Event Review: Interactions with Ustaz Fizar Zainal: “The Science of Arts”
What: Youth aLIVE Discourse – The Series
“Glorifying our Heritage, Emulating the Legacy – inspirations from our Islamic Civilisation”
Where: MUIS Auditorium
Who: Dr. Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied, Ustaz Muhammad Fizar Zainal, Ustaz Muhammad Nasir Johari
When: 18th May 2013 9am-5pm
By: a.L.I.V.E. MUIS[/box_dark]
The 5th run of Youth aLIVE Discourse certainly lived up to its promise of inspiring its audience through Islam’s colourful past with its three truly inspiring lectures that brought the audience on a journey that began from the introduction, spread and influence of Islam in the Malay world to a brief historical lesson on the different Islamic empires and their influence on the world and finally culminating in a lesson on how to truly appreciate the message behind Islamic art and architecture that can be easily found in our present time.
Interactions with Ustaz Fizar Zainal: “The Science of Arts”
The 5th edition of Youth aLIVE Discourse concluded with a talk titled “The Science of Arts” by Ustaz Muhammad Fizar Zainal who had studied Arabic in Syria and currently heads the Education in Research & Training department of Safinah Institute.
“What (the heaven) is Islamic Civilisation?”
According to Ustaz Fizar, Muslims fail to look at the finer things in Islamic Civilization, something that most of us see as this great and big element.
The term Islamic is not only anything that has to do with Islam, but every single thing that comes under the scope and influence of the religion.
Without looking back into our past, Muslims would find themselves as wayfarers in the world, unable to retrace our steps whenever we get lost in our direction in life.
A combination of Art and Architecture, it is the ability to think and act while bound by the wisdoms that Allah has given us. It is also having the ability to see the beauty and message that Allah has created behind every single creation as according to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (S), “Allah is beautiful and he loves beauty.” (Muslim)
The beauty behind a person is his or her soul or Ruh, and it is through this beauty can a message that connects mankind to Allah be found.
The Adab of Learning & Understanding
“Appreaciating Islamic Art-Chitecture not through the lens of the eyes but through the eyes of your heart.”
In order discover the beauty and message behind any of Allah’s creation, we have to look at them with our hearts in order to see what Allah is conveying through it. Only with that can we use the knowledge of the message and focus to create devices to help the Ummah, just as how the brilliant scholars of Islam once did.
Even Prophet Muhammad encompassed this value with an example of him perfecting the adab of eating a date. He respected the date by eating it as though it would be the last date that he would ever eat, leaving only the seed and not wasting any edible portion it when he was done.
The Artful Quest of Chisels & Saw
The audience was then divided into two groups, led by Ustaz Fizar and Ustaz Nasir respectively to go around Masjid Mahijirin and Madrasah Al-Irsyad to learn the various meanings behind mosque design and Islamic architecture.
The two ustaz explained that there is actually no concrete definition of mosque architecture although it would usually follow certain common elements of Islamic architecture and Arabesque design which are then combined with architectural elements unique to the local culture.
Due to space constraints in Singapore, mosques here are usually built with multiple floors but to emulate the big spaces in more traditional mosque designs, the prayer halls of the second floors and above are usually cut away to expose the high ceiling and the first floor. The design is to have as big and wide spaces as possible to give the Muslim more khusyuk during his or her prayers.
More recent mosque designs tend to do without traditional domes as they are very expensive to maintain are easily susceptible to leaks especially in Singapore’s rainy climate while the carpeted areas of the mosque are the designated I’tikafareas.
The concept of balance and symmetry holds high importance in Islamic architecture in design and one could easily draw a straight line down a mosque or items of Islamic design and would find that the two sides are identical.
The Power of Writing
Ustaz Fizar recalled one of his Arabic teachers telling him bring along a pen and notebook everywhere he goes and to sketch every idea that he has into the notebook. He then shared with the audience his own experience of learning the importance of writing when he first went to Yemen to enrol himself into an Arabic school.
Ustaz Fizar failed the entrance examination, as he had no idea on how to write Arabic and even wrote his name wrongly. But by the Grace of Allah SWT and with the help of a friend, he was eventually placed into a basic learner’s course. From then on, he would write any Arabic word that he saw and managed to learn basic Arabic in a month.
Science is part of Islam
“It is not permitted to the Sun to catch up the Moon, nor can the Night outstrip the day: each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to Law).” – Surah Yaseen Verse 40.
Ustaz Fizar asked the audience a very interesting question, “Has anyone looked upon a cloud and said (that) the design is wrong?”
Through the learning of science can one discover that behind everything is a Creator but in order to truly see His Signs, one has to look with the eyes of one’s heart.
An example of this, according to Ustaz Fizar, is to ‘talk’ to the moon, to appreciate its beauty and the science of astronomy and to understand the reason why Allah SWT has blessed humankind with its creation.
What type of seeker are you?
To end off, Ustaz Fizar asked the audience to decide between the Ant, the Bee and the Spider to represent the type of seeker of knowledge that a he or she is.
Ant – Someone who simply collects data without getting to know what it is and would not find the unifying structure that would bind it with other types knowledge.
Spider – Someone who spins out ideas in solitude but ends up trapping others in its own endless web of ideas that does not result in advancement.
Bee – Someone who gathers together in a community to share and evaluate each other’s ideas and data which results in something that is very tasteful and beneficial to everyone.
Bio of Speakers
– Dr. Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied
- Assistant Professor in Department of Malay studies, NUS
- PhD from School of Oriental and African Studies
- Actively involved in various projects for social reform and youth development.
– Ustaz Muhammad Fizar Zainal
- Left secular education after GCE ‘O’ Levels to pursue Arabic Literacy in Yemen and Syria
- Previously a trainer of Youth aLIVE trainers
- Head of Education, Research and Training, Safinah Institute
– Ustaz Muhammad Nasir Johari
- Holds a Bachelor’s degree in comparative religion from the International Islamic University of Malaysia
- Youth aLIVE Trainer
Attendance: Approximately 98 pax.
Comments by Attendees
Syazwan, 14, Secondary 2 student in Raffles Institution:
“I learned to appreciate Islam architecture more and can see that Islam is growing.”
Zahara, 22, Student
“I felt that Dr Khairudin’s talk was really engaging and influential.”
Added that she now knows more about how the Malay Islamic Empire was formed.
Muhammad Ilham Othman
An aspiring writer currently studying Journalism and Media Studies. One who is also constantly trying to better himself for Allah SWT.