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.