European Chapter Group of the IIS Alumni Association meets in London
The European Chapter Group held a two day annual meeting at the University of Westminster in London over the weekend of 5th and 6th April 2008. Guest speakers included Karen Armstrong and Nimet Rener.
Thirty four alumni who are part of this Chapter Group attended the sessions on Saturday 5th April. Nacim Pak-Shiraz (Class of 2002), President of the Chapter Group, formally opened the meeting by welcoming the alumni and recounting the initiatives and activities undertaken by the Chapter Group over the last year. These included the Meet and Greet event held in October 2007, the proposal to catalogue and archive alumni and student research, and organising social activities such as the London premiere of Rumi: Unveil the Sun, a play about the encounter between Rumi and Shams Tabriz.
The morning session was the keynote address by Karen Armstrong entitled ‘Lessons from Islamic History’. Karen Armstrong is one of the world’s leading commentators on religious affairs. Her early work focused on the monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but she has since begun to explore the eastern religions. Her talk included reflections on early Muslim history, particularly the life of Prophet Muhammad, and the ideals that contemporary Muslim societies could draw from it.
The second part of the day consisted of a Q&A session with Karen Armstrong, during which the alumni were able to ask questions about her earlier session and the issues raised. This proved to be a lively and informative session which allowed the alumni to interact both with Ms. Armstrong and their peers.
The Q&A was followed by a screening of a film co-written by Dr. Miriam Ali-de-Unzaga entitled ‘A Road to Mecca: The Journey of Muhammad Asad’. The film takes the form of a travelogue that follows the footsteps of Asad’s biography and visits numerous countries in search of the relevance of Asad’s legacy for our world today. This film was not only edifying but also showcased the current work of one of the alumni.
The second day of the meeting started with a presentation by the Alumni Relations Unit updating the alumni on the work of the ARU and informing the alumni on forthcoming events and plans. Nominees for the positions of Chapter Group President and Secretary were then invited to address the Alumni. Elections of the office bearers from amongst the alumni will take place online in May.
The final session of the weekend was led by Nimet Rener from the Social Welfare Department at Aiglemont. Her talk began by explaining the organisational structure of the Aga Khan Education Services and continued by discussing the challenges facing Aga Khan Schools and Academies around the world. Ms. Rener went on to describe the plans to introduce changes within the Aga Khan Schools system bringing in consistency and equal standards to all AK Schools worldwide.