Early this month, Muslim academics around the globe under the auspices of International Institute of Islamic Thought, (IIIT) gathered in Oshogbo, Osun State, to appraise the state of Islamic Universities with the view to identifying their challenges and proffering credible and lasting solution.
The conference which was the fourth in its series was themed: Islamic Universities: Integration of Knowledge and Sustainability.
Participants were drawn from Nigeria (the hosting country), Jordan, Niger and Uganda. The Governor, State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola led some cabinet members such as Commisioner for Education, Mr Omotunde Young and Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr Obawale Adebisi to the event. Others present were, the Olufon of Ifon-Orolu Oba Al-Maroof Magbagbeola, Prof. Hassan Umar Kasule (Executive Secretary, IIIT), Engr. Kamil Bolarinwa, President, Nasrullahil-Fathi Society, (NASFAT), Vice Chancellor of Al-Qalam University, Professor Garki Ado, the Rector, Islamic University in Uganda, Prof. Dr. Ahamad Kawesa Sengendo, top government functionaries, Vice Chancellors of universities, scholars, educationists and spiritual leaders.
Professor Is’haq Oloyede, the Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Nigeria and Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Council, Fountain University, Osogbo presented the keynote address on – Islamic Universities and Integration of Knowledge for Sustainability.
Three lead papers were presented by three eminent scholars – Professor M. A. Bidmos, University of Lagos; Dr Rehab Abdul Rahman Al Shareef, Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Sudan and Professor Hassan Malkawi, International Islamic Institute (IIIT) Jordan.
During the presentations, it was observed that the basis for Islamic universities is not necessarily in the name but in the Islamic principles and tenets they offer as frontiers of knowledge. As a way of bringing about knowledge integration, it also noted that these universities should prepare the students to lead a useful life with a view to improving wellbeing of the society.
It was also observed that the current number of Muslim universities across the globe is grossly insufficient to cater for the learning needs of approximately two billion Muslims all over the world as well as the expected pedagogical and spiritual needs of the global community. The conference however noted that, in terms of input and output, Muslim Universities must be distinct from other universities that are not Islamic.
In its 17-point recommendation, the conference held that Islamic universities should focus on the principles of solving societal problems through the provision of quality education and spiritual training for students.
Again, since the Islamic perspective of the contents of every course is integrated into teaching-learning processes, the conference recommended that there should be integration of the theoretical approach to teaching-learning process into a tool for conducting developmental research capable of transforming the societies.
- Islamic universities should accord both Arabic and Islamic Studies a priority and make possible to encourage the study of these two courses.
- The Islamic Universities should be vanguards of promoting the concept of integration of knowledge in the universities with the society with a view to bridging the gap between the gown and town. Some veritable means to achieving this include organisation of workshops, seminars and civic engagement with stakeholders outside the universities.
- With the spate of societal challenges, the intervention of Islamic universities is non-negotiable and therefore required in solving the problem of the dearth of teachers and students in public schools.
- The conference also recognised the need to come together and establish partnership with other universities with the objective of knowledge sharing.
- The proprietors of Islamic universities should see the development of universities as a continuous exercise, therefore, continuous financial support of the proprietor of the universities is essential to the survival, growth and development of Islamic universities.
- In line with the policies of their respective countries, Islamic Universities should design a curriculum that will include the integration of Islamic teachings into the modern knowledge.
- Islamic Universities and the Muslim Ummah in general should not only bother about the dwindling education of the Muslims, they should also be concerned with the ways to ameliorate the challenges.
- Muslims should not shy away from holding public offices as a way to making a society a better place.
- Muslim Universities should justify the giant strides of the early predecessors in science and technology by rising to the task of expanding their faculties to include colleges of health sciences and faculty of technology.
- Muslim Universities should make use of the vast knowledge and impressive credentials of retired Muslim professors to attract grants and enhance collaboration and linkages with international institutions.
- Participants, having expressed concern over the spate of corruption, insurgency, militancy and other vices, recommended that all these instances of menace facing the country could be ameliorated with knowledge integration which Islamic universities are set to promote.