You are on page 1of 34


An article published in S. Yunanto (2005), Islamic Education in South and South East Asia [Diversity, Problems and Strategy] Jakarta: The RIDEP Institute and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung pp. 171-204

by Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid M.A. (Oxon), M.A. (Leeds), Ph.D. (Newcastle upon Tyne)

Senior Lecturer in Politics School of Distance Education Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Penang, MALAYSIA. Tel: 04 - 6533 888 ext. 2278 (office) Fax: 04 - 6576 000 Email:

∗ The output of a research project on ‘The Education Strategy of Islamic Movements in Malaysia’, sponsored by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), c/o AIBD, Angkasapuri, P.O. Box 1137, Pantai, 59700 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The present author would like to acknowledge Mareike Le Pelley and Ranee Kumaran, both of FES Malaysia, for assistance in matters pertaining to the FES grant, which covered fieldwork expenses, participation at the regional workshop and a modest honorarium.


1. Background introduction: an overview of the development of Islamic education in Malaysia
As Islam is a religion which comprehensively embraces diverse aspects of life, Islamic education refers to an integrated process of imparting Islamic knowledge such that its recipients are equipped spiritually, intellectually and physically in order to execute their twin God-ordained roles, as His servants and vicegerents on earth (cf. Kamal Hassan 1986: 40). This process was originally carried out in the form of informal transmission of material from the Quran and hadith collections. Later, as Muslim societies expanded and grew more complex, a formal process of religious instruction was developed, involving a network of mosques, schools, institutions of higher learning, teachers and students. Branches of knowledge, originally derived from the Quran and hadith, also expanded into such disciplines known as tawhid (theology), fiqh (jurisprudence), tasawwuf (sufism or spirituality), tafsir (Quranic exegesis), mustalah alhadith (hadith methodology), tajwid (science of Quranic recitation), and different aspects of Arabic grammar such as nahu, saraf and balaghah. These subjects were known as the traditional Islamic sciences, with tawhid, fiqh and tasawwuf forming a tripartite fard ‘ain
2 1

syllabus. As the body of knowledge further expanded, Muslim scholars mastered the worldly sciences, and religious instruction was broadened to incorporate fard kifayah

subjects such as al-hisab (mathematics), al-handasah (geometry), mantiq (logic), al-tib (medicine), al-jighrafia (geography), al-badi’ (metaphor) and al-bayan (rhetoric). In Malaysia, traditional Islamic education had been rooted among the local population, predating the colonial era, in the form of the pondok education system.
A hadith refers to a saying or action of the Prophet Muhammad as reported by any of his Companions or wives, and passed through successive Muslim generations until ultimately compiled by specialist scholars called muhaddithin. In orthodox Sunni Islam, the most authoritative books of hadith are the compilations of Bukhari (d. 870) and Muslim (d. 875), and followed by those of Abu Dawud (d. 888), Tirmidhi (d. 888), Nasa'i (d. 913) and Ibn Majah (d. 886). The Sunnah, a more wide-ranging term literally meaning 'the Prophet's trodden path', is made up of the hadith, the Prophet's practice emulated by his Companions and the Prophet's approval of the Companions' deeds. 2 Fard ‘ain refers to doctrinal and ritual obligations which must be testified to and practised by every adult Muslim male and female in order to legitimise his or her Islamic faith. 3 Fard kifayah refers to collective obligations i.e. duties that must be observed by at least one unit of a group of believers so as to exempt the others.

2 Literally meaning ‘huts’ and derived from the Arabic word funduq, meaning place of temporary residence or hotel, pondoks refer to religious boarding houses built in the precinct of a surau – a prayer hall which simultaneously served as a teaching centre supervised by a tuan guru (religious teacher), whose residence was often located within the same vicinity. The success of a particular pondok, or pesantren as was known in Indonesia, depended on the fame and reputation of its guru, in whom one often found a combination of the roles of an intellectual master, a spiritual mentor and an important teacher-cum-social figure in surrounding villages. Traditional religious sciences were taught via detailed studies and commentaries of classical Islamic texts popularly known as kitab kuning. The delivery method stressed rote learning, refined and followed by tutorials, usually conducted by senior students, called mutala’ah or muzakarah (discussion). The survival of pondoks depended very much on support from the local community. As pondoks were independent and did not impose fees, self-financed students not unusually underwent vocational and agricultural training as part of their cocurricular activity and means of subsistence. Although no examination was conducted and no formal certificate was issued, a letter of testimony from the tuan guru was deemed sufficient for pondok graduates’ entrée into preliminary teaching and further education, including admission to Islamic educational institutions in the Middle East such as alAzhar University in Cairo.
5 4

As a cornerstone of British colonial policy, differential education had the impact of secularising the social order, leading to the stratification of Malay-Muslim society. While apparently content to leave pondok education unimpaired, the British at the same time promoted Malay vernacular education, to the extent of compelling Malay parents, by law, to send their children to Malay schools, as in Selangor in 1891 (Khoo Kay Kim 1974: 184-185). In state schools, although religious education was not totally discarded, Islamic lessons were discriminated against and gradually weakened. Richard Winstedt, the Assistant Director of Malay Education in 1916-21, made recommendations for an end to government provisions for Quranic instructions in schools. Quranic lessons were thus

Literally: yellow books; so-called because the complexion of pages of the books had waned, approaching yellowish in colour, through years of intensive use. 5 For further details on the pondok system, see Rauf (1965: 22-23), Winzeler (1974: 262-268) and Abdullah Alwi Haji Hassan (1980: 190-196).

3 only permitted in the afternoon, giving rise to the term sekolah petang (evening schools) (Yegar 1984: 196-197). Official allowances for their teachers were phased out, forcing Malay parents to pay them from their own meagre resources, or else dispense with Quranic education (Rauf 1965: 20). In the teaching of the Malay language, the Arabic script (jawi) was replaced by the Roman alphabet (rumi) (Andaya and Andaya 1982: 231232). Confronted with challenges posed by the onset of a modern educational system tailored to serve the colonial-capitalist economy, most pondoks declined. Those that survived did so by reforming, under the innovative leadership of such reformist ulama (scholars) as Tok Kenali of Kelantan, into the more organised madrasah system, thus incorporating modern methods of education, technical and vocational subjects, business training and examination-based assessment and promotion (Khoo Kay Kim 1974: 185189, Andaya and Andaya 1982: 233-235). Modern madrasahs, aiming to combine the best of basic religious instructions and Western-introduced pedagogy and technology, further developed as a result of the importation of Middle Eastern reformist ideas, via returning graduates from the Middle East joining forces with migrant Arab communities, many of whom hailed from Hadramawt, Yemen, and had inter-married with local Malays (cf. Kostiner 1984, IPPTN 2001: 26). This partnership gave birth to the Kaum Muda (Young Faction) movement, which was essentially made up of modernists whose prescribed panacea to the socio-economic problems of the Malay-Muslims lay in modern education which would bring Islamic teaching in line with contemporary realities (Roff 1967: 75-76). Although it never properly developed into a mass movement, the Kaum Muda, primarily via its literature and madrasahs, fostered the formative stages of Malay nationalism (ibid.: 87). The post-independence era was characterised by the marginalisation of Islamic law, the bureaucratisation of Islamic administration and increasing state influence over Islamic education. In actual fact, these were the continuation of processes initiated under colonial rule (cf. Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid 2004a). Until the present time, five types of primary and secondary religious schools can be found in Malaysia, viz. federal religious

On the life, influence and educational reforms of Tok Kenali (real name Muhammad Yusof bin Ahmad), see Abdullah Al-Qari Haji Salleh (1974).


4 schools (Sekolah Agama Persekutuan and Sekolah Kebangsaan Agama), state governments’ religious schools (Sekolah Agama Negeri), schools run by a state’s Majlis Agama Islam (Council of Islamic Religion), the people’s religious schools (Sekolah Agama Rakyat) and private religious schools (Sekolah Agama Swasta).(IPPTN 2001: 29). Of these, Sekolah Agama Rakyat (SAR) and Sekolah Agama Swasta (SAS) are independently managed but accept the use of the national curriculum so that their graduates can further their studies in formal institutions of higher learning. SAR students outnumber SAS students, and until recently, were outnumbered by state-sponsored religious schools only if students of Sekolah Agama Persekutuan, Sekolah Kebangsaan Agama, Sekolah Agama Negeri and Majlis Agama Islam schools were altogether summed in total (ibid.: 36). In spite of recurrent financial problems, SARs have been relatively popular among parents wishing affordable independent Islamic education for their children, so much so that it was once attributed as one of the destinations of government school students found not to finish their studies up to the mandatory Form Five. As inheritors of the pondok system, SARs have been maintained by community donations, alms, school fees and modest grants from the state. SARs disproportionately focused upon education in the arts as maintenance of infrastructure for science and technical subjects were beyond their means (ibid.: 44-45, cf. Abdullah Alwi Haji Hassan 1980: 205ff). At the end of 2002, the government drastically announced the withdrawal of automatic per capita grants to SARs on the basis that SARs had failed to translate such persistent assistance into good examination results, which were in turn related to lowquality teachers, infrastructure and teachers. Further, the government claimed that SARs had shown undue political orientation, to the extent of encouraging the hatred of the
However, there is the problem of acute shortage of places for religious school graduates intending to specialise in Islamic studies at the tertiary level in Malaysia. Only three universities, viz. Universiti Malaya (UM), the National University of Malaysia (UKM: Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) and the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) offer Islamic studies degree courses which admit students based on secondary level Islamic subjects in their own right For other professional courses in these and other universities, extra qualifications are stipulated from religious school graduates as a sine qua non for entrance into their programmes. Despite efforts to upgrade Islamic education, Islamic qualifications still suffer from a lack of recognition in modern education and employment sectors, due to a manifest lack of integration between Islamic and modern professional knowledge at tertiary level. See the research report by IPPTN (2001). 8 ‘60,000 pelajar tidak tamat tingkatan lima’, Utusan Malaysia, 25.09.03; ‘Tidak ke tingkatan lima Berpindah ke sekolah agama, persendirian’, Utusan Malaysia, 08.10.03.
7 8 7

5 government and implanting militant political tendencies among their students. SARs had allegedly become a breeding ground for terrorism, as portrayed by the fact that the leadership of recently uncovered militant cells were invariably composed of SAR graduates. SARs were accused of benefiting from state coffers while steadfastly refusing to cede authority to the state. They were thus given the ultimatum to either transform themselves into full-blown SASs, in which case they would have to be registered under the 1996 Education Act, or willingly be absorbed fully into the state-sponsored Islamic education system. The sudden draining of funds had reportedly a shocking impact on SARs’ already unstable finances, leading to closures and dwindling numbers of staff and students. The action on SARs was understandably opposed by the opposition Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS: Parti Islam SeMalaysia), whose strength had been disproportionately located in the rural Malay heartlands of northern and northeastern Peninsular Malaysia – the home bases of most SARs.
10 9

2. Endeavours to Preserve Independent Islamic Education: The Case of an Islamic Movement
Since the commercial aeroplane hijacks and suicide attacks on the World Trade Centre (WTC) in New York and the Pentagon in the United States of America (USA) on 11th September 2001 (hereafter ‘9-11’), scholars and governments have expressed concern at the extent to which madrasah education contributes to the growth and militancy by acting, purposely or unwittingly, as breeding grounds for potential

For an overview of Islamic-related violence and the threat of terrorism in Malaysia, see Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2005c). 10 For a few months in 2002-03, the SAR issue received prominent and heated coverage in the mainstream media. See, for example, the official Minster of Education’s explanation: ‘Jalan terbaik bagi SAR’, Utusan Malaysia, 18.03.03; Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s vituperative assault on SARs for propagating false Islamic teachings, as part of his speech to the ruling UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) General Assembly: ‘Mengenali ancaman terhadap bangsa, agama dan negara’, Berita Harian, 20.06.03; Acting PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang’s defence of SARs: ‘Hadi tolak tindakan banding SK dengan SAR’, Utusan Malaysia, 18.03.03; and reports of state absorption of SAR administration and students: ‘21,040 pelajar SAR sudah diserap ke sekolah kebangsaan’, Utusan Malaaysia, 29.04.03, ‘SAR: Kerajaan tiada niat buruk’, Utusan Malaysia, 25.11.03.


6 terrorists.

In Malaysia, 9-11 renewed fear of Islamic extremism among both non-

Muslims and liberal Muslims, leading to the disastrous electoral setbacks suffered by PAS in the 2004 elections. The government policy of keeping strict surveillance over independent Islamic education lest the madrasahs diverted from the official path of statedefined Islam - attractively projected as a modern form of Islam known as Islam Hadhari, had seemingly been vindicated at the polls (Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid 2005a). Moving beyond the decision to withdraw grants to SARs, a senior cabinet minister from the Chinese-controlled Gerakan party openly called for the keeping out of religious symbols and teachings from state-run national schools (SK: Sekolah Kebangsaan).
13 12

Although the Prime Minister eventually ruled out the suggestion, the fact that it surfaced at all indicates the presently weakened position of Islamic education as a whole, even within the national curriculum. Significantly, under pressure from his wary ruling party colleagues, in July 2005, the Education Minister had to publicly deny that Islamisation was going overboard in the national schools.

Such a scenario poses a formidable

challenge to the overall prospects of Islamic education and in particular to Islamic movements’ efforts to maintain independent Islamic education, which they have espoused in one form or another since the onset of Islamic resurgence in the mid-1970s. One such gallant effort to preserve independent Islamic education had been waged by the Darul Arqam movement (1968-1994), and continued since 1997 by its de facto successor, Rufaqa’ Corporation. Darul Arqam began in 1968 as a study group led by Ustaz Ashaari Muhammad, a government religious teacher, in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur. Darul Arqam grew after the founding of its model Islamic village in Sungai Penchala in 1973, and the initiation of self-sustaining economic projects in 1977. By the time of its proscription by state fatwa (legal ruling) in 1994, Darul Arqam had burgeoned into a self-styled economic empire whose success, achieved outside the ambit of the state’s New Economic Policy, was commended by local and foreign observers alike (cf.
See for example, the present author’s answer to a question on just such an issue during the dialogue following a seminar on ‘Islam in Southeast Asia: Analysing Recent Developments’ at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore, 15.11.01, in Crouch et. al. (2002: 40, 42-43). See also, the report of one such workshop to unravel the surmised relationship: Mareike Winkelmann, ‘Madrasa Workshop’, ISIM Newsletter, no. 10, July 2002. 12 ‘Keep religion out of state schools’, Straits Times (Singapore), 03.05.05. 13 ‘Govt ‘no’ to keeping religion out of schools’, Straits Times (Singapore), 05.05.05. 14 ‘Nafi Islamisasi’, Berita Harian, 06.07.05.

7 Nagata 1984: 107, 113). Unfortunately, Darul Arqam got entangled into recriminative conflict with the state, who accused Darul Arqam of espousing and spreading heterodox Islamic teachings deemed deviationist, and of harbouring clandestine militant designs to take over political power in the country. Darul Arqam leaders were eventually detained without trial under the Internal Security Act (1SA) in two crackdowns in 1994 and 1996. It was only in late October 2004 that Ustaz Ashaari and his wife Khadijah Aam finally obtained freedom from the restriction orders imposed upon them following the ISA, thus also ending their banishment to Labuan island, off the coast of the Bornean state of Sabah, since February 2002. The religio-political and socio-economic aspects of the ‘Darul Arqam versus the state’ saga have been dealt with by the present author and others in other studies, to which interested readers are encouraged to refer (cf. Muhammad Syukri Salleh 1992, 1994, 1995; Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid 1999, 2000, 2001a, 2001b, 2003a, 2004b, 2005b; Nagata 2004). Darul Arqam started to develop an Islamic educational system in 1975, when, under Yayasan Al Arqam (Al Arqam Foundation), a school was set up with twelve pioneering students and one teacher. As Yayasan Al Arqam was established under the Mosque and Surau (prayer room) Act, schools operated by Darul Arqam were free from control of the Ministry of Education. By 1993, Darul Arqam was running 257 educational institutions, comprising kindergartens, primary and secondary schools; in which 9541 students were taught by 696 self-trained teachers. Abroad, Darul Arqam established international schools in Phuket, Thailand and Pekan Baru, Sumatra, Indonesia. Students who excelled were sponsored for higher education in Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Jordan and Uzbekistan; majoring not only in the religious sciences but also in technocratic fields. Through its Qismu Dakwah wal Qiadah (Missionary and Leadership Section) and Qismu Maharah (Vocational Section), Darul Arqam's educational system accommodated students who had undergone state education up to secondary level. Darul Arqam claimed to have not only sustained full employment for its internal graduates, but also been able to provide full-time occupation for a significant number of local and foreign university graduates who had joined Darul Arqam during their student days (Muhammad Syukri Salleh 1992: 120, 208-209). For its over two thousand internal graduates, employment

8 within Darul Arqam’s system as administrators, missionaries and entrepreneurs became a priority.

The success of Darul Arqam owed to a culture of entrepreneurship and economic independence and activism which were inculcated by a distinctive educational curriculum which uniquely integrated religious and modern subjects (appendices A, B, C). The educational system was tailored towards realising the twin roles of humans as God’s servant and vicegerent, which correspond to the processes of spiritual development and material development respectively. In incorporating both fard ‘ain and fard kifayah domains of knowledge within its curriculum, Darul Arqam’s schools healthily balanced between hablumminallah (human-Creator 'vertical' relationship) and hablumminannas (human-human 'horizontal' relationship) (Ashaari Muhammad 1989: 17-20). However, the religious education did not rely solely upon classical books as taught in pondoks, but were rather adjusted according to reformist interpretations given by Ustaz Ashaari Muhammad, through his numerous books, treatises, poems and recorded public lectures.
17 16

The techniques of imparting knowledge also departed from tradition: firstly, informal guidance such as during co-curricular activity was stressed over formal transmission; secondly, the application of knowledge was emphasised over learning without practice; thirdly, a close relationship between the teacher as a role model and the student as his or her own virtual child was crucial; and lastly, recognition was given not on the basis of a student’s academic capacity per se but laid significance to his or her religious observances and indications of fear of God (Darul Arqam n.d., 1993b). Darul Arqam claimed to base their methods upon the examples of the Prophet Muhammad, whose simple techniques were founded on five principles. First, seeking knowledge is obligatory for all, whether male or female, old or young. Secondly, the educational
For detailed information on Darul Arqam’s educational achievements as outlined in this paragraph, see Darul Arqam (1993a: 185-187) and Muhammad Syukri Salleh (1994: 35-37). 16 Drawing upon the Quranic verse: "Shame is pitched over them wherever they are found except under a Covenant from Allah (hablumminallah) and from men (hablumminannas)....." (III: 112). 17 At the time of Darul Arqam’s disbandment in October 1994, Ustaz Ashaari Muhammad had written sixty-two books, and had hundreds of his speeches, lectures and dialogues recorded on cassettes and videotapes. His books covered such diverse topics as basic Islamic teachings, techniques and tribulations of the Islamic struggle, Islamic spirituality and contemporary issues. Many of his published poems and sayings were later converted into nasyeeds (Islamic songs) sung by Darul Arqam's artists and sold in cassette form. Darul Arqam members and students were required to imbibe, comprehend, digest and if possible preach to others the contents of these numerous works, which together constituted what was popularly termed as the minda of Ustaz Ashaari Muhammad.

9 process takes place continuously i.e. a 24-hour process, regardless of time and place. Thirdly, syllabus is not restricted to a particular branch of knowledge. Fourth, anybody can deliver knowledge. Finally, the transmission of knowledge is not limited to formal functions and venues (Ashaari Muhammad 1990b: chapter 3). The scope and methods of Darul Arqam’s educational system was summarised by Ustaz Ashaari in a poem entitled Pendidikan Arqam (Arqam’s Education) (appendix D). Notwithstanding weaknesses regarding its implementation, Darul Arqam’s educational system had been commended by academic analysts, especially with respect to its comprehensive informal component (Roald 1994: 269, Ann Wan Seng 2005: 63-70). The banning of Darul Arqam in August 1994, followed by the protracted detentions of its leaders and dissolution of the movement and its businesses, shattered Darul Arqam’s educational system. Darul Arqam graduates and full-time staff were compelled, after so many years of unwavering devotion to Darul Arqam’s self-sustaining system, to seek livelihood within Malaysia’s mainstream liberal-capitalist system. An estimated 10,000 former students of Darul Arqam schools were gradually, after an initially poor response, channeled into national schools. Their former teachers, many of whom had professional qualifications but had terminated their service upon joining Darul Arqam, were offered the option of being reinstated into national schools. This state of affairs persisted until July 1999, when Rufaqa’ Corporation – registered in April 1997 as a private limited company owned by Ustaz Ashaari, sponsored the establishment of AtTahalli secondary school in Bandar Country Homes, Rawang in the state of Selangor. Operating on a temporary permit from the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (JAIS: Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor), the school targeted students among offspring of former Darul Arqam parents, who hitherto had to send their children to state schools against their own will. As an incentive, At-Tahalli offered free education for children of Rufaqa’ employees and the poor. While the system used by At-Tahalli was reminiscent of Darul
’Semua sekolah Al-Arqam akan diambil alih’, Utusan Malaysia, 01.11.94; ’10,000 murid Arqam diproses masuk sekolah’, Utusan Malaysia, 10.12.94;’Jaminan bersekolah anak bekas pengkiut Arqam’, Utusan Malaysia, 02.01.95; ‘D-G: Emphasis is on Islamic and moral education’, New Sunday Times, 22.01.95; ‘Rehab courses for children of former Arqam members’, New Straits Times, 24.01.95; ‘Sistem Pendidikan Kebangsaan menyeronokkan murid Arqam’, Utusan Malaysia, 31.01.95; ‘1,649 ex-Arqam pupils now in ordinary schools’, New Straits Times, 01.02.95. 19 ‘Bekas guru Arqam berpeluang sambung tugas’, Utusan Malaysia, 01.02.95. 20 ‘Rufaqa’ tawar pendidikan percuma kepada pelajar miskin’, Mangga, bil. 62, Mei 2000.
18 20 19 18

10 Arqam schools, At-Tahalli was located in an urban-industrial area, in contrast with the rural settings of Darul Arqam schools. This was in tandem with the swift expansion of Rufaqa’ into a Malay-Muslim conglomerate operating over 40 different types of small and medium industries (SMIs) and 250 business networks spanning parts of Southeast Asia and the Middle East (Muhammad Syukri Salleh 2003: 156-176, Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid 2003b: 146-150). Apparently, such growth was abnormal, happening at a time when many Malay-Muslim businesses were experiencing the worst of the recession which had cast a shadow over Malaysia’s economy since the Southeast Asian currency crisis of 1997-98. To the authorities, the founding of At-Tahalli school, albeit under the watchful eye of JAIS, indicated Rufaqa’’s adamant resistance against full integration into the mainstream national educational system. At a wider level, the state questioned the level of the former Darul Arqam members’ rehabilitation. At-Tahalli did not have to wait long before getting into trouble with the authorities for allegedly being a vehicle to inculcate Darul Arqam teachings among its students, thereby planting seeds for a future revival.
22 21

Such an impression was evident from the emergence of nasyeed groups whose membership consisted of At-Tahalli students. The chief nasyeed group, Qathrunnada, quickly gained popularity by producing albums and performing in major Islamic concerts around Malaysia, bringing back memories of stylish Darul Arqam cultural performances a decade earlier. Denials by the At-Tahalli school management of any association with Darul Arqam were unconvincing to JAIS, and from December 2000, the temporary operational licence was revoked and police help was sought to ensure the school closed down. With the closing down of At-Tahalli, Rufaqa’ officially bowed to the authorities’
‘Pemilik Sekolah At Tahalli nafi terbabit pertubuhan haram’, Utusan Malaysia, 13.07.00. There is wide acceptance that Darul Arqam, via its main nasyeed groups Nada Murni and The Zikr, was chiefly responsible for popularising nasyeed as a modern musical genre in Malaysia since the mid-1980s. Darul Arqam cultural performances were distinctive for integrating contemporary musical elements, such as the use of percussion and modern instruments, with the classical nasyeed melody as inherited from its sufi origins. All three most popular nasyeed groups in contemporary Malaysia, viz. Raihan, Rabbani and Hijjaz, trace their origins to Darul Arqam’s multiple cultural troupes. See for instance, ‘Kumpulan nasyid perlu elak lirik galak maksiat’, Berita Harian, 08.01.04. 23 ‘Qathrunnada dilarang baca surat cinta’, Pancaindera (Mingguan Malaysia), 14.05.00; ‘4 anak Ustaz As’aari jadi penyanyi’, Mangga, bil. 62, Mei 2000; ‘MAS sambut Maal Hijrah membawa mesej ‘Cinta Agung’, Buletin Utama, 08-14.05.00; ‘Lebih 5000 penonton menitis airmata semasa konsert teater muzikal Islam di UKM’, Buletin Utama, 04-10.09.00. 24 ‘JAIS buat aduan terhadap sekolah At-Tahalli’, Utusan Malaysia, 15.02.01.
22 21 24 23

11 demands to operate all of its activities legally. Following Ustaz Ashaari’s banishment to Labuan in February 2002, remaining attempts by former Darul Arqam members to educate their children outside the mainstream educational system were defeated. The state’s action was consistent with its policy of tightening its stranglehold over private religious education, as reflected in its withdrawal of grants to SARs in 2002.

3. Rufaqa’’s Model of an Islamic Educational System
The control and regulatory measures imposed on its initial educational initiatives were not regarded by Rufaqa’ as long term impediments. Rufaqa’ understands that, notwithstanding close surveillance by the state, the perseverance of a movement lies in how well it manages to educate its future generations in its principles and beliefs. Hence, in May 2003, Rufaqa’ reorientated its educational strategies during an intensive course conducted by Ustaz Ashaari for executive committee members of Rufaqa’’s Education Bureau. The main intellectual output of the course, which was eventually adopted as the foundations of Rufaqa’’s education policy, are as follows:
27 26

1. Of all human needs, education is the most important. Education forms the pulse of a nation, determining its identity, integrity and future direction. Education cannot

‘Negeri mesti bertindak’, Berita Harian, 18.02.02; ‘Tutup sekolah agama hidupkan fahaman bertentangan Islam’, Utusan Malaysia, 18.02.02; ‘Semua negeri pantau Aurad Muhammadiah’, Berita Harian, 19.02.02, ‘Johor arah sekolah agama Al-Ruhama ditutup’, Berita Harian, 21.02.02; ‘JAJ halang usaha bekas ahli Al-Arqam’, Berita Harian, 16.03.02. 26 In February 2003, Ustaz Ashaari as Executive Chairman reorganised Rufaqa’ in order to strengthen its international profile. Rufaqa’ was restructured into ten international bureaus and nineteen operational states to cover Malaysia. Each bureau and state had a director, but only the bureau director was automatically on Rufaqa’’s Board of Directors. The bureaus were the Political Bureau, the Human Development Bureau, the Economic Bureau, the Education Bureau, the Cultural and Publication Bureau, the Welfare Bureau, the Health and Cleanliness Bureau, the Special Duties Bureau, the Tourism Bureau and the Financial Bureau. Of the ten bureau heads, one – Fakhrurrazi Ashaari, Ustaz Ashaari’s eldest son, was appointed Deputy Executive Chairman, three became Vice-Executive Chairmen, and the remaining six became official members of Rufaqa’’s Board of Directors. Until today (July 2005), the post of Rufaqa’’s Education Bureau director has been assumed by Nizamuddin Ashaari, another of Ustaz Ashaari’s son whose entire education had been within the Darul Arqam system. 27 Drawing upon information from two internal documents of Rufaqa’’s Education Bureau: Rufaqa’ Corporation (2003a, 2005a), and personal discussions with Nizamuddin Ashaari, director of Rufaqa’’s Education Bureau, during fieldwork (June-July 2005).


12 therefore be conducted on a trial and error basis, as failure would render great human costs which are irreversible for generations. 2. Knowledge may be categorised into material knowledge and knowledge of humans i.e. human science. 3. Material knowledge - obtainable via effort and thinking, may be further subdivided into philosophical/theoretical/mental knowledge and practical knowledge. Philosophical knowledge may drive one into deviationism if it contradicts aqidah (faith). For human civilisation to develop, they must apply practical knowledge such as agriculture, commerce, engineering, medicine, and others. Problems arise within contemporary Islamic education because philosophical knowledge is not integrated with practical knowledge. The products of such education are passive theorists and/or narrow-minded technocrats. 4. Human science can truly be understood only by God’s Messengers, whose roles are then assumed by centennial mujaddids (reformers) whose coming had been foretold in a Prophet Muhammad’s hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah and found in Abu Dawud's collection: "Allah will raise, at the head of each century, such people for this Ummah as will revive its Religion for it." 5. The fundamentals of imparting human science are contained in the Quranic verse: “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom, and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious” (XVI: 125). The basic tenets of calling humankind towards God are therefore, the use of wisdom, beautiful preaching and convincing argumentation. 6. Human science focuses on understanding four constituent elements of humankind, viz. aql (reason), ruh (soul), nafs (the base self) and the physique. Greater concern should be attached to the education of the aql, ruh and nafs, and not so much on the physique, without denying the importance of health and physical education. 7. Understanding the aql involves transmitting knowledge according to six different levels of intelligence, viz. the genius IQ, the smart IQ, the clever IQ, the normal IQ possessed by the average human, the weak IQ and the dumb IQ. 8. Comprehending the ruh or heart involves recognising its four categories, viz. the illuminated heart, the enlightened heart, the dim heart and the dark heart. These

13 correspond respectively to the souls of the prophets and saints, of the righteous Muslims, of the wicked Muslims and of the unbelievers. 9. Taking cognizance of the nafs entails the process of mujahadah al-nafs (selfpurification), which involves three stages, viz. takhalli (divesting the heart of mazmumah - evil attributes), tahalli (filling the heart with mahmudah - virtuous attributes) and tajalli (instantaneous peace of the heart deriving from unceasing devotion to God). The nafs is spiritually upgraded according to its seven levels, viz. ammarah (the vicious), lauwamah (the defective), mulhamah (the guided), mutmainnah (the serene), radhiah (the surrendered), mardhiah (the accepted) and kamilah (the perfect). Only the mutmainnah, radhiah, mardhiah and kamilah attain Eternal Salvation 10. As a mechanism of disseminating knowledge, ’beautiful preaching’ necessitates that a teacher becomes a role model to his students by practising what he or she preaches. A teacher spreads good news (tabsyir) to encourage students to perform good deeds, and tells of frightening news (tanzir) to install fear of committing evil deeds. In doing so, he or she refers to the history of righteous peoples and of trangressors of the religion. He or she encourages students to ponder over the might of God and give them practical training as caring and responsible members of society via community service. 11. Utilising convincing argumentation necessitates the mastering of various branches of knowledge of human society, such as politics, economics, sociology, psychology, cultural studies and current affairs. It is imperative that a teacher absorbs ‘inner’ knowledge of humans before mastering any kind of ‘outer’ knowledge of humans. 12. A practical educational system balances the development of one’s aql, ruh, nafs and the physique so as to create mature human beings at a relatively early age of adulthood, corresponding to the Islamic concept of baligh. As one approaches the age of baligh – normally estimated at fifteen years old but may vary according to one’s physical circumstances, one experiences a balanced growth of intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical ability.

14 The twelve foundations above have been simplified into five principles of Rufaqa’’s education policy, viz. a 24-hour and lifelong learning process, synergy between material knowledge and human science, a caring and entertaining environment conducive to learning, priority to practical education, and a close relationship between teacher and student (Rufaqa’ Corporation 2003a: 34, 2003b: 5-6). These foundations and principles are further translated into a curriculum which encompasses five basic courses, viz. human science (sains insaniah) which consists of fard ‘ain knowledge and spiritual science (sains rohaniah), basic vocational science (sains kemahiran hidup asas) and empirical science (sains khibrah). Empirical science, in turn, is made up of life and technological science (sains kehidupan dan teknologi), cultural and mass media science (sains budaya dan media massa), and business and management science (sains perniagaan dan pengurusan) (appendix E). Course delivery methods vary: on the one hand, fard ‘ain and spiritual science subjects are delivered via formal lessons in classrooms or lecture halls. The subjects are tawhid, fiqh, tasawwuf, tafsir, hadith, sirah and history, tajwid, minda of Ustaz Ashaari and the thoughts of renowned Islamic scholars. Formal lessons consist of not only oneway and/or interactive classes which start after fajr (dawn) prayers, but also exposure to current affairs, poem recitals, news reading-cum-reporting training, public speaking, debate training, singing lessons and a question-and-answer form of minda test. Subjects are thereby discussed not in rigid reference to textbooks, but rather given social and global interpretations appropriate to modern life. Assessment takes place on a daily basis based on oral tests and close monitoring of student progress and behaviour by teachers and tutors (appendix E). For basic vocational science and empirical science subjects, training and assignments are given directly within premises of relevant projects either run directly by Rufaqa’ or whose management has reached an understanding with Rufaqa’ regarding the placement of Rufaqa’ students as industrial trainees. Exposure to community service and public participation is done through fieldwork known as Social Science Missionary Operation (OSSD: Operasi Sains Sosial Dakwah). Basic vocational sciences cover such wide-ranging subjects as cooking, laundry washing, tailoring, first aid, electronics,

15 construction, computing, agriculture, business management, nursing and vehicle maintenance (appendix E). As one progresses in his education, one advances into specialised fields within the three empirical sciences. Each science is composed of a range of elective subjects; students may wish to specialise in one or more of the electives. Under life and technological science, subjects offered are restaurant/catering management, bakery operation, motor vehicle workshop, mechanical engineering, textile and garment industry, electrical engineering, building construction, agriculture, carpentry and furniture, audio-visual electronics and health management. Cultural and mass media science covers such diverse subjects as studio artist and multimedia education, calligraphy and writing, performance arts (singing, acting, poem recital, talkshow hosting), language (Malay, English, Arabic) and arts and advertising (technical drawing, graphics, billboard and signboard design). Subjects under business and management science include information and communication technology (ICT), business and finance, and tourism. For all of the afore-mentioned sciences, the path of one’s education according to age, as he progresses through Rufaqa’’s educational system, is given in appendix F. Rufaqa’ circumvents restrictions imposed by the authorities by registering their educational institutions not under the Ministry of Education or the various states’ Islamic Affairs Departments, but instead with the Ministry of Human Resources under its National Council of Vocational Training (MLVK: Majlis Latihan Vokasional Kebangsaan) programme. Hence, for example, subjects offered under the empirical science courses are sufficiently standardised so as to qualify trainees for accreditation according to MLVK’s National Occupational Skill Standard (NOSS) (Rufaqa’ Corporation 2003: 8-11). This is in line with the official status of Rufaqa’ as a business corporation, with projects enough to maintain the viability of such a system. Trainees, most of whom are the offspring of Rufaqa’ employees, are charged a minimal amount of fee which is automatically deducted from the accounts of projects in which their parents are employed. Trainees whose parents work outside Rufaqa’ pay higher but not exorbitant fees. In fact, the Education Bureau practises much tolerance in terms of the paying of fees. The feasibility of the whole educational system depends on cross-

16 subsidisation from profitable projects managed by other bureaus in Rufaqa’ and on voluntary contributions from well-off parents and donors sympathetic towards independent Islamic education. This situation has been made possible by Rufaqa’’s position as an all-encompassing Islamic movement, and not solely as an Islamic educational institution. Its educational system is totally self-financed and independent from the state, thus avoiding dangers arising from control measures imposed by the state on conventional Islamic schools. Execution of the whole system above has been put under the responsibility of an international Education Bureau headed by a Director, who is in turn assisted by a General Manager, a Deputy General Manager, an Assistant General Manager and a school Inspectorate. This directorate manages ten divisions, viz. the divisions of early education, primary education, secondary and higher education, special education, community education, motivational education and external relations, human resources and development, the economic division, the finance division and the welfare division (Appendix G). The system outlined above takes place in the form of the legally registered Institut Teknologi Spectral (ITS), placed under the jurisdiction of the division of secondary and higher education. The ITS main branch is situated within the vicinity of the central ‘Rufaqa’ township’ in Bandar Country Homes, Rawang, Selangor. During his fieldwork (June-July 2005), the present author visited the ITS main campus, and also branch campuses in Bandar Baru PERDA, Bukit Mertajam, Penang; Jitra, Kedah and Kuala Perlis, Perlis. The system appears to be operating smoothly, although the ITS main campus will obviously be more wide-ranging in terms of subjects offered, by virtue of the greater number and variety of projects that exist within the main ‘Rufaqa’ township’. In fact, the wider are Rufaqa’ businesses in a particular self-styled township, the bigger and more comprehensive will the corresponding ITS branch be. However, students are all centrally registered by the Education Bureau, which then distributes them to ITS branches in different states as ‘trainees’. The vocational side of the educational system
Personal communication with Nizamuddin Ashaari, director of Rufaqa’’s Education Bureau (fieldwork June-July 2005). 29 ‘Rufaqa’ townships’, termed as such by the Rufaqa’ leadership, refer to an industrial vicinity where juxtaposed business premises are rented or bought en bloc by Rufaqa’ and given a flavour of Rufaqa’ via conspicuous signboards and continuous presence of company personnel.
28 29 28

17 effectively legalises it, enabling it to offer as well fard ‘ain and spiritual science education, both of which together form the gist of Islamic education that Rufaqa’ wants to protect from state intervention. Apart from managing ITS campuses around the country, the Education Bureau delegates responsibility to other bureaus to carry out more specialised forms of education. For example, Rufaqa’’s Cultural Bureau manages the Mawaddah Arts and Cultural Academy (Akademi Seni dan Budaya Mawaddah), based in Bandar Country Homes, Rawang, but with a newly opened gallery in the posh area of Pelangi Damansara, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. The Academy offers specialised training in vocal arts, percussion, acting, dancing, drama and theatre production, stageshow preparation, graphic design and handling of audio-visual equipment. It is financially supported by the commercial arm of the Cultural Bureau, Mawaddah Production, which receives proceeds from the sale of self-produced Islamic entertainment paraphernalia and from nasyeed performances, tours and concerts held throughout the country. Mawaddah Production subsidises a special orphanage, Wisma Anak-anak Kesayanganku, in Bandar Country Homes, Rawang. The Wisma is managed by the Welfare and Medical Services Foundation of Malaysia (YKPPM: Yayasan Kebajikan dan Perkhidmatan Perubatan Malaysia), in cooperation with Rufaqa’’s Welfare Bureau. The Wisma offers education for orphans, children of the poor and neglected children. ‘Loving and caring’ become perennial themes in the delivery of courses, with focus attached to practical aspects of fard ‘ain and spiritual science subjects (YKPPM 2004: 10-14). To some extent, this overlaps with Rufaqa’’s Human Development Bureau’s department specializing in combating social ills. This department conducts courses for wayward adolescents using a specially designed module (Rufaqa’ Corporation 2005c). Morally problematic students are pulled out from the mainstream ITS system and put under supervision of this department, which usually isolates such outcasts in remote places for rehabilitation.
31 30

See the one-page advertisement of the Mawaddah Arts and Cultural Academy in SENIMAN (2005). Among the rehabilitation centres visited by the present author during fieldwork (July 2005) is Kampung Temalang in Kodiang, near the town of Jitra, Kedah. Here, trainees, mostly in their late teens, were put to intensive agricultural training by day and spiritual and cultural education at night. Significantly, the rehabilitation centre is situated within the residential compund of Ustaz Ashaari’s in-laws i.e. parents of Khadijah Aam. Whenever the Rufaqa’ executive chairman pays a visit, he personally instructs the students in a few sessions.


18 Implementation of the ITS system does not mean that Rufaqa’ totally rejects the conventional state educational system. In 2004, financial difficulties faced by SARs starved of funds due to the withdrawal of automatic state grants brought many of them to the brink of closure. In response to widespread calls from local communities wishing to see SARs salvaged, Rufaqa’ took over two of them, viz. Al-Maarif Religious Secondary School in Bukit Goh, Kuantan, Pahang, and Al-Hasanah Religious Secondary School in Keratong, Pahang. Rufaqa’ teachers and students were sent to both of them. According to statistics gathered by Rufaqa’’s Education Bureau, Al-Maarif has absorbed eleven teachers and 178 students from Rufaqa’, while Al-Hasanah has accepted nine teachers and 156 students from Rufaqa’ (Rufaqa’ Corporation 2005b). At Al-Maarif and AlHasanah, Rufaqa’ has altered the informal curriculum so as to incorporate significant elements of the ITS system. This has been facilitated by the fact that the hostels and administrative staff positions are dominated by Rufaqa’ students and personnel respectively. However, the formal curriculum still uses the state system, with relevant examinations conducted just as in other SARs and state religious schools. Another aspect in which Rufaqa’ has been compelled to accept the national curriculum is primary education. However, in order to offset the negative social influences that might be imbibed by their offspring who have now re-entered the state educational system, Rufaqa’ has devised its own independent hostel system to discipline them according to Islamic precepts. A Rufaqa’ township will typically have four hostels, viz. male secondary, male primary, female secondary, and female primary. After classes in state schools, the students are given lessons in fard ‘ain and spiritual sciences to make up for the weaknesses of the state system. Even in their very young ages, the children are given practical training in Rufaqa’’s economic projects as part of their co-curricular activity. In this way, they develop company loyalty, camaraderie, independent survival spirit, capacity to relate Islamic knowledge with real life experience in the entrepreneurial world, and a realisation of fard kifayah in a manner which arouses God-consciousness in
These are significant numbers, as the official number of teachers and students in the Rufaqa’ system is 61 and 620 respectively, see the report ‘Maklumat Pelajar Menengah’ (Information on Secondary Level Students) in Rufaqa’ Corporation (2005b). This means that 41 teachers and 286 students presently go through the full-scale ITS system. The student-friendly teacher-student ratio means that close attention can be given to students; indeed, as is required to make the fard ‘ain and spiritual science components of the system successful.
32 32

19 the hearts and minds of both students and teachers. Rufaqa’ is not least worried that it could be misunderstood for creating a sub-system within the formal educational system, for they are not breaking any law. Indeed, in spite of Rufaqa’’s independent hostels having received negative media attention, none has been ordered to shut down.
34 33

4. Concluding Remarks
Since national independence in 1957, Islamic education in Malaysia has gradually moved towards greater centralisation and bureaucratisation. Until the mid-1970s, there was no real resistance against this trend as the economically disadvantaged MalayMuslims, most of whom were still based in rural areas and in the agricultural sector, treated greater state control over Islamic education as a benign patronage much welcomed in order to preserve it amidst the challenge of modernisation. But unfortunately, it had the undesirable effect of sowing a dependent mentality among proprietors and practitioners of Islamic education. State grants were regarded as an obligation of the state to its Muslim electorate, rather than a bonus which can be dispensed with under unforeseen circumstances. The state, on its part, saw such grants as a useful countervailing instrument against the influence of PAS in the Malay-Muslim heartlands. If and when the state felt that it had garnered reasonably comfortable influence in such areas, it was not unimaginable that the grants would be withdrawn. This ultimately came about in 2002, although the global sentiment against allegedly terroristproducing madrasahs gave added impetus to the decision. Predictably, many independent SAR administrators were caught unprepared in face of oncoming financial difficulties. The government’s judgement was vindicated in the thrashing of PAS during the general elections in 2004. The emergence of Islamic movements in the mid-1970s expanded the scope of independent Islamic education beyond rural religious schools. Most revivalists involved in the new Islamic movements were urban-based, highly educated and middle class. The
Personal communication with Nizamuddin Ashaari, director of Rufaqa’’s Education Bureau (fieldwork June-July 2005). 34 ‘JAIP kesan asrama persendirian cuba hidupkan Al-Arqam’, Berita Harian (north), 07.04.04.

20 rural-religious image of existing independent Islamic schools did not fit their contours and vision. In educating their offspring, they founded private Islamic schools or chose state education, coupling it with a strong dose of informal religious education often offered by their respective movements. Those who wished independent Islamic education for their children would have to grapple with the problem of financing such institutions. The weakness of many Islamic movements is their members’ continuing dependence on the state and/or private sector for their livelihood; the movement itself is not an economically self-sustaining organisation. Hence, even if the movement had established educational institutions, their maintenance had to come from fees and voluntary contributions from parents, members and sympathetic outsiders. When they want to expand, they unavoidably launch a donation drive, despite their reputation as institutions which had the support of salaried professionals.

Darul Arqam and Rufaqa’ Corporation were in a class of their own. Darul Arqam practised disengagement from the prevailing mainstream systems, and therefore separated its schools in rustic areas. But the schools were run, uncharacteristically for supposedly rural schools, in tremendously modern fashion, integrating religio-traditional and modern-scientific education. As such, products of Darul Arqam’s education had previously been dubbed ‘technological sufis’.

A five-year hiatus followed the

disbandment of Darul Arqam in 1994. Since 1999, independent Islamic education has revived at the hands of Rufaqa’ Corporation. As Rufaqa’ has emerged as a multi-sector Malay-Muslim conglomerate involved in a wide range of SMIs, the curriculum and management of Islamic education under Rufaqa’ is even more modern and industryFor example, in order to settle outstanding instalments and realise its five-year expansion plan (2003-07), the board of directors of the Al-Islah Primary School in Teluk Kumbar, Penang – a school established in 1998 by members of the Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM: Malaysian Society for Islamic Reform), embarked on a nationwide donation drive, via printed brochures and the internet, to secure funds close to RM200,000. Information on this was gathered from an interview with Asmady Sulaiman, treasurer of Al-Islah Primary School in 2004-05 (fieldwork June-July 2005), the profile Sekolah Rendah Al-Islah Pulau Pinang (2005) and a public email plea entitled ‘Rayuan Bantuan Kepada Sekolah Sri Islah’ addressed to, from, dated 09.05.05. Clearly, despite JIM’s elitist reputation as a well-organised Islamic movement boasting a membership composed mostly of Malay intellectuals and professionals, its institutions have failed to become self-financing. For the background of JIM, see Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2003c: 71-78), and for an insider’s view, see Siti Hamisah Manan, ‘Sejarah JIM Sepintas Lalu’, Perspektif (a JIM publication), March-April 2005, pp. 3234. 36 Cf. ‘Darul Arqam: Gerakan Fundamentalis yang Modernis’, Jurnal Ulumul Quran, in Darul Arqam (1989: 63-68); ‘Malaysian ‘techno-sufis’ await their messiah’, The Times, 14.07.94.

21 based vis-à-vis Darul Arqam’s. As technical qualifications of Rufaqa’ graduates are tailored to concur with standards of the Ministry of Human Resources, their prospects are not limited to employment within the Rufaqa’ system, but they can also serve the wider industry in various vocational and managerial capacities. Having been nurtured with the entrepreneurial spirit, they can choose to establish their own firms. They have the added advantage of having been trained in fard ‘ain knowledge and spiritual sciences as well. The jihadist element in their curriculum, if there is to be one, refers not to the waging of a militant war against infidels, but rather to hard work as a holy effort to free Muslims from the shackles of capitalist economies and thus establish Muslim economic independence. In Rufaqa’’s integrated system, this cannot plausibly be achieved by manipulating economic variables alone. Rather, its accomplishment depends very much on the inculcation of values found in the divinely prescribed human sciences. The survival of Rufaqa’’s educational system is itself the outcome of the holistic systems operated in managing the corporation. One bureau is complementary to the other bureaus; together, they form Islamic systems of life functioning in tandem with one another. Rufaqa’’s educational system is cross-subsidised by Rufaqa’’s other profitable business sectors. Rufaqa’’s educational institutions therefore are able to provide integrated education at manageable costs to parents. This obviates the need for Rufaqa’ to embark on any public fundraising appeal, as has been indulged in by other Islamic movements and independent Islamic schools which have had their sources to public funds blocked. However, if Rufaqa’ seeks to expand its educational system, it needs to widen the scope of student recruitment beyond the offspring of Rufaqa’-affiliated parents. At the present moment, bearing in mind the public stigma over Darul Arqam and the close tabs continually kept by the state on Rufaqa’ lest it revives the banned Darul Arqam, such an expansion seems unlikely. Rufaqa’ is apparently contented to be managing an educational system which caters mainly for the children of Rufaqa’ employees, affiliates and well-wishers.

22 Appendix A: The twin objectives of Darul Arqam’s education system: 1) To produce Islamic scholars of high integrity based on the Quran and Sunnah, and who lead society towards truth. 2) To produce technocrats possessing high integrity based on the Quran and Sunnah and who can develop all aspects of life in Islam.

Diagram 1:


Teacher Administrator Doctor Entrepreneur Farmer Scholar Manager Other professions

General Characteristics
Knowledgable Ethical Practical Fearful of God Striving for truth

Adapted from: Ashaari Muhammad (1990a: 144).

23 Appendix B: The curriculum of Darul Arqam’s educational system: Fundamentals: 1) Authoritatively derived from the Quran, Sunnah, ijma’ (scholarly consensus) and qiyas (analogical deduction). 2) Continuous teaching-learning process within a fully residential environment. 3) Separation between male and female students. 4) Familial training towards mutual cooperation and camaraderie.

Types of syllabus:

1. Religious stream

Kindergarten Ibtida’iah (Primary) Intiqaliah (Transitional) I’dadiah (Lower secondary) Sanawiah (Upper secondary) Sanawi Aliah (matriculation) Jamiah (higher education)

4 – 6 years 5 years 1 year 3 years 2 years 2 years 4 years 3 years

2. Missionary and leadership Intensive religious course for training 3. Mua’llaf school leavers with O Levels Basic religious course for converts 4. Tahfiz al-Quran Post-Sanawiah Course on memorisation of the Quran 5. Academic stream Forms 1-6 for lower certificate (LCE), O Level and A Level qualifications

2 years

4 years

Adapted from: Ashaari Muhammad (1990a: 145).

24 Appendix C: Subjects taught in Darul Arqam’s schools within the religious stream:

Primary level

Tawhid (Theology) Fiqh (Jurisprudence) Ahklaq (Morality) Tafsir (Quranic exegesis) Hadith Arabic

Sirah (life of the Civics Prophet) English Malay General science Health education Sirah Nahu (grammar) Saraf Balaghah Tajwid Khat (calligraphy) Mathematics Malay English Geography

Secondary level

Tawhid Fiqh Ahklaq Tafsir Hadith Arabic language

Higher education

Tawhid Fiqh Ayat al-ahkam Hadith al-ahkam Ulum hadith Nahu/saraf

Management English General knowledge Scientific philosophy Islamic thought

Adapted from: Ashaari Muhammad (1990a: 146).

25 Appendix D: Poem by Ustaz Ashaari Muhammad, completed at 10.45 p.m., 28 February 1984, whilst in Darud-Diafah, Kuwait:

Pendidikan Arqam
Pendidikan Arqam tersendiri Unik dan berlainan sekali La syarfi ha wala gharbiyah Tali Islamiah insya-Allah sunnah Nabi Pergaulan lelaki dan wanita terbatas sekali Bukan untuk makan gaji Bukan untuk degree Tapi untuk berdikari Untuk menjadi abid pemuja Allah Menjadi hamba yang jauh sekali Untuk menyambung lidah jemaah sendiri Bila terpisah dari madrasah Untuk mengembang sayap jemaah Agar terbang merata negeri Untuk menyambung lidah Nabi Sebagai mujahid pengikut Nabi Bagi mendaulatkan kalimah Allah Agar menjadi orang bertaqwa Melatih pelajar-pelajar laksana anak Guru-guru dan pemimpin laksana ayah Satu sama lain terjalin kasih saying Untuk melahirkan jemaah Islamiah Yang masing-masing ada peranannya Mengikut kebolehan, watak dan bakatnya.

Source: Ashaari Muhammad (1987: 105).

26 Appendix E: Categorisation of knowledge, courses and respective subjects offered in Rufaqa’’s educational system: Knowledge

Human sciences Fard ‘ain
- tawhid - fiqh - tasawwuf

Material knowledge

Spiritual science
- tawhid - fiqh - tasawwuf - tafsir - hadith - sirah and history - minda - Islamic thought

Basic vocational science
- cooking - laundry washing - tailoring - first aid - electronics - construction - computing - agriculture - business management - nursing - vehicle maintenance

Empirical science

Life and technological science
- restaurant/catering management - bakery operation - motor vehicle workshop - mechanical engineering - textile and garment industry - electrical engineering - building construction - agriculture - carpentry and furniture - audio-visual electronics - health management

Cultural and mass media science
- studio artist and multimedia education - calligraphy and writing - performance arts (singing, acting, poem recital, talkshow hosting) - language (Malay, English, Arabic) - arts and advertising (technical drawing, graphics, billboard and signboard design)

Business and management science
- information and communication technology (ICT) - business and finance - tourism

Adapted from: Rufaqa’ Corporation (2003a: 34-36, 2003b: 3-14).


Appendix F: Levels, age range, course duration and choice of subjects of a student in Rufaqa’’s educational system:
Level Age (in years) Course duration in semesters Fard ‘ain and spiritual science Basic vocational science Life and Cultural and mass media science Transitional 12-13 2 All subjects Early 13-14 2 All subjects Junior 14-15 2 All subjects All subjects All subjects One or more subjects One more subjects Senior 15-16 2-3 All subjects High level 16-17 2-3 All subjects Undergraduate 18 and over 2-3 All subjects One or more subjects in any one or more of the elective sciences One or more subjects in any one or more of the elective sciences One or more subjects in any one or more of the elective sciences or One or more subjects Business and management science technological science

Adapted from: Rufaqa’ Corporation (2003b: 7).

28 Appendix G: The organizational structure of Rufaqa’’s international Bureau of Education: Director Nizamuddin Ashaari

General Manager Dr. Gina Puspita Jemaah Nazir (Schools Inspectorate) Deputy General Manager Siti Aminah Mohd. Jamil Assistant General Manager Halison Md. Zain

Early education
- nursery - playgroup - kindergarten

Primary education

Special education

Motivational education and external relations

Secondary and higher education
- ITS & secondary schools - cultural academy - overseas schools

Community education
- Anak Soleh recreational club

Human resources and development Welfare


Finance Adapted from: Rufaqa’ Corporation (2005b).


Books and articles:
Abdullah Al-Qari Haji Salleh (1974), 'To' Kenali: His Life and Influence' in Roff, W.R. (ed.), Kelantan, pp. 87-100. Abdullah Alwi Haji Hassan (1980), ‘The Development of Islamic Education in Kelantan’ in Tamadun Islam di Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur: Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia. Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (1999), ‘New Trends of Islamic Resurgence in Contemporary Malaysia: Sufi-Revivalism, Messianism and Economic Activism’, Studia Islamika: Indonesian Journal for Islamic Studies, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 1-74. Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2000), ‘Political Dimensions of Religious Conflict in Malaysia: State Response to an Islamic Movement’, Indonesia and the Malay World, vol. 28, no. 80, pp. 32-65. Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2001a), 'Pemerintah dan Gerakan Islam di Malaysia', Pemikir, no. 23, pp. 111-158. Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2001b), 'Transnational Issues in Islamic Revivalism: Southeast Asian Response to a Malaysian-based Islamic Movement', abstract of paper read at the International Conference on Southeast Asian Religious Mosaic in the 3rd Millennium, Southeast Asian Studies Bulletin, 2/01, October-November, pp. 14, 23-24. Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2003a), ‘Inter-Movement Tension among Resurgent Muslims in Malaysia: Response to the State Clampdown on Darul Arqam in 1994’, Asian Studies Review, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 361-387. Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2003b), 'The Taqwa versus Quwwah Dichotomy: An Islamic Critique of Development via the Malaysian Bumiputera Policy', Kajian Malaysia: Journal of Malaysian Studies, vol. XXI, nos. 1-2 (special issue), pp. 123-162. Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, Dr., (2003c), 'The Maturation of Dakwah in Malaysia: Divergence and Convergence in the Methods of Islamic Movements in the 1980s', IKIM Journal, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 59-97. Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2004a), ‘The Impact of British Colonialism on Malaysian Islam: An Interpretive Account’, Islam and the Modern Age, vol. XXXV, no. 2, pp. 21-46. Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2004b), ‘Islam, Weberism and Economic Development: An Adjunct to Nagata’s Outline of the Arqam Experiment in Malaysia (1969-1994)’, Global Change, Peace and Security, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 169-179.

Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2005a), ‘The UMNO-PAS Struggle: Explaining PAS’ Defeat in 2004’ in Saw Swee Hock and Kesavapany, K. (eds.), Malaysia: Realities and Prospects, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, forthcoming. Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2005b), ‘State Monopoly of Religious Orthodoxy: The Case of the Banning of Darul Arqam in Malaysia’, Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, vol. 39, no. 1, forthcoming. Andaya, B.W. and Andaya, L.Y. (1982), A History of Malaysia, London: Macmillan. Ann Wan Seng (2005), Al-Arqam di Sebalik Tabir, Kuala Lumpur: Penerbit Universiti Malaya. Ashaari Muhammad (1987), Kesedaran, Kuala Lumpur: Penerangan Al Arqam. Ashaari Muhammad, Ustaz (1989), Worship in Islam (translated by Abdul Khaleq Jaafar), Kuala Lumpur: Penerangan Al Arqam. Ashaari Muhammad (1990a), 'Kaedah Pelaksanaan Pembangunan Berteraskan Islam: Pendekatan Darul Arqam' in Muhammad Syukri Salleh (ed.), Konsep dan Pelaksanaan, pp. 127157. Ashaari Muhammad, Ustaz (1990b), Pendidikan Rasulullah, Kuala Lumpur: Jabatan Syeikhul Arqam. Crouch, H., Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, Abubakar, C.A., and Yang Razali Kassim (2002), Islam in Southeast Asia: Analysing Recent Developments, Trends in Southeast Asia monograph series, No. 1, January, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Darul Arqam (1989), Al Arqam Dalam Media Antarabangsa, Kuala Lumpur: Penerangan Al Arqam. Darul Arqam (1993a), 25 Years of Darul Arqam: The Struggle of Abuya Syeikh Imam Ashaari Muhammad At Tamimi, Kuala Lumpur: Penerbitan Abuya. Darul Arqam (1993b), Generasi Pembina Empayar, Kuala Lumpur: Penerbitan Hikmah. Debernadi, J, Forth, G., and Niessen, S. (eds.) (1995), Managing Change in Southeast Asia: Local Identities, Global Connections, Edmonton: Canadian Council for Southeast Asian Studies. Israeli, R. and Johns, A.H. (eds.) (1984), Islam in Asia (vol. II: Southeast and East Asia), Jerusalem: The Magnes Press. Kamal Hassan, M. (1986), 'Some Dimensions of Islamic Education in Southeast Asia' in Taufik Abdullah and Siddique, S. (eds.), Islam and Society in Southeast Asia, pp. 40-79. Khoo Kay Kim (1974), 'Malay Society 1874-1920s', Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 179-198.

Kostiner, J. (1984), 'The Impact of Hadrami Emigrants in the East Indies on Islamic Modernism and Social Change in the Hadramawt during the 20th Century' in Israeli, R. and Johns, A.H. (eds.), Islam in Asia, pp. 206-237. Muhammad Syukri Salleh (ed.) (1990), Konsep dan Pelaksanaan Pembangunan Berteraskan Islam, Penang: Universiti Sains Malaysia. Muhammad Syukri Salleh (1992), An Islamic Approach to Rural Development - The Arqam Way, London: Asoib International Ltd. Muhammad Syukri Salleh (1994), 'An Ethical Approach to Development: The Arqam Philosophy and Achievements', Humanomics, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 25-60. Muhammad Syukri Salleh (1995), ‘Islamic Change in Malaysia: The Politics of Unfavourable Responses’ in Debernadi, J, Forth, G., and Niessen, S. (eds.), Managing Change in Southeast Asia, pp. 227-243. Muhammad Syukri Salleh (2003), ‘Perniagaan Gerakan-gerakan Islam di Malaysia’, Pemikir, no. 31, pp. 133-185. Nagata, J. (1984), The Reflowering of Malaysian Islam: Modern Religious Radicals and their Roots, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. Nagata, J. (2004), ‘Alternative Models of Islamic Governance in Southeast Asia: NeoSufism and the Arqam Experiment in Malaysia (1969-1994)’, Global Change, Peace and Security, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 99-114. Rauf, M.A. (1965), 'Islamic Education', Intisari, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 14-31. Roald, A.S. (1994), Tarbiya: Education and Politics in Islamic Movements in Jordan and Malaysia, Lund: Lund Studies in History of Religions, vol. 3. Roff, W.R. (1967), The Origins of Malay Nationalism, New Haven: Yale University Press. Roff, W.R. (ed.) (1974), Kelantan: Religion, Society and Politics in a Malay State, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press. Tamadun Islam di Malaysia, monograph, Kuala Lumpur: Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia. Taufik Abdullah and Siddique, S. (eds.) (1986), Islam and Society in Southeast Asia, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Winzeler, R.L. (1974), 'The Social Organization of Islam in Kelantan' in Roff, W.R. (ed.), Kelantan, pp. 259-271. Yegar, M. (1984), 'The Development of Islamic Institutional Structure in Malaya, 18741941: The Impact of British Administrative Response' in Israeli, R. and Johns, A.H. (eds.), Islam in Asia, pp. 189-205.

32 Documents:
Darul Arqam (n.d.), Falsafah Pendidikan Islam, unpublished manuscript. IPPTN (2001), Kajian Kemasukan Pelajar-pelajar Aliran Agama ke Institusi Pengajian Tinggi Awam Malaysia: Laporan Akhir disediakan untuk Jabatan Pendidikan Tinggi, Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia (Research on Admission of Religious Stream School Leavers into Malaysian Institutions of Higher Learning: Final Report prepared for the Higher Education department, Ministry of Education of Malaysia), Penang: Institut Penyelidikan Pendidikan Tinggi Negara, Universiti Sains Malaysia. Rufaqa’ Corporation (2003a), Membina Peribadi Agung Menuju Empayar Pendidikan di Asia: Kursus Biro Pendidikan 15-25 Mei 2003, Rawang: Biro Pendidikan Rufaqa’. Rufaqa’ Corporation (2003b), Kurikulum & Silibus Institut Model, Rawang: Biro Pendidikan Rufaqa’. Rufaqa’ Corporation (2005a), Sistem Pendidikan Melahirkan Peribadi Agung, Rawang: ITS-BCH. Rufaqa’ Corporation (2005b), Laporan Biro Pendidikan Rufaqa’ Mei-Jun 2005, Rawang: Biro Pendidikan Rufaqa’. Rufaqa’ Corporation (2005c), Mengembalikan Remaja ke Pangkuan Kemuliaan, Rawang: ITS-BCH. Sekolah Rendah Al-Islah Pulau Pinang (2005), Kompleks Pendidikan Al-Islah Pulau Pinang: Profil Sekolah Rendah Al-Islah Pulau Pinang dan Projek Jualan Tanah untuk diwakafkan kepada Kompleks Pendidikan Al-Islah Pulau Pinang, Penang. SENIMAN (2005), Buku Cenderamata ‘Malam Anugerah Tinta Seniman 2005’, anjuran Persatuan Seniman Malaysia, 24 April 2005, 7.45 malam, Dewan Mahkota Ballroom, Hotel Istana, Kuala Lumpur. YKPPM (2005), Majlis Kasih Sayang ‘Rasulullah SAW Seorang Penyelamat & Pendamai’, anjuran bersama Mawaddah Production dan Yayasan Kebajikan dan Perkhidmatan Perubatan Malaysia, Grand Ball Room, De Palma Hotel, Ampang, Sabtu 28 Mei 2005.

Unpublished papers:
Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (2005c), 'Islamic Doctrine and Violence: The Malaysian Case’, paper presented at the Conference on ‘Anatomy of Religious Conflict in South and Southeast Asia’, organised by the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Traders Hotel, Singapore, 3 – 4 May.

33 Newspapers and magazines:
Berita Harian, Kuala Lumpur. Buletin Utama, Kuala Lumpur. ISIM Newsletter, Leiden. Mangga, Kuala Lumpur. Mingguan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur. New Sunday Times, Kuala Lumpur. Perspektif, Kuala Lumpur. Straits Times, Singapore. The Times, London. Utusan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.

Quranic references are from The Holy Qur'an: Translation and commentary by A. Yusuf Ali, Durban: Islamic Propagation Centre International, n.d. (first edition 1934). The relevant chapter number in Roman alphabets, followed by the verse number, are given, for example, " Shame is pitched over them wherever they are found except under a Covenant from Allah (hablumminallah) and from men (hablumminannas)...." (III: 112).