Proud to be Malaysian: Personal Experience (Part 1)

IIUM Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad conceived of the idea for an international institution of Islamic education in 1982 during a meeting between OIC leaders about the Islamization of knowledge. IIUM was founded in 1983. (source: Wikipedia)

This special edition of “Proud to be Malaysian” is dedicated to the people of Malaysia who are seeking the truth about their beloved country, whether it is really the right place to stay or otherwise. It is also initiated as a reminder to us how grateful we should be as a Malaysian, especially towards the celebration of Merdeka on 31st August 2017. As for me, Malaysia is the nicest place and I am not biased. There are rooms for improvement within the systems or policies here and there, but in overall – Malaysia is a nice place! Alhamdulillah.

So, here are some of the moments when I feel proud to be a Malaysian.

1. The story of UIAM, the best University in the World!

IIUM Malaysia
Former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad conceived of the idea for an international institution of Islamic education in 1982 during a meeting between OIC leaders about the Islamization of knowledge. IIUM was founded in 1983. (Source: Wikipedia)

I am not sure how many of you are graduated from the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM)? This story brought me to senses that Malaysia is not just a mere small country without any significance to the world. Malaysia is somehow a very significant country and influential too. We just do not know it, because we do not see it. That’s all!

One day, when I was still studying at the Sendai National College of Technology, in Japan – came one junior student from Sri Lanka. His name was Nashad (not a real name, though I made it sounds similar), and he was a Muslim (by the way, do you know that there are Muslims in Sri Lanka)? He was a brilliant student who received a Mombusho Scholarship (meaning that he was among the best students in Sri Lanka to get the Japanese Government Scholarship!).

During the first time I met him, we talked and he got excited to know that I am from Malaysia. He asked a lot about Malaysia and told me how much he loved the country, my country, maybe your country too. But, I thought that it was just a mere scheme to “bodek” (sweet-talk) his senior so that he could avoid being bullied or something. Perhaps he just wanted to be nice with people.

But no! He continued asking me about Malaysia and this had not stop until quite some time. One day I asked him, “Nashad, it seems to me that you liked Malaysia so much. You told me that you would prefer to study in Malaysia and so on? Furthermore, as the top student in your country, coming to Japan should be a dream come true. A four seasons country with snow and a lot of Onsen (hot spring)! On top of that, you have received a Mombusho Scholarship! That’s brilliant! What more do you want?”

Japan Sakura
Japan is well-known for its beauty and majestic traditional buildings, especially during winter and spring.

He frowned and replied, “No senpai! My first choice was IIUM in Malaysia and we the Muslim community in Sri Lanka have always put IIUM as our top choice. I applied (for IIUM) but I got rejected twice. So I had to come here to Japan. I wish I could further my studies there at IIUM after this. That is my only aim!”

“Seriously? That does not make any sense to me!” I was surprised. It was not that I looked down on my own country or anything, it was just that Malaysian themselves never appreciate that, and he said IIUM was his first choice? What was going on there?

He then explained, “Malaysia is the example country to all Muslims around the world. IIUM is the best university in the world and funded by the members of OIC, so the scholarships were limited and very prestigious! We would make a big party if we managed to get the scholarship to IIUM! Anybody who got it would be the local hero!”

I looked down thinking maybe I had made a mistake rejecting the offer to study at IIUM Kuantan after my SPM. Then he added, “Senpai, Malaysia is a dream country to work at and live. You must be very proud of it and lucky to have been born and raised from Malaysia!”

I looked at him and smiled. I nodded and then shook his hand saying, “Thank brother Nashad for reminding me how great my country is, and how good IIUM is in the eyes of the Muslims community around the globe! Thank you!”

I walked towards my college and thought that I must always remember that moment, especially if I found someone who graduated from the IIUM, then I must tell them this story.

We should first say Alhamdulillah! And next, thank the founding fathers of IIUM for making the university to where it is today. MashaAllah!

2. The story about Sepak Takraw

This story will be further explained in the next edition of Proud to be Malaysian: Personal Experience (Part 2). Please stay tuned!