The Muhammad Bin Hamad Al Thani Centre for Muslim Contribution to Civilisation (CMCC), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) College of Islamic Studies, recently announced Abdul Basit Baba Issah as the winner of the centre’s international research competition on the Prophet’s Seerah – the Arabic word for the Prophet’s biography.

Titled Guidance of the Messenger (PBUH) on the Relationships among Nations, the competition highlighted the life of the Prophet and his teachings on relationship-building with communities of different cultures and religions, which is considered by Muslims to be an extension of the Quran, as a way to gain deeper understanding of the faith and Islamic culture. It was an opportunity for budding Islamic scholars from around the world to submit research papers based on the life of the Prophet (PBUH).

The competition sought to inspire an interpretation of Islam that accurately portrays it as a faith of tolerance and peace. Submissions from local and international applicants focused on a range of topics, all tied to the morals of promoting harmony and coexistence among different cultures, within the context of Islam and Sharia – the Arabic term for Islamic law. Participants were given a six-month period to submit their research papers, which were then evaluated by a panel of judges comprised of scholars, academics and researchers, many of whom are leading names in the field of Islamic studies and comparative religions.

Speaking on the role of the competition in correcting public perceptions to combat Islamophobia, Dr Aisha Yousef Al-Mannai, Director of CMCC said that the Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is an inspiration to Muslim youth, whose awakening and motivation is stemmed from the Prophet’s (PBUH) guidance and morals. He said that the importance of studying and analysing the Messenger’s (PBUH) biography is a driving force behind hosting competitions like this at HBKU.

The HBKU Seerah competition’s winner, Abdul Basit Baba Issah, a Ghanaian undergraduate student from Turkey’s Fatih Sultan Mehmet Vakif University in Istanbul, was awarded US$5,000 for his scholarly work. Focusing on Islamic laws, teachings, and doctrines set forth by the Quran and Hadiths – the Prophet’s collection of traditions and sayings – the research delved into how the Prophet applied the teachings and interpretations of the faith in his own daily life.

I’m honoured to be chosen as the winner of HBKU’s Seerah competition. My primary motivation for submitting my research was to dispel common myths and fallacies about what is often perceived as Sharia Law. My research is aimed at giving the world an unabridged picture of Islam, inspired by the Prophet’s (PBUH) life, and his teachings for all of humanity.

Launched last November, the competition was open to undergraduates of all faiths from all around the world. Participants representing a range of cultures and backgrounds submitted academic research papers on the Prophet’s life pertaining to his interactions with people and nations with different religions and ideologies.

CMCC, the organiser of the competition, was established as a centre for excellence in Islamic studies, literature and civilisation. As part of HBKU’s College of Islamic Studies, the centre hosts various scientific and research activities on human civilisation and the contributions of Muslims towards it.

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