George Mason University announced a $3 million donation to its Center for Global Islamic Studies, which will be renamed the AbuSulayman Center for Global Islamic Studies in recognition of the donation.
The pledge was made by the Mirza Family Foundation, led by Yaqub Mirza, a current member of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) Dean’s Advisory Council and former trustee of the George Mason University Foundation. The AbuSulayman Center for Global Islamic Studies is housed within the CHSS.
“This donation helps solidify the center’s position as a global resource for the study of Islam. It will advance scholarship and public understanding of this global religion that touches so many people,” Mason President Gregory Washington said at the event announcing the donation. “The center and its relationship with the Mirza Foundation are a testament to Mason’s commitment to diversity of thought and his growing reputation in Islamic studies globally.”
Abdul Hamid AbuSulayman, who died in August 2021, was an early advocate for the study of Islam from a global perspective. Called a “giant among giants” by Mirza at the celebration, AbuSulayman’s doctoral dissertation, “Towards an Islamic Theory of International Relations”, published in 1993, was considered groundbreaking in its opposition to a traditional view and Eurocentric of the field, which had often overlooked the impact of Muslim countries and cultures.
AbuSulayman was president of the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon. The organization is a hub for scholarship and research that advances education in Muslim societies.
“This partnership with the Mirza and AbuSulayman families will propel and expand the impact of the center’s work, and we are extremely grateful for this new philanthropic collaboration,” said CHSS Dean Ann Ardis. “The collaboration underscores what is at the heart of the center – faculty from many different disciplines focusing on Muslim communities and their connections to each other around the world.”
The center is already exploring links with centers in Malaysia, Indonesia, Bosnia and South Africa.
The AbuSulayman family has strong ties to Mason. Several other members of the AbuSulayman family are studying or have graduated from the institution, and Abdul Hamid AbuSulayman’s daughter, Muna AbuSulayman, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, was honored as one of 50 top performing alumni at the Alumni Association 50th Anniversary Celebration. .