WHEN it comes to academia, universities are labelled as centres of excellence. Apart from academic excellence, wisdom is equally important in today’s society development.
“Wisdom is the ability to differentiate what is right or wrong, and coupled with knowledge that’s applied to actions, it can save the world from global crisis such as famine, environmental disasters and wars,” said Universiti Islam Malaysia (UIM) president Tan Sri Dr Mohd Yusof Noor.
“However, acquiring wisdom is often neglected in many higher learning institutions. Wisdom does not contradict intelligence, but rather, complements the quality of knowledge.
UIM was the first post-graduate university in the country to emphasise comparative science with integrated knowledge and wisdom, offering programmes through coursework and research across all fields of studies from a cultural and religious perspective.
Mohd Yusof added that many might think it was something new to integrate religious and modern subjects, but in fact, UIM had started this 62 years ago.
Kolej Islam Malaya (KIM), or Muslim College as it was better known, was established in 1955, borne from a reformist movement against the backwardness brought on by colonialism.
“The formation of KIM was the beginning of the Islamic education revolution. While other religious schools were confined to purely religious subjects, KIM was the first religious college to introduce traditional and modern subjects,” he said, adding that the integration of subjects produced well-rounded thinkers with positive values.
Established by the Council of Malay Rulers, the opening of KIM was made possible when Almarhum Sultan Sir Hisamuddin Alam Shah gave his royal consent to waqaf (endowment) his palace in Jalan Kampung Jawa to the institution to become its first campus, and the college was officially opened on April 8, 1955.
KIM was the only higher education institution to receive funding from the Malay rulers as well as Muslim and non-Muslim philanthropists such as Datuk Syed Ibrahim Alsagoff, the Shaw brothers and the Lee Foundation.
KIM graduates were recognised by two prominent universities globally – the University of London and University of Al-Azhar, Cairo.
In 1966, it moved to a new campus in Petaling Jaya, and in 1968, the then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj announced in Parliament that KIM would be upgraded to be the first Islamic University in South-East Asia.
However, that aspiration was postponed to give way to the establishment of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 1970 while KIM was absorbed into the university as its Faculty of Islamic Studies, resulting in KIM temporarily ceasing operations.
After 40 years, KIM was given royal consent in 2010 to commence as UIM, and became the first post-graduate university in Malaysia in July 2014, among just a handful of 16 higher learning institutions around the globe offering only postgraduate courses.
“Many might have thought that Islamic education focuses only on traditional subjects, so we are on a mission to reposition Islamic education as an integration of both traditional and modern subjects.
“The focus of the university is wisdom, and we are proud to continue the vision of the institution’s founders. Wisdom covers a wide spectrum of subjects, and currently, no other university emphasises this element.
“At UIM, we aspire to discover the secrets of this element and become the place for people to learn about it through academic programmes, focusing on the importance of wisdom and nurturing scholars,” said Mohd Yusof.
Today, UIM offers eight post graduate academic programmes – four PhD and four master’s courses – through three schools of studies – Cyberjaya Graduate School of Management and Finance; School of Laws and Syariah; and School of Heritage and Civilisation.
There are several types of scholarships available including Wisdom Oriented Research Fund (WOR-Fund), CIMB-Islamic Scholarship, the newly established Ummah Well-Being Fund and Jamalullail Chair Fund. The university’s next intake is on Sept 23.
Meanwhile, the Institute of Well-Being was established to further enhance UIM’s scholarship and research contribution towards the development of the quality of life and well-being of society at large.
Currently, UIM is operating at Bangunan MKN Embassy Techzone in Cyberjaya. Its new 33.9ha campus near Cyberjaya Lake is slated for completion in five years’ time.