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,

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Allah does not charge a soul except (with that within) its capacity. It will have (the consequence of) what (good) it has gained, and it will bear (the consequence of) what (evil) it has earned. "Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people." [al-Baqarah, 2:286]

Sunday, March 23, 2014


 Nor Hanani receiving her Trophy from Brunei Deputy Minister of  Education
Thanks to the efforts and ongoing guidance from supervisors and lecturers, Nor Hanani Ismail, RISDEV (Research Mode) student was crowned the winner in the Best Islamic Research for the category of Al-Qur'an and As-Sunnah in the recent Inter-University Seminar on Postgraduate Studies 2014 (SAPLI 2014, Brunei-Malaysia) with the theme 'Shaping Excellent Muslim Intellectual Through Islamic Research' in Brunei.

Nor Hanani received a certificate and the Best Islamic Research Trophy presented to her by Brunei Deputy Minister of Education, Yang Mulia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yusoff bin Haji Ismail. Nor Hanani presented her paper on Indikator Kesahihan Hadith Sebagai Indikator Kesahan Data Bagi Penyelidikan Berkaitan Islam (Validity Indicators of Hadith as Validity Indicators of Data for Research Related to Islam).

 Nor Hanani presenting her paper

SAPLI 2014 was held for two days beginning 19 to 20 March 2014. The seminar was organized by Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA), Brunei Darussalam which saw participation from local universities, UNISSA and Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) while the universities from Malaysia saw participation from Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) and Kolej Universiti Antarabangsa Islam Selangor (KUIS).

The other three presenters from USM (from right to left) Razali, Murni and Shereeza

Besides Nor Hanani, three other RISDEV students participated in the seminar. They were Razali Othman who presented on The Use of Fiat Money in Cash Waqf, Murni Yusoff on Islamic Relationship Marketing and Shereeza Mohamed Saniff on Development Actors in Constructing Contractual Documents in Islamic Finance. ISDEV Director, Professor Muhammad Syukri Salleh headed the delegation from USM and was the representative in the round table discussion held at UNISSA.


It was narrated from Azhar As-Samman, from Ibn 'Awn, from Nafi', from Ibn 'Umar, that 'Umar acquired some land at Khaibar. He came to the Prophet and consulted him about that. He said: "If you wish, you may 'freeze' it and give it in charity." So he 'froze' it, stipulating that it should not be sold, given as a gift or inherited, and he gave it in charity to the poor, relatives, slaves, the needy, wayfarers and guests. There is no sin on the administrator if he eats from it on a reasonable basis or feeds a friend with no intention of becoming wealthy from it [Hadith from Sunan an-Nasa'i, 3601; Grade: Sahih, In-book Reference: Book 29, Hadith No. 8; English Translation: Vol 4, Book 29, Hadith No. 3631].

Sunday, March 16, 2014


And when My servants ask you, (O Muhammad), concerning Me - indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me (by obedience) and believe in Me that they may be (rightly) guided [al-Baqarah, 2:186].

Thursday, March 13, 2014


 Dr Zakaria (in yellow shirt) chairing the in-house discussion

An in - house discussion in Corporate Social Responsibility of Islamic Banks, and the Application of Waqf Istibdal in Development which forms a component of the project under ISDEV Research University Team (RUT) led by Professor Muhammad Syukri Salleh was held for two days on 13 and 14 February 2014.

 A bird's eye view of the team leader, Dr Zakaria Bahari

The discussion was led by Dr. Zakaria Bahari which also saw the presence of other research team members such as Dr. Asmaddy Haris from USIM, Dr. Azrin Adnan from UniSZA, Dr. Mohd Afendi Mat Rani from UiTM, Dr. Abdul Fatah, Dr. Zahri Hamat and Dr. Sheik Abdullah, all three from USM.

 Dr Zahri presenting his findings

On the first day, the discussion focused on the Corporate Social Responsibility of Islamic Banks project while on the second day the discussion focused mainly on the Application of Waqf Istibdal in Development. In this meet the research team did a checklist on their research milestones since the 3rd RUT Workshop held on November 2012.

Part of the team (from right to left), Assoc. Prof Dr Abdul Fatah, Dr Azrin Adnan and Dr Sheik Abdullah

In addition, members were seen busy collaborating with one another to create suitable questions for the questionnaires as well as to determine the location, date and time to conduct the field work. The in-house discussion was also joined by ISDEV ASTS Murni Yusoff, Azreen Hamiza as well two Research Officers, Lenny Anak Luat and Nur Inani Ismail who are involved in the component of this project. Encik Aziz Tahar, ISDEV Research Executive Officer, who was also in the discussion provided some pointers on how to go about handling the questionnaires so that the research process is much smoother.

Monday, March 10, 2014


Ibn 'Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: I accompanied the Prophet (ﷺ) while we were returning from 'Arafat. Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) heard behind him a loud noise of beating and of driving the camels forcibly. He pointed towards it with his whip and said, "O people! Proceed calmly. No virtue lies in rushing." [al- Bukhari and Muslim, reference: Book 2, Hadith 25].

Thursday, March 6, 2014


A leader who knows no rest - an enthusiastic Prof Syukri explaining about"Magnetic Institution"

Institusi Magnetik (Magnetic Institution) was the catch phrase of the day for the Tarbiyyah Pengarah ISDEV in February, 2014. This was the topic of the monthly address to ISDEV fraternity by ISDEV Director, Prof. Muhammad Syukri Salleh at C23, Social Science Conference Room, USM on 28 February 2014.
Before detailing on what he meant by Institusi Magnetik, Prof. Syukri reiterated the importance to each and every member of ISDEV to have the characteristics of an "Oceanic Intellectual". To this Prof Syukri reminded ISDEV members of the oath taken by them in Danau Toba a few years back with a theme on "Tadabbur Alam". Then ISDEV members had vowed to have within them the characteristics of Ulul al-Baab (a group of people imbued with the treasures of knowledge within him). When the characteristics of an Ulul al-Baab are realised by every individual member of ISDEV only then that this "Oceanic Intellectual" permeates into heart, body and limbs of all ISDEV members. So when there are such characteristics by all members of ISDEV, then others will be attracted to know ISDEV and thus yearn to be part of ISDEV. 

As usual - a full house for the Tarbiyah Pengarah ISDEV

However does ISDEV have the capacity and capability to attract other intellectuals not just from within Malaysia but internationally as well into ISDEV? To achieve this ISDEV needs to be an Institusi Magnetik. Is ISDEV poised to be an Institusi Magnetik?

Prof. Syukri then presented some facts and figures based on a report on ISDEV presented to USM Senate on 10 February 2014. Three main extrinsic factors on the magnetic energy of ISDEV have been identified. First is the presence of Oceanic Intellectuals in ISDEV who are not only known for their expertise in their chosen academic fields but who are also able to be ambassadors of ISDEV who are of high morals and integrity. Second is ISDEV's website through ISDEV homepage and ISDEVNews. Third is the personal blog of the lecturers of ISDEV.

Requests for the secret to the coining of the term Institusi Magnetik - Shereeza (centre) poses a question to Prof Syukri

Then Prof. Syukri stressed the focus to which this the magnetic energy is to be channelled to.He emphasized that the energy should not be used for the gains of a certain group of people in ISDEV let alone individuals in ISDEV for fear that the seeds of obsession in them may be sown and thus grow. The magnetic energy needs to be channelled to ISDEV to strengthen the jema'ah. Once ISDEV as jema'ah is strong, members of ISDEV have the shared ability to glorify and strengthen Islam. There is a need in attracting others to ISDEV naturally as opposed to by way of force. Thus ISDEV members must always be mindful of the objectives for which ISDEV strives for. ISDEV strives the utmost best for Islam. ISDEV strives to glorify Islam. This objective is achieved through various means at ISDEV. Among them is the heart to heart methods of teaching and learning, collective expertise, academic program, academic researches, the environment and ISDEV achievements.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


 A focused and concentrated lot - the sisters of ISDEV

True to ISDEV culture, 7 RISDEV (students pursuing in Research Mode) PhD candidates presented their PhD thesis and proposals to ISDEV fraternity during ISDEV Graduate Discourse for February. The graduate discourse was held for two consecutive days in the morning of 26 and 27 February 2014 at the University Conference Hall, Universiti Sains Malaysia. The chairperson throughout the program was the Section Head of the Islamic Development Management Section of the School of Social Sciences, Dr. Fadzila Azni Ahmad. 

 Lenny (left) presenting her PhD proposal  while (2nd from left to right) Ku Nor Ashikin, Murni and Khairul Faizi
anxiously wait for their turn

The first day started at 9.30 am and saw 4 RISDEV students presenting their PhD thesis proposals. The first presenter, Lenny Anak Luat presented her PhD proposal on "Analisis Strategi Pengurusan Insan di Yayasan Al-Bukhary" (Analysis of Human Management Strategy at Al-Bukhary Foundation). Thereafter Ku Nor Ashikin Ku Ahmad Zamri presented on " Usahawan Wanita Dalam Kalangan Asnaf di Lembaga Zakat Selangor (LZS): Analisis Program dan Faktor Kejayaan" (Women Entrepreneurs Amongst Asnaf in Lembaga Zakat Selangor (LZS): Analysis of Programme and Success Factors). Both proposals were evaluated by Dr. Mohd Shukri Hanapi who gave his approval for these two proposals to proceed with the research proper.

Murni (left) takes her turn to present her PhD proposal on Islamic Marketing

Then it was the turn of two students under the supervision of Dr. Zakaria Bahari. Khairul Faizi Mohd Rapiai presented on " Potensi Model Takaful Hibrid: Satu Analisis Pakar Terhadap Gelagat Pengusaha SME Muslim di Negeri Pulau Pinang" (Potentials of Takaful Hybrid Model: An Expert Analysis on the Behaviour of Muslim SME Entrepreneurs) while the final presenter for the day, Murni Yusoff, presented her proposal on "An Islamic Perspective on Relationship Marketing Approach in Malaysian-Based Takaful Operators". Both students received the recommendation to proceed with their PhD thesis. 

The second day started at 9.00 am with Wan Norhaniza Wan Hasan presenting her final PhD Thesis followed by Mohd Syakir Mohd Rosdi and then Razali Othman. It is a norm at ISDEV that students present their findings first at the ISDEV Graduate Discourse before final submission to the Institute of Postgraduate Studies (IPS). 

Wan Norhaniza defending her findings in her PhD Thesis

Wan Norhaniza Wan Hasan presented her PhD thesis on " Indeks Pembangunan Berteraskan Islam: Satu Analisis Konseptual" (The Islamic-based Development Index: A Conceptual Analysis). The thesis was evaluated by Dr. Zahri Hamat who commented positively that todate her PhD thesis is the least number of pages written by a RISDEV student. However the quality is not compromised as the content is compact, simple and precise. He acknowledged that Wan Norhaniza could submit her thesis to IPS in two weeks' time after making the minor adjustments recommended. 

Ustaz Syakir (left) defending his PhD Thesis while Razali (right) patiently waited for his turn

"Tahalul Siyasi Dalam Ekonomi Politik Islam: Satu Kajian Theoritis" (Tahaluf Siyasi in Islamic Political Economy) is the title to Mohd Syakir Mohd Rosdi PhD Thesis while "Penggunaan Wang Sebagai Instrumen Wakaf Tunai" (The Use of Money as Cash Waqf Instrument) is the title for Razali Othman's PhD Thesis. Mohd Syakir's thesis was evaluated by Dr. Zakaria while Razali Othman's thesis was evaluated by Dr. Fadzila Azni. Razali Othman's presentation was acknowledged by all present to be comprehensive and well researched. His supervisor, Prof Muhammad Syukri Salleh concurred that his thesis was very well written.

A presentation filled with facts and enthusiasm - Razali defending his findings (left) while his supervisor,
Prof Syukri Salleh attentively listens

All 7 RISDEV students can now sigh a sign of relief by praising Allah SWT as their theses can now advance to the next level. All the hard work has paid off as 4 of them can now proceed to conduct their research while the other 3 are just moments away from submitting their PhD thesis to IPS.