Tuesday, 18 July 2017

10 years with Saadiq to remember :)

Saadiq Team 2017
Tuesday, July 12th - a farewell & appreciation event was organised by SCSB (Saadiq) in conjunction with Hari raya celebration and Certificate of Islamic Law & Certificate of Islamic Banking graduation Ceremony. My feeling? Like walking through the clouds in disbelief!

It took me months to make up my mind, to realize my priorities and my constraints. This time the pulling factors are so immense making the pushing ones become unbearable. I would need to put my case as clear and objective during the exit interview soon, inshaAllah

Honestly, this is among the most divided and difficult decision I have ever made. Inside, there are mixed feelings of relief and pain; sadness; and incompleteness. 

Post-Shariah meeting
10 years ago, I was a young and energetic academic staff, upon completed my doctorate and Shariah degree 2 years before, was approached by our dear Dr Shamsiah who was the Shariah specialist at the Securities Commission to join her in the Shariah Board of SCBMB. I recalled my first encounter with En Azrulnizam (the Head of Islamic Banking Department and thereafter became the first CEO of SCSB) and Haji Nasiruddin (the COO and now the Head of Shariah, SCSB). They were very warm and friendly welcoming me and seemed interested to know about my interest. I admitted as being the newcomer to Islamic finance, there would be a lot to learn and know specifically the practical way of how the industry operates. Perhaps, I appeared to be very confident and bold (hahaha!) though only God knows how nervous I was!

Training Saadiq Excos
So that was the beginning of my fulfilling journey as a part of Saadiq growing 'happy family'! I joined Dr Shamsiah who has been my 'guru' and dear sister whom I confides many things ever since; and of course our cool and learned Dr Hikmatullah. We receive relentless support from Haji Nasir and Ustaz Marwan in respect to continuous guidance and assistance. If I were asked who have been instrumental in molding my practical paradigm and worldview in Islamic Finance whom I will forever be indebted to; they are no other than Dr Sham and Haji! They have been very patient with my questions; sometime my silence (oh what? haha!); often my impatient hunger for answers or changes!

SAC-BOD Dialogue
We worked very hard as a team during months before the incorporation of Saadiq as an Islamic subsidiary in November 2008. I remembered how upset I was when receiving a CD containing over 100 documents to be vetted within a limited time frame. Dr Sham taught me the efficient ways of reading through Sukuk term sheets, instead of words by words or lines by lines as the traditional way I vetted the thick legal documents and agreements (imagine how psychotic I was, hahaha!)

Represent Saadiq updating the Industry
We are accustomed with the working environment of an International bank which expects one to be multi functional and skillful, and very practical, simple yet professional. We blend so well with the Product, Business, Legal, Risk, Audit and also the Regional team, that over the time, we gradually become a part of the growing Saadiq family. In fact, we always complement each other to the extent that they were willing to present a new structure at my home during my confinement just to assure that my opinion would not be neglected!

Haji has always been brilliant in 'interpreting' or 'translating' the business languages into that of we the advisors could easily comprehend. Often Haji could foresee our misconception that would affect our judgement and rulings. Having a vast experience of nearly 30 years in the industry, he would easily spot any inconsistency in certain reports or incomplete disclosure to product structures or potential shariah risk related thereof; sometimes Haji could 'smell' something 'fishy' long before we discovered it by ourselves. He only posed few questions to make us think and deliberate from various aspects before we arrived to any decision with relevant Shariah justifications. That's why, I personally feel very offended when in number of occasions, Haji was seen to be dominating or influencing our decision which put him in a difficult situation. For me, even if it is half-true, that actually reflected our weaknesses and incompetency as Shariah advisors and nobody should be made as the 'scapegoat'!

Updates on IFSA2013
Perhaps, the only 'beyond-control' kind of challenge that we have to endure is the different approach or Shariah interpretation in deliberating particular structures or issues from the Bank's regional counterparts. My colleagues have been very patient, full with wisdom and hikmah; unlike me who often failed to hide my unpleasant feeling. I would just ignore them and move on.. nexxxxtt!! (like 'ada aku kisah?', huhuhu)

I remember in 2012 when I insisted to resign from both chairmanship and advisory (of course due to the intense pressure), Wasim, the 2nd CEO persistently persuaded me; looked into my eyes with his blue rounded wide eyes saying loud and clear, "I don't want to let you go; tell us what we can do to make you change your mind; You can let go the chairmanship but we still need you as the advisor; I am pleading to you, please.." Ahhh, why did my stony heart melt instantly? But being bold as a typical 'Dr Irwani', I sort of demanded the bank to put in a standard for approvals ~ issues that need urgent decisions; issues that are less urgent; certain matters that we can delegate the approvals to the Head of Shariah and many others.
My last participation in Dallah Barakah in 2012

Yet, I have to admit that the above -mentioned 'drama' was and still is the way how we acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to become effective advisors. The learning process is endless. The more we are exposed to the actual way of how transactions are carried out, the more areas are discovered to be further explored. We tend to wonder how the Credit and Collection Department works; or what are the actual functions of trading room or treasury; or the way how the front liners interact with customers; what are the Shariah auditable areas at every level of the transaction, and even the business or marketing assessments of a potential branch! 
Dealing room (was 8-mth preggy)

We could be very critical against each other during the meeting, and then laughing during coffee break or teasing En Amir to get a haircut; En Suhaimi for his over dedicated presentation or En Asnul for the almost similar monthly sukuk report! Occasionally during spare time, I would join the girls chitchatting about the girlie stuff like foods, how to slim down (hahhaha), also gossiping! Oh, how I am going to madly miss all of them!

The exposures that I have obtained from Saadiq since 10 years ago always motivates me to share with my students in the University as well as participants in the workshop. That practical sharing never fails to give me the sense of satisfaction in a way that I feel my knowledge keeps on growing at the same time benefiting my students or audience. In fact, this has been the main reason which keeps me surviving in the industry despite those pressures from the Business and 'suffering' for having to meet with various deadlines. There has been a joke among the advisors that the bank, upon assigning us with a new document or structure to be vetted today,  always expects the approval to be given yesterday! Scary, right? hahaha!

Shariah visit to Metal warehouse in Liverpool
Checking the metal bar

Metal in the form of nickels

So, this is a piece of my journey in the first 'madrasah' of Islamic Finance. The vision of my monthly routines is still clear and fresh; driving through the busy MRR2, AKLEH and Jalan Sultan Ismail before reaching Jalan Raja Chulan; or Federal Highway-Jalan Syed Putra-Jalan Pudu-Jalan Raja Chulan if travelling from PJ for early morning meeting;  'climbing' to level 13A of MSC to find a parking space (yes, we have to find our own parking! no 'manja2' ok!!); only to drive down again towards Pavillion if there is no longer any space in the MSC! Then the 'naughty-me' would take my own sweet time to shop for J-Co donuts or Lavender pastries before cat-walking into the meeting room, late but without slightly any guilt, hahaha! oh... really, I can't imagine myself, my life without Saadiq related-brand (sign..!) in the future.

So long to my 'family'.. my Sadiiqi. Thank you for all the fruitful memories, fulfilling learning avenues that have made me a person I am today. I pray to Allah The Al-Mighty to guide us, to make us steadfast in dakwah & tarbiyyah in this promising and challenging industry, inshaAllah. All the best!
A very rare farewell gift!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

I am Back, yeah!

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

I am back, alhamdulillah. My last post was exactly 4 years 1 month and 3 days ago. I guess, I am not a versatile & "istiqamah" blogger as I hope to be hahaha! 

Reason for the hibernating? 

A number of reasons. Having been adjusting with many unexpected ups & downs after 5 years of comfort life (1998-2013). Allah is Great, alhamdulillah. He lays down so many colours to our path of life; some are bitter, some are sweet, some are painful; some are wonderful. He surely puts us in in a situation, a condition that we would not feel complacent or comfort. Life since then, has been always about selflessly serving the nation, the people in needs in many forms and phases. 

My husband is a pragmatic & calm person who accepted the unexpected path with a big heart. I guess he had all his life witnessing how papa Mi and even arwah Mok serving others relentlessly. Serving others as a teacher or murabbi or politician are not new to him. But I took some time to absorb, to learn, to feel comfortable and redha with all sacrifices that I have to make in order to accommodate the new diversion to our then plan. Wallahi, it is not easy.. but when we accept all His plan to us with an open heart, somehow there is a peace inside. 

How worried I am with whatever unexpectants (sorry I repeatedly use this word because I used to manage my life with certainty; you know a program-coordinator kinda person with Plan A, B till Z, hahaha!), Allah SWT always shows us a way out miraculously. As repeatedly reminded by my husband,we are doing God's work, we never plan this present route rather it's totally a diversion from our original plan (always.. I feel like screaming aloud, huhuhu!) .. so inshaALlah, Allah will protect us, have faith in Him and the Day of Judgement.

So here I am, perhaps starting to adapt quite well now with our destiny.. hopefully, may Allah SWT continuously give us the strength & patience like those who were before us, aminn.

What makes me continue writing now?

This is a very very very relevant question to ask myself. What am I doing now? Haha. I guess, I have to. Writing makes me think. Thinking awakes the inside of me. And that would make me alive, motivated and stay sensible with what I am doing now, hahaha! Writing, thinking, pondering of the surrounding issues have been a part of my life for decades; it gives meaning & self-satisfaction. What more, I don't have the luxury of time now to do research as much as I really wanted to; so blogging would do, at least not allowing my brain to freeze!

I am now on a 1-year unpaid leave till January 2018. Hmm, but really I am only off from lecturing & making the assessments only. It is sooooooo not easy to maintain the motivation with the homey-kinda environment that I need extra brain-exercise to bear with my forever responsibility as Master/PhD supervisor, thesis examiner, journal reviewer and book editor. I tend to forget many deadlines now, huhuhu! Terrible right?

On the other note, I feel this platform is suitable to share my humble thoughts of various issues that we encounter everyday in our present capacity. InshaAllah, I will maintain my professionalism & amanah as the murabbi and da'ie regardless of whatever you may think of me as a spouse to a young politician. Indeed, I feel very tiny & humbled.

InshaAllah, will continue again. Cheers!

A cup of tea to make your day!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


Ketika ini, saya di dewan utama CAC UIAM menyelia peperiksaan akhir semester yg berjalan selama 3 jam. Melihat wajah2 pelajar yg tenang ini, hati saya menjadi sebak secara tiba-tiba… Saya termenung memikirkan perjalanan hidup ini yg sukar diramalkan, malah kerap terjadi perkara yg tidak dirancang dlm masa terdekat mahupun jauh…

Disedari perasaan sayu mulai terasa bilamana membaca status suami semalam;
“Hari ini (3 Jun 2013) dengan berat hati terpaksa meninggalkan organisasi ISRA yg daripada awal saya diamanahkan utk bantu membangunkannya demi memartabatkan agenda Kewangan Islam Negara yg betul2 genap 5 tahun. Rupa2nya setiap kali hidup ini rasa sudah sempurna dan selesa, Allah akan beri ujian yg lebih besar. Ya Allah, Engkau berkatilah dan redhalah keputusan yang dibuat utk menggalas Amanah yg lbh besar demi agenda AgamaMu yg pasti jalannya tidak mudah bahkan lebih berliku. Permudahkanlah jalannya dan jauhkan diriku daripada segala fitnah. Sesungguhnya tiada lain yg aku inginkan melainkan Redha dan RahmatMu jua.”

Ya, 5 tahun lalu suami telah dipelawa oleh Dr Akram Laldin, seorang guru & sahabat yg amat dihormati, utk membantunya membangunkan ISRA yg pada ketika itu baru 2 bulan ditubuhkan oleh Bank Negara Malaysia… hatinya terus terbuka utk menerimanya krn kewangan Islam amat dekat dihatinya, apatah lagi ISRA memberi ruang & peluang yg luas utknya membuat kajian yg berimpak besar kpd industri kewangan Islam Negara & dunia global. Sebenarnya selama tempoh 3 bulan pengangguran sbm itu, suami ada menerima pelbagai tawaran dr Institusi2 Pengajian Tinggi dan Badan Korporat di dalam & luar Negara, tapi hatinya berbelah bagi. Baginya, untuk terlibat secara langsung dgn IPT adalah kurang beretika krn dia telah secara langsung dilihat terlibat dlm politik kepartian.. utk ke luar nagara pula, terasa tidak sanggup berjauhan dgn keluarga dan kaum kerabat yang besar lagi erat ikatan persaudaraan, sementelah kami baru sahaja kembali dari UK 2 tahun sblm itu..

Saya masih ingat perasaan sama yg melanda diri pd ketika itu, iaitu dari saat suami membisikkan ke telinga bahawa dia menjadi calon Parlimen dan baru sahaja meletakkan jawatan dlm masa 24 jam, hingga ke saat2 di mana dia hanya berada di rumah tanpa pekerjaan selama 3 bulan itu.. Perasaan umpama mimpi, sebak, dan ‘struggle’ utk kuatkan hati demi suami tercinta. Kekadang itu, terselit juga sedikit kekecewaan krn perancangan awal dgn suami utk sama2 menulis buku, makalah2 ilmiah dan memohon kenaikan pangkat di universiti tidak kesampaian.. ditambah dgn kesunyian bila memandu ke pejabat keseorangan. Manakan tidak, kami spt sepasang sahabat karib yg berkongsi minat yg sama, selalu bersama ke mana saja, hatta bersama2 ke pejabat, berborak2, berbincang dan bergelak ketawa dlm perjalanan semenjak 7 tahun sblm itu.

Namun, perasaan tidak menentu ini terubat setiap kali teringatkan kata2 suami yg pernah diluahkan di suatu ketika dalam perjalanan pulang dr pejabat UIAM. Kata2 yg menginsafkan diri bahawa betapa Allah SWT telah memberi nikmat yg terlalu banyak buat kami sekeluarga. Suami menyenaraikan antaranya, Allah SWT telah mempermudahkan urusan kami dlm pengajian (menyiapkan PhD dlm usia yg muda & cemerlang- 3 tahun cukup2 tanpa ‘extension’); menganugerahkan permata2 hati yg comel & sempurna; mengaturkan kemudahan utk kami memiliki kenderaan asas & rumah yg selesa; punya keluarga yg amat penyayang & ‘supportive’; peluang2 membuat kajian & jaringan hubungan luar, dan banyak lagi yg tak mampu disenaraikan segalanya. Suami mengingatkan, bahawa semua ganjaran Allah SWT ini menuntut suatu pengorbanan—utk menyumbang kembali ke jalanNya, kepada makhluk2Nya, semata2 keranaNya.. maka kita perlu sentiasa bersedia utk mengembalikan nikmat ini buat org lain juga.. redha sepenuhnya dgn perjalanan hidup aturan Ilahi buat kami sekeluarga.. dan ternyata Qada’ & Qadar Ilahi yg melakari sejarah buat keluarga kami terjadi hanya beberapa bulan slp itu.. Subhanallah!

Kini, sambil menyapu titisan airmata yg mengalir ketika menitipkan kalam2 ini, diri menjadi insaf & berlapang dada dgn Qada’ & Qadar aturan Ilahi ini sekali lagi.. Alhamdulillah, Allah SWT memberi kekuatan tersebut.. Cuma hati sedikit terharu krn seakan dpt merasai sebak di hati suami yg terpaksa meninggalkan sebahagian hatinya yg ternyata telah sebati bersama sahabat2nya di ISRA.. mashaAllah, kami umpama satu keluarga yg besar, yg bekerja penuh ikhlas lagi sabar, dgn suasana yg cukup mendamaikan.. mungkin petanda barakah Ilahi krn kerja2 ini adalah merupakan jihad yg juga punya liku2nya tersendiri…
(Nota: saya pernah bertugas sebagar 'Research Fellow' ISRA selama 10 bulan dlm tempoh cuti sabatikal yg berakhir pd thn lepas)

Suami pernah meluahkan bahawa dia telah sampai satu tahap bahawa dia telah berasa cukup dgn apa yg dilakukannya waktu itu… namun biarpun ganjaran yg diperolehi dr segi nama, harta, pangkat & kemudahan amatlah besar.. hatinya belum benar2 puas.. katanya, “…tak sama dgn duduk bersama2 orang kampung, dan melakukan kerja dakwah yg lebih meluas..”

Sebab itulah, saya terus tersenyum bilamana suami bertanyakan pendapat tentang pelawaan pihak atasan terhadap jawatan yg disandangnya mulai semalam.. ketika itu kami sedang minum petang sambil menunggu penerbangan ke Singapura lewat petang Selasa minggu yg lalu. Kelihatan suami seperti tidak keruan & berbelah bagi.. “Bukankah kerja2 dakwah sebegini yang Abang paling suka dan dambakan selama ini? Sekarang, Allah SWT telah membuka ruang & peluang seluas2nya buat Abang utk menjalankan misi dakwah tersebut; inilah lapangan yg sebenar.. inilah masanya utk kita aplikasikan ilmu, pengalaman2 lalu yg dikutip sepanjang berada di madrasah Allah dlm bentuk masa bersama PKPIM, kehidupan di UK & jatuh bangun keterlibatan dlm politik yg telah bnyk mendidik jiwa ini…”

Seperti dpt meneka apa di hatinya, saya menyambung, “Tak apalah, walaupun memilih jalan ini amat sedikit ganjaran duniawi nya; inshaAllah, ganjaran ukhrawi menanti buat kita nanti..” Sambil hati mendoakan agar Allah SWT menerima setiap amal kebajikan nanti dan dibalasNya dlm bentuk perlindungan buat keluarga, anak2 & keturunan kami, inshaAllah..

Sekembalinya kami ke tanahair pada pagi Jumaat itu, suami dipanggil ke Masjid Negara utk solat Jumaat bersama2 dgn YDPA, PM, TPM dan para VVIP lain.. dgn penuh pasrah, suami menerima watikah perlantikan ke jawatan sekarang yang berkuatkuasa pada 3 Jun 2013. Selepas itu, masa amat pantas berlalu dan banyak urusan dipermudahkan Allah, Alhamdulillah…

Di petang Jumaat itu juga, suami berjumpa Dr Akram utk mengkhabarkan tentang perlantikan baru ini serta meminta nasihat Dr Akram tentang ‘replacement process’ di ISRA yg mungkin agak mencabar krn tugas suami yg pd pandangan saya merangkumi 3 peranan; ‘managing & doing research, managing the researchers and international relations’ … walaupun keberatan, Dr Akram ternyata memahami malah memberi sokongan sepenuhnya kpd suami.

Isnin pagi semalam, perletakan jawatan suami telah disahkan oleh Jawatankuasa Pengurusan ISRA, diikuti oleh perjumpaan dgn para penyelidik ISRA. Walaupun saya tiada di sana, diri seperti dapat merasakan suasana suram & pilu, apatah lagi ini semua berlaku secara mengejut. Dr Said secara spontan telah mengekspresi satu syair yg indah lagi dalam maknanya..

قال ابن زيدون، أحمد بن عبد الله القرطبي الوزير الأندلسي:
أضْـــحَي الـتَّنــَائي بَديــلاً مــنْ تدانـِــينا ونَــاب عنْ طيــبِ لقْيــاناَ تجَــــافِيــنـا بِنْـــتُم
وَبِنَّــا فمَا ابـْتـــلـــتْ جوانِــــحُنـا شـــوْقاً إليــكـمْ ولا جـــفَّـتْ مَــآقـِــينــا يـكــادُ حيــنَ تُنـــاجِيــكــم ضَــمائــرُنـا يقْضِـــي علينــا الأَسَــى لوْلا تَـأسِّـــينا حالــتْ لفَقْــدِكم أيـــَّامُنا فـغـدَ تْ سَـوْداً
وكـــــانـت بــــكـم بيْــضــاً ليَــاليِــنــا إذْ جانب العيــشِ طلــقٌ من تــألّـــفِنــا وَمـَوْردُ الَّلهْــوِ صــافٍ من تَصَــافـِينـا
وإذ هــصرنـا غصـون الوصـــل دانيةً قطـفُـوهَــا فجـــنَيْنـــا منـــه ما شِـــئْنـا ليُــسْــقَ عهــدُكم عهــدُ السُّــرورِ
فمَــا كُنْــتـُـــم لأرواحــِـنـــا إلاَّ ريـــاحـِيـــنا لا تحــــسبـــوا نأْيَكـــم عـــنَّا يُـــغيِّــرُنا إنْ طـــالما غيَّـــر الـــنَّأيُ اْلمحِــبِّيــنـا
والله ِمــاطــــلبــتْ أهواؤُنـــا بـــــــــدَلاً منْكُم ولا انـــصَرفَتْ عنْـــكم أمَانـِــيــا

a) Distance has replaced our closeness, and our pleasant relations have been sundered.
b) We are no longer together [at ISRA] but our hearts still long to be with you and our tears have not dried.
c) When our hearts called out to you, grief would have almost overcome us had we not found solace.
d) Our days have been darkened by your absence while by your presence even the nights were brightened.
e) Life was free of troubles because of our unity, and our [work] place was pure due to our sincerity towards one another.
f) We drew down the boughs of association and plucked its fruits as we wished.
g) Our relations during that period of joy were watered by springs. You were for us [in ISRA] like sweet basil.
h) Think not that distance will change our relations though distance changes the [hearts of] lovers.
i) By Allah, our hearts never wished for a change nor did our hopes turn away from you.
…dlm masa 1 minggu sahaja kedudukan seseorang boleh berubah.. bayangkan minggu lalu, suami sedang sibuk menguruskan Muzakarah Cendikiawan Shariah Nusantara di Singapura… dan minggu ini pula dia telah diberi amanah yg lebih besar lagi mencabar dlm kapasiti yg berbeza pula.. Allah..

Mengimbau roda-roda kehidupan ini, saya tunduk akur dgn kekuasaan Allah SWT.. siapalah kami ini melainkan hamba2Nya yg amat dhaif yg tiada punya apa2 melainkan dgn izin serta rahmatNya.. sesempurna mana sekalipun perancangan kami dlm kehidupan ini, ternyata perancangan Allah lah yang pasti mengatasi segalanya dan akan tetap terlaksana, maka kami  perlu redhai lagi syukuri..

Ya Allah, Tuhan yang Maha Pengasih… kami berterima kasih pd Mu kerana pengawasanMu ke atas kami agar kami tidak terus terleka & hanyut dlm kesenangan… tuntunilah kami ke jalanMu yg benar, bantulah kami dlm sebarang pertimbangan, peliharalah kami dari fitnah & segala keburukan… moga2 taklif ini mampu kami pikul dgn bimbinganMu, Ya Rabbi.. dgn RahmatMu, moga2 segala usaha dan amalan kami dinilaikan bagai ibadah serta berupa jihad demi menggapai Jannah yg abadi di sana nanti.. amin..

Catatan berakhir 4.58ptg.