Monday, February 27, 2012


R-L: Taariq, Afirah and Akif
Just a little personal note on my children.

Few days before I left for Vancouver the other day, my son Akif at International Islamic University Malaysia Kuantan campus, has a little motorcycle accident. He has to borrow the motorbyke from his friend and rode it to his residence as the University's bus will only come at 1630 while his lecture has finished at 1300. Alhamdulillah he only suffered minor injuries, but his friend who was together with him broke one of his shoulder bones and was warded for more than a week. Akif promised not to ride a motorbyke anymore, as his mum and myself always advice him so. In consequence, he got a green light from the University authority to have a car in the campus. The University's Security Chief was kind enough to find out that Akif deserves to have such a permission as his University's residence is outside the campus, at IM2. We will send his car in about two weeks time, InshaAllah, on my way to Terengganu.

When I was away in Vancouver, my younger son Taariq has another incident relating to the car. A motorbyke rode by a youngster ramped into the door of my wife's car driven by Taariq while parking at the Taman Tun Saadon market. The boy fall down, injuring his foot. In minutes, a gang of the boy's brother came, the brother himself with a stick. They argued for money and Taariq gave RM100 to settle it all and for once. Alhamdulillah, Taariq has learned something out of the incident, at least in the arts of settling a conflict and in reserving his martial arts skills by viewing such an incident as a not worthwhile fight.

When I was away in Vancouver too, my elder daughter Afirah at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia found the engine of her car overheating after coming home from her lecture, due to the lack of water in the radiator. She has to deal with it with her housemates, before an elder Indian came to teach her how to solve the problem. She has a wonderful lesson on the day, at least in getting to know a little bit about her car. Before this, like many other lady drivers, she knows how to use the car but does not exactly know how to maintain it. Moreover, she was too busy with her study and does not have enough time to look after the car. For that, I believe, Allah SWT took a little bit of her time to bestow her with a little knowledge about the car.

The three news reached me with a big takbir and Alhamdulillah. I was convinced that all the three children have been given direct lessons by Allah SWT accordingly - on their personal transportation - which would become one of the basic needs in their daily life, today and time to come. Allah SWT taught Afirah about the car itself, while for Akif and Taariq, Allah SWT taught them the arts of facing the challenges, physically and socially, pertaining to the culture of the Malaysian road usage. All these are indeed necessary for, and came at the right time to them as youngsters, to prepare for a more matured life, InshaAllah.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Though the Vancouver expedition is done, many other tasks, as usual, are in queue.

Inter alia, today 25th February is the deadline for my column article in the Milenia Muslim. Monday 27th would be my lecture for the graduate Islamic-based Development course for which its course outline should be ready by then. On Tuesday 27th too, there will be a presentation for a Research University Team (RUT) grant, in which I would be involved as an assessment panel.

Then on Tuesday 28th is the deadline for two articles, one for Islamic Project Management and the other one for Zakat in Southeast Asia projects. Monday 5th March is another deadline, this one a working paper for Islamic Marketing Project Workshop to be held in Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA), Kuala Terengganu on 13rd March.

Monday 7th March would be a DBP-ISDEV Book Writing Workshop in which at least 3 chapters of my book entitled Principles of Islamic-based Development: Lectures on Basic Islamic Concepts (in Malay, co-authored with Masakaree Ardae) to be published by the DBP has to be presented. Thursday the 8th would be graduate proposal presentations, to be presented by ISDEV PhD students Radieah Mohd Nor and Deicy. And beginning 9th till 18th March I will be away in Kuala Lumpur and in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, to fulfill my post as a Visiting Professor at UniSZa in Kuala Terengganu.

Seem to be quite a tight schedule, though these do not include my other administrative tasks. But belief me, Alhamdulillah, they are all joyful tasks indeed.

Thank you Allah for Your trust in still giving me the tasks to uplift Your religion.


Arriving Penang International Airport at about 1920 yesterday, February 24th.
Alhamdulillah, we have landed at Penang International Airport at about 1920 yesterday 24th February, and arrived home safely, as scheduled. Another chapter of our ISDEV's international expedition Alhamdulillah, has been completed.

In fact, such an international expedition is followed by another one today. Dr Zakaria Bahari, Dr Zahri Hamat, Dr Mohd Zaini Abu Bakar and Dr Ahmad Azrin Adnan have left for Jakarta this morning, to fulfill invitation by a number of universities in Jakarta and Malang, to deliver talks on potentials of graduate studies at their universities. They will be there for about a week, InshaAllah.

Recontemplating the recent experience at Vancouver, another observation could perhaps be shared here. At the conference, participants are free to talk about their religions and ask about others' religions, and some of them even presented an objective analysis of their own religious movements. For instance, apart from Ms. Diana Holland of the Share International who talked openly about her "World Teacher" named Maitreya, there were also Dr Guia Calicdan-Apostle who fondly explained about her Bahai religion, the young Buddhist monk Shuva Langker who presented about conflict management from his Buddhist perspective, and Dr Megan P. Brock, a nun from Sydney Australia who presented an objective analysis of her Catholic movement. Interestingly, to them, I could even asked personal questions, such as to the monk Shuva and nun Dr Megan, about their feelings towards marriage/man/woman and their love affairs, if there were any. They have answered me frankly, without any barriers.

In memory: My working table in my room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver, Canada
In memory: My resting chair in my room at the same hotel in Vancouver

Friday, February 24, 2012


Done a little work towards the end of the Vancouver-Hong Kong journey, after a long sleep

Alhamdulillah, we have landed at Hong Kong International Airport at 0720, after about 13+ hours journey on the air. The date turned fast on the air, from 23 February to 24 February. It is already 24 February today when we landed at Hong Kong, even though when we departed from Vancouver International Airport, it was 0210 of 23 February.

It was a tiring journey indeed, not because of the early morning schedule, but because of our tiring schedules and the cool and raining weather in Vancouver. We spent most our time on the plane sleeping.

We will be here at the Hong Kong International Airport for about 8 hours. We do not go out of the airport for a city sightseeing. We were told that the city is quite far and we are not familiar with the public transport. We are afraid that we do not have enough time to go around and could not come back to the airport on time.

Our flight to Penang will be at 1520 and will be landing at Penang Inernational Airport at 1900, InshaAllah.

Working at the resting lounge of the Hong Kong International Airport, while waiting for the 1520 flight to Penang

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Checking-in at Vancouver International Airport

We are at Vancouver International Airport now. It's 0125. We have checked-in and will fly in about one hour time (at 0210, February 23rd), InshaAllah. While waiting, here are some brief contemplations.

1. The conference organizer publishes 24 international journals. One of them is the International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society which relates to this conference. Unlike other normal journals, the articles for the Journal are chosen from the working papers at this conference, not from the call for papers. The papers are adequate for their quarterly issues. They do not accept articles from outside this conference.

2. Vancouver is a nice place. However, there are beggars and homeless sleeping on the pavements. According to the Indian taxi driver who ferried us to the airport just now, these beggars and homeless are drug addicts. They refuse to work.

3. There are also a lot of Chinese. All around the city, we could really feel their presence. There is even a Chinese town here in Vancouver, like in many other cities in the world. Some of these Chinese are already citizens of Canada, and some others, are students and workers. Like one of the presenters at the conference had explained, Canada is now a multicultural city, not a secular city anymore. They are a lot of other ethnics in the city beside the Chinese, such as Phillipinos, Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis, etc. So is I think in the US. Secularism has gone. They are talking about multiculturalism now, not secularism anymore.

At the airport
Dr Fadzila Azni and Dr Zahri working while waiting to fly

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Presentation in progress
Alhamdulillah, all three of us have presented our papers today. It went on smoothly, attracting interesting discourses. One participant from University of York/Ryerson, Dr Michael Thorn, requested my power point. He wanted to use it to teach his students. He was attracted to my categorization of the poor and the rich, which is based on both the tangible and intangible factors, such as the richness in material wealth and the richness in soul. A participant from India wanted to know how do I measure these richness, providing the opportunity to me to explain about faith (iman) and desires (nafs). I explained the levels of both. My paper basically was on the construction of a new form of poverty management resulting from the inclusion of spirituality. I introduce a wordlview I termed as Divinistic Worldview which shapes this new form of poverty management.

Below are some of the pictures on today's discourses, the last day of the conference.

Dr Fadzila Azni presenting her paper
Dr Zahri presenting his paper
Discussion with Bulgarian Dilyana Mincheva, who is based at Trend University, Peterborough, Canada
With Dilyana Mincheva (right) and her husband (left)

Our mission is completed, Alhamdulillah. We will be leaving for Hong Kong tonight, InshaAllah, on our way home. It will take more than 13 hours fly to Hong Kong, an eight hour transit at the Hong Kong International Airport, and another nearly 4 hour fly to Penang.

Oh Allah, please bring us home safely.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Reading at University of British Columbia's bookstore
The conference runs as usual, quietly, without any exciting happenings except the following observations.

1.  Time allocation for each presenter is allocated nicely. Long before the conference, presenters could ask how long he needs the time, but of course with a payment. The longer the time one needs to present his paper, the more costly the payment has to be.

2.  If the presenter is absent, his time will not be filled by others. The time allocation will be left empty. The next presenter in the Session could only present his paper when his allocated time comes. He could not replace the earlier absent presenter.

3.  The organizer seems to not worrying about the absence of the paper presenters, for they have paid the payment for their participation earlier. The organizer only allocates the time for presentation when the payment is made. It is up to the presenter to come or not after that.

4.  The organizer also does not entertain any request for the changing of the time allocation when it is already fixed and printed in the programme book. Prior to that, the paper presenters were communicated both individually and via the conference web, informing the suggested time for their presentation.

All the above arrangements I think are good. It could be followed by ISDEV in the organization of all its future conferences, beginning perhaps with the ISDEV's 6th IDMAC in August, 7th INGRAW in October and 7th IDMAC in December this year, InshaAllah.

The Jeffrey's book
On the way back to our hotel, I bought a book at the University of British Columbia’s bookstore at the Robson Square. The title of the book is The Price of Civilization – Economics and Ethics After the Fall by reknown economist Jeffrey D. Sachs. Jeffrey expressed his worries about his country, America, where economic crisis of recent years reflects a deep, threatening, and ongoing deterioration of the America’s national politics and culture of power. At the root of America’s economic crisis, says Jeffrey, lies a moral crisis: the decline of civic virtue among America’s political and economic elite.

The price of the book is C$29.95 (about RM90). Yes, it is rather costly as is the cost of living here in Canada. My dinner tonight on rice and fried talipia costs about C$15.00 (about RM45). So are the dinners for Dr Fadzila Azni and Dr Zahri on rice and prawn, which cost about C$12.00 (about RM36) each. I am glad that we would be leaving for Malaysia tomorrow night, the relatively much cheaper country to live, though the cost of living is ascending as is in the west. Is the increasing cost of living a pre-requisite of development that we have to sacrifice?

Holding the fried talipia
Rice with prawns

Monday, February 20, 2012


The Conference on Religion and Spirituality in Society begins this morning with a welcome address and opening prayer by Elder Tiyatalut Rivers, Squamish People of the First Nations of British Columbia, Canada, followed by a Plenary Session by Paul Bramadat from the University of Victoria, British Columbia.

The location is Robson Square of the University of British Columbia, a five-minute walk from our hotel. This seems to be the city campus of the University, beside the main campus we visited on the second day of our stay at Vancouver.

Some of the interesting observations at this Conference are as follows:

1. After the opening session and coffee break, before concurrent sessions, there was Talking Circles where participants are freely gathered separately in rooms according to their specialisations. The aim was to get to know each other and discuss common topics to be later on continued on another Talking Circles on the last day of the Conference. This allowed the participants not only to get to know what one is working on, but also to establish networking, etc. To widen the networking, there was also a Welcome Reception held at the end of the first day where all participants got together and know more people. This is a new experience for us. Our ISDEV conferences usually held with tight programmes, with almost no time to get to know each other except during coffee break and lunches. We could probably change this accordingly, InshaAllah.

2. All sessions were relaxed with no formal ceremonial gestures. However, unlike many other conferences, at national and international levels, lap tops for presentation are not provided by the organiser. The paper presenter has to bring and use their own laptops. Some time was taken to prepare for this at each time a presenter is going to present his/her paper. This ISDEV must not imitate this.

3. A few of the paper presenters were the graduate students of the University of British Columbia themselves. They have just read their papers, no power point, and seemed to be very nervous. ISDEV graduate students, I observed, are much more confident of their presentations at conferences than these students at this conference.

4. The organisers were not really friendly. They did not show their interest in getting to know the participants, although some of us from abroad, came with various kinds of attires and appearances. We have to have our own initiatives in knowing them, and in fact, also in knowing some of the participants. This is quite different from the friendly atmosphere we have at our hotel.

5. There was a stall at the Conference by the name of Share International, whose members believe in the coming back of world great `teachers', led by Matreya (or by  the name of Imamul- Mahdi to Muslims). The `teachers' aim is to help saving this chaotic world. The founder, based in London, is Benjamin Creme. He is believed amongst his followers of having the ability to have continuous spiritual relationship with Matreya. They believed that there are already 14 `great teachers' reappearing now. Some of the members are believed to have met some of them face to face, either in the form of beggars, flute players, etc.

A friendly atmosphere from Phillipino waiter at our hotel
The welcome and opening session of the conference
With Shuva Langker (left), a young Bangladeshi Buddhist monk from a Sri Lankan monastry
With Dr Ali Hussain Algahtani, an Assistant Professor of Political Sciences from King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
With Professor Dr Mohammad Yusuf Siddiq, the Higher Education Commision Professor of the Department of Islamic Studies, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan
The Talking Circles
Talking to Ms. Diana Holland of the Share International
In front of the Robson Square, University of British Columbia at Howe Street, Vancouver
Vancouver Art Gallery, beside the Robson Square
Ms. Diana Holland explaining about her Share International
The University's Bookstore at the Robson Square
Dr Fadzila Azni Ahmad with Assistant Professor of Social Work Dr Guia Calicdan-Apostle from The Richard Stockon College, New Jersey, USA

Sunday, February 19, 2012


The conference has not yet started today. We spent the morning of the day by revising our paper and preparing for our power point. In the afternoon, we were at the University of British Columbia's main campus, about 20 minutes drive from our hotel. The aim was to have a literature search at its bookstore. Unfortunately, it was closed for today is Sunday. The taxi driver, an Indian, was kind enough to drive us around the campus and sent us back to the hotel. The dinner was at the similar restaurant, the al-Hardmain Restaurant on Graniville Street.
Breakfast at our hotel

University of British Columbia
The taxi which took us to the University of British Columbia from the Four Seasons Hotel

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Arriving Vancouver International Airport
Alhamdulillah, we have landed at Vancouver International Airport safely at about 11.20 am on Saturday, 18th February, the same day we departed from Penang, although we have gone through a night on the air and done the maghrib, isyak and fajr prayers on the plane. Malaysia time is a day ahead of Canada. Masha Allah!

By the grace of Allah SWT, our Four Seasons Hotel is a walking distance to a madrasah and an Arab halal food. And by the grace of Allah SWT too, we came to know about both the madrasah and the restaurant when coincidently meeting a local Muslim brother by the name of Toriq on one of the streets while we were looking for halal foods. We were attracted to each other because of our Muslim image. He was in jubah, kopiah and black long beard, while I am, as usual, with white beard and kopiah. Salam exchanged between us and within seconds, we were close friends, Alhamdulillah.

Dinner for us on the first night at Vancouver was kabsha chicken rice and shish kebab at the al-Hardmain Restaurant on the Granville Street.

The Cathay Pacific plane that flied us to Vancouver from Hong Kong

Views from our 23rd floor of the Four Seasons Hotel
With Brother Toriq in front of the Al Hardmain Restaurant
Shish Kebab
Chicken Kabsha
The menu at the Restaurant
Our dinner on the first night at Vancouver
The madrasah near our hotel
Vancouver by night


L-R: Dr Fadzila Azni Ahmad, myself, and Dr Zahri Hamat at Penang International Airport
I am, together with Dr Zahri Hamat and Dr Fadzila Azni Ahmad of ISDEV, are at Hong Kong International Airport at the moment. We are on our way to Vancouver, Canada, to participate in Spirituality and Religion in Society Conference at British Columbia University.

I will be presenting a paper at the Conference entitled "Spirituality and the New Form of Poverty Management", while Dr Zahri Hamat's paper entitled "The Zakat Funds and Non-Muslims in Malaysia", and Dr Fadzila Azni Ahmad entitled "The Mis-emphasis of Total Quality Management in the Management of Islamic Development Institutions".

We arrived here at the Hong Kong International Airport at 11.25 this morning and will be flying to Vancouver at 4.25 pm soon. We are expected to reach Vancouver at 11.30 in the morning of the February 18th, the same day as today, although we take about 12 hours to fly to Vancouver. Wondering why? An astronomist (ahl-falak) could probably tell us the reasons. We are now also wondering when and where will be our maghhrib, isya' and fajr on the air, as our arrival in Vancouver will already be in the morning, but on the same day.

Calling home from Hong Kong International Airport
At the Hong Kong International Airport

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


In my presentation at UUM Press Workshop yesterday, I emphasized on at least three main objectives of academic writings. They are as follows:

1. The presentation of new knowledge.

It relates to the writings that go beyond the stereotype, presented in a form of reverse psychology, out of the box, and sometimes go against the mainstream. This is what some mean as innovative writing, the writing that does not modify existing idea, but instead presents a new idea to bridge existing research and literature gaps.

2. The self-identification of one's specialization.

It relates to the writings that helps the author to identify himself with the area of his specialization, integrating himself with his specialization that leads people to know him within the specialization and the specialization within him.
3. The development of a school of thought

It relates to the writings that lead to the development of a school of thought, usually led by an academic with a high quality of academic leadership.
On the values of academic writings, I stressed on two characteristics, namely:

1. Free-Riderism Free, that is the writings that are free of any riders who just include their names as authors although they are not involved in the writing of the writings.

2. Social Impact, that is the writings that are able to create positive consequences amongst the society, whether in the form of socio-economic and political mobility, or societal transformation of lifestyle and way of life.

I know that I had `de-empashized' the promotional role of the academic writings, viz. writing academic piece for promotion to higher posts et cetera, as well as the `commercial role' of academic writing gained by conference organizers and the so-called journal publishers, viz. accepting academic pieces for presentation and publication respectively, mainly for money!

It is my contention that these business-oriented group of people, irrespective of whether they are academics or non-academics, are part of the dynamic destructive force in the maintenance of academic writings quality, hence inevitably unfortunate, my disrespectful of them, and unworthy of emphasizing the objectives of academic writings dealt by them.


Yesterday, Monday 13 February 2012, I was at EDC, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) in Sintok, Kedah. The aim was to fulfill an invitation by UUM Press to talk on Academic Writings: Objectives, Types and the Value of Contributions at their Academic Writing & Book Review Workshop. The participants were lecturers of UUM - quite a substantial number of them, Alhamdulillah.

I was honoured to have been accompanied from Penang by three ISDEV ASTS (Academic Staff Training Scheme) Fellows, viz. Ustaz Mohd Shukri Hanapi, Ustaz Shahir Akram and Ustaz Syakir. A lot of discussions were done along the return journey from Penang to Sintok, from thesis supervision to reviewing Tuesdays Islamic classes, et cetera. It was ended by an afternoon snack on our way back at Char Koay Teow - Telur Ayam Dibasuh Restaurant in Sungei Dua, Penang.

The talk in progress
Parts of the partcipants
Accepting gift from UUM Press
Lunch time. Second right is Prof Dato' Kadir Lebai Din, my long-time friend.
The restaurant