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This blog has been designed most for the benefits of my students. I am interested in spiritual intelligence because I believe it leads to happiness and resilience. If you want copies of my published research (conference papers or articles in journals), feel free to contact me.

Ridhwan (

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Recent reading

I was looking at the website and I came across the statistics in this table. The more I learn about management, the more I realize we still don't really understand what management is. Our focus is on the "people" instead of focusing on the "people in their environment". Due to that fundamental mistake, we put pressure on "everybody" without understanding what is contraining the organization. Remember: the productivity of the whole organization is determined by the productivity of its weakest link. So for any MGT2010 students out there, make sure you understand the basic idea behind constraint management!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The football analogy

When teaching the Islamic perspective to management, I like to use the “football analogy”. I created this analogy around a football pitch because a basic principle in Islam is that when it comes to ibadat, everything is haraam unless it is halaal. Outside of acts of ibadat, the principle is that everything is halaal except for a few things that are haraam. Dr Yusuf Qaradawi said, “the sphere of prohibited things is very small, while that of permissible things is extremely vast (…) the principle of natural permissibility is not only limited to things and objects but to all human behaviour not related to acts of worship” The limits that Allah SWT has defined is like the boundaries on a football pitch

If you think about it, the rules of the game of football (the rules of off-side, penalty, free-kicks, and so forth) are like the principles of Islamic Law. People can do whatever they want as long on the football pitch as long as they do not break the rules.
The owner of the Universe appointed a series of referees to explain the game to human beings. The last referee was the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who explained the rules of the game to the first Muslim players who joined the game. To this effect, Muslim players have two references. One is the Qur’an (whose focus is to explain the objectives of the game) and the other is the Sunnah (whose focus is more on the detailed rules of the game). After that, the last referee left the pitch. When new Muslim players arrived, they learned the rules of the game from the first generation of Muslim players. Some confusion occurred as to how the rules should be understood and applied but the objective of the game – that players had to play the game ethically in order to go into Paradise – was clear.

However, Muslim players then started to play international games. In these international games, foreign players played with a different objective. Their objective was simply to score as many goals as possible. To help them do that, they invented their own rules. As these foreign players seemed to score more goals than Muslim players, some Muslim players forgot the original objective of the game. These Muslim players started to assume that foreign players were able to score more goals because their objective and their rules of the games were “better” than the Muslim players’ objective and rules. In fact, some Muslim players started to assume that the rules that Muslims have to abide to were the main reasons why Muslims could not score many goals.

A careful analysis though seems to indicate that foreign players can score a lot of goals because they work better as a team and they have a better strategy. Muslim players, on the other hand, may have very good individual skills but they do not always work well in a team. Often, they do not have a clear strategy. In most cases, Muslim players are no longer playing according to the Islamic perspective. Many Muslim players today agree that it is important to score more goals than the foreign players but for the purpose of dawah. By scoring many goals, Muslims who are confused can be re-assured and foreign players can be attracted to the objective and the rules that Muslim players need to follow. The key, for Muslim players, is to:
1. Re-develop their confidence in their understanding of the game
2. Re-develop their understanding of the explanations given by the last referee
3. Improve their understanding of strategy
4. Improve their teamwork

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Building character through Aikido

A question some people ask me is how can we develop ourselves? Especially our character?

One approach that I recommend is to do martial arts, especially Aikido. Martial arts is not about learning how to fight. It is more about living a healthy lifestyle through physical exercise and developing self confidence. Indeed, martial arts require a continuous process of training and improving oneself. Attending a few martial arts sessions will not really make a difference to anybody. But if somebody 'stays' with it for two or three years, there will be a significant development of their fitness, self-confidence and self-management skills.

The reason I prefer Aikido is that martial arts are divided into two broad categories: "hard" and "soft" martial arts. Hard martial arts - like silat and taekwando - requires to attack the opponent. As one Taekwando instructor once told me, "there are only two strategies: attack and counter attack". Soft martial arts - like Tai Chi and Aikido - uses the energy of the opponent to immobilize him or her. It's not about strength but about using the other person's momentum to control the situation. Psychologically, when one practices martial arts regularly for a couple of years, one develops the mindset that "nothing is impossible".

Another soft skills session