Keiko Sakurai, Professor, Faculty of International Education and Research
Reductionist and one-sided media depictions of Islam and Islamic areas make it increasingly difficult to appreciate these regions’ true diversity and dynamism. This underscores the importance of Islamic Area Studies. Our organization’s aim is to deepen our understanding of Islam and Islamic areas through historical and comparative analyses.
Emerging in the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century, Islam spread westward through the Middle East, North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula, and eastward through South, Central, and South East Asia, making it truly a world religion. Islam was well received around the globe because, while retaining the Quran as its sacred text, it incorporated diverse regional and contemporaneous interpretations and practices. Islamic dynasties rose in various parts of the world, bringing prosperity and leaving a sizeable footprint on human history.
But, the Islamic areas of today’s world face numerous problems and challenges. While there are countries in the Persian Gulf that enjoy material prosperity, there are also countries rendered uninhabitable by the environmental devastation of civil wars and other recurring conflicts. These conflicts and economic disparities destabilize not only Islamic areas, but the world as a whole.
Taking these realities into account, Waseda’s Organization for Islamic Area Studies aims to expand our knowledge and deepen our understanding of Islamic areas through analytical approaches that incorporate both historical and contemporary issues. Pursuant to these objectives, I welcome your comments and suggestions.