Al-Quran is the scripture of Muslim people given by God to Muhammad as the living guide of Muslim people who had faith in god for 1,400 years ago therefore Al-Quran is important for the life of Muslim people from past to present. One feature of Al-Quran is being the eternity scripture that can be inherited from 1,400 years ago up till now without any amendment on its existing content. Although Al-Quran was written in Arabic language, Muslim people in every country have to study and read this scripture. In southern border provinces where most populations are Muslim, there is an important place used for collecting and maintaining 79 value ancient Al-Quran scriptures obtained from various sources throughout the world, i.e., Islamic Cultural Heritage Museum and Al-Quran Learning Center located at Samanmitittaya School, Ban Sala Lukkai Village, Laharn Sub-District, Yi Ngor District, Narathiwat Province.
Islamic Cultural Heritage Museum and Al-Quran Learning Center is located in a classroom area on downstairs of Samanmitittaya School with simple exhibition in the form of local museum. It has been operated since 2010 and pioneered by Instructor Ustash Muhammad Lutfi Hayelamae, the administrator of Samanmitittaya Islamic Religious School and a teacher of Samanmitittaya School, who collected ancient Al-Quran scriptures that were Islamic cultural and artistic heritage inherited from past to present. Firstly, he could collect 13 Al-Quran scriptures that were properties of the school and those from old mosques in the community. Subsequently, the number of Al-Quran has been increased continuously because local people in Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, have gradually given their Al-Quran scriptures to this museum. Moreover, some of them are also given by some foreigners from ASEAN countries. Currently, there are 79 ancient Al-Quran scriptures with the age ranged from 150 – 1,200 years that already pass recovery and conservative process. In addition, this museum also contains some ancient documents with knowledge on various dimensions.
Al-Quran scriptures kept at this museum are obtained from various places throughout the world. Consequently, this small local museum of this southern border school is compared as the cultural map leading people back to various kingdoms in Muslim world even over one thousand years ago through an Al-Quran obtained from Iran. Visitors will be enchanted with the beauty of an ancient scripture from Rusami Lae, Pattani, with the age over years selected by Suleymaniye Library in Turkey as the most beautiful scripture in Muslim world of 2016. Moreover, there is also an Al-Quran scripture from China that is distinctive with leather and silk cover and Malay patterns of hibiscus or Banga Raya. There is also an Al-Quran from Mogul Empire period in India with its over that is made of animal skin and its paper is made of bark. Although they are all scripted with the same letters, i.e., Arabic letters, they have different details reflecting identity of each culture.
Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Culture, sees importance of ancient scriptures and documents and determination on operations of local communities therefore they develop these operations by registering ancient scriptures and documents as well as providing knowledge on conservation, restoration, and maintenance under correct academic principles. Moreover, Thai government also approves the budget for Fine Arts Department to establish Islamic Cultural Heritage Museum and Al-Quran Learning Center. Fine Arts Department performs operations under Integrated Plan for Driving Solutions of Problems in Southern Border Provinces started from holding some meetings and seminars, reinforcing knowledge, and brainstorming ideas on establishment of Islamic Cultural Heritage Museum and Al-Quran Learning Center in the area of southern border provinces and construction design was started in the fiscal year of 2014. The construction has been continued from such time to present. The construction of building is already completed and some exhibitions are already held in such building. The complete construction is being accelerated to be completed in the fiscal year of 2022.
Inside Islamic Cultural Heritage Museum and Al-Quran Learning Center, it consists of: Room 1 – Introduction Room; Room 2 – The Way of Life of Muslim People presenting content on living of Muslim people under the guidelines as legislated by Islam by presenting the way of life and important traditions of Muslim people extensively found in the areas of three southern border provinces mainly, thinking methods and practices of Muslim people, introduction on some important and interesting places related to Muslim people in Narathiwat Province, content for honoring King Rama IX, and content for honoring King Rama X; and Room 3 – Al-Quran presenting content on Islam religion, routes of Islam promulgation to Southeast Asia, Al-Quran-the charter of life whereas Al-Quran scriptures are selected to be presented as primary and secondary scriptures. Contents of this exhibition are presented in 3 languages including Thai, English, and Malay language of Pattani.
In the near future, Islamic Cultural Heritage Museum and Al-Quran Learning Center will become the national learning center on culture and arts for researching and studying on Al-Quran and heritage of Islamic culture as well as enhancing consciousness of local people in southern border provinces to realize on importance of their culture leading to passion, cherishing, and pride in heritage of Islamic culture and arts in their local areas. Moreover, it will give good effects on economy and society from cultural tourism of tourists in Thailand and throughout the world. This is consistent with the Policy on OTOP Community Tourism that will help to enhance occupations and income of local people to build strong community economy sustainably.
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