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83-yr-old Kandil among first to graduate from Australia's Islamic centre
Friday January 31, 2014 11:25 AM, IINA

The first group of Muslim students have completed masters in Islamic studies from Australia's Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilization of Charles Sturt University, expressing joy and excitement over the accomplishment.

"By God throughout this course, which has been organized by the ISRA brothers and sisters, I feel that God has preferred me for that kind of study," the class's most senior and well-respected graduate Sheikh Sayed Kandil told Muslim Village.

"I have been hailed throughout this study for being the youngest student at 83 years old, may God reward you all," he joked.

Kandil is one of first group who obtained Masters in Islamic Studies course organized by the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilization (CISAC) in collaboration with Islamic Sciences and Research Academy (ISRA).

Graduates were diverse, not only in age, ranging from 25 to 83, but also representing different cultural backgrounds including; Lebanese, Pakistani, Turkish, Afghani, Anglo-Celtic and Egyptian.

Their professional backgrounds have also varied, including finance, law, education, business, language and academics. Overjoyed graduates expressed gratitude to the center for its professionalism, offering them a valuable education.

"I'd like to thank the staff at ISRA for their professionalism and patience. I'd like to thank the teaching staff for not only teaching us the knowledge they shared with us, but also for the practice they implemented in their lives, that was an example in itself," Ruveyda Ozturk, a law student, said.

"But the beauty about it all was that everybody contributed to each other's understanding and I felt that was really the enriching part of the program," Ahmet Keskin, CEO of Affinity Intercultural Foundation, added.

Tamana Daqiq, a lawyer and one of the graduated, shared similar appreciation to ISRA. "For me personally ……..what stands out is that this course has given me a renewed perspective of knowledge, as a vehicle, as a tool to change things and to serve," she said.

"So I'd like to thank ISRA and all the hard working staff for giving me this experience and I hope that we are all able to serve this religion, serve this country and hopefully serve God by way of that."

Chancellor of Charles Sturt University congratulated the graduates over the new achievement.

"You are now better placed with your higher education to contribute to making Australia a better place," Lawrence Willet AO said.

Director of the CISAC Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp added that the new graduates have acheieved a milestone towards putting first foundations for the study of Islam in Australia.

"This is a great achievement not only for the graduates, but for the whole CISAC team and CSU," he said.

"We could not be more proud to achieve such a milestone, it means firm foundations have been set for the study of Islam as a faith tradition in Australian universities to meet the needs of Australian Muslims of this great nation.

"I know the University's staff and students and the wider community join me in congratulating our graduates and wishing them every success in their future endeavors," he added.

Established in 2009, CISAC has been collaborating with ISRA to deliver quality Islamic education for Australian Muslims.

With ten years of prior experience in the field of Islamic education behind them, ISRA and CISAC were born with the signing of a partnership with Charles Sturt University making them the first and only Islamic institution delivering accredited university courses on Islam, in Australia.

Following the success of the Islamic Studies courses, CISAC and ISRA Australia have this year launched the Masters of Classical Arabic degree and expect an influx of new enrolments.

Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population. Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.

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