Friday, 30 August 2013

Islam in Universities

There is no such thing as Islamic university. There is no such thing as Islamic Science university. There is only Islamic Science, and it can be anywhere, not limited to universities and colleges. Having an Islamic name in an institutional name does not necessarily mean a university will progress according to Islam and Syariah rules. Many universities have an Islamic name but are governed by external forces - politics and power struggle. The words Islam and Islamic are highly abused to obtain certain ends and making people believe that things are progressing according to Islamic principles. 

So far, Malaysia has 2 "Islamic" universities - International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM). Why are they created? What are their strong and weak points? Are they good universities and appealing to prospective students?

International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM)

This university campus is spread over 2 areas. The medical school is based in Kuantan while the other faculties are based in Gombak, near Kuala Lumpur. It was created following 2 major events in Malaysian history. What are they? It was created when Malaysia led Islamic banking and finance. It was also created for Islamic law. Even though IIUM leads in these 2 fields, its name is hardly heard and its activities unknown to many. Here, I remember lecturers need to know the Quran before they can become lecturers at IIUM. I think IIUM did away with that. Is IIUM Syariah-compliant?

Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM)

When it was created, people got confused and asked what difference does the word "Islam" make when Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) is extant. I was surprised too. It wasn't necessary to make existing universities feel uneasy. It wasn't necessary to have the word Islam in its name. But the name has remained. If the university is focusing on Islam, then it can be named with an appropriate Arabic name and stick with it. Students who completed the religious schools want to go to this university, thinking that this is a Syariah-compliant university and is the same as the extant Arabic universities. The medium of instruction is a giveaway that USIM is dissimilar to Al-Azhar University or Qarawiyun University. We have to be clear about what is it that we want to hide or portray.

Al-Bukhary International University (ABIU)

There is a third university that I had thought is an Islamic university but it is not. The Al-Bukhary International University is a non Islamic and non Syariah-compliant university. It does not run on Islamic principles. It states in its web page that it is not an Islamic university. It looks Middle-Eastern and is truly beautiful but it is not an Islamic university. This is rather unfortunate and very sad indeed.


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