By Muhammad Irfan bin Mohd Adam
When I was in my first semester of undergraduate studies at IIUM, I came across this poster related to a talk on “Psychology and Islamisation” and the invited speaker was Prof. Malik Badri. That was the first time I heard of his name and knew about him.
I was informed that he was once a professor at the Department of Psychology, IIUM and was a prominent scholar in the area of Islamisation of Modern Psychology. Back then, the only thing that attracted me to attend the talk was, of course, the topic of the discussion, and not the speaker, as I was yet to know his credentials. So, I went to the Mini Auditorium on the night of 22 February 2017 to attend the session.
To my surprise, the hall was packed. The chairs were filled with people and some extra chairs were required to accommodate the huge number of audience at that time. It struck me that this speaker must be someone well respected by the community.
After listening to what the professor said, I was not only interested in the content of the discussion, but his personality as well. The first thing that came to my mind was “he’s very humble.” I have been to several talks and sharing sessions by professionals and scholars, but none of them, when asked a question, he would answer “I do not know.”
This is not the case with Prof. Malik. When he was asked about a particular question that he could not answer, he would straightaway reply, “I do not know.” Personally, that has really triggered me to know him even more. The humbleness in the person. How could he be so humbled with the level of knowledge that he possessed? With years of experience in the field of Psychology, how could he be so humble?
That started my journey of knowing him. In early 2019, when I was finishing my one last responsibility as a Main Board member of the Psychology Students Secretariat or PSYCSTA’s (getting signatures for certificates), I had a conversation with one of the staff members at the KIRKHS Deanery.
Somehow, Prof. Malik Badri’s name came into the picture in our conversation. She praised him so much and missed the time when he was still a professor in the Kulliyyah. She told me that Prof. Malik was always with his tasbeeh in his hands and would consistently glorify Allah. During meetings, he would regularly shut his eyes, focusing on his dhikr, at the same time was able to answer questions directed at him without trouble and failure. That was his personality. At that time, I wished I could have met him.
In July 2019, I had the chance to meet him in person while attending Sheikh Hamza Yusuf’s talk at the Plenary Hall in Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC). I managed to have a short conversation with him about his family and about studying in Turkey. To my surprise, not many people recognised who he was. The audience started to wonder about this figure.
Only after Sheikh Hamza Yusuf embraced him, expressed words of love and uttered endless prayers for him that people started to realise his presence. Soon after our conversation ended, two college men came to me asking “Who is this guy?” while pointing at Prof. Malik. I told them, “He is Prof. Malik Badri. One of the scholars who brought forward the idea of Islamisation of knowledge (especially in the field of Psychology) with the likes of Al-Attas” (I hope I’m being just enough). And they nodded with admiration, signifying the feeling of respect towards Prof. Malik.
On 19 February 2020, three days after Prof. Malik’s birthday, my friends and I were fortunate enough to get the chance to meet him face to face and had a three-hour conversation with him at his own office at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University in Turkey. During that session, one of us asked the professor, “What keep you going throughout your life?” Prof. Malik then grabbed his tasbeeh on his table and answered, “The thing that keeps me going is this. See, this is my tasbeeh. I leave everything to Allah.”
The way he viewed the world and the way he reacted to events that occurred in his life was truly admirable. It had never struck me that I would be able to sit with Prof. Malik at his own office, hearing to wisdom coming out from him. It has never struck my mind that I would be able to converse with him like a father and son.
Never once in my life that I thought I would embrace him. Life truly works in a manner we can never comprehend. This, of course, would not be possible to happen without the help of our lecturer in IIUM, Prof. Shukran Abd Rahman (now the Dean of KIRKHS), who helped us a lot in contacting the late Prof. Malik Badri.
After coming back to Malaysia, I was still in contact with Prof. Malik Badri once in a while and was planning to meet him when this COVID-19 cases began to decline. Little did I know what lies ahead.
Two days ago, we were all saddened by the news of Prof. Malik Badri’s passing. As a person, he was very humble and a loving human being. He used to call his students with loving names like “my sons and my daughters” or “my grandsons and my granddaughters”. As a scholar, he was a devout seeker and a teacher of knowledge till the end of his life. He was writing his new book when we met him last year in Turkey. And that was during his 88 years of living. Such a big loss to the field of Islamic Psychology.
May Allah accept all his efforts in educating the students of Psychology and humanity as a whole. May Allah bless him with His Endless Love. May Allah grant him Jannah and place him amongst the Shuhada’ and Solihin… Amiin.
10 February 2021 | 5pm
*Professor Malik Babikir Badri was a renowned scholar in the field of Islamisation of Psychology. He was born on 16 February 1932 in Sudan to a respected scholar Sheikh Babikir Badri, who pioneered the women’s university in Sudan. He obtained a B.A. (with distinction) from the American University of Beirut (Lebanon) in 1956. He followed this with both an M.A. and a Ph.D from the University of Leicester (England). He did post-doctoral research in the Department of Psychiatry at the Middlesex Hospital, London.
Prof. Malik Badri had long experience of teaching Psychology, research, and psychotherapy in the American University of Beirut (Lebanon), the University of Jordan, the Islamic University of Omdurman (Sudan), and the University of Khartoum (Sudan). He had also been a Distinguished Professor of the Ibn Khaldun Chair in the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, IIUM. On 8 February 2021, Professor Malik Badri returned to his Lord in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
**Note: Some of the advices given by Prof. Malik Badri when we visited him were:
1) To be critical and to view Western theories of Psychology as culture bound and having biases. Not all are scientific in nature.
2) If one wants to pursue postgraduate studies, he or she should relate the research with one own’s culture and place of living.
3) To emphasize Cross Cultural Psychology so as to develop the ability to differentiate between scientifically proven and culturally proven theories.
4) We should read the works of the philosophers of Psychology to understand the impact of different worldviews towards the development of Psychology. This can help one identify which theory is science-based and which is a mere theory.
5) To emphasise the study of the character/behaviour of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and what we can make use of it.
6) To have a strong reliance towards Allah SWT after putting a lot of effort in our endeavour.***
(The writer, Muhammad Irfan bin Mohd Adam, is a graduating student from the Department of Psychology, Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, IIUM)