Twelve students marked the completion of their studies at The Institute of Ismaili Studies at a graduation ceremony for the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities class of 2012.
Over 150 guests, including the Institute’s Board of Governors, Ismaili community leadership and donors to the IIS, joined the students and their families in celebrating their achievement at the Ismaili Centre in London on 13th October 2012.
The Institute attracts Ismaili students from around the globe. The graduands included students from Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania and the USA. The Institute has offered this particular graduate programme since 1994 in which students with various academic backgrounds can pursue a two-year course of study in Islamic Studies and Humanities at the IIS, before going on to obtain a Masters degrees in a field of relevance to the Institute’s mandate, from a university of their choice, usually in the United Kingdom, including Oxford, Cambridge and others.
Dr Fayyaz Vellani, Head of the Department of Graduate Studies at the Institute, gave the welcome address and talked about how the GPISH graduates have a good educational grounding to be positive forces in how religious and inter-religious issues are viewed and responded to in contemporary times. He said “The programme seeks, above all, to take an intellectually rigorous approach to addressing some of the big issues faced by Muslim communities in global contexts... Our graduates must exemplify the very best to which we aspire and carry this commitment with them throughout their lives, wherever their paths take them.”
In his keynote address, Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave recognised the rigorous course of study the GPISH students had been through and said: “I am particularly impressed that this is a programme in Islamic Studies and in Humanities; that speaks eloquently of the fact that true religion must be inseparable from humanity, and the true humanity must be inseparable from religion. Without grounding in the actual complexities, challenges and opportunities of human life as it is lived in our world today, religion will become ossified, arbitrary and narrow; and without an aspiration towards the spiritual values and ideals which religion conveys, humanity will be unguided, selfish and shallow. In bringing together in your studies religion and humanity, you have shown the width and the depth of the life which we live in this world in the presence of God.”
The Class of 2012 were presented with their certificates by Dr Farhad Daftary, the Co-Director of the Institute, and Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave.
The valedictorian, Zuleikha Haji, from Australia, reflected on how their journey enabled them to encounter “Islam through people, places and ideas”. She said: “Over these two years we have encountered Islam in myriad ways, through its different sets of beliefs and practices, through visiting the historic places which had built a civilisation over 1400 years, and through a way of life in which people came together on an everyday basis.... As we look outwards to the future, these times call for enlightened encounters among faiths and cultures. As we learnt to celebrate the differences within our class and to utilise each other’s strengths we need to equally adopt this cosmopolitan ethic to our future encounters.”
The closing remarks were given by Dr Laila Halani, Course Director for STEP (Secondary Teacher Education Programme) and GPISH, who talked about the value GPISH graduates can bring to the workplace and how their training equips them to play a role in nurturing the soul of faith communities, remarking “Faith communities are undergoing a crisis of existence where the right balance between empathy and commitment needs to sit with critical self-reflection, introspection and direction.”
A recording of the graduation ceremony can be found here.
View a gallery of images from the ceremony.
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