Thursday, April 17, 2014


ISDEV brothers - ready to be intellectually captivated

“Good proposal with minimum of errors”. Those were the comments received by RISDEV (Postgraduate Research Mode) student, Shereeza Mohamed Saniff regarding her PhD proposal presented on 24 March 2014 at C06, School of Social Sciences. She was one of the two RISDEV candidates who presented their PhD research proposals. The other candidate was Nurbani Md. Hassan.

Knowing her stuff - Shereeza (in green headgear) presenting her PhD proposal

Shereeza presented on the title A Conceptual Analysis of the Islamic–based Development Actor for Contractual Documents in Islamic Asset Management received positive comments from ISDEV lecturers especially the evaluator, Dr. Zakaria Bahari. Dr. Zakaria commented that except for the slight technical errors in her PhD proposal, the meticulous writing coupled with the determination in her work left hardly any room for arguments to deny the facts used in her writings.

Nurbani's (second from right) ability to firmly stand her ground provided a lasting positive impression

The second candidate, Nurbani Md. Hassan, then presented her proposal on Microfinance Program for Zakat Institution: Analysis and Proposed Implementation. Her presentation was also considered unusual as she was given the thumbs up for the tenacity in defending her PhD proposal. Scores of questions were asked to her from ISDEV lecturers and students but at every question she was ready with an answer or response. She defended her proposal with confidence and much aplomb.

Prof. Syukri (left) summing up the two presentations of that day

ISDEV Director, Professor Muhammad Syukri Salleh summed up the positive aspects from the two presentations that he hoped ISDEV students can emulate. According to Prof. Syukri, the attitude shown by the two RISDEV students ought to be in each and every student of ISDEV. One is the care taken in choosing facts that the information presented left no room for anyone to rebut the facts presented. The other positive attitude is to be well versed and acquainted with one’s objective and purpose of embarking in one’s research so that one can firmly stand ground and not easily swayed to accept ideas, information or thoughts if one feels that it is not appropriate and not relevant.

At the end, both candidates get the thumbs up to proceed further their PhD research. Prof. Syukri reminded all ISDEV students to make an example from these two RISDEV candidates in both their effort and attitude that have showcased the potential to produce writings and research of high quality.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


An attentive audience at the packed conference room of C23

As usual, the ISDEV Monthly Graduate Supervision for March was divided into two sessions. It was held on 25 March 2014 at C23, School of Social Sciences. The first session was the Tarbiyyah Pengarah ISDEV delivered by Professor Muhammad Syukri Salleh. The second session continued with an introductory explanation of ATLAS.ti (computer software program) by a RISDEV (Postgraduate Research Mode) student, Razali Othman. 

Prof. Syukri giving his monthly address on "Pautan Hati" (Bondage of the Hearts)

For this month's Tarbiyyah Pengarah ISDEV, Prof. Syukri addressed ISDEV members on another element of importance to the ISDEV fraternity 'Pautan Hati' (Bondage of the Hearts). It is a continuity of his address on the need for ISDEV members to venture out with "Oceanic Intellectual" capability thus enabling ISDEV to be a "Magnetic Institution" by attracting all those who are passionate about glorifying Islam especially through the academic route into ISDEV. According to Prof Syukri, this 'Pautan Hati' is more effective than the attraction of magnets as it brings about a sense of belonging and a safe haven to all its members. But to attain this 'Pautan Hati' Prof Syukri stressed the need for the process of tazkiyyah al-nafs (cleansing of the heart).

Razali Othman (centre) introducing his presentation on ATLAS.ti

In the second session, Razali Othman took his turn to deliver his explanation and shared his experience as well as knowledge of using ATLAS.ti (computer software program) to all ISDEV members. According to him, the purpose of ATLAS.ti is to help researchers uncover and systematically analyze complex phenomena hidden in unstructured data especially in dealing with a qualitative research (text, multimedia, geospatial). The program provides tools that let the user locate, code, and annotate findings in primary data material, to weigh and evaluate their importance, and visualize the often complex relations between them. He then gave a practical lesson by showing how ATLAS.ti was able to consolidate large volumes of data and keep track of all notes, annotations, codes and memos which he gathered during the empirical part of his PhD research. His explanation and examples received several questions from other RISDEV students who are keen to apply ATLAS.ti in their research.

A detailed explanation provided by Razali using the data he collected for his PhD thesis

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Then We will surely relate (their deeds)  to them with knowledge, and We were not (at all)  absent [al-A'raaf, 7:7].

Thursday, April 10, 2014


The presentation slides prepared by Prof. Syukri 

On 8 April 2014,  12 ISDEV members consisting of two lecturers and ten RISDEV (Postgraduate Research Mode) students attended a Roundtable Discussion organized by the School of Finance, Economics and Business (SEFB), College of Business, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Kedah Darul Aman. 

The academic staff of UUM with ISDEV members were eager to listen and gain knowledge from
Prof  Syukri Salleh (with a white cap)

The delegates were led by ISDEV Director Professor Muhammad Syukri Salleh who received the invitation to address the faculty members of SEFB. The talk on "Integrating Islamic Perspective in Economics?" started at about 9.00 am and ended about 1.00 pm that day. 

Prof Syukri (left) with the chairperson for the discussion, Mohamad Helmi (right) 

After the talk, a question and answer session followed whereby a few faculty members revealed to Prof. Syukri on their realization for the need to include the Islamic perspective in teaching mainstream economics to the students. Prof. Syukri then invited ISDEV Deputy Director, Dr. Zakaria Bahari to provide some light on ISDEV experience. 

A group photo at Assoc. Prof Ab. Aziz's residence with Dr Nasri of UUM who hosted ISDEV members the day before. Seated from right to left - Dr Zakaria, Prof Syukri and Dr Nasri. Standing from right to left - Murni, Assoc. Prof. Aziz's wife, Shereeza, Zulkifli, Razali, Shahir Akram, Kasyful, Mohamad Helmi and Assoc. Prof. Ab. Aziz

Also included in the discussion were Shahir Akram Hassan, Razali Othman, Mohd Zulkifli Muhammad, Kasyful Mahalli, Shereeza Mohamed Saniff, Murni Yusoff, Nor Hanani Ismail, Raziah Tahir, Assoc. Prof. Ab. Aziz Yusof,  Mohamad Helmi Hidthiir and Abdul Muif Abdul Wahab.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


After Suraya Ismail passed with flying colours in her viva voce in February 2014, three other RISDEV (Postgraduate Research Mode) students have also done ISDEV proud. They are Wan Anisah Wan Endut, Radieah Mohd Nor and Mohamad Helmi Hidthiir who had received outstanding accolades for their theses not just well-written and researched but excellently defended as well.

A prepared and composed Wan Anisah Wan Endut (front)

On 14 March 2014, located at C23, School of Social Sciences, Wan Anisah Endut had to defend her thesis entitled "Perakaunan Zakat Saham di Malaysia: Asas dan Kaedah Amalan"  (Zakat Accounting of Shares in Malaysia: Fundamentals and Methods of Practice).

The tense atmosphere while Wan Anisah answered the questions posed by the examiners
Her viva session was chaired by Datuk Dr. Abdul Khalil Shawkataly from the School of Industrial Technology, Universiti Sains Malaysia while her internal examiners were Professor Muhammad Syukri Salleh and Dr. Zakaria Bahari. Dr. Nor Hafizah Selamat (represented the Dean) while Dr. Zahri Hamat, (her supervisor) and Dr.Fadzila Azni Ahmad (her co-supervisor) were also present that day. Wan Anisah impressed her examiners with her calm yet poised disposition in answering the questions posed to her.

 A very calm disposition exhibited by Radieah

On 1 April 2014, both Radieah Mohd Nor and Mohamad Helmi Hidthiir had to brave though their viva voce at C06, School of Social Sciences on the same day but at two different slots. Radieah's viva was held in the morning which saw her defending her PhD Thesis on "Asas-asas Pengurusan Kemiskinan Mengikut Umar Abdul Aziz" (Fundamentals of Poverty Management According to Umar Abdul Aziz).

Part of Radieah's panel of examiners (from right to left) Dr Zahri, Dr Zaini, Professor Norhashimah and
Dr Nor Malina Malek

Radieah managed to exhibit her profound knowledge on the research that she embarked upon which had given a positive impression to her examiners. The examiners consisted of the Dean of School of Social Sciences, Dr. Nor Malina Malek, Dr. Zaini and Dr. Zahri Hamat were the internal examiners while Prof. Dr. Joni Tamkin Borhan from Academy of Islamic Studies, Universiti Malaya (UM) as the external examiner. Her viva was chaired by Professor Norhashimah Hashim of the School of Education, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Mohamad Helmi confidently answers the questions posed

In the meantime, Mohamad Helmi Hidthiir's turn to face the examiners for his viva voce took place in the afternoon. A confident Mohamad Helmi managed to impress his examiners with his research on "Financial and Liquidity Risks Underlying Debt Financing Modes and Economic Conditions: An Empirical Analysis of Islamic Banks in Malaysia" with an air of confidence yet acute humility that he showcased while defending his thesis.

 Prof Joni Tamkin (left) posing a question

Mohamad Helmi is the student of Dr. Zakaria Bahari with Dr. Fadzila Azni Ahmad acting as his co-supervisor. Associate Professor Dr. Intan Hashimah Mohd Hashim served as the representative of the Dean while the external examiner was also Professor Joni Tamkin of UM. The two internal examiners were Professor Muhammad Syukri Salleh and Dr. Zahri Hamat.

Mohamad Helmi (four from right) with the panel of examiners 

So far the theses that have gone for viva voce in 2014 have been mentioned to be of high standards and deserved to be nominated for the best thesis award at least at the university's level.

Congratulations to them!


('Abdullah) Ibn Abi Al-Awfa narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "(Indeed) Allah is with the judge as long as he is not unjust. So when he is unjust, He leaves him and he is attended by Shaitan." [Grade: Hasan, Reference: Jami' al-Tirmidhi, Vol 3, Book 13, Hadith 1330].

Monday, March 31, 2014


A RISDEV (Postgraduate Research Mode) student has done ISDEV proud. The Brunei Times published an article written by Shereeza binti Mohamed Saniff in the "Letters to the Editor" column on Monday 31 March, 2014. Below is the full write-up of the said article.

Staying united in face of adversity

Dear Editor,

Monday, March 31, 2014

THE three part series of opinion “We united can fight for our country” by Pehin Orang Kaya Lela Raja Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abdul Rahman Haji Abdul Karim (The Brunei Times, March 19-21, 2014) is truly a welcoming reminder to us all on the importance of staying united in the face of any trials and tribulations that besets a society let alone a country.

It showcased a well read and vast selection of scholarly thoughts and writings that are within the reach of the author. It is a writing that one can sense is from the heart but beautifully guided by absolute facts (verses from the Quran) and credible references. In short it is a writing that must be heeded by all whose love for Malay and Islam are deeply ingrained within the fabric of their being.

As a recent visitor to Brunei Darussalam, one cannot be denied to be in a state of awe, respect and great thankfulness on the clear and distinct stance that Brunei wants to announce to the world.

Brunei is proud to be an Islamic country whose ancestral lines are from the Malay heritage. I can sense that Brunei is also proud to showcase anything related to the strong link that its Malay heritage has with Islam.

Names of shops printed in Jawi, the closure of shops from 12 noon to 2pm on Fridays (upholding Allah’s commandments in Surah Jumaat, 62: 9-11), the enforcement of Syariah Laws and the move towards achieving Negara zikir are strong moves that are intentionally intended (in line with the first 40 Hadith collection by Imam Nawawi that remind us “verily all deeds are with their intentions”) to proclaim to the world that Brunei is proud to be associated with Islam.

However as with all actions that is intended to bring back Islam to its glory, Allah SWT has placed for man the enemies to whosoever strive in Allah SWT cause. The various stories of Prophets sent to convey the message of submission to Allah SWT as told to us in the Quran brings a clear and stark reminder that there is an enemy for each of the Prophets sent. Thus the presence of enemies can be regarded as sunnatullah (the ways of Allah SWT) in any move towards glorifying Islam. Enemies, in striving for Islam, are viewed as akin to mirrors. As mirrors their function is providing the check and balance to ensure that one is on the right path in striving for Islam.

In fact if no enemy is sent then that is the time that one who strives for Allah SWT cause should be worried and deeply troubled.

Once there is a clear step towards realigning back to Islamic roots, definitely the enemy is indeed nearer than a stone’s throw away.

The enemy comes in different form and shapes. There are five types according to Imam Al-Ghazali. Two are internal enemies while the other three are external. The chief to these enemies is Syaitan as repeatedly mentioned in the Quran that Syaitan is a real and clear enemy to the pious (example as can be found in Surah Faatir, 35 verse 6) while next to Syaitan is the other internal enemy, the nafs (desires). It is this nafs that can poison one’s mind and heart and thus turn a fellow human and acquaintance to be one of the external enemies. As to the external enemies there are the infidels (kafir), the munafiq (hypocrites) and those who are jealous with malicious and ill intent (hasad dengki).

Hence, referring back to the opinion “We united can fight for our country” is a timely reminder that in facing challenges to bring further the glory of the Malays with Islam enemies do come in various shapes and forms.

One plausible justification for the surfaces of enemies from within but has no tangible form and figure in the guise of pseudonyms is the result of being indoctrinated by the thoughts and ideas of the dominant development paradigm.

This dominant development paradigm is from an Islamic-exogenous paradigm (Muhammad Syukri Salleh, 2012). The capitalistic system that brings about a liberal secular ideology is destroying the identity of being Malay Muslim. It is feared with the destruction of this Malay-Islam roots, the barakah (an intangible in the realm of the unseen befitting a characteristics of Muslim who believe in the ghaib as stated in Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:2) will also be obliterated. The annihilation of Malay-Islam roots is actually in line with Rostow’s (1962) cultural block hypothesis that advocates for the eradication of tradition and culture as these are the stumbling blocks to development (read progress and modernisation).

Thus those indoctrinated and fascinated by physical achievements brought about by developed countries adopting this capitalistic system, could view Islamic-based roots such as Jawi and the Syariah as hindrances towards achieving success as defined by the capitalistic system.

So how can one fight the known but unseen enemy? As a start, be clear and stand firm of the development paradigm that one is adhering to.

An Islamic-based development paradigm based on an Islamic philosophical underpinning is definitely poles apart and at times antagonistic to the dominant development paradigm.

Thus a sure way to confront these unseen and unknown enemies is to start looking for friends that are of the same mind and heart. It is a call to stay and be united, for those of the like mind and heart (thus work as a Jema’ah).

For those who strongly believe in the sanctity anything that identifies the Malay-Islam roots for example Jawi and the Syariah. Treat minor disagreements minor and focus on the big picture – the sanctity and further strengthening of the Malay-Muslim identity.

The only true way to fight the enemy is to return to Allah SWT as Allah SWT has promised that Allah SWT will safeguard those who strive for his cause (Surah An-Nisa, 4:45). When there is unity and the unity is aimed at achieving the pleasures of Allah SWT than surely the unending barakah as reminded in Islamia on “Counting the Barakah of Syariah” (The Brunei Times, 21 March, 2014) will be sensed and felt. One indicator to sense and feel the receipt of barakah is aptly mentioned in Surah Saba’, 34:15 that brings forth the following meaning:

Indeed, it is for the people of Sabaa, a sign (which proves God’s kindness) found in their home, namely: Two gardens (broad more fertile), located to the right and to the left (their village). (And it is said unto them): Eat of the provision of your Lord and give thanks to Him (state you are) good state (peace and prosperity) and (God you are) God is forgiving.

Wallahu ‘alam.

Shereeza binti Mohamed Saniff,
Centre for Islamic Development Management Studies (ISDEV),
Universiti Sains Malaysia,
Pulau Pinang,