McGill University and its Institute of Islamic Studies have received a generous $1.25 million gift from the State of Qatar. The gift, announced today during a visit to McGill by His Excellency Salem Al-Shafi, the first Ambassador from Qatar to Canada, coincides with the Institute’s 60th anniversary and will be used to fund a series of conferences to be held over the next year.
“We believe this contribution will further assist the Institute in carrying on the distinguished role it has played, since its establishment in 1952, in advancing research related to Islam and the history and civilization of the Islamic world,” said His Excellency Al-Shafi. “We also believe that the Institute shares our vision that knowledge and education are key to meet the challenges of our changing world and provide the tools to better understand the ever-evolving relationship between religion and mankind and how it has contributed to our well-being and the coexistence of peoples.”
“We are deeply appreciative of the State of Qatar’s generous gift, which will help to further the vision of founder Prof. Wilfred Cantwell Smith, who 60 years ago conceived of our Institute of Islamic Studies, then the first of its kind in North America,” said Prof. Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill. “The work of the Institute is even more relevant today, not only in advancing the understanding of Islamic history and Muslim societies, but also to ensure a plurality of voices in scholarly dialogue.”
McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies was established in 1952 with the goal of attracting scholars and students from the Muslim world, North America and Europe. Its traditional strengths have ranged from pre-colonial Islamic history, philosophy, theology and law to Islam in South Asia, Ottoman and Turkish Studies, and Arabic and Persian literature. More recently, the Institute has also developed its expertise in the history of Arabic-Islamic science and in the modern-day history and politics of the Middle East, with the goal of relating Islamic antiquity to the contemporary Muslim world.
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