|Date: 16/05/2012 Time: 09:32:00 AM
A Centre for the scholarly study of Islam has
become the first Islamic organisation to receive a Royal Charter.
The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies was granted the honour 27 years after
it was set up, with the Prince of Wales hosting a reception to celebrate the
Charles, who is patron of the Centre, hailed its work to improve
understanding of Islamic culture.
He said "It seems to me absolutely right that here in the UK we should do
all we can to nurture an institution which not only promotes a better informed
understanding of Islamic culture and civilisation and the challenges facing
Muslim communities, but which can also remind both the Islamic world and the
West of those timeless, universal principles of harmony enshrined within Islam
that the world needs so urgently to re-discover in the battle to preserve the
future for our descendants.
"Only from such understanding can we increase the dialogue, respect and
tolerance which underpin our national values."
However, he admitted that "many of the potential problems" he warned of in
his speech to the Centre in 1993, entitled Islam and the West had come to pass.
In that speech he cautioned against sliding "into a new era of danger and
division because governments and peoples, communities and religions, cannot
live together in peace in a shrinking world."
He was joined by 150 guests at last night's reception at St James's Palace
in London, including a number of foreign dignitaries and British politicians.
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, Universities and Science Minister David
Willetts, Attorney General Dominic Grieve and Minister of State Oliver Letwin
mingled with the prime minister of Malaysia, Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun
Abdul Razak, and others.
Dr Farhan Nizami, director of the Centre, said: "This is a most important
and welcome moment and I would like, on this occasion, to thank warmly all
those who have encouraged and assisted the center's development over more than
The Royal Charter, illuminated on vellum, was on display during the evening.
Such charters are granted by the Queen on the advice of the Privy Council.
The practice dates back to the 13th century, with Charles's alma mater,
Cambridge University, the first to receive one in 1231 - as the Prince was
quick to point out.
Royal Charters are now normally granted only to bodies that work in the public
interest and which can demonstrate pre-eminence in their particular field.
Oxford University and many of its colleges have a Royal Charter, as well as
a range of other academic institutions across the UK.