George Mason University has announced that it has received $1.5 million from the the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT) for an endowed chair in Islamic studies. According to the announcement :
George Mason University announces the receipt of a $1.5 million gift from the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT) to recruit a leading senior scholar to serve as an endowed chair in Islamic studies. The gift will allow Mason to build upon the rich Islamic culture present in its diverse student body, faculty and the surrounding communities and position the university as a leading authority in the field of Islamic studies. The position will be based within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS). Together with current faculty in the Islamic studies program, the new chair will work toward developing of a full, multidisciplinary academic program that encompasses teaching, research and public outreach….Mason’s program in Islamic studies will focus on developing an understanding of Islam’s role in the development of world civilization and global culture in fields such as philosophy, literature and the sciences, as well as the dynamics surrounding the Muslim world’s interactions with other cultures….Mason currently offers an Islamic studies minor and a new Middle East studies program. In addition, the university has a growing Ras al-Khaimah Campus in the United Arab Emirates.
A previous post had reported that IIIT had withdrawn an offer for an endowed chair at Temple University which had said that it was waiting for the results of a Federal investigation into the role of IIIT in the financing of a Florida think-tank that served as a front for Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Another post had reported on a “substantial contribution” made by IIIT in an effort to establish an Islamic Studies Chair at the University of Central Florida (UCF). IIIT has recently described a “growing relationship” with George Mason which has cosponsored at least one conference with the Association of Muslim Social Scientists, a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organization headquartered at IIIT.
IIIT was founded in the U.S. in 1980 by important members of the Global Muslim Brotherhood who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge.” IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in 2003 and is still under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department in connection with the financing of terrorism. The organization appeared to withdrawn from public view following the 2003 raids, but seems to be enjoying a renaissance of late. IIIT has a network of affiliates located in Europe, Africa, the MIddle East, and Asia. Although little is known about the activities of these IIIT affiliates, recent posts have discussed plans by IIIT to construct colleges in Bosnia and Lebanon.