MACCPAC-TFI YLR: A Week of Bonding and Personal Growth
By Maryam Sinanovic
This year’s MACCPAC-TFI Youth Leadership Retreat held on August 2nd 2015 - August 7th 2015 was a huge success! The vibrant and lively dynamic of the participants from the US and Canada enjoyed workshops and speakers from different organizations throughout the week.
From speakers like Robert McCaw, Government Affairs Manager from CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) to Sarah Cochran, Director for the State of Virginia at Emerge USA, students learned ways and acquired skills to politically empower themselves as well as their communities to protect and enforce their constitutional rights. Hoda Hawa and Riham Osman from MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) also came to illustrate the importance of active citizenship and civic engagement in the local community.
Besides discussing government affairs and policies, students were also exposed to different NGOs, such as the Muslim Justice League, UNRWA USA (the non-profit arm of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees), Islamic Relief, and Green Muslims. Here, students learned how they can actively engage in the Muslim community and remain cognizant, while still contributing positively to the American society as a whole.
Students were not only exposed on how to engage within their community, but also on how to engage between other communities as well. Farhanahz Ellis from ADAMS center came to express the importance of interfaith and civic engagement. She focused on how to open dialogue with other communities and find common good to unify all. Corey Saylor, Director of the Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia at CAIR, came to discuss on how to engage and be an effective communicator with the media.
Apart from the workshops and lectures from speakers, students were able to see the applicability of the skills and concepts they learned during the day through the site visits that were held in the afternoon. From speaking with Wael Alkhairo, the Executive Director of the ADAMS Center, to Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, the Director of Community Outreach for the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, students were able to have an exclusive experience on how they can formulate their own initiatives within their community.
The last two days were spent at Washington DC, where students were able to have one on one experience, meeting with Rumana Ahmed, Zaid Hassan, and other Congress members offices at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
The retreat concluded with graduation on the Hill, and site visit of the Capitol.
Summer Student Program, Graduation 2015
By Amina Derbi
The graduation ceremony at IIIT’s al-Faruqi library was bittersweet as the Summer Student Program drew to a close on June 16, 2015. While students and instructors were thrilled with the academic progress they had achieved together, a twinge of sadness filled the halls of IIIT as it was time to say good bye. What makes the Summer Student Program so special, apart from the excellent professors and amazing students, is the exhilarating bond which forms among the students. In the words of the SSP Student Speaker and IIIT Student Research Fellowship recipient, Nancy A. Khalil (Ph.D. student, Harvard University), the group truly became a family. As the SSP Student Speaker, Khalil highlighted that there was so much hidden talent in the room and so many amazing voices who deserved to be heard in future scholarship. Khalil then passed on the floor to Fatima Siwaju (MA student, Syracuse University), also a IIIT Student Research Fellowship recipient, so they could thank IIIT on behalf of all students for their positive experiences during the program.
Just yesterday, students gave their final presentations to select IIIT staff including Dr. Ermin Sinanovic (Director of TFI), Mr. Saber Al-Kilany (Library Director of IIIT), and Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub (Chair of IIIT Summer Institute for Scholars). Participants presented on a mélange of topics ranging from Sufism, Salafism, and everything in between. After rigorous diligence and dedication, they earned their Certificates of Completion for this year’s IIIT Summer Student Program which were presented by the Executive Director of IIIT, Dr. Abubaker Al-Shingieti, and the Director of TFI, Dr. Ermin Sinanovic.
The following students were recognized for their achievements:
Hina Anwar Ali
Nancy A. Khalil
Abdul Rahman Latif
Muhammad Ahmad Munir
Mohammad Waqas Sajjad
Thomas Wright Sullivan
The third IIIT Student Research Fellowship recipient was Muhammad Ahmad Munir (Ph.D. student, McGill University). The IIIT Student Research Fellowship is reserved for the top performers in all core courses within the program. Students had to excel in Methods in the Study of Islam, Qu’ran, Sunnah, Islamic Constitutionalism, Islamic Finance, Islamic Jurisprudence, Contemporary Islamic Thought, Muslim History and Civilization, Reform Movements in South Asia, and within their area of independent study. Two students, Farah Zahra (MA student, Harvard Divinity School) and Najah Nadi (D.Phil. student, Oxford University), received honorable mention for their exceptional academic contributions. All students successfully fulfilled the requirements of this challenging and intellectually stimulating program while making friendships and connections which will last a lifetime. It was clear to see that the graduation ceremony may have been the closing chapter of this year’s Summer Student Program, but it was only the beginning of a lifelong bond which students could experience as brothers and sisters in intellectual and spiritual rejuvenation.
SSP Students Present Their Research Proposals to a Panel of Scholars
Diverse Thoughts and Conclusions on Common Ground
By Amina Derbi
After two weeks of rigorous course work, reading, and discussion at IIIT’s Summer Student Program, all 18 participants were ready to present their proposals for their research paper proposals. The students presented to a panel of five professors: Dr. Ermin Sinanovic (Director of Research and Academic Programs), Dr. Jonathan Brown (Georgetown University), Dr. Feryal Salem (Hartford Seminary), Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub (Chair of IIIT Summer Institute for Scholars), and Dr. SherAli Tareen (IIIT Resident Scholar). Each instructor offered constructive feedback after each presentation.
The topics were as diverse as the students themselves. Some chose to focus on the relationship between Islam and democracy as well as that between religious identity and foreign policy. Others focused on the environmental history of Islam, Ibn Qayyim, Sufism, Jihad as a means for peaceful resistance, the Arabization of Islamic cultures, Neo-Ottomanism, and the Black Experience of Islam. Some chose to present on Muslim aesthetics and education, canonization, the Salafi representation of Muslim women, popular versus official Islam, and the controversy over the Mawlid. There were also students who presented on the hot topics of ISIS’s distorted view when approaching scripture and religious pluralism.
The literature students used came from a vast amount of resources and disciplines within the humanities such as anthropology, philosophy, Islamic studies, and history. A consistent question brought up during the presentations was “who speaks for Islam?”. It is a question which scholars will continue to pose as history progresses and society faces new challenges. No matter the circumstances, IIIT will be at the forefront of addressing these issues from an academic perspective in order to work towards a better world for all.
Summer Students Program 2015 Kicks off on a High Note
2015 Summer Students Program
By Saulat Pervez
Animated chatter about university experiences, research interests, and future aspirations descended on the IIIT offices on the morning of May 18th, 2015. The excitement in the air was palpable as students began arriving and familiarizing themselves with one another.
IIIT is currently hosting 18 students from various universities in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom for its ninth annual Summer Students Program (SSP). It will run from May 18th, 2015, through June 16th, 2015.
The Opening Ceremony was held on May 18th and was attended by various instructors as well as IIIT staff along with the students. Dr. Ermin Sinanović, Director of Research and Academic Programs, opened the session by welcoming the students. Dr. Abubaker al-Shingieti, Executive Director, addressed the students and explained the conceptual origins of SSP, a residential program which enables students to intensively delve into Islamic studies while at the same time creating a network among their peers and IIIT.
The students, then, began their introductions, shining light on their backgrounds and factors that attracted them to SSP. Not only do these students come from myriad universities such as University of Michigan, Indiana University, Harvard University, Duke University, Columbia University, McGill University, among others, they also hail from diverse countries, including Iran, Bangladesh, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Trinidad and Tobago, and, of course, the United States.
Dr. Yaqub Mirza, President and CEO of Sterling Management Group, Prof. John Voll, Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University, and Dr. Jonathan Brown, of Georgetown University, were also present and spoke to the students about their expectations as teachers. The students will also be taught by Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina, IIIT Chair at George Mason University, and Dr. Jasser Auda, Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the Center of Islamic Legislation and Ethics, Qatar Foundation.
At the end of the Opening Ceremony, Dr. Ermin announced that outstanding performers will be awarded fellowship grants for the upcoming academic year. The students then took a tour of the IIIT office, classrooms, and libraries, and had lunch together with their instructors and IIIT staff.
After Dhuhr prayers, the students eagerly filed into their very first class, Muslim History and Civilization, with Prof. John Voll, and officially began their rigorous academic regimen.
You can read more about the Summer Student Program by clicking here.
Faith Based Community Development Course: Promoting Healthy Marriage and preventing Divorce in Our Communities
TFI hosted a course on Promoting Healthy Marriage and Preventing Divorce in our Communities in partnership with IKRAM, The Foundation for Empowerment of Muslim Women, and KARAMAH, Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, on May 9, 2015.
Attendees participating in the workshop had the chance to engage in role playing excercises to better understand how to resolve conflicts peacefully between married couples. The course was taught by Dr. Amr Abdalla. the Senior Advisor on Policy Analysis and Research at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) of Addis Ababa University. In 2013-2014, he was Vice President of SALAM Institute for Peace and Justice in Washington, D.C. From 2004-2013 he was Professor, Dean and Vice Rector at the United Nations-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) in Costa Rica. Prior to that, he was a Senior Fellow with the Peace Operations Policy Program, School of Public Policy, at George Mason University, Virginia. He was also a Professor of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences in Leesburg, Virginia.
Community Career Fair @ IIIT on April 25, 2015 from 2-5 PM
Are you a college student interested in networking with some of the best working professionals in the DC area? Have you been trying to find that perfect internship but don't know exactly where to look or who to talk to for more advice? Or are you a working professional who is considering a career switch into the realm of humanitarian, corporate social responsibility, or civic activism related work?
Then you need to come to the Community Career Fair hosted by IIIT and TFI at our headquarters in Herndon, VA.
Students who came this year on April 25, 2015 had the chance to speak in-person with representatives from UNHCR (The United Nations Refugee Agency), MPAC (The Muslim Public Affairs Council), IIPC (International Interfaith Peace Corps), IKRAM (The Foundation for Empowerment of Muslim Women), Rahma - Reaching All HIV+ Muslims In America, Amana Mutual Funds Trust, Azzad Asset Management, FAITH Social Services (The Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help), and Islamic Relief USA! They also had the opportunity to pick up informational material on ways to get involved with UNRWA USA (the non-profit arm of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency) as a volunteer or participant in their 5K race in DC. The benefits of this race go towards UNRWA's Community Mental Health Program (CMHP) to support thousands of refugee children in Gaza affected by PTSD and other psychological trauma.
They were also able to find out more about The Fairfax Institute, a school of the International Institute of Islamic Thought. We are an educational institution dedicated to providing continuing education, community outreach, and inter-faith dialogue through certificate courses, training workshops, seminars, and career development programs. We are here to help you grow to give back to your communities as scholars, leaders, and friends.
TFI Attends and Sponsors Conference at Yale Addressing Community Leadership Issues
TFI was a proud sponsor of the 5th Annual National Shura & In-Service Training for Chaplains and Imams and Other Service Providers to the Muslim Community which took place on March 7, 2015 at Yale University. The conference was presented by the Association of Muslim Chaplains (AMC) and the Islamic Seminary Foundation (ISF). This year's sessions featured discussions on domestic violence prevention and intervention, combatting racial prejudice, making mosques more women-friendly, fostering tranquil marriages, facing the challenges of interpresting Prophet Muhammad's legacy. Presenters included Dr. Ihsan Bagby, Dr. Jonathan Brown, Dr. Feryal Salem, and Chaplain Asma Hanif. The following are pictures below from last year's conference.