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International Islamic University at Islamabad

Zafar Ishaq Ansari, Jamal Malik
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World What is This? Provides comprehensive scholarly coverage of the full geographical and historical extent of Islam

International Islamic University at Islamabad

International Islamic University (IIU), established in Islamabad, Pakistan, in 1980 as the Islamic University Islamabad, grew out of the Faculty of Sharīʿah established at Quaʿid-i Aʿzam University. Its name was changed in 1985 to International Islamic University. It was envisaged as “an international seat of Islamic learning … to provide … opportunity for an all round and harmonious development of individuals and society and reconstruction of human thought in all its forms on the foundations of Islam” and to “encourage and promote education, training and research in Islamic learning, social, natural, applied and communication sciences and other branches of learning to ensure the Muslim Ummah's ideological, moral, intellectual, social, economic and technological development in accordance with the values, ideals, principles and norms of Islam.” IIU's educational philosophy is to combine instruction in Islamic disciplines with their cognates in modern Western academia. It requires of its students proficiency in English and Arabic.

The word “Islamic” in the university's name symbolizes the postcolonial assertion of Islamic identity and the desire to bring traditional Islamic and modern Western streams of education closer, and eventually to integrate them. Its trans-Islamic character represents South Asian Muslims’ affinity with the international Muslim ummah (community). This explains the high percentage of Muslim students and faculty from overseas. The Board of Trustees, IIU's paramount body, also comprises a large number of distinguished scholars and persons of eminence from overseas.

IIU is a collaborative venture of Pakistan and other Islamic countries. While the budget to meet its recurring expenditures is provided by Pakistan, the services of overseas teachers are provided by other Muslim countries and their universities. IIU's overseas supporters played a major role in providing the university's infrastructure and making financial contributions to its endowment fund.

With only nine students in 1980, IIU's student body increased dramatically and presently stands at 11,171 (4,815 or 43.11 percent female). IIU now has nine faculties: Sharīʿah and Law; Uṣūl al-Dīn (Islamic Studies); Arabic Language and Islamic Civilization; the International Institute of Islamic Economics; Social Sciences; Management Sciences; Basic and Applied Sciences; Languages, Literature, and Humanities; and Engineering and Technology. It also has three institutes, two academies, and five centers. IIU plans to establish several other faculties, including Health Sciences. From 1980 to 2008 IIU has produced 11,415 graduates, including thirty-six PhDs. As of 2008 its teaching staff numbers 479, of whom 110 hold PhDs.

Organization and Facilities.

The president of Pakistan is IIU's ex-officio chancellor. He is assisted by the pro-chancellor (a position to which so far only distinguished overseas scholars have been appointed) and the rector (always a Pakistani dignitary). IIU's president, its executive head, is assisted by deans of faculties, directors of institutes and academies, and heads of academic departments and centers, in addition to administrative personnel. Until 2004 all presidents were from overseas.

IIU's campus is located on a piece of land measuring 704 acres, granted by the government. It moved there in 2002, when sufficient faculty had been hired and student housing was ready. The new campus, whose splendid architecture represents a judicious blending of Islamic and modern Western styles, is growing fast with the patronage of the Pakistani government and overseas philanthropists.

The university's academic life is supported by a library system that is among the richest in Pakistan. The total collection exceeds 400,000 volumes and 1150 journals and magazines. A fully computerized catalog is accessible online, allowing access to 20,000 journals and a digital library comprising 40,000 electronic books.

Institutes and Academies.

Apart from its faculties, IIU houses a number of institutes and academies. The Islamic Research Institute (IRI) was established in 1960 and, after working for two decades under the government of Pakistan, was made part of IIU in 1980. The main objectives of the IRI are to develop a methodology for research in Islamic studies and to study and interpret the teachings of Islam in the context of the modern world. The IRI publishes books, monographs, research reports, and three independent quarterly journals in English, Arabic, and Urdu on a wide range of subjects including law, jurisprudence, economics, political science, history, and education. The IRI also organizes seminars and conferences.

The International Institute of Islamic Economics (IIIE) provides education, training, and research in the field of modern and Islamic economics. Established in 1983, it carries out the following functions: teaching of modern economics, Islamic economics, Islamic banking and finance, and other related disciplines; research on socioeconomic issues of the Muslim world; and adopting measures necessary to promote Islamic economics, banking, and finance, including the organization of seminars and workshops. The IIIE's faculty have published over one hundred research papers in journals of international repute, as well as books and monographs. Its agenda of research includes studies on the theory and practice of Islamic banking and finance and the operation of the zakāt (alms) and ʿushr (tithe) system in Pakistan.

The Iqbal International Institute for Research and Dialogue, which was set up in Lahore in January 2006, was transferred to IIU in 2007 and is required to work for the following objectives: to take steps to evolve a culture of peace, unity, and harmony in Pakistan and the Muslim ummah; to develop dialogical rationalism and knowledge-based intercultural and interreligious understanding; and to organize international consultations of Muslim scholars and deliberate on the issues of critical importance to Pakistan and the Muslim ummah.

The Sharīʿah Academy, established in 1981, trains legal professionals who collectively operate Pakistan's judicial system. It also extends its services to legal practitioners of other countries and publishes several books relating to Islamic law and jurisprudence.

The Daʿwah Academy was established in March 1985 to hold educational training and research programs with a view to promoting a better understanding of Islam's basic teachings among Muslims as well as non-Muslims, within and outside Pakistan. The academy's activities focus on providing training and healthy orientation to imams and khaṭībs in Pakistan and to Muslim religious leaders in Muslim-minority countries. It also publishes magazines, popular books, booklets, and audiovisual materials and organizes courses within and outside Pakistan, in countries including the United States, Canada, South Africa, Germany, Fiji, Guyana, and Trinidad. Its training of imams in Pakistan has contributed to generating a better-informed and broad-minded religious leadership.



  • The main sources of this article are IIU's brochures, calendars, admission guides, and prospectuses, as well as the IIU Ordinance (Islamabad: n.d.; c.1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1997, 2005, and 2006), in addition to IIU's many official mimeographed reports and information derived from its Web site (www.iiu.edu.pk). Another source is the Pakistani Higher Education Commission's Handbook of Universities/Institutes of Pakistan (Islamabad, 2005), pp. 54–57.
  • Hatchard, John, ed.Directory of Commonwealth Law Schools, 2003–2004. London: Cavendish, 2003, pp. 188–189.
  • Malik, Jamal. Colonialization of Islam: Dissolution of Traditional Institutions in Pakistan. Lahore: Vanguard, 1996, pp. 301–302.
  • University Grants Commission. Handbook of Universities of Pakistan. Islamabad: University Grants Commission, 1987, pp. 145–163.
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