By Muhammad Adli Musa
When Israr Ahmad Khan joined the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) as a faculty member in 1991, I was still in primary school.
At that time, I would not have imagined to step foot at IIUM, what more being acquainted with a fatherly educator who is full of passion, often reflected in his high pitched voice, though some would attribute that to his hearing problem. Whenever I passed by his classes, I could sense his intellectual vigour when engaging with his students.
My encounter with him during my MA days was when I submitted my research proposal to the Postgraduate Committee of the Department. My proposal was rejected due to its controversial nature at that point of time. However, Professor Israr mentioned to me that the proposal was well written and that my supervisor should have attended the meeting to defend me. This brings me to another attribute of Professor Israr, his impeccable English language skills.
Aside from his unique accent, to say that he speaks and writes well is an understatement. In academia, mastery of language is important in conveying ideas and arguments effectively to our audience. I would not say that I always agreed with what he says, but I have always admired the way in which he makes an argument as convincing as possible.
That being said, having been in Malaysia for over twenty five years, I would have expected him to speak better Malay. Nonetheless, his efforts for learning and not being shy for speaking Malay are commendable. I remember approving his leave on the pretext of “Cuti Khas Tugas Perubatan” which he mistakenly understood as medical leave. I always looked forward to his jumbling of Malay sentences.
There is no need to explain in detail about his academic or intellectual journey. The fact that the very mention of his name evokes a sense of respect among his students and fellow colleagues is sufficient testimony of his intellectual capabilities.
He has three bachelor degrees, two master degrees and a doctorate. After completing his doctorate in 1990 at Aligargh Muslim University, he joined IIUM in 1991 and today (10 July 2017) marks his last day at the Garden of Knowledge and Virtue.
His undergraduate students might consider him demanding, to an extent notorious, which befits his fatherly, or shall I say, grandfatherly figure. I am certain that his postgraduate students enjoyed the fiery exchange of ideas in his classes and that the students he supervised at master’s and doctorate levels appreciate his eye for detail and critical review of their work.
I am extremely grateful to Professor Israr who has indirectly imparted many lessons for me to benefit from, be it in academia or life in general, over the years that I have known him. I will certainly miss his bright coloured oversized necktie and vest.
On behalf of his former students and colleagues, I thank him for all that he has done, and wish him a long, healthy life ahead.
Members of the Department of Quran and Sunnah Studies are saddened by the fact that his contract as Professor at the university has ended and we consider his retirement and departure a huge loss for IIUM, nevertheless, his contributions will always be remembered.***