Muhd Nur Hidayat Bin Amir, 28, was previously involved in dealing with multi-million dollar lawsuits at one of the Big 4 law firms in Singapore, but soon felt a yearning to do something meaningful and contribute to the community.
He is now a Deputy Public Prosecutor (“DPP”) at the Attorney General's Chambers (“AGC”), an institution playing the role of a Government Legal Adviser, Public Prosecutor and Drafter of Laws.
As a Deputy Public Prosecutor, he performs a myriad of roles in relation to the criminal justice system: amongst others, evaluating evidence secured by law enforcement agencies to assess whether an offence is disclosed, conducting trials in the State Courts and representing the State in Magistrate’s Appeal in the High Court.
Hidayat’s father is a retired chauffeur while his mother is a housewife. He grew up in a family of 6, living in a four-room HDB flat. Though he came from a humble background, he says that he has never considered himself to be underprivileged. He explains that he was privileged to have been born into a strong and supportive family. He recalls his parents saying yes without question to every single one of his requests growing up, as long as they are related to his educational needs. All other priorities were rendered secondary.
“Every day, without fail, my dad would bring home English newspapers from his workplace, apparently left by some anonymous strangers (God bless whoever left them there), and we would read them. I am privileged to have the best support system in my family and in the community and I recognize that there are others out there who might be far more brilliant and talented, but may not come from the best family background.”
Hidayat says that a Deputy Public Prosecutor is at the end of the day a mere temporary “title” that he is privileged to assume. He credits, amongst others, his teachers from Madrasah Irsyad Zuhri Al-Islamiah for guiding him to where he is today.
“The message I got from my experience in madrasah is that no matter where you go and no matter what you decide to do in life, it is on us to do it with excellence. Because that is the amanah expected of you. In my court submissions, I bear in mind that no matter how tired you are, no matter how heavy the workload, you always try to execute it as excellent as you can.”
He says that he was, at first, an average student.
“Only towards the end of my secondary school years did I realize that I owe it to my parents and the community to do well. Having received money from Lembaga Biasiswa Kenangan Maulud (LBKM), I felt that the donors deserved to have their money well spent and well-invested.”
Furthermore, as private educational institutions, madrasahs are co-funded by the community, their stakeholders and Muis, with money raised from fundraising and donation drives.
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Hidayat worked hard to become the top 'O' Level Student and valedictorian of Madrasah Irsyad Zuhri Al-Islamiah. He was awarded the Anugerah MENDAKI, an award given annually to honour Singapore Muslim students who have done exceptionally well in national examinations. He was also the first Madrasah student to have enrolled in National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Law (NUS Law).
Despite his achievements, Hidayat shared his internal experience of feeling inadequate.
“There is always the feeling like I’ve just been lucky and that my luck will run out.”
When Hidayat was applying for a place at NUS Law, another challenge he faced was not knowing any contacts who could help him prepare for the application process.
“I didn’t know what kind of essays to expect, what kind of interviews that I will be going for. I went to the interview equipped with all the information I got from the NUS website.”
On the other hand, he found out that students from the top JCs had resources and tips to guide them through the process.
To cope with difficulties, Hidayat reminds himself of Surah Al-Baqarah:
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِى عَنِّى فَإِنِّى قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا۟ لِى وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا۟ بِى لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ
“And when My servants ask you, (O Muhammad), concerning Me - indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me (by obedience) and believe in Me that they may be (rightly) guided.”
(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:186)
“I remember thinking about how the verse mentioned the word ‘iza’”.
'Iza' means 'When' as per the translation of the verse. It reminds him that Allah s.w.t. is in a continual state of being ready to answer when the servants approach Him.
“At His Most High, the servants can reach out to Him, and he would respond. No matter the time, no matter the gap between Allah and His servants, He would respond. You just need to ask for it. I know that even in my difficulties, He’ll bring me through it.”
Hidayat was finally accepted by NUS Law after two years. On top of excelling academically, he was also a quarter-finalist at the International Criminal Moot Court Competition at the Hague. He was the inaugural recipient of the Professor Ahmad Ibrahim Scholarship issued by the Lembaga Biasiswa Kenangan Maulud (“LBKM”). Aside from law activities, he also served as President at the National University of Singapore Muslim Society (NUSMS) and was the champion of the Muslim Youth Debate Competition (Individual All-Stars Category) held by Youth Of Darul Arqam "("YODA").
Hidayat smiled as he mentioned that it was through NUSMS that he met his wife, Dr Amalina Ridzuan, one of the first two madrasah students to be accepted by NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in 2015. Dr Amalina Ridzuan was then the Vice-President of NUSMS.
To Hidayat, success is about putting in one’s own version of one’s best effort.
“You can be pursuing careers that society might not, perhaps, have considered as the most elite, such as a grab driver or a chauffeur like my dad was, but if you put your heart into the jobs that you do, then that is already a success. My dad is a success in my eyes because no matter how long the working hours, he would do his best to ensure that he does justice to his job.”
He also feels that, while there is a need to re-define the societal definition of what is considered a success, it remains one's duty to uplift segments of the community who might have slipped through the cracks of mainstream meritocracy and to pay it forward. To support his juniors, Hidayat volunteered as the head of Maxima, an afterschool mentoring programme for madrasah students who are taking their 'O' Level Examinations. He also took part in various programmes organised by Mendaki to introduce students to the legal industry, such as the re-work: programme which was just recently held.
“That’s one of the reasons why I did this interview. I would like young students to know that there is a senior they can approach if they need guidance in their journeys.”
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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our madrasahs' fundraising activities have been badly affected. OurMadrasah.SG is a Public Education & Fundraising portal developed to support them and tide them through these trying times.
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