THE International Islamic University Malaysia had a magical moment on Friday.
The people’s favourite royal couple descended on the Gombak campus for the first time to celebrate the university’s 35th anniversary.
IIUM also welcomed its new constitutional head, Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, who succeeded the late Sultan of Pahang Paduka Ayahanda Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abu Bakar Ri’ayatuddin Al Muadzam Shah. The latter served as IIUM’s first constitutional head for 35 years from the very first day the university came into existence.
The late Sultan Ahmad Shah served with profound interest and dedication, helping the university expand by leaps and bounds befitting its stature as an international Islamic university.
This was a historic moment for IIUM. Tunku Azizah was formally proclaimed the second constitutional head by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah
Ri’ayatuddin al-Mustafa Billah Shah.
I recall the last time a similar arrangement took place was at Universiti Sains Malaysia involving the then Perlis royal couple.
The IIUM proclamation is also historic because Tunku Azizah is the university’s first woman constitutional head.
The affection she has for IIUM started a long time ago during an informal visit to the university.
Her humility and passion for IIUM became obvious, making her the undoubted choice as constitutional head. As though to support all the firsts thus far was the recent renewal of the university’s insignia at the main entrance of the Gombak campus on Maulidur Rasul earlier this month.
The Quranic construct placed over a rehal, the physical support to hold the Quran, brings about a renewed focus on what IIUM is all about in terms of knowledge and wisdom being international and Islamic simultaneously catering to all humanity.
This makes IIUM unique among other local and even global universities.
Beyond that, IIUM is synonymous with its motto “The Garden of Knowledge and Virtue”, giving an added dimension to what a university ought to be by embracing sustainability in tandem with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
In line with this, a heritage living lab was established by the Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design (KAED).
Within it are structures and replicas such as traditonal houses, artifacts such as the keris, as well as flora and fauna that are culturally related to the Malays and the indigenous world.
They serve as a repository of knowledge that is relevant to the university’s vision and mission.
It is in this context that Tunku Azizah is iconic to the university as she is very much into anything cultural and heritage.
It is not a coincidence therefore, that she was given the 2019 Craft Icon of the Year award by the World Crafts Council recently for her contributions in keeping traditional craft and heritage alive. Kudos.
It was more meaningful as the recognition was nominated by the people, which is testimony to her intimate link with them.
During her impromptu visit to KAED, the synergy between the constitutional head and the Kulliyyah was well demonstrated.
It augurs well for the future of IIUM when all levels of the university community move in unison with the constitutional head, inspiring and minding the trust IIUM holds towards Rahmatan lil Alamin.
To the royal couple, kami menjunjung kasih (we express our love) and to the constitutional head, sembah tahniah (congratulations) for the many historic moments to be shared. Ampun Tuanku.
The writer, an NST columnist for more than 20 years, is International Islamic University Malaysia rector