A Shining Beacon in Contemporary Islamic Thought
Tan Sri Professor Dr Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas has made significant contributions in the domains of the Islamisation of contemporary knowledge and of Muslim education.
He is the author of authoritative works on various aspects of Islamic thought and civilisation, particularly on Sufism, cosmology, metaphysics, philosophy and Malay language and literature.
Notably, he is acknowledged for formulating the general theory of Islamization in the Malay-Indonesia Archipelago, earning recognition from Malay historians.
Tan Sri Syed Naquib's Academic Footprints
Born in Bogor, West Java, on 5 September 1931, Tan Sri Syed Naquib relocated to Johor Bahru in 1937 to be with his paternal relatives. He underwent his initial education in Sukabumi and Johor Bahru. Later, he pursued studies at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England, and furthered his education at the University of Malaya in Singapore, McGill University in Canada, and the University of London in England.
Tan Sri Syed Naquib received his M.A and PhD from McGill University and the University of London, respectively, with a special focus on Islamic philosophy, theology and metaphysics.
To-date, his doctoral thesis on “The Mysticism of Hamzah Fansuri” remains the most important and comprehensive works on one of the greatest and perhaps most controversial Sufi scholars in the Malay world.
Upon returning to Malaysia, he became the Head of the Division of Literature in the Department of Malay Studies at the University of Malaya in 1965, and served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts between 1968-1970.
A scholar’s vision for Islamic studies, brought to life
Among Tan Sri Syed Naquib’s contributions to the field of Islamic studies are the conceptualisation of the Islamic University and the founding of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC) in 1987.
The ISTAC library is a unique multilingual library, comprising more than 140,000 volumes including rare books and manuscripts collected by Tan Sri Syed Naquib over a ten-year period. It embodies a collection of the finest ideas, carefully selected and adapted from all over the world, resulting in the establishment of a dynamic, world-class educational institution.
Tan Sri Syed Naquib gained recognition internationally, listed among the 500 most influential Muslims in 2010. He was also honored with accolades such as the Iqbal Centenary Commemorative Medal (1979), an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University of Khartoum (1995), and recognition from the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Contributions to the Malay language
Tan Sri Syed Naquib has also made significant contributions to the history and origin of the modern Malay language.
His research on the oldest Malay manuscript and the correct arrangement of the Malay-Islamic cyclical calendar are noteworthy, and is the first scholar to discover and establish the correct date of the Trengganu Inscription.
Most notably, he established and directed the Institute of Malay Language, Literature, and Culture (IBKKM) at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), which is a research institute dedicated to elevating the Malay language and civilisation through the globalisation of the national Malay culture.
The information in this award recipient's profile is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the time the award was presented. Any subsequent changes, updates, or developments in the individual's life or achievements may not be reflected in this profile.