For the first time since their recent appointment the IIIT Council of Scholars met in a face-to-face meeting at IIIT on Saturday, February 20. All Council members attended except one who joined via audio conference. Composed of accomplished scholars, the Council serves as an advisory group to review IIIT’s programs and plans and offer advise on priorities and directions for IIIT to consider. The February 20 meeting served as an opportunity for Council members to interact with IIIT principals, including Dr. Jamal Barzinji, who presented a comprehensive review of IIIT’s current projects and activities. Council members not only shared their feedback and comments, but accepted responsibility for drafting concept papers for new initiatives that emerged during the discussion. The Council is expected to meet once more this year, but may have additional communication through audio conferences or on one-on-one basis.
IIIT has described the Council as follows:
IIIT announced today, Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, the formation of the Council of Scholars in the US. The Council of Scholars is to provide advice to IIIT on academic matters. It is comprised of eight senior scholars from American and Canadian Universities who are professors of religion, Islamic studies or social sciences with published works and current research interests that intersect with IIIT areas of interest and with a record of research and publications in the sociological study of Islam and Muslim world affairs.
Known members of the Council include:
Prof. Abdul Hakeem Jackson – University of Michigan
Prof. Sulayman Nyang – Howard University
Prof. Asma Afsaruddin – University of Notre Dame
Prof. Ingrid Matteson – Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian/Muslim Relations
Prof. Muqtedar Khan – University of Delaware
Prof. Mazin Hashim – USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences
Prof. Cemil Aydin – George Mason University
IIIT has indicated that the Council will play an important role in the supervision of IIIT academic programs.
It should be noted that IIIT Council Member Ingrid Mattson is also the President of ISNA, which according to the Hudson report is an important part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Hakeem Jackson is a former member of the Fiqh Council of North America and a past trustee of the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), both organizations being part of ISNA. Asma Afsaruddin and Muqtedar Khan have been important leaders of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID). CSID was founded in 1998 and many members of the early CSID board were associated with IIIT.
According to a recent Hudson Institute report, IIIIT was founded in the U.S. in 1980 by U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leaders including Jamal Barzinji and Hisham Altalib who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge” and who were also early leaders of ISNA. 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 March 2002 in connection with the financing of terrorism and both organizations had been under investigation at that time by the U.S. Justice Department until at least mid 2007. The organization appeared to have withdrawn from public view following the 2002 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.