By Mohammad Saifullah
(This feature article was written based on the interview I conducted with former Bangladeshi student of IIUM who recently completed his Masters of Science in Electronic Engineering degree with an excellent result. In this interview readers would find highlights on how a student went through his life in campus to be able to earn excellent results at the same time focusing on his involvement in personality development. His sharing of valuable experiences and advice would be useful and beneficial to the juniors.)
He is Manzar Mahmud, 27, a Bangladeshi who is now a Research Assistant, taking a few tutorial classes as well, and has written some publications and attended conferences in his field.
Education is revealing the unknown and bringing the truth. It helps one to know himself as well as others. Moreover, education works as an effective instrument that has lightened the darkness and brought changes to the society.
Every year, millions of schools, colleges and universities around the world have been producing uncountable graduates. Those graduates later become lecturers, businessmen, politicians, historians or anyone as they wish. Along with that, they are serving their nation through their merits. This is the common hope for every society towards their educated population.
By following this fact, students put their broken bone effort besides thousands of dollars or more and spent their valuable time in a university to gain knowledge and to build their future.
In addition, a student’s responsibility is to perform well in his field and earn a high CGPA at the end of the semester. Yet, from another angle, is high CGPA the only goal of the students? Is focusing on how to get good marks the only purpose of education?
STOP, take a breath and have a look at the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
“The best of you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.”
This hadith says that the one who learns Quran and also teaches others is the best individual among all. Higher CGPA does not determine that the person is better than others. Islamic scholars have explained the meaning of this hadith, which, when someone has the knowledge, he should teach and share it with others. Thus, every single one of us is required to spread the knowledge, no matter how small the knowledge is, it’s still counted. From how to read the ABC to how to make a chewy-gooey brownies and tips to reduce nervousness in public, all these are considered knowledge. It is stated clearly in the hadith that the purpose of education is not only getting knowledge to feed individual needs but for fulfilling others’ need as well.
Furthermore, these are the great figures in this universe who changed the situation of their nation and lightened the dark by their effort. Let’s see on what they said about the purpose of education:
“The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.”
-John F. Kennedy
“Intelligence plus character – that is the true goal of education”
-Martin Luther King
“Give me an educated mother, I will give you an educated nation.”
From the quotes, it is clear that the purpose of education is advancement of knowledge, dissemination of truth and intelligence character for future development. Through these students can change a nation’s situation.
Consequently, to change the situation of a nation or to reveal the truth, students have to gain experiences from various perspectives. They have to make themselves knowledgeable and be experts in numerous aspects. The quality of the development of students’ personalities is not possible to be achieved by simply completing academic courses. In spite of that, the students have to let themselves be exposed to the experiences by taking the alternatives to do something interesting and fascinating.
“You cannot concentrate in your study all the time. If you cannot share your ideas with others, your ideas will not be clear to you. You have to share your views with society and good students should not only focus on the study, they have to be part of the society besides their study,” said Manzar Mahmud, who has recently completed his masters with IIUM with a high CGPA.
Today, students are the makers of the future history. When a student becomes a leader or a lecturer, a large number of people will get influenced by him. He may change numerous number of people. Nevertheless, both education and experience play important roles to accomplish the mission. How can someone influence others through insufficient knowledge and experiences? Hence, students should never run away from problems. Instead, they must face the problems and learn how to deal with them. Those who are able to control themselves have the ability to lead as well as to influence others.
How can students develop their personality and gain these qualities besides academic excellence?
These qualities can be reached by attending social activities and doing communal works such as community, club, charity foundation or any kind of organisation who works for needy people or work to change the situation of the community. Through this communal or voluntary work, students can get a lot of experiences as long as they know how to manage their time wisely.
Nowadays, this kind of skill or ability is not only needed to be used to serve the community but also to fulfil individual’s demand.
Manzar Mahmud said: “I think everyone should experience some social, political, financial issues besides their academic resources to become a good human being. Because, from my experience I can give you an example about this matter, it was an interview I faced last year in a high multinational company it was solely on my field but they did not ask me questions only on my field, rather they asked me a few questions that were not related with engineering. Therefore, everyone should get knowledge from different perspectives.”
“A student needs to exhibit his or her personality, behaviour and attitude towards others because as Muslims people will judge Islam by his or her doing, people will judge his university by his behaviour and lastly his activity that represents his culture,” he added.
The ride of education from the kindergarten till pursuing PhD, a student spent almost half of his life. Then, he arrives in a session where he cannot achieve the qualities that he wants. This session makes him busy to think for other matters such as to think about his career and his family. Finally, he has no scope to return behind to achieve the qualities.
Therefore, a student life is the only and most perfect time to develop one’s personality and to gain these qualities to fulfil one’s individual needs as well as society’s requirements towards him.
I produce here highlights of my interview with Manzar Mahmud in Question and Answer form:
Question and Answer
Q: Can you tell me about yourself?
A: I am Manzar Mahmud a Bangladeshi student. Recently I completed my Masters of Science in Electronics Engineering with the topic of “Radiation effect on memory cell” and I have submitted my thesis paper which is under review. Previously, I graduated with a Bachelor in Electronic Engineering from Bangladesh university.
Q: Can I know about your academic achievements?
A: Alhamdulillah, I have completed my graduation and masters with high achievement. My Bachelor of Science result was with CGPA 3.85 and here in IIUM my Masters of Science result is CGPA 3.95. I have some publications and I attended some conferences in my field.
Q: You have completed your both BSC and MSC with excellent result. So, what is your ambition for near future?
A: By the grace of Allah I am always looking forward. I want to complete my PhD in my field and start to contribute to the ummah in my field.
Q: Are you only focusing on your study?
A: Yes, of course I do focus on my study besides I also involved with other works.
Q: What are the other things you are involved with?
A: I am here for Research Assistant and I am taking a few tutorial classes as well, through these classes I got many experiences that will help me in my future.
Q: What type of experiences are these and how can that help you in future?
A: Actually from the experiences I face many problems and I have to solve it myself. Besides, I am also learning how to behave with others, how to respect people and the crucial thing is I am learning how to control a group of people. Definitely, these will help me in future.
Q: What are the things that help you make excellent result?
A: First of all, I want to thank Allah SWT because I believe that only my effort was not enough to make this result. He helped me always. The thing is when I do studying at that time I focus only on my result and surely I give a good concentration in my exam and in the class I am always attentive. I maintain regularity in every work. I think those things help me to make good result.
Q: Who are your motivations?
A: Firstly, my motivation is my parents, they supported me from all sides. Secondly, I work with a target and I want to touch my target. I have an ambition that I will contribute my ummah from my field. So, these things always motivate me to do better. I always think if I do well in my field my parents will be happy, also it will be easy to do something for the ummah.
Q: When you face a problem how do you solve it?
A: It’s a difficult questions to answer, actually it depends on the problem how I solve it. At first, I try to solve by myself, if I think I am not much clear about it then I go to discuss with someone especially with my senior. I search the cause of the problem and I want to find out the solution from them and if it happens for study materials I might search the solution in Internet. Sometimes, I share my problem with my lecturer to have a solution. I think it’s enough to solve any problem.
Q: What are the things that make you different from others?
A: Actually I am very simple and I don’t know what is erectable but I can tell you what I am thinking about. My preparation for future, I am not only thinking about the result, rather, I think how can I contribute for the society, how can I contribute for the ummah and it will help me in future.
Q: Did you face difficulties or barriers during your student life?
A: Yes, I did.
Q: What are the barriers which keep students away from studying? Can you tell from your experiences?
A: There are many barriers such as some students are facing, that is financial. They have to manage their livelihood and tuition fees that’s why it becomes very hard to attend class while you work to earn money. Few students have personal and family problems while many students cannot manage their time properly. I think these matters are real burden for students.
Q: How can students overcome those barriers?
A: Except the financial problem, the other barriers they can pass by balancing their time. By maintaining a routine life, they can fix the problems. They can discuss with seniors, by making good results they can get scholarship. Students can consult with experts if they have personal problems.
In one speech, they can solve their problems by making a routine with discipline, regularity and punctuality.
Q: Do you like to read novel, history or entertainment books besides academic books?
A: Besides my academic books, I like to read other books such as history, entertainment, biography etc. Sometimes when I think I need to know about finance at that time I read financial books though it’s not related with my field. To improve my knowledge, I read many books that are related with human life.
Q: What is the first thing a student need to do?
A: The first work for a student is to perform well in his field and the important thing is to develop his personality besides that.
Q: Is it the only responsibility for a student in achieving good result?
A: From my perspective, I would say no, because if any student concentrates only in study it will make him monotonous. You cannot concentrate in study all the time. If you cannot share your ideas with others, your goal will not be clear to you. You have to share your views with society. Good students should not only focus on the study, he has to be part in society besides his study. Student life is not only focusing only academic courses it’s also time for developing one’s personality. Students should gain knowledge from other fields such as social, political or financial issues.
Q: How can students gain these kind of knowledge and develop their personality?
A: To gain knowledge and to develop their personality they can attend social activities and do communal works such as community, club, charity foundation or any kind of organisation which works for needy people or work to change the situation of the community. Through this communal or voluntary work, students can get lot of experiences. That will help them build their future.
Q: Do you think it will help students to fulfil their requirements?
A: Definitely it will help them from various angles. Through these activities they can help others and it also help them to get experiences. Sometimes it becomes very necessary to gain knowledge from other angle. I can give you an example about this matter, it was an interview I faced last year in a high multinational company. It was solely in my field but they did not ask me only questions relating to my field, they asked me a few questions, those were not related with engineering. Therefore, everyone should get knowledge from different perspectives.
Q: Are you engaged with any community or voluntary club?
A: Yes, I am related with few clubs and communities.
Q: What kind of community are they?
A: Previously, I was engaged with Hanger project Bangladesh, they work for the poor urban people and I also worked as a mentor for Youth Wave Student Society (YWSS) club which is working for the homeless people. Now I am a member of Bangladeshi student’s welfare in Malaysia and Bangladesh community of IIUM. We specially give education and financial support for Bangladeshi students in Malaysia.
Q: Do you want to say anything to IIUM graduates?
A: IIUM is blessed for us from Allah SWT. I believe this is the only one university that represents the world by producing graduates from various categories. As an IIUM graduate, one becomes an ambassador for many fields. In the hereafter Allah will ask everyone about their contribution towards others. He will ask “Did you apply the thing in your society what you have learned before?” So, he has a lot of responsibilities to do.
Q: How can an IIUM graduate fulfil his or her responsibility?
A: He or she can fulfil the responsibility by exposing his or her expertise, by serving people from his or her experiences and by showing good behaviour towards others. Because as Muslims, people will judge Islam by his or her doing, people will judge IIUM by his or her behaviour, and lastly by his or her activities that represent his or her culture.
Q: On suggestions and advice for the juniors
A: Be a good man first. Learn as much as you can from IIUM. Because, in IIUM wherever you are, you can learn many things. Learn about other cultures from your international friends who will help you in the near future. The important thing is which kulliyyah you are trying to get knowledge from all angles. Lastly, control yourself, think about your destination, make good relationship with people and seek perfection from Allah SWT for all your activities.***