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Thursday, August 30, 2012

The move

I have been hinting about this for quite some time, and the latest was in the blog posting here. In fact, truth be told, this was something that I have been seriously contemplating on since I went to Makkah in 2010.

The time has now come for me to move on. I have decided to leave my cushy job as Executive Director at Yayasan Ilmuwan, and jump full time into the academic world as a full-time academic. Today is officially my last day at the Yayasan.

My supervisor, Professor Datin Dr. Azizan Baharuddin, has been egging me on to make the jump for the past five years, I think. I have been taking my time before finally deciding to do so this year. I have been hesitant, yes, but not because I do not fancy the challenge, but rather I have to make sure that my decision will not have negative impacts on my financial standing to support my family. As the main breadwinner of the family, I have to be very certain that this career jump is beneficial in the long run.

I started working in 1996, beginning with the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre (MSRC), for about one and a half years under Dr. Abdul Razak Abdullah Baginda. It was here that I learnt the basics to conducting research, thinking critically and analysing events. I also learnt a lot for being directlty under Professor Datin Dr. Kobkua Suwannathat-Pian, a renowned historian, at MSRC.

Then in 1998, I moved on to the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM) for nearly eight years. I had the benefit of learning from people like Professor Dato' Dr. Ismail Haji Ibrahim, Professor Datuk Dr. Abdul Monir Yaacob, Datuk Dr. Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas, Datuk Nik Mustapha Nik Hassan, Professor Dr. Abu Bakar Abdul Majeed and Encik Mazilan Musa - all of whom I consider my mentors and teachers in research and academic writing. I was also privileged to be able to work under the then-Chairman of IKIM, Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, under whom I learnt some useful management techniques which I apply to this day. It was also here that I was exposed to the media, both print and electronic, as well as to international and local conferences and seminars.

I then moved on to Yayasan Ilmuwan in December of 2005. In terms of pace, it is basically more relaxing as things were "quieter". My vow was to get the newly-formed organisation up and running. Now that things are running, I guess it is the best time as any for me to make my next move...

...which is to Universiti Malaya.

I guess anyone who knows me well enough should find this hardly surprising. Universiti Malaya has been very close to my heart for many years now. This was where I did my M.Sc. in history and philosophy of science. This is also where I am at the tail-end of my Ph.D. (waiting for my viva voce which should be very soon). This is also the place where I found my love in lecturing.

As such, I will be starting on the 3rd. of September as Consultant Expert at the Programme for Applied Sciences and Islamic Studies at the Academy of Islamic Studies of the university. I look forward to the new challenges ahead. I know things will not be easy. This will be my first time working at a fully public institution. This is also my first time working in a very big organisation. It is thrilling nonetheless, to just think about the challenges at the university.

I would like to sincerely thank a few people who have helped me in making this decision a reality: My supervisor, Professor Datin Dr. Azizan Baharuddin, for listening and advising me on making the move; my mentor, Professor Dato' Dr. Ismail Haji Ibrahim, for the encouragement; equally significant is the role played by the former Director of the Academy of Islamic Studies, Associate Professor Dr. Ruzman Md Noor, who was instrumental in facilitating my move; also, to the current Director, Professor Dato' Dr. Zulkifli Mohd Yusoff, for expediting the move; and finally, the Programme Coordinator, Professor Datin Dr. Noor Naemah Abdul Rahman, for her strong support.

Also, not forgetting my confidants who have provided me with much encouragement and assistance in making the decision.

This is indeed an exciting time for me. I look forward to what the future holds. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Timely lesson of Ramadan

Ramadan may have passed, and we are now in the month of Syawal. I am sure everyone is still very much in the festive mood of Eid.

While we celebrate Eid, let us not forget the many lessons we obtain from the school of Ramadan. One important lesson that I see not many people notice or appreciate comes in the form of time management.

Let us give this a bit more thought.

In the month of Ramadan, many of us make it a point to be punctual for our prayers. Most of us have no problems waking up in early so as not to miss sahur. Since we are already up that early in the morning, we have no problems performing the subuh prayer. Some even go the extra mile to perform the tahajud prayer along with other optional prayers before subuh.

As we are already awake for subuh, most of us would be ready to leave for work and arriving much earlier than usual. Since we do not have to take breakfast, we would already be at our work stations ready for work. While at work, we do not have distractions for tea breaks and lunches, hence we would continue with our work.

Most offices allow its staff members to leave early at the end of the day by halving the lunch break. It is amazing that many people could actually finish the same amount of work within eight hours in Ramadan, compared to other months where people would stay back on the account of finishing up work.

We would rush home, prepare (or buy) food for iftar. At the stroke of maghrib, everyone breaks fast on time. We even have the time to break fast with all our family members, which seems difficult to do outside of Ramadan.

Interestingly, as maghrib is the one of the shortest prayer times, we could still find time for maghrib prayer, rest and then go to the masjid for isyak and the terawih and witir prayers. We even have time for tadarus al-Quran during this time.

I find it amazing that in a month like Ramadan, many of us actually are able to manage our time pretty efficiently. We can do many things that we just cannot seem to do in the other months. In fact, I for one believe that productivity is actually greater in this holy month for Muslims who truly observe the ibadah.

The challenge now is for us to be consistent even after the month of Ramadan. If we can be as efficient in time management as we were in the holy month, I think we can bring out the best in ourselves, insha-Allah.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Eid 1433H

With the coming of Aidilfitri, I would like to wish all visitors to my blog, "Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri" and "maaf zahir dan batin".

May this auspicious day bring us closer to our loved ones in the true spirit of Eid.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Career jump

I have mentioned many times before that I would one day jump into the academic world on a full-time basis. I have even blogged about this briefly in the past, for instance in this post in 2008 and another in 2009.

Frankly, I have had many opportunities to make the jump earlier on. I was wooed by Universiti Sains Malaysia way back in 2002. I have been asked to join Universiti Malaya on many occasions before. I have also been linked to a yet-to-be established university since late last year. 

All this while, I have been somewhat reluctant to make the change in my career, primarily because I have yet to complete my doctorate. This has always been my "excuse" for not making the shift into the academia.

This year, however, I have submitted my thesis. I am now just waiting for my viva voce. Hopefully before the end of the year, I should get my doctorate, insya-Allah.

Since submitting my thesis for examination, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching. I asked myself what is it that I want in life. Research, publication and lecturing have been my life since I started working in 1996. I believe that the time is right for me to be truly involved in the academic world, not just being at its fringes and borders. I have been doing research and academic publication with research institutions. I have also been lecturing on a part-time basis.

I strongly feel that the time is right for me to fully move into the academic sphere.

Such a time for the move is actually getting closer by the day.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Touching TVC from Petronas

Petronas has done it again.

Every year, for as long as I remember, Petronas has been coming up with thought-provoking television commercials (TVCs) during festivities and special days such as Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and the National Day. The national oil company has set the standard with its TVCs that is beautifully presented with memorable messages that sometimes can bring people to tears.

This year, Petronas has come up with what I think is the best so far. The TVC entitled "Strangers" is touching and carries a deep message that can definitely touch everyone's heart. This is also, I believe, the first TVC that shows Petronas' involvement outside Malaysia.

The message is simple, yet is deeply meaningful and very apt.

As I said, Petronas has done it again! Enjoy the long version of the TVC. Kudos Petronas.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

New books out

This past month, two books which I have been working on have been published.

The first is International Workshop for Islamic Scholars on Agribiotechnology: Shariah Compliance published by the Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre (MABIC).

The second is Dimensi Islam dalam Wacana Sains published by Yayasan Ilmuwan.

Hopefully these two new additions will be beneficial references for those researching in the area of Islam and science.