Turkish President celebrates achievements of
the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies
Dr. Mozammel Haque
The President of the Republic of Turkey, HE Abdullah Gul has invited some businessmen, at least 50 people from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Nigeria and Turkey at a dinner on Thursday, 2nd of May, 2013 at Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul, to celebrate the achievements of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies,. Oxford. Dr. Abdullah Omar Nasseef, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford, attended at the dinner to celebrate the OXCIS’s achievements. Dr. Farhan Nizami, the Director of the Centre, was also present.
There were mainly two speeches, the first one by Dr. Farhan Nizami, the Director of the Centre, who introduced the Centre and spoke about how much the Centre needs and President Abdullah Gul supported him. “Farhan Nizami’s speech was very good. He said how much we need and how much left; all these things and the President supported whatever Farhan Nizami has said. After Farhan Nizami finished the President spoke,” said Dr. Naseef in an interview with me.
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. 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 performance 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.
HRH Prince Charles, an heir apparent to the British Throne, hosted a reception at St. James Palace, London, May, last year, 2012, to celebrate the historic achievement of the Centre.
Celebration in Turkey
The President of Turkey HE Abdullah Gul is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Oxford Centre. “He was a member of the Oxford Centre Board of Trustees before he becomes the President; so he continues to be the member,” said Dr. Nasseef.
The brochure, prepared by the organiser of the celebration, was placed at the dinner table. The brochure mentioned how the invited guests would be able to help the Centre in its different programme and in the construction of the new building.
The Centre’s activities and projects rely entirely on the support of its friends around the world. Their vision and generosity have enabled the Centre to develop academic work of the highest standards and to become a globally recognised meeting-place for scholars from East and West. Their support has enabled the construction of new premises for the Centre, but funds are urgently required to finish the project and make it fully operational. The New Building is due to be formally opened in 2014. Thereafter funds are needed to endow new research and teaching posts to make use of the facilities.
Some ways in which you can help to support the work of the Centre:
*Contribute to the remaining construction and fit-out costs of the Centre’s landmark building in central Oxford. It is built to be the highest standards of traditional craftsmanship, and, in its design and detail, it symbolises academic and cultural partnership between East and West.
*Contribute to the Centre’s long-standing ambition to develop a major research programme focussed on Turkey. This programme will bring out Turkey’s historic role as the interface between Asia and Europe, its huge contribution to global civilisation and its lead role and responsibilities in contemporary world affairs.
* Establish a Named Fellowship at the centre to provide in perpetuity a focal point for teaching and research in a specialist or general field.
The Centre’s new building, under construction in the heart of the ancient city, blends the architecture of Oxford Colleges with the forms and styles of the classical period of Islam. It will provide all the necessary facilities for a world class scholarly institution and stand as a Unique symbol of rich, dynamic harmony between two ancient tradition of scholarship.
Background of the Centre
The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies is a Recognised Independent Centre of the University of Oxford. Established in 1985, the Centre encourages, through reading and scholarship, a better understanding of the culture and civilization of Islam and contemporary Muslim societies. The Centre was granted a Royal Charter by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 2012. It is the first academic institution focussed on the study of the Muslim world to be granted such recognition.
About the Centre, it is mentioned in the brochure, HRH The Prince of Wales, the Patron of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, said, “I pay tribute to the work of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and thank those who have supported it so generously. The steady expansion of its academic and students numbers, and its commitment to the creation of a worthy and lasting home for Islamic study among the greatest of the Oxford colleges, is something which brings me great satisfaction and pride.”
Board of Trustees
The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies has very prominent scholars at its Board of Trustees: Dr. Abdullah Omar Nasseef (Chairman), Pehin Abdul Aziz Umar (Vice Chairman), Mr. Khalid Alireza, Professor David Clary, HRH Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Professor Keith Griffin, HE Dr. Abdullah Gul, Mr. Easa Al Gurg, Very Revd Christopher Lewis, Professor Ali Mazrui, HRH Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah, Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al-Sabah, Tun Ahmad Sarji, Dr. Ali Al-Shamlan.
Its Academic excellence
The Centre is committed to the advancement of academic excellence in teaching, research and publication, and to the cultivation of sustained dialogue and cooperation within the global academic community. Operating from its base in Oxford, the international outreach of the Centre has extended to Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.
Professor Andrew Hamilton, FRS, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: “The Centre’s Director and Fellows are deeply embedded within the fabric of the University and make a vibrant contribution to its academic and intellectual life. The Centre draws scholars and other visiting Fellows from around the world and, in its international reach, it also mirrors the international nature of the University of Oxford itself.” It was also mentioned in the brochure.
Its International dialogue
The Centre has created a meeting point for inter-civilizational dialogue and understanding. Statesmen from around the world have participated in its activities and supported its work. Scholars from different traditions of learning have co-operated under its auspices.
About the Centre and its activities and performance, Mr. Nelson Mandela, said: “I leave the Centre confident that we do have the capacity to embark on this shared new voyage of exploration into the next millennium, seeking to build a new world order from which all nations and people shall benefit equally.”
HE President Abdullah Gul, Trustee of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, said, as it was mentioned in the brochure, “I cannot overemphasize the importance of the Centre’s mission. It promotes a sound understanding of Muslim culture and civilization and does so in an inclusive way, engaging scholars from East and West. It plays an influential role at the interface of world cultures, promoting the understanding and dialogue which are so vitally needed in our divided world.”
The Centre’s mission
The Centre is committed to the highest standards of excellence in scholarship. Its Fellows supervise research, and examine for various University faculties and departments, including anthropology, continuing education, economics, history, international relations, oriental studies, politics, and theology.
Research: The Centre promotes advanced research in a range of disciplines. Its Atlas Project, supported by the Leverhulme Trust (UK), the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (USA), and Carnegic Corporation (New York), is devoted to the study of the roots of social and intellectual developments in the Islamic world. Other areas of interest include economic and human development in Muslim societies, Islamic Finance, and the study of Muslims in Britain.
Publications The Centre’s main publications, aside from work published by its Fellows and occasional monographs, are the Journal of Islamic Studies (Oxford University Press, 1990- ), and a series of biographical essays on the Makers of Islamic Civilization (OUP/I.B. Tauris)
Visiting Fellowships: The Centre’s Visiting Fellowship Programme has brought to Oxford scholars from nearly 50 different countries. This helps to create and sustain an international network of personal and institutional links.
A World Forum
The Centre’s Distinguished Visiting Lecture programme has drawn world leaders to speak at Oxford on issues of global significance. Lecturers have included Mr. Nelson Mandela, many heads of government, the Secretaries-General of the UN, the Commonwealth, the Arab League , and the OIC.