PUTRAJAYA – The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah hopes that the Muslims can do better in handling the Syrian refugee crisis.
He said over the past few weeks the world had witnessed the plight of Syrian refugees as they desperately fled to Europe instead of neighbouring Muslim countries.
Sultan Nazrin said he had been deeply moved by one Syrian refugee, who compared the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Abyssinian Christian King Negus, who famously sheltered Muslim refugees during the first Hijrah in the time of Prophet Muhammad.
“And another Syrian refugee eloquently said: “We will tell our children that Syrian migrants fled their country to come to Europe when Makkah and Muslim lands were closer to them”,” he said.
The Ruler said this in his special address entitled “Reclaiming Education in Muslim Universities for the 21st Century” at the World Islamic Countries University Leaders Summit 2015 (WICULS), here today.
Sultan Nazrin said Muslims should learn from their own history as how the first university in the World, al-Qarawiyyin University housed the Muslims in Europe when they were expelled during the Spanish inquisition in the 15th century.
“Some even continued their studies there. As a result, the city of Fez (in Morocco) became a famous place of refuge for the displaced persons of that time, and their quarter near the university in the old city survives to this day,” he said.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), around 150,000 Syrians have declared asylum in the European Union since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011.
On another note, Sultan Nazrin said universities should produce not only individuals with broad knowledge and critical intelligence, but also those who would have moral decency and social sensitivity.
“It ought to be an institution that can fundamentally develop, even transform human beings, both materially and spiritually,” he said.
However, Sultan Nazrin said the traditional humanistic role of universities had changed since the onset of the Industrial Revolution.
He said the university had increasingly diverged from its historical mission as a place of human transformation, by seeking knowledge and understanding for their own sake, towards becoming a place for training graduates solely to meet the needs of the industries and businesses.
“That original humanistic transformative role of universities may be in danger of extinction if we continue simply to follow the requirements of our material world in its sheer materialism,” he said.
He added it was for this reason that university leaders and administrators should not forget the original “metaphysical” mission and pay heed to the transformative role that universities ought to play in society. – BERNAMA