Contributor: Achmad Jatnika | Editor: Ari Stoltze
Muhammad M. Nasir, a student of the Faculty of Islamic Studies at UIII, shows his potential as one of the best prospective scholars that UIII is producing. The Nigerian student’s achievements over just one year include winning the best paper award and the best presenter award at both international and national conferences.
With his manuscript titled 'Muslim Women Entrepreneurs: The Nigerian Mumpreneurs' Perspective,' Nasir discusses a new phenomenon coined as 'Mumpreneurship' in entrepreneurship studies. The term signifies the struggle of mothers juggling taking care of households and pursuing their entrepreneurial aspirations in northern Nigeria.
With that work, Nasir was able to secure his place among prominent scholars of Islamic Economics and Finance, such as Prof. Dr. Haji Wan Sulaiman Bin Wan Yusoff, the Dean of the Faculty of Management and Information Technology at Sultan Ismail Petra International Islamic University, Malaysia, at the 10th International Islamic Economic System Conference (I-iECONS2023) held on August 14, 2023, at the Millennium Makkah Al-Naseem Hotel, Saudi Arabia. Fortunately enough, Nasir won the award for the best presenter at the event.
"It wasn't easy being in such panels with experts and professors who have been in the game for a long period. However, before my presentation, I rushed to make a call to one of my professors at UIII to get some tips on how to deal with the situation. Alhamdulillah, his words motivated me and made me stand confidently on my toes to deliver my findings," he said.
Nasir also received an award from the Graduate Forum 2023 at KMP Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) Kalijaga, Yogyakarta, on October 30, 2023. He submitted a paper entitled 'Establishing Female Religious Authority; Zainab Ja'afar Bringing Women to The Fore in Northern Nigeria,' which was selected for presentation. Fortunately, Nasir won the Best Paper Award at the event.
From the two papers he proposed and some of his other works, Nasir clarified that they all shared a common thread: a focus on Northern Nigerian women, a region from which he hails. Recognizing that this research area requires attention, he expressed the opinion that not enough consideration has been given to these women. As someone born and raised in Northern Nigeria, Nasir understands the struggles of Northern Nigerian women, encompassing both their societal and religious lives. His goal is to challenge prevailing narratives that suggest these women lack relevant societal or religious functions, as often portrayed by many foreign scholars.
"Being born and raised in northern Nigeria, I understand firsthand the importance of sharing the struggles of these women with the world in an academic context; personal narratives matter. In all my papers focusing on women, I engage with the ongoing academic discourse. There is a prevailing notion that northern Nigerian women lack any religious or social functions—a stereotype that many people hold. In my case, I know that's not right; that's not true. Therefore, in all my research, I strive to highlight the real situation by thoroughly examining the socio-religious landscape of northern Nigeria. I aim to bring these women into the spotlight, showcasing their struggles to the world," explained Nasir to the media team.
Focus on thesis
After getting some achievements, Nasir will focus on his thesis for now. As a third-semester student of UIII, he is pursuing a Master of Arts in Islamic Studies, graduating next year. “I think I will focus on my thesis for now, but again, writing never stops. Writers never quit; it's an ongoing process. Ultimately, only writers persist throughout time. After all, we are not here for vacation. But for now, I want to pause and focus on my thesis. I don't plan on attending any conferences,” he said.
Regarding his thesis, he plans to write a comparative study about two Muslim organizations, Muhammadiyah in Indonesia, Indonesia and Izala or Jama'atu Izalatil Bid’ah Wa Iqamatus Sunnah (JIBWIS) in Nigeria. To some extent, Islam in Indonesia and Nigeria at large — and thus provides exciting insight into a field that deserves scholarly attention. Yet, there is still a lack of rigorous study in the field. Nasir believes his work may contribute to studying Salafism and Islamic modernism outside the Arab world. But for now, it is just a draft. He explains that the faculty haven't approved it yet.
Aspiring to be a scholar
Nasir aspires to become a scholar upon graduating from UIII. His ambition is to specialize in Muslim societies, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. He observes that the exploration of the religious landscape in this region has primarily been undertaken by foreign scholars, potentially leading to distorted or inadequately assessed narratives.
As a Nigerian-born individual, Nasir feels a sense of responsibility on his shoulders to narrate the scholarly perspectives of his people and homeland in a more comprehensive manner than foreign scholars who may have presented a one-sided story.
"They don't tell the whole narrative; it's just part of the narrative. Often, they emphasize the negative aspects and neglect the positive sides. That's why I aspire to become a scholar of Muslim societies, especially in sub-Saharan Africa," he concluded.