Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill evolving

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November 13, 2012

It’s one thing to get out of the blocks quickly in a race, it’s quite another to stay ahead of the pack… for 60 years. But that’s exactly what the Institute of Islamic Studies (IIS) has been doing since it was founded in 1952. The Islamic Studies Library, which started off as a modest departmental collection, is now considered one of the most important in the field, boasting more than 150,000 volumes of print and digital material.

From the outset, the IIS tried to maintain a balance between faculty from the Muslim world and from the West. The idea was simple; to gain the fullest possible understanding of the Muslim world required the best of both Western and Islamic scholarly traditions – perhaps not such a revolutionary concept today, but entirely unheard of in the 1950s. Those same scholars went back and became influential in Indonesia. Among other things, they established the State Institutes of Islamic Studies, an archipelago-wide system of education basically modeled on the IIS.

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