By Zahid Zamri
When I was first asked by the Dean to write about the late Dr. Muhamad Fuzi Omar, I was afraid that I will not be able to tell the whole story of his goodness. This is because, before his passing, I thought I was among the few who were close to him. However, only when he was at the hospital, I knew that I was not among the few, but among the so many students and co-workers (be it academics or administrators at the Kulliyyah and the University as well as from other universities across the country and the world) who were his close companions.
Nonetheless, I will try as far as I could to briefly depict this great murabbi who left us on 25 June 2019.
I first met Dr. Fuzi (as he was famously called) when I was in my undergraduate years. He taught me Political Thought II, Malay Political Ideas and Experiences (wherein I learnt to read political texts particularly on political thoughts ranging from Marx’s “Manifesto” to Burhanuddin Al-Helmy’s emancipatory ideas. In fact, he himself had published a notable article on Burhanuddin Al-Helmy’s political thought), to name a few. Our teacher-student relationship became much closer when I became an Academic Trainee at the Kulliyyah, doing my master’s degree under his supervision until its completion.
Throughout my undergraduate’s and master’s study, Dr. Fuzi was very generous to me. Many times, he paid for my lunches, drinks and snacks. He never said bad things about others. He will only remain silent or simply ignore matters that he disliked. He was also very helpful, committed to his works, and humbled even though he was a knowledgeable person (in fact, as a senior lecturer, he willingly wrote minutes of meetings; drove his small “kancil” car back and forth to the University), warmly entertained students each time the students knocked on his door and cared about the students’ well-being.
At the same time, as a Mahallah’s Principal, he had always stayed up at his Mahallah’s office (at Mahallah As-Siddiq, where he had collections of Al-Ghazali’s Ihya’ Ulum al-Din) until late evening. There our consultation sessions (for my master’s thesis) took place. I was even asked by him to be the Imam and he became the makmum when we performed our congregational prayers during the sessions. Besides, he had consistently performed congregational prayers at the SHAS mosque. There, after performing our prayers, we continued with our discussions.
In terms of his style of supervision, he had never dictated. He was very democratic and appreciative towards students’ views, and he never left them without guidance. Alhamdulillah, soon after the completion of my master’s study, my thesis which was supervised by Dr. Fuzi was published by the IIUM Press as a research book in which we shared its authorship. I told him that I want to further improve the content of the book and he jokingly told me to do it in the second edition of the book. He indirectly monitored my doctoral study progress even though at that moment he was not my supervisor anymore.
Now, I have already joined the Kulliyyah as an Assistant Professor. Alhamdulillah, I feel happy, but at the same time, I feel something is missing. I realised that it is the feeling of longingness towards my former teacher who had always been there to guide and advise me on any matter. Nonetheless, I will try my best to be like him, try to remember all the advice that he gave, although I know it is very difficult even to come close to the quality that he had as a great murabbi.
Insya-Allah, I will always make du’a for him and hope that his intellectual legacy will become a continuous ‘amal jari’ah for him until the end of time.***
(Dr. Zahid Zamri is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, KIRKHS, IIUM)
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