During his trip to Pakistan, on Monday 23rd January 2023, the Vice-Principal, Bakhtyar Pirzada al-Azhari, travelled to Islamabad where he was hosted at the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), which is the world’s second largest open university.
Upon arrival, the Vice-Principal was welcomed at the university’s Centre of Excellence by its Coordinator and Senior Advisor to the Project Management Unit (PMU), Mr Muhammad Rafique Tahir, and his eminence, Sahibzada Pir Dr Sajid-ur-Rehman of Baghar Sharif, who is Chairman of the Seerat-un-Nabi Chair at AIOU, and Dr Hafiz Muhammad Sajjad (Associate Professor, Department of Interfaith Studies). The Centre of Excellence of the AIOU comprises three academic chairs: Seerat-un-Nabi Chair, Iqbal Chair on Tasawwuf and Muslim Thought, and History Chair of Creating Archives of Intelligentsia of Pakistan.
After various introductions, a formal meeting of the management board of the Seerat-un-Nabi Chair was held, of which the Vice-Principal is a member. Amongst various points of agenda, during the meeting the Vice-Principal delivered a presentation and took questions from board members.
Following the meeting, a luncheon in honour of the Vice-Principal was organised which was attended by senior lecturers, faculty heads and scholars including Mr Muhammad Rafique Tahir (Senior Advisor, PMU), Sahibzada Pir Dr Sajid-ur-Rehman (Chairman, Seerat-un-Nabi Chair), Prof Dr Fateh Muhammad Malik (Chairman, Iqbal Chair), Prof Dr Shah Muhyuddin Hashmi (Dean, Faculty of Arabic and Islamic Studies), Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Sahir (Chairman, Department of Urdu), Dr Ghulam Shams-ur-Rehman (Chairman, Department of Interfaith Studies), Dr Hafiz Muhammad Sajjad (Associate Professor, Department of Interfaith Studies), amongst other guests.
Following the luncheon, the Vice-Principal toured the Central Library of the university and met the senior librarian. Here, key literary works of the Founder of Jamia Al-Karam in the UK, Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada in Arabic, English and Urdu were presented to the library and duly received. Thereafter, the Vice-Principal was invited to the Faculty of Arabic and Islamic Studies where he was hosted by the Dean, Prof Dr Shah Muhyuddin Hashmi, who had recently visited Jamia Al-Karam in the UK. Here, the Vice-Principal met and had tea with various members of faculty staff and lecturers.
A formal meeting was then arranged within the faculty where the Vice-Principal delivered a presentation covering various themes of academic studies, vision in a globalised world and intellectual approaches. Following the discussion, Q&As with the Vice-Principal continued. During the meeting, the Vice-Principal was informed that a postgraduate student was presently researching and writing an MPhil thesis examining Shaykh Pirzada’s commentary of the Qur’an, the ‘Tafsir Imdad al-Karam’ at AIOU, as well as the books ‘Imdad-us-Sarf’ and ‘Imdad-un-Nahw’ of Shaykh Pirzada were being used in the study of Arabic Grammar even in Pakistan within academic circles due to their simplicity and effectiveness. At the end of the session, the Vice-Principal was presented with the latest publications of the faculty and an honorary faculty shield.
With informal discussions and introductions, meeting various staff and lecturers, the Vice-Principal then departed from the university after a day spent with learned people exchanging ideas and increasing knowledge and understanding. The Vice-Principal expressed his gratitude and thanks to all who were present in particular the faculty heads and centre leaders who arranged and hosted the visit.