Herndon- On May 9, 2017, The Fairfax Institute, the educational arm of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) welcomed 35 Imams from around the United States, who mainly serve Bosnian-American Muslim communities.
As the second annual Seminar, the purpose of this 2-day program is to equip Imams and mosque representatives with leadership essentials that can help them maintain the balance between theological and religious teaching and practical elements that are critical to addressing situations in the expanding Muslim communities.
Ermin Sinanovic, Director of Research and Academic Affairs, commenced the program along with a welcome by Imam Sabahudin Ćeman, Head Imam of the Islamic Association of Bosniaks in North America and Imam of Islamic Center of North Phoenix. The group also heard from Mensur ef. Pašalić, Head of the Office for Diaspora Relations at the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is also the President of the Society of Islamic Scholars of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Participants then heard from the President of IIIT, Dr. Hisham Altalib, who spoke about the lessons that can be learned from the history of IIIT.
Other elements of the program include a session on youth issues, a visit to the local mosque- All Dulles Area Muslim Society- and a panel on challenges facing imams in the 21st century.
The Fairfax Institute is holding this event in partnership with the Islamic Association of Bosniaks in North America (ICNAB).
HERNDON- On Saturday, March 18, 2017, Ermin Sinanovic, Director of IIIT Research and Academic Programs, hosted a group of Imams from the Diyanet Center of America, based in Lanham, Maryland at the offices of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). The Imams serve in predominantly Turkish mosques in the US, that are under the management of the Diyanet (Presidency of Religious Affairs). Diyanet is an official state institution established in 1924 in the Republic of Turkey, as a successor to the office of Sheikh ul-Islam. The delegation consisted of about 30 Imams and staff from the organization. They were briefed on the history and work of IIIT, with most of the discussion focusing on Imam education and professional development. Sinanovic also briefly highlighted the Graduate Certificate in Imam and Muslim Community Leadership (GCIMCL) which IIIT conducts through its educational branch, The Fairfax Institute, in cooperation with Hartford Seminary located in Hartford, CT.
Diyanet TV, a TV news channel hosted by the Diyanet Center of America, produced a report on the Imams' visit to Diyanet Center of America in Maryland, much of which covers their trip to IIIT.
The clip below is in Turkish:
On Thursday, January 12th, IIIT hosted a graduation ceremony for students of the Winter Program 2017. There were 29 students who participated in the graduation ceremony, along with professors who taught in this program. Those professors included Dr. Hisham Al-Talib, Dr. Abubaker Al-Shingieti, Dr. Jasser Auda, Dr. Zainab Alwani, and Dr. Ahmed Alwani. They all warmly congratulated students and remarked on their accomplishments.
This year, students from seven countries, such as Canada, China, France, Pakistan, UAE, and the United States , studied together at this program. They learned not only from faculty expertsin Islamic studies, but also from their cohorts. Their learning experiencewere largely enriched by the diversity present in the room, as characterized by one of the students, Hayat Abdelal’s (United States, Junior at Drew University) comment:
“Meeting everyone in the program who all came from different places of the world and diverse backgrounds was a bonus of the program. Learning from each other and about how are range of studies brought us to the same program was illuminating. Our conversations in and outside of the classroom were very stimulating. We were able to get to know each other not only as peers, but also as friends. Developing connections with peers with similar interests was a great opportunity.”
After completing 31 classes on Islamic thought, history, philosophy and practice taught by 15 faculties from various academic institutions, including George Mason, Georgetown, and University of Toledo, students undeoubtedly broadened their academic horizons, obtaining new insights on what Islam means. One Muslim studentfrom Pakistan stated:
“Being an ordinary Muslim, I feel that our Islam is the same that which local religious leaders taught us as we least bother to understand what Quran is asking for. It, Quran, demands its in-depth review by all humans, not just by the Muslim leaders and/or students of Islamic studies.”
After participating in the Winter Student Program, that student came to see Quran differently. Prior to the program, he never thought Islam needed such a deep understanding. According to him, the program was an eye-opening learning experience.
TFI appreciates the great opportunity to host such engaging students throughout Winter Student Program 2017. We convey a hearty congratulations on the achievement of this year’s cohorts. We look forward to hearing from all WSP alumni!
On Tuesday, January 3, 2017, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) welcomed 30 students from colleges and universities in the United States and Canada for its second annual Winter Student Program (WSP). This program is designed with the objective of providing instructions in major topics in Islamic thought to undergraduate students, highlighting IIIT’s contributions and efforts to integrate a normative approach to Islam with contemporary humanities and social sciences.
Students came from a number of institutions of higher education, including Georgetown, University of Vermont, George Mason, McGill, Swarthmore College, Brown University, and the University of Richmond. They have diverse academic backgrounds: history, global studies, political science, Islamic studies, information technology, electrical engineering, psychology, and biology.
Ermin Sinanovic, Director of Research at IIIT, gave the students a warm welcome during the opening session. Dr. Abubaker al-Shingieti, IIIT’s Executive Director, emphasized the crucial role students play in IIIT’s intellectual life and mission. By asking all sorts of questions, the students are helping the IIIT remain relevant and up-to-date, he said. After the students and staff introduced themselves to one another, Dr. Hisham Altalib, IIIT’s President and one of the founders of the Institute, spoke about the history of the IIIT and its role in the intellectual landscape of contemporary Islamic thought, which marked the beginning of their coursework.
At the end of their first day, the students shared their impressions about the program. “You are providing a refreshing academic experience that contrasts with its secular counterpart by promoting a normative approach to Islamic Studies and reform of Islamic thought. An approach that encourages not only to remain true to the principles of Islamic faith, but also to be honest students of modern social studies,” wrote Hamza El Haoud-Trudel, senior in World Islamic and Middle East Studies and Economics at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Added Muhammad Akram, currently an Atlas Corps Fellow working at the Center for Islam and Religious Freedom (CIRF), “IIIT Winter Student Program is equipping me with those aspects of Islam which, usually, the local religious leaders don’t provide. I wish for its expansion within the United States and globally, particularly in Muslim majority countries where stakeholder universities can also be involved.”
During the program, the students will study history and interpretations of the Qur’an, the Prophetic Sunnah, Muslim history and civilization, contemporary Islamic thought, Muslim spirituality, and Islamic jurisprudence, among other topics. They will also visit a local Islamic center, as well as the Art of the Qur’an exhibition at the Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, DC. Courses are taught by some of the leading scholars coming from various colleges and universities in the US and Canada. WSP is being held from January 3 until January 12, 2017.
October 8, 2016- Last Saturday, The Fairfax Institute, the educational arm of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, held a reception to launch the Certificate in Islamic Thought Program.
The Certificate in Islamic Thought combines Islamic credentials with academic rigor, along with a flexible schedule which suits working professionals and students. The objective of this program is to provide academically rigorous, faith-based education in Islamic studies, rooted within IIIT's approach and taught by first-rate scholars of Islam.
Community members from all over the Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland areas gathered at IIIT headquarters to hear about the purpose of the certificate and course offerings under the Certificate in Islamic Thought.
Dr. Ermin Sinanovic, Director of The Fairfax Institute, stated, "This certificate program is open to people from all backgrounds," He also conveyed the importance of such a program in the pluralistic society we live in.
The keynote speaker for the afternoon was IIIT Resident Scholar, Dr. Ovamir Anjum, the Imam Khattab Endowed Chair of Islamic Studies at the University of Toledo. Dr. Anjum spoke about the significance of the Islamic point of view in academia, and how we can understand and make decisions based on acute understanding of Islamic texts and philosophy.
The main program was followed by a trivia game on Islamic philosophers and light refreshments.
To complete the Certificate in Islamic Thought, students are required to take seven core courses and three electives (12 hours each), for a total of 120 hours of instruction. They can take one or more courses per semester. The Certificate can be completed in a year but most students will probably take 2 years to complete it. Those who are not interested in acquiring a CIT are welcome to take individual classes at their own pace and choice. More information about requirements is available here.
August 16, 2016- On Monday, August 15, a group of undergraduates from across the United States gathered at the headquarters of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) and The Fairfax Institute to participate in a week-long civic engagement retreat.
As the week progresses, students are participating in several panels and workshops designed to teach and empower young adults with tools to effectively participate in government from local to national levels. This year's sessions and panels include the following organizations:
FAITH Social Service Agency
Muslim Public Affairs Council
The Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University
All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS Center)
Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque
American Muslim Health Professionals
Muslim Justice League
Unity Productions Foundation
After taking part in sessions at IIIT, students will go on to visit select government agencies and congressional offices, ending with a closing ceremony on The Hill.
August 13, 2016- On a bright and sunny August day, students of the 5-week intensive Summer Student Program participated in the final step of the program: Graduation. Hosted by Dr. Tanveer and Dr. Yaqub Mirza, the graduation ceremony brought to culmination over a month of classes, workshops, presentations, papers and more. The graduating class was composed of 18 members, from places like University of Indiana, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Columbia, University of Santa Barbara, and more. Students were joined by alumni and a network of IIIT scholars in the last week of the program, convening in the Summer Institute of Scholars. This gathering brought together scholars and researchers to discuss scholarly work under the theme of "Islam and Modernity."
The Graduation Master of Ceremonies was the Director of The Fairfax Institute, Dr. Ermin Sinanovic, with award presentations by IIIT Executive Director, Dr. Abubaker Al-Shingieti, and IIIT President Dr. Hisham AlTalib.
Special Guest Dr. Tracy Fitzsimmons, President of Shenandoah University, provided a keynote speech about the importance of an authentic education. The class speaker was Muhammad Rahman, a Fulbright Scholar completing his Ph.D. in International Studies at Old Dominion University.
The recipients of the prestigious IIIT Fellowship award were Brian Wright, Aysenur Sonmez Kara, and Muhammad Rahman.
The celebration included lunch and picnic.
August 4, 2016- On Thursday morning, Summer Program Students arrived at the Al-Faruqi Library at the International Institute of Islamic Thought to partake in a full-day presentation program, where each of the 18 students presented their paper topics and received comments from SSP faculty members and advisors.
Paper topics covered a diverse range of issues, from an analysis of offensive jihad and how ISIS has misinterpreted the notion, Islamophobia in the university setting, to the Islamic criminal code, the nuances of Sufi intellectual thought, and more. The presentations were a culmination of four weeks of courses ranging from Contemporary Islamic Thought, Islam in America, Maqasid in Public Policy, and Islamic Jurisprudence.
Esteemed faculty members included Dr. Ovamir Anjum, Dr. Hisham AlTalib, with moderation by Dr. Ermin Sinanovic, Director of The Fairfax Institute.
July 25, 2016- In the third week of Summer Student Program 2016, students had the opportunity to partake in a workshop at IIIT/TFI Headquarters, focused on countering Islamophobia, conducted by The Bridge Initiative, based at Georgetown University. The workshop was conducted by Director of The Bridge Initiative, Dr. John Esposito and Dr. Nazir Harb Michel, Senior Researcher & Social Media Director at The Bridge Initiative.
The Bridge Initiative “…brings together celebrated faculty, subject-matter experts, and seasoned researchers to examine attitudes and behaviors towards Muslims; dissect public discourses on Islam; and uncover the operational mechanisms of engineered Islamophobia in an effort to raise public awareness and enrich public discourse on this pernicious form of prejudice. Through its website, The Bridge Initiative disseminates original and accessible research, offers engaging commentary on contemporary news, and hosts a repository of high-caliber studies, polls, articles, and other informational resources. By wedding rigorous research and analysis with the accessibility and reach of the Internet, the Bridge Initiative seeks to fulfill Thomas Jefferson’s dream of a ‘well-informed citizenry.’”
The workshop provided students an avenue into applying academic jargon and the intellectual environment into an accessible and practical tool to combat Islamophobia. Dr. Esposito and Dr. Nazir Harb stressed the importance of refining organizational social media operators, and introduced tools and practical tips that help transmit information that otherwise does not reach the masses.
With academic backgrounds like International Relations, Conflict Resolution, Middle Eastern Studies, Islamic law, political science, and sociology, this workshop allowed students to see how research and data can be made into concise, yet effective vessels of information.
On Saturday, July 23, 2016, The Fairfax Institute hosted a leadership seminar for staff and board of the IMAAM Center from Silver Spring, Maryland. The all-day IMAAM Center Leadership Seminar was held at IIIT headquarters. The training modules included:
The day started with insights from Dr. Ermin Sinanovic, reflecting on the qualities and lessons of leadership throughout Muslim History. The program continued with Dr. Iqbal Unus’ session on the importance of strategic planning and vision. The issue of how Imams and mosque leadership can engage with Muslim youth was a topic that was facilitated by Abidah Ali, Youth Coordinator at the ADAMS Center (All Dulles Area Muslim Society). Later, Farhanahz Ellis, a decades-long veteran of the field of interfaith engagement, highlighted the importance and ways of interfaith engagement, and underlining the value of actively engaging local communities. Dr. Hisham AlTalib, President of the Board of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, discussed da’wah and the ethics of engagement, and Dr. Yaqub Mirza finished the seminar with a discussion of practical methods of wealth-building and fundraising. The leadership seminar concluded with certificate awards presented by Dr. Ermin Sinanovic and Dr. Yaqub Mirza.
The all-day seminar provided a wonderful opportunity for participants to reflect on workshop sessions and actively partake in discussions with speakers. The Fairfax Institute looks forward to pursue such fruitful connections as we move forward with our work. For more information on how your organization can receive leadership trainings, please call (703) 230-2843 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.