Friday, April 29, 2011


The last books I bought before leaving for Penang
 Before leaving PWTC for Penang yesterday, I have a chance to have a farewell round-up by going around quickly the KL International Book Fair (KLIBF). With former editor of UKM Publisher Roosfa Hashim who I coincidently met there, I managed to a have a brief visit to the booths of Universiti Malaya Publisher, Gerakbudaya and Dar al Wahi. I bought a few more books for my collection on alternative views (read opposition?), adding to more than RM1,000 that I have spent on the books here.

Contemplating the four-day experience at the KLIBF which happened to be my first, the following observations are worth noted:

1. It was more than a literature search in a library because you are not only searching for books, but also have a chance to meet and discuss with publishers and distributors of the books, or even with the writers, directly, hence enhancing your networking with a part of community that importantly relates very much to your academic world.

2. The KLIBF also becomes a heaven for book searchers, especially those appointed by their respective universities and colleges to find books for their libraries. I have met with some of them who was guided by their book dealers to do so.

3. The books that relatively seem to be liked much by visitors are those of the four categories that I mentioned earlier, viz. novels, motivational books, cartoons, and popular Islamic-based books. In addition, many visitors also were seen to have been crowded at entertainment magazines.

4. Almost 95% of the visitors are still mainly Malays. This I could not understand because books sold and exhibitors there were not only Malays, but also non-Malays. But why non-Malays are relatively not really attracted to this KLIBF?

5. I was fortunate to have been able to stay at Sri Pacific Hotel just beside the PWTC. Location wise, it is the nearest hotel and most practical, though the room and food are not as good as the cheaper-little-bit-distant Quality Hotel that I stayed earlier during our books editing work. At the Sri Pacific, I could have my own sweet time to enjoy the KLIBF by going down there whenever I like and came up to go through the books that I have bought comfortably in the hotel's room. Alhamdulillah, and thanks USM.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


With the genius Adi Putra
The third floor of the PWTC which I visited today has a more serious atmosphere, but interesting. Books sold here are academic books dealt by established publishers such as Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Peguins, Wileys, Pearson, Taylor & Francis, Mc Graw Hill, etc. Searching books also much easier as many booths systemically put up their tags according to disciplines. The visitors too, from their appearance and face I think, consisting of relatively more serious visitors, most probably university students and lecturers.

I have bought books for two special collections.

The first was for my collection on the critiques of economics for the purpose of my study on the deficiencies of Islamic economics. They are the New York Times bestseller False Economy by Alan Beattie, Economyths by David Orrell, and The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford. These will add to my existing collection of the Confession of Economic Hit Man by Perkins. In addition, I also bought the award winning Learning From Heart by Daniel Gottlieb, to compare with the heart-to-heart teaching-learning pedagogy I have introduced and practised at ISDEV. All these books were bought at Penguins booth. I was fortunate to have a 40% discount from the Penguins Sales Executive Raj Kumar, instead of the normally 30%.

The second was for my collection on the grassroots or bottom-up approach to Islamic development. I came across a booth of Malaysia Turkish Dialogue Society (MTDS) which sells books on Turkey's Gulen Movement, many of which are authored by its pro-sufi leader M. Fethullah Gulen himself. I was told by Fateh, the booth's Sales Executive that M. Fethullah Gulen emulates the well-known Turkey's Islamic scholar and activist Bediuzzaman Said Nursi and attempts to interpret Islam into action suiting the modern world, especially through education. M. Fethullah Gulen, now at the age of 70's and residing in USA, do not marry as to him amal ma'aruf nahi mungkar is compulsory while marriage which he regards as not obligatory could probably lessen his struggle for amal ma'aruf nahi mungkar. Another sunnah that he does not practice is the keeping of beard as Turkey was apprehensive of such an appearance. After quite a detailed discussion with Fateh, I bought 5 books: Muhammad The Messenger of God - An Analysis of the Prophet's Life and The Statue of Our Souls - Revival in Islamic Thought and Activism both by M. Fetahullah Gulen, The Gulen Movement by Muhammad Cetin, Essays-Perspectives-Opinions M. Fetahullah Gulen compiled by Tughra Books, and Islamic Perspective on Science - Knowledge and Responsibility by Ali Unal. These books add to my collection on PAS of Malaysia, and Parti Keadilan Sejahtera, Persyarikatan Muhammadiyah and A.A.Gym's Daarut Tauhid of Indonesia.

The books I bought
Another interesting encounter on the third floor was my meeting with the genius Adi Putra. He, at the age of 12, has published a book on Seni Matematik Islam and a video. Requested by his father, Adi Putra demonstrated his brilliance by solving some mathematical questions. After observing it, I strongly believe that Adi Putra is not merely blessed by Allah SWT with the mental strength, but also, more important, is with spiritual strength. I am quite sure that the mathematical problems that he solved and the mathematical formula that he formulated are beyond the ability of an `aql. Interestingly, on the second last page of the book, he writes: "Adi halalkan!!! ilmu Adi dalam buku ini. Ilmu ini boleh dipelajari oleh pelbagai bangsa walaupun ianya berkonsepkan "Seni Matematik Islam" kerana Islam itu adalah agama damai". It strengthens my belief that Adi Putra is not merely a genius mathematician, but has a vision to strugggle with. His video too proves this. He is not only talking about mathematics, but also about everything, from social issues, to politics to religion to et cetera. I am thinking aloud alone how nice if ISDEV could bring him to USM for ISDEV Lecture Series. I am sure USM Vice-Chancellor too likes to meet and be with such a genius.

With Adi Putra's father
Going around the KL International Book Fair for me is not only searching for books. Instead, I also look for and discussed with publishers and distributors of the books. I look and discussed with potential publishers to explore the possibility of publishing with them books by ISDEV members. I look and discussed with potential book distributors to explore the possibility of them becoming the distributors of ISDEV published books. Among the publishers and distributors that I talked to were PTS Group General Publishing Manager Fauzul Na`im Ishak and PTS Editor Ikram Wazir, Gerakbudaya Assistant Manager Azizan Hamsin, Cengage Learning Senior Sales Executive Quah Chee Hong, Bookline Services Customer Service Executive Mohd Nizam bin Md Zain, Dar Al Wahi Publication (subsidiary of A.S.Nordeen) Manager Muhammad Thariq, and IBS Buku Manager Mohamed Mustafa. I think I already have in mind the right choice of these publishers and distributors, InshaAllah. What I need now is the book manuscripts by ISDEV members. So start writing!

With IBS Buku Manager Mohamed Mustafa, the most convincing and brotherly publisher and distributor

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Talking to two youngsters at Karangkraf cashier's counter who told me that they like to read love novels that are full of `feelings'
Today I moved up to the second floor of the PWTC to continue searching for relevant literatures. As expected, books on this floor are more serious books, much more in line with my intellectual taste as compared to those on the ground floor yesterday. I spent quite sometime at Gerakbudaya Enterprise's booth which sells critical books such as from Strategic Information and Research Development Centre (SIRD), Zed Press and Monthly Review at reasonable prices. For instance, a book by Linda Tuhiwai Smith entitled Decolonizing Methodologies - Research and Indigenous Peoples which I have came across at Blackwell's in Oxford last year but did not purchase it because it was too costly, is sold at RM10! So is The Post-Development Reader edited by Rahnema and Bawtree and the hard-covered Punishment in Islamic Law - An Enquiry into the Hudud Bill of Kelantan by Mohamad Hashim Kamali, both sold at RM20.

Another booth which I like most is the Dar Al Wahi Publication's booth, the subsidiary of A.S. Nordeen. Most of the books here are in English, but reprinted from foreign published versions for Malaysian market. I bought, among others, Islam and Modernism by Charles C. Adams, Principles of Evidence in Islam by Anwarullah, Non-Muslims Under Shari'ah by Abdur Rahman I. Doi, and Islamic Political System in the Modern Age by M. Ahmed.

However, I came to know today that such a taste of mine is not relatively shared my many. Apart from the popular Islamic-based books and novels, two other categories that are liked most by substantial number of visitors to the Fair are motivational books and cartoons. So a tv news told us shortly before I went to the PWTC.
The books I bought today
The books 'Akif bought, including another two books by Hilal Asyraf entitled Langit Ilahi and Kembara Hamba Mencari Cahaya, as well as two books for his elder sister A`firah entitled Shopaholic Abroad by Sophie Kinsella and The Gift by Cecelia Ahern


The books I bought at the KL International Book Fair yesterday
Yesterday, after completing the task at UKM, I proceeded to PWTC for a literature search at the on-going KL International Book Fair (KLIBF). The fair is held there on three floors of the building, but I only managed to go around just on the ground floor. Really a lot of books to research on. I will continue to the second and third floor today, InshaAllah.

Using a participant observation method during my visit to the Fair yesterday, I came up with the following premilinary conclusion on the ground floor:

1. Most of the visitors are Malays, despite there are also Chinese-based booths.

2. Most of the booths, hence the books on the ground floor are Islamic-based.

3. Most of the Islamic-based books are popular-oriented rather than serious-oriented. Such an orientation, as I was told by General Publishing Manager of PTS Publications & Distributors Fauzul Na'im Ishak and PTS Editor Ikram Wazir who I met at their booth, are more welcome and readable by readers. Apart from the PTS itself, it was proven by the flourishing business of Galeri Ilmu Sdn Bhd and Telaga Biru Sdn Bhd, both owned by my old friends Cikgu Abu Hassan Morad and Tuan Haji Waharp Yusoff respectively. I was so grateful to see how big and attractive their booths are, as compared to other booths beside them. But as asked by a participant at a forum held at the main stage of the Fair which I have a chance to hear yesterday, what would happen to the future generation if Malaysians are more keen to read popular books rather than serious books? The answer expressed by the panels were interesting. The most important thing, one of them was saying, let them read and nurture their reading habit first, irrespective of the materials read, either popular or otherwise. Another panel supported by saying that no statistics and serious study has been done as yet to prove the pattern of the reading. The popularity of the popular printed books does not really reflect the pattern, he said, as readers are accessible to numerous ways of reading at the moment, such as a more serious e-books and other gadgets in the cyber world.

4. Another form of books that attract many readers are novels. My son `Akif who is together with me at the Fair bought two novels entitled Takdir and Hero by Hilal Asyraf (a student of Yarmouk University in Jordan), one of Akif's favourite novelists. He then brought me to the booth of Ain Maisarah, a popular novelist among youngsters, to buy Ain Maisarah's latest novel entitled Cinderallah vs Rapunzellah for his youngest sister Ummu, one of Ain Maisarah's fans. Initially Ain Maisarah published her novels with other publishers, including PTS. But now, she establishes her own company called Blink Book Sdn Bhd to publish her own novels, with PTSs as her distributors

5. I confirm that I am not as strong as before. Last night I have aches all over my body, for standing and walking for quite long at the Fair, which I seldom do before this due to time constraints. However, I am going to the Fair again shortly, for I love and enjoy books so much. Moreover my literature search has to be completed before going back to Penang on Thursday. At least my visit to the Fair yesterday has stimulated me to rethink the approach of my future writings - serious materials but expressed in popular mode. That I believe, could be able to disseminate as much knowledge and reaching as many readers as possible, InshaAllah. But how about the KPI needed by all of our universities? The writings have to be academic and refereed while most of the popular books are not really, except if the author requests so. It is alright for a lecturer like me, who is retiring soon [and probably become a novelist?), but how about the young lecturers who have to fill up their CVs with the strong KPI for promotion? Pandai-pandailah, and if one needs an advice, do not hesitate to come to ISDEV.
With Abu Hanafiah, my old friend working as DTP Artist at the Galeri Ilmu
Telaga Biru booth on the ground floor
Ain Maisarah telling me about her way and schedules in novel writings


L-R sitting: Prof Abu Hassan (internal examiner), Zulkifli (PhD candidate), myself (external examiner), Prof Mansor (Chairman of the Board of Examiners). L-R standing: Dr Sanep (supervisor), Prof Nor Ghani (Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Management) and Prof Abdul Hamid (Chairman of Postgraduate Studies)
For the third consecutive Monday, I was at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) again yesterday. I attended a viva-voce of Zulkifli Daud of the School of Economics, as an external examiner of his PhD thesis entitled Compliant Behaviour of Zakat Payment via Formal Institution in Aceh, Indonesia. The Board of Examiners has passed him but with a number of corrections.

As the two previous Mondays, the flight from Penang was at 7.10 am. My PhD student cum the Fellow of ISDEV Academic Staff Training Scheme, Shahir Akram ferried me to the Penang International Airport early in the morning, shortly after our congregational fajr prayer at my residence. For the two earlier trips, ISDEV Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr Masakaree Ardae from Thailand was the one who rushed me to the Penang airport.

How nice to have ISDEV fraternity who are always ready to help each other. It is definitely different from the time in the 1980's when I was about to introduce the field called Islamic development and establish committed group to work on it. Undeniably I have `friends' then, but I dare not ask them to help me in any sense, even to give a ride to the airport or to send to or pick up from a workshop for car services. I did not know exactly why, but I could recall how our relationship was more of an `intellectual relationship' rather than `personal relationship'. If there was any meeting point, it was just a meeting of mind, not a meeting of heart.

This, Alhamdulillah, have changed. I am surrounded by committed members of ISDEV who are not only developing and integrating their intellect together, but also integrating their hearts to work for Islam. This is one of the outcomes of heart-to-heart approach that ISDEV is adopting, I think. Thanks God.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


A quite surprise news to some. From now on, ISDEV is nothing to do with the organisation of the Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin Best Thesis Award anymore.

One may perhaps wonder why ISDEV pulled out its involvement in the organisation of the Award. One may recalled that the Award was the brainchild of ISDEV. ISDEV members have been working so hard to establish and organise it, from the outset in 2007, under the name of ISDEV Best Thesis Award, even with a far lesser value of rewards. After the ISDEV Award attracted Yayasan Nurul Yaqeen in general and the Deputy Prime Minister YAB Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin in particular to become co-organiser and supported it with an attractive amount of prizes (RM10,000 and RM15,000 for Master and PhD best thesis winners respectively) under the new name - Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin Best Thesis Award - in 2009, ISDEV fraternity worked harder and put all their efforts to ensure its success.

Then why, out of a sudden, ISDEV easily gave it up?

As I have told Yayasan Nurul Yaqeen's representatives - Yayasan's Board Members Tan Sri Abu Zahar Nika Ujang and Dato' Dr Ismail Ibrahim, as well as Yayasan's Director Nor Zanah Jamari - in a meeeting held at the office of the President of Senate Malaysia Tan Sri Abu Zahar Nika Ujang on Tuesday 12 April 2011, the Award was introduced mainly to honour Islam and to prove to the world that graduates undertaking researches on Islam are brilliant and having a high ability to produce high quality theses. This has been proven, Alhamdulillah, throughout the years eversince the Award was introduced.

If these two objectives were to be accomplished in a more efficient manner as is hoped by Yayasan Nurul Yaqeen in general and the Deputy Prime Minister himself in particular as was expressed by the representatives of the Yayasan during the 12 April meeting, by all means ISDEV is willing to pass the baton to Yayasan Nurul Yaqeen, for ISDEV is well aware of ISDEV's own limitation. Definitely this is not an easy sacrifice, but ISDEV firmly believe that Islam is not solely belong to ISDEV alone and ISDEV is not the only party responsible to uphold Islam. Islam belongs to all and all are responsible to uphold Islam. If one other than ISDEV and without ISDEV one could uphold Islam more effectively than ISDEV, then ISDEV would be so happy to let them going ahead with their endeavours.

Moreover, for the past two years when the Award was co-organised by ISDEV and the Yayasan Nurul Yaqeen, ISDEV graduates have won the Award, firstly during the first year for the PhD Award and secondly during the second year for the Master Award. Being a co-organiser and allowing its graduates to participate in the Award, would definitely raise the issues of objectivity and conflict of interest. However just and professional the assessment process was as was done strictly during the two previous years, avoidance of allegations is not easy. But ISDEV itself could not afford to prohibit its graduates from participating in the nomination of the Award, for ISDEV knows very well that many of them are excellent and have produced outstanding high quality theses. It is definitely a waste if they are not involved in the Award.

It is for the reason of avoiding the questions of objectivity and conflict of interest, as well as of opening the chance as much as possible to ISDEV graduates to compete for the Award, that ISDEV is willingly pulling out itself as the co-organiser of the Award.

Is is undeniably sad to release the organisation of the Award, but for the sake of Islam and graduates that are undertaking researches on Islam, ISDEV fraternity has to face the sadness with the hope that Allah SWT would provide ISDEV with other ideas that could allow ISDEV to uphold Islam further, God willing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Officers of Lembaga Zakat Selangor and research team members
Yesterday I was at UKM again. This time was at the Chancellor Foundation, to fulfill an invitation by the Foundation, on behalf of the Selangor Zakat Board (Lembaga Zakat Selangor, LZS). The aim was to discuss on a research project on the reassessment of the LZS' zakat distribution guidelines. The research was proposed by the LZS itself, in an attempt to improve the distribution of zakat in the state of Selangor.

The meeting was concluded with an establishment of a research team, consisting of academicians from three universities. They were Associate Professor Syed Ghazali Syed Wafa (head), Associate Professor Dato' Hailani Muji Tahir and Dr Sanep from UKM, myself from USM and Dr Hassan Baharom and Dr Abdul Halim from UiTM.
The research will undertake a content and textual analysis approach, apart from focussed group discussion and participant observation. It will begin by studying relevant existing documents available at LZS and elsewhere, followed by going down to the ground to see the realities. The expected end result would be in the form of suggestions to the LZS in line with the terms of reference agreed in the meeting.

I was ferried to KLIA by LZS driver not long after the meeting. Yes, it was a day return. I flied to KL by 7.10 am flight and returned home by 4.00pm flight. What a small world.
With Associate Prof Dato' Hailani Muji Tahir of UKM, one of the research members

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Last week, three main tasks were aacomplished, Alhamdulillah.

They were firstly the restructuring of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin Best Thesis Award held at a meeting at the office of the President of the Malaysian Senate Tan Sri Abu Zahar Nika Ujang; secondly a talk on the Reassessment of Islamic Economics at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) organised by its School of Economics; and thirdly, the preparation of research proposals for Research University Team Grants.

L-R: Myself, President of Senate Malaysia Tan Sri Abu Zahar Nika Ujang, UKM Syeikh Abdullah Fahim Chair Dato' Dr Ismail Ibrahim and Yayasan Nurul Yaqeen's Director Nor Zanah Jamari
On the first task, decided on Tuesday 12  April 2011 at the meeting, the Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin Best Thesis Award is now fully handled by Yayasan Nurul Yaqeen. ISDEV is not involved anymore in order to give way to the prevalence of objectivity and avoidance of conflict of interest. As students of ISDEV participated in the nomination of the Award and won it every year ever since the Award was introduced, I have requested to pull ISDEV out of the management of the Award. In so doing, ISDEV students could be independent contestants in the same manner as other contestants. The Central Committee members of the Award were also agreed to be appointed among prominent Professors of five established universities, viz. Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Malaya, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and International Islamic University Malaysia. The name of the Award too would be likely changed to National Best Thesis Award, pending on the approval of related authority.

On the second task, I have expressed concerns on the seven deficiencies of the present mainstream Islamic economics. They are the untransformed structure of the Islamic economics, an absence of the redefinition of operating concepts, the remaining of conventional economic assumptions, inaccurate ultimate aim, pseudo-Islamic operational mechanisms, erroneous research methodology, and knowledge-practice dichotomy of the Islamic economists. Held at a lecture theatre of the School of Economics, the solicited talk was attended by lecturers and graduate students of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia with a lot of interesting Q&As that inspired me to write an abstract for an International Islamic Economics and Finance Conference to be held in Doha, Qatar in December this year, and hopefully would eventually lead to a writing of a book, InshaAllah.

On the final task, two research proposals of mine have been completed; firstly on Research Methodology in Malaysian Universities, and secondly on The Strategies of Islamic-Based Development in the Reality of Contemporary Politics. These proposals are two of eight proposals that ISDEV are submitting to USM Social Transformation Platform for Research University Team Grants. The other six are on the Moulding of Islamic Development Index, Human Factors in the Development of Ethics and Inspection System in Islamic Development Institutions, Zakat Accounting of Commercialised Agricultural, Shari`ah Principles of Contract in Construction Industries, Corporate Social Responsibility of Islamic Banks, and the Application Waqf Istibdal. The eight proposals are divided into two research teams, firstly Islamic Development Management Team which I will lead, and secondly the Management of Islamic Assets Development which will be led by Dr Zakaria Bahari.