ACU announces new Chair in study of Islam

Australian Catholic University has appointed Dr Ismail Albayrak to its inaugural Chair in the Study of Islam and Muslim-Catholic Relations.

Dr Albayrak will be located within ACU National’s Asia-Pacific Centre for Inter-religious Dialogue (APCID) at the Melbourne Campus (St Patrick’s).

The Fethullah Gülen Chair is a newly created position which aims to providing academic leadership in research, teaching and community engagement in relation to the study of Islam and has been founded with full recognition of the plurality and diversity of Islam itself.

Named in honour of Fethullah Gülen - a Turkish–born scholar, educator, spiritual and social leader, and renowned advocate for inter-religious dialogue and peace - Gülen’s interpretation of Qur’anic teaching seeks to enable Muslims to live their Islamic faith in modern situations and make a positive contribution to the transformation of society.

Gülen is especially noted in Catholic circles for his private audience with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1998, which marked an important step forward in Muslim-Christian relations.

Born in Ankara, Turkey, Dr Albayrak is currently an Associate Professor at the School of Divinity, within the Department of Basic Islamic Studies, at Sakarya University in Turkey. He holds a doctorate in Qur’anic narrative from the University of Leeds, England, and is the author of Approaches to the Qur’an in Classical Modernism (2004).

ACU National Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Sheehan said he was delighted to welcome Dr Albayrak to the university and to the new position.

“Dr Albayrak’s strong academic background, his experience of teaching and research in the study of Islam, and his understanding of interfaith principles make him a very worthy appointee to this important new role,” Prof Sheehan said.

“In promoting greater interfaith dialogue through focused teaching, research and community engagement, the Fethullah Gülen Chair will play a key role in tackling this issue of unrest and tension between faiths, locally,” he said.

ACU edges ahead of Melbourne Uni

Meanwhile the latest rankings measuring international standing emphasise Australian Catholic University's "true academic diversity", according to Vice-Chancellor Prof Peter Sheehan AO.

ACU’s strength in science and humanities has edged it ahead of its closest rival, the University of Melbourne. The pair had previously tied, but ACU has come out on top in the 2007 Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research rankings, after university specialisation was taken into account when measuring performance.

"Australian Catholic University has ranked well as a specialised institution for higher education learning in Australia," Prof Sheehan said.

"As a university, it is inherently specialised because of its Catholic heritage and its unique social justice mission.

"The university has consciously focused on building its teaching and research strengths in a handful of core areas, and this has given it a much sought-after competitive advantage in a crowded university marketplace.

"Yet, despite its specialised training it takes great care to offer a multidisciplinary approach that serves to enhance the genuine quality and contemporary relevance of the educational programs that it chooses to offer,” he said.

ACU National announces new Chair in the study of Islam (ACU National 31/10/07)
Rankings show ‘ACU diversity’ (Catholic Weekly 4/11/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
ACU National Sakarya University: Dr Ismail Albayrak

5 Nov 2007

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