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Facing Learning Challenges through Spiritual Connection with Allah among

Students of the Faculty of Islamic Studies – Fakulti Pengajian Islam (FPI),


Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

ROSMAWATI MOHAMAD RASIT¹*, SALASIAH HANIN HAMJAH¹*, ZAINAB


ISMAIL¹* DAN ERMY AZZIATY ROZALI²*
¹*Jabatan Pengajian Dakwah dan Kepimpinan, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi
Malaysia
²*Jabatan Arab dan Ketamadunan Islam, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi
Malaysia

Abstract

The study was based on a survey research design. Data were collected from 291
undergraduate students enrolled as full-time students in the second and third year of the
Faculty of Islamic Studies, UKM using questionnaires. Data collected were analyzed and
interpreted with inferential statistics. The purpose of the study was to identify the
relationship between learning challenges and students’ spiritual connection with Allah.
The present study was also carried out to determine whether gender can be the factor for
the PNGK (CGPA – Cumulative Grade Point Average), learning challenges and students’
spirituality in connection with Allah. The Pearson correlation showed that all the seven
items of students’ spiritual connection with Allah were positively correlated with learning
challenges. There was a moderate positive significance relationship between learning
challenges and the items of solat lima waktu – five daily obligatory solah* (r=0.424;
p<0.01) and membaca al-Quran – reciting the Quran (r=0.471; p<0.01). Hence, the
MANOVA test analysis was done to dependent variables which generally showed that
there were significant differences between both genders in terms of students’ spiritual
connection with Allah [F(1,4.070, p<0.05)] and their CGPA [F(1,4.522, p<0.05)]. These
results indicated that the gender of the students in this study was a significant factor and it
influenced both their CGPA and spiritual connection with Allah.

*Note: “Solah” is an Arabic word which means the practice of formal prayer of Islam
with a prescribed sequence of actions and words.

Keywords: learning motivation, learning challenges, spiritual connection with Allah,

Inferential statistics, pearson correlation

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INTRODUCTION

There are students who could improve their learning motivation when they maintain a

good relationship with Allah swt. These students are convinced that doing the qiyam al-

lail (late-night solah after waking up during the night) could give them success and

improve their learning motivation according to the command of Allah that tells them to

seek knowledge. This could be proved by the experience of Nik Nur Madihah Nik Mohd

Kamal (2009) who was the SPM Best Student of Malaysia, scoring 20 A’s. She said that

one of the reasons for her success in her studies was observing a good connection with

Allah. She always maintained the good connection with Allah by doing good practices

such as performing the obligatory solah at the early times, purifying the heart of

mazmumah (despicable) qualities, doing the qiyam al-lail (tahajjud, hajat, taubat and

istikharah)1, fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, performing the dhuha solah2, making

solawat (du’a for the peace and blessings upon Prophet Muhammad) 1,000 times every

day and eating halal (Islamically fit, proper and permissible) foods that are free from

suspicious ingredients.

There were many research studies conducted that proved the existence of a

significant relationship between religiosity and academic performance (Park & Bonner

2008; Dollahite & Marks 2005; McCullough & Willoughby 2009). The study done by

Dollahite & Marks (2005) found that religious (Christian) students were more inclined to

have a close relationship with their families and parents. The factor of being religious

also led to better academic performance. This was corroborated by the study done by

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Mccullough & Willoughby (2009) that clearly explained the role of religion in helping an

individual’s self-control.

Studies on gender differences in improving motivation and academic learning

were much done (Rusillo et.al 2004; Wehrwein et.al 2007; Ananda Kumar 2005; Busch

1995). According to Ananda Kumar (2005), the gender influence was identified as the

factor that influenced academic performance. The number of differences in the academic

performance of male and female students at the school level made an impact on the

students’ enrollment in IPTA – Institut Pengajian Tinggi Awam (Public Institutions of

Higher Learning) and it was proven when the total intake of female students throughout

the country exceeded 70 percent recently (Anon. 2009). The study done by Busch (1995)

on gender differences in terms of self-efficacy and academic performance showed that

there were significant differences of self-efficacy according to gender but on the other

hand, academic performance did not show significant differences between male and

female students.

Note: 1.“Tahajjud”,“hajat”, “taubat” and “istikharah”are types of solah performed for waking

up for the qiyam al-lail, asking Allah to fulfil one’s wish, repenting and making a

critical decision respectively.

2. Dhuha solah is another type of solah performed basically between sunrise and noon.

The word al-falah (success) clearly portrays Islam as encouraging its followers to

achieve success. In this context, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (Most Noble, Most Exalted)

encourages His servants to be successful people (muflihun) and this is repeated twelve

times in the Quran. The Quran motivates the Muslims to become successful people

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among whom are those who have been given Allah’s guidance (al-Baqarah 2:5), those

enjoining right conduct and forbidding indecency (Ali-Imran 3:104), those fighting or

struggling in the path of Allah (al-Taubah 9 :88), those who are obedient to Allah and His

Prophet (al-Nur 24:51), those allowed to enter Paradise as a result of their good deeds

that weighed heavier (on the Scales) (al-Mukminun 23:102), and those who have taqwa

(fear of Allah) (al-Taghabun 64 :16). All these verses clearly show that Islam does not

teach its followers to go towards failure, but to make every effort to be successful in this

world and in the hereafter.

STUDY OBJECTIVES

This study was based on two main objectives:

1. To determine the relation between learning challenges and spiritual connection

with Allah among students of FPI, UKM.

2. To identify whether gender is the factor for CGPA, spiritual connection with

Allah and learning challenges among students of FPI, UKM.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

This study is in the form of a survey that uses the instrument of questionnaire to get the

desired information. The selection of this survey design involved correlation research to

determine the significant relation between learning challenges and spiritual connection

with Allah. The MANOVA test was also used to identify the relation and significant

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differences between CGPA, spiritual connection with Allah and learning challenges

based on gender. This study was carried out in the Faculty of Islamic Studies (Fakulti

Pengajian Islam), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. The research population was selected

from among students of the Islamic Studies Faculty as the faculty has a rather large

number of students which is a criterion of the sample.

A systematic sampling technique was chosen to determine the research sample.

The research population consisted of students who were studying at FPI in year 2 and

year 3. To determine the desired sample size, the Sample Size Table for the Krejcie &

Morgan Study (1971) is referred to. 291 students were selected at the interval of 2 from

the students namelist as the research sample out of the entire population of 715 students.

The pioneer study was carried out on 29 students who represented the population’s

characteristics to see the reliability of the research instrument. Overall, the value of the

alpha cronbach item is 0.908. This value is acceptable.

DATA ANALYSIS

Data were analyzed by means of inferential statistics. The Pearson correlation test was

used to find the relation between learning challenges and spiritual connection with Allah.

The MANOVA test, in turn, was used to determine the relation and difference between

CGPA, spiritual connection with Allah and learning challenges based on gender.

RESEARCH FINDINGS

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Relationship between Learning Challenges and Spiritual Connection with Allah

To determine whether there is a significant relationship between learning challenges and

spiritual connection with Allah, the following hypothesis was put forward:

H1 : There is significant relationship between learning challenges and spiritual

connection with Allah among students of FPI, UKM.

Table 1 shows the Pearson Correlation test that was carried out to determine the

relationship between independent variables namely learning challenges and dependent

variables (spiritual connection with Allah). The analysis results show that all items of

spiritual connection with Allah have a relationship with learning challenges among

students. This shows that students use the factor of spiritual connection with Allah as

their way of facing learning challenges. The items “observing the 5 daily obligatory

solah” (r=0.424; p<0.01) and “reciting the Quran” (r=0.471; p<0.01) are the items of

spiritual connection with Allah that have fairly strong positive relationships.

Table 1: Relationship between Learning Challenges and Spiritual Connection with Allah

Variable Value r P
Spiritual Connection with Allah
-Starting learning sessions with du’a (supplication) 0.295** 0.000
-Observing the 5 daily obligatory solah 0.424** 0.000
-Performing solah hajat/Qiyam al-lail 0.346** 0.000
-Reciting the Quran 0.471** 0.000
-Leaving everything to Allah after every effort 0.387** 0.000
-Having a sense of shame and thus feeling shy with 0.361** 0.000

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Allah if failed in studies
-Being pleased with Allah 0.280** 0.000
-Being thankful to Allah 0.370** 0.000
**Significance at a level of 0.01

Relationships and Differences between Gender and CGPA, Spiritual Connection

with Allah and Learning Challenges

H2 : There are significant relationships and differences between gender and learning

challenges, spiritual connection with Allah and CGPA among Students of FPI,

UKM.

To determine the relationships and differences between gender and learning challenges,

spiritual connection with Allah and the CGPA among students of FPI, UKM, the

MANOVA analysis was used.

Overall, the results of the Multivariate Pillai’s Trace tests (Table 2) showed that

there were gender effects on the three significant research variables [F(3,11.504,

p<0.05)]. Based on these analysis results, the researcher rejected the study’s null

hypothesis and reported that overall, gender was the factor that influenced the CGPA,

spiritual connection with Allah and learning challenges among students of FPI, UKM.

Table 2: Multivariate Pillai’s Trace Tests(b) for Gender Effects on CGPA, Spiritual

Connection with Allah and Learning Challenges

Effect Value F Hypothesis Error df Sig

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df
Intercept Pillai's Trace .995 15786.298(a) 3.000 255.000 .000
Wilks' Lambda .005 15786.298(a) 3.000 255.000 .000
Hotelling's Trace 185.721 15786.298(a) 3.000 255.000 .000
Roy's Largest Root 185.721 15786.298(a) 3.000 255.000 .000
Gender Pillai's Trace .119 11.504(a) 3.000 255.000 .000
Wilks' Lambda .881 11.504(a) 3.000 255.000 .000
Hotelling's Trace .135 11.504(a) 3.000 255.000 .000
Roy's Largest Root .135 11.504(a) 3.000 255.000 .000
a Exact statistic

b Design: Intercept+Gender

The analysis of the MANOVA test (Table 3) was done to dependent variables in which it

generally showed that there were significant variables between both genders (male and female),

only in terms of CGPA [F(1,4.522, p<0.05)] and spiritual connection with Allah [F(1,4.070,

p<0.05)]. These results showed that the gender of an Islamic Studies student in this research

influenced his or her CGPA and spiritual connection with Allah. However, there were no

significant differences between learning challenges and the gender factor. In other words, the

repondents’ learning challenges [F(1, .854, p>0.05)] could not be differentiated through the

gender factor.

Table 3: Levene’s Test of Equality of Error Variances(a)

Variable F Df1 Df2 Sig.


Latest CGPA 4.522 1 257 .034
Spiritual Connection 4.070 1 257 .045
Learning Challenges .854 1 257 .356
Levine’s Test which tests the null hypothesis that the error variance of the dependent
variable is equal across groups.
a Design: Intercept+Gender

By referring to the mean value (Table 4) of each dependent variable across both genders,

it was found that the CGPA of male respondents in this study’s population was lower (Mean

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score: Male = 3.1770; Female = 3.3701) than that of female respondents. Similarly, for the

dependent variable of spiritual connection with Allah, it was found that male respondents showed

a much lower mean score (Mean score: Male = 32.9231; Female = 34.4643) compared to female

respondents.

Table 4: Descriptive Statistics for Communication Skills of Both Genders

Gender Mean Std. Deviation N


Latest CGPA Male 3.1770 .32777 91
Female 3.3701 .26128 168
Total 3.3023 .30033 259
Spiritual connection with Male 32.9231 4.16662 91
Allah Female 34.4643 3.31372 168
Total 33.9228 3.70232 259
Learning challenges Male 56.7473 6.10754 91
Female 57.2321 5.70846 168
Total 57.0618 5.84457 259

The gender factor contributed only 9.1 percent to the FPI, UKM students’ CGPA and 3.6

percent to their spiritual connection with Allah (Table 5). This shows that even though there was

a significant relationship between gender and the FPI, UKM students’ CGPA and their spiritual

connection with Allah. Therefore, there were other factors that contributed to their CGPA and

spiritual connection with Allah.

Table 5: Tests of Between-Subjects Effects

Type III Sum


Source Dependent Variable of Squares df Mean Square F Sig.
Corrected Model Latest CGPA 2.201(a) 1 2.201 26.852 .000
Spiritual connection 140.208(b) 1 140.208 10.610 .001
Learning challenges 13.878(c) 1 13.878 .405 .525
Intercept Latest CGPA 2530.228 1 2530.228 30863.443 .000
Spiritual connection 268045.073 1 268045.073 20283.442 .000

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Learning challenges 766837.971 1 766837.971 22397.360 .000
A3 Latest CGPA 2.201 1 2.201 26.852 .000
Spiritual connection 140.208 1 140.208 10.610 .001
Learning challenges 13.878 1 13.878 .405 .525
Error Latest CGPA 21.069 257 .082
Spiritual connection 3396.247 257 13.215
Learning challenges 8799.133 257 34.238
Total Latest CGPA 2847.709 259
Spiritual connection 301582.000 259
Learning challenges 852129.000 259
Corrected Total Latest CGPA 23.271 258
Spiritual connection 3536.456 258
Learning challenges 8813.012 258
a R Squared = .095 (Adjusted R Squared = .091)
b R Squared = .040 (Adjusted R Squared = .036)
c R Squared = .002 (Adjusted R Squared = -.002)

SUMMARY AND SUGGESTION

In conclusion, the Pearson correlation analysis of the spiritual connection with Allah

through routine practices as a Muslim such as making du’a, performing solah, reciting

the Quran, qiyam al-lail, leaving everything to Allah after every effort, having a sense of

shame and thus feeling shy with Allah, being pleased with Allah for everything and being

thankful to Allah proved the difference of the way in which Islamic Studies students

faced learning challenges. The existence of the significant relationships between all the

items of spiritual connection with Allah showed the direct influence of religious life in

facing learning challenges among Islamic Studies students. The findings of this study

proved that as Islamic Studies students, they maintained their connection with Allah

especially while they were facing challenges in their studies.

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As for the MANOVA analysis, it proved that the difference in gender truly

influenced students’ academic performance. It was proved by female students’ CGPA

which was higher than that of male students. This shows the more outstanding academic

performance of female students in universities compared to male students. The same goes

for the spiritual connection with Allah – female students have a higher level of spiritual

connection with Allah compared to male students.

Yet the results of this study, through the MANOVA analysis, also suggested that

future research studies should be carried out in order to do research on other factors that

influence the three dependent variables namely the spiritual connection with Allah,

learning challenges and the CGPA apart from the gender factor. This is because almost

85 percent of the changes in these dependent variables cannot be identified. As such, the

researcher suggests that further research should use factors of other profiles to study the

effects on the CGPA, spiritual connection with Allah and learning challenges.

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