This post is a few weeks overdue because I didn’t have time to sort out the (hundreds of) pictures, but here goes: my first trip to the Islamic Arts Museum in Kuala Lumpur. I’ve read many good things about the place online, so I thought of checking the place out over the weekend. It is located within close proximity to several major landmarks, including the National Mosque (just across the road), the National Planetarium and the KL Bird Park – so if you’re a tourist, you can visit them all in one shot.
Our National Museum is a little…outdated, so I was pleasantly surprised to find everything new and squeaky clean at the Islamic Arts Museum (it opened in 1998). Tickets are priced at RM14 for adults, RM7 for students with proof of ID as well as senior citizen.
I was immediately directed to the special gallery on the first floor, where the museum is having an exhibition titled Dala’il al-Khayrat: Prayer Manuscripts from the 16th to the 19th century.
What is the Dala’il al-Khayrat?
Written by a Morrocan Sufi and Islamic scholar dubbed Muhammad Sulaiman al-Jazuli Sh Shadhili, it is a famous collection of prayers praising the Prophet Muhammad, and is popularly recited in many parts of the Islamic world – from North Africa to Turkey and South Asia. The prayer book is divided into sections for daily recitation. Inside, one will find the ninety nine names of God, and a collection of over one hundred names of Muhammad.
The Islamic Arts Museum Collection features numerous copies and details the history, as well as differences between the books of each country/civilization through the ages. Most of the copies are produced with exquisite detail, illustrations and calligraphy.
A 19th century copy from Morocco.
Different versions of the book. The top left, for example, comes from the 19th century Malay Pattani kingdom and depicts the recitation for Tuesday; while the top right comes from Uzbekistan and shows the recitation for Wednesday (all in Arabic, of course). Then you have a version from Kashmir (bottom left) and an illustration of the Minbar (like a side plan for a mosque) from Ottoman Egypt/Turkey.
Part of The Salawat and Dua Kha’tm, which divides recitation into 8 azhabs (days).
Depictions of the holy Kaaba. Kinda like an ancient floorplan for the mosque. You can clearly see the big black box-like structure in the center, surrounded by minarets and other structures.
(Top left) A map of the two holy cities, Makkah and Medinah, from the 17th century Ottoman Provinces. (Top right) 16th century Safavid Iran era ‘guidebook’ to pilgrimage, written in Persian.
(Bottom left) Another Ottoman version of the Dala’il, and (bottom right) a wooden carving.
All the artwork/illustrations are distinct and very colourful. I really like the colour and patterns on this 13th century tile from Kashan, Iran, which translates to Salla ala al-Siraj, or Praise Upon the Light as a reference to Prophet Muhammad.
There’s a whole wall dedicated to the many names of Prophet Muhammad, as you can see above.
Explanation detailing the differences between the Dala’il from different regions, such as North Africa, Turkey, Uzbekistan,
Calligraphy done to resemble dancing Turkish men.
Moving on to the second floor was another special exhibition with photographs related to Muslim culture/community from all around the world. Here, visitors will find colourful images of communities breaking fast, doing prayers and going about their daily lives.
Also on this floor is a spacious courtyard with a fountain. Adjacent to that is a restaurant and a souvenir shop.
More in the next post, there are still loads to explore! 😉
ISLAMIC ARTS MUSEUM MALAYSIA
Jalan Lembah Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, 50480, Malaysia
Open daily: 10AM – 6PM
Phone: +60 3-2092 7070