By Muhammad Basir Roslan
“Be whatever you want, as long as you keep striving for your education and your life. Be the beneficial person for the ummah and your generation.” It was the last wise word as Faredah Mahadi heard from his beloved father before he left this world forever.
Faredah Mahadi. It is a name, a beautiful one given by her beloved parents. Her parents, Mahadi Wahab and Amirah Sahamit had always hoped that their very first daughter could be a successful person as in the dream of other parents in this world. Her father was once a dedicated policeman and her dear mother is a full time housewife to take care of their eight children. They stayed at Merlimau, Melaka until now. As Faredah is the eldest between all of them, she had been taking responsiblity to take care of the management and chores of their family with her mother, since the departure of their beloved father.
Faredah Mahadi like to be called Ummi by the students. For her, she wants to be the mother to all of her students and taking care of their education until they become leaders of this nation in the future. Ummi is now lecturing Bahasa Melayu at International Islamic University Malaysia but as a contract teacher from 2008. She had actually applied for optional retirement in that year as she had reached the age of 54 at that time. But she had been persuaded by her friends, especially by Haji Suhaimi Razikin, once a Bahasa Melayu Head of Division during that time, to continue lecturing and keep sowing pearls of knowledge in this university. After discussing thoroughly with this kind man, she finally decided to continue servicing IIUM from 2008 until today with renewal of contract every two years.
Ummi started her earlier education from one primary school at Merlimau, Melaka. After that she continued her education from Form 1 to Form 5 from 1968 until 1972 at King George V School and when she passed with flying colours, she pursued her study at the Higher School Certificate (HSC) at Temenggung Ibrahim College from 1973 to 1974 in the field of Science. But the longer she studied, she knew that she actually fell in love with Malay language and linguistic.
Her parents wanted her to dedicate herself in the field of Science but she swears to God, she really loves Malay literature even more. She fell in love with reading Dara Pingitan, Hang Tuah historical stories, Hamka’s books as well as other Malay literature books. But she is also in amour to read English literature books like Tom Sawyer by Charles Dicken, Rupert of Henzo, Mills and Boons, and many other books.
After she finished her college education, she started to be a teacher at Jasin Secondary English School in January 1975. She was teaching Science subject during that time. And after being there for more than three years, she received the offer to take special courses to teach forms 4 and 5 students in Art stream subjects. She was more than happy to take the courses as she really loves art subjects rather than science.
She finally finished that courses and was able to teach Art stream subjects and not too long after that she finally decided to continue her first degree at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in 1981. In her first year, she was taking Political Science, Geography and also Malay Language but as the time flew she finally decided to focus more on Malay language and linguistic as she dropped other subjects in her final year in 1984.
For her first degree’s thesis, she wrote about the differences and the similarities between Malay language and Temuan language of Johoreans in terms of phonology and vocabulary.
Talking about her first degree’s research on Temuan language, she mentioned about the procedures she had to take to complete this research. She had to take a recommendation letter from the university and send it for approval from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Kuala Lumpur and had to meet up with the Director of that Department. After it has been approved, she started her research in one village in the border of Johor and she scored a good grade for that. And what she remembered most during her research is that she had always been helped by her late father who always sent her to that village when she wanted to meet with villagers to collect the data.
In 1984, she had been allocated to be a teacher at Gombak Setia Secondary School as she was teaching Malay Language for Form 3 and Form 4, and also Geography for Form 6. She really enjoyed every moment of teaching at that school until she was called up to teach Malay language at the Islamic College of Lembah Pantai in 1990. Actually, she said that this Islamic college was actually located at Petaling Jaya (currently at the same building of Centre for Foundation Studies/CFS IIUM) but then had been moved to Sungai Merab, Bangi. As that college was too far away from her house in Selayang, she decided to take additional job as a warden there at Sungai Merab’s College.
After giving good services at Sungai Merab College for around three years she had then changed her taste to work at Sri Kota College to gain new experiences, to expose to new environment and friends. She also stated that this college had given birth to so many well-known Malaysian scholars and politicians like Tan Sri Mohamad Taib, the former Menteri Besar of Selangor. She felt much honoured to teach in such a great college like that in her life.
Not too long after that she then unintentionally had been thinking to continue her education at master’s level and she praised Allah the Almighty because He gave easiness to her regarding this intention. She actually had tried her luck in applying a special scholarship under the Ministry of Education to do her masters and luckily she was given such an immense opportunity for that. She then made a research on the topic of using meta-cognitive in the understanding of reading. But as she did it as a part-time student at University of Malaya (UM), she took around two years to finish it starting from 1996 to 1998 and managed to get an honoured certificate for it.
After she finished her masters, she moved to teach Bahasa Melayu at the Language Institute at Lembah Pantai. There she had gained golden experience as she had been in charge as a library assistant. For that purpose, she had been instructed to take a special course named Research and Expertise Centre for Survey Methodology (RECSM) which was a special course that participants will learn about Author ware computer programme that created CD for learning purposes. She gained so much input especially on computer courses and software programming system.
In 2003, this was the most crucial and important year of her life because she decided to finish her studies with a PhD and she took it at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). The feeling, as she described it, was like coming back to mom’s womb because she once studied there for her first degree in 1984. She was writing on a research about the dialects of Kanakian peoples at Kampung Sungai Selangi, Kota Tinggi, Johor.
She then opened up stories about this Kanakian peoples that was once a very great seaman tribe in Indonesia and also great warriors were within them but when the coloniser came, they had been expelled from their own country and migrated to Johor and settled here. This tribe once became the assistants and guards for the Sultan of Johor. But then they had been forced to become labourers at gambir fields and most of them ran away and started to be settle at Mawai. But then under the consent of the Sultan of Johor they then were given a place to stay at Sungai Selangi and also received ten acres for every family to run for their living. And now the number of their people has been reduced to just around one hundred persons and this should be the main concern of our government to take care of their affairs.
But while she was talking about her experiences when she was doing her PhD, suddenly her face changed and looked gloomy and sad. Actually, there was a black history that happened during the period when she was on her journey to complete her PhD. The memories about her beloved and only son, Zul’izzi had come knocking on her mind and then there was a little tears in her eyes. She suddenly remembered Zul’izzi who was a very good and humble son with her husband, Abdullah Salleh. Zul’izzi was born in 1982 at Hospital UKM. He grew up as a very gentle and smart boy until he registered to study at a school in Bangi. In 1990, Ummi and her husband along with Zul’izzi had moved to Japan for around three years as Abdullah had a job there to supervise the construction of two tanker ships. Zul’izzi attended an international school there named American International School at Hiroshima.
After her husband finished his job in Japan, they returned to Malaysia and Zul’izzi had registered at Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) school for his standard 6. After that he entered Islamic Secondary School Kuala Selangor from Form 1 to 3. There, he had developed his speaking and debating skills until he became one of the debaters for his school for every competition. He then decided to study at MRSM Taiping and became one of the excellent students there. Ummi requested that his son attend an interview to register at the Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology (MIAT) and he agreed with that. There, he learned how to repair airplane. But not too long after that he wanted to be a pilot and had applied a scholarship from AirAsia and he succeeded. He studied hard until he became a pilot assistant after that.
But then came the most tragic memory for Ummi and she remembered that malaise date, 2 April 2005. That was Friday in the evening when Ummi received a phone call from Zul’izzi saying that he would come back home from his institute. Ummi did not realise that it was the very last day to see her only son as Zul’izzi had passed away after being involved in an accident at Linggi in the morning of the next day. Ummi remembered Zul’izzi’s very last words repeatedly saying about him wanting to come ‘home’ for about three times during their conversation on phone as actually he had returned back to His God. Ummi was so sad and had decided to stop her research for her PhD after she got a sign from Allah.
In 2006, she and her husband went for pilgrimage together and one day as she stood before the Ka’bah, she prayed to Allah on how to bear with her sadness after losing Zul’izzi, her beloved son. Not too long after they came back from Mecca, one evening Ummi had stopped at Giant store, Batu Caves, to withdraw her money but she did not bring along her bag as she had put it inside her car. Unfortunately, after she came back to the car, she suddenly realised that her bag had been stolen and the window was broken! The most important thing that had been inside that bag was her pen drive containing her soft copy of her PhD research. So, then she knew that it was a beautiful harbinger she got from Allah and maybe there have been a hidden wisdom for that loss. After discussing with her husband she decided to stop her PhD in the middle of the progression and she believed that Allah knows better for her and her life.
She then agreed with her husband to adopt children, and they decided to take Muhammad who was born on 17 June 2005 from one orphanage. Not long after that they adopted a beautiful daughter, Aisyah, who was born on 14 September in the same year. These two kids, a boy and a girl, had grown to become the gold and jewel in front of Ummi’s eyes and the presence of both of them always reminded her of Zul’izzi as she prayed that Zul’izzi is counted with the blessed servant of Allah to gain Paradise. ***