One of the permanent features of IRCICA is its scholarly award program which aims to acknowledge outstanding research and preservation efforts from around the world, relating to Islamic culture and civilisation. The program was initiated in 1990 under the name IRCICA Award for Excellence in Research, consisting of plaques of appreciation that were presented to scholars selected for their remarkable contributions to Islamic studies. On the occasion of IRCICA’s twentieth anniversary commemorated in 2000, another award category was instituted: the IRCICA Award for Patronage in the Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Promotion of Scholarship, presented simultaneously with the IRCICA Award for Excellence in Research.
The IRCICA Awards program is appreciated in the scholarly circles interested in Islamic studies, particularly for its universal outlook, since it emphasises research and teaching efforts as well as deeds of cultural patronage which emanate from within and outside the Muslim world but are related to the study, dissemination of knowledge and preservation of the history, cultures and civilisation of the Muslim world.
The IRCICA Awards were presented for the fourth time this year. An international ceremony was held in Istanbul on 22 October 2003, within the framework of the program of the 19th Ministerial Session of the OIC Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) held under the Chairmanship of the President of the Republic of Turkey His Excellency Ahmet Necdet Sezer. Ministerial delegations of the OIC Member States and personalities from the world academic and cultural circles were present.
The 19th Ministerial Session of COMCEC was opened in the morning of 22 October by H.E. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. IRCICA’s ceremony took place after the closing of the working sessions of COMCEC, in the same hall; it was chaired by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Abdullatif Şener, Minister of State and Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, in presence of the Ministers and representatives of the OIC Member States and of the countries of origin of the awardees, His Excellency Dr. Abdelouahed Belkéziz, Secretary General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, His Excellency Mr. Muammer Güler, Governor of Istanbul, Mr. Ahmet Tıktık, Undersecretary of the Prime Ministry’s State Planning Organisation, and a number of media and press representatives. In his opening address, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Abdullatif Şener emphasised the importance of addressing cultural issues within the framework of national development efforts and promoting international cultural cooperation.
H.E. Dr. Abdelouahed Belkéziz, Secretary General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, delivered an address at the opening of the ceremony, pointing out that the Centre, presents this scholarly award to learned personalities and institutions of learning to highlight their contributions to studies on Islamic civilisation and to the protection of Islamic cultural heritage, and that by doing so, it underscores the Muslim world’s consciousness of its culture and heritage, and at the same time, helps to reinforce the spirit of dialogue and harmony between various cultures and communities. For these reasons, this award program of universal scope has been approved with appreciation by the Islamic Summit and ministerial conferences of the OIC. The Secretary General congratulated the awardees and thanked them for their valuable scholarly efforts. Dr. Belkéziz expressed gratitude to H.E. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and the Government of Turkey for the patronage and support extended to the Centre in the fulfilment of its activities, and to this ceremony in particular. The Secretary General also thanked the Member States of OIC for their support of and interest in the activities of the Centre.
IRCICA Director General Prof. İhsanoğlu said, in his address, that this award had become a tradition and was often cited in the sources as a scholarly feature instituted in the Islamic world. It acquired distinction particularly because it emphasises scholarly efforts and deeds of cultural patronage which emanate from within and outside the Muslim world but are related to the study, dissemination and preservation of the history, cultures and civilisation of the Muslim world. The Director General pointed out that underscoring exemplary endeavours in the service of Islamic cultures and civilisation is one of the principles IRCICA upholds, and that it was the very same spirit that had led the Centre to institute the Mahathir Award for Islamic Studies for young scholars which he had announced at the opening of the Tenth Islamic Summit Conference in Malaysia and dedicated to H.E. the Prime Minister Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed in gratitude for his support of culture, scholarship and cooperation. He said that with the same understanding, IRCICA was acknowledging that day five distinguished scholars for their excellence in research and five distinguished museum institutions and personalities for extending support to the preservation of heritage.
The IRCICA Awards were presented in two categories: the IRCICA Award for Excellence in Research, for its fourth term, and the IRCICA Award for Patronage in the Preservation of Research, for the second term. The awardees had been proposed by the Governing Board of IRCICA and approved by the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers at its Thirtieth Session held in Tehran, Iran, on 28-31 May 2003.