OVER the weekend, news surfaced that Umie Isa‘s original story for Astro First, Inayah, was republished as a novel without any credit to the original author. The new book, Inayah: Aku Ingin Pulang, has instead been credited to former entomologist turned novelist Maria Kajiwa.
The reveal provoked a strong reaction from Umie’s spouse, Faisal Ishak — director of Aliff Dalam 7 Dimensi and Juvana 3 — who took to Instagram to air his grievance.
How can you simply plagiarise somebody else’s work and go on Book Launches and Fairs and selling them as if it is yours @Mariakajiwa ??? I am not questioning the publication if it’s under the contract… but to just use your name and not acknowledge the ACTUAL WRITER??? NEVERMIND IF She happens to be my wife, but she is the WRITER and not YOU!!!!!!! MARIA KAJIWA!!!!! What? Mention her name in the inside of the book??? A mention??? This is unethical and an intellectual property violation!!
The original story was first written in 2015 for a supertelefilm starring Azhan Rani and Sari Yanti.
According to author Umie Isa, the script was a challenge because she was a Muslim and she did not want to contradict her own religious views by writing about hauntings. The end result was an Islamic horror film directed by her husband Faisal and also starred their son in a twin role.
Inayah revolves around a couple who returns to Kuala Lumpur after a long stay in New York. Muhammad and Aisya bring their twin sons to a new house, but one of them starts behaving oddly.
Things get messy when Muhammad’s mother Suraya tries to involve a bomoh, an idea which does not sit well with Aisya who happens to be a devout Muslim. Their relationship suffers, and new discoveries are made.
Umie gave birth to her daughter Leia two weeks after the film was completed, and as such claims that Inayah is a personal story. The Astro film of the same title meanwhile has yet to see a release date, though the novel has gone on sale through Karya Seni.
Umie responded to the issue detailing the writing process and her hopes in becoming a better Muslim.
I told myself that InsyaAllah with this publication of the novel Inayah, more people will benefit from the message that I wished to convey about khurafat and superstitions. With more people reading this book, more reward will I reap for my Akhira. And I need that. My scale are heavier on the left side I’m sure, so for every opportunity I get to dispatch khayr even when I’m not aware of it, SubhanAllah! Alhamdulillah! The promise of Jannah is real, the reward for dispatching khayr is true, and the acknowledgment by Allah the Almighty on the day of judgment is the only thing that matters, really.
— Umie Isa
Maria Kajiwa, real name undisclosed, was born in Pahang in 1962. She graduated from Universiti Sains Malaysia, Pulau Pinang, and has been based in Melaka since. After retiring, she began a career as a writer of novels and short stories, and has even found herself in the pages of Utusan Malaysia.