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INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY AT ISLAMABAD. In the wake of the islamization policy in Pakistan, a central institution for the coordination of this policy and for higher learning, the International Islamic University at Islamabad, was established. A SharI’ah Faculty at Qa’id-i A’zam University was founded in 1979, but it could not meet the needs felt during islamization. In 198o, therefore, the Shari’ah Faculty was upgraded into an Islamic University, functioning at first as a custodian of the Faisal mosque and mainly financed by the Saudi government. By moving into the cultural complex around the mosque, it became financially solvent. After the incorporation of several institutes and academies, the university acquired the status of a full-fledged International Islamic University (IIU) in 1985.


The IIU soon became a focal point for the dissemination of Islamic thought for Muslims in Pakistan, Central and Southeast Asia, and Muslim minority areas. Explicitly open to all classes and creeds, it aims to provide an intellectual base for and guidance in the process of islamization and the development of solutions to problems arising therefrom. It hopes to bring various existing Islamic identities into one common ideological platform for joint political and religious action and to eliminate the obstacles responsible for Muslims’ schismatic differences.

This undertaking is, however, only possible with the moral and financial support of other Muslim countries and international organizations. Close academic collaboration with Egyptian, Saudi, and Malaysian governments and universities underlines the transnational character of the IIU. In 1990, cultural ties with the former Soviet Muslim Religious Board of Central Asia and Kazakhstan were established as well. The composition of its leadership, teaching staff, and student body reflects this implicit “ummah-ization,” which finds expression in international workshops and exchanges, scholarships, and a network of academic institutions. As an ideological body the university is formally exempt from state jurisdiction.

A conglomerate of different, already existing institutes, the IIU offers courses in Islamic law, shad `ah, Islamic economics, da’wah, usul al-din, and Arabic. These institutes are as follows:

The Faculty of Usul al-Din (general Islamic studies) The Faculty of Shari`ah, which conducts Shari`ah, courses at the national level for in-service judicial officers and public prosecutors, as well as for readers of the Friday sermons (khutbah), leaders of prayers (a’immah; sg., imdm), and teachers in religious schools (mudarrisun)

The Islamic Research Institute, in existence since 196o and merged into the Islamic University in 1980. It is the research wing, and interprets the teachings of Islam within the context of the intellectual and scientific progress of the modern world

The Institute for Social Studies, which soon became the International Institute of Islamic Economics. In its beginning stages, it is developing a body of Ph.D. graduates, with the help of the United States Agency for International Development, among others. It also organizes senior officers’ training programs

The Institute for Linguistics and Languages (Departments of Arabic and English). Arabic is taught in order to avoid the confusion and disunity in the Muslim world that arises from erroneous interpretations of the language of the Qur’an; English is considered important for transnational communication

The Institute of Da’wah and Qira’at, now the Da’wah Academy, which conducts Islamic leadership training camps for Muslims from Pakistan and other countries, (e.g., a’immah, community leaders, students, and army officers). It offers pre-university training to overseas candidates from Muslim minority countries and collaborates with the Regional Islamic Da’wah Council for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, based in Malaysia. It also conducts correspondence courses, prepares area studies and literature for children, and has established translation and media sections.

As a federal corporation, the IIU is hierarchically structured, headed by the president of Pakistan, who appoints the rector and vice-chancellor. Administratively, the IIU is governed by a Board of Trustees consisting of Muslim scholars, technocrats, and educators primarily from Pakistan, but also from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and international Islamic organizations. All academic matters are supervised by the respective Boards of Studies and the Academic Council, which in 1992 was chaired by an Egyptian.

In 1989-1990, the ten degree programs offered by the IIU, including economics, law, comparative religion, usul al-din, Arabic, and the pre-university course at the Da’wah Academy, were accredited and recognized by the University Grants Commission. The al-Azhar University has recognized the university’s B.A. (Hons.) Usul al-Din (Islamic Studies) only. [See Azhar, al-.]

Formally, the appointment of teachers is based on merit and commitment to Islam. Nearly half of the more than three hundred teachers and researchers originate in the Middle East, primarily Egypt. The majority of native teachers are not traditional scholars but possess Ph. Ds from foreign universities. They are paid from the university budget; overseas teachers are paid by the Egyptian government, the Rabitat al-`Alam al-Islam! (Muslim World League), Saudi universities, and from income accruing from endowments.

The composition of the student body is multinational as well. In 1991, out of more than a thousand students, approximately half were Pakistanis; the rest came from more than forty countries, chiefly from Muslim minority areas, Afghanistan, Southeast Asia (China, Indonesia, Thailand), Africa (Somalia, Kenya, Sudan), and the Middle East (Jordan, Turkey). Female students comprised about 7 percent of the total. Students are selected on merit and prior qualifications, which, in some cases, includes their traditional education. Places are reserved for foreigners, students belonging to deprived areas or low-income groups, and members of the armed forces. Self-sufficient students have better chances for admission; those with limited incomes are eligible for stipends. Residence is provided to all foreign students and to most Pakistanis for a nominal fee as is free medical care and transportation. More than half of the student body receives scholarships, approximately 6o percent of which are provided from abroad. A major portion of the stipends comes from the International Islamic Charitable Foundation (Kuwait), Zakat House Kuwait, and the International Scientific, Educational, Social and Cultural Organization. The majority of students are enrolled in law and shad `ah; the next largest number study usul al-din, Arabic, and economics. Female students are enrolled in LL.B (shari’ah and law) and in usul aldin only. If students do not complete their final examinations, they must repay all scholarship money received.

Since the IIU is considered an ideological production center, the conduct of its students and teachers is subject to rigorous supervision. They must follow accurately Islamic rituals, and participation in any political action or membership in any political party is strictly prohibited. Regular conduct reports are intended to guarantee the Islamic, apolitical and nonsectarian character of the institution. The introduction of required academic dress is in preparation as well. Thus, the university can be considered a custodian of the knowledge that produces ideologically sound Muslim leadership, in line with its universalizing salafi worldview.

In this context, the use of media is most important for the dissemination of Islamic learning, and several publication units publish contributions in different languages, for example, Urdu, Arabic, and English. A central library, comprised of the libraries of the different institutes and academies that have been incorporated, has a collection of more than 150,000 volumes as well as periodicals.

The IIU receives a regular grant from the government of Pakistan and also accepts donations from trusts and endowments; all capital held by any faculty or institute has been transferred to the university. Recently, the government allocated more than 700 acres of land for the university’s permanent campus in Islamabad to meet growing demands.

[See also Universities.]


No scholarly work on the IIU exists to date. All sources used for the article are, therefore, of an official nature:

Brohi, A. K. “Islamic University of Islamabad: Principles and Purposes.” Pakistan Studies 1.2 (1982).

Government of Pakistan. Islamic University, Islamabad: Annual Report, 1982-83. Islamabad, 1984.

Government of Pakistan. Islamic University, Islamabad: Vice Chancellor’s Annual Report, 1982-83. Islamabad, 1984.

Government of Pakistan. Islamic University Calendar, 1985. Vol. 1. Islamabad, 1985.

Government of Pakistan. Islamic University Handbook, 1985-1986. Islamabad, 1985.

Government of Pakistan. International Islamic University Ordinance, 1985. Islamabad, 1985.

Government of Pakistan. Annual Report 198919o Session, International Islamic University. Islamabad, 1991 (mimeo).

“The International Islamic University.” Pakistan Times, Special Supplement, February 1992, pp. 6ff.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/international-islamic-university-at-islamabad/

  • writerPosted On: May 12, 2014
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