PUTRAJAYA — September 29, 2015: The Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah hopes that the Muslims can do better in handling the Syrian refugee crisis.
In so saying, he referred to events of the past few weeks when the world witnessed the plight of Syrian refugees as they desperately fled to Europe instead of neighbouring Muslim countries.
Sultan Nazrin spoke of how he had been deeply moved by one Syrian refugee who compared German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Abyssinian Christian King Negus, who famously sheltered Muslim refugees during the first hijrah during the time of Prophet Muhammad.
“And another Syrian refugee eloquently said: “We will tell our children that Syrian migrants fled their country to come to Europe when Makkah and Muslim lands were closer to them”,” said the sultan when speaking on “Reclaiming Education in Muslim Universities for the 21st Century” at the World Islamic Countries University Leaders Summit 2015 here today.
Sultan Nazrin reminded that Muslims should learn from their own history, like how the first university in the world, the al-Qarawiyyin University, housed Muslims in Europe when they were expelled during the Spanish inquisition in the 15th century.
“Some even continued their studies there. As a result, the city of Fez became a famous place of refuge for displaced persons of that time and their quarter near the university in the old city survives to this day,” he said.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, around 150,000 Syrians have declared asylum in the European Union since the
outbreak of the civil war in their country in March 2011.
Sultan Nazrin also said that universities should produce not only individuals with broad knowledge and critical intelligence but also those who
would have moral decency and social sensitivity.
It ought to be an institution that can fundamentally develop, even transform human beings, both materially and spiritually.
However, Sultan Nazrin said the traditional humanistic role of universities has changed since the onset of the industrial revolution.
In this regards, universities have increasingly diverged from their historical mission as a place of human transformation by seeking knowledge and understanding for their own sake towards becoming a place for training graduates solely to meet the needs of industries and businesses.
“That original humanistic transformative role of universities may be in danger of extinction if we continue simply to follow the requirements of our
material world in its sheer materialism.”
Sultan Nazrin said it is for this reason that university leaders and administrators should not forget the original metaphysical mission and pay heed to the transformative role that universities ought to play in society. — Bernama