Muhammad Ariff Ahmad



Muhammad Ariff Ahmad (b. 6 December 1924, Singapore–23 March 2016, Singapore1), also known as Mas, was an award-winning writer, editor and lecturer. A founding member of the Malay literary club, Angkatan Sasterawan ’50 (Asas ’50),2 he was a prominent expert and activist of the Malay language and culture in Singapore. Besides winning two prestigious Malay awards, the Tun Sri Lanang and the Pendeta (Scholar), Muhammad Ariff has also been honoured on the national and regional levels, receiving the Cultural Medallion (1987) and the Public Service Star (2000). from the Singapore government, as well as the Southeast Asian Write Award (1993).3 He was a freelance writer and special columnist of the Malay-language newspaper Berita Harian until his death.4

Early life
Muhammad Ariff grew up in several parts of Singapore, including Newton Road, Dunearn Road, Tiong Bahru and Henderson Road. When he was eight years old, a teacher from Tanglin Besar Malay School brought him to school after spotting him playing a game of rounders with his friends at the front compound of a religious teacher’s house on Malcolm Road. Muhammad Ariff came to school the following day with his parents to make his enrolment official.5


In school, Muhammad Ariff loved to read and take part in his class’s pantun (prose) and writing competitions.6 He won his first writing award in 1936, when he was in primary three. As a dedicated member of his school’s scouts team, he also wrote a few articles for the scouts’ magazine, Scouting for Boys. The young Muhammad Ariff aspired to become a fulltime writer but his father wanted him to be a teacher, and although he also loved painting, he chose to focus on his writing.7

World War II and postwar years
When the Japanese invaded Singapore in 1942, Muhammad Ariff’s education was disrupted. Like many other children at the time, he attended Japanese schools. In order to support himself and his family, he worked in the gambling dens of Great World Amusement Park and was involved in the black-market business.8 He fulfilled his father’s wishes when peace returned to Singapore, joining the Sultan Idris Teachers’ Training College for Malay Teachers in Tanjung Malim, Perak, and became a Malay teacher after graduation. His teaching career gave him the opportunity and platform to pursue his interest in writing.9 On 6 August 1950, along with several other Malay writers, he founded Asas ’50,10 a literary foundation that promotes Malay writers and their works.11

Achievements
Muhammad Ariff is considered the “father of Malay linguistics” and an expert in Malay culture and traditions.12 A prolific writer, he had under his belt a wide range of works, numbering almost 50, from Malay fiction and non-fiction, children’s books to school textbooks. He wrote numerous articles and essays on Malay culture, tradition and language for magazines, journals and newspapers in Singapore and Malaysia. During the late 1980s, he was a scriptwriter for the Singapore Malay radio and television programmes. He also had many speaking engagements for conferences, congresses, seminar and forums in Southeast Asia pertaining to Malay culture and language.13

Education14
1933–37: Tanglin Besar Malay School
1938–1940: Tanglin Tinggi Malay School
1943: Syonan Nippon Gakuen and Sihan Gakko
1946–1949: Sultan Idris Teachers’ Training College, Tanjung Malim, Perak
1965: Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia
1966: Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia

Career15
1940–1959: Malay language teacher
1959–1979: Malay language lecturer, Teachers’ Training College (and later the Institute of Education)
1977–1988: Editor, Warita, MUIS publication
1979–1981: Editor, Mekar, Ministry of Education publication
1983–1987: Specialist writer, Islamic Religious Knowledge, Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore, Ministry of Education
1988: Scriptwriter, Mestika Pustaka, Warna, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation
1996–2000: Scriptwriter, Indah Bahasa, Radio Singapore International16
1990–1999: Chief editor, Sekata

Selected membership17
1950–1981:
Secretary, Asas ’50

1982–1993: Adviser, Asas ’50
1994–2001: President, Asas ’50
2001–2016: Honorary lifetime president, Asas ’50
1947–1979: Anggota Kehormat, Kesatuan Guru-guru Melayu Singapura (Singapore Malay Teachers’ Union)
1980–1988: Board member, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation
1992–1999: Majlis Bahasa Melayu Singapura (Malay Language Council Singapore)

Other roles he held included: member, Board of Appeals, Syariah Court; treasurer, Local Council of Mosques, Singapore; and member, board of directors, Malay Heritage Foundation.

Awards18
1965: Hadiah Sastera (kepujian) (esei), Jawatan Kuasa Hadiah Sastera
1967: Hadiah Sastera (kepujian) (novel), Majlis Pusat Pertubuhan-Pertubuhan Budaya Melayu (MPPBMS)
1980: Pingat Bakti Setia (Long Service Award)
1984: Jasawan Budaya, MPPBMS
1987: Jasawan Persuratan, Persatuan Wartawan Melayu Singapura (Singapore Malay Journalists Association)
1987: Jasawan Guru, Kesatuan Guru-guru Melayu Singapura (Singapore Malay Teachers’ Union)
1987: Cultural Medallion19
1990: National Book Development Council of Singapore Award (Poetry) for Jangan Tak Ada.
1991: Anugerah Jasa Cemerlang, Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
1993: 1st winner of Tun Seri Lanang Award, for contributions to Malay literature
1993: Southeast Asian Write Award
1994: National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) Award (Non-fiction), for Bicara Tentang Adat dan Tradisi
1995: Hadiah Persuratan (Distinction) (Non-Fiction), Majlis Bahasa Melayu Singapura
1999: Anugerah “Pendeta”, MPPBMS
2000: Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Star)
2002: Anugerah “Suluh Budiman”, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Malaysia
2005: Anugerah Kencana, Asas ’50
2005: Anugerah Jasa Bakti, Masjid Al-Muqtaqim
2005: Hadiah Penghargaan (Buku bukan fiksyen), Majlis Bahasa Melayu Singapura
2005: Hadiah Penghargaan (Esei Bahasa), Majlis Bahasa Melayu Singapura
2007: Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (Bar)
2007: Anugerah Kencana, Taman Warisan Melayu
2006: Anugerah Doktor Kehormat (Sastera), Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Perak19

Selected works
Poetry
1988: Jangan Tak Ada20

Novels
1957: Sarah Pengarang Kecil21
1958: Siapa Sangka22
1972: Menangkap Perompak “Mini-Gang”23
1973: Pipi Kirinya Bercalar24
1975: Mail Mau Kawin25
1998: Syarifah26

Plays
1966: Adam Kena Hujan27

Non-fiction
1962: Mari Kita Bermeshuarat28
1990: Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa29
1991: Dinamika Budaya30
1992: Resan dan Kesan31
1993: Bicara tentang Adat dan Tradisi32
1994: Tinggal Landas ke Abad 2133

Editorial
1983: Panduan Tatabahasa Melayu34
1984–1985, 1988: Sari Mestika Bahasa35
1990, 1992–1994: Bahasa Melayu Aktif36
1993: Madah Zhuang Zi (translation)37
1993: Everyday English, Mandarin, Chinese & Malay Conversation38
1994: Strategi Berperang (translation)39
1994: Kamus Ringkas40

Family41
Wife: Sarinah Haji Haniff
Children: Muhammad Shahrir, Shahrazat, Shahrulbariah, Muhammad Shahperi
Grandchildren: six

Variant names42
Pen-names: M. Arba, P. L. Rajaudang, M. Foerida, Mas, Mas Malaya, Mas Tanjung Malim, Mas Tomo, S.P.10, Minamoria



Author

Nureza Ahmad



References

1. Yuen, S. (2016, March 23). Celebrated Malay literary icon Muhammad Ariff Ahmad dies from heart failure. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
2. Muhammad Ariff first to win prestigious Malay literary award. (1993, February 22). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Muhammad Ariff first to win prestigious Malay literary award. (1993, February 22). The Straits Times, p. 22; Malay poet wins this year’s SEA Write Award. (1993, October 1). The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Yuen, S. (2016, March 23). Celebrated Malay literary icon Muhammad Ariff Ahmad dies from heart failure. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
5. Tuminah Sapawi. (1997, February 17). When Cultural Medallion winner was caught by teacher and taken to school. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. (2003). Perjalanan Mas: Memoir Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, p. 19. (Call no.: Malay RSING q499.28092 MUH)
6. Tuminah Sapawi. (1997, February 17). When Cultural Medallion winner was caught by teacher and taken to school. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Tuminah Sapawi. (1997, February 17). When Cultural Medallion winner was caught by teacher and taken to school. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. (2003). Perjalanan Mas: Memoir Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, p. 21. (Call no.: Malay RSING q499.28092 MUH)
8. Tuminah Sapawi. (1997, February 17). When Cultural Medallion winner was caught by teacher and taken to school. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. (2003). Perjalanan Mas: Memoir Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, pp. 34–93. (Call no.: Malay RSING q499.28092 MUH)
10. Muhammad Ariff first to win prestigious Malay literary award. (1993, February 22). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Mohamed Pitchay Gani. (Ed.). (2005). Leksikon: Direktori penulis Melayu Singapura pasca 1965. Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50: National Library Board. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.280255957 LEK-[DIR])
12. Muhammad Ariff first to win prestigious Malay literary award. (1993, February 22). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. (2003). Perjalanan Mas: Memoir Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, pp. 89, 188–205. (Call no.: Malay RSING q499.28092 MUH)
14. Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. (2003). Perjalanan Mas: Memoir Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, p. 188. (Call no.: Malay RSING q499.28092 MUH)
15. Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. (2003). Perjalanan Mas: Memoir Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, pp. 188–205. (Call no.: Malay RSING q499.28092 MUH)
16. Leksikon: direktori penulis Melayu Singapura pasca 1965. (2005). Singapore: National Library Board, p. 10. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.280255957 LEK-[DIR])
17. Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. (2003). Perjalanan Mas: Memoir Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, pp. 188–205. (Call no.: Malay RSING q499.28092 MUH)
18. Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. (2003). Perjalanan Mas: Memoir Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan 50, pp. 8, 188. (Call no.: Malay RSING q499.28092 MUH); Juffri Supa’at., et al. (Eds.). (2012). Bibliografi Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. Singapore: National Library Board, p. 11. (Call no.: Malay RSING 016.89928 BIB-[LIB])
19. Cikgu Ariff dapat anugerah Doktor Persuratan. (2006, August 27). Berita Harian, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Yuen, S. (2016, March 23). Celebrated Malay literary icon Muhammad Ariff Ahmad dies from heart failure. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
21. Mas. (1988). Jangan tak ada. Singapore: Biro Penerbitan Asas ’50. (Call no.: Malay RSING S899.2305 MAS)
22. Mas. (1960). [Che. ke-2 dibaiki]. Sarah pengarang kecil. Singapura: Pustaka Melayu. (Call no.: Malay RCLOS 499.2886 MAS)
23. Mas. (1958). Siapa sangka. Singapore: Geliga Ltd. (Call no.: Malay RCLOS 899.283 MUH)
24. Mas. (1973). Menangkap perompak ‘Mini-Gang’. Singapura: Pustaka Nasional. (Call no.: Malay RCLOS 899.2305 MUH)
25. Mas. (n.d.). Pipi kirinya bercalar. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.2305 MUH)
26. Mas. (2008). Mail mau kawin. Singapura: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.283 MUH)
27. Mas. (1998). Syarifah. Singapura: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.283 MUH)
28. Mas. (1966). [Chetakan pertama]. Adam kena hujan: Derama sa-babak. Kuala Lumpur: Marican. (Call no.: Malay RCLOS 899.232 MAS)
29. Syed Alwee al-Hady. (1960). Mari kita bermeshuarat. Singapura: Marican. (Call no.: Malay RSEA 301.1583 HAD)
30. Mas. (1990). Bahasa jiwa bangsa: 25 rencana pilihan. Singapura: Berita Harian. (Call no.: Malay RSING 499.28 MUH)
31. Nadwah Sastera. (1991). Dinamika budaya. Singapura: Majlis Pusat. (Call no.: Malay RSING 959.57004992 DIN-[HIS])
32. Yatiman Yusof, et al. (1992). Resan dan kesan: Kumpulan makalah sempena Bulan Bahasa 1992. Singapura: Jawatankuasa Bulan Bahasa. (Call no.: Malay RSING 499.23 RES)
33. Mas. (1993). Bicara tentang adat dan tradisi. Singapura: Pustaka Nasional. (Call no.: Malay RSING 306.08999205957 MUH)
34. Kongres Bahasa, Sastera, dan Budaya. (1994). Tinggal landas ke abad 21: Kumpulan kertas kerja yang dibentangkan dalam Kongres Bahasa, Sastera, dan Budaya 1993. Bandar Seri Begawan, Negara Brunei Darussalam: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Brunei, Kementerian Kebudayaan, Belia dan Sukan. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.23001 KON)
35. Mas. (1988). Panduan tatabahasa Melayu = Guide to Malay grammar. Singapore: Kader Bros. (Call no.: Malay RSING 499.2308 PAN)
36. Institut Perkembangan Kurikulum Singapura. Kumpulan Projek MATL. (1988). Sari mestika bahasa. Singapura: Institut Perkembangan Kurikulum Singapura. (Call no.: Malay RSING 499.230076 SAR)
37. Bahasa Melayu aktif: 3B. (1995). Singapura: EPB Publishers. (Call no.: Malay RSING 499.23007 BAH)
38. Chuang Tzu. (1993). Madah Zhuang Zi: Irama serunai alam. Singapura: Asiapac Books. (Call no.: Malay RSING 181.11 CHU)
39. Fong, F. Y., & Muhd. Arif Ahmad, Haji. (2006). Everyday English, Mandarin Chinese and Malay conversations. Kuala Lumpur : SSMB Book. (Call no.: Malay RSING 495.18342 FON)
40. Sun-tzu. (1994). Strategi berperang: Madah Sun Zi. Singapura: Asiapac. (Call no.: Malay RSING 355.02 SUN)
41. Mas. (1997). Kamus ringkas bahasa Melayu: Dengan equivalent kekata Inggeris – untuk pelajar. Singapore: Kader Bros. (Call no.: Malay RSING 499.28321 KAM -[DIC])
42. Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. (2003). Perjalanan Mas: Memoir Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, p. 188. (Call no.: Malay RSING q499.28092 MUH)
43. Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. (2003). Perjalanan Mas: Memoir Muhammad Ariff Ahmad. Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, p. 188. (Call no.: Malay RSING q499.28092 MUH)



Further resources
Genteel folk used a rich language. (1997, March 24). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


Mafoot, S. (1997, October 2). Step up please, the new Zaba or Buyong Adil. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Mardiana Abu Bakar. (1993, September 16). Authors who never say die. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Tuminah Sapawi. (1995, July 16). Singapore Malay writing ‘can add to Malay culture worldwide’. The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Tuminah Sapawi. (1995, July 19). Stringent judging for Malay literary awards. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Tuminah Sapawi. (1999, July 17). Don’t let the beat go from Malay music. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Zuzanita Zakaria. (1999, May 29). A worldwide view to Malay heritage. The Straits Times, p. 63. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Authors, Malay--Biography
Award winners
Linguists--Singapore--Biography
Cultural Medallion Recipients (Literature)
Language and literature>>Literatures>>East and Southeast Asian literature>>Singapore literature
Muhammad Ariff Ahmad, 1924-
Malay writers
Award winners--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Authors>>Cultural Medallion Recipients