GHENT – A leading Islamic academy in the city of Ghent has celebrated its 25th anniversary, marking a quarter century success in the teaching of Qur’an and Islamic education.
“What we saw here today is that it is possible to train and educate Imams who are born and brought up in Belgium," Ibrahim Letoush, the director of the Islamic Development and Research Academy, told Kuwait News Agency on Sunday, December 22.
“All of them are going at the same time to Belgian schools and are doing good in their studies. They are combining the two studies and the two disciplines," he added.
Located in the city of Ghent, 60 kms from Brussels, the Islamic Development and Research Academy was founded in 1989.
The academy, deemed among the leading Qur’an institutions in Europe, marked 25 years of success during an event held last Saturday.
The ceremony honored Mustfa Al Diwani; a scholar from Morocco who has been engaged in teaching the Qur’an since 1975.
Moreover, 15 young boys and girls were also honored for memorizing the Noble Qur’an and were awarded prizes including a trip for pilgrimage to Makkah.
The youngest one is 15 years old. Another two hundred are now learning the Qur’an at the Academy.
Letoush said they were all born and brought up in Belgium and can now become Imams or scholars.
"It is a great day for me because my 17-year old son Anas today has become an Hafiz (one who memorizes the whole Quran)," he said.
There are about 25,000 Muslims mainly from Morocco living in Ghent.
Belgian Muslims are estimated at 450,000 – out of a 10-million-population – about half of them are from Moroccan origin, while 120,000 are from Turkish origin.
The leaders of the organization have asserted the importance of Qur’an education to protect youngsters from radicalization.
“Most of our young Muslims who take the extreme path know hardly anything about the Qur’an,” Letoush said.
“If you ask them how much of the Qur’an you memorized, they will say perhaps a few surahs (chapters) and their understanding of the Quran is not correct.
“We have to invest in our generation. The only way is to teach the correct understanding of the Qur’an,” he added.
Along with Qur’an memorization, Dr. Tijani Boualaouali, Director of academic affairs at the Academy, said they were also training teachers of Arabic language.
The Academy also issues certificates for Halal products.
“When I moved to Europe I found that the situation is not in need of a poet but to serve the cause of Muslims in the West,” said Tijani who has written about ten books on integration of Muslims in western societies, women in Islam, education, dialogue with non-Muslims, Islamophobia, etc.
“From there my journey in the service of Islam began.”
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