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?