SHAFAQNA – After 13 years of wait, a stunning new Oxford Center for Islamic Studies is expected to open early next year, with state-of-art features donated by Muslim countries worldwide.
Thirteen years after work started, a £100 million Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies could finally be opened in January.
The centre, independent to Oxford University would consist of an auditorium, a three-floor library, dining hall and mosque.
Work began on the Marston Road building back in 2002 and it was originally expected to open just two years later.
But delays in funding and problems with building work pushed the grand opening back.
The centre is moving into its new home from its current premises in George Street and Registrar Richard Makepeace said the move was nearly complete.
He said: “We are hoping that it will be completed at the end of the year and students and others will start using the building from next term.
The former British Diplomat in Cairo said that the building’s intricate interior had held up the process.
The building has benefited from a number of donors and has received gifts from several countries.
The woodwork in the Malaysia Auditorium, a lecture theatre, was constructed and donated by Malaysia.
The Kuwait Library, which contains a large collection of books, journals and manuscripts from a range of topics from classical works on the Qur’an to modern social sciences, was provided by the Kuwait Foundation of Advancement of Sciences (KFAF).
There are also walls of Iznik tiles native to Turkey.
Makepeace said the centre should be viewed as an academic institute with a mosque rather than the other way around.
He said: “It will be a Muslim institute in the same way that many colleges are Christian institutes.
“The centre will be used by Muslims and non-Muslims – we want to promote scholarship of the Islamic world.
“We hope it will bring more of Oxford to the Muslim world and also more of the Muslim world to Oxford.”
On the other side, Lord Mayor Rae Humberstone planted a tree in the garden on Thursday to signify that the centre’s opening was getting nearer.
The building will be used mostly by students at Oxford University but could also host exhibitions of artwork across the Islamic world, which could be viewed by the public.
The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) was established in 1985 to encourage study of Islam and the Islamic world.