On Friday, March 03, 2023, the Tariq Rafi Lecture Hall at Habib University was abuzz with excitement as the inauguration of the Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (A.S.) Endowed Faculty Chair in Wisdom and Humanities took place. The creation of the Imam Ali (A.S.) Endowed Faculty Chair in Wisdom and Humanities marks a significant milestone in advancing the intellectual pursuits of Habib University. The chair is named after Imam Ali (A.S.), who is revered in the Muslim world as a paragon of wisdom and morality. As the first endowed faculty chair in wisdom traditions and the humanities in the world, it establishes Habib University as a global leader in promoting the scholarly study and teaching of sapiential traditions.
The contribution of Zain and Farzana Jeewanjee to Habib University’s Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (A.S.) Endowed Faculty Chair is an example of the impact that the Pakistani diaspora can have on higher education in Pakistan. As a successful businessperson living in the United States, Mr. Jeewanjee has chosen to invest in higher education in Pakistan, recognizing the importance of creating opportunities for the next generation of leaders. His donation of the endowed faculty chair is not only a generous act of philanthropy, but also a meaningful contribution to the intellectual development of Pakistan.
The event began with the arrival of guests including the members of academia and Habib University’s community of donors and supporters who had the opportunity to network and mingle before the formal proceedings began. Dr. Najeeb Jan, Associate Professor, Comparative Humanities at Habib University, served as the Master of Ceremonies and delivered a welcome note to the attendees. “The generous support of Mohsineen like Farzana and Zain Jeewanjee is the shield which protects the light of education,” said Dr. Najeeb Jan. He then invited the keynote speaker, Dr. Sajjad Rizvi, Professor of Islamic Intellectual History, University of Exeter, to deliver a speech on the role of Hikma in cognitive reparation today.
Dr. Rizvi’s speech was thought-provoking and insightful, highlighting the importance of wisdom traditions and their relevance in the contemporary world. “The concept of Hikma, or wisdom, is particularly relevant in today’s world, which is characterized by an over-reliance on technology and a tendency towards superficial understanding. Hikma provides us with a means to delve deeper, to cultivate a more nuanced understanding of ourselves and our relationship with the world around us and, develop a more profound sense of empathy and insight, which is essential for cognitive reparation.”
Following his speech, Dr. Nauman Naqvi moderated a discussion with Dr. Rizvi, further exploring the topic and allowing for audience engagement. Dr. Nauman Naqvi, began the panel discussion by deliberating on the very essence of philosophy. “There seems a monopoly on the universality of defining philosophy, and our interpretation of it is highly influenced by western school of thought,” remarked Dr. Nauman Naqvi. Further on in the discussion while talking about cogitative reparations, Dr. Sajjad Rizvi, asserted that one should think beyond lectures and text to decolonize the mind.
Habib University’s President Mr. Wasif A. Rizvi then shared his thoughts on the introduction and significance of the creation of the Imam Ali (A.S) Endowed Faculty Chair. “The creation of the Imam Ali (A.S) Endowed Faculty Chair is a significant step towards advancing Habib University’s mission of promoting intellectual inquiry and academic excellence. This Chair is not only a tribute to the legacy of Imam Ali (A.S), but it is also an investment in the intellectual and spiritual development of our students.”
In Islam, giving is considered one of the most beautiful and virtuous acts a person can do. The Quran emphasizes the importance of giving to those in need, stating that, “Those who spend their wealth (in Allah’s cause) by night, by day, secretly, and openly, their rewards are with their Lord. There is no fear on them, nor shall they grieve,” (2:274). The act of giving is not only beneficial to the recipient, but it is also seen as a way to purify the heart and soul of the giver.
Dr. Najeeb Jan then thanked the donors, and invited Mr. Zain Jeewanjee to share his thoughts on the transformative power of philanthropy on education and the responsibility of those who have been privileged to give back to society. “I am honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of higher education in Pakistan through this donation,” said Mr. Jeewanjee. He continued by saying, “I believe that philanthropy has a significant role to play in strengthening our academic institutions and creating opportunities for the next generation of leaders. By investing in education, we can make a positive impact on society, and create a better future for all.”
The Endowed Faculty Chair in Wisdom and Humanities reinforces the University’s mission of nurturing critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, and cultural awareness among its students and faculty members. The endowed faculty chair will enable the Comparative Humanities Program to further establish its global distinction, expand its research capacities, and contribute to the broader scholarly conversation on the humanities.
Dr. Najeeb Jan expressed his gratitude for the generosity of the donor and highlighted the significance of the endowed faculty chair on Habib University’s intellectual experience. He then requested President Rizvi and Mr. Jeewanjee to step up for the signing ceremony, symbolizing the formal establishment of the Chair.
The signing ceremony was a momentous occasion, as it marked the official creation of the Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (A.S.) Endowed Faculty Chair in Wisdom and the Humanities. Following the ceremony, Dr. Najeeb Jan delivered concluding remarks and invited everyone for refreshments.
The Hi-Tea was a wonderful opportunity for guests to connect and reflect on the significance of the occasion. The event was a testament to Habib University’s commitment to intellectual excellence and the advancement of society. The Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (A.S.) Endowed Faculty Chair in Wisdom and the Humanities will be a lasting legacy, inspiring generations of students and scholars to come. The event also undertook the importance of the support of the Pakistani diaspora being crucial to the growth and development of higher education in Pakistan. By investing in education, the diaspora is not only giving back to their home country, but also helping to build a stronger and more prosperous future for Pakistan.