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This is the updated version of concept paper that was prepared and written by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule MB ChB (MUK), MPH (Harvard), DrPH (Harvard) Faculty of Medicine King Fahad Medical City

Work in the next decade will be focused on the core mission of knowledge reform and thought reform achieved through research followed by publication, seminars and workshops, and specialized teaching programs. All this will contribute to the renewal (tajdid) and reform (islah).

The highest priorities shall be:
  • Reform of early education and parenting curricula with emphasis on the madrasat for young children
  • Reform of higher education curricula by research on the epistemology, methodology, ethics, and outstanding intellectual issues of selected academic disciplines
  • Reform of curricula and teaching methods of dar al uluum without changing their basic vision and mission 
  • production of concept papers and guidelines for establishing and running universities to cater for Muslims (attachment #1)
  • Intellectual / thought analysis and solution proposals but no practical field involvement in the following: (i) local community problems: rights (human rights, family rights, religious rights, cultural rights), marginalization (social, cultural, religious, economic, legal, poverty, and employment), internal community problems (ethnic, sectarian, ideological, family breakdown, youth problems) (ii) da’awa and teaching of basics of religion (iii) cultural and religious dialog with others.

2.1 The knowledge and thought problems
The paper starts from the assertion that 2 internal factors, a knowledge crisis and a thought crisis, are major causes of ummatic weakness. These 2 factors combine to lead to ummatic malaise manifesting in the religious, social, economic, and technological dimensions.

2.2 The knowledge problem
The knowledge problem arises out of the dichotomy in the education system (traditional religious vs modern secular). The problem can be resolved by epistemological and methodology reform of academic disciplines to conform to the paradigms of integration (takamul al ma’arifat) and objectivity, istiqamat 

2.3 The thought problem
The thought problem arises from misconceptions of textual applications to contemporary social realities. Its solution is by 1. Clarifying basic paradigms using modern terminology and 2. research using the various social science disciplines / humanities to identify and define contemporary intellectual issues (qadhaya fikriyyat mu’asirat) in the community and then propose solutions based on the bird-eye view frame-work of the higher purposes, al maqasid.

3.1 Mobilization
General 1-day seminars held at academic centers will introduce the thought and knowledge problems and motivate academics and postgraduate students to make contributions to the programs. At a later stage these seminars will be used to disseminate the products of research.

3.2 Research
Research questions and plans shall be developed for specific problems of knowledge and thought. Researchers will be funded to produce fully written and referenced papers that shall be presented at small 1-day seminars. Papers on social issues should include field data collection. Each seminar will comprise 4-7 papers that will be discusses intensely and in detail to enable the author make improvements. The revised papers of each seminar or group of related seminars shall be published as a booklet (paper or online).

3.3 Teaching
Previously published material and new publications from the research programs will be used in in-class and on-line teaching programs under the auspices of TFI and in collaboration with accredited universities / institutes initially but in our own institutions that will be developed towards the end of the plan period. The theme of the programs shall be contemporary intellectual issues (qadhaya fikriyyat mu’asirat). The programs will at 6 levels: certificate, diploma, bachelors, masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral. The fields covered by the teaching programs will be: 1. Education curricula and methods (parenting, early education, elementary education), 2. Islamic studies (fiqh, ‘uluum al Qur;an, ‘uluum al hadith), 3. Epistemology and research methodology of social sciences / humanities (economics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, political science, historiography etc.). 4. Ethics of applied sciences (medical and health disciplines, engineering, architecture, business, banking, finance, insurance, food and nutrition etc).

3.4 Dissemination
Dissemination of research will be by publishing e-books as well as e-journals and distributing them online using websites, social media etc. This will be supplemented by seminars, conferences, and teaching programs. All these activities shall be out-sourced to specialized companies whenever that is more economical than employing in-house staff.

All existing publications with epistemological, thought, educational, and social content shall be converted into books-in-brief (BIB) and rendered with contexualization into English and selected South Asian languages. Full books will be rendered if there is a demonstrable demand.

Academic electronic journals shall be published in English and other South Asian languages. They will be a medium of publication for postgraduate students who will be involved in the academic programs.

Seminars and conferences shall be planned in such a way that their proceedings will be published as books/booklets

Teaching programs shall use teaching material developed in-house with the aim of turning them eventually into textbooks.

4.1 Program directors
Academicians with substantial appointments and office facilities at their own institutions will be appointed as honorary/part-time program directors/coordinators in 7-10 major university/academic centers. Each director can engage a part-time academic assistant and a part-time administrative assistant.

4.2 Budgeting
The following activities shall be carried out by in-house staff or shall be out-sourced:
4.2.1        translation, publication, and distribution
4.2.2        Organizing seminars, conferences, and workshops
4.2.3        Management of teaching programs.
4.2.4        Setting up and maintaining websites and social media outlets.

The cost of publications shall be partially recovered from sales mainly to academic institutions.

Teaching programs should be self-supporting after 2-3 years.

Seminars and conferences shall be held at free/rented university premises and some of the cost will be recovered by charging registration fees.

4.3 Key performance indicators
4.3.1        Data base of over 10,000 scholars and potential researchers
4.3.2        Regional monthly newsletter providing uptodate information on academic projects
4.3.3        Interactive regional website with online resource material
4.3.4        Active accounts on social media (Facebook etc)
4.3.5        Number of  research seminars per year in selected academic cities
4.3.6        Number of BIBs or books rendered into local languages
4.3.7        Number of research papers produced
4.3.8        Number of new books published (paper or electronic)
4.3.9        Number of teaching programs and number of enrolled students

ATTACHMENT #1: Call for research proposals on higher education reform

Background: The past 30 years have witnessed the opening of universities with an Islamic identity in Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority countries. The trend is increasing very rapidly with the expectation that in the next 10 years most countries of the world will have at least one such institution. These institutions are overcoming their financial challenges due to increased enrolment and now are able to face more fundamental conceptual and practical challenges for which they have no previous experiences or guidelines to refer to.

Objective: The purpose of this Request for Proposals (RFP) is to encourage research and publication in specific domains concerning Muslim higher education. Academicians and administrators who will respond to this RFP will be awarded research grants ranging USD500-1000 depending on the complexity of the research to produce.  Well-referenced research papers of about 5000 words will first be published electronically for wide distribution and will be included in printed volumes that will be published later. Some of the papers will be selected for presentation and discussion at annual Islamic university regional conferences that will be convened in East Africa, West Africa, North Africa, West Asia, South Asia, South East Asia, Europe, and America.

Scope of proposals: Applicants are expected to submit their proposals in a specified area from the following list: (a) Philosophy and epistemology of Islamic education (b) Curriculum development emphasizing knowledge integration (c) administration, financial, and endowment affairs? (c) academic affairs? (c) Student affairs i.e. Tarbiyah and Tranining (d) Teaching Resources (e) Legal issues and governmental relations? (f) Accreditation and recognition?; Strategic plans / future innovations in higher education; Capacity building and training; Engagement with non-Islamic institutions; Previous experiences: Assessment (eg. IIUM, especially financial aspect); Examination theories; Bibliographies on Reform of Higher education from western, Muslim, and Eastern perspectives; Qur'anic Worldview in the core curriculum.

Content of the proposal: The proposal shall be 400-500 words mentioning the title, the objectives, methods, expected results, and some of the references or sources that will be used. The curriculum vitae of the researcher(s) shall be attached. Also to be attached are previous related publications.

Submission of proposals:  Proposals can be submitted in Arabic, English, French, Turkish, Urdu, Bahasa Malaysia / Indonesia. There is no deadline; proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis. Submissions will be to the one of the following emails: Educational Reform Research Committee, Dr Manzoor Alam.
[1] Updated version of a paper first written on January 31, 2013.


Writings of Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr

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