- Interviewed by: Hatim Al-Hasani
- Photographed by: Hasan Al-Qarbi
Several questions and queries were raised by the Media Center during its dialogue with the General Supervisor of the King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Chair for the Holy Qur'an and Qur'anic Guidance at the Deanship of Scientific Research, Dr. Yahia Zamzami. The theme of the dialogue was the launching of the first World Encyclopedia of Qur'anic Guidance. In the course of the meeting, he noted that 25 universities around the world participated in the launching of this encyclopedia, which was prepared by doctoral students from 30 countries.
Dr. Yahia Zamzami said that, in support of the pioneering role the Saudi Kingdom plays in the service of the Holy Qur'an, King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz launched a pioneering initiative to establish three academic chairs under the title, "The King Abdullah Chair for the Holy Qur'an", at Umm Al-Qura University, Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University, and the Islamic University. He stressed that one of the most important projects of the Holy Qur'an Chair in the university was the completion of referencing and verification of the content to be used in the field of Qur'anic guidance, and the production of a scientific encyclopedia in the field of Qur'anic guidance, compiled from PhD theses of doctoral students from different universities around the world, according to the procedures laid down for research projects and educational grants. The following is the text of the dialogue:
First, I would like to thank the Media Center for shedding light on the launch of the World Encyclopedia of Qur'anic Guidance. We started this project at Umm Al-Qura University by establishing the King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Chair for the Holy Qur'an. This chair aimed at tracing the roots and laying the foundations of a new science, which is the science of Qur'anic guidance. It constitutes a scholarly area that has not been sufficiently investigated. The science of the Qur’anic guidance comes as the product of understanding the meanings of the Qur'an and the consequent deductions, benefits, and guidance, which are all contained in a field called Qur'anic Guidance. Over the past five years, we have carried out a thorough and detailed study. We have started with a number of preliminary studies and basic foundational research. This was followed by condudcting more than 100 scientific meetings and workshops to fully develop the idea at hand.
This has resulted in the production of 6 training portfolios, designed to train researchers in the skills of deducing illuminating Qur’anic insights. We prepared more than 70 research papers, and participated with 50 of them in the 8th Annual International Qur'anic Conference (MUQADDAS VIII), which was organized by the Centre of Qur'anic Research at the University of Malaya (UM), Malaysia, in November 2018. On July 6-7, 2019, Allah willing, we will participate in the 6th International Conference on Qur'anic Studies and Contemplation on the Holy Qur'an, in Europe. It will be held in Manchester, UK, under the title, "The Qur'anic Methodology of Building the Human". The conference will be organized by the European Academy of Quranic Studies (EAQS), in partnership with Iqbal Centre for the Study of Contemporary Islam at the University of Leeds. Next year, Allah willing, a world conference will be organized about the Holy Qur'an in partnership between Umm Al-Qura University and the International University of Africa in Sudan.
There were many factors that motivated us to conduct this project, such as the urgent need in our modern time to link the meanings of the Qur'an to our current age in order for the nation to restore its glory and prestige. Another factor was the great contradictions among exegetes in methodology, style and orientation, methods of interpretation and deduction, and the manner of employing Qur'anic sciences to understand the Qur'an. All these points necessitated the existence of an optimal scientific vision and method based on the soundest ways of understanding and deduction to understand the scope and meaning of guidance in the Qur’an. This method makes use of every orientation, exegetes and exegesis while writing Qur'anic guidance, for it to be a charming source of insight for those who seek guidance.
The other important aspect is that Muslim scholars have exerted great efforts throughout history in pointing out the meanings of the Qur'an and showing its rulings, wisdom and aspects of guidance. These efforts are diverse, which requires a thorough reading of these efforts to make them available to the Islamic nation through a project that gathers, selects and integrates them all in a comprehensive book in the field of Qur'anic guidance.
Yes, according to the plan of the project, we aim to attract 60 doctoral students. By Allah's favor and by virtue of the blessings of the Glorious Qur'an, we managed to attract 15 students in the first year of the project, and we have, up to the present time, attracted 46 students, representing Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, and the United States of America. The last of those who were registered in this project were from Holland, German, Sweden, and Belgium. The idea of the encyclopedia gained acceptance and the appreciation of different universities.
As for the time period needed to achieve the targets of this international encyclopedia of Qur'anic guidance, we can say that by virtue of the blessings of the Qur'an we have achieved a progress of one and a half years into the project. The defined period for completing the whole project is about five years. I would like to offer thanks to my colleagues in the chair team. There is one point that most people do not know about: all the academic staff working on the project are volunteers. Their basic goal is to offer a useful project to the Islamic nation. Though the project is based on support and grants, this support is linked to completing the encyclopedia. This is the condition of the sponsors. I also wish to thank His Excellency the President of the University, Prof. Abdullah bin Omar Bafail, for his continuous support and encouragement to render this project successful.
This is a good question. During the coming period, we will target, Allah willing, seven universities in the African continent to complete the International Encyclopedia of Qur'anic Guidance. Let me tell you some interesting information. When we suggested this idea one month ago to one of the distinguished universities, which was established in Holland in 1571 A.C.: Leiden University, which is considered to be one of the most important research universities in Europe, the one who was responsible about accepting this idea was one of the outstanding orientalists. He welcomed this idea though the difference of standards between European universities and their Arabic counterparts. He stipulated that researchers should inform the Dutch community about this new field of knowledge and also conduct studies that compare the results of the applications presented by this scientific encyclopedia in different countries.
The World Encyclopedia of Qur’anic Guidance is set to achieve four main objectives: 1) introducing and promoting the culture of Qur’anic guidance, 2) preparing specialists in the discipline of Qur’anic guidance by qualifying 60 PhD students across different universities around the world to promote the knowledge of Qur’anic guidance, 3) and introducing this discipline to various university platforms worldwide. Due to Allah's grace, we have successfully attracted (62.55 %) of the targeted number of universities: (25) universities out of a total (40) universities approved the project. The fourth objective will be realized after launching the encyclopedia, namely, the design of application models that allow people to benefit from the guidance derived from the Qur’anic verses through the use of different templates.
The application models will be divided into different templates; the introduction of a specialized diploma program on Qur’anic guidance, the design of a training product for families, and the development of recreational models for children. In the final meeting with His Excellency the UQU President, Prof. Abdullah bin Omar Bafail, we stressed the importance of transforming all the completed parts of the encyclopedia into practical products to ensure that everyone would benefit from it.
Besides being the first known world encyclopedia of Qur’anic guidance, its most distinct characteristic is the fact that it was produced in the holiest place on the face of the earth, Makkah, where the divine revelation descended, by its beacon of knowledge, Umm Al-Qura University. Moreover, it has a universal dimension; to the best of our knowledge, there is no other encyclopedia in the preparation in which (25) universities partook and that was prepared by students of (30) different nationalities. In addition, the World Encyclopedia of Qur’anic Guidance also highlights the rhetorical features, eloquence, and miraculous nature of the Qur'an, and employs them in deducing Qur’anic guidance, producing writings about the Qur’an following a consistent scientific methodology that depends on accuracy, reliance on the most likely sound scholarly opinions, and rejection of weak and unusual views. In addition, the encyclopedia aims to gather together, in one place, the dispersed writings on Qur’anic guidance from various Qur’anic exegeses, and address real-life problems in light of the Qur’anic guidance inferred thereof, to ensure that the Qur’anic exegesis touches upon real-life issues and provides appropriate solutions for them.
Yes, it is possible. The academic outcomes of the project are summed up as follows:
Tomorrow, Monday, Allah Willing, the portal of the encyclopedia (https://hidayatqurania.org/) will be launched by UQU's President. This will enable the follow-up of all the students' research projects and reports of the supervisors around the world.
I express my thanks to three significant and helpful partnerships that contributed to the success of the work of the World Encyclopedia of Qur’anic Guidance. The first partnership was with "the sponsors" that included the following: Al-Nabaa Al-Azim Foundation, Abdullatif Alissa Foundation, and the Foundation of the Endowment of Badr Ibn Salih Ar-Rajhi's Mother. The second partnership was with "the Culture Attaches abroad", who helped us greatly in coordinating with the leading universities and in overcoming all the obstacles. Meanwhile, the third partnership was with "the universities" in which the academic theses were registered. Thanks are expressed to the Media Center of Umm Al-Qura University that was able, during just a short period after its establishment, to highlight the UQU's specific projects using modern innovative tools.