Interview

Prof. Dato' Dr. Musa Ahmad

Vice Chancellor of Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM)

At USIM, we focus on the sciences and academic development, so we do not limit ourselves to collaborations with Islamic institutions, or with Islamic countries. One example is our Global Islamic Student Outreach (GISO) program.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: Can you give an introduction to Islamic Science University of Malaysia (USIM)?

PROF. MUSA: Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) is a public Islamic university that was established 19 years ago. Our aim is to spearhead knowledge and science that is integrated with Islamic values, and to become the global reference centre for Islamic Science.

USIM offers a range of quality academic programs in our nine faculties, which are the Faculty of Quran and Sunnah studies, Leadership and Management, Syariah and Law, Economics and Muamalat and Science and Technology, Medicine and Health Sciences, Languages Studies, Dentistry and Engineering and Built Environment.

What sets us apart from other universities is that we adopt a balanced approach between the physical and spiritual aspects. This approach is not only limited to the academic programs we offer, but it is also widely practised throughout the university, including at the administration and management levels. Against this backdrop, USIM embraces a holistic approach towards the delivery of knowledge, which unites the sciences of which we call “Naqli” knowledge, and our values which fall under “Aqli” knowledge.

To enhance our research capabilities, we have established three centres of excellence, which are the World Fatwa Management and Research institute, the Islamic Science Institute and the institute of Halal Research and Management. These industries are growing, and there is a large demand for professionals in these areas.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: What is the role of religious values in USIM and how does it contribute to students’ development?

PROF. MUSA: I studied Chemistry in Manchester, UK. In my opinion, science can reinforce values that are mentioned in the Quran so that the knowledge becomes more meaningful. While we upgrade the quality of education and improve our academic programs, we also have to focus on the human ethical values, and place equal emphasis on both.

This is where the Naqli and Aqli philosophy comes in, because science and religion doesn’t have to be separate – we can embed both together.

We provide a safe and motivating environment at USIM for any student who wishes to enroll here and study the sciences, but at the same time, we share knowledge on personal growth and holistic development. Our focus is on education, which is relevant not only to Muslims, but to everyone.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: What is the role of global citizenship for USIM, and how can Islamic education position itself internationally?

PROF. MUSA: Globalization is making the world smaller every day and we have to be global citizens. It is especially important in this day and age that we forge understanding and build relationships with other universities and industries around the world.

This includes the emphasis on knowledge sharing at an international level as a mean to promote mutual understanding, and to foster peace, harmony and global development.

At USIM, we focus on the sciences and academic development, so we do not limit ourselves to collaborations with Islamic institutions, or with Islamic countries. One example is our Global Islamic Student Outreach (GISO) program, which is a student mobility program in partnership with universities from Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia and more. We encourage our students to obtain a global exposure to nurture an open mind and new perspectives. In turn, we receive students from around 30 countries, and most of them are pursuing their PhD research with us.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: What are the opportunities for international partnerships?

PROF. MUSA: USIM has developed strategic partnerships with various local and international parties. This collaboration is broadened through our MoUs and MoAs between USIM and local and international institutions, as well as public and private entities.

We encourage more partners to provide USIM students with industrial training opportunities, in order to help shape these next generation of leaders into holistic, balanced and skilled graduates.

USIM also collaborates with local and international universities to offer credit transfer programs. For example, we are now offering three of our undergraduate courses in Istanbul and Bangladesh, and we have a program with a Swedish university in the pipeline.

Lastly, we always welcome local and international visits to USIM, and vice versa, so that we can share about our unique integration of Naqli and Aqli knowledge.

ASEAN BUSINESS LEADERS: How does USIM connect with the industry?

PROF. MUSA: We pride ourselves on our hands-on entrepreneurship initiative, which is a collaboration with about 200 industries. We encourage students to participate in entrepreneurial activities by coming up with their own products or services, under the coaching of these industry partners.

USIM students can also take part in internships at the companies of our industry partners, thus getting invaluable work experience. This will lend them an edge when seeking work upon graduation, as employers these days have high demands on the quality of graduates and prize work or industry experiences.