Money will create new Muslim culture study centre
By DARAH HANSENVancouver Sun
A million-dollar gift from a West Vancouver family will help create a new Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures at Simon Fraser University.
According to a press release issued by the university, the aim of the centre is to create greater awareness and understanding of the wide range of Muslim societies throughout the world, each with different beliefs and practices.
It will support visiting scholars, annual scholarly conferences and public lecture series, student scholarships for international study, expanded library holdings and language programs in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Urdu.
“In today’s challenging geopolitical environment, with turmoil in Muslim countries such as Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan, we need to promote in the Western world, a better understanding of the people of the Muslim communities,” Amin Lalji, whose family donated the money, said in the press release.
“By bringing in knowledgeable speakers and lecturers with a deep understanding of Muslim cultures, beliefs and behaviours, it will open our minds to be in a better position to deal with controversial issues in the future,” added Lalji, who is also chair of the National Committee of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.
A $5.5 million endowment is required to create and sustain the centre. SFU will provide matching funds of up to $2.5 million. To date, $2 million has been raised from private donations, with another lead gift coming from SFU board of governors chair Saida Rasul and her husband, Firoz.