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Introducing My People (Part II)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Iíve been yearning to continue writing about this topic ever since I finished writing the first piece which I feel was too brief and also quite bland having not a single picture or photo to illustrate the culture of the Bidayuh people. Those of you who havenít read it can check it out here.

It also took quite some time to continue because I had to do a bit of research on what to put up as, unfortunately, I donít know very much detail about my own culture. Iím still on a learning curve and I hope you all are willing to go on a journey with me of my culture appreciation.

Before I proceed further with this post, it is of utmost pleasure for me to share with you all a verse from the Quran:

Translations (by Abdullah Yusuf Ali):

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God s (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well-acquainted (with all things)."

[Al-Hujurat, 49:13]

Described in the verse above is how Allah S.W.T. created mankind into various nations and tribes, not to disunite us, not to punish us for the sins of our ancestors, not even that we may despise each other. This diversity is in fact created so that we may get to know each other and ultimately help each other to achieve a fulfilling life both here in this world and in the hereafter.

That mentioned, it is with great pleasure for me to let you delve and discover further into the culture of my own people.

A Truly Diverse Community. This does not account the many sub-ethnic within each ethnic group.

Based on the chart above, Bidayuh constitute 5% of the total population of Sarawak . However, a signboard in front of the Bidayuh House in Sarawak Cultural Village states that Bidayuh account for 8.3% of Sarawak population. Then, I searched the internet and I found in the ďSarawakĒ entry in Wikipedia that Dayak Bidayuh make up 10% of the population in Sarawak . Another data in the ďBidayuhĒ entry of Wikipedia states that a total of 158,700 Bidayuh reside in Sarawak, and considering the total population of Sarawakian from Wikipedia is accurate, that would amount to 6.3% of the total Sarawak population.

Bidayuh House Signboard in Sarawak Cultural Village.

So from all these numbers, I think we can safely assume that Bidayuh comprise between 5-10% of the total population of Sarawak . Iím still in limbo of searching an authoritative data on the statistics. If any of you happen to know how, please let me know.

Did I mention in the previous post that Bidayuh and other Sarawakian natives share similar skin complexion and facial features with the Malays, hence the confusion of us being identified as Malay especially by people across the South China Sea . Well look at the faces below and judge for yourselves.

Faces of Sarawak

One of the things that fascinate me most about us Bidayuh is that the myriad of dialects and accents that we speak despite being a very small community. Oftentimes Iím resorted to speak Malay to a fellow Bidayuh because he happens to come from a different village, hence uses a different dialect. It is even more surprising that sometimes, even villages that sit side by side have variances in their slangs and word usage.

According to Wikipedia, Bidayuh in Sarawak are generally classified into three linguistic groups (Biatah, Bau-Jagoi, Bukar-Sadong), other sources also use other classification scheme with the same or even additional groupings. The groupings then can be further be broken down to the village level through differences in intonation and vocabulary.

The table below presents some example of the words used by different Bidayuh dialect with their English and Malay equivalent.






















































(K)u'u/ ka'am




Since Iím from Kampung Stabut, which is in Padawan, so I think I belong to the Siburan-Padawan linguistic group. But then again Bidayuh in Padawan also speak several other dialects such as Bi-anah, Braang, Pinyawa, Biaí, and Sepug, so I canít assure that I can speak intelligible Bidayuh with a fellow Padawan Bidayuh from another village.

This is surely very different with other ethnic such as the Iban and the Malay, which is despite their larger community and similar diversity with their own regional dialect they are still able to communicate with each other using a commonly understood Iban or Malay language.

Maybe its time for us Bidayuh to come together and develop a Bidayuh language that every Bidayuh can understand. I heard not so long ago that Bidayuh language is being considered to be taught in the classroom in Sarawak . I wonder if it is already in effect, and if not, when oh whenÖ

Since this post has quite dragged on, I think itís time for me to stop and continue on my quest of culture appreciation in a future post. Thanks for those of you who care to take some time to read this simple account of the Bidayuh people and I would highly appreciate any comment.

Posted by wafiUddin at 10:28 AM 0 comments  

Labels: Bidayuh, Concerning Culture

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Refreshing Sermon

Masjid Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, Shah Alam, Selangor. I prayed here once during Maghrib.

I intended to write this post sooner but I had class after Friday prayer and there are some other things to attend to last night. Alhamdulillah, Iíve got some time to spare now, so better now or never.

Yesterdayís khutbah (sermon) had to be one of the most invigorating and refreshing Friday khutbah I have ever heard. I didnít recognize the khatib (a person who delivers the khutbah), but his speech was very enthusiastic, his words seemed to struck a chord in my soul and it was just truly mesmerizing.

One of the content of the sermon that really moves me is when he recites Surah Al-Muíminun, the 23rd surah (chapter in the Quran), verse 1-11, and elaborates on its translation. It describes the characteristics of a true believer and, as the khatib mentioned, is a checklist for us Muslim in our daily conduct.

Translations (by Abdullah Yusuf Ali):

The Believers must (eventually) win through, Ė

Those who humble themselves in prayer;

Who avoid vain talk;

Who are active in deeds of charity;

Who abstain from sex,

Except with those joined to them in marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess, Ė for (in their case) they are free from blame,

But those who desires exceed those limits are transgressors; Ė

Those who faithfully observe their trusts and their covenants;

And who (strictly) guard their prayers; Ė

These will be the heirs,

Who will inherit Paradise : they dwell therein (for ever).

Listed in these words are the criteria for a Muslim, a believer, to inherit the much coveted Paradise of Allah. The criteria are beautifully sequenced, as Abdullah Yusuf Ali described them in his summary of the surah:

Faith, coupled with humility in prayer, charity, abstinence from vanity and from indulgence in appetites, and strict probity, must lead to final success, even though people mock and accuse the righteous of false motives, as did the contemporaries of Noah, of Moses, and of Jesus. (23:1-50)

Just imagine what a wonderful world it would be if all of humanity or at least all Muslims were to comply by these criteria, the world would definitely be a better place to live in, being in peace and harmony, because as they strive to achieve it, they will abstain from making evil to others and also to themselves.

Posted by wafiUddin at 11:01 PM 0 comments  

Labels: Concerning Faith, Islam

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Introducing My People †††

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.
Peace be upon all of you who chance to visit this humble blog of mine.

As the first post for this blog, it is most appropriate for me to do a little introduction, particularly about my people, which most people will not usually identify as Muslim.

At first glance, most fellow Malaysians, especially those from the Peninsula, would immediately identify me as a Malay, which is not unlikely considering that most native people of Sarawak and also Sabah share, to a certain extent, similar characteristics such as skin complexion and facial features with Malays.

I remember quite vividly a trip with my father to enrol me into a local university. The taxi driver, in an effort to initiate a conversation, casually mentioned that there is a big mosque in the campus which is within walking distance from the residential college. Silence struck for a while before my father politely explained that we are not Malays and not Muslims. Well, I was, at that time, not yet a Muslim.

So as the title of this blog suggests, I am a Bidayuh, a Muslim Bidayuh. Most people who know of the Bidayuh will not immediately identify a Bidayuh as a Muslim. This is because Bidayuh are traditionally animists. However, nowadays most Bidayuh will usually affiliate themselves with a Christian congregation and almost every Bidayuh village have a church.

Muslim Bidayuh constitute only a small percentage of the entire Bidayuh community and Bidayuh villages with a mosque are extremely rare. Among Bidayuh villages with significant Muslim population are Kampung Darul Islam Belimbing and Kampung Bisira in Padawan, and Kampung Segubang in Bau.

The Bidayuh ethnic group, also known as the Land Dayaks during the reign of the White Rajahs, is part of the larger Dayak community in Sarawak, which also consist of Iban or Sea Dayak, the largest ethnic group in Sarawak, and the Orang Ulu, a term used to collectively refer to the many ethnic groups living upriver of Sarawak's vast interior.

The Bidayuh in Sarawak, who are said to originate from West Kalimantan, now mostly reside in Kuching and the areas surrounding it such as Padawan, Serian, Lundu and Bau. As for me, I hail from a small village called Kampung Stabut in Padawan. Luckily both my parents are from the same village, so we don't have trouble on which village to go back to during holidays.

Since my eyes are getting heavier by the moment, I think I'll have to stop typing now and continue this topic in another post. It is my hope that this blog will be a testament to my appreciation of my Bidayuh culture and heritage, and my Islamic faith, besides also being a channel for me to share my thoughts with the world.†† Till the next post. Wassalam...

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