ON APRIL 11, six Malaysian scientists won 12 medals at the International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques and Products in Geneva, Switzerland.
This is the largest exhibition of its type in the world. Established since 1972 and now in its 31st year, it was held under the patronage of the Swiss Government, the state and city of Geneva.
The participations, from more than 48 countries, came from five continents.
The Malaysians who won medals were from UTM and UKM.
UTM Skudai obtained three golds, two silvers and a bronze while UKM obtained two golds, two silvers and two bronzes.
All of them are Muslim scientists.
During the exhibition, one of the attractions was Natural Rubber Thermoplastic Wood.
Research into this bagged a silver medal and it was conducted by Prof Dr Ibrahim Abdullah (UKM) and Nor Azaruddin Husni Nuruddin, a Senior Fellow at Ikim.
This research only won a bronze medal during the Science and Technology Expo in Kuala Lumpur last year.
This new technology involves preparing natural fibre and natural rubber modified thermoplastic composites (NRTC) from rice husk and sawdust.
The composites produced exhibits with properties comparable with wood and can be categorised as synthetic wood.
The composites can thus be tailor-made for special properties to suit specific applications.
Being a thermoplastic-based material, it is resistant to moisture and thus microbial and fungicidal activities.
Other advantages of the composites include the material which is derived from waste material (fibre) and recyclable and fire retardant properties can be incorporated into the composites.
Obviously, the significance of scientific research as a strategic tool is to spearhead technology.
It can also spearhead industrial development and support good governance.
One example is the use of indigenous material such as rice husk and sawdust.
At present, proper utilisation and disposal treatment for rice husk are not available.
This environment-friendly process will have impact in the country because scientists can give value to rice husk or any agriculture waste.
Furthermore, rice husk, when heated to a certain temperature and through a certain process, can change its behavioural properties to become crystalline with a high hardness index such as a diamond.
It is known that the Prime Minister himself has expressed disappointment at the lack of creative research undertaken by organisations in this country.
Creative research is focused research that serves intellectual opportunities and public needs in the most productive ways.
It acts as the interface between what is going on in the laboratories and what is of potential interest to serve the public.
However, apart from achieving excellence, there is nothing much that local scientists can gain from research.
Some of the scientists even have to bear the cost.
These medal-winning scientists’ motivation will decelerate after the Geneva exhibition.
This is what happens every year because there are no incentives or rewards given by relevant ministries to take care of medal winners.
In Islam, the Quran places great emphasis on individual as well as collective search and research, and lends considerable importance to men of understanding, who are the scientists.
They are invited to conduct research and discover the secrets hidden in the creations of Allah.
Prophet Muhammad had been reported to have said: “Whoever leaves his home to go in search of knowledge follows the way of Allah.”
The relationship between Islam and science is actually defined in what the Quran says about the Creator, Man and the Universe.
But, in today's world, science and technology leads to winning the peace.
Such as what has happened to Baghdad?
This catastrophe was caused by US scientists who work under Mr George W. Bush.
Exotic high-tech weapons, precision bombs aimed by satellite, warplanes and mobile labs belong to US technology.
During the US war on Iraq, smart bombs were guided by global-positioning system satellites which put them very close to their targets.
The attack unleashed a 4,700°C fireball and a shock wave that sliced flesh, collapsed lungs and burst the arteries of anyone in its path.
In conclusion, Islamic institutions not only focus on ceramah, seminars and theoretical work to inform people how to do good.
Most Muslims know how to do good deeds.
What is more important is to guide Muslims on how they can contribute to the Islamic world, like contributions made by Ibn Sina, Al-Razi, Al-Jabir, Imam Ghazali, Imam Muslim and others.
Can this group of people be reborn in this new millennium with a population of two billion Muslims around the world?
Material and moral support are key factors to materialise Islamic excellence again.
The Muslim ummah will be forever “food” for the United States if we cannot conquer the technology.