Research Unit5 Islamic History and Culture




Professor Abdul-Rahim was born in 1941 in a predominantly Arab village of northern Sudan in the Nile River valley. (It is interesting to note that this was the very village that assistant professor Kurita of Chiba University had once chosen for research.) After graduating from Khartoum

University, Professor Abdul-Rahim moved on to Edinburgh University, where he studied with the late Dr. Montgomery Watt and earned a doctorate in early Islamic thought. After returning to his homeland, he took the podium at his alma mater Khartoum University while working as a visiting professor at Edinburgh University and Malaysia University. After that, he was appointed vice-president of the African Research Center, now the International University of Africa. Since the founding of this university in 1991, he has also served as its vice-president. However, as it is the president of the country who is named the official university president, the "vice-president" of the university is equivalent to our idea of the actual school president.


A Note on the International University of Africa

The International University of Africa is located in the suburbs of Khartoum. Like the University of Khartoum, each region of Sudan has its own state-run university. The International University of Africa, however, is headed instead by an international administration, and is legally independent from the Sudanese state. Although the government of Sudan does happen to be its largest financial contributor, the current head of the university administration is Malaysian, and the school receives sponsorship from worldwide sources.


At present the university holds faculties of law, letters, education, and engineering, with preparations under way for a department of medicine and an African research center. Classes are officialy held in Arabic and English, but in reality, Arabic is predominantly used. Most of the students come from non-Arabic-speaking African nations, as well as a variety of backgrounds, including international students from Malaysia, Indonesia, and other South-East Asian countries; Russian and Eastern European nations; and also Japan. It can be characterized as a university offering an education in Arabic, to students from non-Arabic-speaking nations.

The campus is spacious, and includes dormitories for the students. There are also scholarship funds available. However, as is the situation in most of Sudan, the university is not well equipped for conducting communication. Facsimile, internet, and even telephone use still involve many complications. Also, it cannot be said that the library is particularly well equipped、and much help is needed in these areas.

Purpose of Invitation, Outcome

The main reason for inviting Dr. Abdul-Rahim was that we wished to show him the current state of Japanese research on the Islamic world, and to forge a bridge between the International University of Africa, and Japanese researchers. We also judged that for our project, such a relationship with the International University of Africa, a highly influential force in Black African society, is vital.

Dr. Abdul-Rahim conducted the following two workshops, where he exchanged ideas with our native Japanese researchers.

1) Islam in Africa: Sudan

Date: September 5, 1997
Time: 15:00 to 17:00
Place: National Museum of Ethnic Studies, 4th Floor Seminar Room
Dr. Abdul Rahim started his talk on the spread of Islam in Africa at the time of the Prophet Muhammed, and then moved on to give a wide ranging account of Islam in Africa today. He stressed that , with 400 million Muslims currently in Africa, it is impossible to talk about Islam without discussing Africa.
Much discussion took place after the talk, whereapon Dr. Rahim discovered that the level of Islamic research in Japan had exceeded his expectations by far, and regretted having made his presentation too general. He felt anew the importance of furthering exchange with Japan, and promised to do all in his power to support any researchers who may wish to visit Sudan in the future.
2) The Effects of Modernization in Islamic Society Today
Date: September 11, 1997
Place: The University of Tokyo Institute of Oriental Culture, 3rd Floor Conference Room
Time: 14:00 to 17:00
By chance on this day, a television program commemorating the 120th anniversary of the University of Tokyo was being filmed, and Dr.Abdul Rahim's interview was also included. After this, having regretted the simplicity of his previous lecture, he proceeded to discuss his outlook in his area of expertise. First establishing a definition of modernization, he presented a wide-ranging account of its effects. During the course of the discussion, many counter-arguments were brought up, building an impassioned atmosphere.

The question of modernization being multi-faceted, reaching a definitive conclusion was impossible; however, the discussions here proved enlightening. Dr. Abdul-Rahim seemed to accept in his own way the opinions offered by the researchers of Japan, a country which perhaps can be said to have succeeded in its modernization.

Besides giving the above seminars,the professor met with and exchaged opinions with many other people, including the president of the Universityof Tokyo. He thus observed and gained insight into the state of affairs inJapan.