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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 universities.

“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 the U.A.E.

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 in Washington.

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 service.

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 said.

“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 education.

“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 religion.”

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