Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Hj. Razak and his counterpart Indonesian President H.E. Joko Widodo today witnessed the launch of a new documentary series on the arrival of Islam and the key figures involved in the spreading of the faith within the Nusantara archipelago 1,400 years ago.
Entitled Ulama Nusantara, the 13-episode historical documentary travelogue was launched on the sidelines of the 12th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF 2016) in Jakarta. Present at the launch were Datuk Seri FD Iskandar, Group Chairman of Media Prima Berhad, and Ahmad Izham Omar, Chief Executive Officer of Primeworks Studios.
The documentary, which will be aired in Malaysia and Indonesia, is produced by Primeworks Studios in collaboration with the Department of Arabic and Islamic Civilisational Studies, Faculty of Islamic Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). Researchers from three renowned Indonesian universities – Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, Jakarta, the State Islamic University Imam Bonjol, Padang and the State Islamic University Ar Raniry, Banda Aceh, were also invited to play crucial roles in the production of the documentary.
The programme traces how, through the spice route around the Malay Archipelago, Islam had helped further propagate integration of society especially in education and culture. A 14-man panel of researchers and evaluators led by Professor Dr Wan Mujani, Dean of Islamic Studies Faculty, UKM, sifted through mountains of records and archives for documentations that reveal the manner Islam was spread in the region.
Several well-known historians from the Indonesian academia, including Prof. Dr. Azyumardi Azra and Prof. Dr. Oman Fathurahman from the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN) were also instrumental in providing valuable research information.
“This collaboration is a great opportunity to share our knowledge and history about how Islam first arrived and the important role played by the region’s Ulamas in spreading the religion throughout the archipelago. We expect the documentary to attract academicians, history buffs and casual viewers given the extensive research conducted prior to filming,” said Ahmad Izham Omar.
The filming took the crew to six countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, Egypt and Turkey.
Ulama Nusantara is a Corporate Responsibility initiative by Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the strategic investment fund of the Malaysian Government, and Yayasan Hasanah, a foundation of Khazanah Nasional Berhad. The programme, based on historical facts, will take the viewers to different parts of the early Nusantara to trace and re-enact historical accounts of Islamic scholars (or Ulama) and their impact on the region.
It took the team more than three years to complete the project – from research down to filming the programme, with the first episode of Ulama Nusantara expected to be aired in October this year.
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Primeworks Studios Sdn Bhd is the award-winning content creation subsidiary of Media Prima Berhad and one of Asia’s largest production companies. Producing over 5,000 hours of compelling content annually for a range of platforms including television, cinema and digital, the production house is the creative force behind a wide range of genres including entertainment, magazine, documentary, sports, and drama. Flagship and popular shows include Anugerah Juara Lagu, Majalah 3, Nona, Welcome to the Rail World, Best in the World, Hip-Hoppin’ Asia, Jalan Jalan Cari Makan, Mentor, Melodi and Jejak Rasul. Primeworks Studios’ Asian Stories for the World content offering is marketed through its distribution arm, Primeworks Distribution.