Friday, 18 May 2012

Prince Charles hosts reception to celebrate Oxford Centre's historic achievement

Prince Charles hosts reception to celebrate
Oxford Centre’s historic achievement

Dr. Mozammel Haque
HRH Prince Charles, an heir apparent to the British Throne, hosted a reception at St. James Palace, London, on Tuesday, the 15th of May, 2012, to celebrate the historic achievement of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS).

The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies was granted the Royal Charter for its scholarly study of Islam and it has become the first Islamic organisation to receive this honour.

Prince Charles, the patron of the Centre, was joined by 150 guests at the reception including a number of foreign dignitaries and British politicians. It is reported that Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts, Attorney General Dominic Grieve and Minister of State Oliver Let win mingled with the Prime Minister of Malaysia Dato Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak and others. Jack Straw, one of the members of the Centre’s Advisory Committee, also attended the reception.

Royal Charters, granted by the sovereign on the advice of the Privy Council, have a history dating back to the 13th century. They are now normally granted only to bodies that work in the public interest and which can demonstrate pre-eminence, stability and permanence in their particular field.

The University of Oxford, and many of the Oxford Colleges, as well as a number of other leading British academic institutions, are similarly incorporated by Royal Charter.

At the celebrating reception, Prince Charles said, it is reported, “It was ‘absolutely right’ that we should do all we can to nurture an institution which not only promotes a better informed understanding of Islamic culture and civilisation but also reminds both the Islamic world and the West of ‘those timeless, universal principles of harmony enshrined within Islam’”.

“He admitted that ‘many of the potential problems’ he warned of in his speech to the centre in 1993, entitled Islam and the West, has come to pass,” the report said and mentioned, “In that speech he cautioned against sliding ‘into a new era of danger and division because of governments and peoples, communities and religions, cannot live together in peace in a shrinking world.’”

On this auspicious occasion, Dr. Farhan Nizami, CBE, Director of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, issued a press release, saying: “This is a most important and welcome moment and I would like, on this occasion, to thank warmly all those who have encouraged and assisted the Centre’s development over more than 25 years. As well as contributing strongly to the intellectual and academic life of Oxford, by focusing on the study of Muslim culture and civilization, the Centre has developed active global links with leading academic institutions internationally.”

Dr. Nizami mentioned about different programmes of the Centre. “These are underpinned by our scholarship and fellowship programmes, which attract scholars to Oxford from around the world and widen access to those who wish to research and study at Oxford. Many leading international figures, from the academic world and wider public life, have lectured here,” he said in the press release.

Dr. Nizami is confident that the contribution, and importance, of the Centre will grow in the years ahead and that it has the opportunity to make a unique contribution to greater understanding of the Muslim world, and more positive international dialogue, based on strong academic foundations.

The Centre promotes multi-disciplinary teaching, research and publication at Oxford related to Muslim culture and civilization. Its Fellows teach in a range of faculties across the University of Oxford. Through its international outreach, and links with academic institutions worldwide, the Centre provides a meeting place for scholars studying all aspects of contemporary Muslim societies.

The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) is a Recognised Independent Centre of the University of Oxford, founded in 1985. HRH Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, the Centre’s patron, has been enthusiastic supporter since its foundation in 1985. He has twice delivered lectures at the Centre and visited the 3.25 acre site where building work on its new home began work in 2002. Prince Charles took a prominent part in the design of the Islamic garden.

Dr. Naseef, the chairman of the Centre
expressed his satisfaction
Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, the chairman of the Centre’s Board of Trustees, who came from Saudi Arabia to attend the reception hosted by The Prince of Wales, expressed his satisfaction and said to me, “This is very good news. This shows that the British government, the Queen, and the whole state are very much aware that the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies is doing very well to make relations between the Islamic world and the Western world closer and to bring Islam and its role in the international arena.”

He said, “There is now this general awareness that we are now become one small village. Every nation, every culture and every religion has to co-exist with others; to cooperate, to try to bring better harmony. By honouring this Royal Charter to the centre makes it a British organisation.”

Referring to this historic achievement of the Centre, Dr. Naseef said, “It is really the collective work of the whole of the Board of Trustees and the Director General of the Centre, Dr. Farhan Nizami, to approach governments and organisations mainly to contribute and it is well said that Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Late King Fahd and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah, had contributed great deal, may be the majority of the funds came from them. We don’t deny that there was big funds also came from Kuwait; from Emirates; from the Sultanate of Oman. But you know the support gradually built up by the hard work of 27 years or more of the centre under the chairmanship of late Maulana Hassan Nadwi (popularly known as Ali Mia) started at that time to meet people.”

Background of the foundation of the Centre
The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies was set up in 1985 when Dr. Naseef was the Secretary General of the Makkah-based Rabita Al-Alam Al-Islami (Muslim World League). Late Maulana Hassan Nadwi was the first chairman of the Centre’s Board of Trustees and Dr. Naseef was a member of the Board along with others.

I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Naseef who has been associated with the Oxford Centre from the very beginning and a great supporter of the Centre. In the beginning Dr. Naseef was a member of the Board of Trustees; then he became the vice-chairman and now chairman. Recollecting those days, Dr. Naseef said, “When I was Secretary General of the Rabita, Dr. Farhan Nizami came with a big ambitious project. Alhamdo lillah, it came through and it was a big dream for him and for us. It’s a blessing of Allah the Almighty. He had made it to come through.”

“Maulana Hasan Nadwi came to visit Rabita, the first chairman and then met the Late King Fahd and told him about the centre that this is the centre in the heart of colleges in Oxford. Historically, it is very important and the Late King Fahd gave the support, Alhamdo Lillah,” Dr. Naseef said.

Dr. Naseef attended Centenary
Celebration of Scouting in Lebanon
Dr. Naseef, the former President of the Jeddah-based King Abdulaziz University and also the former Deputy Chairman of the Shoura Council of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a great social worker and philanthropist. He is presently the Secretary General of the Cairo-based International Islamic Centre for Dawah and Relief (IICDR). I got an opportunity to interview him while he was in London about his activities.

Last March, Dr. Naseef met the Prime Minister of Lebanon during the 100 years celebration of scouting. Speaking about his visit, Dr. Naseef said, “I met the Prime Minister of Lebanon. There was a series of celebration for one year now to show that the scouting was started from Lebanon throughout the Arab countries. We were there for two days and there was big cerebration and we saw the people really dedicated scouts of all religions of great. They are very very happy to show us their history. This celebration of the centenary in the Arab world will continue and there will be Arab Jamboree in Lebanon in the coming August.”

Scouting was started in Lebanon in 1912. The celebration of the centenary was started earlier in the beginning of this year 2012. But Dr. Naseef went there to attend the big function in March. “It was really very amazing how the people are working hard to achieve scouting,” said Dr. Naseef

Dr. Naseef met President of Uganda in February
Earlier in February, Dr. Naseef headed a Task Force of the Organisation of Islamic Cohesion (OIC) to meet the President of Uganda in connection with the Islamic University of Uganda. Dr. Naseef said, “The President of Uganda was complaining about the University and we saw him and told him that the University is really one of the best universities in the Muslim world. It has delivering a very valuable job. And I think he was satisfied.”

“I was delegated this authority by the OIC Secretary General who asked me to go for that mission to Uganda,” Dr. Naseef said.

This Task Force was formed by the OIC to support the Islamic University of Uganda and to show the President that he should be fully satisfied by that the university is doing very well.

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