Ahad, 27 November 2011

Bahasa Melayu is a language of science*


*This entry is the unedited version of my rebuttal to Datuk S. S Subramaniam's  letter Language of Science (StarEducate, 20 November 2011) which appears today in Sunday Star of StarEducate (page 5).

By Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal, Research Fellow of Assembly of Intellectual Muslim (HAKIM)

I would like to clarify on few contentions raised by Datuk. S.S. Subramaniam in his letter “Language of the science” (StarEducate, Nov 20).

In that letter he lamented that Bahasa Malaysia as a “new language” is very slow in coming to terms with modern scientific discourse. This premise is utterly false because there is no such a thing as Bahasa Malaysia. The correct name that he supposes to refer is Bahasa Melayu where the root of its development begins more than 600-years ago especially in the advent of Islam in Malay Archipelago. If he meant Bahasa Melayu lacks the weight in supporting scientific discourse, in which this point currently becoming the staple argument for proponent of PPSMI (The Teaching and Learning of Science and Maths in English), this is also another red herring.

The richness and prowess of Bahasa Melayu in subsisting subrcientific discourse can be proven in the long history of Malay civilization. Bahasa Melayu for the past 600-years has able to carry and produce plethora of original and indigenous scientific works ranging from medicine, astronomy, mathematics, botany, craftsmanship, chemistry, and physics that has been utilized and appropriated to the condition of the livelihood of the Malays in this region not just at the level of small settlements but most importantly at the level of civilizational where Malay sultanates were once reign supreme in this region conducting trades and economic transactions with world super-power of those days. These achievements could never be possible unless the Malays through their language Bahasa Melayu, able to convey and develop their own knowledge system for their civilizational advancement as portrayed in the history. The proof of their succesess and contributions had been showcased from February to June this year by Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia in the exhibition entitled “Al-‘Ilm: Science and Innovation in the Islamic World”.

Further more, Bahasa Melayu as rightly deliberated by Tan Sri. Professor Dr. Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas, is also a member of vast network of Islamic languages such as Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and Turkish where many scientific key terms are being shared across among each of them. All these great Islamic languages have churned out numerous accounts of scientific works that made Scientific Revolution possible in the West during the Renaissance and Enlightenment era.  Contemporary academic discourses especially in the West have already acknowledge how indebted they were to the Islamic civilizations in bringing forth their scientific knowledge via the translations of the works from its original language bearer which mainly were Arabic and Persian into Western languages.  By altering Bahasa Melayu to Bahasa Malaysia we have done great injustice to the language itself by cutting its original root and authority in which it has hinged upon the successes and potentials exemplified by the Malay civilization in the world history.

On the account of the biasness of policy-makers against English as a colonial and foreign language, this is not unfounded and unacademic assumption. Our early policy-makers understood well that Malaysia being a post-colonial country needs a solid foundation for its national education with its own identity rather than co-opting the largesse of Colonial British.  The formulation of our national education system is a two-pronged effort not just about attaining advancement and prosperity in material sense but also in forging the national unity. This can be further testified through the formulation of National Culture Policy of 1971.  From that policy ensued more robust development plan that suites our local socio-cultural milieu that has stood the test of time in extending prosperity and avoiding calamity of the 1969 though there are still more room for improvements. Bahasa Melayu definitely is the language where knowledge transactions should occur especially with regard to scientific and any form of intellectual discourses in Malaysia because it befits and compatible to local values within the backdrop of our socio-cultural milieu as agreed through the formulation of National Culture Policy 1971.

In contrast, modern western science, which transpired through Western languages notably English, is indeed by nature, exhibiting colonialist tendency. This can be understood by closer reading of a work written by the father of modern science, Francis Bacon in his Novum Organum. Max Weber the great German sociologist has also confirmed how modern science that emerged after Renaissance and Enlightenment has disenchanted the realm of nature that currently lead to serious problems in the realm of science and extending them further into the life of modern man. Climate change, environmental destruction, extinction of species, and series of other global problems have been attributed to the dominant and imperialistic tendency of modern science has upon humanity as testified by western physicist and thinker such as Fritjof Capra in his seminal work The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture.

Colonialism in the Malay Archipelago has indeed to certain extend, stunted the development of Bahasa Melayu in becoming the main language of scientific discourse. Indigenous knowledge that came into fruition under the aegis of Bahasa Melayu were systematically being displaced by colonial language especially English, resulting the dominant of Western science over traditional and indigenous knowledge.

Modern sciences that currently persist in our education system are mainly drawn from the Western scientific corpus that arose from the experience of Scientific Revolution in the West in the era of Enlightenment. Though there are universal benefits and values that we can shared and utilized from the Western scientific achievements, yet still there are many things that deem incompatible to our world-view for example on the teaching of Darwinian evolutionary theory that has been subsumed into various knowledge disciplines such as sociology and economic. If incompatibility arises, it is due to the incongruence and unfounded basis that Western science has upon our indigenous sciences, for example theory of evolution has never been integral to the Easterners especially among the Muslim whereas the feud between Evolutionist and Creationist is never-ending in the West.

Currently Western world is in deep intellectual, cultural and spiritual crisis as manifested through series of unfortunate events in Europe and United States of America. It is an intellectual and cultural suicide for us to improve our livelihood by just using their knowledge system without critically engaging upon their scientific discourse via our indigenous intellectual lenses. It is such a waste for us not to think on reviving our very own knowledge system that hinged upon our socio-cultural milieu where language is one of the main intrinsic foundations in the development of those indigenous sciences.

Since Bahasa Melayu is the national language of Malaysia, it is our duty as Malaysians to spearhead the development of the language in acclimatizing it to contemporary scientific challenges. We cannot just short-change ourselves on the basis of utilitarianism and short-termism especially with regard to education, which by default is a value-laden pursuit for excellence. Malaysia can show to the world the diversity that we have can be galvanized further not only at level of socio-cultural richness but also reviving civilizational glory in scientific discourse that fits into the real needs and purposes of our people rather than blindly following the dictation of faceless multinational corporations. For that to be realized, one must be aware upon our national identity that was forged by our forefathers for us to strengthen and refine in standing against another test of time.


Isnin, 14 November 2011

Yang kecil diperbesarkan, yang besar diperkecilkan. Inilah masalah keruntuhan adab dan terhijabnya kamu pada Al-Attas



Setelah lama aku bersuhbah dengan anak-anak murid beliau, sedikit-demi sedikit banyak sekali aku pelajari yang tiada tertera dalam karya-karya Al-Attas. Antara kemulian mahaguru ini yang melayakkan beliau bergelar mujaddid abad ini ialah kerana beliau bukan sahaja telah memperjelaskan segala perkara yang kabur berhubung mawdu' asas pandangan alam Islam ('aqidah) malah sepanjang hidup beliau sendiri telah meng'amalkan segala yang ditulis dan diucapkan. Dan antara ciri-ciri kewalian itu ialah istiqamah. Tiada dapat dinafikan tatkala orang lain ditaburi pangkat dan harta, pengaruh dan nama, Al-Attas tetap Al-Attas. Keutuhan ilmu dan 'amal tiada tolok bandingnya menjadi qudwah hasanah kepada generasi selepasnya.

Suka disini aku ingin mempertahankan mahaguru nan hebat ini daripada cemuhan dan fitnah kekeliruan yang dihamburkan kepada khalayak antaranya sering berbunyi Al-Attas hanya pandai menulis dalam Bahasa Inggeris, yang akhirnya menjadikan ideanya elit dan tidak me"rakyat" maka beliau tidak layak, sumbing untuk diangkat menjadi mujaddid dan lain-lain.

Untuk insan-insan seperti ini aku boleh maafkan jikalau mereka bertanya dengan husn dhann tetapi kalau acap kali masih melaungkan kritikan picisan yang tidak dibantu dengan kesabaran penelitian, harus saja ditempelak secara 'ilmiyyah agar lebih berhati-hati menilai sebelum mengukur baju di badan sendiri.

Balik kepada isu yang dibangkitkan. Apa hal Al-Attas menulis dalam Bahasa Inggeris lebih banyak daripada Bahasa Melayu? Apakah Al-Attas bodoh benar dalam memahami kepentingan Bahasa Melayu? Tidak logik langsung buat Al-Attas yang mengemukakan teori Bahasa Melayu sebagai Bahasa Islami, yang mengkaji karya nan agung Bahasa Melayu ciptaan Fansuri dan Raniri boleh menyepi saja terhadap Bahasa Melayu?

Aku malas menjawab secara panjang lebar sebab Al-Attas sendiri telah menjawabnya secara terang dan ringkas dalam prakata Risalah Untuk Kaum Muslimin muka surat (x). Keseluruhan muka surat itu kalau dibaca dengan TELITI dan penuh SABAR lagi HUSN DHANN maka tiada akan mereka itu bercakap sumbing terhadap Al-Attas dalam hal ini.

Walaubagaimanapun aku ingin mensyarahkan lagi untuk memuaskan hati dan aqli semua pihak yang masih kabur dan lebih teruk MALAS untuk berfikir lagi bertanya secara tepat lagi bersabar akan dalam memahami SIAPA ITU AL-ATTAS.

Bagi yang ikhlas dan yang sudah melakukan kerja rumah dengna baik, bukan sekadar membaca malah mujahadah bertemu dan berbincang dengan anak-anak muridnya, akan tersingkap jawapan-jawapan murni akan hakikat polemik yang ditimbulkan tidak sudah ini.

Kalian harus tahu cara-gaya dan isi kandungan Al-Attas menulis dalam Bahasa Inggeris itu tampak SAMA tetapi TIDAK SERUPA jua dalam Bahasa Melayu. Biarpun Risalah Untuk Kaum Muslimin itu "ibu" kepada Islam & Secularism, ada banyak jua perkara yang tiada sama diungkap dalam kedua-duanya. 

Melalui pembacaan diriku ini berserta perbincangan rapi dengan anak-anak muridnya, Risalah ditulis memang berhajat untuk ditujukan khusus kepada kaum Muslimin yang susur galur akliahnya tertayang pandangan alam-nya yang terbentuk melalui sibghah Bahasa Melayu yang menjalar ke peringkat budaya dan sejarah mereka jua.

Berbanding pula dengan Islam & Secularism yang ditulis dalam Bahasa Inggeris dan ditujukan KHAS kepada ANAK MUDA lebih bersifat 'alami (universal) lagi padat sifatnya.

Pada hemat aku, Al-Attas lebih banyak menulis dalam Bahasa Inggeris perihal mawdu' yang susur galurnya memang berasal usul daripada Ketamadunan Barat itu sendiri. Aku terkesan dengan ini melalui penaakulan aku terhadap penggunaan beberapa frasa dan perkataan yang tiada mampu terungkap dalam Bahasa Melayu itu sendiri seperti "Parmenidian" yang termuncul dalam bab pertama Islam & Secularism. Aku berasa Al-Attas memang sengaja menulis begitu dalam Bahasa Inggeris dan ditujukan kepada ANAK MUDA YANG LAYAK dan SUDAH BERSEDIA memahami RANAH PEMIKIRAN BARAT ITU MELALUI PINTU MASUK LOHONG AKLIAHNYA SENDIRI ya'ni daripada ranah sejarah budaya-bahasa-nya sendiri, melalui latar bahasa Ketamadunan Barat yang paling berpengaruh dan 'atiq (matured) sifatnya dalam bicara hal tersebut: Bahasa Inggeris. 

Islam & Secularism ditulis dengan PADAT agar MASALAH dan PENYELESAIAN AWAL yang ditujukan dalamnya lebih MUDAH DIHADAM OLEH ANAK MUDA yang sudah memenuhi persedian awal tersebut. Ianya lebih MUDAH diungkapkan dalam Bahasa Inggeris dalam mana hendak dikupas semula permasalahan Ketamadunan Barat itu sendiri. Cuba kalian fikirkan, satu contoh dalam Islam & Secularism, apakah cara-gaya untuk dijelaskan konsep "Parmenidian" itu secara TEPAT dalam Bahasa Melayu?

Islam & Secularism ditulis dalam Bahasa Inggeris bukan ditujukan hanya kepada da'ie kaum Muslimin yang mencari Pencerahan daripada Tradisi Keilmuan Islam malah juga ditujukan kepada golongan sekular Muslimin yang semakin bercambah di merata dunia Islam pada awal 70-an hingga kini agar mereka sedar bahawa apa yang mereka percaya dan agungkan itu adalah tidak senada dengan Pandangan Alam Islam. Aku teringat perihal ini bila anak-anak murid Al-Attas menceritakan kepada aku bagaimana Al-Attas sengaja menjemput Prof. Aziz Al-Azmeh ke ISTAC dalam satu persidangan untuk menunjuk dan mengajar kepada anak-anak murid beliau akan seorang Arab-Muslim Sekular yang mana adab terhadap bahasanya sendiri itu sudah puput dimamah wabak sekularisasi. Golongan ilmuan Muslim yang sekular sebegini hanya akan memandang "regunya" bilamana bahasa yang diungkapkan itu bertepatan degan acuan yang menjadi teras penilaiannya. Ini jua boleh kau fahami jikalau direnungi kisah mengapa Ibn Sina yang berbangsa Parsi itu menulis dengan banyak sekali dalam lingua franca Islami: Arab, walaupun beliau sering dicemuh kerana Bahasa Arabnya itu bersifat kurang kemas. Harus kau ingat bahawa Bangsa Parsi itu bangsa yang berjiwa besar, tiada takut akan bangsa-bangsa lain tetapi kerana Islam mereka tetap tunduk kepada Bahasa Al-Qur'an jua. 

Lain pula Risalah yang ditulis dengan penuh intim, bersifat 'imlak yang sudah tentu jua didaktik kepada anak bangsanya sendiri. Malah daripada situ jua Al-Attas sudah mula merencanakan idea-idea besar berhubung asas-asas penting negara-bangsa Malaysia ini seperti konsep Perpaduan Nasional, Dasar Kebudayaan Kebangsaan yang menjadi teras kepada dasar-dasar negara ini dahulunya. Apakah bukti-bukti ini tidak cukup untuk meleburkan terus dakwaan-dakwaan tidak cermat oleh kalian kepada beliau yang kononnya tidak mencintai dan menghargai Bahasa Melayu?

Apa yang aku hujahkan ini mungkin hanyalah sekelumit daripada jawapan-jawapan lain yang lebih 'arif dijawab oleh anak-anak murid beliau sendiri yang lebih intim dan telah lama suhbah secara istiqamah tatkala masa senang dan susah memperjuangkan yang haqq dan menentang yang batil. 

Aku tidak hairan langsung dengan dakwaan kalian yang mengangkat pemikir-pemikir palsu yang ilmu fard 'ayn-nya baru setahun jagung nan keliru-selirat untuk bercakap dan bicara sesuatu yang hakikat dan ma'rifat dalam Bahasa Melayu yang Ibundanya itu. Ini kerana insan-insan beginilah seperti pepatah Melayu yang berbunyi "seperti tikus membaiki labu" dimana mereka merobek-robek Bahasa Melayu menjadi bahasa penyebaran dakyah wabak sekularisasi yang pada hakikatnya merupakan musuh kepada Bahasa Melayu itu sendiri.

Nasihat aku mudah: ikhlaskan diri dan kenali siapa ahl-ma'rifat melalui pintu zahir dan batin yang betul. Jangan diperbesarkan perkara yang kecil sehingga mengecilkan perkara yang besar nan pasti kau tiada mampu menghargai dan meletakkan Al-Attas pada tempat yang sewajarnya dan tempat yang sewajarnya itu hanya akan tersingkap buat insan-insan yang sudah bersedia lagi ikhlas dalam hendak memahami obor tajdid yang dibawa Al-Attas dan ulama' terdahulu, masani yang berpaksikan Al-Qur'an dan Sunnah Baginda Rasulullah s.a.w berserta tafsiran para awliya' dan mujaddidun yang telah lama meninggalkan amanah dan hikmah kepada bangsa yang bernama Melayu ini.

Wallahua'lam.

22 Oktober 2011.
1.20 pagi.

WAF

Selasa, 6 September 2011

Pelancaran Buku dan Seminar karya terbaru Prof. Syed Naquib Al-Attas




Jemput hadir ke majlis pelancaran dan seminar tentang sejarah Alam Melayu.

Buku ini merupakan satu kesinambungan daripada syarahan 1973 yang Prof. Al-Attas sampaikan di UKM kemudian diperpanjangkan pula dalam Islam & Secularism bahagian
Preliminary statement on a general theory of the Islamization of the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago
.

Buku ini mempertahankan sejarah dan peranan gol.  Ahl Sunnah Wal Jamaah yang memacu penyebaran dakwah Islamiyyah di Alam Melayu sebagai satu gerak kerja yang tersusun dan berpaksikan manhaj Tasawwuf Ahl Sunnah, me-radd pandangan sejarawan yang mengaitkan/membesarkan akan peranan gol. Syi'ah dalam menyampaikan risalah dakwah serta menjelaskan asal usul kerangka pandangan alam Ahl Sunnah yang terbentuk melalui proses pengislaman Bahasa Melayu yang amat unik.

Buku ini pada hemat saya bakal mentajdidkan kembali tradisi ilmu Ahl Sunnah dalam bidang historiografi dan falsafah persejarahan Islam yang tersangatlah kurang sarjana yang meneliti hal ini masani.

Buku ini contoh kehebatan dan kemampuan kerangka Ahl Sunnah yang ditajdidkan oleh Prof. A-Attas untuk generasi hadapan terus perkasakan dari semasa ke semasa.

Pendek kata, kalau nak tahu bagaimana Prof. Al-Attas "operationalize" kerangka Metafizik Islam beliau seperti yang tertulis dalam Prolegomena, inilah bukti empiris-nya.

Isnin, 29 Ogos 2011

Apa kata Tan Sri Prof. Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas tentang golongan Wahhabi dan Modenis/Reformis







*keseluruhan penjelasan ini dipetik dalam perenggan 60 dan 61, yang termuat dalam bab Masalah Kegentingan Kaum Muslimin: Sebab-sebab Dalaman, dalam adikarya - "Risalah Untuk Kaum Muslimin"  yang beliau tujukan khusus untuk kaum Muslimin di 'Alam Melayuyang telah di-imlak-kan pada tahun 1973.

**frasa yang dihitamkan untuk penegasan adalah daripada saya sendiri.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*Perenggan 60*

Meskipun dapat diakui benar bahawa ulama-ulama penggugat seperti ibn Taimiyyah dan beberapa ratus tahun kemudiannya, ibn 'Abd al-Wahhāb, yang bawaannya gemar  mencabar kewibawaan yang sah dan menyamaratakan darjat yang cukup sempurna ke taraf yang kurang sempurna, dalam ajarannya masing-masing tiada mengajurkan perpisahan dari faham bermazhab. Bahkan mereka tetap mengisbatkan ajaran para imam dalam gelanggang Ahluʾl-Sunnah waʾl Jamāʿah, yang berpegang kepada ajaran sunnah dan para Sahabat dan Tabiin dan para Pengikut Tabiin. Akan tetapi kita lihat bagaimana perkembangan pengaruhnya, yang dibantu pula dengan terebutnya kuasa oleh para pengikutnya di negeri Arab lebih kurang dua ratus tahun ini, dan dengan timbulnya aliran baharu di Mesir akibat ajaran al-Afghani dan Muḥammad Abduh, maka semakin terjadi deras aliran yang mengajurkan perpisahan dari ajaran-ajaran ulama lama yang merupakan pelbagai pelita agung yang telah menerangi suasana Umat Islām berabad-abad.

Dengan ajaran al-Afghani dan Abduh mulai menyeludup masuk pengaruh-pengaruh dari jurusan luar yang merupakan sebab-sebab tambahan yang membawa akibat keruntuhan adab di kalangan kita. Meskipun benar tujuannya demi mempertahankan Islām serangan-serangan  Barat, dan maksudnya untuk menyerang-balas kebudayaan dan tamadun Barat dengan senjata-senjata ilmiahnya sendiri, namun demikian senjata-senjata ilmiah olahan Barat yang digunakannya itu demikian halusnya cara-gaya mengelirukan yang mensifatkannya sehingga tiada terdaya pelopor-pelopor aliran baharu itu menguasai serta mengawalnya - kerana kelengkapan ilmiah yang ada pada dirinya memang tiada menyamai taraf mutu yang dimiliki oleh para agung mujtahidin zaman lampau.

Maka akibatnya bukannya kebudayaan dan tamadun Barat yang terkena serang-balas dengan senjata-senjata ilmiahnya sendiri, akan tetapi yang menyalahgunakannyalah yang terkena derita 'senjata makan tuan'.Faham-faham asing yang telah dipupuk ke  dalam pemikirannya kemudian menjadi semakin menerap pada pemikiran para pengiktunya dan antara lainnya dan yang terutama termasuk:

(1) faham keutamaan dan kelebihan akal hayawani, yaʿni reason yang berpuncakan ratio, dalam meneroka kebenaran dan hakikat, dan keutamaan diri hayawani. Ini menimbulkan pula faham:

(2) kebebasan manusia yaʿni diri perseorangan, yang juga cenderung ke arah mengisbatkan diri hayawani, yaʿni freedom dan liberty, untuk menentukan nasibnya sendiri; untuk mengemukakan pendapat serta pandangan sendiri. Ini bernisbah rapat dengan faham:

(3) hak-hak asasi manusia, yaʿni human rights, justeru kerana melindung serta mengukuhkan (1) dan (2) di aas. Kemudian faham:

(4) kesamaan taraf manusia, yaʿni equality dan egalitarianism dalam rangka masharakat dan negara di sisi undang-undang yang direka oleh manusia. Faham-faham seperti ini semua memanglah membayangkan penerimaan faham:

(5) evolusi manusia dan sejarah dan duniannya, yaʿni evolution - gerak-daya tabii yang mendorong ke arah perubahan kepada keadaan yang lebih baik, ke arah kesempurnaan  yang juga senantiasa berubah demi menjelmakan lagi kesempurnaan lain pula terus-menerus. Kemudian dengan pengaruh kemenangan serta kejayaan faham sosialisme di negara-negara Barat, ditambah lagi pula dengan faham:

(6) sosialisme Barat mahupun juga demokrasinya sebagaimana difahamkan dan dikelirukan dengan faham-faham kemasharakatan dan politik Islām oleh setengah daripada golongan cerdik-pandai yang beraliran modenis dan juga yang lainnya.

Pemikiran pelopor-pelopor yang menimbulkan aliran yang digelar 'baharu' itu, dan yang bertujuan untuk memulihkan ajaran Islām kepada kemurnian yang asal, sesungguhnya sudah jauh terkebelakang jikalau diperbandingkan dengan pemikiran pengikutnya golongan yang menda'wa diri sebagai 'modenis'.

Sebenarnya faham-faham yang dikemukakan oleh Abduh mahupun yang lain sebelum zamannya sampai kepada ibn Taimiyyah sendiri tiadalah 'baharu'. Bahawa faham-faham it tu dianggap baharu sudah dengan sendirinya membayangkan pemisahan pengetahuan Kaum Muslimin dari perbendaharaan ilmu ang telah dikumpul-simpan oleh ulama lama yang secara lebih mendalam telah menyelami masalah tafsiran Al-Qurān dan Sunnah dan penyelesaian kekeliruan Kaum Muslimin. Faham-faham itu tampak baharu oleh yang jahil yang tiada sedar tahu bahawa yang disebut baharu itu sudahpun dijelaskan mengikut masalahnya.

Yang benar- baharu dalam faham-faham yang dianjurkan oleh pelopor-peolpor pengikutnya hanyalah yang asing pada Islām yang diseludupkan masuk menyamarinya. Ulama-ulama yang kewibawaannya kurang sempurna, yang menggugat dan menolak-nafikan faham serta ajaran yang lama, dan pelopor pembaharuan serta pengikutnya golongan modenis dan lain-lain yang sealiran dengannya di negeri Arab dan di Asia Barat, Timur dan Tenggara semuanya tiada berhasil mengemukakan faham baharu sendiri yang dapat menggantikan yang lama yang dilaberaknya itu, dan hakikat ini menunjukkan bahawa mereka tiada berkemampuan membimbing Kaum Muslimin ke arah kefahaman dan kehidupan Islam yang sejati. Tanpa berpandukan ajaran ulama  lama dan para imam mujtahidin, tanpa merujuk kepada hasil pemikirannya dan mengamalkan tafsiran agungnya - yang semuanya berdasarkan penerokaan akali dan nakali terhadap Al-Qurʾān dan Sunnah - maka golongan yang beraliran dari ibn Taimiyyah, yang terbahagi kepada golongan ulama yang kurang sempurna kewibawaannya, dan golongan pembaharu yang dipelopori oleh yang menyeludupkan faham-faham asing ke dalam Islām, sesungguhnya tiada berkemampuan untuk menafikan sahnya pelbagai mazhab yang sah, dan mendirikan mazhab baharu yang berdasarkan faham sendiri merujuk terus kepada kedua Sumber Agung Islām itu.

Mereka menuduh ulama-ulama sejati dan para imam mujtahidin telah membekukan dayaciptanya, telah membantutkan akal dan pemikirannya dengan faham taklid - padahal tiada sekali-kali benar tuduhan itu, sedangkan yang benar hanyalah bahawa mereka sendiri yang beku dayaciptanya dan bantut akal serta pemikirannya; dari itu maka tiada mereka berkelayakan untuk berijtihad. Mereka ashik dalam mempersoalkan perkara-perkara remeh, yang menganggapkan seolau-olah para imam mujtahidin itulah yang mempersoalkan keremehan - padahal kekecilan pandangan dan tanggapan mereka sendirilah yang memperlihatkan pada fahamnnya bahawa yang kecil itu besar sehingga yang benar besar itu tiada terlihat langsung!

Mereka telah melakukan jauh lebih banyak kesilapan-kesilapan yang besar pula - dari kesilapan-kesilapan yang terdapat pada yang lama. Dan walaupun mereka jenuh memuja-muja keistimewaan akal nazari sebagai alat utama penerokaan hakikat serta kebenaran, tiada pula satupun di kalangnnya yang melebihi - mahupun mendekati - hasil akal nazari ulama lama yang dikecam dituduhnya konon telah menindas faham kesamaan serta kesealiran atau kesejajaran pencapaian akal nazari itu dengan wahyu. Padahal memang benar bahawa pencapaian akal nazari itu tiada mungkin dapat disamakan dengan wahyu.

*Perenggan 61*

Tiada banyak perbezaan dalam faham-faham dasar serta cara-cara mengemukakan masalah, dan dalam tabiat serta gaya-mutu kefahaman, yang terdapat antara golongan ulama pembaharu yang digelar modenis itu dengan pantarannya golongan ulama sezaman yang berpegang kepada sumber-sumber nakali Islām tanpa mengutamakan faham-faham luar yang bersumberkan pemikiran Barat.Ulama-ulama sezaman ini, yang menyaru sebagai mujtahidin dan juga ingin digelar pembaharu meskipun berpegang kepada sumber-sumber nakali, namun demikian hanya mengakui sah sumber-sumber yang tertentu yang pada akhirnya berpunca jua pada ibn Taimiyyah dan yang bersealiran dengannya. Dan meskipun mereka tiada mahu mengambil faham asing ke dalam pemikirannya, justeru masuk juga ke situ faham asing itu menerusi aliran pemikiran golongan modenis yang mempengaruhinya jua.

Kedua golongan ini - yang modenis dan yang berpegang kepada sumber nakali, yang keduanya mendaʾwa sebagai pembaharu di zaman kita - telah kugabungkan sebagai bersealiran kerana keduanya menarik tauladannya daripada pertuturan yang sama dari kalangan ulama yang kurang sempurna kewibawaannya, yang berkebiasaan menggugat mencabar-kecam serta memperkecilkan ulama agung yang sezaman dengannya, atau yang mendahului zamannya. Semua ini cenderung pada menyamaratakan yang lain, yang sebenarnya melebihinya, nescaya sama taraf dengannya. Mereka berbuat begini dengan tiada menyedari kenyataan bahawa sekalipun di sisi Allāh Taʿālā semua tiada sama dan setaraf.

Sabtu, 23 Julai 2011

"Kalam of the Age" for Climate Change

Earlier today, I spent about 2 hours in Kinokuniya KLCC browsing some books that I deem important in assisting my day-to-day chore at the office. At first, after reading glaring reviews from many, I opted to buy Tim Harford's Adapt.

He is famous for his previous book entitled  Undercover Economist and some even labelled him as the "Malcolm Gladwell of UK."  I am not a big fan of those two writers as I consider them "populist" kind of scholars (which I don't think they labeled themselves as such) but I found out that Harford's latest offering just fit my bill nicely when it comes to providing interesting anecdotes and case studies on the need to innovate and adapt to current environment be it in business world or any other else that matters to civilized people at large. Furthermore, Kinokuniya is offering 20% discount for that book, hence the enticement was great.

All the good feeling went to the abyss after I read a very critical review from a blog called Whimsley

Although it is not a full-fledge review of Harford's, the blogger wrote one of the most interesting debunking of "pop" economics book that many perceived to be "innocent" and "benign" - in contrast to normal perception by many against left-leaning so-called "ideological" economic books that are pretty much critical against the dominant, positivistic economic school of thought of modern day - neoliberalism.

I was so impressed by his argument and indeed he managed to convince me to re-consinder my intention of owning Harford's latest work. Talking about brilliant intellectual persuasion.

It made me realised that how Harford, Gladwell, De Bono and many others who have written and produced "best-seller" kind of "science" and "self-help" books were actually applying many erroneous logical analysis that sometimes end up making their argument looks like a silly and patchy piece of reasoning - as brilliantly exposé by Whimsley earlier.

Whimsley's lucid rebuttal reminded me of the many of Prof. Al-Attas and his students way of writing refutations (radd) that most often than not were written in solid and coherent manner. 

So to cut the story short, I simply walked to other book aisles to search for other books and later I came across such a wonderful title of a book that I have rarely encountered before:


From the cover and subtitle, it pretty much reminded me of Toxic Sludge is Good For You! which unfortunately, I'd lost it way back during my final year at the university. But on second thought, I was actually not attracted to the subtitle, what more the issue of climate change (which I think has pretty much become a cliche now days) but it was the word "MERCHANT" and "DOUBT" that attracted me the most.

With regard to the word merchant, what conjures instantly upon my mind is Shakespeare's classic Merchant of Venice and also another interesting book about the book publishing industry that yet still not under my possession - Merchant of Culture. 

But the word "merchant" itself, without any qualifier or adjective will not bring any benefit to my inquisitive soul vis-à-vis the word "doubt" that was emphasized the greatest on the book cover.

Why "doubt"? 

Simple, for budding amateur philosopher like me, it connotes a "heavily-laden epistemological concept" that has further connection and ramification upon other issues that has liven up the discourse on epistemology for hundred of years (Descartes and Al-Ghazali anyone?)

Of course I am not expecting the book to be a straight-edge philosophy kind of writing but after browsing it for half-an hour, it gave me an enlightening perspective upon the issue being raised by the two authors whom both are accomplished historian of science - Prof. Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.

The book despite carrying "technical" issues with respect to the scientific debate on global warming is pretty much heavily embedded with "philosophical" underpinnings such as epistemology, logic, and reasoning that touch upon the scientific, economic and environmental issues that are still surrounding the current climate change debate.

You can read the reviews here in order to appreciate my comments better.

Alas, the real surprise that I had earlier from that book was pretty much an interesting one. I think that book could perfectly fits within the modern dialectic discourse of "separating the truth from the falsehood"- or in Islamic science term, al-kalam al-jadid/ al-'asr (The New Kalam or Kalam of the Age). 

The book shows vivid examples how scientist, journalist, philosopher and even laymen could trace the concept of "doubt" that has been uplifted as part of their system and tools in charting their scientific, business and morale paradigm in this debate on climate change. 

Ideally, this book could serve as a good model for budding scientists, engineers, economists and many others who wants to apply and operationalize the spirit of Al-Ghazali's Tahafut al-Falasifah and Al-Attas' exposition on the worldview of Islam in dealing with modern scientific discourse like this issue on climate change whether it is man made or natural occurrence. For me it seems the book managed to capture the spirit of classics such as Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and E.F Schumacher's Small is Beautiful in building up solid cases purging out evidences from the debate that lead to subsequent rebuttal.

Paradoxically, despite of myself promoting this book in this entry, I did not buy it yet as I think more free time is needed for me to savor it properly and systematically. So I only bought latest edition of Ode magazine, Paul Feyerabend's Conquest of Abundance: A Tale of Abstraction versus the Richness of Being and Dietrich Dörner's Die Logik des Misslingems (The Logic of Failure: Recognizing and Avoiding Error in Complex Situations). 


Perhaps later, once I finish Dörner's.

Rabu, 20 Julai 2011

Quo Vadis "Universiti Teknologi Petroleum"?




Bismillahhirrahmanirrahim…

Salaams,

Dear lecturers, and senate members, 

I am very much astounded after reading President’s speech that was recently uploaded in the intranet few days ago with regard to UTP. For those who are not aware, the President mooted the possibility of changing the name of UTP from Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS to Universiti Teknologi Petroleum.

With all due respect, judging from the two mere paragraphs that touched upon UTP in the President’s speech, I found this idea  very awkward and anti-thesis to raison d'être of UTP itself.

What is in the name that we need to be so astounded and alarmed? 

Names are reflection of realities. They have their own essential qualities that embody the true nature of things hence the importance to preserve and protect the right terms that reflect the true spirit of a thing.

As I argued many times over, a university is not mere building that consist of physical structure that houses the mortals in pursuit of knowledge. A university, as reflected in its origin, is in fact, a sacred place in its own right. A university should reflect the true character of knowledge which is enlightening.

The idea to change the name from PETRONAS to Petroleum has serious repercussion upon the very soul of the university. Of course I am pretty sure there must be some acute reasons for President to announce this either due to ideal or pragmatic concern but as far as I can judge from the speech, it is likely due to pragmatic concern rather than ideal, as he mentioned in the speech “to serve as the leading university to serve petroleum industry in the region.”

It is a spot-on view from the “business” perspective but not rightly so from “academic” perspective. 

I have to be very blunt because I still remember 4 years ago when I had a chat with Dr. Ibrahim Kamaruddin, when he was formerly the Director of Undergraduate Studies, he told me that UTP was created not out of the thin air but was conceptualized and modeled against the best universities and institutes in the world.

If that is so, then I would like to propose for the senate members to really dig deeper in understanding why and how others that have cemented their stature as utmost academic institutions be it in engineering, applied sciences or liberal arts, had crafted their humble beginning that lead to their current state of dominance in international academia. 

Let us pick the closest we could set as benchmark in terms of the spirit (idealism) and form (pragmatism): Colorado School of Mines. 

Like all great universities in the world, Colorado School of Mines was founded by Christian ministry, in Colorado’s case it was by Episcopal Church. And like all great universities in the world, there has never been a stark antagonism between the Liberal Arts and Applied Science that pretty much characterized the two important pillars in modern day universities in the West . Episcopal Church is another strand of Protestantism and being originated from Protestant founders, their spirit is very much in tune with what great German sociologist, Max Weber called “Protestant ethic” – an intrinsic force that created Western model of capitalism that paved way for Industrial revolution that we continue to inherit today.

Colorado School of Mines from the early days of its establishment has been very much dynamic in threading the path of academia. The Protestant spirit of the university is self-evident in its motto of “Nil Sine Numine" Latin words meaning "Nothing without providence" or "nothing without the Deity”. Despite its humble name that depicted the heyday of mining in Colorado, the university has not surrendered its very existence to be determined solely by the market and industry demand in churning out mere able-workforce for the mining industries. The mission of the university as stated in its website:

Colorado School of Mines’ role and mission has remained constant and is written in the Colorado statute as:
The Colorado School of Mines shall be a specialized baccalaureate and graduate research institution with high admission standards. The Colorado School of Mines shall have a unique mission in energy, mineral, and materials science and engineering and associated engineering and science fields. The school shall be the primary institution of higher education offering energy, mineral and materials science and mineral engineering degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. (Colorado Revised Statutes, Section 23-41-105). Mines’ well-defined and focused mission is achieved by the creation, integration and exchange of knowledge in engineering, the natural sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, business, and their union, to create processes and products to enhance the quality of life of the world’s inhabitants. Mines is consequently committed to serving the people of Colorado, the nation, and the global community by promoting stewardship of the Earth, advancements in energy and sustaining the environment. 


Is it not a brilliant piece of Mission Statement for a mere “school of mines” in Colorado? Why and how do they able to come up with this kind of holistic and such a depth in viewing their role in the “ stewardship of the earth and its resources”? 

Of course I don’t have any concrete empirical proofs to explain this BUT I firmly belief it is not by mere coincident or slogan, but very much a conscious formulation of their own raison d'être as an institution of higher education that specialized (does not mean abandoning and rejecting other knowledge disciplines as testified by the existence of Liberal Arts Faculty) in “broad expertise of mineral engineering”.

Its Protestant ethic spirit, despite America is becoming more secular each day, is still alive and embedded and has become the “DNA” of the institution. So the humble name of “school of mines” will definitely not tarnish the stature and the spirit of the university as they have liven up their raison d'être since day ONE.

Now let us go back to the issue of changing the name of current name of UTP to Universiti Teknologi Petroleum.

I think President has reasoned clearly in his speech with regards to why UTP need to change its name. On one level, at surface, it is due to the pressing need of churning out automaton, self-starter engineers for the industry as can be deciphered from his speech here:

“We are confident UTP will create a pool of proficient petro-technical graduates to support our recruitment needs. However, we should not forget to take these opportunities ourselves to retool and build our technical capabilities to ensure that our skills and knowledge are abreast with the latest market developments.” 

The pattern and style of reasoning is pretty much clear that UTP need to focus to market and industrial demand rather than clinging on the current spirit, although not perfect but very much “at home” with the traditional ways of operating an institution called university.

I would not want to argue the philosophical dimension with regard to the precision of attaching to UTP the word “Petroleum”  as it is pretty much secondary to the real reason for the spirit of transformation that underlies the need to change the UTP name by attaching the word “Petroleum” to it. Although I have no qualm if the President and Senate Members could offer another alternative such as “Tronoh School of Mines” if the intention is to emulate and benchmark against some of the best engineering school in the world the likes of Colorado School of Mines. 

Between “Petroleum” and “PETRONAS”, I firmly believe that the latter that has the utmost power and influence to create the right academic and scholarship ambience in charting the course of a “technical university” (a misnomer by the way as no university in the world relies solely upon Applied Sciences in defining its existence) rather than the former that conjures an image and symbolism of “old, black, dirty, climate change complicit”. 

After all this year’s theme is proclaimed with such a depth as “Reimagining Energy” – Dare to be Different.

When the university directly or indirectly associated with PETRONAS be as its paymaster or even as little as the name (as perceived by pragmatist), the “aura” that the name can conjure despite its inter-relatedness with “Oil & Gas” is far better than what the the word “petroleum” can conjure in the mind of Man. Just mention the word PETRONAS, it has far more benign and astute image and symbolism that characterize brilliance, magnanimous in the world of commerce and nation building.

Hence, this bring me to the second layer of the problem, which is the pragmatic concern. 

I can speculate that and very much aware it is not easy and cheap venture to run a university. The stake is very high not just spiritually, intellectually but also financially risky. There is no such thing as free lunch when every single thing can and will be scrutinized by public at large and UTP being one of PETRONAS educational and strategic outfit either in terms of corporate social responsibility or long term business strategy, is not being spared either. 

When UTP literally embodied the name “PETRONAS” in itself, the public will always perceive that the sole proprietor is PETRONAS. Since the common logic of laymen viewing PETRONAS as a “Gigantic Cash Cow”, it defies many things about the inter-responsibility that need to be harness by all stakeholders at large in supporting UTP to be the main driver in providing utmost solutions to the Energy Industry and the wellbeing of the nation (save the environment from Climate Change, develop Future Leaders, Captain of Industries that uphold the social and religious milieu of this nation etc.).  For me, the creation of Yayasan UTP is one of the brilliant steps to harness the awareness and responsibility from the public and other stakeholders be it from the Business and Government to contribute to the development of UTP.

If there is an issue about “funding” that leads to the mooting of ideas to change UTP name to Universiti Teknologi Petroleum as mentioned by the President, I think it warrants further creative responsess from all of us UTPians.

Again I would like to point out to the “Ivies” in the States.

John D Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, John Harvard, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Ezra Cornell, Leland Stanford and many other oil barons and industrial magnates, all of them had amassed a great deal of fortune and return them back to the society via endowment by setting up higher education institutions that bear their name till this day (except for Rockefeller that endowed his fortune by setting up University of Chicago).

Same goes to all great Islamic universities in the medieval age that were endowed through awqaf (sing: waqf) NOT solely by the Caliphate/Government.

Hence, in history till today, many great universities are very much “embedded” within the domain of society at large. They are not simply being spoon-fed by governments what more corporations in toto. Their main source of funding is mainly in the form of endowment which shows something about the spirit of the society that has always been supporting these institutions. 

Well, sadly though, it does not happen in Malaysian universities what more to UTP. We are pretty much a “Subsidized Society”.

So, if this is really one of the main problems that leads to the reasoning that the President has come about, as I said earlier, we need to help and advice him creatively in this matter.

Changing name would not solve the problem furthermore it might aggravated the problem as the sense of detachment of the stakeholders at large will be humongous if UTP were to be skewed in its name, form and spirit in the domain of “petroleum”. 

How could the public or private sectors of various kind want to contribute or relate themselves to the livelihood of UTP if the image and symbolism has been limited to mere “petroleum” and “Industrial need”? It would be partially good if the name really attracts the industry players to chip in their fortune for the development of UTP, BUT we are risking the losses of tradition that pretty much being embodied in the name of “PETRONAS” that as I have said earlier, does not simply conjure an entity that is limited upon the world of commerce or a company that has always graced the Fortune 500, as PETRONAS is more than just a company, it is itself an institution.

I believe by attaching the word “petroleum”, it will do more injustice to the great entity called “university”.

A university is more than what we normally and currently understood, as explained by a great Muslim thinker, Tokoh Melayu Terbilang 2011, Prof. Syed Naquib Al-Attas, in the words of his rightmost disciple, Prof. Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud in his The Educational Philosophy and Practice of Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas: An Exposition of the Original Concept of Islamization

“Al-Attas’ arguments that the university should reflect man are not only based on the ontological arguments posited above, but also an linguistic analysis of the important terms used in historical universities. The very term university is derived from the Latin universitas which reflects the original Islamic kulliyah, for in Islam knowledge (al-‘ilm) and the spiritual organ of cognition (al-‘aql) are universals (kulliyat). Furthermore the usage of the human anatomical term faculty by the universities is a translation of the Arabic term quwwah which “refers to a power inherent in the body of an organ” and in which knowledge could inhere. This is more directly related to the fact that “the university must have been conveiced in emulation of the general structure, I form, function and prupose, of man.” The term quwwah in Arabic means strength (qudrah), power in the sense of possessing something (malakah). 
Al-Attas asserts that the Arabic term sijil was used in Latin (sigillum) for the university seal and scroll. 
Al-Attas recognized that the Islamic conception of universality in knowledge, conveyed by the term kulliyah, is not restricted to a particular place of learning. That is why Al-Attas points out that kulliyah reflects a system of order and discipline in the organization, and the inculcation and dissemination of knowledge whether at the mosque (jami’), “institutes” (maktab), “colleges” (madrasah), House of Wisdom (bayt al-hikmah), gatherings of scholars and students (majalis), House of Sciences (dar al-‘ulum), hospitals, observatories, or Sufi lodges (zawiyah). The mosque, and by extension all other places of learning in Islam, was regarded as a “site of universal knowledge”. 

Also as explained by Historian of Medieval Education, George Makdisi in an article entitled On the Origin and Development of the College in Islam and the West:

“The Latin term universitas, from which the word university is derived and which means the whole of mankind, first appeared in a classical Latin text of Cicero (d. 43 B.C.). Thus it came to mean a number, a plurality, an aggregate or society (societas) or college (collegium) of persons. In the 12th Century, universitas was used among the legists to refer to a group of people having juridical existence.” 

Also as explained by Frank P. Graves in his A History of Education During the Middle Ages and the Transition to Modern Times

“The usage of the term universitas to refer to a guild or an association of students or teachers is already sufficient proof that it is not the mere physical congregation  of people that has permanently made the term refer to the highest educational institution in modern society, but the intellectual-educational activity of the congregation. Our argument is self-evident because no other guild or association since the 14th century until this day carries the term university, except that of the highest learning institution where many kinds of knowledge are being systematically taught.” 

Let me give another example from the discussion that I had with my  buddies on the origin, evolution (more like a devolution) of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia logo and motto.




Below is the explanation given by Prof. al-Attas with regard to the symbols that was originally emblemed in the first logo of UKM as stated in  Prof. Wan Mohd Nor's The Educational Philosophy and Practice of Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas: An Exposition of the Original Concept of Islamization, page 301-302:




"Explaining the meanings behind the symbols on the right side of the logo, he [Prof. al-Attas] writes:

“The dark green background symbolizes the religion of Islam, the official religion of the country and the basis of the university's philosophy. The tiger, which is internationally known as the animal of the Malay Archipelago, symbolizes a Malaysian society rooted in Malay culture. The tiger's pose is not that of looking back but of an attacking position. What are attacked are Ignorance, Evil and Falsehood which are the causes of human suffering and tragedy. The keris (Malay dagger) which symbolizes courage, drawn by its left paw, and the torch which symbolizes knowledge, held by its right are instruments to combat Ignorance, Evil and Falsehood. Courage and Knowledge are a perfect unity. Our character should neither be knowledgeable but cowardly nor brave yet ignorant. The philosophy of life reflected in these symbols is Islamic: we must be ready to counter if attacked, but not to attack without provocation. Nevertheless, Courage should be guided by Knowledge which should be placed at the highest level of ethics and morality...”

Concluding his explanation of the logo, he writes that all of the symbols in the shield are pointing upwards to the white banner on top of the shield which carries the Romanized version of the Prophet's prayer in the Qur'an (Ta Ha 20:114): zidni 'ilman, meaning "increase me in knowledge". He comments: 

“This verse underlies the fact that only Allah is Most Glorious and the Absolute Owner of Truth. Truth reveals itself gradually to its seeker as the verses of the Holy Qur'an were revealed to the Holy Prophet... Therefore be patient! and do not be hasty (in the pursuit of knowledge). It is incumbent upon us, as it was upon the Holy Prophet himself, to obey His Command, to beseech Him to increase our knowledge because our grasp of knowledge is always never perfect. A University should not arrogate itself the claim to be a source of knowledge for only God Most High is the True Source of all Knowledge; since everything is present in Him; those who are striving to attain moral excellence should realize that they are ignorant and should therefore humble themselves."

 Some of my UKM friends commented:

"Pertama mula tatkala membaca kupasan Prof. Wan mengenai logo asal UKM yang direka-cipta oleh Prof. al-Attas itu, dan gagasan serta makna yang dibawanya, hati merasakan suatu kerugian teramat sangat; mengapa hasilan reka-cipta yang sarat gagasan dan faham yang benar boleh diabai dan dipinggirkan begitu sahaja, alih-alih menjulang pula sebuah logo yang di dalamnya terkandung sebuah teori atom yang sudah tidak lagi menjadi yang dominan dalam fizik.  
Barangkali daripada perubahan perlambangan tersebut dapat disimpulkan tiga perkara: 
(a) penilaian yang dibuat terhadap ilmu pengetahuan sains dan teknologi itu sendiri tidak tepat dan mencerminkan kesilapan dalam memahami dengan jelas ruh atau semangat, prinsip dan isi kandungan ilmu sains moden itu sendiri,  
(b) maksud dan sifat ilmu telah disempitkan untuk merujuk kepada ilmu pengetahuan sains dan teknologi semata-mata, sekaligus menisbahkan cabang ilmu pengetahuan yang lain (seperti sejarah, sastera, falsafah) kepada ilmu pengetahuan sains dan teknologi, 
(c) erti dan matlamat pendidikan yang sewajarnya bertumpu kepada insan dan pemupukan nilai-nilai murni telah diubah kepada faham pendidikan yang disandarkan kepada kepentingan bersifat jangka pendek untuk menghasilkan tenaga kerja berkemahiran bagi memenuhi kehendak majikan dan industri semata-mata. 
Kesimpulan itu ada benarnya. Lihatlah tafsiran kepada yang dibuat kepada tafsiran perlambangan atom itu: "Simbol atom dan teknologi melambangkan konsep pembangunan negara yang berlandaskan sains dan teknologi moden. UKM sebagai pusat ilmu bertanggungjawab mengeluarkan tenaga mahir dalam semua bidang untuk memenuhi keperluan pembangunan negara" (http://www.ukm.my/v3/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=92&Itemid=198&lang=bm)." 

So from the arguments that I have put forth, indeed the questions that I have raised warrant a great deal of an intellectual attention from all senate members, lecturers, students and alumni of UTP. It just not suitable for the word "Petroleum" to be made so glaring as the frontal identity of UTP as a "university", unless as I suggested earlier we want to alter and totally change the name into other form or type of higher education institutions, for example if we still want to stick to President's suggestion we can aptly re-name UTP into:

1) Tronoh School of Mines & Petroleum
2) Petroleum Institute of Technology
3) Vocational School of Petroleum & Technology
4) Institute of Petroleum and Technological Studies

With regard to second issue of pragmatic concern about funding, there is much to be learned from the experience of other great old universities from East and West. One of those is Harvard.  I attach here a brilliant article written by my philosophy of science teacher Dr. Adi Setia entitled Harvard University & some fiscal problems of privately endowed higher education in the USA. Senate members could learn a great deal of the mistakes and successes that Harvard managed to chart when it comes to finance its academic endeavor as being detailed out by Dr. Adi Setia.

There are many good books that describe (and give stark warnings) on the current trend of corporatizing university. Some of them are:

1)      Academic Capitalism and the New Economy: Markets, State, and Higher Education by Sheila Slaughter and Gary Rhoades– here is the succinct review from an article entitled The Grim Threat to British Universities also a gist of the book written by the authors themselves here.

2)      University in Ruins by Bill Readings – one Amazon.com reviewer wrote:

Readings describes why he feels that universities are in ruins and what faculty might do about it. He traces the history of the university from Kant to the present time and argues that it has gone through three phases or forms: the University of Ideas (Kant), the University of Culture (Humboldt), and now the University of Excellence (based on measuring quality). His argument is that the U has now become a business, and "excellence" is now being defined in business, rather than in intellectual, terms. Perhaps the most important point that he makes in the book is that he feels excellence has no intellectual reference point.


4)      Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University by Gaye Tuchman – you can read the reviews here, and here.

Or you can simply read again my piece on The University and the Captive Mind.

A university is not a factory that churn out human capital. It is a total misnomer and against the great tradition of higher education institutions. I hope from this lengthy arguments that I have shared, this issue will be cascaded to a higher level of authority in preserving the credibility of knowledge and wisdom that we want to impart to the students of UTP of the past, present and future.

God knows best.

Thank you.

Wan Ahmad Fayhsal 
Alumni of Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS