IIUM@40: Beckoning The Way To The Future
Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dato' Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Opinion - BACALAH MALAYSIA
May 22, 2023
The International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) has come of age on May 20, 2023. It was established 40 years ago as a unique institution of Islamic-based education.
"It went back to 1917, when Za’aba – a well known Malay thinker-philosopher – inspired an idea of integrated and holistic learning, ahead of his time. Then education was conveyed piecemeal, especially between religious and “worldly” knowledge.
Each is also splintered in sub-units, and taught separately too. This is very much the prevalent model until today in Malaysia and many parts of the world.
That is, until the establishment of IIUM with its “integrative pedagogy and curriculum” which took at least six decades to realise in 1977 following the First World Conference on Muslim Education that was held at Makkah.
The conference proved to be a major landmark in Muslim education.
Over 350 scholars representing various academic fields and coming from Muslim as well as Western countries participated in the event. It provided platforms for mental and institutional mechanisms to facilitate the implementation of transformative ideas.
For example, the vision of IIUM speaks about the unity of knowledge as well as its concepts of holistic education. The goal is to contribute to the betterment of the qualities of human life and civilisation.
"This in turn, is supported by seven specific mission statements ranging from integrating Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, to sustainable development; from fostering civilisational dialogues and intercultural understanding across communities and nations to a deep sense of social responsibility among staff and students, indeed, the community too.
There are not many institutions, especially in the educational sector worldwide, that embrace such a broad and comprehensive vision and mission in defining its overall aspiration.
Over the last 40 years, this has been the dedication of IIUM in forging new or renewed meaning to education in general; and from Islamic perspective, in particular.
"The latter is based on the belief that knowledge must be pursued as an action of continuous devotion or as ‘ibadah; and building trust or amanah which Allah has commanded upon humanity. It is about making the world a better place, in order to realise the meaning of Mercy to all the worlds for all humankind.
Such an endeavour is said to be the first systematic attempt of its kind “to remove the dichotomy of religious and secular education systems that are at present operative in Muslims countries.”
It departs from the conventional mix of both systems, by humanising education in tandem with the purpose and goal of human existence with the core role of education towards nurturing “good and righteous” persons.
In many ways, it contrasted with the current distortion of producing “human capital” for the marketplace per se. Though this is may not be entirely wrong, it must, however, be values-based to groom people of good character with high standards of moral-spiritual-ethical behaviour.
This is reaffirmed by various testimonies that generally emerged from the latest pandemic experiences worldwide, pointing out to values-based dimensions that have gone astray due to the pressures of the materialistic world as the preferred, if not the only acceptable indicator of “success.”
The commitment of IIUM, therefore, is to act as the leading beacon to shine on the true meaning of education across the sector internationally.
"These resonates well with what the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah expressed, on his conferment of Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership by the Constitutional Head of IIUM, the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, in conjunction with IIUM 40th anniversary commemorative convocation.
The recognition from IIUM was not only an acknowledgement of one’s achievements, but also those of the people of Malaysia and their good values.
“I have had my fair share of experience in leadership matters and its significance first-hand in my line of duty, particularly over the past five years. Leadership is an integral part of my responsibilities, and these responsibilities were shouldered not for personal rewards or recognition.
“Therefore, the conferral of this doctorate upon me is truly priceless, and I am truly privileged,” he said.
In addition, it is vital to always remember that leadership was intrinsically linked to the people. “Without the people, there is no leadership. As we say in Malay, ‘tiada rakyat, tiada pemimpin’. As the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, my unwavering devotion to serving the people and promoting their welfare has always been my top priority.
“I am constantly aware of their struggles and hardships, and I empathise with their plight while encouraging their aspirations for success.”
In this regard, Al-Sultan Abdullah reiterated that it is paramount for IIUM to remain true to its name and mission in driving the ummah forward.
His Majesty pointed out that the university’s tagline, “Leading The Way”, is noble – befitting the stature as an international Islamic institution.
It is also about cultivating an inquisitive mindsets, embracing diversity and nurturing a sense of responsibility towards society and humanity as a whole. Hence, it goes beyond just acquiring degrees and certifications, into safeguarding and protecting dignity of all, reminded His Majesty.
The conferment itself is historic in that it is the first time that the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong is accorded such honour and privilege.
Congratulations and Junjung Kasih, Tuanku. – BACALAHMALAYSIA.MY
- The writer is the Rector of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)