The Center for Islamic and Occidental Studies (CIOS) is a center which was established based on the idea that Islam is both a religion and civilization that is now confronting challenges from other civilizations, especially that of the West. However, such a challenge is not new in the history of Islamic civilization, since from the very beginning Islam had the experience of encountering foreign civilizations such as Greek, Persian, Indian and others.
It is worth noting that when Muslim scholars in the past encountered foreign civilizations, their un¬derstanding of the basic concepts of Islam was very strong. They mastered, for example the knowledge about al-Qur’an and Hadith, science of interpretation of the Qur’an (Tafsir), the sciences of Hadith (Ulum al-Hadith), Jurisprudence (Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh), theology (Aqidah), and the likes. As a result, they were able naturally and successfully to appropriate those foreign elements, adopting and adapting them to be developed within the framework of Islamic thought. This process is what we call the Islamization of con¬temporary knowledge.
Today, however, Muslims are facing serious problems to carry out such scientific process. This is due to two reasons: a weak understanding of Islam and overwhelming influence of foreign concepts in the mind of Muslim ummah. They lack mastery of the Islamic sciences and are at the same time unfa¬miliar with the modern sciences of Western civilization. Indeed, many of them are more acquainted with the Western ideas than they are with Islamic concepts, causing them to adopt un-Islamic ideas and theories uncritically. It is to remedy this situation that CIOS was established. The aim is to rediscover the key concepts in Islam through the thought of al-Salaf al-Salih, and at the same time to study the key concepts of Western civilization.
It is hoped that through this scientific approach, the Islamic concepts could be clarified, elaborated and applied in various areas such as economics, education, politics, culture, science, etc. creatively, so as to meet the contemporary challenges. At the same time, the Western concepts will be studied critically and selec¬tively, before they are adapted into Islamic concepts.
The inauguration ceremony of the Centre was held in concurrence with the celebration of Gontor’s 80th Anniversary. The program was attended by Prof. Dr. Abdullah Abdul Muhsin Al-Turki the President of International Muslim Universities League and its Secretary General Prof. Dr. Ja‘far Abdussalam. On this occasion Prof. Dr. Ja’far Abdussalam delivered his speech entitled “The Challenge of Islamic World”.
The second inauguration of the Center was by Grand Shaikh al-Azhar, H.E. Prof. Dr. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi during which he presented his key note speech on the occasion of 80th Gontor Anniversary.
The main activities of the Center are:
- Organizing workshop on Islamization of contemporary knowledge
- Publication of books and scientific reports
- Organizing symposium, and seminars both nationally and internationally
- Holding regular weekly discussions on issues related to thought and civilization of Islam and the West