The last time I read a Malay novel was... Hm, I can't even remember when I last read a Malay novel - i'd probably never even touched one.
Then one day, my mothers' friend who's an avid reader of malay novels recommended me to read this indonesian title called 'Ayat-ayat Cinta'. She said that its a good novel with a storyline that portrays islamic values. A novel portraying Islamic values? Hmm.. It made me slightly curious but not enough to actually go look for the novel and read it. Then a couple of recommendations came from my sister and a gud friend.. The last straw was when I visited Syria and found out that probably the whole Singapore students in Syria had read the book and loved it. Some claimed to have never read a novel but finished reading it in a few days.
Their enthusiasm in promoting the book drove my curiosity deeper and finally a few days back had a chance to read it when an Indonesian acquaintence bluetoothed me the novel in the form of a .txt document which can be read on my handphone.
I actually finished reading the book in a day, approximately 18 hours with breaks in between.. Thats a miracle for someone who have probably never read a malay novel.. Thats how good I felt the novel is.
The story is based in Egypt, mainly with the main character, Fahri a top student from al-Azhar univesity narrating about his life. It reflects on his strong principles as a muslim and the challenges he faced and how he deals with them. And also the concept and wonders of love in Islam.
What amazed me was how the author managed to create a fictional story, instilled with good moral and islamic values and made it enjoyable to read at the same time. It is as the first few lines read, (translated) a novel for self-motivation. For me, i felt that it could even be considered as dakwah in the form of a novel.
Anyway, the non-licensed movie version of it just came out on you tube, but it was a huge disappointment as the storyline is a contrast to the novel and didn't manage to carry the true message of the novel. Many important parts were left out and many undesired 'improvisations' were made to the story. They should have just stucked to the original. Oh well, movies..
So if you haven't, go read it!.. Entitled Ayat-ayat Cinta by Habiburrahman
Saerozi or al-Shirazi.