(March 8, 2011) – On Saturday, March 5th Huron University College hosted a gathering of over 100 Muslim community leaders from London and Windsor to celebrate the establishment of a $2 million Chair in Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Theology at Huron University College – the first Chair in Islamic Studies to be established in a Faculty of Theology in Canada.
Also in attendance was Khalil Ramal, Member of Provincial Parliament for London-Fanshawe, and Chris Bentley, Member of Provincial Parliament for London West, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, and Attorney General of Ontario.
Continuing Huron’s tradition of building bridges between the Anglican and Muslim religious communities in London, a relationship that dates back to the Rev. Dr. John Morden’s tenure as Principal of Huron from 1962 until 1984, the purpose of the Chair is to bring to Huron University College a scholar with exceptional academic credentials who can also represent an authentic voice within the Muslim community of Southwestern Ontario.
“As a practicing Muslim and civil-rights lawyer who has worked on behalf of Muslims throughout Canada, I am on firm ground when I say that this Chair represents a vital step forward for Muslims here and throughout Canada,” said Faisal Joseph, who is a senior partner at Lerners LLP and serves on Huron’s Executive Board.
“Establishing the Chair will bring to London a scholar who can speak to the ways Islam is understood in today’s complex world. The Muslim community in North America has been yearning for the day where Islamic scholarship can be born out of our own context, and it is particularly gratifying for this to take place at Huron University College,” said Dr. Nabil Sultan of the Division of Nephrology at The University of Western Ontario and head of the London Chapter of the Muslim Association of Canada.
“The establishment of the Chair in Islamic Studies is not only an important milestone for both our community and Huron University College, but it will provide a model for Muslim communities throughout Canada to follow,” said Adeeb Hassan, President of Hassco Industries and Chair, Board of Directors for the London Muslim Mosque.
“The Chair provides a way for our two faith communities to cultivate deeper knowledge and appreciation of each other. It provides a unique opportunity for Huron University College to have a scholar who will not only teach our students about Islam, but who will deepen the local Muslim community’s understanding of their own faith tradition,” said Bishop Robert Bennett of the Anglican Diocese of Huron and Chair of the Huron University College Corporation.
“The establishment of an endowed Chair signals the importance that the university community places on Islamic Studies and underlines our conviction that teaching and research in Islamic Studies will make a substantive contribution to understanding of Islamic thought and Muslim identity in pluralistic societies.” said Trish Fulton, Interim Principal of Huron University College.
The chair in Islamic studies is a very important step toward teaching Islam and fostering a culture of understanding in our province,” said Mr. Ramal.
“I would like to thank those whose determination, vision and leadership have made it possible to establish the first Chair in Islamic Studies in a Faculty of Theology in Canada. Our community is better as a result,” remarked Mr. Bentley.
In addition to individual contributions, major support for the Chair has been provided by Mr. Sam Bouji, President and C.E.O of Global Education Marketing Corporation, the Islamic Centre for Southwestern Ontario, the London Muslim Mosque, the Muslim Association of Canada, and the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), a non-profit foundation based in Herndon, Virginia, dedicated to furthering Islamic scholarship in higher education.
Source: Huron University College