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Meghji Family Trust $1M gift establishes professorship of Shi’a Islam Studies
Mohsin Meghji

Meghji Family Trust $1M gift establishes professorship of Shi’a Islam Studies

Saiyad Nizamuddin Ahmad appointed to fill professorship

May 31, 2023 at 12:05pm

The Meghji Family Trust has made a gift of $1 million to FIU’s Mohsin & Fauzia Jaffer Center for Muslim World Studies at the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs to establish the Prophet Muhammad Visiting Professor of Shi'a Islam Studies. The professorship is a significant step toward developing a new program at FIU in which Shi’a Islam, the second-largest branch of the religion, will be the focus.
The program in Shi’a Islam studies will promote teaching and research; establish linkages with seminaries and institutes domestically and abroad; and develop intra-faith and interfaith programming for the community. The university is committed to establishing a permanent chair in Shi'a Islam studies.
“The professorship will be significant in shaping the future of Shi’a Islam studies in the United States by creating a modern academic base for research and engagement for, and with, the American Shi’a Muslim and greater Muslim community,” said Mohsin and Tasneem Meghji, sponsors of the Meghji Family Trust. “Shi’a Islam is not only a religious tradition, but has made significant contributions to philosophy, spirituality, art, culture, and civilization, and has the capacity to address major contemporary global issues and problems. We embrace the objectives of the Jaffer Center and support its long-term vision to become an academic hub and a role model for community-university partnerships to advance scholarship on the Muslim world.”
Muslim studies encompasses a vast and varied range of disciplines, including theology, history, philosophy, and culture, covering nations throughout the globe.
Saiyad Nizamuddin Ahmad, who has 20 years of teaching and research experience, was named to fill the new professorship and serves as associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies. Ahmad received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Princeton University. He also holds an M.A. in Arabic from Indiana University and a BSc in Pure Mathematics from Purdue University. In addition to his education in major Western institutions, Ahmad has extensive training in traditional Islamic sciences from some of the world’s major Islamic centers of learning, including the Al Azhar University in Cairo, where he completed his intensive Arabic training, as well as Quranic memorization and exegesis, Ḥadīth, Islamic theology, logic, mysticism, and specialization in Islamic Law in the Sunni Islam Maleki School.
Ahmad has held faculty positions at the University of Texas at Austin, the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization in Kuala Lumpur, the American University of Sharjah, the American University in Cairo, and The Shīʿah Institute, London. He also is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, UK as well as a faculty member of Mufid Academic Seminary, Fairfax, Virginia.
 “We intend to make FIU’s Shi’a Islam studies program prominent in the field,” said Mohiaddin Mesbahi, the founding director of the Jaffer Center. “There are existing considerable academic assets at FIU that cover the Islamic world and various Muslim practices, including South Asia, East Africa, and the Middle East, and the new professorship will help fill a gap and support the creation of a master’s degree program in Islamic Studies, another goal of the Jaffer Center.”

Media Contact:
Todd Ellenberg