Perjalanan mengenal dan meneguh ma'na diri menerusi ilmu dan amal berakar-umbikan pandangan alam Islam...
Para Nabi dan Rasul tidak mewariskan harta peninggalan, tetapi ilmu dan hikmah yang berkekalan.
Ilmu bukanlah yang terdapat pada dakwat tulisan, tetapi di dalam dada, diri insan.
Cabaran getir kaum Muslimin kini bukanlah pada kurangnya ilmu pengetahuan, tetapi pada kekeliruan dan salah faham mengenai ilmu.
Ulama, para ilmuwan sejati, merekalah yang sebenar-benarnya pewaris para Nabi. Mereka bukan sahaja mewarisi ilmu dan kebijaksanaan, tetapi juga adab dan akhlak, tambahan lagi mereka juga mewarisi cabaran, kesusahan, kepayahan, dan musuh zaman-berzaman.
Professor Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas was born on September 5th, 1931 in Bogor, Indonesia. Up until now—at his age of 90—Prof. al-Attas continues to provide meaningful and effective guidance for Muslims in confronting the intellectual, moral, and cultural problems of our times. He is one of the most celebrated Muslim thinkers not only in the contemporary Malay world but also in the Muslim world at large. His works encompass various fields of study such as theology, philosophy, metaphysics, education, history, and literature.
The fact that some of his most important works, most notably Islām and Secularism, have been translated totally or in parts, into all Muslim languages such as Arabic, Turkish, Urdu, Persian, Malay-Indonesian and other languages such as German, Italian, Malayalam, Bosnian, Albanian, Kosovan, Russian, and Mandarin is a testimony to the gravity and relevance of his ideas.
Centered mainly from Kuala Lumpur, Prof. al-Attas’ contributions to modern Muslim intellectual development covers a wide range of topics pertaining to Islamic metaphysics, theology, philosophy, ethics, education, science, and history and successfully responded to the serious challenges posed by the impact of modern secular worldview, philosophy, and science which are largely unnoticed by the increasing rigidity of conservative traditionalism, mishandled by reactionary revivalism.
His mastery of a wide range of subjects is reflective of the broad-based and inter-disciplinary Islamic intellectual tradition which he proudly represents and seeks to revive at the higher level. This is the first time since the arrival of Islam in this region, that the contributions of our scholar in these fields have been globally recognized by an increasing number the of Muslim educated class.
The extent of his works include the discussions on the subtlest aspects of the metaphysical concepts and realities of our worldview, such as the Fixed Essences (al-a‘yān althābitah) and spiritual experiences such as the First and Second Separation (al-farq al-awwal, al-farq al-thānī), the processes in the Divine creation of Man, and the historical dating of the age of the various major prophets from Adam to Muḥammad (may peace be upon them all).
It also covers the scientific nature of the Arabic language, the multi-dimensionality of meanings and application of the concept of adab, the development of secularization in the West and its impact on Muslim thought, the falsity of the idea of the transcendent unity of religions, the process of the Islamization of contemporary knowledge and the idea of an Islamic University, the historical details of the great early missionary figures who Islamized the Malay world, the oldest Malay manuscripts, the scientific creation of the Arabo-Malay script, and the problematic tombstone like that of the great Sultan al-Malik al-Ẓāhir of Pasai, and the highly significant stone inscription such as the 14th Century Terengganu Inscription.
In this wide range of subjects, Prof. al-Attas applies what he calls, the tawḥīd method of knowing and thinking, which was utilized by all the great luminaries of the Islamic intellectual and religious tradition, unifying the textual, intellectual, and empirical sources and methods. And these sources are not limited only to those that are from within the Islamic religious and intellectual heritage, but also from outside, whether historical or contemporary.
On top of research, writing, and teaching, reformers like him are also deeply involved in the careful development of significant institutions, reflective of their unified worldview and intellectual orientation. He was able to translate his ideas into a successful high-level international educational institution when he founded the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (ISTAC) and was its founder-director for 15 years. There he also established a library that was not only unique in Southeast Asia, but also in the Muslim world.
Of equal importance, his life-long integrity and his courage and generosity of spirit as a person and scholar in dealing with various challenges is a great example for all those who have been blessed with the opportunity to know him well. Throughout his life and at this Institute, in particular, he had practically demonstrated both at the personal and institutional levels, a kind appreciation and deep respect for non-Muslims, non-Sunnis, and others of different intellectual and religious persuasions, although he is thoroughly comfortable with his religion and school of theology, fiqh, and taṣawwuf.
What needs to be underlined here is that this consistent generosity of spirit is not spurred by any contemporary political correctness but by a deeper understanding of the Prophetic tradition best reflected in Sharī‘ah-centric Sufi metaphysics and adab.
Considering the immense and profound contributions Prof. al-Attas has done to the contemporary Muslim world, there is no doubt that he is a true reformer and original thinker. True reformers and original thinkers are a rare breed in any culture and civilization; more so in the contemporary Muslim world. Thus, in recognition of such pivotal role, the Raja Zarith Sofiah Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science and Civilisation (RZS-CASIS) has established the Distinguished Chair of Islamic Thought in the name of Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas, the first holder of which is Prof. Dr. Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud.