The visitors from Thailand and the Philippines have been touring the U.S. with the State Department program “Faith and Community: A Dialogue.” The Indiana Center for Cultural Exchange and the President’s Office at Georgetown University coordinated this particular visit.
The lecture included introductions of all participants, a brief by Drs. Altalib, Al-Shingieti, and Unus about IIIT history, mission, activities, and future goals, and a discussion of challenges for American Muslims as a minority in the U.S. The speakers highlighted the development of IIIT as an institution in North America, and described how its growth has fostered greater and richer integration of Islamic studies and the social sciences. The discussion of IIIT’s history, especially in the U.S., suggested a parallel history of Muslims in the U.S. and how their presence and priorities have developed over generations. The concerns of American Muslims are key issues for IIIT activities in the U.S.
The visitors asked questions about the direction and formation of IIIT worldwide as well as its educational focus, and shared details about their work in their home countries. The group was interested in further details about IIIT publications and its support of scholars. IIIT gave each participant a sampling of publications and reading material to enrich their study of Islamic thought. The underlying emphasis of discussion was IIIT’s mission to integrate the fundamentals of Qur’an and sunnah with the social sciences, and the institute’s varied short and long-term methods to achieve this end.