Fajr Talk at the 12th Ta’aruf and Intellectual Discourse 15-18 May 1998 held at Guoman Resort, Port Dickson by Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Deputy Dean for Research and Post-graduate Affairs, Kulliyah of Medicine & Deputy Dean for Residential Colleges, Tarbiyat, and Training, Student Affairs and development Division


The organisational culture of IIUM is derived from the Qur'an, the sunnat and the Islamic heritage over the past 14 centuries.  Its main principles are: (a) ummatic concern (b) work is a form of ibadat (c) universal values (d) clear contract: duties and responsibilities (e) Responsibility (amanat) (f) commitment (Ikhlas) (g) hope for reward (thawab) (h) sense of mission and purpose.


Working at IIUM is a challenge because the mission is to contribute to rebuilding the ummat’s civilisation through educational reform. This is one of the few institutions in the world working to resolve the crisis of dichotomy and duality in the education system in the Muslim world and thus contribute to rebuilding a new Islamic civilisation.


Muslim education is suffering from the crisis of duality. There are 2 parallel and largely contradictory systems of education: the traditional Muslim system and the imported European system. Graduates of the 2 systems speak different languages, use different terminologies, and have contradictory and competing world-views. Duality of the education system is associated with duality of knowledge and its disciplines: the sciences of religion, uluum al deen, versus sciences of the world, uluum al dunia. The Consequences of the duality of education and discipline are divided loyalties, confusion in the minds of students, and intellectual schizophrenia of the ummat’s educated elite.


Reform and revival of the ummat will occur through educational and knowledge reform. Tajdid is  a recurring phenomenon in the ummat and is a sign of its health and dynamism. Tajdid requires knowledge, ideas and action related by the following mathematical equation: tajdid = idea + action. Action without knowledge and guiding ideas will not lead to true change. Ideas without action are not change at all. Tajdid requires a reform in knowledge to provide ideas and motivation on which to build.



Every new staff signs an employment contract that specifies rights and obligations for the parties involved. This should be treated strictly as a bureaucratic document needed to regulate specific administrative and immigration matters. The real contract is with the ummat, its future, its dignity, and its renaissance. Your obligation is to contribute to civilisational revival of your ummat. Your rewards are from Allah. Your salary and other material benefits are a means to enable him you feed, clothe, and house yourself and your family so that he can devote your energy to the work. These material returns are not a just return for your labour. Your labour is worship and only Allah can recompense for it.


Muslims find their motivation in their religion and their cultural heritage. Any approach to motivation that ignores this will not succeed. The Prophet (PBUH) taught that every human endeavour is an act of worship and charity. Thus a Muslim working knows he is worshipping his Lord and this is a powerful motivator in itself irrespective of any material gain.


We will discuss the following values as they relate to your work: fulfilment (wafaa), firmness and clarity of purpose (thabaat), Sincerity (ikhlas), accountability.


The following story illustrates fulfilment (wafaa). A strange man in Madina committed homicide and Omar Ibn al Khattab sentenced him to death. He asked a few days to go and arrange the affairs of his family before being executed. One Madanese was willing to guarantee him even if he did not know him and nobody knew who he was and from where he came. On the appointed day all waited anxiously. The guarantor was very anxious because he would face the consequences if the man did not turn up. Just before sunset they saw him far on the horizon. Everybody was in tears. The family of the deceased forgave him and all ended happily.


We must have our objectives very clear and never be swayed. Our commitment must be constant and unwavering. The Prophet attended the covenant in Makka before his prophethood (hilf al fudhuul). He remembered it later in life in Islam and said that if called upon he would go and fulfil his obligations under the convenant.. A story is told of a man who was overpowered by Ali bin Abi Talib in a fight. The man spit at Ali. Ali desisted from killing him because he was not sure whether he would be killing him for the sake of Allah or for personal revenge against the man


All what we do should be seeking the pleasure of Allah (ikhlas). The real reward is in the hereafter. A story is told of a beggar in Egypt. Money changers met in the mosque to weigh dinars and gold for the Sultan. A poor man came and asked for them for half a dinar which they refused to give him. When they left they forgot a bag of money. The poor man found it and buried it in the floor of the mosque. When they came back looking for the money he unearthed it and gave it to them. They gave him 50 dinars as a gift and he refused. They were surprise at someone who a little while ago was asking for half a dinar but was now refusing 50 dinars. The poor man explained: ‘I asked for something because of my need, but I do not want a reward for my honesty. I do not want to sell the big reward of the Hereafter for a small reward in this world’


A story is told of a young man who was praying in a very hasty way in the mosque in Madina. Omar saw him and ordered him to repeat the prayer. The man prayed very slowly and deliberately while Omar watched. When he finished he stood up to pray again. Omar was surprised and asked him why? The man replied that the first and last prayers were done in hasty but were for Allah. The middle one was for the pleasure of the Amin al muminin.


Omar Ibn al Khattab had forbidden adultering milk with water. A milk salewoman was adding water to the milk at night. The daughter reminded her that the commander of the faithful had forbidden that. The mother retorted that the commander of the faithful was not watching. The girl answered with a memorable phrase: ‘if the commander of the faithful does not see us the Lord of the commander of the faithful is seeing.



Little can be achieved if you work alone. IIUM is a big family and also a big team. There are three stages in team formation: iltiqa (meeting), intiqa (choosing), and irtiqa (rising above pettiness). By coming here you have accomplished the first two stages.  According to the following narration of Aisha people of similar purpose get together ‘ I heard the Prophet ( may peace be upon him ) saying, " Souls are like recruited troops: Those who are of like qualities are inclined to each other, but those who have dissimilar qualities, differ" (Bukhari) . You have now to grapple with the third stage. This involves your recognition that humans are different in different ways. They are like a mine (al rijaal ma’adin), some are expensive, some are average and some are bad. You can not refuse to deal with people neither can you change them to what you like. You therefore better learn to deal with each person as a unique individual. See the positive and benefit from it. Be patient about the negative.


Group work involves people, objectives, and a situation.  A collection of people with no common objective do not constitute a group. A group of people with a common objective may not constitute a group in certain circumstances, for example when members of a local football team attend Friday prayers in the mosque, they are not in the mosque as a group because the situation is different. Among the many advantages of team-work are: integration, stimulation, endurance, emotional support, innovation, and motivation.


Experience throughout history has taught us that productivity and progress are a result of cumulation of hundreds or even thousands of individual efforts. Individual initiative is the backbone. Societies and systems that suppress individual initiative eventually fail. When we talk about group-work being superior we are actually saying that by co-ordinating, channelling, and complementing activities, as well as cancelling contradictions an individual's productivity is higher in a team that outside a team. It is the individual's productivity and not that of the whose team that is the yardstick. A team of superior individual performers will itself perform in a superior way.  On the other hand a team that is performing well as a team but has some members not performing to their full potential is essentially a weak team. A team that stifles the individual in the name of conformity will fail very rapidly. This concept of group-work parallels that of congregational prayer ( salat al jama'at ). An individual praying in a group gets a 27 fold reward he however still has to perform and take personal responsibility for results.

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule May 1998