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Australian Delegation Meets with Alzahra University Chancellor and Authorities (Meeting Report)

Australian Delegation Meets with Alzahra University Chancellor and Authorities (Meeting Report)

Dr. Samina Yasmeen, professor of Political Science and Director of the Centre for Muslim States and Societies in University of Western Australia (UWA) along with Mr. Paul Foley, Australia ambassador to Iran and Mr. James Russell, Second Secretary, came to Alzahra University in February 15th to meet with the university chancellor, Dr. Khazali, in due to the email received by the Foreign Ministry Center for International Political Studies. The delegation was accompanied by Dr. Ziba Farzin-nia, vice president of the Foreign Ministry Center for International Political Studies. Alzahra University authorities participated in this meeting included Dr. Khazali, the University Chancellor; Dr. Susan Marandi, Director of International Academic Collaborations; Dr. Masoumeh Hosseini Kalharoudi, dean of the Faculty of Theology; and Dr. Hojjatollah Javani, vice president of Research and Administrative office in the same faculty.
At the beginning of this meeting Dr. Marandi welcomed the guests and subsequently gave a brief introduction about the university, faculties and research centers in addition to the number of students and faculty members. Dr. Khazali also welcomed the guests and then posed a question about the fields of academic collaboration with UWA.
Dr. Yasmeen also expressed her pleasure to attend in Alzahra University and continued to introduce herself: “I’m a researcher in the University of Western Australia which is among the best eight universities in the country with around 20,000 students, most of them are in the undergraduate level; however, according to the policy of university we are to expand the graduate programs. My field of study is International Relations; however my research focus is on the states of Muslims in non-Muslim societies. We investigate and study the position of Muslim minorities in western countries in addition to the countries of the region, in order to create a better understanding and interlocution among Islamic societies.”

Alzahra University chancellor later asked about the number of Muslim students in the center for Islamic Studies in UWA. “There is no available official statistics regarding that, because the students from different religions study and do researches in the center and they are not asked about their religion,” said Yasmeen and continued: “Last year we had 120 students, among which there were about 10 to 15 Muslims. As well among the graduated students of PhD and Master’s programs; half of them were Muslims. Currently we are working on a project about Jihad and women in Islam. I am doing research about Pakistani militia groups, along with some colleagues in Tunisia and Indonesia who also are concerned with this issue. The goal is to reach a better understanding of the concept of jihad in Islam in general not only from the perspective of Sunni religion.”

Dr. Khazali also pointed to the concept of jihad in Islam that has been divided into two types of defensive and offensive jihads, and accentuated the important role of women in defensive jihad. She added: “In the time of invasion to Islamic territories, the responsibility of defending borders is upon the men’s shoulders and women play their role by giving support, providing supply and taking care of the wounded people. In the era of Prophet and Shia Imams, women always voluntarily took part in missions of messaging and advertising Islam in addition to being an outreach for wounded and backup in fronts. The word of ‘Rayhanaeh’(a fragrant flower) has been used to describe women, because they are origin of love, elegance, and kindness in the society and Allah didn’t want to involve woman with violence in order to keep her soul away from getting marred by the hardness and asperity of war.” She also referred to the newfound and apocryphal concept of ‘Sexual Jihad’ as the indication of religious abuse with political intentions, propounded in order to abuse women in some of Islamic societies.

The Australia ambassador to Iran, Mr. Paul Foley also pointed to Sexual Jihad and added: “These issues are not only the focus of academic researches, but also the concern of public.” Dr. Yasmeen also suggested: “That has no roots in Islam and I have no idea where is it coming from. People want to know the approach of Islam regarding these newfound concepts and how a good Muslim is defined by Islam. Even in Saudi Arabia, the followers of the idea are in minority.”
Later in the meeting, Dr Javani welcomed the guests and introduced the Faculty of Theology and related departments. He also mentioned to the collaborations of faculty members with University of Potsdam and University of Frankfurt. He emphasized the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w) about Jihad-e-Asghar and Jihad-e-Akbar, and reinterpreted the concept of jihad, which is the focus of many Islamic interpretations, as a struggle against the self and a kind of soul training, and said: “There are very sparse number of fatwas about offensive jihad and nearly all Islamic clerics emphasize on the necessity of defensive jihad. We fought against Iraq with the same preferences.”

Dr. Khazali mentioned to a reform after the foundation of Islamic Republic government that caused the Ministry of War to be changed into the Ministry of Jihad, and counted that as the clear manifestation of the peaceful spirit of Muslims. She added: “Since the revolution, many Iranian scholars and a large number of young people have been the target of terrorist actions, but we have never sought revenge in response.”

Dr. Hosseini Kalharoudi, as one of the other participants in the meeting, also welcomed the guests and subsequently pointed to the significant role of women in the Sacred Defence as encouraging mothers and wives, family supporters in the absence of soldiers and after their martyrdom, and as backup forces in fronts. Furthermore, she noted the fundamental distinction of Shia, Salafi, and Vehabi fatwas about Islamic jihad and referring to the willingness of the Faculty of Theology for collaborations in the fields of Comparative Studies of Jurisprudence and Islamic laws, suggested doing more researches in this regard while reporting the result to the Muslim World. Dr. Yasmeen welcomed that suggestion and added: “A Pakistani research department has taken the primary steps to study about the Islamic jihad and the role of women in that.”

The Australia ambassador expressed his gratitude for holding this meeting by Alzahra authorities and noted: “With many reasons that Dr. Yasmeen had to travel to Iran, I hope she could have gained the desired insight into Iranian society in order to assist the progress of academic projects and expansion of collateral collaborations.”
At the end of the meeting, Dr. Khazali declared that the university is ready to sign memorandum of understanding with UWA and also expressed her hopes for expanding academic relations in various scientific fields between two universities. The meeting is concluded with giving some presents to the guests by the Dr. Khazali, while Dr. Yasmeen also gave her book, ‘Muslim Citizens in the West: Spaces and Agents of Inclusion and Exclusion’, to the Alzahra University.


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  • Australian Delegation Meets with Alzahra University Chancellor and Authorities (Meeting Report)
  • Australian Delegation Meets with Alzahra University Chancellor and Authorities (Meeting Report)

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