By Aida Mokhtar
From 17 to 19 September 2023, an AbdulHamid AbuSulayman Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (AHAS KIRKHS)-led International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) delegation visited Riau in Indonesia. The leader of the IIUM delegation was the Dean of AHAS KIRKHS, Prof. Dr. Shukran Abdul Rahman. On 18 September, presenters from the IIUM and Universitas Islam Riau (UIR) shared their research studies related to community engagement in the 5th International Seminar on the Roles of University in Responding to Psychosocial Issues in the Community 2023 (5th ISRUPIC 2023). The theme of ISRUPIC 2023 was ‘Strengthening the roles of university-community engagement through academic and student activities.’ It was a seminar that was organised by UIR and the IIUM; this year it was hosted by UIR. The IIUM delegation other than Prof. Dr. Shukran, encompassed Assoc. Prof. Dr. Haslina Ibrahim, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohd Noh Abdul Jalil, Prof. Dr. Rahmah Binti Ahmad H. Osman, Prof. Dr. Asem Shehadeh Saleh Ali, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kabuye Uthman Sulaiman, Dr. Ainul Azmin Binti Md. Zamin, Dr. Usman Jaffer, Dr. Zahid Zamri, Dr. Mohammad Mohiuddin, Br. Nor Iskandar Mazlan and I.
The programme was a delightful amalgamation of speeches, academic paper presentations, discussions, and educational visits central to University Community Engagement (UCE) activities. The Opening ceremony showcased speeches that envisioned the IIUM and UIR in relation to UCE activities.
The Welcoming speech by the Dean of the Faculty of Psychology, UIR, Yanwar Arief, conveyed his appreciation to the IIUM in accommodating UIR as ISRUPIC reached its fifth year in 2023. He mentioned that the IIUM is a world class university that UIR hopes to learn from it and said that we needed to ask ourselves, “How could we be of benefit to the community?” Central to community engagement activities are quality and integrity that are its main ingredients, he mentioned. He also emphasised on the importance of identifying the objective of what we do by applying the Maqasid so that what we do is more meaningful. For the Dean, what unites the two universities is the aqidah of the staff.
The subsequent speech was the Opening speech delivered by Dr. Admiral SH. M.H., on behalf of the Rector of UIR, who mentioned, “We need to continue our collaboration with the IIUM as the university has a big potential to support our university (UIR) to reach its vision.” He also said that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between IIUM and UIR will end in February 2024 and he hoped that there would be discussions in the coming months on extending it. UIR has 44 departments that can be included in the collaboration with IIUM, he stated.
The Keynote address was conveyed by Prof. Dr. Shukran, who revisited the concepts ‘university’ and ‘University Community Engagement (UCE)’ and underlined the three functions of a university: educational, academic and social that make UCE important. For the Dean, “A university should function as a knowledge-based centre which equips individuals with relevant competencies, so that they could become fully functioning members of the society.”
For Prof. Dr. Shukran, UCE is important because the knowledge that we have has to be applied to the community and be of benefit to it. “University Community Engagement (UCE) refers to activities that involve academics, students, and community members in empowering the community to change, improve, or develop life,” he said. At the core of UCE is the Hadith where Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “The best of humans are those who are most beneficial to others” (Narrated by Ahmad, ath-Thabrani, ad-Daruqutni), highlighted the Dean.
Central to the vision and mission of the IIUM is the Islamisation of knowledge that needs to also be considered when conducting UCE activities. The facets of epistemology, ontology, axiology, theology are focused on when we talk of the Islamisation of knowledge, advised Prof. Dr. Shukran to an attentive audience.
He concluded by relaying that the, “University is a significant agent for change and growth in the community. It is a centre where knowledge is generated, students are taught, and they transfer the virtues to the community.”
Through ISRUPIC 2023, the ukhuwah of both the IIUM and UIR has again been further strengthened as both universities promoted the significance of applying knowledge to different social milieus through UCE activities. With the adjournment of ISRUPIC, IIUM looks forward to becoming the host of ISRUPIC 2024. ***
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