Late IIUM rector Kamal Hassan shaped varsity physically and spiritually
Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dato' Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Opinion - New Straits Times
February 25, 2023
I MET the late Professor Muhammad Kamal Hassan, who died on Feb 23, more than a decade ago as vice-chancellor or rector of our universities.
I was drawn to his soft-spoken, well-mannered personality.
Kamal was renowned not only for his scholarly works and endeavours, but he was also well regarded by many colleagues and students from all over the world.
He has been a household name for those who visited the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) since its establishment in 1983.
He was one of the architects of IIUM as the deputy rector when it was under construction at the brand-new campus in Gombak. Before that, he was involved in conceptualising it.
He was instrumental in shaping the future of IIUM physically, working under an able rector then, Professor Abdul Hamid Abu Sulayman.
He also did it spiritually by defining the vision and mission statements of the university in 1995.
IIUM is often seen as an Islamic entity that differs from the conventional genre in creative ways.
This is notable as IIUM has no regular and conventional disciplines standing on their own, but to be integrated in offering broader perspectives to better fit in the search for more appropriate long-term solutions towards rahmatan lil 'alamin (mercy to all).
Other than this integrated approach, Kamal was insistent on Islamising human knowledge so that its relevance to Islamic ideals and worldview was not compromised.
He was also ahead of many of his contemporaries when he advocated sustainable development (SD) as part of the university's mission.
This was in 1995, five years earlier than the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (2000-2014) for SD.
True to his wish, the mission was met in 2020 when IIUM was recognised by the UN University in Tokyo as a regional centre of expertise on education for SD, a first for an Islamic university.
Again, in the same year, IIUM clinched the Institution for Sustainability international award, a first for Asia and the Muslim world.
The award was a resounding endorsement that IIUM had penetrated another sphere of Islamic excellence in line with the notion of mercy to all.
This made him a visionary leader who placed IIUM as a beacon of sustainable futures.
His foresight extended further when he initiated a Vision 2077 project for the ummah, in particular, which is now a work in progress.
I felt profound solace in his unassuming and caring personality.
In finding my footing at IIUM, his kind words of advice were most reassuring in fulfilling the amanah without fear or favour.
This was a hallmark that he upheld time and again in navigating IIUM.
This is one legacy that will remain at the heart of his leadership, the Murrabi who will be missed but continues to inspire all for a long time to come, inshaallah.
There are no words to express the void that he leaves behind, yet his dedication, commitment and sincere intentions will shine brightly to light up his absence.
May he be blessed for all that he has accomplished.
May Allah swt be pleased with him as he had endeavoured to please all of us with his exceptional good deeds. Aamiin. Alfatihah.
* The writer, an NST columnist for more than 20 years, is International Islamic University Malaysia rector