Thursday, November 12, 2015

A FRUITFUL WORKING TRIP TO THE UNITED KINGDOM

Strolling at tourist-attraction places - Oxford Street and Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park London.
From 17 to 24 October 2015, two ISDEV delegates, ISDEV Director, Professor Dr. Muhammad Syukri Salleh and ISDEV Senior Lecturer, Dr. Shahir Akram Hassan were flown to the United Kingdom as part of their working trip for this year. Besides having the opportunity to visit tourist-attraction places such as Oxford Street and Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park London, one of the most pertinent reasons they were there, besides attending meetings and discussions with some important persons, was to witness the singing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) with Islamic Relief Academy (IRA), Birmingham, United Kingdom as well as to discuss the details of the implementation of the MoU.
Light discussion with Zahid Ali Akbar (in red shirt), Human Rights Director of
The Association of British Muslims (AoBM) at London Central Mosque.
On the first day, the delegates had a chance to meet and hold a light discussion with Zahid Ali Akhbar, Human Rights Director of The Association of British Muslims (AoBM) at London Central Mosque. At the end of the discussions, Prof. Syukri received a green apple from Zahid Ali - symbolic gesture signifying the high appreciation and and honour of AoBM hosting the delegates from ISDEV. The green apple, is usually given specifically to guests who are fittingly regarded to be amongst the very learned and wise. 
Having discussion with ISDEV Visiting Fellow, Dato' Dr. Afifi Al-Akiti at The University of Oxford. 
On the next day, Prof. Syukri and Dr. Shahir went to the one of the prestigious universities in the world - The University of Oxford (informally Oxford University or simply known as Oxford) as well as the alma mater for Prof. Syukri. At Oxford, they met and discussed with Dato' Dr. Afifi Al-Akiti who is ISDEV Visiting Fellow since 2013. The discussion was focused on setting the date for Dato’ Dr. Afifi's follow-up of the ISDEV Lecture Series that he had delivered sometime in 2010 on "Approaching Knowledge Secular and Religious". He also expressed his keenness and eagerly awaits for the appropriate time to be back at USM to deliver his Public Lecture as well as having an up close and exclusive intellectually stimulating time between him and ISDEV members and students in the very near future.
Participating in the Fellows Seminar at Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OXCIS).
While at Oxford, Prof. Syukri and Dr. Shahir also had a chance to participate in Fellows Seminar at Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OXCIS). OXCIS is a Recognized Independent Centre of the University of Oxford. It was established in 1985 to encourage the scholarly study of Islam and the Islamic world. It also provides a meeting point for the Western and Islamic worlds of learning. Beyond Oxford, its role is strengthened by developing an international network of academic contacts. The work of the OXCIS has attracted global attention and widespread support. 
With the higher management of The Islamic Foundation and Markfield Institute of Higher Education,
Dr. M Manazir Ahsan - The Chairman of The Islamic Foundation (third right),
Farooq Murad -Director General of The Islamic Foundation (fourth right) and
Dr. Zahid Parvez -Director of the Markfield Institute of Higher Education (MIHE, first left).
On 20 October 2015, the delegates then went to The Islamic Foundation and Markfield Institute of Higher Education (MIHE), Markfield, Leicestershire. MIHE is the first academic institution of its kind in the west. It presents a unique opportunity to study Islam in an Islamic institution within the context of Higher Education in the United Kingdom. Thus, ISDEV delegates took the opportunity to discuss with the Chairman of The Islamic Foundation, Dr. M Manazir Ahsan as well as MIHE Director, Dr. Zahid Parvez about the possibility of ISDEV-MIHE collaboration and ISDEV Post- Doctoral Fellowship. This is because MIHE also aims to help in the development the local community through training, vocational education and pioneering of new courses. The Institute takes a positive approach in conducting inter-faith and inter-cultures dialogues between which received high recognition for its interfaith endeavours. 
Discussion with The Association of British Muslim (AoBM) Co- Directors, Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
and Mohammed Abbasi, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding, Football for Peace at Ibis Hotel, Birmingham.
The journey continue on 23 October 2015, where ISDEV delegates went to Birmingham to meet Paul Salahuddin Armstrong (also known as Sheikh Salahuddin Abu Sophia), and Mohammed Abbasi. Both of them are the Co-Directors of The Association of British Muslim (AoBM) who are dedicated to promote global peace via football game with the slogan “Football for Peace – Not Hatred”. For them, Islam stands for peace. Islam means peace, and Islam pursues peace. The goal of this religion is to bind people together with love not with hate. Our greeting of “Assalamu-Alaikum” translates to “peace be upon you”. 
Fostering of silaturrahim - Dr. Shahir Akram presenting a token of gift  from ISDEV
to Paul Salahuddin Amstrong as a brotherly momento.
According to them, football is a great game; a game that can promote peace among many people thus the AoBM is fully supportive of organisations that use football as a vehicle to promote peace – one such organisation is called Football for Peace. The organisation is led by a British Muslim who is also a professional British footballer – Kashif Siddiqi cum its Co-Founder. Kashif has been working tirelessly to bring people of opposing views and ideologies to come onto the field for a game of football. From the cordial meeting they had, it came as no surprise when they discovered that Paul Salahuddin is not only the Co-Director of AoBM but he is also a director, scholar and broadcaster. After officially embracing Islam on 1 March 2000, Paul continued to study religion and spirituality for the past 15 years. 

From this working trip, it can be surmised that ISDEV not only strives for Islam at the university's level but is also working hard to explore opportunities and the world outside the confines of ISDEV. This is done to provide opportunities and platform for ISDEV students to enthusiastically and eagerly introduce ISDEV and Islam to all corners of the world thus creating global-minded students who are able to steadfastly uphold Islam at all times.

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