Islamic Studies Endowed Professorship
The University of Florida at Gainesville has recently announced the establishment of Izzat Hasan Sheikh Endowed Professorship in the Department of Religion of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences “to promote the objective study of the Islamic world, its religious beliefs, social and moral values, cultural traditions and contemporary challenges and opportunities.” It is the belief of the Sheikh family that “understanding, tolerance and cooperation spearheaded by scholarly inquiries are essential conditions for breaking down barriers of misconception and discrimination, and advancing the welfare of all peoples.”
Mrs. Izzat Hasan Sheikh was born in rural India. In her youth, she faced tremendous hardships and adversity, including the loss of both of her parents at an early age, the lack of a formal education, and enduring the migration from India to Pakistan amidst the turmoil of the 1947 partition of the then India into present day India and Pakistan. She approached these hardships as challenges with a resolve to succeed; a trait that would become the core of her character. She taught herself reading and writing English, acquired a position as a single woman working for the customs and immigration service in the newly formed Pakistani government. She, along with her husband, moved to the United States in 1960. She was committed to raising her family in the United States knowing that this country presented the best opportunities for education, advancement and success. She knew that assimilation into the western culture was necessary in order to be successful but still maintained her cultural identity.
The establishment of this chair will hopefully lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Islamic religion and culture, ultimately resulting in fewer misconceptions and better relations between Muslims and the rest of the society.