Tuesday, June 24, 2014



Assalaamu'alaikum Warahmatullaahi Wabarakaatuh 

Mr. Chairman,

Professor Madya Dr. Hj. Laili Hj. Hashim, Dean, Faculty of Information Management, UiTM.

Mr. Azhar Mohd Noor, Chief Librarian of the Perdana Leadership Foundation.

Members of the academic staff of UiTM, officials and staff of the Yayasan Perdana Library.

Fellow librarians, potential librarians, reading enthusiasts and fans of the book.


Thank you very much for giving me the honor of delivering a keynote address in this colloquium and thereby getting me involved again with younger generation of future leaders.

As I have written and deliberated at some length the points on the subject of books and reading I would refer you to my blog: sanusijunid.blogspot.com under the titles:
1. Dasar Buku Negara: Penilaian Semula 2004 yang saya sampaikan pada 23hb Ogos, 2004, dan
2. Menyemarakkan Budaya Iqra' yang dimasukkan ke blog pada 15hb Januari, 2010.

I will today add-on to what I have written in the past and occasionally refer to the two articles which I am sure you have not read.


Since I left MCKK in 1963 I was never a scholarship holder, for further education, nor a government servant until I became a deputy minister in 1978. I was an employee of a bank, and pursued my further studies with the bank's resources.

But I owed a lot to the government for making policies of increasing the participation of Bumiputeras in the banking sector.


As I knew exactly the cost of education, I often wondered, if the cost of sending a student to a university up to graduation, is instead used for buying as many books as possible, for the equivalent cost, would it make the students more qualified probably by reading not all the books, which is practically impossible, but enough to acquire knowledge as much, or even much more knowledge than the graduates can gather at the university.

Under such scheme a student need only to be interested in reading, generally, and for his examinations, which is probably unnecessary, unless a measure of knowledge is a condition for his future employment.


If there is an obsession for a university qualification, then under the same scheme the library could just be called, a university, instead of just a library being part of a university.

The librarians could then be called professors, lecturers and experts and supervisors.

I would however prefer, if I were you, to be called just librarians. Librarians are managers of an institution for the preservation, management and dissemination of knowledge; a librarian is really an honorable and enviable job. 


I just came back from Melbourne attending a Conference for Instructors of Kumon Asia and Oceania. 

Kumon is a Japanese institution specializing in the teaching of Mathematics and English. I am spending my retirement age pursuing this hobby in promoting my favourite subjects, which are Mathematics and languages.
The fantastic thing about Kumon is that of its faith in self-learning and that a Kumon instructor is just a guide in times of need and an individual who shows the way. 
I must say that the Kumon Method of Education was discovered by a maverick school teacher of mathematics who devised a method of self-learning for his son using the work-sheets, up to what he called 'just enough level'. He went against the traditional teaching method in Japan and today the Kumon institution for education has more than 3 million students world-wide.
There was an award giving ceremony for the best instructor who is a Filipino Ms. Maria Teresa V. Santos.
In describing her role as an instructor, I was moved when she reminded me of the story of the three stone cutters, who were cutting stones for buildings. I cannot remember exactly what the Filipino instructor, or Teacher Tes, as she is popularly known, said but, as I have also read of the stone cutters story, a long time ago, I narrate below the essence of her story.

Watching the stone cutter cutting stone, a passerby asked each of the three stone cutters the same question, as to what he was doing,  and

- the first stone cutter replied, 'I am earning a living to feed my family and pay for my livelihood; that's what I am doing.'

- the second stone cutter replied, 'By doing this job I hope to please my boss and get a promotion and earn a promotion with increased salary.'

- the third stone cutter replied, 'I am cutting these stones for the construction of houses, office buildings, schools and universities, bridges, forts, churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, and many other uses for this civilization. I might not live to see what is built, and nobody knows that some of the stones in the construction are cut by me, but I have the personal satisfaction of having given a service to mankind.'
As librarians, you are not dealing with stones, but with books, that is with knowledge. 
You have therefore to decide whether you would like to be a librarian -

- like the first stone cutter, just to earn a living;  or

- like the second stone cutter who just wanted to please his bosses;  or

- the third stone cutter where, as disseminators and managers of knowledge you provide a service to shape the minds, to provide the correct direction, for the people of the world, for mankind and civilization.


In order to have librarians and to facilitate readings there must be books.

Nowadays we also have e-books.

Books of course are written, just as speeches are delivered in languages.

We need therefore to talk about languages before we can talk about books and go further to discuss on librarians.

The spoken languages are the precursors to the written scripts.

There are many languages which were never written or are even forgotten. There are languages which are normally used in interaction between humans but are not used to record experiences, discoveries or knowledge, on a vast scale.

It is in the degree of recordings of experiences and knowledge which determine whether a language is considered rich or poor.


The Malay language, for example, has been described as one of the most beautiful languages in the world, without complex morphology nor involved syntax.

It is easy to learn but difficult to master.

But a beautiful language is not necessarily regarded as a rich and useful language, beyond its usage by the communities or nations that speak the language.


If many people speak a language then the language is only useful, for others to study, if others wish to communicate with the community, race or nation that speaks the language.

The Mandarin language, said to be a difficult language but far from being beautiful, though not the mother tongue of ethnic Chinese of South China ancestry, in Malaysia, but its importance, even to the overseas Chinese, is as a language spoken by the most number of peoples in the world. 

As such, if a company wishes to sell it's products in China the company should employ Mandarin speaking salesmen.

Though English is spoken by less number of people of the world than Mandarin, it is more important and spoken in many more nations. In fact English is pursued as a language of importance by leaders, administrators, researches and scholars of the world, even in China, Japan and South Korea. 


Language to me is both comparable to 'money' and 'a prison.'

It is similar to money as in that language, as with money, we store knowledge which is as valuable, or even more valuable than money.

A person who knows only one language is actually imprisoned by the language as his knowledge is limited to what is available in the language that the person speaks. 

If the language happens to be comparatively barren of knowledge, or is a poor language, then the person who speaks only that language is imprisoned by the limited amount of knowledge available in the language.

Even if one speaks only English he is still regarded imprisoned by the English language; but as knowledge is available in vast amount in the English language, then it is so large a prison that it gives the feeling of having freedom despite imprisonment.

The Malay language, because of its beauty, besides having more than 300 million people of 6 nations speaking the language, making it the 5th most popularly spoken language of the world, would have been a popular language, for the United Nation, if much knowledge is available from the language. (Figures subject to confirmation).


It was for this reason, and because of this realization, that in my first speech in Parliament in 1974 I suggested that we provide scholarships to scholars in the various disciplines and field of knowledge, particularly science and technology, to study the various languages, such as German, Russian, French and Japanese with a view to translating useful books in those languages into the Malay language, thereby enriching the Malay language. However this proposal fell onto deaf ears.


At that time besides being a self-taught student of a few languages, I noted that during the Dark Ages, caused by the conflicts between scientific discoveries which differ from the Bible, scientists were burnt at the stake for being heretics.

Galileo Galilei, 'The Father of Modern Science,' who lived between 15th February, 1564 till 6th January, 1642 was imprisoned for life after being condemned by Pope Urban VIII for 'Vehement Suspicion of Heresy.' just for saying that 'the earth was not at the center of the universe.' It was against the contents of the bible.

In 1600 the Christian authorities in Rome took Giovelancia Bruno out of the dungeon he had been in for 8 years, drove a nail through his tongue, tied him to a metal post, put wood and some of his books under his feet, and burned him to death.

Bruno's crime was writing ideas that the Catholic leaders didn't like - saying that 'Earth evolves around the sun, the sun is the star, there might be other worlds with other intelligent beings on them, Jesus didn't posses god-like power,' etc.. 

Books were burnt and the efforts at accumulating knowledge stagnated in the West.

The burning of books can be an act of contempt for the books' contents or authors, and the act is always intended to draw wider public attention to this opinion.

The recent 2010 burning of the Quran in the West was certainly an exception as the group responsible for the burning could not have understood the contents and there is no human involvement in the writing of the Qur'an as it is a divine revelation from Allah s.w.t. through our great Prophet p.b.u.h..


As the first word of the Quran is 'Iqra,' which is a command to 'read'. and as that command came at the beginning of the Quran, the Muslims, not having to wait for the Quranic revelations to complete, responded to this call, to read, by first translating books from Latin and Greek into the Arabic language. It took more than 22 years before the arrival of the whole Quran, and worldly knowledge would have been retarded if Muslims had interpreted the call to 'Iqra' as having to read only the Quran.

For quite a long time the Arabic language, besides being a beautiful language, and a language of divine revelation, was also the richest language in the world, in terms of knowledge, particularly of science, available in Arabic.


The Renaissance, or the revival of learning in the West, marked the end of the Dark Ages. During this Renaissance period the West enriched their literature with knowledge by translating books written by Muslim scientists, and scholars, in Arabic into their Western languages.

Even books which were originally translated into Arabic from the Greek and Latin, were known to be retranslated into French and from French into the English language.

Most Western writers appear embarrassed of the contribution to science by Muslim scholars during their Dark Ages, to the extent that young generation of students are rarely aware of contributions by Muslim scholars as the history of science most of the time begins from the period after the Dark Ages.


In one discussion with a few Muslim scholars when I was the President of IIUM I raised the subject of the hadith, which reads ... 'Learn, even if it is from China.'

I was informed that it is a weak Hadith.

As it was considered weak there appeared to be no attempt to find the rationale and discover the wisdom behind this Hadith. Some ulama are more interested in the Hadith on the keeping of beard.

After reading on Karen Armstrong who was a researcher and writer who quit from being a Catholic nun and subsequently abandoned Christianity, after having access to the Vatican library, which was exceptionally made available to her by the Pope. This library is normally used by the Cardinals except by the Pope's permission to be used by anyone else..

It was in the Vatican library that Karen Armstrong, being curious of our great Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h, who was considered as the most hated man by the Christians, did a thorough study on the great prophet and eventually wrote a book entitles 'Muhammad, A Western Attempt At Understanding Islam.'

When even a committed and highly educated nun could do such a study on our prophet's life I thought that it is important for me to pursue on the Hadith and looked for what the prophet had known about China which probably prompted Him to spell out the Hadith.

Our great prophet was an 'illiterate' who revealed the command to 'read.'

Besides being a teacher in many fields, inclusive of trade and warfare and how to raise a family, our great prophet  was also a businessman who managed the business of his future wife Siti Khadijah.

Our prophet went as far as Syria, called Sham, to do his business. As the Chinese were also in Syria, being on the Silk Route, it is thought that as a result of the prophet's interaction with them, that the achievements of China were known.

According to the Chinese Encyclopedia on Civilization, at that time China produced the best silk in the world.

China had the longest bridge in the world crossing over the Yang Tze river.

China had discovered the printing press as early as 220 AD during the period of the Han Dynasty. The Chinese were already able to produce wood-block printing on silk in three colours. By the middle of the 7th century, around the time when the Great Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was born, they were already doing wood-block printing on paper.

As Islam has forbidden man from wearing silk garments, it is obvious that knowledge of the Chinese ability to produce the best silk in the world would not be of paramount interest to our great prophet p.b.u.h.

Being a man of the desert, particularly Arabia, where there are few rivers, having the expertise of building a long bridge would not be of priority interest to the prophet, at that time.

As 'Iqra' is the first word of the Quran it would only be natural for our great prophet to be impressed with the ability of the Chinese of China to print books as they are the first to discover the printing press.

Certainly, if the Ummah could eventually print their books on paper made of pulps, from bark of trees, it would expedite the development of reading as a culture. Rather than having to use hides of animals, which could be better used for making shoes, hand-bags, luggage and other products.

Karen Armstrong appeared to be very impressed with the astuteness, intelligence, observant and inquisitiveness of our great prophet p.b.u.h..

I cannot resist the temptation of thinking that the things to learn from China is related to an effort to promote the 'Iqra' culture among the Ummah, besides other numerous achievements of the Chinese of old.


It is important to note that the prophet said, 'Learn, even if it is from China,' and not 'Convert the Chinese to Islam and then learn from them.'

In other words knowledge, being divine in its absolute, and neutral, just as beauty, good taste and manners, can be obtained from any source besides the Greek and Latin languages.

(Knowledge, beauty, good food and good manners are neutral)

When the slaughtering of the scientists came to an end with the Renaissance, it subsequently followed by the separation of the Church and the State, an idea mooted by masonic thinkers.


Around 1776 three great happenings took place in the world, that it:

1. The founding of the United States of America by the masonic brothers.

2. The publishing of a book entitled 'The Wealth of Nations' written by Adam Smith, and

3. The Formation of the Lunar Society.

Today, the USA is the strongest military power, depending for economic survival on it's popularly used currencies for trade in the world, as a store and measure of values, and its financial market being supported by the Communists of China and the Muslims of the Middle East.

It is an irony that such is the case as communism and Islam are regarded by capitalist thinkers of the West as their enemies.

The 'Wealth of Nations' by Adam Smith is the economic bible for Capitalism.

And the 'Lunar Society' whose membership comprises of such earlier post Renaissance scientists and industrialists, culminated their effort resulting in the Industrial Revolution.


It was this Industrial Revolution which led to colonialism and imperialism of the West, as the industries of the West require raw materials and markets for the production and for the sales of their products.

While scientific research led to the provision of many facilities and conveniences made available to consumers, and capital goods for the industries, it also aggravated wars, and facilitate military domination by state terrorism; which became much of the underlying causes for the proliferation of terrorism in the world.

The growth of permissiveness and high-end liberalism as opposed to misdirected intolerance is also a contribution of the technological advancements that humans have developed.


For the dissemination of scientific knowledge, and its resulting economics and industrial developments, and the prolongation of capitalism, besides providing the means of consoling the senses, universities are built by the masonic brothers in Europe and the Americas.

These universities differ with universities set up by others merely for the purpose of disseminating knowledge and truths.

I came to this conclusion based on many reasons and experiences, four of these different experiences were:

1. As Minister of Agriculture, under which is MARDI, I was informed that Adnan Hussin went for his PhD degree to determine the difference between palm oil and soya beans. He wrote and defended his thesis to the satisfaction of his supervisors. However, he was informed that as the thesis proved that palm oil is superior to soya beans the faculty could not award him a degree as that would annoy the national soya beans association which backs the faculty financially.

This proves that a university need not necessarily uphold knowledge in its absolute.

2. Another student from Indonesia who appeared charismatic and had the potential of becoming the future leader of his country was pursuing his PhD degree from an American university, and intended to write his doctoral thesis on 'The Islamic State.' He was persuaded, by his supervisor, to write on the topic 'There Is No Such Thing As An Islamic State.' As the student was more interested in earning a degree than pursuing the truth, he agreed to the recommended topic. That was the end of his Islamic patriotism.

This again proves that knowledge is not as important as guidance in a university.
o It was not knowledge or the truth that the universities were upholding but the interests that they would like to protect.

3. When I was coincidentally invited to a lecture given by a prominent professor on the 'Future of Israel' I heard the Professor saying ' ........ it is not for the love of Israel that we have to defend and preserve it. If Israel is destroyed then the whole of Europe will be having problems as a result of their return. What can destroy Israel? Not the Kingdoms - though they have money, but in our banks, and the oil which is controlled by the West. The unity of Turkey, Persia and Egypt will instantly dismantle Israel. Egypt, under Gamel Abdul Nassir is an enemy. Persia, or Iran, under the Shah is a friend. That leaves Turkey out. They supported Germany during the Second World War. It is only right for Germany to bring the Turks into the country.'
Thus, Germany today is the only country in the West which declares a public holiday for Aidilfitri and Aidiladha, because of the massive presence of the Turks.
If the above is the thinking in the universities in the West, there can be no end to the problems in the Middle East, and it becomes easier to observe the challenges that Turkey now have, and Egypt is again in Turmoil after bringing democracy to their land. Iran is of course constantly under watch.

4. I was once invited to an informal dinner at a university in the United Kingdom. On the way to London I transited in Dubai. At the airport I had a pleasant surprise of having to entertain a group of journalists asking for clarification to the statement made by a Senior Minister of a neighboring country who accused that the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), under my leadership, was the center for the training of Islamic Fundamentalists and future terrorists. I was not surprised of this accusation realizing who the accuser was.

I told the media that there was only one student who was in any way linked, directly or indirectly, to a terrorist organization. And that he was a student from the USA. You have got to ask the USA on how they bred their terrorists. The journalists laughed and happily went away, without really reporting what I said.

During the dinner at a University in England I realized that I was surrounded by heads or deputy heads of some large universities in Commonwealth of Nations and USA. First a Pakistani cook came out to tell me that all the foods were 'Halal.'

As scholars do not eat as much as laborers do, the dinner time was short. During tea and dessert my host stood up, lightly hammering the spoon on his plate and the crowd was silent. He said 'As you know we have here the President of IIUM.  Mr. Sanusi, we have friends here from the various prestigious universities who would like you to enlighten us on a subject which is worrying us all.

Malaysia is now regarded by the Muslims, of the world, as a centre of learning. Many students, even from Europe and the USA are attending universities in Malaysia.

In the past almost all government cabinets in the world, have members who studied in Western universities or attended seminars and courses organized by us. Unfortunately, one country at least now have a cabinet with no Ministers having studied at any of our universities, .. in other words we are cut off. That is The Maldives. The President is a graduate from Al Azhar University in Cairo and at least 3 of their Ministers graduated from IIUM.

If this trend grows the world will eventually be split into two with no informal communication between the leaders and our universities. How do you respond to that?

I nonchalantly replied, 'You can always send your students for a short period of stay, if not a full course, to our university, or even your lecturers and professors... In that way we can interact very effectively.

The host Rector continued, 'There is one sentence in your brochure which is quite perplexing and that is 'Islamisation of Knowledge,' can you explain what it means.'

Knowing their anxiety I simply replied, 'Islamization of Knowledge' simply means that after a short stay at our university your student and staff will find that Islam is so palatable that they would like to be a Muslim.

I then heard a loud murmur sounding 'I told you so.'

I retracted, 'It is not that easy. Islam was in Spain but we did not force the Spaniards to embrace Islam like the Christians did to the Jews and the Muslims. You can send a team to IIUM and they will be given a thorough briefing to your satisfaction. Do not believe the propaganda of those, from any country, which we have expelled from Malaysia.

I then invited representatives of the gathering to visit IIUM. Upon my return from the United Kingdom I found that the representatives have preceded my return. I invited them to the University and besides talking to the professors in perfect accents, depending on where they studied, I showed them the Olympic size swimming pool which shows our ambition of participating even in the Olympics. IIUM is certainly not a center for the training of terrorists.

This experience was very telling to me.

THE LIBRARY - A place to seek freedom.

Today, in order to acquire knowledge, we have to tell our people to study English.
o That is to get into the English language prison. But, with vast knowledge available in the language you would not realize that you are imprisoned as your movement in seeking knowledge in the English language is the horizon that you can never reach.

But you can always build your own small English language prison called the library. The more useful books you have in the library the richer is the library and the smarter will the prisoners be. It is only with knowledge that you can enjoy real freedom.

But if you live in a small library with books only in the poor language that you know, you are actually condemning yourself to permanent self-imprisonment.


There is no such thing as instinctive interest in reading. Even if one sees a child being curious when he sees a book or a newspaper this instinctive interest is not enough to depend on.

It must be developed into a habit.

Since I became the Member of Parliament I have been watching about 90 best Malay students over the years who achieved maximum As in their SPM examinations.

Upon investigation I found that irrespective of the different types of teachers they had, different environment at home and in their classes with different facilities in each school, there was one thing in common between them.

They all read at least for 2 hours every day the books that they studied in school.

It is for this reason that boarding school such as MCKK, SEDAR, MRSM etc. produced students with better results. Much as the school would like to attribute their achievements to all sorts of factors, it is really the nightly preparation classes where the students are forced to read and do their homework that really makes for the better results.

As a result of these observations, upon my return to Kedah as a Menteri Besar I started nightly classes in about 300 mosques in Kedah between 8 to 10 pm from Saturday to Wednesday every week. Within a short period Kedah rose from being the number two state, from the bottom list of the states in terms of education results, to becoming the number two from the top.

Besides the preparation classes in boarding schools it is the parents that can discipline their children to enjoy reading as a habit.

I read somewhere that the Jews of old have started having home libraries from before the period of the Prophet Daud p.b.u.h.


Librarians have a great role to play if he has the attitude of the third stone cutter in the earlier story.

With motivated and innovative librarians a lot of activities can be carried out to encourage reading among our people.

In fact, you can try organizing classes for selected groups of students in the vicinity where your library is built.

You should not regard the profession of a librarian as merely for earning a living.

You should regard your profession as having a mission for the future of our people and our country.

Your library should not be a prison which stores books but it must be a learning institution which inspires the population.

With that I wish you well in your future endeavor.


Thank you.


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