Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Adat Perpatih, the unique custom of Negeri Sembilan

I have been prompted by Pakcik Hasan of Al-Manar, a friend from Trengganu to write something on Adat Perpatih which is the custom practiced by the Malays largely in Negeri Sembilan which had its origins from "Tanah Mengandung" which is the term denoting to the region settled by the Minangkabaus in West Sumatera.
                       Having been born in Negeri Sembilan, I suppose people presume that I ought to know  about the custom compared to those from outside who are normally referred to as practisisng the "Adat Temenggong". In fact, from the day I was born, I became a member of the "suku"  which is a term describing to which clan one belongs as there are twelve clans altogether  or "suku" indicating one's roots. I am from the 'suku biduanda' which means that I come from the ancestors who were regarded as the original inhabitants of Negeri Sembilan traced from the mother's roots as is practised in the matriarchial society of the "Adat Perpatih". That means my descendants from my mother's side were not immigrants from Minangkabau, although by marriage the man's side might have been from ' Tanah Mengandung '. Thus when my late grandmother said that her roots were from the original inhabitants, she added that it could be adduced that we had a close blood ties with the Jakuns and the Semangs (negritos) who first populated the Peninsula when I learned from the history books of Malaya during my schooldays on the Proto-Malays.
                         The most significant part of the 'adat ' is the well-defined system of 'kinship' as traced from the matrilineal system and it follows the rights and obligations of the members of the society therefrom. The most popular perception of outsiders from the "Adat" is that if a man who marries a woman from a certain suku, (marrying a woman from the same suku is taboo) is widowed owing to separation by divorce or death of the woman, he leaves home and goes back to his clan only with the shirt on his back,so to speak. This is somewhat untrue, because if the man and the wife had lived separately from the woman's customary home (inherited through the mother's customary property) and acquired the house by his sweat and tears, that property does not fall within the customary property and he has the right to continue staying, provided the land on which the house was built belongs to him.
                    Another popular saying which has quoted on the adat is "Biar mati anak jangan mati adat " which to many from outside Negeri Sembilan as being cruel. That saying is a way of impressing upon the followers of the adat, that if the society does not hold fast to it, than the society will disintegrate, as it is the adat that binds them together through good and bad times. It is a figure of speech and not to be taken literally. There are many more sayings that denote the social cohesiveness of the adat as follows;

Bulat air kerana pembetung
Bulat manusia kerana muafakat
Kegunung sama didaki
kelurah sama dituruni
Hati gajah sama dilapah
Hati kuman sama dicecah

Another misconception that is normally attributed to the adat is that the customary land law governing the property passed on through the women's family side is against Islamic law. The origins of this special provision only apply to land which had been inherited by the woman's side through generations and does not apply to land which had been acquired through the efforts of the man and the woman which is regarded as 'harta sepencarian' or property acquired through the work and savings of both. Thus the saying from the adat is thus quoted here;

Patah tumbuh hilang berganti
Pusaka bergilir,soko berwaris
Adat bersendi hukum,hukum bersendi
Syara' mengata adat mengikut
Adat dan syara' sandar menyandar

                I hope my short write-up here, dispels the myths which by and large been held by those outside the adat and most probably by those from Negeri Sembilan who are completely ignorant of the Adat and thus not bothered to correct them whenever such misconceptions arise during small talk at wedding functions and other social gatherings. As there other aspects of the adat which I have not covered, I will do so in future.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

KGV Class of '62 Reunion

Although I did my form five and thus my School Certificate in FMC (now RMC ) but I still got invited to the above reunion because most of those who attended it last year were my classmates in Form Three in King George V School in 1960.
                  Thus when David Lim Kim Kee reminded me of the gathering on Sunday 25 August at a hotel in Seremban for high tea between 12 noon and 4.30 p.m., I messaged back saying God willing, I would attend. Hence I found my way to the place by 12.15 p.m. and found David was busy distributing the flyers to a group of attendees just outside the restaurant. Victor Lee Wee Kah who made his annual sojourn back to his hometown from Australia came and greeted me. Last year, he distributed my write-up on the forthcoming reunion which I could not attend due to an earlier commitment.
                    Upon paying for the buffet at the counter just before entering the restaurant, we headed straight for the table and began our conversation. But earlier we had a friendly banter when we were assembling at the area near the entrance of the restaurant, and I met my best friend Muthukumar whom I had never met since leaving KGV in 1960. He is now a surgoen at Tong Shin Hospital in Kuala Lumpur and he too was happy to meet me. Jeyasingham S, who was in the PWD also attended the reunion this time and I told him that I did meet him somewhere during his tenure of service, but I could not recall where and I told him that I was serving in the Ministry of Works from 1988 till 1992.
                   At my table during the high tea apart from Victor Lee Wee Kah were Siti Saroja, Muslamah Asli, Rohani Yusof, Shaari and Mohd. Ariff Latiff. We had a lot to talk about of the school days and the different paths that we had taken in our careers. Lee Wee Kah gave some useful tips on the health side, as at our age, it is the most important asset to look after seriously. I am very thankful to him for sharing his knowledge. I told him that I had informed another classmate Malek Yasin about this reunion when I met him at Harith Takiman's house on the evening before. Harith is indisposed and could not attend. Later on Razali Yaacob and Juhari Samidi joined us. I hope to post the pictures that we had taken this reunion once they are uploaded on the facebook. I left them for home by 2.30 p.m. and thank Allah Almighty for this rare opportunity of meeting old friends after 53 years.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Aidilfitri 2013

                                 Aidilfitri 2013/ 1434 H

It is almost a week now since the first of Syawal 1434 is celeberated to mark to end of Ramadhan 1434 H, but the plethora of TV shows does not allow the Muslim viewers to forget counting which Hari Raya it is today, as if reinforcing the practice of  the month long Raya.
          Last Friday which falls on the second day of Hari Raya, I went to the Kota Damansara mosque which is popularly known as Masjid Kuning due to its color seen on its exterior, the khutbah reminded the congregation that it is the Malay penchant to celeberate Raya for the whole month which ought to be discontinued, albeit difficult owing to long standing practice which had not been commented by ulamas openly. And the khutbah focussed on the six day non-obligatory fast in the month of Syawal instead, whereby by doing so, it is deemed that an individual would have fasted for the whole year. Hopefully the reminder does not go into the right ear and go out by the left ear for those who were present that day.
            I gather that in Kelantan particularly, Raya is only celeberated at the most for a week and it is Aidiladha which is reckoned to be more important to many. I suppose it all depends on the practice of the society around our place and the more significant issue is the full understanding of the "ibadat" sorrounding the celeberation.
            Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir Batin.