Under the patronage of HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation of Education, Science and Community Development (QF), Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies (QFIS) officially opened its new building by holding its first Friday Prayer at the Education City Mosque which was led by Sheikh Saleh Al Maghamsy.
HH toured the new building, starting from the five columns representing the five pillars of Islam, then the library and the classrooms. A delegation including Engineer Saad Ibrahim Al Muhannadi, President of QF, Dr Ahmad Hasnah, Provost and Executive Vice President of HBKU, Dr Aicha Al Mannai, Dean of QFIS, and the architects of the new building accompanied HH on the tour. Dr Hasnah said:
Since it was established as part of HBKU, QFIS has worked to fulfil the vision and mission of QF by unlocking human potential. It strives to provide the best education to students, help them realise their potential and spread a culture of creativity and enlightenment that balances a commitment to traditions alongside innovation.’
Dr Al Mannai said:
The opening of the new building will help us to perform our mission as it provides the right atmosphere to broaden our activities and accommodate our staff to allow an expansion of the student body in the future. This college represents one of many institutions contributing to the comprehensive educational cycle offered by QF that provides quality learning to students to unlock their potential and enhance the culture of innovation and creativity in Qatar.’
As a college of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), which is a member of QF, QFIS was established in 2007 and opening of the new building demonstrates its continuous growth and development to serve the higher education needs of Qatar and wider Islamic societies. The building also reflects QFIS’s strong commitment to its philosophies of originality, plurality, and contemporaneity. Furthermore, the new facilities support QF’s vision to unlock human potential through the delivery of world-class education, with architectural features in line with QF’s mission to foster an engaged society appreciative of its Islamic and Arabic heritage.
QFIS has 114 newly admitted students enrolled for the 2015-2016 academic year. In total, 47 nations are represented in the student body, with 36 per cent coming from Qatar. To date, some 198 students have graduated from QFIS, with a graduating class of 64 students in 2014.
QFIS offers different academic programmes, including six masters courses: Islamic Studies in Contemporary Fiqh, Public Policy in Islam, Islamic Finance, the Study of Contemporary Muslim Thought and Societies, Urban design and Architecture in Islamic societies, and Islamic Studies in Comparative Religions. There are also three diplomas, in Islamic Finance, Public Policy in Islam, and Islamic Studies, offered amongst the QFIS programme.
The Faculty also includes the Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE) which was established in 2011 to address Islamic legislation and ethics. It specialises in the following fields: methodology, arts, environment, economics, education, food, gender studies, media, medicine and bioethics, migration and human rights, politics and psychology.
The college also has five research centres for the development of research work alongside academic study: the Al Qaradawi Centre for Islamic Moderation and Renewal; the Centre for Islamic Economics and Finance; the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies; and the Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Thani Centre for Muslim Contribution to Civilization. They all work to serve QFIS’ religious and ethical vision through a scientific approach with regard to different Islamic and humanitarian issues.
Within the four-story building, some 150 by 100 metres in dimension, members of the QF Community will experience an open and inviting, campus-like atmosphere at the centre that includes a library and study facilities.
From the design and construction through to its daily operations, the principles behind the institution of the new QFIS building looked to implement the messages and meanings of the Holy Qur’an. Reflecting a new, futuristic style of Islamic architecture, QF and HBKU wanted to revise the traditional model of a madrasa through this project by combining study and worship in one building.
The architects, Ali Mangera and Ada Yvars Bravo, studied Islamic structures from history and distilled their research into two principal concepts: knowledge and enlightenment. These values are represented by the two ribbons that intertwine to create the building’s internal spaces, and come to an end rising into the sky pointing in the direction of Makkah.
The faculty and the mosque contain many symbolic and poetic references to Islam and its civilisation. The Mosque structure rests on five large columns representing the five pillars of Islam, with each featuring a verse drawn from the Holy Qur’an. However, its intelligent, complex structure ensures that its large interior space, including the mezzanine level, is free from columns. Prayer lines are extended to the exterior landscape of the building, echoing the notion that the entire earth is a ground for prayer.
Natural light, and the play of light and shadow, is an important feature that is framed differently in different parts of the building which also uses a calm and neutral palette of whites representing notions of serenity and purity.
Water is another element used throughout the building where four streams flow through its exterior and interior, inspired by the rivers of paradise as described in the Holy Qur’an.
The new building includes the latest amenities that has taken advantage of modern innovations alongside a respect for environment, in addition to being an architectural masterpiece that exemplifies the beauty of Islam and its moderation.