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Is IAIS losing its ‘advanced’ study capability?

Can its action be justified as part and parcel of the Madani philosophy?

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By KJ John

This article is personal to me on three counts. 

First, I was registrar when the current International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) office complex hall was completed under the director of Intan, the late Elyas Omar. He personally designed and planned the “5 Campus Intan Development Agenda”, including the new headquarters complex in Bukit Kiara.

Recently, therefore, I wrote an objection note to the current IAIS chair because of an abuse in its role function, namely, how can an American citizen be held responsible for some random assertion about a Turkish agenda?

The IAIS was the institute founded under the Abdullah Badawi regime as an advanced institute of advanced studies; its founding director, who completely understood this Islamic studies ideal was Dr Hashim Kamali. He was a recognised personality, described by Wikipedia as

an Afghan Islamic scholar and former professor of law at the International Islamic University of Malaysia. He taught Islamic law and jurisprudence between 1985 and 2004. One author has described him as “the most widely read living author on Islamic law in the English language”.

Therefore, too, I will continue to choose and remain one custodian of “an Intan trusteeship of geography, design, development and any value innovation, whether taken or not, or undertaken within Intan and all her facilities”! I am bequeathed such rights by two former directors of Intan.

Second, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, the founding director of Islamic Renaissance Front, is no stranger to me either. He conducted our first ever lecture on “Who needs an Islamic state?” Please go to ohmsi.net to find the full discourse by all concerned. Two current “Madani” (civil and compassionate Malaysia) politicians were on that stage too!

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Thereby, when the IAIS recently abused this relationship with fake accusation, against a person whom I admire greatly, there is no less I can do but to speak out on his behalf and to find out why it did so in my own right of a trusteeship-feeling!

I asked and, to his credit, Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi, the current chair of the IAIS board did reply. His entire reply to me:

Salam. Welcome Mr KJ John. Noted. For your understanding IAIS is an independent Think Tank that always support free exchange of ideas. We have organised dozens of Roundtable meetings that involve many differing views for the past months. But we do not want to muddle into issues when a third country are involved. Let them sort it out altogether. We got so many other urgent issues to look into!

Prof Ahmet T Kuru, although of Turkish descent, is an American citizen who has publicly stated that there were over 500 footnotes in his book, with specific reference to his full thesis.

He was very thankful and appreciative of Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa’s formal collaborative efforts in translating the book into Malay. Maybe the others think it is only a Jawi-Malay version which is a real threat!

I was very disappointed to read about this last-minute pullout of this recognised speaker, apparently because of PhD research findings that “historically, some ulama have sided with the ruling authorities”!

I was not invited to the first discourse, and only turned up at the Conlay Road campus because of the cancellation and the publicly reported alleged abuse by the IAIS!

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But I have since heard about the complete footnotes and credibility of the research effort. I doubt our ulama have read his findings either!

How can I merely play footsie with such ‘idiocratic’ promoters, when social media critics are also calling this “Madani madness”, especially when it is totally unrelated to reason and rationality? There is now such a growing sentiment.

I attended simply to meet the good professor of global academia. It was indeed my privilege!

Therefore, I say too: ignore all those unfounded critics who may never be able to read and comprehend such a profound hypothesis! I have not read it yet either.

But, surely the IAIS eldership cannot afford to claim such ignorance because of their action. Am I wrong?

Thirdly, and finally, I also learnt a new word at the event at Nottingham University in Conlay Road, Kuala Lumpur. That new word perselingkuhan was used by Dr Ahmad Farouk in the Malay version.

Frankly, it may appear arrogant of me to pretend and expound such a topic or even the word, which appeared in front of me for the first time ever. So, I will not do that.

I am an activist and would rather always focus on actions.

What do I mean? Actions define real-time movements of actors in space and time. Therefore, the IAIS acted against Dr Farouk and Dr Kuru based on some fake or wrong assumptions – am I wrong?

Whether with my UMMC life experience, or with Harmony Society when with the minister of national unity in the recent past or currently with my mosque community in our lived neighbourhood, ‘my objection focus’ is always related to any kinds of deception or lies which majors on hiding the ‘full truths of any matter’.

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My serious question to the PM: can this action by the IAIS be justified as part and parcel of your Madani philosophy? Or would I be wrong to label it your Madani madness of leadership?

This is a slightly edited version of a piece that first appeared in KJ John’s Facebook.

KJ John worked in public service for 32 years, retired and then started a civil group for which he is chairman of the board

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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