The theme chosen for the 3rd ICIHE is “The Role of Awqaf (“Endowment”) in the Development of Islamic Higher Education: the Past, the Present, and Future Prospects.” It is a follow-up to the theme of the 2nd ICIHE “The Empowerment of Muslim Communities in Private Higher Education.” Although the issue of the importance of awqaf to Muslim higher education was raised during the 2nd ICIHE, it was not then sufficiently discussed, since it was not the main objective of that conference. Accordingly, in order to do full justice to this very significant subject of Muslim concern, the 3rd ICIHE is to be devoted entirely to discussions of awqaf in its specific relation to the development of Muslim higher education.
The greater part of traditional Muslim education at all levels, including the tertiary, owes its origin, development, and progress to the awqaf institution. The famous Al-Azhar University in Cairo, founded in 970 CE, is an excellent example of an awqaf-funded Muslim higher education institution that was later to serve as a model for many private Western universities. The first degree-granting university in the world, the University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fes, Morocco, founded in 245 AH/859 CE by a woman, Fatimah Fihriyyah, was similarly financed by its waqf revenues. In short, awqaf played a central role in the birth of the modern university.
It is extremely important for the contemporary Muslim ummah to revive the best of past Islamic traditions in envisioning and realizing the central role of awqaf in the development of the ummah’s education, particularly at the college and university levels. There is a real need to re-examine the awqaf tradition as a source of societal values and as an institution in the light of contemporary challenges facing the ummah in the field of education. It is with this awareness that the organizers of the 3rd ICIHE consider the choice of the role of awqaf in the development of Islamic higher education as its theme as most appropriate to the ummah’s current societal needs. The main hope is that the conference will help to break new grounds and chart new directions in Muslim thinking and practices on awqaf-based higher education.
Speakers and delegates from various countries were among the participants including from Bosnia-Herzegovina, India, Jordan, Egypt, UAE, Turkey, USA, South Africa, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Saudi Arabia,. The South African delegates attended: Shaykh M Ighsaan Taliep (Rector of the International Peace College & Vice President of the Muslim Judicial Council, Cape Town; Br Zeinoul Abedien Cajee & Sr Amina Cajee (Awqaf SA)
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