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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 (

My other blog is:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

MGT6600: Feedback on your coursework

I have been marking your coursework - Developing an Islamic personality and the Left Hand Columm. Generally, everybody has been getting high marks - from 85% to 80%. As I explained, I start at 85% automatically for everybody. If things are missing, I deduct from that. Generally, the quality of the conclusion is poor so that is where I cut. So far, the majority of the class has full marks. There is only a handful of students who gave me weak conclusions. Well done and good luck for tonight.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Making 70 excuses for others

Aiman Azlan makes a point that is essential to understand the Islamic perspective on communication.

Friday, November 23, 2012

MOTIVATION: Do what you love

THIS IS NOT PART OF THE HAPPY IN ISLAM PROJECT - This video is related to the chapter on motivation. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Soft launch of Productive Teens project

Well, this post is the unofficial launch of the Productive Teens project. I am working with Tuan Fazrul Ismail at Total Success Sdn Bhd to modify the Happy in Islam project for the benefits of schools. The aim is to help teenagers think about their Islamic identity so that they may have more productive and happier lives. So far, I have received the help of my students taking MGT4820 (see photo). They have recorded several videos that will be uploaded soon to You Tube. These videos is the sharing of students who got themselves into social trouble, rediscovered Islam and got out of trouble. The purpose of the videos is to show that a) changing is possible and b) showing how to change. Soon, I will be looking for a technical director to coordinate the shooting of videos and ensuring good quality (especially the sound). If students taking MGT2010 are interested to help out, do contact me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


THIS IS NOT FOR THE HAPPY IN ISLAM PROJECT - Next week, we will talk about leadership. This famous video shows what happen if there are no leaders .....

Monday, November 5, 2012

No arms, no legs, no worries

THIS IS NOT PART OF THE HAPPY IN ISLAM PROJECT - This video is to view before the classes on Understanding Human Behaviour. We can focus on what we want but don't have and on what we can't do .... or we can focus on what we do have and what we can do. As the Prophet SAW said, to be grateful, we need to look at those who have less than us.....

Masters of Management: feedback on mid sem

I am marking your papers. Regarding question 1 ("Are you satisfied with your goal setting and time management?"), I am quite surprised to see how many of you feel that you are satisfied with your current goal setting and time management skills. It is one of the irony of personal self-development that when you are satisfied with your skills, you stop improving them. When you are not satisfied with your skills, you will continue to improve these skills..... To use an analogy, improving your skills is like walking up stairs. If you walk a few stairs and then look back, you think, "Wow, I am good. Let me take a rest." Other people will keep up walking up.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Be careful with your words

A picture that summarizes what we are doing for the diary assignment :)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Motivational video (bahasa indonesia)

THIS VIDEO CANNOT BE USED FOR ASSIGNMENT 1. The purpose of this video is to emphasize a simple point: if you don't write your goals clearly in black and white, you will forget them. In the history of mankind, nobody has been able to do effective goal setting without writing them down.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Allah is The Helper

The following information was taken from In a previous posting, I explained the concept of Allah (لله) bring our Rabb (الرب)that is our Master, Provider, Sustainer, Rewarder, Perfecter, Ruler, Creator, and Maintainer. The 3rd name that Dr. Nabulsi talks about is An Nasir. 3. النصير An Nasir: Allah helps the believers as long as they rely on Him alone and they make sufficient preparations. Two things can happen. If we rely on other than Allah, He will not help us. Or, if we do not make the proper preparations, He will not help us until we do.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

MGT 2010 - topics over the next few weeks

Tomorrow - integrity 1st october - problem solving 3rd october - creativity 8th october - Aiman (case study) + case for mid semester exam 10th october - planning ["Employable skills"] 15th october - mid semester exam (1h 20 mn exam) 17th october - organizing PLEASE DOWNLOAD POWERPOINTS ON THE PC IN THE LECTURE HALL BY BRINGING YOUR THUMB DRIVE

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Getting to know Allah

The following information was taken from In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (SAW) said, “Allâh has ninety nine names, a hundred minus one, he who knows them enters paradise” Dr Nabulsi explains that ‘knowing’ does not simply mean ‘memorizing’ but it implies developing in us the attributes indicated in Allah’s name when it is possible. Thus, the more you know about Allah, the more you would want to be just with others, merciful with others, generous to others and so forth. Knowing Allah’s names is also used in our worship. In the Qur’an, Allah says: “And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allâh, so call on Him by them…” (7:180) The following are some of his names 1 الله Allah: His personal name. It appears 2,967 times in the Qur’an. 2. الرب Ar Rabb: The word Rabb has many connotations, as Master, Chief, Determiner, Provider, Sustainer, Rewarder, Perfecter, Ruler, Creator, Maintainer, Reposer of Properties in things of nature, Developer, Framer of Rules and Laws of the Growth of Things, Regulizer, Foster of things in such a manner as to make them attain one condition after another until they reach their goal of perfection and completion, Arranger of different stages through which they have to pass on their way to completion, Author of all existence Who has sole title to it with no one having any share in it. Thus the word Rabb signifies dozens of processes which a thing passes through in the course of creation and evolution before it reaches its final development. It appears 978 times in the Qur’an.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A new semester begins ....

Next week, two groups of students will be asked to continue the Happy in Islam project. Continuing with my research, I will post a number of videos and articles. One video that is an abosluate MUST is a brief explanation of surah al asr in 8 minutes by Nouman Ali Khan.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Collaboration with

For several months, I have been discussing a variety of projects with Fazrul Ismail, CEO of At this stage, we are trying to modify the Happy in Islam project to help Malaysian teenagers become more productive. Anybody interested in helping out should contact me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Open for business again!

Hari Raya is over and I am preparing for the new semester. I will be teaching two classes: MGT6600 (Masters students) and MGT2010 (undergrad). With both classes, I intend to continue the Happy in Islam project.
However, this time I want to focus more on mental models. the literature on Training and Development tells us that people fail to develop key skills because their mental model is not conducive to learning new skills. However, if they change their mental model, learning new skills become a lot easier to accept. At the end of the semester, I can discuss this point in more detail.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Prophet's softskills

Al hamdulillah, I attended a 4 hour training last Sunday. The training was conducted by a team of Malaysians specializing in analyzing and teaching the psychology behind the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) (see and call Muhammad Firdaus at 013 2002705 for more info). Here are some overall learning points: The Prophet (SAW)never investigated the background of a sin unless he absolutely had to - if somebody admitted to having done something wrong, the Prophet (SAW) did not look for details. He would simply point to actions (like praying, fasting, giving charity,....) that would compensate for the sin. The Prophet (SAW)rarely talked about Paradise or Hell to motivate people. For example, if somebody committed a sin, he never said, "Astighfirullah! You are going to Hell for that one." If people did something good, he would rarely say things "Well, Paradise is yours for doing that" [there are some exceptions as sometimes Allah SWT would inform them of the names of some of the Companions who were promised Paradise while they were still alive - but that is informing them of a fact). The Prophet (SAW) did not use words like "why" or "if". He used "what" and "when" instead. For example, he never asked people, "why did you do this?". Rather he would say, "what led you to do this". This seems like a small difference but "why" implies an accusation whereas "what" is about getting the facts. He also did not say, "if you do this, I will do that." He used to say instead, "When you do this, I will do that". He never called people bad names (like "kafir"). Generally, he was very good at managing people's emotions by either giving them good news when they have done good deeds, or giving them good news (by reminding them of Allah's Forgiveness and Mercy and encouraging them to do good to compensate for the sin) when they have committed sins.

Friday, June 15, 2012


There will be a freeze on postings from now until September 2012. There are several reasons for this. These include: a) I am finishing a number of papers related to Islamic management b) I am working on an Action Research project that relate to strategic management and community-based planning. This is kinda of a huge project, with lots of practical implications. It's one opportunity to see what happens in the real world so that I have more stories to share in the classroom. c) The data that I have collected regarding spiritual intelligence (SI) and taqwa is currently being analysed. Some of the findings will be published on my other blog: d) I will be on holiday in France :) See you guys in September

Monday, June 4, 2012

Soft skills workshop

I was honoureabout 40 d to be asked to conduct a Soft Skills Workshop for Politeknik lecturers. This workshop was held in Bangi on the 29th of May 2012. It was organized by Jabatan Pengajian Politeknik from the Ministry of Higher Education. I talked about some of the activities that can be used to teach soft skills. By far the most popular activity was (again) the Distribution Game. This game was originally developed in the 1960s by professors at MIT. Any students who would like to experience this game, let me know

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Feedback requested from visitors

I have been looking at some of the statistics for this blog. The 2nd and 3rd largest source of traffic is from the US and from India (plus other visitors from Singapore, Germany and France). If you are not a IIUM student, I would be grateful if you drop me an email to let me know how you found out about this blog and why you like it (or don't). Please send all emails to If you want to contribute your own personal experiences, email me and if is is suitable, I can post it. Many thanks. Dr Ridhwan Fontaine.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A vision to make a difference

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Advice to teenagers - excellent

Friday, April 20, 2012

Contribution from a student: What goes around, comes around"

This story was emailed to me. I have done some editing but it is based on a true story. I changed the original title to “What goes around, comes around” A young girl applied for sponsorship to continue her studies. To convince the sponsors, she decided to lie. She was called for an interview. In the interview, she started to explain that her father was no longer available to sponsor her due to his health problem. She showed them some fake documents which said that her father had a heart operation and was not allowed to work for a long time. The documents satisfied the interviewers to sponsor the student. Once she got the money, she started enjoying life by spending the money to buy all kinds of things. She started travelling, shopping, hanging around and so forth. After two months of enjoyment, she had a phone call. She was told that her father had a heart attack and the doctors send him to the hospital to get an operation. Surprisingly, it was the same hospital that she used to prepare the fake documents to persuade the interviewers to sponsor her. Then, she immediately went to the hospital. While she was waiting for her father to come out of the operation, she was questioning what she has done: ‘Do not ever lie! Especially, if the reason of lying is to take other’s rights from their hands. I have taken someone else’s scholarship which was zakat and used to improve my life while others suffered. I guess this is a warning from Allah to show me how bad lying is and taking human rights. I believe it is a kind of miracle that what the story I told in the interview came true and even much worse than that. If the warning of my behaviour is making my father suffer in the operation and the bill that we are going to pay is treble price than the amount of my scholarship which I could even pay the tuition fee for four years and save same of it. So, I am afraid to imagine how such behaviours going to be punished in Hereafter.’

Monday, April 16, 2012

Contribution from a student: Story of my teenage life on prayers

Note from Dr Ridhwan: This contribution was emailed to me. I believe that authentic stories can motivate people to become better. I only changed one word (it was not rude but it bit too slang) Here is her story

I went to three stages of prayer in my life. First stage is the naïve, obedient, no hardship when it comes to praying. Second stage is the ultimate rebel, full time lying, and total refusal to pray. Third stage is having sense of responsibility, world is better with Islam and committed to loving Allah and Rasulullah s.a.w.

Up until I was 12 years old, I prayed side by side with my mother so she knew that I prayed and she taught me everything that is to Islam. I was a simple kid who almost has everything. Praying does not mean that much to me I just know that I need to pray and I am not bothered by the details. Probably, my interest was not on Islam but more to cartoons, animals and the universe. I was occupied with learning what I adore than showing interest on Islam.

When I was going to be 13, my parents let me stay with my cousins for 2 months. They were those cool city girls who live in KL and I am just a kampong girl but still was exposed to city life through television. I was the cool girl among my kampong friends. Next to them I was as lame as a rock. So the story was they influence me to not praying as praying is not cool. English music was cool, coupling was fantasized and everything close to illegal in Islam. I still have my conscious. What I believe on, I stand on my ground. Like how they did not wear tudung and whatnots. Till the very end I was strict on not exposing my aurah and they respect that. But I know they think I was so lame.

Those were the start of my rebellious phase. I stop reciting Qur'an as I recently khatam it. I do not pray, I talked with KL slang, well basically everything changed. I feel I was cooler and praying is a waste of time. I started to procrastinate big time. I did not study at all. I was the second last in my class for my finals. All I did was have fun all the time. No worries about the world or my studies or anything. I stop caring and rationalising. I had 2 years of that oh-so-called-“fun” period.

My third phase happened when my mother decided to change me to her school. She was a teacher there. I was okay with it and up for new experience. This was in fact the changing point of my life. I love the new school so much. The teacher was better, the environment was twice greener but the student was ten times worse. But they did not bother me because I dress badly and I have a scary teacher as a mom. I learned their background and become humbler. The teachers there were amazingly supportive and the school provide tons and tons of motivational talks to us. I started to fully pray when a teacher threaten to rattan student according to the number we skipped prayers for yesterday. I remember the feeling of utterly terrified and panicked because I do not like pain. I rarely get beaten from my parent so I am not immune to pain. The teacher never got the chance to come to our class but from that moment on I swear I will pray 5 times a day because of the fear. Then things started to get serious from that moment on. I have a purpose in life, I know what I want to do with my life, I studied whenever I get the chance to study, I utilised time happily and so many other changes in life. My ultimate purpose is I want barakah from Allah.

Life was much happier after that. I got straight A’s for PMR, 9A’s for SPM. Life is good. Although I did become a victim of black magic that was targeted to my father but I got a piece of it, it makes me closer to Allah because I was relying on His protection. It was terrifying but with a silver lining behind it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Leadership training at Taylor University on 9th April 2012

Alhamdulillah, I facilitated a leadership training at Taylor University on Monday. This training was organised by my friend. He used "Friday Night at ER". In this game, participants have to manage a hospital. There are four departments: emergency, surgery, critical care and step down. Participants can get so busy managing their own department that they forget about the hospital as a whole. Or, if they are good, they manage their department in a way that benefits the hospital as a whole.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Maher Zain and cognitive strategies

The lyrics to this song are an excellent example of a cognitive strategy. If you can't figure it out, ask me in class

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

An email from a student

Assalamu'alaykum Dr Ridhwan.

I found this meaningful story about a manager. Hope you can share with others as well so that al of us could benefit! InshaAllah

One young academically excellent person went to apply for a managerial position in a big company. He passed the first interview, the director did the last interview, made the last decision. The director discovered from the CV that the youth's academic achievements were excellent all the way, from the secondary school until the postgraduate research, never had a year when he did not score.

The director asked, "Did you obtain any scholarships in school?" the youth answered "none". The director asked, " Was it your father who paid for your school fees?" The youth answered, "My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees.

The director asked, " Where did your mother work?" The youth answered, "My mother worked as clothes cleaner. The director requested the youth to show his hands. The youth showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.

The director asked, " Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes before?" The youth answered, "Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me.

The director said, "I have a request. When you go back today, go and clean your mother's hands, and then see me tomorrow morning.*

The youth felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back, he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange, happy but with mixed feelings, she showed her hands to the kid. The youth cleaned his mother's hands slowly. His tear fell as he did that. It was the first time he noticed that his mother's hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother shivered when they were cleaned with water. This was the first time the youth realized that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fee. The bruises in the mother's hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future. After finishing the cleaning of his mother hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother. That night, mother and son talked for a very long time. Next morning, the youth went to the director's office.

The Director noticed the tears in the youth's eyes, asked: " Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?" The youth answered, " I cleaned my mother's hand, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes'

The Director asked, " please tell me your feelings."

The youth said, Number 1, I know now what is appreciation. Without my mother, there would not the successful me today. Number 2, by working together and helping my mother, only I now realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done. Number 3, I have come to appreciate the importance and value of family relationship.

The director said, " This is what I am looking for to be my manager. I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired.

Later on, this young person worked very hard, and received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and as a team. The company's performance improved tremendously.

A child, who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wanted, would develop "entitlement mentality" and would always put himself first. He would be ignorant of his parent's efforts. When he starts work, he assumes that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others. For this kind of people, who may be good academically, may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel sense of achievement. He will grumble and be full of hatred and fight for more. If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying the kid instead?*

Friday, March 30, 2012

Dr. Amr Khaled

Dr. Amr Khaled is an Egyptian who is transforming the Arab world. Using a train-the-trainer approach (i.e one person trains 100, every person trained trains another 100), he has mobilized hundreds of thousands of Arabs to get involved in community projects and social welfare projects. Just to name one example, he started a programme to fight against drugs. When he started this programme. his ambition was to reach to 5,000 drug users. To date, the programme has reached about 5 million people. Even today, one committed person can make a difference .... provided he knows how to organise other people.

One thing I would be interested in knowing is whether his programme is 'only for Muslims' or whether it crosses religious and cultural divides. If anybody knows, please let me know.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

An example of Allah's Wisdom and Qadar

An inspirational talk by Dr Bilal Philips. Indirectly, he talks about Allah's Qadar so there is some benefit for those students wishing to better understanding this topic.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Who moved my cheese?

One of the most famous stories about why we need to change and why we can never take things for granted

Developing real skills

One of the best ways to develop real skills is to get engaged in a charity project. We sent to SMK Sg Pusu with about 16 MGT4110 students to get the Form 3 kids there thinking about why people don't pray. We used cognitive theory to help structure the session. Here are some photos.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Happy in Islam project

I have updated the data & background on the Happy in Islam project.

One of the things we know is that happy leaders make better leaders. They are more motivating to work for, they handle stress better, and they make better decisions. The idea behind the Happy in Islam is to identify intervention techniques that allow Muslims to improve their levels of happiness.
For more details. go to:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Excellent speakers

In the past, the most popular speaker by IIUM students who did the Internet assignment was Bilal Philips. Unfortunately, his old website was pulled down and replaced by a "new" website ..... which is not as good as the old one. You can still find some of his talks on-line - his talk "Searching for Inner Peace" is very good. Any tafsir by him generally works.

The new up and coming speaker is of course Suhaib Webb. His tafsir tends to be more detailed and long. I would advise all students to search for his old videos on his website. One talk is entitled "The role of Muslim students". This is absolutely excellent and a must talk to listen to because it is very relevant in a multicultural society like Malaysia.

Another speaker is called Yassir Fazaqa. You can find his talk on Audio-Islam under taqwa. His talk is entitled Self Image Psychology. I personally felt it was the best talk on Islamic psychology that I have heard on the Internet

Friday, February 24, 2012

Writing a great CV

I recently completed a leadership workshop with some of my ex-students from MGT2010 last sem. The logic is always the same. The purpose of coming to UIAM is NOT getting a degree but getting a degree that will give you the job you want. To get the job you want, you need a CV that will stand-out. For this, it is necessary to a) get reasonable grades and b) get involved in as many clubs, workshops, events ..... and document them in your CV. For this reason, I conducted a 2h workshop on "Leadership: Managing complexity". We essentially played a game for 1 1/2 h and then discussed the practical implications for 1h. It was a small investment in time, but it always makes you CV nicer......

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Feedback and leadership training for MGT2010

Salam to all,

I have spent the whole day re-reading your reports and keying the results into the computer. I hope to publish the overall results on next week. Generally, I was touched by the sincerity in doing your reports. I smiled when I saw the comment of Muhammad Aiman. Anyway, well done. The overall marks for the class reflect your hard work.

I still owe you a leadership training. Due to various constraints, it will probably be in the 3rd week. I will put up a notice outside my door so that people who are still interested can sign up. I will ask one volunteer to collect rm 10 per person. All the money collected will be given to a charity that feeds homeless people in KL. If anybody wants to accompany to visit this charity, let me know in advance. If anybody is joining my MGT4410 class, please see me before the class starts.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book review: Mind over mood

This is a fantastic book. It gives you a step-by-step guide at how to turn negative moods into positive moods. Based on the most up-to-date theory in cognitive psychology, it helps you to identify moods, identify behaviour, identify automatic thoughts and discover alternative thoughts that are more constructive.

More importantly, this is not about simply 'thinking positive'. Thinking positive often means lying to yourself. This is a very different approach. You don't lie to yourself but you realise that there is more than one way of seeing things.

Book review: How God changes your brain

What happens to your brain when you pray? This books discusses how becoming more spirituality enhances connections between neurons in your brain. When people associate spirituality with positive emotions, becoming more spiritual enhances our brain functions, our memory, slows down the aging process, reduces stress and makes us more cooperative. When people associate spirituality with bad things (which can happen), becoming more spiritual leads to anxiety and stress. This book reflects 15 years of research. Typically, researchers would take a brain scan, inject a die into the boy, ask a volunteer to do spiritual exercises and - at the end - take another brain scan to identify which areas of the brains were stimulated by the spiritual exercise. The authors' opinion is - from a purely physiological and scientific point of view - becoming more spiritual might the best thing for anybody's long-term mental and physical health. The book sometimes focuses too much on spirituality and dismisses religion as almost secondary. Nonetheless, the basic message of this book remains true, interesting and scientifically valid.

Another soft skills session