Thursday, January 31, 2013


I am at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) now, waiting to board 1355 flight back to Penang. I was at Prince Hotel Kuala Lumpur since 29th January, fulfilling an invitation to be a panelist of the Plenary Session themed Islamic Economics and Islamic Finance - Challenges and Further Research at the 2nd International Conference on Islamic Economics and the Economies of the OIC Countries, organised by Economic Department of the Kuliyyah of Economics and Management Science of the International Islamic University Malaysia, in collaboration with Malaysian Ministry of Finance, and the Islamic Training and Research Institute (IRTI) of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Jeddah, Saudi Arab.

As usual, the conference has not only becoming the meeting point of the mind, but also the physical meeting point - meeting with old friends and making new friends.

Great Islamic economic scholars were there. Among them were Prof Savas Alpay (Turkey), Prof Masudul Alam Choudhury (Oman), Prof M. Kabir Hassan (USA), Prof Monzer Kahf (Qatar), Dr Salman Syed Ali (Saudi Arabia), Prof Mehmet Asutay (UK), Prof Habib Ahmed (UK), Dr Abdullah Qurban Turkistani (Saudi Arabia), Prof Asad Zaman (Pakistan), Dr Ali A. Soliman (Egypt), Dr Abul Hassan (UK), Dr Irfan Syauqi Beik (Indonesia), Prof Sayyid Tahir (Malaysia), Dr Mustafa Omar Mohammed (Malaysia), Prof Mohammad Aslam Haneef (Malaysia), Prof Ataul-Haq Pramanik (Malaysia), Prof Abdul Ghafar Ismail (UKM, Malaysia), and Br. Wijdan Tariq (Qatar)

I was really amazed with their knowledge and the ability in presenting the knowledge in a highly presentable manner. One of the strength in them, I observed, is the mastering of the English language. Even though the point presented may be a simple one, but because of their excellent English, the point looks very sophisticated and convincing indeed. I wish I could be like them. So I hope all ISDEV fraternity, InshaAllah.

Another entertaining moment in a conference such as this is when you come to know the scholars that you have come across their names or works before this, and get to know each other for future communication and possible collaboration; or when people you do not know before this come to you, ensuring your name, introducing themselves, telling that they used to hear your name and/or read your publications or blog prior to this, and then establishing networking and/or seeking opinion on issues related to their works. So is when people come to you after your presentation, asking for more opinion, or commenting on the presentation, or at least asking for the paper or power point you have presented as a reflection of their interest in what you have said in the presentation.

But in such a situation, one hard thing to do but really have to force yourself to do it, is the mujahadah so as to protect you from being trapped into the feeling of ujubriyak and egoistic, and passing the praises from them  with thanks to the All Mighty Allah SWT, the deserving Real Owner of whatever accomplishment that one has attained. May Allah SWT ease us in our mujahadah, InshaAllah.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Just came back from ISDEV lecture series on Islam for a 27 persons delegation from Agder University and Bergen University College, Norway. This is  an annual event of the ISDEV and the Norway universities for the last six years.

In the Q&A session of this lecture series, the lecturer from Norway raised his disagreement with the prohibition of the use of the term Allah by non-Muslims in Malaysia. His disagreement is based on three reasons. Firstly, the term Allah has been used by the Christians in Egypt for a long time, even before the time of Rasulullah SAW. Secondly, Rasulullah SAW himself did not prohibit the usage of the term Allah, hence it is against the sunnah of Rasulullah SAW if the Malaysian Muslims prohibit it. Thirdly, the non-Muslims in East Malaysia have been using the term Allah without any problem.

I assisted Shereeza, the ISDEV speaker, to answer the disagreement of the Norway lecturer based on also three arguments. Firstly, the non-Muslims in Egypt have been using the term Allah in term of merely linguistic , not in term of the conceptual meaning of God that is based on religious epistemological and philosophical underpinnings. Secondly, in understanding the sunnah of Rasulullah SAW, one has to equip himself with tools of knowledge, especially usul-fiqh, that enables him to understand what is obligatory (wajib), prohibited (haram), encouraged  (sunat), discouraged (makruh), and optional (harus) in relations to the deeds of Rasulullah SAW. No direct prohibition does not necessarily mean it is allowable; it could also mean optional. Thirdly, one has to also master the knowledge of maslahah, to use the rules of Islam at the right place and time for the maximum benefit of the ummah. The prohibition of the use of the term Allah in Malaysia should be seen from the perspective of the maslahah, for the sake of the unity of the Malaysian multi-religious society.

Earlier before the lecture, I have alerted Shereeza that the issue of the use of the term Allah by non-Muslims should be viewed from two levels. The first is from the level of Islamic dogmas, and the second is from the level of the prevailing socio-economic and politics in Malaysia. Since all Malaysians are supposed to respect each other's belief and dogmas, the non-Muslims therefore should leave the Muslims alone with their dogmas, as the Muslims never disturbed the dogmas of other religions. The sensitivity of all religions should also be taken into account, especially within the present Malaysian socio-economic and political atmosphere that witnesses the increase of social and political liquidity, entailing with an increase of the socio-economic and political demands by the non-Muslims, some of which have been felt by Muslims as being going overboard. This has to be carefully handled by the authority so as to avoid any disastrous events to happen in this relatively peaceful country. Definitely it has to have a strong government to do this, not a too comprising government that interested merely in political votes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Yesterday, I introduced a new activity at ISDEV. It is called Management Tarbiyyah (Tarbiyyah Pengurusan), meant for our academic staff, that is both ISDEV lecturers and Academic Staff Training Scheme Fellows. The objective is to share my experience in teaching, networking, administration, research, and all that are beneficial for further development of ISDEV. The activity would be a monthly activity, InsyaAllah.

The activity is introduced for three reasons. Firstly, my retirement is approaching in about one and a half year time, hence secondly, the urgent necessity to share whatever experience that I have with ISDEV echelons for their guidance in continuing ISDEV works. Thirdly, the ISDEV academic staffs have to be prepared for the upgrading of ISDEV from the present status as virtual centre to the Centre of Excellence as is proposed by the Vice-Chancellor.

In the first Management Tarbiyyah yesterday, I emphasised on the need to protect ourselves from being ignorant. Being in academic world, this is necessary for everyone of us. It could be done by studying, researching, writing, et. cetera. But that is not enough. We need to ask Allah SWT for protection from being ignorant as was done by Prophet Moses AS (Al-Baqarah 2:67), and request for additional knowledge to understand knowledge as was advised by Allah SWT Himself to Rasullullah SAW (Thahaa 20:114).

The Tarbiyyah ended by memorising the doa of both the Prophet Moses AS and Rasulullah SAW, to become our routine, InsyaAllah.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


After a day at home since safely back from Jakarta on Thursday 17/1, I am now away again, this time at Marriot Hotel in Putrajaya. The occasion, from 19-20/1,  is the Meeting of Professors' Seminar organised by the Council of the Universiti Islam Malaysia in collaboration with Majlis Profesor Negara. I am here to represent Universiti Sains Malaysia, nominated by the Office of the Vice-Chancellor.

Occasion such as this is entertaining indeed. I meet a lot of old friends and make many new friends from other universities - updating and exchanging news and ideas. I too learn new things from learned speakers, such as from the Distinguished Professor Dato' Shamsul Amri Baharuddin of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Professor Datuk Paduka Muhammad Abu Bakar of Universiti Malaya.

At this Seminar I learnt many new terms such as plural, mixed and differentiated society, and intended society (masyarakat idaman aka masyarakat yang diidamkan) from the former, as well as pro-establishment professors versus pro-professor establishment (referring indirectly to the position that needs to be taken by Majlis Profesor Negara), people's general election (pilihanraya rakyat), and 'king-ised' people (rakyat dirajakan) from the later.

Both speakers were trying to figure out the kind of Malaysian socio-economic political phenomenon in 2020, based on previous and current experiences, in line with the theme of the seminar. The issues they raised might have been known, but the way they presented their analysis and come up with conclusion is amazing indeed.

The first day of the Seminar ended just now with a dinner, attended by His Highness the Sultan of Selangor, who seemed to be very happy and has a long chat with the participants, from the dinner room till the lobby of the hotel.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Alhamdulillah, after about four hours wait at Gren Alia Hotel Prapatan for our van which was stuck at flooding roads in Jakarta, and later after two hours journey crossing flooding roads in some parts of Jakarta with heavy macek (traffic jam) along the way to the airport, we finally arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International airport safely. It was a suspense experience indeed. But with our expert supir (driver), Mas Yusoff, we managed to check-in at the airport in time, Alhamdulillah. Now we are boarding the flight for Kuala Lumpur.

Thank you Tommy of the PKPU and Ilham of Dompet Dhuafa who consistently advising us through sms what to do in a such a circumstance. Big flood in Jakarta is said to have come once in five years, but this year is the biggest. It was really an experience.


I am in Jakarta at the moment. Arrived here the day before yesterday, on Tuesday 15th January.

With me are three officers of Selangor Zakat Council (Ariffa, Azimah and Abdul Bashit) and Dato' Syed Ghazali Wafa of Angkasa. The mission is to exchange experiences in managing zakat with Badan Amil Zakat Nasional (BAZNAS), Dompet Dhuafa, and Lembaga Kemanusiaan Nasional Pos Keadilan Peduli Ummat (PKPU). We are not only discussing on the experiences, but also visiting their projects.

The accomplishment of the three Indonesian organizations are amazing indeed. As opposed to the majority of zakat organizations in Malaysia that are more asnaf-oriented, they are more programme-oriented. The programmes too are more of a process of empowering the people, their target groups, rather than merely aiding the people as done by many zakat organisations in Malaysia.

Zakat management in Indonesia has been long initiated by the people themselves through substantial numbers of Lembaga Amil Zakat (LAZ) across the country. Only quite recently the Indonesian government realised the potentials of zakat, hence the establishment of BAZNAS - a government-authorised organisation that are supposed to coordinate zakat activities. Different from zakat managements in Malaysia that are more centralised and only quite recently some like Selangor Zakat Council (LZS) tend to consider a little bit of decentralisation, zakat management in Indonesia has began with a sort of widespread decentralisation and only quite recently tend to think of a sort of centralisation through the establishment of BAZNAS. Decentralisation and centralisation definitely have their respective advantages and disadvantages. The experiences of Indonesia and Malaysia are interesting to dwell into.

Actually, the three organisations we visited are not only dealing with zakat per se. They are also dealing with infaq, sadaqah, awqaf and even corporate social responsibility (CSR) as has been done by PKPU. Unlike zakat-concentrated organisations in Malaysia, they are therefore multi-tasking organisations, with activities ranging from poverty alleviation programmes to education, health services and disaster relief. The geographical coverage of their activities as well as their branches go beyond Indonesia to include countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, Austria, et cetera.

Another interesting observation on the zakat organisations in Indonesia is their history of establishment, hence their commitment. All the three organisations we visited, and many others in the country except BAZNAS, are people-initiated organisations. Dompet Dhuafa was intiated by a group of journalists of the Republika daily while PKPU was initiated by a group of activists during the reformasi era. Even BAZNAS too, despite being a government-authorised organisation, is now led by former figures of the people-initiated zakat organisations.

I am flying home this afternoon. At the moment, heavy rain is showering Jakarta. Like Kuala Lumpur, there may be flash floods in some parts of Jakarta. Instead of going to bookshops as planned earlier, we have to leave for the airport now (0900), even though our flight is at 1545. So we are advised by Tommy,  the manager of the PKPU. May Allah SWT eases our journey.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Al-Qur'an contains enormous aspects of knowledge, but without the grace of Allah SWT, the knowledge remains as merely knowledge, without being able to understand their meaning, let alone in interpreting them. Even Rasulullah SAW to whom the Qur'an was conveyed to, still seek the ability to understand the knowledge of the Qur'an from Allah SWT. So was Allah SWT taught Rasulullah SAW to recite the doa: Rabbi izni ilman (literally, Oh Allah, please bestow me with additional knowledge to undestand the Qur'an).

It is a mistake therefore to merely seeking knowledge from human beings such as teachers and lecturers, without asking the ability to understand the knowledge from Allah SWT. The teachers and lecturers are just deliverers of knowledge, not the owner of knowledge. To understand the knowledge, one has to ask for an additional knowledge from the Owner Himself, Allah SWT.

That was my main message delivered to graduating ISDEV Master students (MISDEV11) during the Knowledge Blessing Night on the 8th of January last week.

In addition, I also reminded them that in their future journey, there is always a possibility to meet ignorant people who will trouble them with all kinds of questions. In that case, they have to  consistently recite the doa that has been recited by Prophet Moses AS when he was bombarded with a lot of questions by his tribe about the sort of cattle to be sacrificed. Prophet Moses AS recited: 'Auzubillah hi an akuu na minal jaahilin (literally, oh Allah, please protect me from being an ignorant). That should be the consistent doa of a knowledge seeker, irrespective of how learned he is.

Sunday, January 06, 2013


2013 came while I was in three unplanned moods - examination mood, holiday mood, and ailing mood.

The examination mood developed when students were busying submitting their assignments, preparing for their final examination and submitting their dissertations. The holiday mood emerged when the Christmas and the New Year holidays were approaching and, by having set my mind to have a little bit of but a total rest, the ailing mood then came in. I was trapped in a sort of a psychological mental-rest which entailed with a body pain after cleaning house compound, a sore throat after watching tv under air-conditioning for relatively quite long hours, followed by a little fever and coughing, and eventually a change of voice - a new year gift from Allah SWT that hopefully not only erases my sins, bi iznillah, but also a chance for my wife to gain rewards from Allah SWT for pampering me, the unhealthy man, Alhamdulillah.

Amidst these moods, however, I still have to force myself to write an abstract for an international conference to be held in Turkey in September as well as revising abstracts of my ISDEV's colleagues for the same conference, recalling, collecting and preparing my 2012's accomplishments to be submitted to and for the perusal of my superior, be with Afirah and Taariq who came home for holidays, invigilating examination of my Islamic Research Methodology course, and receiving the Senior Secret Secretary of the Chief Minister of the State of Kelantan who was interested in pursuing his PhD at ISDEV.

I managed to see a doctor only on last Friday the 4th after the ailing is no more a mood, but has become a tiring obstacle to my normal `holiday' activities.

Alhamdulillah, the moods are now over and I am ready for the reactivation of my normal tasks. Among them  would be a trip to Jakarta on the 15-17th, being one of the panelists at an International Conference on Islamic Economics and Finance in Kuala Lumpur on the 30th, and writing a paper on Islamic Economics Concepts Revisited to be submitted latest by 1st February for a Conference in Turkey to be held on the 1st-3rd March, apart from marking students' assignments, examination scripts and Master dissertations, delivering a speech at ISDEV Knowledge Blessing Night on the 8th and a Director's' tazkirah at ISDEV Monthly Graduate Supervision on the 9th of January. Thank you Allah.