Two of the founding members of the Manara Institute for Islamic and Arabic Studies, Sheikhs Dr. Mohammad Qatanani and Dr. Mohamed Moussa, expressed their ambitious objectives during the formal opening ceremony for the institute. The event took place on March 5, 2017 at the Institute, which is located on Minnisink Road in Totowa, New Jersey. [Editor’s note: Although the Manara Institute was founded in 2015, it has conducted classes in various locations and only now has a permanent site.]
Dr. Qatanani said, “This institute is a product of our sheikhs’ and imams’ awareness and commitment to the integration process with Western societies, in addition to the principles of citizenship…” He added, “We are part of the citizens of this country, building and contributing to cultural coexistence. We build brotherhood on the basis of humanity through the basic objectives of Islamic law. ‘Religious objectives’ come first and foremost in order to build a unified humanity, regardless of religious affiliation. We prove that by making sure to collaborate with the Graduate Theological Foundation. Additionally, the courses that we offer are based on the religious sources of Islam that are compatible with the current time and place.” Dr. Qatanani explained, “We will work on reexamining our courses in light of our needs and the needs of our new generations based on the reality of being in the United States.”
In response to the questions of Al Hawadeth’s reporter on the numerous Islamic universities and their failure in facing extremist Islamists, Dr. Mohamed Moussa, one of the founding members, commented, “Our institute adopts moderate Islamic thought that is very far from extremism. It accepts individual reasoning by every scholar and student.”
Regarding funding of the institute, Dr. Qatanani answered, “The institute is completely independent. Its funding will depend on the Muslim community and won’t be dependent on any funding from any entity that might request conditions that might affect the institute’s independence and make it deviate from its enlightening trajectory.”
The founding board of the Manara Institute includes Dr. Mohammad Qatanani, Dr. Mohamed Moussa, and Dr. Mohamed Elbar. The teaching staff is a group of specialist scholars. The institute offers programs in science, Islamic studies, Arabic studies, academic research, and social studies that focus on Islam and Muslims in the West. The institute graduates imams and offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in collaboration with the Graduate Theological Foundation. The institute also offers opportunities for students who seek to study Arabic and English as a second language.
An annual conference to be held in New Jersey was announced during the opening ceremony. Its topic will be “The Principles of Citizenship” in collaboration with Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar. At least a hundred scholars and students of Islamic studies from all over the world are expected to attend that conference.