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Monday, September 25, 2023

FIU’s Meghji Family Trust gift advances Shi’a Islam scholarship

Funding from Meghji Family Trust enables FIU to establish a pioneering program in Shi'a Islam studies, promoting research and engagement.

In a significant stride towards promoting understanding and scholarship on Shi’a Islam, the second-largest branch of the religion, the Meghji Family Trust has made a generous gift of $1 million to FIU’s Mohsin & Fauzia Jaffer Center for Muslim World Studies. This endowment will establish the esteemed Prophet Muhammad Visiting Professor of Shi’a Islam Studies, marking an important milestone in the development of a dedicated program at FIU. The program aims to foster teaching and research, forge partnerships with seminaries and institutes worldwide, and create interfaith initiatives for the community.

A Rich Tradition

Shi’a Islam holds a distinct place within the tapestry of Islamic traditions, encompassing a rich legacy of contributions to philosophy, spirituality, art, culture, and civilization. By focusing on Shi’a Islam studies, the Jaffer Center seeks to shed light on this multifaceted tradition, which possesses the capacity to address contemporary global issues and problems.

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Visionary Commitment

The Meghji Family Trust, represented by Mohsin and Tasneem Meghji, expresses its unwavering commitment to the objectives of the Jaffer Center. Their sponsorship of the Prophet Muhammad Visiting Professor of Shi’a Islam Studies reflects their dedication to creating a modern academic platform for research and engagement within the American Shi’a Muslim community and the wider Muslim community. The Meghjis recognize the potential for Shi’a Islam studies to serve as a catalyst for advancing scholarship on the Muslim world.

The Appointment of Dr. Saiyad Nizamuddin Ahmad

Dr. Saiyad Nizamuddin Ahmad, an esteemed scholar with two decades of teaching and research experience, has been named to fill the prestigious new professorship. As an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Dr. Ahmad brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the position. He holds advanced degrees in Islamic Studies from Princeton University, as well as training in traditional Islamic sciences from renowned institutions such as Al Azhar University in Cairo. With his diverse educational background, Dr. Ahmad is uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between Western academia and Islamic scholarship.

Stellar Career

Dr. Ahmad’s illustrious career spans various academic institutions worldwide, including the University of Texas at Austin, the American University in Cairo, and The Shīʿah Institute in London. His extensive experience in teaching and research has honed his understanding of Islamic theology, history, philosophy, and culture. Moreover, Dr. Ahmad’s appointment as an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, highlights his exceptional standing within the academic community.

Prominent Future

The establishment of the Shi’a Islam studies program at FIU marks a pivotal moment in the field. By building upon FIU’s existing academic assets that cover the Islamic world and diverse Muslim practices, the program aims to fill a critical gap in the study of Shi’a Islam. Furthermore, the new professorship acts as a stepping stone towards the creation of a master’s degree program in Islamic Studies, a long-term goal of the Jaffer Center.

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With the generous support of the Meghji Family Trust, FIU’s Mohsin & Fauzia Jaffer Center for Muslim World Studies is embarking on a transformative journey to advance understanding and scholarship on Shi’a Islam. The establishment of the Prophet Muhammad Visiting Professor of Shi’a Islam Studies and the future master’s degree program in Islamic Studies mark significant milestones in the Center’s mission to become a leading academic hub for research and engagement. Through these initiatives, FIU is spearheading the development of a modern academic base that will shape the future of Shi’a Islam studies in the United States, fostering dialogue, knowledge, and appreciation of this vibrant tradition within a global context.