International Seminar on Research in Islamic Civilisation, organised by IRCICA, Istanbul, 26-29 September 1988

IRCICA's seminar on the above theme aimed to provide an opportunity to researchers, scholars and specialists dealing with Islamic history, art and culture to share experiences, discuss issues and problems faced in research and suggest measures to develop and ameliorate these researches in the coming decade.

The Opening Ceremony heard the message of H.E. Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Secretary General of the OIC, who expressed the hope that the collective thinking and action thus initiated would lead to a greater base for cooperation and wished success to the seminar. This was followed by the opening address of the Director General of IRCICA and Chairman of the Seminar; he first touched upon the pursuit of research and scholarship in the Muslim world from a historical perspective, and then discussed at length on each of the four focal points of the seminar, emphasizing the relevance and importance of the issues involved for the development of research activities. The opening ceremony ended with the presentation of an Award of Honour to historian Prof. Abdul Aziz Al-Duri, from the Faculty of Arts, University of Jordan, for his contributions in the field of research and scholarship in Islamic civilisation as an academician and a prolific writer during the last 45 years.

33 scholars and researchers from 10 countries participated in the seminar. 15 papers were presented in the following subject areas

Research methodology

Data and information

Research programs

Resources: funding and manpower needs

These subject areas were devoted two sessions each, one for paper presentations and the other for discussions. On the last day, 10 of the participants briefed the meeting about the activities of their research institutions. The closing session allowed the participants to make a general evaluation of the discussions and record their recommendations in a Final Report.

The Report of the seminar emphasized the duty of the Muslim countries to protect their culture and heritage through well-organised action and reinforce their institutions working in the field of culture. Concerning research methodology, it was pointed out that beside common denominators such as objectivity, accuracy, etc. and the basic principles of enquiry, the methodology to be followed in the study of each subject should be looked at separately in its own context.

Many recommendations were made in the field of data and information, including the promotion of reference publications such as dictionaries and bibliographies and translations from foreign languages; the establishment of specialised data banks in the field of Islamic culture; the organisation of training programs on the techniques of collection and use of information. Concerning research programmes, the participants emphasized the need to extent the coverage of researches in Islamic civilisation to include those regions of the Muslim world which have not received due attention until the present, such as Africa, South-East Asia and the Muslim minority communities. It was also recommended that academic institutions of Islamic countries add to their curricula courses on the comparative study of religions. Another recommendation was related to the establishment of incentive schemes such as scholarship programs for the encouragement of research. Finally, the discussions about funding sources and manpower needs led to a set of recommendations aiming to enhance the qualifications of the research personnel and increase their number according to the needs. It was also emphasized that there was a need to set priorities within the research programs and allocate financial resources according to these priorities. The meeting also recommended that greater cooperation be established among the researchers and research institutions and that a board be set up to meet regularly and determine policies and guidelines for research in Islamic civilisation, under the auspices of IRCICA.

The papers presented in each working session of the seminar were:

I. Research Methodology
First Session
Chairman: Dr. Salih Tuğ (Turkey)

Dr. Mahmoud Ayoub (USA), "Methodological approaches to Islamic thought and history"

Prof.Dr. Mustapha Shaka'a (Egypt), "Ibn Khaldun: his Islamic methods in research with attention to some Western and oriental scholars who dealt with his thoughts"

Second Session
Chairman: Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdullah bin Duheysh (Saudi Arabia)

Prof.Dr. Abdulwahab Bouhdiba (Tunisia), "The Comparative method and its application on some aspects of modern Islamic Civilisation"

Prof.Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Duri, "Research in Arab history: scope and ideas"

Prof.Dr. Abdeljelil Temimi (Tunisia), "For a new methodology in the future of human studies on Arabic-Islamic Civilisation"

Discussion on Research Methodology chaired by Prof.Dr. Ihsan Abbas (Jordan).

II. Data and Information
Third Session
Chairman: Prof.Dr. Halil Sahillioğlu (Turkey)

Prof. Ahmad M. Issa (Egypt), "Bibliographical information, a necessity for our coming generations"

Dr. Hidayet Y. Nuhoğlu (IRCICA), "General survey of the problems in the subject of data and information in research in Islamic Civilisation: a practical approach"

Discussion on Data and Information chaired by Prof.Dr. Mehmet İpşirli (Turkey).

III. Research Programs
Fourth Session
Chairman: Haji Abdul Razzaq (Pakistan)

Prof.Dr. Mehdi Mohaghegh (Iran), "Islamic Studies in Iran, the last decade and future trends"

Dr. Abdurrahim Abu Hussain (Lebanon), "The importance of research diversity in the field of Islamic Civilisation"

Discussion on Research Programs chaired by Assoc. Prof.Dr. Mim Kemal Öke (Turkey)

IV. Resources: Funding and Manpower Needs
Fifth Session
Chairman: Dato Paduka Haji Abdul Saman Kahar (Brunei Darussalam)

Prof.Dr. Adnan Bakheet (Jordan), "Funding sources and manpower needs"

Royal Prof. Ungku Abdul Aziz (Malaysia), "Special emphasis to funding and manpower needs within the Malaysian context"

Zeynep Durukal, Ahmed Lajimi, IRCICA "Research in Islamic Culture: some IRCICA experiences"

Discussion on Funding and Manpower Needs chaired by Raja Fuziah bte. Tun Uda (IRCICA).

V. Special Interest Session
Chairman: Dr. Abdul Mohsen Al-Medej (Kuwait)

Sheikh Mohammed Soleiman Faraj, "Islamic scientific studies and researches and the advance of civilisation"

Introduction of some research centres conducting studies and researches on Islamic civilisation

Dr. Farhan A. Nizami, the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, U.K.

Dr. Ahmet Özel, the Encyclopedia of Islam, Turkey

Mr. Farouk Jarrar, the Royal Academy for Islamic Civilisation Research, Jordan

Dr. Abdul Mohsen Al-Medej, the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters, Kuwait

Dr. Khalis Husni Al-Ash'ab, the Centre for the Revival of the Arabic Scientific Heritage, University of Baghdad, Iraq

Prof.Dr. Mehdi Mohagheg, the McGill Institute of Islamic Studies, Tehran Branch, Iran

Prof.Dr. Abdeljelil Temimi, the Centre for Ottoman and Moriscan Studies and Researches, Documentation and Information, Tunisia

Prof. Ismail Soysal, the Foundation for Studies on Turkish-Arab Relations, Turkey.

On the third day of the seminar, the participants were led to a study tour to Süleymaniye Complex. A post-seminar tour to the historical cities of Bursa and Iznik, led by art historian Prof.Dr. Oktay Aslanapa, was offered to those who wished to join.

Besides leading to useful guidelines for the promotion of research work, researchers and research institutions, the seminar provided a good opportunity for the participants to share ideas and experiences, discover common difficulties faced in the studies and initiate cooperation.

Papers of the seminar were pubished under the title Research in Islamic Civilisation: Outlook for the Coming Decade. This book contains thirteen papers published in their original language of presentation, i.e. either English or Arabic, and the opening and closing speeches of the seminar. It reflects a first evaluation of the problems and prospects of research in Islamic civilisation, by a group of scholars and researchers directly involved in this field.