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Scholar Radwan al-Sayed Wins King Faisal International Prize for Islamic Studies | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Dr. Radwan al-Sayed

Well did the committee supervising King Faisal International Prize for Islamic Studies this year by granting its award to Dr. Radwan al-Sayed whose work made significant difference in this field.

Sayed is one of today’s few intellectuals who provide a systematic and developed analysis of Islamic culture. By presenting this award to him the committee sent a positive message indicating that this was the Islamic ideology we wanted.

In the speech he delivered when he received the award, Sayed focused on three challenges Muslims were facing across the world.

The three challenges he shed light on were: the challenge of rescuing the national state, as he called it, the challenge of religious reform and the challenge of rectifying relations with the world.

Moreover, and over the course of four decades, Sayed contributed to issuing valuable ideological works that have been distinguished from other traditional ones.

His ideas discuss the modernization of Islam, which is lagging behind because of burdens that prevent it from progressing, leaving it unsuitable for the current time and place.

Sayed’s history has a rich and diverse academic career; from Tarshish in Lebanon to al-Azhar, then to the University of Bamberg in Germany followed by the University of Chicago.

He was familiar with different schools of Islam in several Arab cities.

In his speech, Sayed talked about his categorization of political Islam’s ideology, which is an essential matter that must be addressed considering the dangerous historical circumstances.

The political crisis among Muslims lies in the historic interpretations of Islam, that parties are being selective about.

Before Sayed classified this, several groups had created cells whose political Islamic ideology established the “legitimacy” of the ISIS group and described how the Muslim individual should live his life.

These groups are responsible for the disasters the world is suffering from nowadays.

The significance of intellectuals like Dr. Sayed is their intellectual and scientific capability.

This is, of course, in addition to their respect, which makes them the most competent to submit a new cultural project that could resolve the crisis of a billion Muslims, who suffer from oppression by their jurists.

Those jurists have either been brainwashed or failed to keep up with the developments that have changed the world.

Dr. Sayed was aware of this challenge when he graduated from al-Azhar University in Cairo and traveled to Germany to resume his Islamic studies.

He says that a German orientalist ironically asked him: “Why do you come to us from al-Azhar to attain a degree in Islamic studies while we do not feel the need to go to al-Azhar to study about classical Islam?”

Islamic studies, like all studies, are not exclusive for Muslims and some of the most distinguished works related to Islam are found in Western universities.

Dr. Sayed, who studied in many universities and research centers, believes that participating in establishing and developing the “science of Islam” is a necessary and honorable task performed by respectable institutions like the King Faisal Foundation.

Granting Dr. Sayed this award signifies the recognition he deserves.

We look up to him, to figures like him and to modernizing groups because they push the elite towards reforming the underdeveloped and sabotaging ideological situation that neither suits the present of a great nation nor its great history.

Developing scientific centers and activating the special ones is the first step towards developing the entire society.