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Catholic university offers studies on Islam
July 29, 2014
Davao's Ateneo, Catholic & Jesuit,
accepts, offers studies on Islam
Photos: courtesy of ADDU from its website.
Photo 1: Fr. Joel E. Tabora, S.J, president of ADDU
Photos 2 and 3: ADDU
MANILA -- Believe it or not, the Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) is offering a course on Islam.
It may not be exactly of the caliber of Ripley's "Believe it or Not," but, yes, it sounds and looks something out of the ordinary!
Actually, some people were surprised about it.
That is, a Catholic, Jesuit, and Filipino university, and one of the leaders in the Philippine academic community, has its Bachelor of Arts in Islamic Studies, or the ABIS Program.
Ustadhz Janor C. Balo, program head of ABIS, said the four-year course has 142 units core subjects, and 72 units major subjects.
He said the application for the ABIS Program was submitted to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED)-Region XI in December 2013.
In four months, Balo said that CHED in April 2014 gave ADDU its approval. He said ABIS falls under ADDU's Social Science Cluster.
Balo said ADDU, through its Al Qalam Institute, designed the ABIS Program curriculum based on CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) 30 on policies and standards governing the course offering.
He said it would not have been possible without the support of Fr. Joel E. Tabora, ADDU president, and the people behind him.
The support, Balo said, "is very instrumental for the development of this program in the Ateneo de Davao University."
He quoted a brief background why ADDU agreed to have the ABIS Program, pointing to research that showed the challenges being faced by most Muslims in the Philippines as they try to understand Islam's core values and principles in relation with modernity.
"The difference in interpretations, appreciation and application of Islamic values annd principles in some way affects the Muslim communities from fully gaining their potentials, political maturity, economic development, promotion of peace, culture of dialogue and peaceful co-existence," the Moro educator related about the ABIS Program background.
Apparently alluding to the proposed Bangsamoro new political entity (NPE), Balo spoke of "current political developments" that would create "a new state in political relations and establishment of new governance structure" requiring "a new breed of technocrats in principle-based and transparency- and accountability-oriented governance."
In response to this need, Balo said ADDU "decided to offer the ABIS Program."
He said that ABIS, Major in Political Economy, addresses the need to mold scholars on Islam and peace who are equipped with an authentic appreciation on Islamic faith, culture, peace and political economy.
Balo cited the objectives of the ABIS Program, saying that graduates are expected to be proficient in both oral and written Arabic; demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the Qur'an and Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Allaihi Wassalam; comprehend and interpret events as they affect national and international politics and economy; demonstrate knowledge of Islamic history, culture, philosophy, literature, and Shari'ah (Islamic Law); develop values and principles that see Islam as a way of life encompassing the economic, social, cultural, and the political and legal foundations of human relations.
The director of Al Qalam Institute, Mussolini Sinsuat Lidasan, related how some people were surprised upon learning of ADDU's Al Qalam Institute and its Islamic Studies course offerings.
He made the revelation in his piece titled "Qun Faya Qun: ADDU AB Islamic Studies: An inter-religious dialogue in action" on MindaNews.com.
"What is an Islamic institute doing in a Catholic, Jesuit and Filipino university?" he said was the question he got.
His ready reply: ABIS "is an inter-religious dialogue in action."
Lidasan described the vision behind the Al Qalam Institute:
"Al Qalam is an institute for Islam, Muslims and peoples of Mindanao and their cultural links to Southeast Asian communities, committed to strengthen spirituality and belonging to a bigger humanity and participating actively in the co-creation and nurturing of a society founded on social justice, gender equality, multiculturalism, religious pluralism, peace and sustainable human development, as mutually shared values of the Ignatian Spirituality."
He said the vision of the Al Qalam Institute jibes with ADDU's Mission Statement.
Lidasan stressed that the study of Islam should not be for Muslims alone, citing the United States' Georgetown University in Washington, DC, which runs its own Department of Islamic and Arabic Studies and at the same time houses the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU).
Observers noted that the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City, has its own Institute of Islamic Studies (IIS), which has already produced many graduates.
There are a few others which like UP are secular educational institutions that offer Islamic Studies with different specializations, they said.
What sets ADDU apart from the other schools offering Islamic Studies is that it is Catholic and Jesuit, dedicated to spreading the Catholic faith, they added.
So, how should Filipino see the ABIS Program in a Catholic and Jesuit university?
Whichever one would have it, ADDU has taken one big step to breaking barriers -- religious and cultural, etc. -- that up to this day since the coming of the Spanish conquistadors have not been fully broken. Not even centuries past.
On the other hand, ADDU's mission is not confined to evangelization.
Let us hear ADDU's Mission Statement, which Lidasan said is adhered to by the ABIS Program vision:
"The Ateneo de Davao excels in the formation of leaders for the Philippine Church and society, especially for Mindanao. It excels further in the promotion of the faith that does justice, in cultural sensitivity and transformation, and inter-religious dialogue, particularly with the Muslim and Lumad communities of Mindanao.
"It promotes communities touched and transformed by the faith, communities and peace and human well-being, culturally resilient yet able to adapt to the modern world. It promotes social justice, gender equality, good governance, the creation of wealth and its equitable distribution. It engages vigorously in environmental protection, the preservation of biodiversity, the promotion of renewable energy. It leads in Philippine educational reform, especially for the peoples of Southern Philippines."
Truth is that Tabora, ADDU's popular president, friendly, and broad-minded, has great things to say about the Mindanao peace processes, particularly between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
"We are at a historical moment in the history of Mindanao -- as the Filipino nation shall deliberate on whether to pass or not to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)," the ADDU president said at the international peace conference in Cotabato City on June 6-7.
Earlier, Tabora told this journalist through Twitter that: "We support the Bangsamoro as it is conceived in the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro), and hope for a BBL that is faithful to this."
He has more inspiring and unifying words as he suggested what role a Catholic education should play.
"Catholic education must work for understanding, insight, peace. It must teach peace. Not the peace of the graveyard, nor the peace that comes from closing eyes to truth and injustice. Not even the tenuous peace that comes from signatures on parchments, but the peace that comes from what our Pope Francis calls 'reconciled diversity,' that must occur ultimately in our communities -- Christian and Muslim -- on the ground," said Tabora. #