Saturday, December 30, 2006


A day after the awarding of the Certificate of Appreciation, in the early morning of 30 December 2006, we received a sms from my elder brother in Gombak telling us that Afirah's photo was in Utusan Malaysia. Minutes after that another sms from my dentist niece in Cheras also reached us, telling us the same news.

We had just arrived at Hussain Restaurant in Sungei Petani then to have breakfast while on our way to my nephew's house in Alor Setar. We bought almost all newspapers available at the book store beside the restaurant. We flipped through the pages of each newspapers anxiously without bothering other customers in the restaurant who looked curious of what we were doing. And true enough, Afirah's pictures and news together with the 8 Penang top scorers in PMR who received the Certificate of Appreciation from the Penang Education Director the day before were not only appeared in Utusan Malaysia, but also in the STAR, New Straits Times and METRO. A day after that, we also found the news in a Chinese newspaper.

Taariq was quick to reply to the two sms as well as sending sms to other close relatives - his aunties and cousins - all over the country, telling them about the news. Congratulations from them then came one by one.

When reading the news carefully after arriving back home that night, I had a quite interesting observation. Afirah's picture was very nice as she stood in the middle of the top scorers as requested by the journalists. But her name was briefly mentioned in the news as she was not interviewed by the journalist except TV1. Highlights were focussed on those who seemed to benefit the respective newspaper or the newspaper's race. Utusan Malaysia for instance highlighted the usage of its Portal Utusan by one of the top scorers in preparing for her PMR. The Chinese newspaper highlighted one of the Chinese girls among the top scorers. But unfortunately, there was no highlight of the achievement of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama, although three of the seven top scorers were from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama Al-Mashoor (Perempuan) (including Afirah) and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama Al-Irshad. Not even a Muslim journalist highlighted that eventhough there were a substantial number of them present.

I was wondering...were the Muslim journalists who came to the occasion was not sharp enough to realise that or not patriotic enough to highlight that, or were they restricted by the policies or agendas of their respective newspapers to do that?

One thing that overcame the wonder hence the frustration was the fact that the brilliant students are now in the religious schools, unlike the past. Even the national top PMR student for this year was also from the religious school, the Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama Naim Lil-Banat in Kelantan. The Imtiaz School of Excellence in Terengganu too takes only 5As UPSR students while Darul Qur`an in Kuala Kubu Bharu takes the cream of SPM students from religious schools in the country.

The parents of these students are not only ordinary people but also intellectuals and professionals who had the experience in studying in the West but now wish to serve Islam through their children despite little knowledge in the religion, like myself. What else could we compensate for our past ignorance of our religion other than leaving our children to be taught by Allah s.w.t. Himself and struggle for Islam? We hope to be forgiven by Allah s.w.t. through the good deeds of our children, InshaAllah.

If these children were guided properly according to the real teaching of Islam, I am very optimistic that our country will be ruled by faithful brilliant leaders in the near future. May Allah s.w.t. prolong my life to enjoy their leadership.

Friday, December 29, 2006


As invited and scheduled, Afirah and our whole family, including my sister in-law from Bagan Serai, were at Penang Education Office this morning, 29 December 2006. Apart from us, there were seven other Penang top PMR students with their respective families. One of them was the top student in special category (visual/sight impaired), while the other seven, including Afirah, were the seven top students. The occasion was the award of Certificate of Appreciation to these eight Penang PMR top scorers in conjunction with the Press Conference on PMR 2006 by Penang Education Director, Tuan Haji Ahmad bin Husain.

Afirah receiving the Certificate of Appreciation from Penang Education Director

The Certificate of Appreciation

At this occasion, again, I have to encounter with journalists. A TV1 (RTM) journalist asked me about the way I guided Afirah to her success. I did not have an exact answer to this because my guidance was actually very minimum. I did not really guide Afirah because she already had an aim of getting 9As and therefore endeavoured for it on her own. I did not have to force her to study. Instead, I gave her freedom when and what to study. I only came to her rescue whenever she needed one.

However, I told the journalist about three main factors. The first is Allah s.w.t., that it is Allah s.w.t. that bestows one with intelligence, the basic ingredient of one's success. Secondly, one's clear goal, hence the efforts. And thirdly, a conducive atmosphere, at home and at school, with parents and teachers and friends.

Afirah and the Penang top scorers

In the first factor, I could observe the gift from Allah s.w.t. of Afirah's brilliance. She is always the top students at every level, the primary and lower secondary levels. Intellectual sub-culture is also in her. Wherever she goes, even to only a supermarket around our area, she would bring a book in her hand and would read it whenever she has a chance, in the car, while waiting for us et. cetera. The place she likes most is bookshops. She would not miss the bookshop whenever she finds one. We share similar hobby in this.

Her goal in PMR, the second factor, was also very clear to her. She wanted 9 straight As and she sticked her own computer-printed statement of this goal on the wall in her room together with other various motivational statements. She set her mind accordingly and worked for it freely, without any pressure from both myself and my wife.

Afirah's goal is sticked firmly on the wall of her room

Afirah's motivational statements in her room

Thirdly, Alhamdulillah, she was also blessed with a conducive atmosphere, at home and at school. She has an air-condition room for herself at home with all sorts of necessary books and resources. Our home holds to a "library within the house" concept, with books in shelves in almost all parts of the house. We do not have any other exhibitable things in the shelves except books. The academic atmosphere is there and she was not pressured by her mum to do any house work such as cooking or cleaning the house. Frankly, her little attention on the housework was more worrying to me than the PMR. But thinking that she was going to sit for an exam, the worrying was definitely controllable.

At school too she had good teachers and brilliant friends who were all aimed for excellent achievement in PMR.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


After bestowing Taariq with 5As and fulfilling our wish and his to pursue his study at Imtiaz, today, on 28 December 2006, Allah s.w.t. has showered His continuous blessing by bestowing our eldest daughter Afirah with 9 straight As in her PMR. Alhamdulillah!

Afirah's PMR result - 9 straight As

Not only that. She is also a top 7 student in Penang and will have to attend a special ceremony at Jabatan Pelajaran Negeri Pulau Pinang tomorrow morning to receive her Certificate of Appreciation from Penang Education Director.

Being one of the top students in Penang is really a very meaningful accomplishment for a Muslim. She is at least at par with, if not above of, non-Muslims top scorer and definitely above thousands of them with lower achievement. It is a real win indeed.

Afirah - making calls minutes after knowing her result, 28 December 2006

It is really a double joy. Taariq with his 5As and Imtiaz and Afirah with her 9As and the Certificate of Appreciation.

Taariq and Afirah during a dinner, 24 December 2006

Thank you, thank you, thank you Allah s.w.t. for Your generosity!

Deep inside, I feel my heart whispering: "In return, what would you do for Allah s.w.t. and for Islam ?"

It is really a tough touching question to answer. Forgive me Allah!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Alhamdulillah, after a competitive interview in Dungun on 10 December 2006, Taariq today received an official letter of acceptance from Yayasan Terengganu, the institution in-charged of the Imtiaz School of Excellence in the State of Terengganu. Though being interviewed in Dungun, Taariq is accepted into Besut branch of the Imtiaz, as I requested.

Besut is my hometown. My sister and cousins both from the side of my father and mother are still living there. My grand nephew who is the grandson of my sister is also studying in the Besut Imtiaz. Moreover, my sister's house is just about a kilometre away from Imtiaz. All of these, hence the request.

The reason Taariq was interviewed in Dungun was just because Dungun was the first place of the interview. The interview in Dungun was on the 10th while in Besut on the 12th December 2006. On that very day of the 12th, I have to deliver a keynote address at ISDEV Second Graduate Conference held at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang. My presence at the interview in Besut on that day was therefore impossible.

The other reason was because of the monsoon season. Rain had began to pour and definitely we had to avoid the flood as soon as possible. I and my family had been in Terengganu since 3rd December for my fieldwork on Operational Mechanism of Islam Hadhari for the State Government. Leaving Terengganu after a long stay at a Kuala Terengganu hotel and on the eve of flooding season is understandble.

In Dungun, we spent a night on the 9th at UiTM Hotel. Early in the morning on the 10th, we were already at Dungun Imtiaz for the interview and managed to get the first number. I was told that there were more than 300 students - who were all 5A's scorer - came for the interview. They were asked to memorise a page of the Qur`an within 40 minutes, apart from oral and writing examination. Among them was the daughter of the Terengganu Menteri Besar herself, accompanied by the Menteri Besar's wife. Though the Menteri Besar was the founder of the Imtiaz, her daughter had to go through similar procedure as others and his wife was together with us the parents in the hall listening to the briefing delivered by the Director of Integrity icon Sdn. Bhd. (IISB) Ustaz Wan Zakry Wan Kamaruddin. IISB is a subsidiary of Yayasan Terengganu given the task of managing the Imtiaz.

All together, I came to understand, more than 1,000 students came for the interview in Dungun, Kuala Berang, Besut and Kuala Terengganu from the 10th until 13rd December 2006. Out of these, only 420 students were chosen. And Taariq was one of them, Alhamdulillah! Taariq was very happy to know the result. He hugged and kissed his mum out of happiness.

But why both my wife and I are very keen to send Taariq to Imtiaz? Why Imtiaz?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


If I were asked to avoid anybody, one of those on the top of the list are the journalists. What I mean by journalists here are not all journalists, but those that come to you to extract your opinion or statements, but then write differently from what you mean for unknown reasons, either because they are incapable of interpreting rightly what you are saying, or because they are doing that on specific purpose.

I have encountered with such journalists quite a number of times and the latest was in Medan last Friday, 24 November 2006. After giving a talk on Economic Development in Islam Hadhari at 45th Year Anniversary Seminar of the Economic Faculty of Universitas Sumatera Utara (USU), a number of journalists from printed and electronic medias surrounded me for questions. I have been cautious enough to ask them the questions that they are going to ask prior to their recording and shooting of my answers. Consequently, I have refused to answer some questions that I thought were tricky and `trappy', and answered the others that I thought straight forward and manageable.

Surrounded by the journalists

The next morning, on Saturday 25 November 2006, to my surprise a major Medan newspaper came up with a disgusting title: "Malaysia Sukses Dengan Islam Hadhari" (Malaysia Is Succesful With Islam Hadhari), quoting me saying that. It appalled me for at least two reasons.

The paper

Firstly, how could Malaysia is considered as being succeeded in continuing her development by adopting the teaching of Islam Hadhari when Islam Hadhari was only launched two years ago and its action plan has only been designed quite recently and has yet to be implemented fully? It is of course indeed still immatured and too early to judge.

Secondly, the explanation that followed the quotation was only confined to the earlier part of my paper that explained what is Islam Hadhari, while the later part that contained a critical analysis and suggestions for the betterment of the Islam Hadhari, such as the terms used in it, its theoretical framework, its implementational method, its achievement measurement index and its position in national development strategy have been left out totally. The journalist has definitely failed to analyse my paper in full, hence failing to highlight what I was actually wanted to say, that is Islam Hadhari is laudable, but it could still be improved by strengthening the five areas above.

Actually this was not my first encounter with such a journalist. Sometimes in 1990's, a formal newspaper of an opposition party in Malaysia also published my saying at a Premier Lecture of a so-called `satisfactory' accomplishment of development in Kelantan, but leaving out totally my critical analysis and suggestions for the betterment of the development strategy in the state. Like the above journalist in Medan, this journalist took only the earlier `good' part of my speech delivered at the invitation of the State Government of Kelantan, leaving out the critical part of it.

Such a misleading news about my speech also happened during my Professorial Lecture at Universiti Sains Malaysia on 28 July 2001. A journalist quoted me in a Medan newspaper of `my' saying in the Lecture that the Sultan of Kelantan was apprehensive of the PAS government in the state, while in reality I was not even mentioned a word about both parties. The journalist apparently did that to relate his story to my theoretical underpinning of Islamic development explained in the Lecture.

More surprising was my encounter with a journalist of an English newspaper sometimes around 1993-1995 at a hotel in Jalan Macalister, Penang, Malaysia. I was there to listen to the then number two man of the now defunct Darul Arqam, Ustaz Haji Abdul Halim Abbas, to be interviewed by a group of journalists from various newspapers. The interview was supposed to be a session for him to explain about Darul Arqam, in the midst of continuous attacks from Malaysian government in general and Islamic Development Office (JAKIM) in particular. The interview went smoothly in a cordial atmosphere.

But on the way out of the hotel after the interview has completed, Ustaz Haji Abdul Halim was casually asked by the journalist of that English newspaper about the value of the Darul Arqam's wealth. Ustaz Haji Abdul Halim was quite astonished as he understandably did not know the exact value of the wealth at finger tips. Looking Ustaz Haji Abdul Halim in a dumb, the journalist quickly guessed, RM365 millions (around that figure if I am not mistaken)? Ustaz Haji Abdul Halim nodded lazily, still unsure of the exact value.

The next morning, it was the figure that became the headline of the newspaper, not the content of the interview explained by Ustaz Haji Abdul Halim for about an hour or so. Subsequently, other newspapers quoted it and eventually the figure became the `official' figure of the value of Darul Arqam's wealth!

Not long after that, a journalist from the same newspaper also used to suggest to me in an interview after a course at National Productivity Centre in Kepala Batas, Penang that Darul Arqam might still has underground activities eventhough it has been banned by the government. She insisted for my agreement several times and I know that if there was even a little gesture of agreement, it would become the headline the next morning. Luckily I did not do that because it was out of my knowledge whether there were underground activities or otherwise.

For the above reasons too, whenever journalistic students of Universiti Sains Malaysia came to interview me for their Berita Kampus, I either refused them or entertained them but with a condition that they should show me their writings before they publish. But for the most of the times, they never showed up after that. They said they were squeezed by their deadlines and the writings have to go to the press before they could come back to me. The eventual result is expected, viz. usually unsatisfactory!

Undeniably, it is not that I did not try to understand the sub-culture and nature of a journalist's works. Around the time when the former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was sacked out of UMNO, a journalist of a mainstream Malay newspaper in Malaysia used to release to me that he wanted to quit the job. He said he was stressed with his own hypocritical behaviour - writing stories that he himself actually did not exactly know their truth. He has to do that for the sake of his newspaper's hidden or known objectives. But I did not know exactly why, he is still there until now and in fact has became a prominent editor of the newspaper. May Allah s.w.t. helps and guides him.

In the case of the recent Medan incident, fortunately there was another major newspaper that helped to overcome the misinterpretation. It came with a more correct title: "Indonesia Harus Mencari Paradigma Alternatif Pembangunan Ekonomi" (Indonesia Must Search For An Alternative Development Paradigm).

I say it was correct because this was actually the theme of the seminar, that is Alternative Paradigm of Economic Development. I was invited to talk on Islam Hadhari as one of the possible alternative for Indonesian economic development. It was preceded by an introductory remarks by the Dean of the Economic Faculty of Universitas Sumatera Utara, Drs Jhon Tafbu Ritonga, who critically reviewed the past and prevailing Indonesian economic development paradigm and pointed out for an alternative. And I proceeded with an explanation on and critical analysis of one of the possible alternatives, that is Islam Hadhari that has been introduced in Malaysia.

The right coverage of this newspaper gave me a little bit of relief indeed. I am glad that there are still sharp-minded journalists with analytical capabilities around!

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Alhamdulilah, what a real son Taariq scored 5As for his UPSR!
Muhammad Taariq at Menara Kuala Lumpur during his school's trip
I say a real relief because Taariq is a sort of a happy-go-lucky child, with an interest more on handling mechanical and electronic gadgets as well as woodwork rather than on reading books. He is a kind of a hands-on person, interested more in practical rather than theoretical endeavours. He hardly read books, even his school text books, except the night before the UPSR examination. During those nights, he carried his books around the house, up and down, flipping through the pages, asking his mum and sister and brother about anything he did not understand. Though earlier we had insisted him to read the books and doing exercises, he could only manage to be with his books for a few minutes everytime we persuaded him. Then he had thousands of excuses to be away from the books.
Undeniably, both his mum and I did not really force him to get engaged with his book indeed. We know very well that his brain is working fast to think what he should do next rather than entangling himself passively with the books. Instead, he would rather engage with a more creative endeavours, such as repairing or painting and repainting his or his brother's and sisters' bicycles, or dismantling and refitting his remote control cars, or investigating the gadgets of his handphone or of his mum's digital or video cameras.

All in all, Taariq relatively did not burden himself by studying madly for his UPSR. He neither attended any tuition nor had a private tutor at home. What he did was only attended extra classes organised by his school and did his homeworks, and once in a while followed one-day motivational course somewhere around our area. That's all, briefly, and that's why the result was really a relief and happy moment for many of us - his parents, his sisters and brother, as well as our close family members and friends. We are really very grateful and thank Allah s.w.t. for His grace. Taariq followed the footstep of his sister A'firah and brother 'Akif who were bestowed by Allah s.w.t. with 5As in earlier years.

Contemplating on Taariq's accomplishment, we came to realise that he is actually a brilliant child. His creativity is actually a manifestation of his working mind. His success in spite of his rather little effort is a reflection of his strong memory. His activeness in helping his mum and others - from buying chicken from Haji Qudus at Taman Tun Sardon market to buying chicken curry from Kassim Mustafa Restoran at Bukit Jambul and accompanying his mum and others to wherever necessary - is a portrayal of his inclination towards active activities. And his ability to grasp his lessons through only his extra classes together with his friends is actually an exhibition of his effectiveness in doing things through collective endeavours (jemaah). All of these, plus his talkative and friendly attitude, to his mum and I are indeed great assets that must be channelled to an avenue that could lead him to serve his religion and ummah!

Taariq and cousin in-law Din during the recent Eid celebration, 2006

For this, we hope to send him pursuing his study at Imtiaz School of Excellence in Terengganu - a school that cultivate students to be hafiz-cum-scientists, with characteristics of ulul albab, that is Islamic scholars with a Quranic, ijtihadic and encyclopedic ability to become global leaders. We hope that this could nurture his creativity to the right path, InshaAllah.

An application was sent through internet on the very day we knew Taariq's UPSR result. We are now waiting for a formal call for an interview, expected to be sometime in between 10-12 December 2006. May Allah s.w.t. helps him and may Yayasan Terengganu - the institution in-charged of the Imtiaz School of Excellence - accepts him for the sake of Allah s.w.t. Amiin!

Sunday, November 12, 2006


On 28 October 2006, my family and I had a surprise Hari Raya visit from my third sister and family from Ipoh. The group consists of nearly 20 people - adults and children: sons & daughters & in-laws & grand-children - plus a family of my nephew (son of my second sister) from Jitra, Kedah who joined in after knowing the coming of the group from Ipoh, totalling altogether about 30 people gathering at my house in Gelugor, Penang.

What a surprise and joyous moment!

Some of the family members

We had serabai and roti jala from Taman Tun Sardon's market immediately after they arrived. For lunch we had specially-ordered home-made nasi kandar from Bayan Lepas. Dinner were with pasembur and sotong bakar and kangkong rebus at Padang Kota, after visiting Little India for some spices and Pasar Chowrasta for some jeruk as well as after saying maghrib prayer at Masjid Jalan Prangin.

Spice shop, Little India

Jeruk tasting at Chowrasta Market

Pasembur and sotong bakar at Padang Kota

They left after the dinner by taking night ferry to the mainland, arriving back in Ipoh at about 12.00 a.m., so their sms said.

I am noting this down as this is indeed a rare occasion. Mine is the only family living here in the north (apart from the nephew in Jitra). We were seldom being visited by close families, moreover as many as this one, as most of them are living in the Klang Valley, including the children of my sister who visited us. During the gathering, we came to know that even my nephew in Jitra will be moving to the Klang Valley early next year, leaving mine alone in the north!

I was wondering, will my children - all of whom are still schooling in Penang - eventually also be attracted to the Klang Valley for work, hence leaving only both of us - me and my wife, perhaps at that time already retired - in Penang? Only God knows the best...

Sunday, October 29, 2006


I have got the answers, after saying two rakaat of hajat prayer!

Firstly, I will InshaAllah write both academic and santai writings, and infact, anything that comes out of my mind and across my life.

Secondly, the numbers of readers and the greatness of ideas are not the main concern. What is more important is the opportunity to record my ideas and document my experience however small and simple they are - even in terrible English or even only me alone could understand them. Via these writings, I hope to improve my English like I have improved it when I was writing my thesis in late eighties, or chairing meetings in mid-nineties as Head of International Project on Islamic Political Economy (IPIPE, later on named Islamic Development Management Project, IDMP and now has been upgraded to a research centre, the Centre for Islamic Development Management Studies, ISDEV, at Universiti Sains Malaysia, or even when communicating with Ah Chua, a contractor-cum-worker who was renovating my house last year.

Moreover, I am of course free to write either in English or Malay, at my own convenience. I also recall how amazed I was to read Prof Ali Mazrui's annual notes that record his thinking and ideas, activities and accomplishments for the year that consequently stimulated me to follow suit. With the advancement of current ICT, blogging I think is the better way of doing so. Instead of writing it at the end of the year, I could write bit by bit throughout the year - as if I am writing a diary - and eventually, hopefully, could be extended, edited and published in a book form as a memoir or at least as a note of my life for my children and descendants to see and know, if not for others.

Indeed, I have been thinking to write my memoir for so long already. I have sketched it out roughly, hoping that I could one day submit it to Penerbit UKM that has and publishes special series on memoirs and biographies. But with the retirement of its Head Hasrom Haron and resignation of its Editor Roosfa Hashim, both of whom had always encouraged me to accomplish the ambition, the plan seems to come to a slow-down as I do not know of any other university publishers that are dealing and publishing seriously on series of memoirs and biographies more than the Penerbit UKM. This blog thus perhaps could be the alternative, at least as a launching pad for the documentation of what I think and experience in life. Of course, it would apparently be more of a personal note rather than an analysis of contemporary thought and issues.

Thirdly, the frequency of my postings to this blog is totally mine. I could just write whenever I feel like writing, depending on the availability of my time, and I am sure whoever follow my blog could understand the nature of my workload and therefore would not put a high expectation on its frequency of posting.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


This blog is a result of a conversation with my Petronas-lawyer nephew (left) during Hari Raya visit to my sister's house in Ipoh on Thursday, October 26. He told me how advance and trendy the web-blogging is now and how more and more people are turning to web-blogging rather than the web-paging.

A search on blogging after coming back home that night entailed with the construction of this blog, after finding out how easy constructing a simple blog like this (sort of DIY style), though definitely not as sophisticated and as independent as those of professional bloggers. Most importantly, I could manage the blog on my own, as opposed to my webpage ( which has to be helped by one of my graduate student, a result of which it has not been updated for about three years; not because she is not helpful, but because of my pre-conceived perception of its difficulty to learn and thus not learning at all, as well as not to interfere with her busy schedules of research and thesis writing.

But several things are lingering in my mind now. Firstly, what should I write - academic stuff written as an academician or santai sort of stuff written as a santai sort of person? Secondly, will there be anybody interested in what I write for I am neither really good at English nor analytical enough to convey great great ideas? Thirdly, do I have much time to think and write as there are always lists of deadlines all along my daily routines?

I am pondering on these.......