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Published by Farhana, 2019-05-16 23:57:22

Leading the Way



Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dato' Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
International Islamic University Malaysia


Gombak • 2019

First Print, 2019
© IIUM Press, IIUM

IIUM Press is a member of the Majlis Penerbitan Ilmiah Malaysia -
(Malaysian Scholarly Publishing Council)

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
without any prior written permission of the publisher.

Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, Prof. Emeritus Tan Sri, Dato', 1951-
Leading the Way : Realising the Distinctive International Islamic
eISBN 978-967-491-033-4
1. International Islamic University Malaysia.
2. Education, Higher--Malaysia.
3. Universities and colleges--Malaysia.
4. Higher education and state--Malaysia.
5. Government publications--Malaysia.
I. Judul.

Published in Malaysia by
IIUM Press
International Islamic University Malaysia
P.O. Box 10, 50728 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Printed in Malaysia by
Reka Cetak Sdn. Bhd.
No. 12 & 14, Jalan Jemuju Empat 16/13D
Seksyen 16, 40200 Shah Alam
Selangor Darul Ehsan.


Preface ix

1.0 Introduction 1
2.0 MuÍÉsabah and Stock-Taking 5
3.0 Change 6
4.0 Malaysia has Changed 8
5.0 Policy-Related Changes 10
6.0 Courage and Challenges 16
7.0 Dare to Dream 21
8.0 Creating Benchmarks 26
9.0 Change in Mind-Sets 26
10.0 Time Frame and Targets 29
11.0 Sustainable Development Goals 30
12.0 The Triple I-CE, Insan Sejahtera and Sustainable
Development 35
13.0 Shared Platform : Tier 3 - Connectivity -
The Tetrahedron Model 42
14.0 Shared Platform : Tier 2 - MaqÉÎid Al-SharÊ’ah 46
15.0 Shared Platform : Tier 1 - Triple I-CE 48
16.0 Responsible Research and Engagement 56
17.0 Concluding Thoughts 59

References 62
Index 65
Appendix: IIUM Flagships as of March 19, 2019 69


his study analyses International Islamic University Malaysia
T(IIUM): the Garden of Knowledge and Virtue and its multi-
dimensional features. The objective is to bring back what the
University aspired to be when it was established 35 years ago as
an International Islamic University Malaysia. The theme adopted
is CHANGE and the objective is to chalk out strategies to ensure
that the University is really “leading the way”.
The change emphasised begins with integrity as
one of the virtues that are so intimately intertwined with the
Garden that the community professes to grow. Indeed, Triple
I-CE (Internationalisation, Integration, Islamisation and
Comprehensive Excellence) is about knowledge and virtue to
nurture the Garden as a source of inspiration, reflection, and
consciousness. It lays down some of the strategies of change for
IIUM to grow like a good tree that bears fruits in abundance
to be shared with everyone, to serve the good cause and to be
a blessing for the people of the world, raÍmatan lil‘alamin.
A good tree is one that provides ample shade for everyone
offering relief from exhaustion and the stress of life. A good
tree, therefore, must itself be steadfast and blooming as well as
firmly grounded to enable all these virtues to grow on a daily
basis. The University community must strive continuously to
ensure this tree provides goodness to the world. This requires the
University to be truly autonomous and its members self-aware,
self-disciplined and above all self-conscious of the amÉnah
bestowed upon them. They must cooperate with each other at
the individual, departmental and kulliyyah levels and share
knowledge for sustainable development and to produce well-
balanced and harmonious graduates.

x Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

As the sixth Rector, I appreciate and recognise that
the entire IIUM community represents many different talents
and expertise. While the academics and researchers hold the
responsibility for ensuring quality in education and research, the
drive to excellence requires the cumulative support of everyone
on campus which is dubbed as the Garden of Knowledge and
Virtue. In the following pages, I describe my thoughts about the
future - reflecting on the road that lies ahead with the explicit
aim of elevating IIUM to greater heights in meeting some of the
challenges and uncertainties of the future. This study is based
upon the two public addresses I gave to the IIUM community in
August 2018 and February 2019.
I believe it is time to sit up and react to put things in their
proper perspectives with istiqÉmah (integrity) as the essence of
the IIUM Code of Ethics, the quality of being perfect and par
excellence in terms of one’s service to Allah (swt) and to society
at large. It is hoped that the IIUM community shall attain this
quality, individually and collectively, to promote and establish
an exemplary community in leading the way. It is hoped that by
2020 and beyond, the University will emerge as a global centre
for reference in Islamic knowledge while it remains recognised
for its articulation on various global agenda including Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) and Education 2030.
I would to thank the IIUM Press for undertaking this
publication, especially Roosfa Hashim and Abdul Rashid Moten
in ensuring that the manuscript had the best treatment possible.
For this I am indeed grateful.

22 March 2019

1.0 Introduction

A university as an institution is synonymous with the growth of
civilisation. It symbolises a nation’s intellectual and innovative
capacity. Universities are crucial to create a progressive society
that is scientific and innovative, and also humane. The term
“university” was coined from the Latin word - universitas
- and was used to refer to the University of Bologna that was
established in Italy in 1088. Contrary to the claims of the
university being a European legacy, UNESCO recognises the
University of al-Qarawiyyin, founded by a Muslim lady, in 859
C. E., in the city of Fez, Morocco, to be the oldest university to
award degrees that is still operating. It was a university based
on Islamic weltanschauung (worldview). In its contemporary
setting, the role of a university is to create new knowledge, to
expand the existing knowledge base through research activities,
and to disseminate knowledge to society through teaching and
community engagement. Universities are required to identify
problems, offer solutions to societal concerns, and define future
developments through dialogue with diverse actors. They are to
establish community relations and be socially responsible, which
has been the mission since time immemorial but was forgotten
as they transit as Ivory Towers. That ideal has now come under
The International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM),
from its very inception, aimed at becoming a leading international
centre of educational excellence (IIUM, 2017:14). The Vision of
the University is:

To become a leading international centre of
educational excellence which seeks to restore the
dynamic and progressive role of the Muslim ummah
in all branches of knowledge.

2 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

The objective of the University has been to redefine
the concept of education practiced in a liberal and secular
environment by integrating Islamic revealed knowledge and
human sciences. It aspires to produce better quality intellectuals
by integrating qualities of faith (imÉn), knowledge (‘ilm) and
good character (akhlÉq) to serve as agents of comprehensive
and balanced progress as well as sustainable development
in Malaysia and in the Muslim world (IIUM, 2017:14). The
University would host an international community of scholars
and students to exemplify an international community. It would
also enhance intercultural understanding and foster civilisational
dialogues across communities, locally and globally. As a
university with a soul, IIUM aspires to create a good man who
lives to serve humanity and thus to earn the pleasure of the Lord
of the Universe. For the past thirty-five years, IIUM has been
engaged in training professionals, in admitting international and
talented students; and in conducting research to generate new
knowledge. These aspirations are found in the University’s
mission statements which are summarised as Triple I-CE:
Integration, Internationalisation, Islamisation, and Comprehensive
The University stresses the importance of teaching,
research and collaboration activities. Over the years, the
University produced a number of prominent researchers and
significant researches, and from its founding, IIUM has had
significant religious and scholarly importance. However, there is
no reason to bask in the memories of past successes. Whether one
likes it or not, change is constantly happening. It is happening in
one’s personal lives, in the system one uses, in the world, and at
work. Change is everywhere.
To be the best, the University has to be what it claims to
be: a “Garden of Knowledge and Virtue.” To achieve this goal,
there is the need to clearly define the three terms embedded in the
phrase. Similarly, there are important questions to be answered.
First of all, what is the significance of a garden? The choice of

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 3

the term garden matters as it is related to the good life. A garden
is a place that promotes virtues, respect for life, and humility
which is related to hope, and, more specifically, to trust or
confidence. A garden is a place to ponder the wonders of nature
and to cultivate friendships and a sense of community. It is a
place for inspiration, a place for the members of the community
to connect back to nature and move closer to the Creator.
A garden is a fertile environment which nurtures a culture of
planting seeds for discourse and reasoning, provides a platform
for the exchange of ideas, and champions freedom of expression
while holding true to the values of Islam. This leads to the term
of knowledge and the question: What sort of knowledge should
the University pursue? There is a dichotomy between secular
and Islamic knowledge. How do they differ and where do they
overlap? Secular knowledge dissociates the material and the
rational from the heart and soul. It produces a person where the
heart and the nafs (soul) are absent. Secular knowledge is devoid
of the divine quality, and therefore there is a need to reintroduce
the divine into the corpus of secular knowledge. As for virtue,
the question is: What sort of virtues should the University foster?
Virtue is thinking and doing what is right and avoiding what is
wrong. The Qur’an is emphatic in this regard: “You are the best
of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what
is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah” (3:110). Virtue
is a quality that is morally good. A morally excellent person is
honest, just, courageous, forgiving, and kind to all.
In the Garden of Knowledge and Virtue, members of
the IIUM community, the gardeners, should feel a communion
with nature, provide a structure and regularity to one’s life, be
physically engaged in activities that mediate between the physical
and spiritual worlds, promote a sense of community with others.
A garden provides an appropriate avenue to nurture proper ways
of acting, judging and feeling. While a garden is meant for
talking about big ideas, talking about things that would move the

4 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

University and the humanity forward, instead, the Garden has
emerged as a place for rest, recreation and smoking. In particular,
the latter of these, smoking, is detrimental to the community as
it causes cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. Not only are
chemical residues used during the course of growing tobacco and
manufacturing cigarettes and over 4000 chemicals introduced to
the environment in smoking, many of the chemicals in cigarettes,
like nicotine and cyanide, are actually poisons that can kill in
high enough doses.
Islam prohibits “tobacco use” in any form and hence
declared smoking harÉm. Tobacco is an intoxicating substance
which the Qur’an (90:10) declares it to be the “defilement from
the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful”.
Finally, smoking kills, which is written on every cigarette pack,
and the Qur’an categorically forbids killing oneself saying: “And
do not kill yourselves”(4:29).
IIUM from its inception decided to provide a safe
workplace and to protect staff, students, and visitors from the
serious health hazards associated with smoking and exposure
to second-hand smoke (passive smoking). The University,
hence, adopted a smoke-free environment policy. Recently,
the government of Malaysia has decided to ban smoking and
make campuses nationwide smoke-free. It is but logical that
the government acknowledges IIUM to be the first to have “no
smoking campuses”. There is no place for smoking in the Garden
of Knowledge and Virtue.
The IIUM is now 35 years old. During this time, the
University has produced many prominent graduates who have
been serving Malaysia as well as other countries around the
world. It has developed into a specialised institution of higher
learning providing students with an enriching experience and
integrated knowledge, as they are exposed to both conventional
and Islamic aspects of education. However, the changes at the
local and global levels present a distinctively complex challenge

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 5

for IIUM requiring it to harness economic, social, cultural,
and environmental resources for sustainable development and
socioeconomic change that benefits not only the Muslims but
also humanity as a whole in the context of raÍmatan lil‘ÉlamÊn.

2.0 MuÍÉsabah and Stock-Taking

The beginning of 2019 is an appropriate time to do stock-taking
of what has been achieved by IIUM in the year before and to
chalk out the strategy to do something in the next two years,
2019-2020, so that the University will be leading the way for the
betterment of the ummah and for the people of Malaysia. Leading
the way requires change, improvement, and leadership in the
University. It has not often been realised that the University is
about change. Students enrolling in the University do not realise
how much they are going to change. They have been exposed to
a new world, new people, new situations, and new possibilities.
On graduation, they leave with knowledge, changing their mind-
set and their way of life. Similarly, scholars join the University,
grow through scholarship and leave with greater credentials.
Change is ubiquitous. The only constant in this world is change.
Therefore, a failure to comply with and adapt to change will
adversely thwart the aims of the University to change the world
for the better.
The desired change requires the University community
to recognise the limits of dominant Western frameworks of
knowledge production, analytically transcending them through
the development of a mode of analysis based upon previously
excluded Islamic and global “others”. Change also requires for
there to be an acknowledgement of the incapacity of contemporary
structures and to adapt these to meet the challenges arising in
a fast-changing interconnected world. Finally, change requires
looking afresh at the shifting sets of cultural and moral values
(See Beck, 2016: 136).

6 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

Change happens because humans want to improve their
condition; people want to build a decent life. Change happens
when powerful people and groups decide to alter the status quo
to further increase their power. Change is not easy. Modification
and growth in a university that is part of an increasingly global
system of interchange can be particularly challenging. In the
early stages, some members of the University may express shock
and denial (refusing to believe in what is being suggested), guilt
(at not having done or said more before), and anger (at the people
suggesting change). But innovation and adaptation are needed
in our educational infrastructure and in our global development
institutions. We must work together to build what we need,
not simply replicate what has existed before. The quicker one
accepts the challenges of change and moves forward, the better
it will be for the institution. However, institutional change must
be a centralised, collective-choice process in which rules are
explicitly stated by a collective political entity, with individuals,
departments, and kulliyyahs engaging in collective action and
bargaining to try to change the existing rules for the benefit of
the University. The University as a collective unit must accept
change and strive for the best so that others may take IIUM as a
3.0 Change

As a university, the clarion call is about change. There are no other
things that can describe what a university is all about. Students
that come in with little knowledge and at the end of a few years
graduate as a knowledgeable person. That is a process of change.
Some scholars come in as lecturers ending up as professors. That
is a process of change. Some assume the responsibilities of vice
chancellor or rector and later move on to find a higher role to
play globally. That, too, is a process of change.
As far as the University is concerned, until and unless
people in the University ensure that this change proceeds the

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 7

way it should be, people are not doing the job expected of
them. In fact, the expected change is even greater because it
involves the lives of others, especially those of the students. For
members of the University community to bring about change
in the students, they must be experiencing it themselves, and in
the society and the community they live in. The University is,
therefore, expected to impart knowledge not only to students,
but also to others. While the University may change and excel in
terms of rankings, the important thing to ask is if that “ranking”
is helping the community around the University to change for
the better. The fact is that the community is not changing, which
is a renewed call for the members of the University community
to revisit their roles. It must change simultaneously through the
imparting of knowledge to others outside the campus for this to
happen in a consistent way.
Unfortunately, the Muslim ummah is not changing, not
keeping pace with development at the global level. By any index,
the Muslim ummah produces a disproportionately small amount
of scientific output and much of it relatively low in quality. In
numerical terms, forty-one predominantly Muslim countries with
about 20 per cent of the world’s total population generate less than
5 per cent of the articles published in internationally circulating
development journals. There exists a disparity between annual
expenditures on research and development and the numbers of
research scientists and engineers produced. The unpreparedness
of Muslim educated people and the lack of practical links
between them and the mass of the people have led to Muslims
becoming, in Frantz Fanon’s language, “the wretched of the
earth” (Fanon, 2004). It is definitely not an unachievable dream
to see the Muslim civilisation on the rise again if we channel our
collective energy towards change for the better. It is hoped that
the members of this university will change this mind-set and will
become agents of change so that the world may prosper for the
majority, if not all. Changes if properly directed and executed
will bring about a good life as exemplified by Malaysia itself.

8 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University
4.0 Malaysia Has Changed

The history of the formation of Malaysia is well-documented. It
was under British rule until the Second World War. The Japanese
invaded and occupied Malaysia until the end of the war in August
1945. After the Japanese occupation (1942-1945), it was clear
that Britain could not continue to rule Malaya, as it was known,
as a colony. Interestingly, the British colonial government made
it clear that it would grant independence only if the citizens of the
deeply divided Malaya were united. The leaders of multi-ethnic
Malaya formed an alliance and emerged victorious in the national
elections of 1955. The Alliance led by Tunku Abdul Rahman
negotiated with Britain for independence. The electoral success
was used to show that the leaders of society could coalesce and
rule the country despite their divisions. The Persekutuan Tanah
Melayu (Federation of Malaya) gained independence on August
31, 1957. Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore (which left in 1963)
together with Malaya, collectively formed the Federation of
Malaysia. The transfer of power was peaceful and the country
enjoyed peace. Through the years, Malaysia managed to compile
an impressive set of accomplishments. This was the first change.
The second change came after the events of the May 13,
1969, which illustrated that the Malaysian unity was fragile.
What occurred at that time was caused by racially provocative
demonstrations which left 196 dead and 409 injured. Democracy
was halted and the civilian government was replaced by the
National Operations Council which worked to restore order in the
country. Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, the country’s second Prime
Minister, succeeded in forming a National Front called Barisan
Nasional (BN). Parliamentary democracy returned with the
formation of the BN which won 90 per cent of the parliamentary
seats in the 1974 election. This was the second independence or

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 9

Figure 1: Picture and paper cuttings depicting the events of
May 13, 1969

The third and most recent change came with the 14th
General Elections held on the May 9, 2018. The BN that
dominated the government for more than six decades lost for
the first time since Malaysian independence. Economically,
under the recent BN rule, peoples’ income stagnated and the
cost of living was growing at a fast pace. This was worsened by
the introduction of an extremely unpopular Goods and Services
Tax (GST) of six per cent. Equally important was the revelation
about corruption. There have been a number of prolific scandals,
such as those surrounding the Scorpene-class Submarines and
FELDA (Federal Land Development Authority) management.
The 1MDB scandal, linked to SRC International, however,
was the key. 1MDB is a story of a government investment fund
where money flowed illegally out into various accounts in the
billions (Wright & Hope, 2018). There was a strong perception

10 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

that the then Prime Minister was abusing his power for financial
gains. This information was shared widely among social media.
The opposition coalition made consistent mobilisation around
the twin goals of getting rid of kleptocracy and of righting the
Malaysian socio-economy. They were assisted by credible mass
movement NGOs such as Bersih. The country would have seen
another skirmish, but citizens were determined to make sure
there is a change. The younger generation organised themselves
to make sure that they came out in numbers to vote and to ensure
there was a change of government in the country. The incumbent
lost and the opposition came to power peacefully. The new
government has embarked upon policies to right the wrong.

5.0 Policy-Related Changes

It should be evident that change is necessary for development
and for accomplishing goals. We must plan to introduce changes
to actions that represent a change in the organisational rules and
resources. Second, we need to identify changes to actions that
represent a change in the individual mind sets of the academic
and administrative staff in the University. It is assumed that
individual agency and organisational or societal structures
are interdependent and reciprocal. What staff members do is
constrained and enabled by their structural context and their
actions contribute to the creation of the structural context.
In this context, the first change needed is to get rid of
politics of any sort from the campus. If the University is to perform
as outlined above, then we would expect the Government not to
impose different bureaucratic contingencies upon it leaving no
room for manoeuvre to bring about positive change. Neither the
government nor an outside agency should be empowered to run
things inside the University as they like. The Government should
not administer the institutions of higher education in its own way
with little or no input from them. The University should not be
seen as an extension of the Government. They should not pander

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 11

to the needs of the markets for graduates, nor interfere in the
administration the University.
There should be no political influence in the University.
The University should be allowed to run its affairs free from any
political interference. I have been assured by the Minister of
Education that as far as this university is concerned, there will
no longer be political interference of any sort. The University
should function as a university and not a political party. Politics
of hatred, of whatever kind, should stay out of this campus. I hope
the academic community, the leading intellectuals, and students
will be in the forefront of moves for change to spread out on their
own and grow together thus contributing in a meaningful way to
the University and to the community as a whole.

Figure 2: The governing party of Malaysia promising “no politics”
and abolition of AUKU

12 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

The second organisational change is to get rid of the
University and University College Act (AUKU) that has been
imposed on the university many years ago. AUKU came into
force on April 30, 1971 and provided for the establishment,
maintenance, and administration of universities and public
university colleges as well as other matters related to it. However,
the AUKU is a barrier to students and academics in voicing their
views freely. It has been pointed out by many that the AUKU is
against the right to freedom of speech, assembly, and association
and that it also contravenes the UN Human Rights Standards.
Most importantly, unlike other public universities which
were established under the AUKU 1971, IIUM was founded in
1983 under the Companies Act 1965 to allow the use of English
and Arabic as its medium of instruction and to boost its global
orientation. Furthermore, several member countries of the
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) consented to jointly
establish IIUM with the Government of Malaysia. This explains
why the organisational structure of IIUM is different from other
public universities in Malaysia. As such, AUKU should not
apply to IIUM. People in the legal unit at IIUM are working to
liberate, within the shortest period of time, the University from
this prohibition that has been imposed when it’s not legally right.
The University community should therefore ensure that
IIUM becomes what it was conceived to be when it was created
35 years ago. The dream of the founder of IIUM, Dato Seri Dr.
Mahathir Mohamad, the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia,
should be realised in the shortest space of time.
It is absolutely essential, at this juncture, to recall what
the seventh Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, said
on the 10th of May after the swearing in ceremony. He said:
“…gut is a commodity that is scarce nowadays in this country”
(The Malaysian Times, May 11, 2018. See Figure 3). This is very
meaningful because the country has suffered under the previous
administration simply because we, the academicians, did not

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 13

perform our expected role and did not come out openly to ask
the government to stop ruining the country. We, academicians,
are public intellectuals and as such are not supposed to confine
our roles to the classroom and the University. We are also
responsible public intellectuals and it is essential for us to
advise the government to stop and change course when things
go wrong. We must also provide solutions. Public intellectuals,
unfortunately, have failed to perform that role and laid blame
instead on AUKU. It is essential, however, to take this “guts” or
courage seriously and use it as a strategy to make changes and
to move forward. While public intellectuals publish articles in
academic journals, it is also incumbent upon them to write to
inform the public at large through mass media like the newspapers
and in the magazines or even electronic media.

Figure 3: Mahathir’s swearing in ceremony and his comment
as quoted in The Malaysian Times, May 11, 2018. http://www.

14 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

Journal articles have a very limited ability to bring about
large social changes. Meanwhile, similar writings published in
the mass media like newspapers reach thousands of readers and
can spark change.
As far as the academics at IIUM are concerned, they
must assume the role assigned to public intellectuals in tandem
with the University’s mission. They should not be sitting idle
nor should they be following the examples of other universities.
IIUM is a unique institution of higher learning. This is the
only university in Malaysia which is both Islamic as well as
international. It certainly would be unwise for an international
Islamic university to follow universities which are non-Islamic
or non-international. IIUM has to play the leading role and
follow the University song, “Leading the Way”. This is a solemn
decision to be made by those in the University. The members of
the IIUM academic community must either lead or leave. There
is no second option. Those who would like to play safe or follow
people blindly in a ranking game; they should look for some
other avenue. The way the IIUM leads will be determined by its
own tradition, its own values and its own civilisation and not by
following others blindly. For that IIUM needs autonomy which,
ipso facto, requires doing away with AUKU.
Autonomy should not be confused with automation which
was a focal point of conversation at the 2016 World Economic
Forum. Simply stated, automation means using machines or other
technology to carry out a task which would otherwise be done by
a human worker. Autonomy is totally different. A university is
not an automaton. Autonomy would allow IIUM to lead the way
as it decides. An autonomous university implies that the funding
agency or state does not have control over academic matters.
Conversely, universities that are not autonomous generally have
their academic programmes, curriculum, controlled, and even
dictated by the state or government agency regulating higher
education. Autonomy means accountability, responsibility,

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 15

holding to the amÉnah, freedom, liberty, self-governance, self-
sufficiency, and the like. The autonomy of the University has
four main dimensions: academic, organisational, financial, and
staff autonomy (as shown in Figure 4).

Figure 4: Basic elements of university autonomy

Academic autonomy refers to a university’s capacity to
manage its internal academic affairs independently, and its ability
to decide on various academic issues, such as student admissions,
academic content, quality assurance and introduction of new
degree programmes. Organisational autonomy is about the
University’s ability to decide freely on its internal organisational
matters including executive leadership, decision-making bodies,
legal entities, and internal academic structures.
Financial autonomy is about the university’s ability to
decide freely on its internal financial affairs, that is, its ability
to manage its funds independently and setting its strategic
aims while staffing autonomy refers to a university’s ability to

16 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

decide freely on issues related to human resources management,
including employment, salaries, removals, and promotions.
To compete globally, a university must be free to hire
the most suitable and qualified academic and administrative staff
and enter in national and international collaborations through
joint academic programs and exchange of scholars without
external pressures or interference. Autonomy and performance
of a university is affected by the politicisation of a university.
Hence, autonomy would also refer to getting rid of partisan
politics from the campus.
How can IIUM be made autonomous organisationally
with substantial financial backing and freedom? As the current
model is beginning to fail (Rossi, 2014), an alternative model
is to emulate is the University of Al-Qarawiyyin, founded in
859, in Fez, Morocco by a Muslim lady called Fatima al-Fihri.
According to UNESCO and Guinness Book of World Records,
it is the oldest existing, continually operating higher educational
institution in the world. It is the “first” model of the university
which began as a madrasah, became a mosque and eventually
emerged as a jÉmi’ah, or a university. It has produced numerous
scholars, including Ibn Khaldun (1332-1395), and played a
significant role in the mediation of culture and knowledge
between Muslims and Europeans. It was a trustee of the humanist
tradition. Its financial independence has helped the university
keep high quality services all these years. The example of Al-
Qarawiyyin strongly suggests the need for university autonomy.
It can be expected that IIUM will soon emerge as an autonomous
university in all its dimensions.

6.0 Courage and Challenges

Autonomy will assist in taking the University in the desired
direction. However, it requires the University to employ a
holistic approach in formulating and executing its strategic intent
with a focus towards accomplishing its vision, mission, and the

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 17

deliberated objectives towards the desired direction. Strategic
intent helps to shape the common direction that the university
is heading identifying the prerequisites for improved execution
of strategy, mainly through communication and aligned systems
and processes. The quality of the strategic intent must always
be accompanied by good communication. The management of
the University must be cohesive, moving in one direction, and
clearly communicating the intent and goals of the University to
those who execute the strategy and to the entire community (see
Figure 5).

Figure 5: The Framework for Change – The Transformation Plan.
Source: APEX Evaluation Committee, 2008

The change desired for the University most importantly
requires a culture which consists of an academic spirit and
outlook, ethics and morals, and academically conducive
environments. The culture on campus is actually the external
manifestation of the common values, spirits, behaviour norms of
people on campus who are pursuing and developing their study
and research. This kind of culture can be embodied in the rules
and regulations, behaviour patterns and the material facilities.
A culture of this kind will help bring about the desired change.

18 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

But there is a limit to this if the culture of iqra’ is not embodied
whole-heartedly across the IIUM community. This must be
part of the University strategic intent, it must be communicated
throughout the Garden of Knowledge and Virtue. It must have
a cohesive leadership in a collective way (see Figure 6). It is a
challenge but it can be done. The second framework for change
is as follows:

Figure 6: The Framework for Change – Preparedness for Change.
Source: APEX Evaluation Committee, 2008

What should be done to make IIUM outshine the
rest? The University community should give up the “habit” of
looking outside the box in trying to benchmark itself through
league tables for example. As it is, the University is conceived
as a “factory” where the buzzwords used are marketability and
employability. This, however, is not the priority of the University.
The important thing the University should do is to create a truly
“educated” person; a person that is so good that the job will run
after the person rather than the person running after the job.
That’s a difference. IIUM students and staff should strive to be

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 19

such peoples who will be sought after rather than the other way
around. That is what “Leading the Way” entails.
The IIUM should be the best by its own standards. It
must create its own benchmark. It should not be measuring its
performance or processes against those of another university
considered to be the “best” based on criteria that are at odds with
IIUM principles and philosophy. Benchmarking will make IIUM
the second best, never the first, because it is only trailing along
to another standard. So IIUM should create its own benchmark.
The advice from the creator of the Blue Ocean Strategy is “never
to use the competition as a benchmark”. (Kim & Maubourgne,
2005:180). Instead of trying to outpace the competition, the
IIUM should offer its own unique intellectual sophistication and
the ethical and moral uprightness it upholds. IIUM should create
its own uniqueness without the need to copy and compete with
others. Interestingly, IIUM already has its own unique feature in
the Garden of Knowledge and Virtue. There is no other university
that can claim so. Some universities are international but not
Islamic. Some are Islamic but not necessarily international.
IIUM is the only university that is international and Islamic.
What then is the IIUM’s benchmark? That was decided
long ago and is represented by the tagline “Garden of Knowledge
and Virtue” – a metaphor so rich that it creates its own criteria
and standards in tandem with the passages of the Qur’an. A
garden contains plants of all kinds which symbolically reflect
diversity in all its dimensions. The plants in the garden are rooted
to ensure the growth of healthy and beautiful flowers and fruits
and leaves. In the IIUM context, the roots are the virtues, values,
and norms that shape knowledge – the fruits, flowers and leaves.
The former is well-hidden below the ground (internal, intrinsic
features), while the latter is above ground (external/extrinsic
features), yet both are intrinsically interrelated. One cannot exist
with the other.

20 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

What should IIUM do now? In the 21st
century, the challenges are mounting. There
is the Malaysian education blueprint (PPPM
2015-2025) with emphasis upon knowledge,
leadership, and multilingualism, thinking
skills and ethics and spirituality that define
the nation’s identity.

Then there is Vision 2020 with nine challenges (see Table 1)
including creating a united, secure, caring and moral and ethical
society. These challenges are yet to be materialised. Of late, one
often hears about the problem of bullying, sexual harassment,
corruption and the like not simply at national school level but also
at the level of universities. These aspects have been overlooked
for a long time as we search the external and tangible aspects at the
expense of the internal and intangible dimensions. Meanwhile,
people are also talking about Sustainable Development Goals
which began in 2016. This also talks in terms of inclusiveness,
quality, sustainability, justice, equity, dignity and the like. So
too, they are talking about Education 2030 or the so-called
Education 4.0 which most people are not in tandem with. Yet,
the University subscribes to it without any discussion or debate
and gets distracted from what the global agenda on education is
all about. The focus on “The World We Want” calls for the future
of the younger generation based on UNESCO's Four Pillars of
Learning for the 21st Century, namely: learning to do, learning
to know, learning to be, and learning to live together (Delores,
1996). There is apparently not much of a problem with learning
to know and learning to do but the problematic part is with
learning to be and learning to live together because often time
these aspects are marginalised.

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 21

Table 1: Nine Strategic Challenges to Achieve Vision 2020
Challenges Short Description

Establishing a united Malaysian nation made up
of one Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian Race)

Creating a psychologically liberated, secure and
developed Malaysian society
Fostering and developing a mature democratic

4 Establishing a fully moral and ethical society

5 Establishing a matured liberal and tolerant society

6 Establishing a scientific and progressive society

7 Establishing a fully caring society

Ensuring an economically just society, in which
there is a fair and equitable distribution of the
wealth of the nation

Establishing a prosperous society with an
9 economy that is fully competitive, dynamic,
robust and resilient
Source: Economic Planning Unit (2019).
7.0 Dare to Dream

The IIUM community has to think about doing something
regarding these problems before they face the 10 grand challenges
of the future (see Table 2). The problems are manifold. How
to deal with centenarians, for instance, whose numbers would
increase from about 500,000 to over 26 million by the year

22 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

2100? While countries may benefit from their wisdom, there is
also the possibility of the countries witnessing overcrowded and
polluted urban slums demanding the need for clean water and
improvements in sanitation. Another example would be to deal
with “singularity”, where machines can recursively self-improve
resulting in runaway technological growth. Many people are
welcoming and investing billions of dollars into artificial
intelligence (AI), but what about the “primordial intelligence”
(PI) that humans are endowed with. The AI can only as good
as the PI that programmed it. Some experts have cautioned that
it is not just about losing jobs but more critically about losing
humanity, and ending even the human race. A time may come
when a new, more intelligent “species” starts to inhabit the earth.
How should we deal with a situation of that sort? What type
of education system should be in place to deal with the fourth
industrial revolution, artificial intelligence, and a presumed
trans-human or post-human species? A good example is the one
that comes from Saudi Arabia where the authorities have given
citizenship to Sophia, an AI citizen. Sophia, however, does not
wear hijab, raising many ethical dilemmas and norms for the
future. This is just one of the many issues that the Ummah will
face (Dzulkifli, 2018). These challenges are real and Muslims
need to think not simply about employment and employability
but also about the challenges of the 21st century and beyond,
including their very essence of being human.
There are additional challenges emanating from rapid
advances in technology and diminishing opportunities for work
in a face-to-face environment. These have contributed to a new
age of loneliness that affects all demographics. Loneliness is
the absence of imperative social relations and lack of affection
in current social relationships. People are collecting virtual
“friends” online. Studies have shown that the more virtual
friends a person has, the lonelier he gets. Loneliness leads to
various psychiatric disorders like depression, alcohol and drug

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 23

abuse, child abuse, personality disorders and the like. Loneliness
is correlated with poor health, and other problems that can harm
our state of mental and physical health. Left untended, loneliness
can have serious consequences. Therefore, it is important that
Islam enjoins to intervene at the right time to prevent loneliness.
Loneliness is likely to be supplemented by the age
of unsustainability which is the precursor to what is termed
as the Anthropocene Age (Stromberg, 2013) wherein human
beings tend to destroy their own civilisation. Irreversible
consumption of irreplaceable natural resources, the devastation
of the environment, immutable production of waste material and
ageing infrastructure, climate change, global warming, to name
a few will inevitably lead to the dismantling of the present day
civilisation. According to Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway
(2014), neglecting the above mentioned factors would result in
the collapse of the Western civilisation before the end of this
century. Most likely, the Muslim world would suffer more
because of its poorer infrastructure as compared to the West in
addition to their indifferent attitude to the problem. Muslims
must take the lead and IIUM must come to the fore with creative
ideas to save the world from destroying itself. For this purpose,
the University must produce well-balanced and harmonious
graduates and community. There is nothing wrong in producing
“marketable” graduates but the priority should be to produce
well-balanced graduates. The question is raised, “Can they
withstand the test of mizÉn that the Qur’an advocates?” If IIUM
graduates are not well-balanced, then the educational system
needs to be re-examined to create this balance in life.
As it stands, students, teachers, and the educated
community are too engrossed with technology and innovation.
The latest research on technology confirms that cell phones
are constantly on many peoples’ minds (Figure 7). The phone-
owners wake up in the morning with the phone in their hands
and they will look at their cell phones about 200 times a day.

24 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

It is quite appropriate to describe this obsessive screen (phone)
behaviour as an “addiction”.

Figure 7: Internet Addiction by Age Group
The Korea Times (6 March 2012)

According to a survey, globally, 48 per cent of the
respondents are obsessed with cell phones; they cannot live
without the device even for a day. For Malaysia, this obsession
with cell phones is about 70 per cent. This figure can be
compared to much lower percentages for Germany and Japan.
This variation is due to the fact that Japanese and Germans
consider cell phones as a supplementary thing to be used when
necessary rather than making it part of their life. Malayians have
the problem of differentiating technology with what life is all
about. The University must do something about this issue in
educating people about the world of hi-tech with which many
are oblivious. Perhaps, the University teachers are not conveying
the right message to the people around.
The big problem is to find the right strategy to deal with
the invasion of technology. How can the University help transform
the Muslims? How to make the desired changes? These are big
questions that a university like IIUM must concern itself with. No
other university is qualified to carry out this responsibility given
the role it has taken upon itself of being a mercy to humankind.
We have to lead the way and show the direction for the salvation

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 25

of humanity. With the right attitude, awareness of the problems
will rise and the required revolutionary changes will be made to
achieve ecological sustainability, avoid loneliness and save the
world from collapsing. IIUM must be the game changer and be
the benchmark for others to follow. IIUM must write the rules
rather than follow those made by others. The IIUM must get rid
of the archaic thinking and old model, and usher in the new.

Table 2: Ten Grand Challenges for the Future
No Description

1 Rising disaster levels – climate change, global warming

2 Increase in the level of migration globally

3 The strain on the planet’s natural (non-renewable) resources

Number of centenarians – from 500,000 to over 26 million
by 2100

5 Unprecedented geopolitical shift – and new tensions

6 Autonomous AI technology – 4 industrial revolution
7 “The Singularity” – AI exceeds HI, “trans-humans”

8 Weathering away anonymity and privacy – social media/FB

9 Emerging markets (E7) growing faster than G7 economies

Anti-globalisation sentiments/movement – Brexit/America
Source: BBC (2017)

26 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University
8.0 Creating Benchmarks

Let the IIUM create something which would become a benchmark
for others to follow. Let IIUM create knowledge that touches the
life of people. It must give education to the people and salvage
them from poverty of mere material wealth, but equally important
spiritually too. This must be done with humility. IIUM must walk
in the shoes of the people it wants to change. It must experience
poverty so that poverty can be eradicated more effectively with
better understanding and genuine empathy. It is hypocritical to
talk about poverty while sitting in an air-conditioned room and
not walking the talk. The IIUM community must get out of their
buildings, their classrooms, their comfort zone, and work with the
poor and understand them and be humble in the drive to eradicate
poverty. The IIUM community must work like a team. There will
be differences of opinion in the IIUM team which is a cause for
celebration and not for division. The team, however, must remain
intact and must behave like a family. It must begin from a family
and gradually move into the bigger family of humanity. This is
what IIUM as an international Islamic university is all about.
9.0 Change in Mind-Sets

The elevation of the University to the top level requires a change
in the mind-set of the IIUM community. For the moment, it is
necessary to inculcate and boldly display at least 10 principles
that emanate from the core of IIUM: virtues and values. It is the
virtue that defines IIUM, the relationship among the members of
the community and the kind of work they do collectively. The 10
principles are itemised in Table 3 under four headings.

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 27

Table 3: Ten Principles for Immediate Change
• Trustworthiness
1. Pride of work
2. Sacrifice
3. Berbudi
• Punctuality
4. Attention to details
5. Discipline
6. Awareness
• Collaboration
7. Inclusiveness
8. Oneness
9. Teamwork-family-humanity
• Courage with sincerity and honesty
10. Acting to uphold virtue

The guiding principles are as follows:

• The first is trustworthiness which in Islamic parlance is
known as amÉnah. Trust should be the only thing that defines
the relationship among the members of the IIUM community.
Trust makes it possible to work with everybody from those in
the highest echelons of authority down to drivers and
gardeners. In order to work trust creates what is known
as “the pride of work”. With trust, people will put their best
and take pride in what they have done. This pride of work
has something to do with sacrifice and also with the culture
which obligates the people to reciprocate the assistance
received from others. This is well-expressed in the Malay
proverb “orang berbudi kita berbahasa” (equivalent English
proverb: one good turn deserves another) which defines
clearly the relationship of trustworthiness.
• The second is punctuality in terms of whatever one does.
Punctuality, defined as being “on time”, is a very important

28 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

character quality. It shows others that you respect their time
and their expectations of you. This concept of being on-time
is deeply rooted in Japanese society and probably one of the
factors that drove Japan’s development. Japanese are
taught to do things punctiliously in schools and trained to
do jobs punctiliously in the workplace, no matter where they
are. Punctuality is valued because it makes the relationship
with everybody else comfortable. It enhances trust and
trustworthiness. It is about thinking of other people first
rather than oneself. It is wholly Islamic, but the situation is
reversed in the case of a number of Muslim societies
where being late is the norm. In the context of punctuality, it
is necessary to talk about attention to details. Time is one
of the details that people need to be attentive to. Being
punctual builds and reveals one’s discipline. A punctual
person shows that he can organise his time, he pays attention
to details, and he is conscious of prioritising what needs to
be done first and what is to follow. A high level of
attentiveness is what defines a Muslim and it is this
characteristic which the IIUM community must exhibit.
• The third is collaboration which is about two or more
people working together and completing shared processes.
It is a targeted, team-based activity. Individuals consider
themselves to be members of a team working towards
a common goal, sharing their expertise and responsibility
for the outcome. It is deliberately inclusive like a family;
an interconnected system, with the activities of each member
affecting all other members and the family unit as a whole.
It is based on trust, discipline and respect for partners.
• The fourth is courage with sincerity and honesty. Courage is
the ability to act for a meaningful, noble or good cause
without fear or favour. It is the ability to act, notwithstanding
the risks associated with the act, to uphold a virtue. A
courageous person with sincerity and honesty would be able
to create new things and that is where leadership starts.

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 29

The IIUM community must begin by internalising and
displaying the ten principles outlined above. The outcome of
such efforts will be an original masterpiece, which stands the
test of time, and changes the way generations of educators think
about their field. With the change made in the desired direction,
it will be possible to capture, in a short time, the imagination of
everyone interested in improving their life.

10.0 Time Frame and Targets

The change must be goal-oriented. A goal is an end state that
provides a focus for motivational energy. The more active
the goal, the bigger the influence on the behaviour of those
determined to change. Likewise, short-term goals tend to acquire
more energy than long-term goals. Consequently, people are
biased against doing things that will pay off in the long run when
there is some other activity you could do now to achieve a short-
term goal. It is, therefore, essential to specify the goal and the
time frame within which that goal is to be achieved.
In the context of IIUM, the major changes put forth
will represent a milestone for the University; IIUM and the
community will work together to achieve this goal by 2020. Two
years, to some, may be a short span of time but there is an urgency
to demonstrate that the desired change is possible. It is not a walk
in the park, but rather a kind of a rush to make sure that the
University embraces change and demonstrates to everybody that
this university is capable of bringing about a significant change
in the world of education. Such a demonstrated change will boost
confidence among the members of the community, break a mind-
set, and embolden the community further and, henceforth IIUM
will move forward even faster.
During these two years, the University should aspire to
be designated by the United Nations University as one of the
Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable
Development and thus continually pursue ways to enhance

30 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

sustainable development for education in Malaysia, and around
the world.
The emphasis in this plan is on sustainable development, a
concept which is a compromise between growth and conservation.
This concept was not fully understood and embraced in the early
1990s but has subsequently gained currency. Stated simply,
sustainable development emphasises the need for economic
growth and development but it needs to be a different kind of
growth, targeted to the needs of the people and sensitive to the
needs of the environment (Du Pisani, 2006).
It is being argued that education is the key to progress and
the source of strength in societies. The goal of education is to build
human beings and develop their capacities to achieve sustainable
development. Therefore, education is the heart of development
and its solidity. The success of development in any society
depends very much on the success of its educational system.
The focus of education is “real” (sustainable) development and
human capacity building. No development is possible without
the availability of qualified human resources in a sustainable and
balanced way. As such, the learning process is closely related
to sustainable development, one that is continuous, holistic
and integrated. So too, education for sustainable development
conveys a very important message, that is, “Enough for everyone,

11.0 Sustainable Development Goals

The idea of Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) in education for
sustainable development was first presented to the international
community at the 12th Session of the United Nations Commission
on Sustainable Development (CSD-12) in April 2004. The idea
herein was that in a region, organisations such as universities
could form a partnership to promote and facilitate learning for
sustainable development. An RCE is a network of individuals,
organisations and experts who are committed to using education

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 31

as a tool for building a sustainable future. These networking
initiatives are expected to add value to the regions and their
educational systems (Fadeeva and Mochizuki 2007). RCEs work
on a range of initiatives, from organising sustainable development
workshops for educators to conduct research and create policies
that focus on education for sustainable development (ESD).
There were seven RCEs in 2005 (including RCE Penang based
at Universiti Sains Malaysia) which rose to 154 by January
2017. However, there is not a single Islamic university in the
network of RCEs recognised by the United Nations University.
If successful, IIUM will lead the way and be the first Islamic
university to be designated as an RCE.
To be recognised as a regional centre by the United
Nations, it is essential to address the sustainable development
goals (SDGs) in what is known as Education 2030 which aims
at the promotion of sustainable development and concern
for developing inclusive cities. The 2030 agenda is broad
and holistic in nature and aims at wiping out poverty through
sustainable development by 2030. The Agenda was adopted in
September 2015 by 193 countries and covers systemic issues
such as hunger, poverty, and inequality. It includes 17 SDGs
which the signatories have committed to achieving by 2030. It
recognised that education is essential for the success of all of its
goals. The goals include ending poverty in all its forms, ensuring
healthy living, providing quality education, achieving gender
equality, reducing inequality within states and between states,
ensuring sustaining consumption and production patterns, and
the like (see Figure 8). IIUM must try to fulfil as many of these
goals (and sub goals) as possible and address the interconnecting
issues between them.

32 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

Figure 8: UN Sustainable Development Goals from Leicht and Byun
(Eds.) (2018)

The 17 goals are universal, integrated and indivisible.
These goals balance the three dimensions of sustainable
development: the social, the environmental and the economic.
The goals are represented in 5 Ps: people (the social dimension),
planet (the environmental dimension), prosperity (the economic
dimension), partnership (the collective and collaborative
approach needed to transform the world), and peace (the ethical
dimension, which concerns ideals and values such as equality,
freedom, human dignity and justice). These 5 Ps represent the
core priorities of SDGs (see Figure 9).
With respect to this, the acronym STEM (science,
technology, engineering and mathematics) is better articulated
as STREAM, where R is raÍmatan lil’ÉlamÊn; E is ethics; A
stands for aesthetics/arts, and M for maqÉÎid al-sharÊ’ah. This
combination broadens the vista of education (also known as
lifewide learning; versus lifelong learning that is more about
depth rather than breath). STREAM also approximates closer to

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 33

the 5Ps mentioned making the SDGs agenda more achievable
and more easily understood.

Figure 9: The ‘Five Ps’ model of Sustainable Development from
Cunha, Isabela (n.d.)

Of particular relevance to IIUM is SDG 4, “quality
education”, which aims at ensuring inclusive and equitable
quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities
for all. It has ten associated targets of which three are means of
implementation of these targets. The targets include: Free access
to education at pre-primary as well as technical, vocational, and
tertiary education; increasing the number of youth and adults
for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship; achieve
full literacy of youths and the literacy of adults; and ensuring
that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to
promote sustainable development. The three means to achieve
these targets are building and upgrading education facilities;
expanding the number of scholarships available to developing
countries; and increasing the supply of qualified teachers.

34 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

Related to Education 2030, and paving the way to
achieve SDGs, is the Falsafah Pendidikan Kebangsaan (National
of Philosophy Education, FPK). The National Philosophy of
Education was formulated long before Education 2030, in 1988,
and put into the Education Act 550 after a slight revision in 1996.
It reads as follows:

Education in Malaysia is an on-going effort towards
further developing the potential of individuals in a
holistic and integrated manner, so as to produce
individuals who are intellectually, spiritually,
emotionally and physically balanced and
harmonious based on a firm belief in and devotion
to God. Such an effort is designed to produce
Malaysian citizens who are knowledgeable and
competent, who possess high moral standards and
who are responsible and capable of achieving a high
level of kesejahteraan diri [emphasis added, see
Dzulkifli, 2019] as well as being able to contribute
to the betterment of the family, society and the
nation at large (Ministry of Education, 2008, p. ix).

The FPK can be summarised into the four national educational
objectives, which are:

(a) to produce a loyal and united Malaysian
nation, (b) to produce a faithful, well-mannered,
knowledgeable, competent and prosperous
individuals, (c) to produce the nation’s human
resource for development needs and (d) to provide
educational opportunities for all Malaysians
(Ministry of Education, 2008, p. xii).

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 35

In addition, it should be noted that the FPK
described the education eco-system as
one that is continuous (lifelong), holistic
and integrated enhancing the potential of
individuals towards the development of a
“complete” person.

It also focuses on balance and harmony in the intellectual,
spiritual, emotional, physical aspects; belief in and devotion to
God; knowledge; competence; honour; responsibility; capability
to achieve a high level of kesejahteraan diri as a prerequisite
to contribute to the harmony and betterment of families,
communities and Malaysian society (Dzulkifli, 2017; Dzulkifli
& Rosnani, 2019).

12.0 The Triple I-CE, Insan Sejahtera
and Sustainable Development

In the international consensus and frameworks of action that
emerged from a series of conferences held by the Government
of Malaysia and by the UN, universities are given paramount
importance in achieving sustainable development and balanced
personality because of their roles as knowledge generating and
knowledge transferring institutions. Universities, it is argued,
will strive in the same direction if the framework of action
tallies with their vision and mission. The framework of action,
it needs to be emphasised, aligns well with IIUM’s vision and
mission of Internationalisation, Integration, Islamisation, and
Comprehensive Excellence (Triple I-CE). This is shown in
Figure 10.

36 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

Figure 10: The ‘Triple I’ CE model of IIUM

IIUM is recognised as an international university
because of its increasing number of international students and
faculty. Internationalisation, however, also requires integrating
an international, intercultural, and global dimension into the
purpose and function of the University.
Looked at from this perspective, the ideas behind
RCEs and Education 2030 are deliberately international and
integral. The framers of the sustainable development framework
would not like to see universities too vertically segmented and
compartmentalised. The RCE programme expects universities to
play a central role in development an integrated regional approach
to ESD, bringing the best of knowledge from the natural sciences,
social sciences and humanities and integrating this knowledge
with the best of educational practices of their community and
regional partners. The RCE initiative encourages universities to
enhance interdisciplinary collaboration and internal coordination
within a university. It also helps to serve as a mechanism to enable

Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University 37

partnerships across knowledge, administrative and geographic
This internationalisation provides Muslims the
opportunity to explain Islam and provides a platform for Muslims
around the world to share the benefits of Islam. There are forces
at the international level that are bent upon destroying Islam and
maligning Muslims. As Nathan Lean (2012) points out, there is
The Islamophobia Industry that is bent upon convincing their
compatriots in the West that Muslims are the enemy and that
they are terrorists. They have manufactured Islamophobia for
their own great fortune and fame. Muslims, guided by Islamic
principles, must take a leading role in internationalisation and
integration and dismantle this industry to promote peace and
prosperity across the globe.
The 2030 Agenda commits the participant countries
to achieving sustainable development in economic, social and
environmental spheres in a balanced and integrated manner. The
Agenda requires its members, among other things, to end poverty
and hunger everywhere; combat inequalities within and among
countries; and to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Its
emphasis is on creating conditions for sustainable, inclusive and
sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and decent work
for all. It emphasises the equality of education for the rich and
the poor. It talks about bringing the disabled into the mainstream;
of bringing, in IIUM’s case, Orang Asli (indigenous people)
and the vulnerable into the mainstream. Thus, the integration
would require creating equality in terms of opportunity for the
Orang Asli and those living in the villages such as those living in
Kampung Sungai Pusu.
As for the Falsafah Pendidikan Kebangsaan (FPK), it
begins with the discussion on the three IIIs of Internationalisation,
Integration and Islamisation. Its underlying principles and goals
are to encourage the development of balanced, well-rounded,
harmonious, and skilled individuals (insan sejahtera) who
cherish the (inter)national aspiration for unity. Specifically,

38 Leading the Way: Realising the Distinctive International Islamic University

the FPK aims, among other things, to provide education in a
holistic and integrated manner to produce individuals who are
intellectually, physically, emotionally, and spiritually balanced,
with moral values and skills to contribute towards economic and
national development. Thus, the FPK is in line with the mission
of IIUM and it is definitely Islamic. The linkages between the
FPK, maqÉÎid and ESD are shown in Figure 11.
The University took the lead in November 2018
to organise a workshop on the FPK where many local and
international scholars presented papers. The papers presented
in the workshop along with 10 additional chapters have been
published in a book entitled Pentafsiran Baharu: Falsafah
Pendidikan Kebangsaan dan Perlaksanaannya Pasca 2020
(Dzulkifli & Rosnani, 2019). Consisting of 21 chapters, the book
analyses the various the dimensions of FPK in the context of

Figure 11: The Interlinking between the FPK, maqÉÎid al-sharÊ’ah
(MAS) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) at different
tiers of the Shared Platform

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