Fatima Hamdulay


How do we engender excellence? Malcolm Gladwell popularised the notion of a “Tipping Point” – little things that make a big difference and move to a point where the social phenomenon gains traction that is virus-like – it becomes deeply infectious. However, what are the things we should be driving to the tipping point in an Islamic system of governance where excellence, or iḥsān, is a key requirement? The Qur<ānic narrative on iḥsān emphasises kindness to parents. A field-based study of ‘Operational Iḥsān’ amongst pre-recognised top tier educators in Brunei’s public schooling system strongly affirms and heightens this component of the Qur<ānic narrative. These discoveries, both Qur<ānic and lived, manifest a simple, but deeply implicative promise – fostering kindness to parents may be an untapped well from which to feed excellence. This paper explores why this might be the case, and what the implications of such an understanding for policy design and delivery, whether at the governmental or organisational level.

Keywords: Excellence, iḥsān, Islamic management, Qur<ānic analysis, educators