty: Faculty of Creative Technology and Heritage
Deposited By: En. Pahmi Abdullah
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2012 10:25
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2012 15:16

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