Muftis moot Jawi script for Arabic names in ICs
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — The National Registration Department (NRD) should include the Jawi script in identity cards when Arabic names are used instead of just using the current Roman script, two muftis have said.
Penang mufti Datuk Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor said he felt it would be a “good time” to start using Jawi script in the identity cards.
“I think it is timely because there is so much confusion, so by doing that, hopefully we can solve the problem,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.
He was asked to weigh in on Federal Territories mufti Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri’s proposal on Tuesday for the NRD to provide a special column for Muslim parents to write the names of their offspring in both Roman and Jawi script, as well as for the department to station qualified religious officers to advise Muslim parents on names.
The Jawi script is used to spell Malay words using the Arabic alphabet.
Wan Salim agreed with the proposal for the special column, explaining that this would help avoid mistakes in writing that would otherwise change the words’ meaning and ultimately facilitate proper pronunciation of Arabic words.
“Sometimes, some Arabic letters cannot be written exactly or written rightly in Rumi, so it is better to write both in Arabic and Rumi,” he said, agreeing that the Jawi script should be regarded as “final” for Arabic names.
He also proposed the use of the Library of Congress’ Arabic Romanisation system — which he said was internationally-recognised for the transliteration of Arabic words into Roman script using symbols such as apostrophes; dots and lines above and below letters — in both Malaysian birth certificates and identification cards.
He said this transliteration system will help ensure Arabic names are pronounced correctly with indicators for the prolonged reading of certain parts of the words, adding: “In the Arabic system, you have to prolong (certain) letters, if you make it short, the meaning will be different”.
“They should not be hasty to give names to their children, but they should consult the ulama or Muslim scholars who know better about their names, good name or bad name,” he said of Muslim parents.
Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria similarly said the Jawi script can be used in birth certificates and identification cards when Malaysian applicants are using Arabic names.
He also said he agreed with Zulkifli’s proposals for NRD to allow Arabic names to be written in both Roman and Jawi scripts and with the latter script to be taken to be conclusive.
“I support it, I agree. Many, when we write in Roman script, its sound is different and the meaning is different,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted, adding that the use of the Jawi script would help ensure Arabic names are pronounced accurately.
Harussani also suggested a return of the use of the apostrophe symbol in names such as was previously done by the late national literary icon Zainal Abidin Ahmad with his moniker Za’aba.
Officers who know Arabic can either be seconded from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) or appointed directly by NRD if there are allocations for it, he said when backing the Federal Territories mufti’s suggestion.
He also advised against the use of modern names without knowing their meanings, while confirming that many Muslim parents had sought the advice of his department and religious authorities when naming their children.
Some who had given names to their children that turned out to be bad names would also consult with religious bodies on suitable name changes, he said.
Like the two other mufti, Selangor mufti Datuk Seri Tamyes Abdul Wahid backed Zulkifli’s proposals which he said would avert confusion in the meaning of Arabic names resulting from the use of Roman script.
Many local Muslims use names in Arabic and the wrong spelling would cause incorrect pronunciation, he said, adding that it would be good to have capable officers responsible for checking names in Arabic for applicants at the NRD.
“I think it’s also good that the JPN places their own officers that have expertise in the Arabic language or understand the meaning,” he said, referring to the NRD by its Malay initials.
It is advisable for parents to consult those with the expertise in Arabic language, as the books that many Muslims refer to for name selection could have wrong spellings arising from typing errors, he said.
On Tuesday, Zulkifli had raised his proposals for the NRD’s inclusion of Jawi script for the registration of names of children born to Muslim parents, noting that this was already being done in Singapore.
According to Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s (ICA) website, parents have the option of including the ethnic characters of Chinese, Jawi or Tamil for their child’s name in birth certificates.
The website also requires those applying online for a change in their name in their Singapore identity card to provide a scanned copy of their names in ethnic characters, but does not explicitly specify if the ethnic characters are printed on the identity cards as well.