On Wednesday October 5th, Mushfique Uddin, Trustee of Khalil Foundation, and Ibrahim Lawson, Director of Centre for Islamic Thought & Education (CITE), attended a one-day symposium at the UCL Institute of Education on the Comparative Study of Religious Seminaries where they presented a paper on the work of Ebrahim College.
The symposium was jointly organised by the Centre for Research and Evaluation in Muslim Education at UCL and the Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies, Oxford. Ebrahim College has good links with both these centres and has collaborated with them on several occasions, so we were pleased to have this opportunity to extend our work with them and to meet old and new colleagues.
The keynote address was given by Professor Ron Geaves who spoke about the history of the Deobandi Dar ul Ulooms, or seminaries, and the challenges facing them in developing their system of education to account for the huge changes in societies globally since the beginning of their work in 1857. Professor Geaves has a long history of involvement with the Deobandi seminaries and has visited Dar ul Uloom Deoband several times during his long research career. The central question he addressed was that of how to change and adapt to contemporary needs while remaining true to the core vision and mission.
This was followed by a paper from the Reverend Ray Gaston, tutor in Inter Faith Engagement at Queens Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham. He spoke about the diverse ways in which a dialogue within and between religious traditions can help to clarify and strengthen our understanding ourselves.
Mushfique and Ibrahim spoke about the unique approach taken by Ebrahim College in creating a model of excellence in traditional Islamic studies while incorporating the modern social sciences, literature and philosophy into the core curriculum. The opportunity was also taken to announce plans to open our research centre, Centre for Islamic Thought & Education (CITE), as a vehicle not only for producing new and relevant research studies but also for broadening the mission of the college to include stakeholders and colleagues from other institutions in the service of knowledge that will benefit all members of society.
Other talks followed on similar themes and the day’s proceedings established a sound basis for the continuing development of a comparative approach to the study of the role of the religious seminary in modern society.