Interview with Zaleha Kamaruddin

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Ahmad Yousif

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Abstract

In Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the Muslim world, academic
institutions – particularly in the humanities and social sciences –
often ignore the potential leadership role of women. This is especially
evident in Islamic studies, where women play a minor role
in research, teaching, and course management. Generally speaking
unlike in the Middle East, many public and private Southeast
Asian schools of higher learning, as well as “Islamic” schools,
feature female Muslim scholars in their administrational structures.
Indonesia boasts several woman serving as leaders in Islamic
educational organizations, and Masnon Ibrahim is the
current rector of Brunei’s Seri Begawan Religious Teachers University
College. On the international level, Zaleha Kamaruddin,
the recently appointed rector of the International Islamic University
Malaysia (IIUM), remains the world’s first and only female
rector of an Islamic institution of higher learning.
This short article seeks to address her feelings, style, and role, as
well the challenges in managing an international Islamic institution.
It is based on her written answers to written questions, a recent
unstructured interview, and personal contact gained while
working together as administrators at IIUM during the 1990s.

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