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Inter-Cultural Communication towards Peace Building

In Novels Ombak Bukan Biru, Missing Piece 1 and Missing Piece 2

Salinah Jaafar
Tengku Intan Marlina Tengku Mohd Ali
Mohd Fauzi Ismail
Puteri Roslina Abdul Wahid


Inter cultural communication is crucial in our daily conversation especially for the
community with various cultural back ground. As a multi-racial society, inter cultural
communication methods play a big role in order to maintain the harmonious and to avoid
problems of racism and grave disquiet in communication. Malaysia as a multiracial country
since time immemorial has been practicing intercultural communication. Today intercultural
communication considered as a global communication because people today staying in touch
with each other no matter where they are. Literary work has become a tool in the language
used to show how the strategy being used in keeping the harmonious in communication.
Fatimah Busu has a gift for telling stories of social alienation. Her stories are often a
provocative social critique of Malay society but are easily accessible and good for
philosophical rumination. In Ombak Bukan Biru, (The Waves Are Not Blue, 1972, Pekan
Ilmu Publications), Missing Piece 1 and Missing Piece 2 (Sequel of Ombak Bukan Biru), the
turmoil of class, cultural and religious differences is told from the point of view of Imrah, a
young Malay teacher from Kelantan. Fatimah Busu shows that cultural differences in a
person's life can affect one another relationship in those novels. Imrah, as the main
character who is married to an English gentleman named Lawrence shows how two different
cultures get along in living together as a family. In this case intercultural communication
plays a major role. Therefore this paper will discuss how intercultural communication occurs
in these novels, especially in terms of maintaining the harmonious of marriage for couples
from different cultures.

Keywords:- Peace building, Inter-cultural dialogue, communication, peace.


Jacob Lauring (2011) said intercultural communication is a form of global communication. It

is used to describe the wide range of communication problems that naturally appear within an
organization made up of individuals from different religious, social, ethnic, and educational
backgrounds. Intercultural communication is sometimes used synonymously with cross-
cultural communication. In this sense it seeks to understand how people from different
countries and cultures act, communicate and perceive the world around them. Many people in
intercultural business communication argue that culture determines how individuals encode
messages, what mediums they choose for transmitting them, and the way messages are

Ideas and thoughts on the dialogue is seen to be increasingly important as the United
Nations Organisation address new ideology to resolve conflicts, quarrels and
misunderstandings between the countries in the world which is absolutely different from the
cultural, religious, political, economic, social and so on. Emerging countries in the world
have their own background, and then there are many differences between civilizations to
other civilizations. Although these countries have many differences but there are also
similarities that exist between the universal values such as equality of civilization. Value can
be considered as a tool or a measure of whether a behaviour is good or acceptable by any
society or otherwise, an inverse behaviour and unacceptable to the community. Value is
considered as the foundation stone to the creation of civilization. Interaction between
civilizations allows people to borrow or receive good value conscious than other people. For
example, the traditional civilizations that emphasize on moral issues or morality as a
government policy. The properties of a fair and justice king are the main theme of ancient
civilizations. In Chinese civilization, Mo Tze, Lao Tze, Kung Fu Tze, Tze Meng and several
other scholars emphasize this. In Indian civilization, Kautilya discusses the characteristics of
a fair and just leadership. And so do Islamic scholars such as al-Farabi, al-Mawardi, al-
Ghazali and Ibn Khaldun in Islamic civilization also addressed the same question. (Abd.
Wahid Jais, Faezah Kassim, 2006)

United Nations (UN) has declared 2001 as the Year of Dialogue of Civilisations. This
became a starting point to encourage discussions and meetings between individuals, groups,
organizations and communities from all levels and backgrounds in order to find a starting
point to share thoughts, understanding, harmony and work together for peace. There are
several aspects of the value of the target and spare the scope of discussion in the dialogue,
such as human values, tolerance, honesty, cooperation, communication and human
interaction, global cooperation, efforts to improve the social and economic status, quality of
life and well-being of the global community that brings broad benefits to the world.

Therefore this paper will analyse and discusses the inter-cultural communication in
the marriage of two people of different races, religion and nationality use by Fatimah Busu in
her novels “Ombak Bukan Biru” (The Wave is not Blue), “The Missing Piece 1”, and “The
Missing Piece 2”. The analysis will use the framework developed by UNESCO in their effort
to promote Peace Dialogue in the Social Integration Process.


This study will analyse and discusses an inter-cultural communication strategy being used by
a novelist in producing her literary works. The focus of discussion is the strategy used by the
inter-cultural marriage in the novels written by Fatimah Busu. The analysis will apply the
approach used by UNESCO (2001) which is called as Peace Dialogue Strategy towards peace
building. There are 6 strategies were proposed by UNESCO in order to build peace among
inter-cultural communication which is fragmentation, exclusion, polarization, coexistence,
collaboration and cohesion. The data used in this study is the data extracted from the novel
written by Fatimah Busu in 3 sequels, first entitled “Ombak Bukan Biru”, “The Missing
Piece 1”, and “The Missing Piece2”. The finding shows that most all the strategies for social
integration process developed by UNESCO was already appeared in Fatimah Busu novels.
The theme of mixed marriage in the novel is not strange in the Malay community. But the
novel written by Fatimah Busu used for this study is considered as one of the great novels
contains inter-cultural dialogue. This is due to a clash of two nations that are derived from
two different countries, between East and West. Due to that the novel is very suitable to be
used for the study of inter-cultural communication in social integrated process studies which
was developed by UNESCO.

Peace Dialogue in the Social Integration Process

UNESCO (2001) Social integration raises many challenges and questions, such as: “How do
we get along when differences arise –in the community, country or organization? What
procedures, capacities and institutions help to resolve differences by peaceful and just means,
and how do we improve procedures, capacities and institutions to sustain social integration
and move together towards a flourishing peace (i.e. beyond negative peace or the mere
absence of conflict)?” The answers are manifold and complex and have given rise to a draft
strategy illustrated in part, below, and amplified in the following text. The strategy revolves
on multi-stakeholder dialogue which is called as fragmentation, exclusion, polarization,
coexistence, collaboration and cohesion

Stages of Social Integration

Stages of social integration are formulated as stages of social relations in a model framework.
The framework invites stakeholders to explore different stages of social relations –between
negative and positive that are, however, seen here as formative and expansive stages of social
relations. Fragmentation arises in situations of abuse, armed conflict, and social breakdown
i.e. social relations disintegrate (most profoundly at the psychological level) creating a need
for crisis counselling; Exclusion arises where there is neglect or oppression (in legislation
and custom) i.e. social relations are unequal and inequitable creating a need for action
research to achieve inclusion through self-help and livelihood strategies; Polarization arises
when groups mobilize against each other (most profoundly along the lines of religious/ethnic
identity) i.e. social relations are hostile and combative creating a need for

The transition from polarization to coexistence is pivotal: that is when the focus shifts
from healing and mending social relations to investing in strengthening relationships.
Coexistence arises with tolerance of difference i.e. social relations revolve on civic dialogue
and consensus-building creating a need to prioritize and act; Collaboration arises with a
widening sense of socio-economic justice i.e. social relations have a need for participatory
development planning, and Cohesion arises with shared meaning i.e. social relations have a
need to create flourishing peace in education, arts, media, inter-religious dialogue, sports etc.

The somewhat fluid nature of the stages requires stakeholders to define more
precisely where they are now and where they wish to be –i.e. their need and intention. If a
priority need is to heal distress (at the fragmentation stage), it elicits crisis counselling or
healing ritual or professional therapy, as stakeholders decide. Once distress is resolved,
people are ‘free’ to move to other stages where other needs/intentions arise.

By adapting the 6 strategies proposed by UNESCO in social relation networks, this study will
examine all those 6 strategies in the selected novels.


Fragmentation arises in situations of abuse, armed conflict and social breakdown. For
example: the destruction of social relationships (the most in-depth, creating a psychological
level as crisis counseling needs.) At this stage when internal and external peace is lost, can
resulting in life threatened. Requirements for fragmentation are improving and restore
trouble. Fragmentation requires mental health that can support all the changes in the direction
of peaceful social relations. In the peace dialogue procedure involves the process of
fragmentation of stress counseling, active listening, presence and healing ritual also involves
public information.

Fragmentation occurs in a dialogue that requires external and internal peace. Level of
fragmentation is already posted by the writer in the novel “Ombak Bukan Biru” in form of
monologue by Imrah. This can be seen in the text below:

“Tingkapnya terbuka lebar. Di situlah Si Yahudi laknat itu sering

mengintai Yamin. Gatal dia. Miang dia. Hantu dia. Rubiah memang
Yahudi. Tetapi Yamin apa pula? Yamin tidak sama dengan Palestin.
Palestin suci. Palestin abadi. Palestin mulia. Yamin tidak suci, Yamin
tidak abadi. Yamin tidak mulia. Yamin adalah macam... macam... ah
macam apa pula, ya, macam air longkang! Yamin air longkang!
Longkang yang tidak kenal apa-apa selain dari sampah. Asal hanyut
saja sampah. Asal dicampak saja ke dalam air tentu sampah. Asal
merapung saja di mukanya sampah. Sayang sekali cintaku selama
ini tumpah ke longkang. Kasihku mengalir ke longkang.
Kemesraanku hanyut ke longkang. Go to hell! Biarlah Si Yahudi
itu mendapat longkang yang amat berkenan pada hatinya.
Sesungguhnya aku tidak ingin turut berebut sebuah longkang yang
busuk dan hanyir. Ambillah si Yahudi. Ambillah! (Ombak Bukan
Biru, ____: 4-5)

Based from the text above, is clearly shown that Imrah were losing her external and
internal peace. Losing the external and internal peace is representing the first stage in
dialogue procedure, which is fragmentation. Because of the stress she had acted out of
control. Similarly, in the novel “Missing Piece 1”, the author also demonstrates
fragmentation as in the dialogue below:

“Ya. Sebab mereka semua tidak suka saya tukar agama. Tetapi saya
berpendapat lain dari mereka. Atau Tuhan mungkin menolong saya. Saya
ingat kalau saya ke gereja kembali, saya tidak mungkin akan dapat
bersama awak lagi sampai saya mati. Awak akan terlepas dari genggaman
saya. Apakah ertinya kehidupan seperti itu? Saya bukan orang alim yang
jadi ahli agama yang boleh mengubat luka perasaan sendiri dengan
bersembahyang dan bertafakur. Apa yang saya buat setiap kali saya selesai
bersembahyang, saya mohon kepada Tuhan supaya Dia bawa awak
kembali kepada saya. Sekarang, awak tengok, Tuhan sudah tunaikan
permohonan saya. Saya tidak mahu persia-siakan awak lagi. Saya mahu
awak mendapat keistimewaan sebagai seorang yang saya sangat mahukan
di dalam hidup ini. Berilah peluang itu kepada saya.” (The Missing Piece
1:m/s 230)

After Imrah left, Lawrence became unstable. He lost his outer and inner tranquillity.
He is actually suffered from the breakage, and that is experiencing the fragmentation level.
His friends tried to restore Lawrence by introducing women to him in order for him to let
Imrah go, but it was unsuccessful. So, in order to restore himself, Lawrence started to pray.
He started to pray to God to bring back his happiness, and he was so sure that God will help
him. Finally, after three years of suffering he manages to meet Imrah again. God had granted
his prayers. Lawrence life is happy again with the present of his lovely wife. The procedures
taken by Lawrence in addressing this fragmentation level is called stress counselling and
healing ceremony, which is done by prayers.


Exclusion occurs when there is negligence, ignorance or discrimination in law and custom.
This happens when the social relations are unequal and inequitable creating a need for action
research to achieve inclusion through self-help and livelihood strategies. From there they
need an affirmation action in order to build live hood skill and options. With the job skills
they can secure the entry access and balance the revolt by exclusion of oppression by the
elite. The exclusion procedure is also included in the novel “Ombak Bukan Biru” as in the
dialogue below:

“Pergi sekarang! Di sini bukan rumah mak bapak engkau lagi. Kau bukan
anak aku lagi. Kau sudah jadi orang lain. Tidak kena-mengena dengan aku.
Pergi…! Jangan pijak lagi tanah ini. Kalau aku mati jangan jamah mayat
aku”. (Ombak Bukan Biru: 260)

The dialogue above is a word came out from Imrah father’s, who was so angry
when Imrah inform him about marrying Lawrence. Her father straight away excludes
Imrah from his life. Because of her father had disowned her, Imrah left her house and
built her new life on her own.

“Saya sedar pahit-maung untuk melangkah masuk pintu universiti sebagai

seorang rakyat kelas paling bawah, kelas proletarian, kelas buruh, nelayan
dan petani yang awak kata itu. Bukan dari kelas burgois seperti awak
semua. Pernahkah awak semua belajar dengan menggunakan pelita minyak
tanah seperti zaman darurat dulu? Kalau awak tidak pernah, saya terpaksa
buat begitu untuk membaca buku bila tuan rumah perintah tutup lampu
selepas jam 11.00 malam. Hanya kerana hendak ambil peperiksaan STPM
untuk masuk ke universiti ini. Kalau awak anak orang-orang ternama boleh
masuk universiti dengan hanya mendapat satu atau dua principal. Kami
rakyat kelas bawahan, kena dapat empat principal atau sekurang-
kurangnya tiga principal baru dapat masuk universiti.” (m/s 112)

The exclusion of Imrah from Lawrence and her family has led her to the need of building
new life skills. She had tried a numerous jobs such as a teacher, seamstress, and florist to
continue with her life and pursue her dream to enter the university. The exclusion from the
socialite group encourages Imrah to build her own skill to achieve her dream. Because of the
exclusion Imrah family didn’t show up during her marriage ceremony, as stated in the text

“Aku dan Lawrence tunggu sampai kepada tetamu yang akhir. Tidak ada
seorang kakak pun yang datang. Emak dan ayah tentulah jauh sekali.
(Ombak Bukan Biru:292)


Polarization occurs when a group moving between one and another (the most in depth is
religion/ethnic identity line). In UNESCO framework, polarization stage is competing
groups clash in quest for recognition and equality. Polarization need in order to resolve
conflicts and to reconcile for harmony. From there the dialogue will provide an alternative to
violence or silence. The dialogue is important to avoid tension between parties involved. In
“Ombak Bukan Biru” polarization become important when Imrah fall in love with Lawrence
because it involves religion and ethnicity. Imrah, a kampong girl from Kota Bharu was
bound with Malay cultures and Islam. When Lawrence proposed to her, she was in a big
clash because of their differences. Lawrence who was Christian and she as a Muslim cannot
be together because of their religion. As stated in the text below:

“Kenapa kekasih?”, “kita tidak boleh Joe…kita tidak boleh..”, “Tidak

boleh apa?”, “Tidak boleh kahwin.” Kenapa?”. “Awak Kristian. Saya
Islam”. “Ah, come on kasih, bukankah kita telah bersetuju salah seorang
dari kita akan berkorban! Sama ada awak atau saya, itu sudah pasti.”
(Ombak Bukan Biru: 217)

Due to Imrah disagreement, Lawrence the used dialogue to reconcile with Imrah, as below:

“Saya tau. Memang halangan itu. Tetapi cuba awak tengok Pat dengan
berney, Pat bukan orang Eropah. Pat kacukan Portugis dan India, tetapi
mereka kahwin dan bahagia. Awak tengok Celine dengan Tony. Tony
bukan Eropah, Tony kacukan Portugis dan Siam! Mereka bahagia dengan
cinta masing-masing.” (Ombak Bukan Biru: 139)

‘Pat dan Tony lain, sayang. Awak dengan saya lain. Pat dan Tony, Cik
Celine and Encik Bernard semuanya Kristian walaupun dari keturunan
yang berlainan. Tidak macam awak dengan saya…Awak Kristian dan saya
awak tau sendiri, Islam!.”

There is a line occurred between Imrah and Lawrence. They love each other so much, but the
religious differences separating them from being together. Religious differences become a
major obstacle for them. Lawrence who is really wanted to marry Imrah had persuaded her by
giving some explanation on his relatives who got married despite of the differences of race
and ethnicity. The explanation by Lawrence is a way of resolving conflict in Imrah thought,
by saying that, Lawrence tried to show the equality between two people who come from
different background and ethnic. Another strategy used by Lawrence to reconcile with Imrah
was giving his consent to adapting Islam as his religion, as stated in the text below:

“Sayang…saya sudah lama memikirkan perkara ini. Saya tahu awak

tidak akan menukarkan agama awak semata-mata untuk berkahwim
dengan saya. Celine juga berkata begitu. Emak saya dan Mak Cik
Winnie juga sama pandangannya. Semua orang mahu melihat saya
bahagia. Walau apa pun agama dan bangsa saya kelak, saya tetap
mereka anggap keluarga mereka.” “sungguh Joe?.” “Ya…kami telah
berunding beberapa kali. Dan saya telah memilih untuk menjadi
seorang penganut yang seagama dengan awak.” (Ombak Bukan Biru:

The boundary line between Imrah and Lawrence was eliminated by Lawrence action into
embracing Islam. The understanding of religious beliefs and practices is important in peace
building. Comparing to the multi-racial community nowadays, the understanding and respect
to what the other beliefs and practices are important in peace building.


Coexistence occurs in peace building where people agree to tolerate diversity. Coexistence is
important in a multi-racial community in ensuring peace. Communication involving
coexistence is crucial to preserve the relationship between couples, and also among
neighbours, especially in a multi-racial neighbourhood. In the novel of “Ombak Bukan
Biru”, Fatimah Busu had stated that Imrah begin to realize that coexistence is important to
preserve her relationship with Lawrence and his family. As we can see from the text below:

“Alangkah ganjilnya! Dulu aku amat takut dengan orang putih. Takut itu
bukan kerana kulitnya balau. Atau bukan kerana hidungnya bengkok. Takut
itu bukan kerana rambutnya putih. Tetapi dia semacam rasa takut campur
benci! Ya, benci sebenarnya. Benci kerana mereka bangsa penjajah bumi
yang kucinta. Benci kerana mereka penakluk tanah airku sendiri. Tetapi
apa sudah jadi sekarang? Seorang pemudi Melayu yang kolot, makan
semeja dengan orang putih. Enam orang kesemuanya! Aku tidak pernah
makan rasmi sebenarnya. Aku tidak biasa begitu. Aku Cuma biasa makan
macam kera. Makan bergayut di mana-mana. Makan dengan kaki berjuntai
dan bergoyang-goyang! Kadang-kadang makan, sambil berjalan!!”.
Suasana di meja makan penuh jenaka dan kegembiraan. (Ombak Bukan
Biru: 53)

When Imrah entered into the Western community, which belong to Lawrence family, she is
realized that the mutual understanding is a must in securing her relationship with Lawrence.
The perception towards white people suddenly changed and she started to realize that
coexistence in important. The tolerance to diversity also being demonstrates by the writer
when Imrah and Lawrence went to London visiting Lawrence relatives. When they arrived
at Lawrence aunt’s house, they were well received by his aunt. His aunt then took them to a
room that has been prepared to facilitate them for their comfort and perform prayers.
Lawrence who already embraced Muslim was aware that they need to perform prayers
whenever they go. Upon their arrival, Lawrence has said this:

Kita kena sembahyang dulu”, Lawrence berbisik di telingaku. “sudah lewat

sekarang”. “Ya”. “Pakcik Makcik, kami mahu masuk sembahyang dulu.”
Kata Lawrence. “Oh, mari kita makan petang dulu, semua sudah diap di
meja sana.” Kata Makcik Laura.”Bagi kami lima belas minit.” Kata
Lawrence. “Ah, kalau begitu, mari ikut makcik naik ke atas. Kami sediakan
bilik kalian di atas. Nanti kalian dapat tengok pemandangan di luar.”
“Kami menyusahkan makcik” Kataku.”Jangan kata begitu saying, makcik
dan pakcikmu sangat senang menerima kedatangan kamu ke sini” (The
Missing Piece 1: 387)
Because of diversity, mutual understanding automatically plays a role. By providing
a room for Lawrence and Imrah, Aunty Laura is already practiced coexistence.


According to UNESCO framework, collaboration occurs when people participate in socio-

economic planning for social justice. In this case, UNESCO is referring to the peace
dialogue between countries. Collaboration need for different country to participate in
development plans and to redirect development planning to reach all. Inclusive development
helps planners to pick up signals of distress, balance interests, pool resources and share
benefits. For this analysis, collaboration is referring to the cooperation between two people
from different way of life in planning their future together.


Cohesion is needed when people share the meaning of life and values. With cohesion the
unity in diversity can be achieved together with social justice. In peace dialogue procedure,
cohesion plays a big role in re-imagining new possibilities towards peace building. In
relationship communication, cohesion can be a mutual agreement between 2 parties while
communicating to each other especially when it comes to the difference in the way of
thinking, way of life and beliefs. The dialogue that based on cohesion normally will show an
adaptation towards a harmonious communication. In the case of Imrah and Lawrence, both
of them always show that they are respecting and supporting each other. Both of them seem
trying to accommodate each other differences by sharing their good values. As we can see in
the monologue below:

“Aku tertawa. Lawrence tahu aku berolok-olok dengan dia. Lawrence mula sembahyang
Asar. Aku perhatikan dengan perasaan terharu akan ketekunannya melakukan sembahyang.
Semenjak emak ada di rumah kami, Lawrence sudah mulai belajar membaca Al-Quran Al-
Karim dengan emak. Kadang-kadang lepas makan malam. Kadang-kadang selepas minum
petang waktu dia pulang dari pejabat. Dan emak sangat-sangat senang hati mengajar
menantunya dengan penuh kesabaran.” (The Missing Piece 1: 486)

“Makanlah kenyang-kenyang Imrah. Kami tau, itu bukan daging babi. Itu daging kambing.
Kami tau awak tidak boleh makan babi. Jangan bimbang. Makanlah.” (Ombak Bukan Biru:


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