Based in Kuala Lumpur, the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia was established in 2008 as a non-profit independent research institute. The Institute is dedicated to rigorously pursue objective academic research on Islam and contemporary issues of concern to Malaysia, the Muslim world, and Islam’s engagement with other civilisations. The Founding Chairman and CEO of IAIS Malaysia is world renowned scholar Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali.
IAIS Malaysia’s research seeks to be pragmatic and policy-oriented yet well-grounded in the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, the history of Islam, its civilisation and intellectual culture. The Institute employs resident Research Fellows of recognised standing in their fields of specialisation as well as engages scholars and academics with relevant expertise either as visitors or on a distance consultancy basis.
IAIS Malaysia publishes a quarterly international peer-reviewed journal – Islam and Civilisational Renewal (ICR) – as well as books, Monographs and Occasional Paper Series. ICR carries articles, viewpoints, interviews and book reviews that aim to promote advanced research and quality discourse on the perennial principles of civilisational Islam (Islam hadari) and the related issues of tajdid hadari (civilisational renewal) as well as on the contribution of Muslims to knowledge and culture.
The Institute advances moderation and social harmony within the multi-religious environment of Malaysia, while promoting constructive engagement with other world civilisations. As a uniquely Malaysian initiative, Islam Hadhari helps equip the Ummah with needed intellectual and cultural resources to negotiate the challenges of globalisation and claims by dominant powers to global pre-eminence. With its refreshing focus on a cluster of primary values, Civilisational Islam works to re-center the Shari’ah-driven legalist discourse of Islamic revivalism over recent decades, upon deeper universal Islamic principles.
The civilisational momentum generated by Islam is envisioned in the Qur’anic principle of Human Trusteeship on earth mediating a social order founded on moral virtue, compassion, human dignity and justice. The Qur’an teaches Muslims to respect freedom of conscience and religious pluralism, to promote what is just and prohibit what is reprehensible, and work for realising human welfare. It is emphatic about preserving ties of kinship, honoring one’s neighbors, helping the needy and destitute by means of obligatory taxes and charity, and earning one’s living through lawful work. Furthermore, the Qur’an insists upon the pursuit and mastery of knowledge as pre-requisite for social progress and cultural efflorescence.
The principle of Tawhid (divine Oneness), fundamental in Islam, reflects a unitarian vision of humanity without discrimination of any kind – moral excellence being the only criterion of distinction in the eyes of God. Mutual recognition among nations, cooperation in good works and fraternity constitute the conceptual framework of man’s vicegerency on earth. These are all integral, according to our reading of the Qur’an, to Islam’s view of itself as both a religion and a ‘civilisation’ – which may be rendered as ‘a way of life.’
The Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) received his prophetic call in the environment of Makkah. From it he subsequently migrated to Yathrib, renaming it Madinah; from the same verbal root d-y-n is derived the concept of madaniyyah or civilization, as well as the term din or religion. The nascent Muslim community thus marked its departure from a tribal nomadic existence to urbanity and civilisation, the latter term being synonymous with madaniyyah. Abdullah Badawi’s call for the regeneration and renewal of Islam’s civilisational values under the rubric of Islam Hadhari captures this often neglected yet vitally important aspect of our tradition. Islam Hadhari reminds both Muslims and non-Muslims that Islam is not merely a religion of ritual performances and worship but also a profound civilisation. Civilisational Islam invites the ummah to make a fresh effort to revitalise the most cherished aspects of our ethical and spiritual tradition and heritage.
Islam calls for the renewal and reform of society and civilization through such of its principles as tajdid, islah, fatwa, shura, ijtihad, and ijma’. Islam Hadhari, inspired by the spirit of renewal and reform, focuses on values through which the ummah can overcome the challenges of globalisation, crass secularism and the materialist culture that have become so prevalent in our societies.
The success of this Institute will naturally be measured by the caliber of its staff and the quality of its work. This will be informed by the desire to encourage a harmonious exchange of ideas with the public, academic institutions, think tanks, and government agencies engaged in the study of Islam in Malaysia and abroad. I am confident that Malaysia provides a congenial setting for realisation of the broader civilisational principles of Islam and a flourishing future for this Institute.
Professor Mohammad Hashim Kamali, PhD