About a decade ago, a milestone was recorded when the Katsina Islamic Foundation, having been inspired by similar feat recorded in Niger Republic, swiftly moved to expand the frontiers of Islamic formal education.
Obviously not falling victim of the copycat model of adoption, the aim of the founders of the then Katsina University, Katsina (now Al-Qalam University) was to champion a citadel where functional knowledge could be imparted with the fear of Allah.
Having secured the license from the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2005, the university became a legal entity, showcasing strong conduct in moral and academic regulations in strict Islamic practices.
It also prides itself as one point where educated, morally sound and Allah-fearing products are raised for the good of the community and the nation at the larger horizon. Al-Qalam University was originally conceived to offer courses in humanities and sciences.
Immediate challenge before the proprietors after crossing the approval hurdle was taken care of by the Katsina State government under the then governor, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who donated 264 acres of land at its inception.
Donations also started pouring from various stakeholders, including enviable support from frontline leaders like the former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Chancellor, Alhaji (Dr.) Aminu Alhassan Dantata, whose singular support for the institution, to date, is more than a billion Naira in cash and values, making him the single highest donor so far to the university. Support for the Al-Qalam project also came from individuals and organizations from far and near.
Despite its status as a private institution, the Al-Qalam University, Katsina, operates structured, functional and accountable system under the umbrella of its proprietors the Katsina Islamic Foundation which was founded in 1999. Its operations devolve on the Board of Trustees, Governing Council and the University Management.
It is no secret that Katsina has the heritage as Northern Nigeria’s center of scholarship and intellectual excellence, with indisputable claims as the seat of the first Teacher Training College in the country, founded in 1921, where a pool of northern foremost elites were trained and raised.
It is imperative therefore, to forge ahead with that tradition; to create an environment where strict Islamic education is well integrated into broader knowledge in science, arts, humanities, information technology, entrepreneurship and indeed other productive sectors of knowledge through the new institution.
Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W), said, knowledge is the lost property of the believer, he takes it wherever he finds it. It is imperative therefore to expand the scope of knowledge conforming to the philosophy of universalism where knowledge is streamlined according to the needs of the society; this is the Al-Qalam vision.
The institution, according to its Vice Chancellor, Professor Shehu Ado, places highest possible premium on developing products who would not merely be morally sound but also problem solvers and ambassadors of the university wherever they may found themselves around the world.
The name, Al-Qalam, meaning ‘The Pen’ was adopted from the Holy Quran Chapter 68 verse 1. The Pen signifies knowledge, typifying the essence of record and writing as seen in the Holy Quran where it represents the skills of writing. It is also a symbol of education and learning, hence, adopting same shows the importance of knowledge in Islam.
Determined to sustain the vision, March 5, 2016, was remarkable in the life of the institution, reputed as the first Islamic University in Nigeria. Accomplished statesmen, scholars, business moguls and intellectuals converged on the premises of the university to witness the inauguration of the university’s 3rd Board of Trustees led by Alhaji Muhammadu Lawal Kaita, former governor of Kaduna State.
Other members on the board include Alh. (Dr.) Ibrahim Coomassie, Amb. Zakari Ibrahim, Alh. Sani Zangon Daura, Justice Salihu Alfa Belgore, Alh. Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim Imam and Dr. Sani Abubakar Lugga.
Also on the board are Amb. Yahaya Kwande, Dr. Umar Mustapha, Prof. Ibrahim Na’iya Sada, Alh. Dahiru Bara’u Mangal, Alh. (Dr.) Buhari Sani, Prof. Shehu Ado, the Executive Secretary of the Katsina Islamic Foundation, Aliyu Garba Kankara and Mallam Sulaiman Isa Mai’adua.
The chairman of the occasion, Qadi Ibrahim Mai-Unguwa Umar expressed confidence in the new board, to lift the university to an enviable level and reputation. “In the near future and with the caliber of these personalities, Al-Qalam University may be an academic force to reckon with, among its peers,” he said.
The Chancellor, Alh. Aminu Dantata emphasized the task ahead of the board and urged members to ensure the “speedy progress of this emerging and promising university which is indeed the fastest growing and one of the institutions ready to provide solutions to our social and educational predicaments.”
He urged all and sundry, especially Muslims to join hands with him to assist the university towards fulfilling its obligations even as he tasked the new board to work hard in ensuring that the university reached its feat.
The Executive Secretary of the Katsina Islamic Foundation, Aliyu Kankara expressed delight that the mission, vision and aspirations of the founding fathers of the institution were being progressively achieved.
Adebayo writes from 15, Uyo Crescent, Area 11, Garki Abuja
(culled from Daily trust)