Monday, April 13, 2015

Conference on Education - Morocco ‘14

(c) Jibreel Delgado 2014

From December 5th to the 6th, 2014, IIIT in Morocco cosponsored an event along with Abdelmalek Essaadi University, the Graduate School for Teaching in Tetouan, the Moroccan Center for Studies and Educational Research, and the Values and Knowledge Research Group. The name of the event was The International Symposium on Higher Education and Scientific Research in Islamic Studies: A Forward-Looking Vision in Light of Contemporary Transformations. Scholars from Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, France, Algeria, Tunisia, as well as Morocco, participated in the symposium. The conference consisted of five sessions over the span of two days with discussions regarding developments in Islamic higher education throughout the Muslim world as well as Europe.

Dr. Umar Kasule, General Secretary of the IIIT gave a talk in the opening session of the symposium on the importance of organizing such gatherings where scholars and teachers can share their experiences in the hopes of progress in the field of Islamic education. He also gave a talk, in one of the sessions on international experiences in the formation and research in Islamic Studies, about the experience of the IIIT with the International Islamic University in Malaysia. In the same session, Dr. Toufic Awji, Director of the Center for the Study of Knowledge and Civilization in Lebanon, spoke of the experiences of the IIIT in the formation of the Master’s Program in Contemporary Islamic Thought at the University of Beirut.

Awards were also given out to several leading figures in the field of Islamic education, including Dr. Fathi Malkawi, Regional Director of the IIIT in Jordan. Dr. Malkawi also gave a talk at the first session on general trends and insights on Islamic Studies.  The conference closed with a tour of the historic city of Tetouan in northern Morocco, a place known for its long history of Islamic scholarship.

One rather disconcerting episode of the conference occurred during the opening panel when all those seated on stage were given a moment to speak except for the one female scholar. When it seemed to be her turn, a guest from Saudi Arabia seated in the front row arose and walked up to a nearby podium to speak for the next ten minutes about his understanding of Islamic higher education.

I was also dismayed to find there was not a single representative from the US invited to speak about the state of Islamic Studies in our little corner of the world. Dr. Khalid Samadi, the Director of the Moroccan Center for Educational Studies and Research, declined to comment on either matter.

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