Muslim Coming from Secular Education? Join IIUM!


Assalamualaikum Wr. Wbt.

All my life I have been “moulded” by secular education with only weekend Madrasah to keep me grounded. Having said that, I quitted my weekend Madrasah when I started my pre-U studies at 17. When I entered a local Uni in Singapore at the age of 20, I didn’t have any proper Islamic education. Until I was almost 22, I decided to quit that Uni and pursue my passion – to be a Physical Eduction teacher. I almost got into the local Uni which offers the course. However, it was fate when I was eating with my family at a Thailand restaurant, my dad’s friend, who is the owner of the restaurant, suddenly asked me, “Are you from IIUM? My son is a student there.” and I was like, “What is IIUM?”. He answered, “International Islamic University of Malaysia.”

The next day I applied for the school, not knowing anything, but with only one intention – to know my religion better. Alhamdulillah I was accepted into the school and the course that I wanted – Psychology. Coincidentally, when I just got to know my husband, he just graduated from IIUM and I was just about to start my first semester (How I Met My Husband). Hence, with both my husband’s (as a graduate) and my own experiences (as an undergraduate still), InsyaAllah I will share why IIUM would be the best choice for Muslims who are planning to pursue your studies as undergraduate, Masters or Phd students.

The Environment

View from my room at my hostel.

A lot of Singaporeans have the misconception about Malaysia. Just like how I used to think about Malaysia – “Huh? It’s just Malaysia what”. The landscape, especially in IIUM, is just SubhanAllah. Singapore is crowded with people and buildings, and it’s hard to catch a glimpse of the sunrise or sunset. IIUM is a good place to escape from the hustling and bustling of a city life. From wherever you are, it’s easy to spot sun rising and setting between the mountains. And IIUM is surrounded by greeneries, which means you are always breathing in fresh air and your mind is always at calm.

The architecture of the school is mesmerising. If I’m not wrong, it was built according to the setting during our Prophet Muhammad SAW’s time. Whereby the Masjid is in the center of the school’s landscape and the different faculties surrounding it. Oh! Best part, you’ll be able to hear the azan, five times daily! Where can you get that in Singapore, right? Okay, except at Masjid Sultan.

Incomparable Education System

So where does IIUM rank in the World Ranking of University? Honestly, it’s nowhere near the top 10 or 100 or 1000 even, I guess. But wait, you’re comparing an Islamic University to Oxford? In what basis are they supposed to be compared? Two different schools, with two different goals, with two very different approach of education. So, even if you’re trying to compare University Malaya with IIUM, they are different.

Duniawi…and Ukhrawi!

Another view from my hostel.

IIUM doesn’t only focus on Ukhrawi (the Hereafter), but it also focuses on Duniawi (the world). Just like any universities, IIUM offers a looooooot of courses. From Medicine to Dentistry to Engineering to Human Sciences to Islamic Revealed Knowledge, to anything lah! If I were to enroll into a local Uni taking Psychology, the one very important aspect that I will miss out on is studying the Islamization of Psychology. In general, IIUM doesn’t only equipt you with Western theories, but also the Islamic perspective about that particular topic. It’s important to include Islamic element into the studies because Islam is a way of life and you won’t be blinded by what Westerner theorists try to push down our throat.

You don’t need to have any Islamic background to join IIUM. Just like any universities, they have their own compulsory core modules, and for IIUM, their core modules are introductory modules to Islam. For example, I’ve enjoyed and benefited greatly from modules like Methods of Da’wah, Prophetic History, Revelation as a Source of Knowledge, etc. It’s an eye opener especially for student with secular education like me.

You will also learn Arabic in IIUM! Trust me, in Singapore it’s almost impossible to grasp the language if you were to attend Arabic lessons only once a week. The Arabic lesson in IIUM is intensive. InsyaAllah by the time you graduate from IIUM, you’ll be able to have some knowledge of the Arabic language.

Comparable Education System

What! I just say it’s incomparable and now I’m saying it’s comparable? Comparable in the sense of classroon setting. I was from Singapore Management University (SMU), and SMU is well-known for having small classes for better and more effective interaction, presentations and class participation. When I entered IIUM, I was quite amazed at how similar SMU is compared to IIUM in terms of the classroom setting and course outline! Of cz in IIUM, pressure in class isn’t as high as in SMU. I still remember how stressful it was being in a class in SMU  because it’s so competitive and people just know how to fluff their way thru! Fuh. Seriously. No exaggeration. That’s another thing SMU is well-known for. Hehe.

Dedicated and Competent Lecturers

Again, JÙST because it’s Malaysia, doesn’t mean they do not have any capable Professors to feed our “highly intellectual” minds. In fact, there are lots of Professors in IIUM who are both duniawi and ukhrawi educated – best of both worlds! My lecturer whom I learnt in my module Prophetic History, he used to teach in Oxford for a period of time.

It’s in English!

Yeap! Since it’s an international university, all modules are in English (except if you were to take a course in Islamic Revealed knowledge). Okay, and they do have Bahasa Melayu Nusantara as compulsory module BUT only 2 modules!

4-Days Per Week School

Uhh-huhhh. From Monday till Thursday. And it’s only occassionally that lecturers have make-up class on the weekends. But, which school doesn’t have make-up classes during our precious weekends, right? Huhu. Sooo which means you can go back to Singapore after class on Thursday and get back to school on Sunday!

Cheaper in Many Sense

When I was in SMU, my tuition fee was about $7k plus per sem, if I’m not wrong. But over in IIUM, my tuition fee is around RM4k plus. Which is around $2k. Hostel? RM500 for 6 months. Or if you wanna stay alone with complete facilities, it costs RM500 per month. But if you’re coming back to Singapore every week, I reccommend you just go for a shared room.

We Have Community!

ASSIIUM – Association of Singaporean Students of IIUM. Remember when I say you can come back to school on Sunday? ASSIIUM provides bus service from Larkin (in JB) all the way to school every Sunday night! You’ll just have to pay for the bus fare. And ASSIIUM is also active with events like welcoming new Singaporeans, farewell for soon graduates, every thursday night halaqah (under ASSIIUM Research Team – ART), travel to other countries, etc. So, get involved and you won’t be homesick, insyaAllah!

You’ll Miss the Experience and the Experience that Lasts

My husband has been telling me how he misses the school, his lecturers and his friends. My husband was the best student for his faculty and he said IIUM has contributed the most in shaping who he is now. He said IIUM has open his eyes for a better worldview. He is still in contact with several lecturers and he’s happy that his wife is still in IIUM cz it means that he can meet his lecturers again! Hehe.

Just to note, I am not paid to write this post. Haha. I’m doing this out of my own will because increasingly I’ve seen Muslims who want to pursue a formal education yet at the same wanting to feed their thirst for religion. I was one of them. Alhamdulillah IIUM is the best platform for newbie like me who has just started to love my own religion and the best way to love it is to learn it. And I’m not gonna lie. My friend once broke my heart by saying that someone told her that IIUM is a Wahabi school and that I should take care of myself. She told me that after I almost completed my first semester and I was ignorant about the term Wahabi because all this while I was taught the real meaning of Islam and the real practise of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW. And now I understood. If by learning and holding on to the Qur’an and Sunnah is a Wahabi, then I’m glad to call myself one.

If any of you are interested to know what IIUM offers, you can go to their website: 



25 thoughts on “Muslim Coming from Secular Education? Join IIUM!

  1. Wani says:

    Salam sis. first of all thank you so much for writing this article. I am from a secular background too. In due to this, Im wondering. What are the options of jobs that I can apply for in Singapore with that the degree from IITM?

    • nurashikinsalim says:

      Salam Sis. InsyaAllah the cert is recognised. In Singapore, of cz it depends on your grades. So InsyaAllah you won’t lack behind in terms of job opportunities or even if you wish to pursue your studies with IIUM cert. 🙂

  2. Wani says:

    shukran jazilan ! I would try to talk to my parents regarding this😁 if God’s willing, then in Shaa Allah my rezeki lies there. Barakallahu Feek

  3. ibn mohamed says:

    Salam Ukhti

    Is higher nitec (national institute education, ite) holder qualify for iium? i tried emailing, but unfortunately there’s no response. I have no friends in iium. Do you mind asking the staff for me?

    • nurashikinsalim says:

      Salam Akhi.

      IIUM degree, I don’t think higher nitec can qualify. But you can try IIUM diploma/matriculation. You can check on their website InsyaAllah. For now I’m on study leave so I can’t ask the staff. Sorryyy…

    • nurashikinsalim says:


      Depending on the course you’re in. Generally the courses in Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (IRKHS), one semester is around RM4500. So for the full course it’s RM36000 which is around $14400. You’ll have to pay 2 semesters fee in advance when you applied. Then after which, each semester you’ll pay near the completion of the semester itself. Meaning study first, pay later. Heh. And another great thing about IIUM, when you wanna take modules during short semester break, it’s free!

  4. Ayasofya says:

    Assalamualaikum sis! I was lucky enough to chance upon your blog, alhamdulillah… I am considering taking up psychology too in IIUM, however I’m particularly worried should it be extremely difficult for me to secure a job in sg, or my job scope would be constricted… Another concern I have is whether my learning will be at a great disadvantage due to my secular background… My hope is that I’d be able to perform as well as our madrasah friends in IIUM…

    • nurashikinsalim says:

      Waalaikumsalamwarahmatullah Sis! InsyaAllah your job scope won’t be constricted. InsyaAllah when you reach out for Allah, Allah will give you more than anyone else. After all, rezeki comes from Allah right? 🙂 And please don’t feel at a disadvantage. Cz what you’re learning has got nothing to do with what the madrasah students have learnt. At least not in the field of psychology. Taking psychology course in IIUM is the same as you taking psychology course in other universities
      But what you’ll learn in IIUM is more perfect cz you’ll learn the Islamic part of it on top of the Western theories. 🙂

      • ayasofya says:

        Masha Allah I feel comforted by your reply, thank you! I pray for you and your husband all the happiness that money can never buy.

  5. Fiqah says:


    I’ve been wanting to study in IIUM ever since i started learning religion from scratch back in 2014. Now i am taking a diploma in Islamic Studies in Singapore but am planning to further my studies in IIUM. However, i have a question which is actually a worry for me…

    I came from a secular background thus i have 0 knowledge on Arabic language but my friend said that to be in IIUM Islamic Studies, i need to be really good in the language. Do you know what level of Arabic do i need to know before entering IIUM?

    • nurashikinsalim says:

      Waalaikumsalamwarahmatullah Fiqah. Sorry for the really late reply.

      Whoa MasyaAllah. It’s great to know that you’re planning to further your studies in IIUM! Btw, if you wanna be in IIUM Islamic Studies, you’ll need to know 6 levels of Arabic if I’m not wrong. You’ll be given Arabic Placement Test (APT), and if you fail to reach level 6, you’ll be held back at CELPAD also known as our language centre. So you can’t enter you kuliyyah until you manage to reach level 6.

      However for me, I’m in Psychology and in the kuliyyah of Human Sciences. Students in kuliyyah of Human Sciences have to achieve level 6 of Arabic before graduating. It’s a requirement for graduation. But I can do it throughout my 4 years. So meaning Arabic for me is like another module.

      If you’re keen, you can major a course in English, for example courses in Human Sciences, and then you minor in Islamic Studies. I’m planning to do that too actually. 🙂

      • Fiqah says:

        Masya Allah thank you so much for your detailed reply. I really appreciate it.
        I’ve told my parents about it and they’re okay with it 😀 This is the first time they gave their blessings for me to go overseas alone (it’ll be 2017/2018 by then). I wanted to intern in KL back in 2014 but they were reluctant about it but alhamdulillah Allah made it easier for me this time to get their blessings. They were okay with it as i wanted to learn more about religion, after my hijrah about a year ago. Alhamdulillah syukur! 😀

  6. :) says:

    Asalamualaikum Ukhti

    MashaAllah , thank you for writing this amazing post .

    Is a diploma from a local polytechnic holder qualify for iium? 😦

    • nurashikinsalim says:

      Waalaikumsalamwarahmatullah! Ya Allah. So sorry for the late reply. Have been quite busy lately.
      MasyaAllah. Glad to see your interest in IIUM. InsyaAllah they accept local polytechnic holder. You can try InsyaAllah! Cz I used my A level certs to enrol. I also asked my employer back then to write me a recommendation letter. Hehe. 🙂

  7. Siti says:

    Assalamualaikum sis, thankyou for posting this. I find this very useful inshaAllah. I would like to ask for an advice from you. I have spend years in the secular education(until poly), and I have worked three years in a secular line. I had always wanted to be pursue islamic education after poly but my parent prefer that i go part time- meaning work but still study islam. I think because of the stress of working life, and how time consuming and energy absorbing it is, it is very hard for me to balance work and studying islam part time. Moreover the part time class is once a week, so it doesnt really absorb in my head and heart. Recently, Ive come to realize that i am not equipped with the proper basic islamic knowledge by heart and i am looking at joining iium when i turn 24 next year. Sorry for elaborating so much but my question is , is there a specific age to join iium? I feel like im too old to join.

  8. insyirah says:

    Salam sis, may i know of any way that i can contact you? (if you are comfortable with it)
    I have quite some questions to ask you regarding this matter. Thanks:)

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