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Islam Flourishing in Belgium
A leading Islamic academy in the city of Ghent, Belgium, has celebrated its 25th anniversary, marking a quarter century of success in teaching the Holy Quran and Islamic education.
Ghent is located 60 km from Brussels, with about 25,000 Muslims living there.
The Islamic Development and Research Academy was founded in Ghent in 1989 to cater to the needs of the Muslims in the region. The academy also monitors the process of providing animal meats for consumption according to the Islamic laws on slaughtering and it issues certificates for Halal food products.
The top priority since its foundation has been to preserve the study of the Arabic language, Islamic education, and the Holy Quran among the younger generations, who are born and raised as Muslim Belgians.
A ceremony at the academy was recently held to congratulate 15 young boys and girls for memorizing the Holy Quran. They were awarded a number of prizes for accomplishing this feat, including winning a trip to Makkah to perform the pilgrimage.
The youngest of these students was a 15-year-old boy, and currently there are 200 students enrolled at the academy who are studying not only the recitation and memorization of the Holy Quran, but are also studying the meanings of its verses and the correct implementation.
The ceremony also honored Mustafa Al-Diwani; a scholar from Morocco who has been engaged in teaching the Holy Quran since 1975.
“It is possible to train and educate moderate and well-learned Imams and scholars who are born and brought up in Belgium,” Ibrahim Letoush, the director of the Islamic Development and Research Academy, told Kuwait News Agency.
Letoush said that the young boys and girls were all born and brought up in Belgium and they can now become Imams or scholars with a solid foundation in Islamic knowledge. He said that it is very difficult to find Imams who were raised in Belgium and who understand the Belgian and European context, way of thinking, language, and social challenges.
“While attending the Islamic Academy, these youngsters are going to Belgian schools and they are doing very well in their studies. They are combining the two studies and the two disciplines academic and spiritual,” he said.