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Florida Univ. Opens First Islamic Center

The Global Islamic center aims to offer deeper understanding for world’s second largest growing religion.

Source : OnIslam / 06 Sep 2014

Catering to the needs of the fast growing Muslim students, a new center for Islamic studies will be launched by the University of Florida later this month to serve as an Islamic hub in the US fourth most populous state.

“We are very excited about this,” Terje Ostebo, assistant professor at the Center for African Studies and the Department of Religion, told The Gainesville Sun on Saturday, August 30.

“There are very few similar programs in the Southeast, and virtually none in Florida. This center will contribute to putting UF on the map.”

Planned in the in the southeastern state of Florida, the Global Islamic center aims to offer deeper understanding for world’s second largest growing religion through its various courses that focuses on research.

“There is an urgent need for a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the rich diversity and the complex dynamics of contemporary Islam,” Ostebo said.

Islam is the second largest religion in the world, with Muslims are having the lowest median age among all religious groups, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Muslims are numbered 1.6 billion, making up 23% of the world’s 6.9 billion population.

Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.

Last June, the US census authority said that Islam is the second largest religion in twenty American states after Christianity that appeared as the dominant faith across the country.

Tackling Problems

The center aims to attract Muslim scholars from the across the US to voice their opinions on controversial Islamic issues including female religious authority for Shiites, Muslim-West relations, and Islam and politics.

“With a focus on Islam as it intersects with broader social, cultural, political and economic dynamics in the contemporary world, the center aims to produce new and much-needed knowledge through research and become an important resource in teaching and public outreach,” Ostebo said.

The founders of the center aim that it will “create a graduate certificate and an undergraduate minor in Global Islamic Studies”.

The new center was the fruit of a year-long cooperation between the Center for African Studies faculty departments of religion, political science, history, anthropology, and languages, literatures and cultures, were behind the establishment of the Islamic center.

The long awaited Islamic center will be launched on September 18-19 with a conference titled “Global Islam and the Quest for Public Space”.

The main speaker of the conference will be Professor John Esposito, a religion professor at Georgetown University and founding director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.


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