....on Ulama' : " They have not even entered the discourse..."
Off hand, if I recall correctly, we have a local example of a valiant effort to raise the level of Islamic discourse to a higher plane, and that went awry before it come to fruition due to small mindedness amongst some UIA based scholars themselves with a big help from similarly small minded politician-bureacrat who runs it.
....Institute of Islamic Thought and Culture [ ISTAC ] under Prof Sayyid Muhammad Naquib Al Attas some 15 years back was a centre of excellence, respected in its field the world over. Prof Naquib realised this discordance at intake level,as pointed out by Shaykh Hakim, very early and he tried to correct this. Most of ISTAC earlier post grad and doctoral students came from diverse background, some like Dr Wan Muhammad [ now a full professor ]was a molecular biologist. Dr Zaini for example,did physics with major in astronomy. like many others, both embarked on their doctoral thesis in theology and coming back to serve the Institute as lecturers.Given time, these new brand of home grown 'ulama', familiar with the Quran and hadith as well not alien to molecules and cosmology of the universe or market economy and the vagaries and shortfall of derivatives and futures, would nurture and mature, and takeover and insyaallah similarly nurture new group of younger people to develop likewise. That is intellectual development in an institution staking a claim to be an Institute of Islamic Thought. That is what it take to be an ulama' in the 21st century! It takes time and hard work, ilm, ilm and ilm.
But alas, thanks to the short sighted view of the previous chancellor of UIA, fuelled by other mediocre scholars [with some hasad on their mind, huwallahualam ] ISTAC was 'raped' midway,it's senior staff disbanded and sent all over the place. It's headship given to an 'ustaz' who to start with had no clue whatsoever what 'post graduate centre' of excellence and learning was all about. Now, ten years later, after the dust of demolition has settled, and despite some late remedial measures, the initial damage to the very philosophy of excellence expounded by ISTAC founding fathers, had effected its way permanently. ISTAC is now just just a glorified extension of another mediocre 'under-graduate factory' primarily meant to churn out 'parrots', not scholars! , not a centre of excellence on it's own anymore....university politics ...politics of mediocrity as often seen in Malaysia's other universities.[ Bolehland of Malaysia where anything goes...semua boleh! Where the sparrows think they are eagles... ]
I remembered, being an ardent fan of Prof Naquib's monthly discourse at ISTAC years back,feeling agitated at the 'demolition job' done to the institution. As a responsible private citizen I personally wrote to two [ not just one] subsequent PM's appealing on this issue of 'importance of ilmu' but in their realm of things perhaps,'ilmu and the nature of ulama'' was probably not high on the political agenda ,it did not bring in votes. My letters , I assumed ,were only fit for the dust bins.Not even a polite feedback from assistants [ 'surat anda sedang diberi perhatian olih pihak yang berkenaan' or something to that effect ], nor response forthcoming from both Dr M and subsequently Pak Lah.
Nonetheless, if I am questioned later in my next life, I can say I have done my part.
Dr Nik Isahak Wan Abdullah
" Sparrows can never hope to fly like eagles.... It is not in the 'fitrah' of sparrows to fly like eagles.....they can try, but will probably take another fifty years of trying, and still fail!"