Future Leaders of Leading Islamic Nation
Visit Howard to
Explore Role of Religion in Higher Education
|Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel Dean Bernard Richardson, left, and President Sidney A. Ribeau greet Dr. Hamdan Almazrouei, chairman of Islamic Affairs Authority for the United Arab Emirates, and six imams from the nation who visited Howard University to learn how religion is taught in the United States.
WASHINGTON – Six future religious
leaders of the United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s richest nations
and an Islamic leader, visited Howard University as part of a nationwide
tour to learn about religious education at America’s colleges and
“We want to take a closer look at
the religious life in America in general and at higher education institutions
and to learn how they combine faith and science, reason and revelation,”
said Dr. Hamdan Almazrouei, chairman of Islamic Affairs Authority for
During their five day jaunt across
the United States, the imams and their delegation of U.A.E. officials
and religious leaders also visited Yale University in New Haven, Conn.,
the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., Notre Dame in South
Bend, Ind., Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., and Catholic University
They also visited President Barack
Obama at the White House.
While at Howard, the delegation met
with President Sidney A. Ribeau and attended two panel discussions,
one at the Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center in which Howard
graduate students discussed religion and academics. During the
discussion students answered questions from the imams about how religion
played a role in academic life.
Following the panel, Dean Bernard Richardson
took the delegation on a tour of Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel and later
showed them Cramton Auditorium, site of the Chapel’s weekly religious
Later that afternoon, the group toured
the School of Divinity and discussed religious education with the school’s
instructors in a panel led by Dean Alton B. Pollard.
According to delegation members, the
idea of visiting Howard and other institutions came from a discussion
a year and a half ago with the U.A.E. crown prince, who thought the
nation’s future leaders could benefit from exposure to faith-based
higher education in the United States.
The delegation has learned a number
of key things about the teaching of religion in America, Almazrouei
“The most important thing is freedom
and tolerance for all people to practice their religion,” he said.
“We also learned that in American instruction, reason and revelation
do not contradict each other. Instead, they are integrated. This was
captured through all of our visits.”
Howard was chosen to be part of the
mission for a number of reasons, said Eli Epstein, a New York businessman
who was instrumental in arranging the visit.
“We believed Howard had a unique
historical role,” Epstein said. “One, because its original
mission was to raise the educational level of people who had been denied
“It is also very focused on faith
and the practice of faith, and it also has an appreciation of many faiths.
We have visited faith-based institutions that are very singular in their
mission, like Catholic University. And we visited West Point,
which is secular but accommodates all religions.”
Almazrouei said the delegation had
a special appreciation for Howard.
“This institution respects religion
and is faith-based,” he said. “We respect people who respect