Syed Naquib al-Attas

Prof. Dr. Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas is Founder - Director, International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC). He was born in Bogor in 1931 and received his early education in Sukabumi and Johor Bahru. He later studied at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, England, at the University of Malaya, Singapore; at McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and at the University of London, London, England. He received his M.A. and PhD respectively from the McGill University, Montreal, and University of London, England, with special concentration on Islamic philosophy, theology and metaphysics.

At the National University of Malaysia, which he initially started and organized and of which he is one of the founders, he has been Head of the Department of Malay Language and Literature, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, the first holder of the Chair of Malay Language and Literature, and the first Director of the Institute of Malay Language, Literature and Cultural, which he founded in 1973. He has also been Head of the Division of Literature in the Department of Malay Studies and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur; UNESCO expert on Islamics; Visiting Scholar and Professor of Islamics at Temple University; and at Ohio University, Distinguish Professor of Islamic Studies and the first holder of the Tun Abdul Razak Distinguished Chair of Southeast Asian Studies; at the American University, Washington, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies (1986); Life Holder Distinguished Al- Ghazali Chair of Islamic Thought, International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC), 1993.

Professor al-Attas has lectured throughout the world and written more than twenty books and many articles on Islam in the fields of Islamic philosophy, theology and metaphysics, history, literature, art and civilization, religion and education. Some of his work written in English and Malay have been translated into Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu, French, German, Italian, Russian, Bosnian, Albanian, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Malayalam and Indonesian. For his outstanding contribution in the field of comparative philosophy, the Empress of Iran made him a Fellow of the Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy in 1975. The President of Pakistan awarded him the Iqbal Medal in 1979. Since 1974, Marquis Who’s Who in the World has listed him among individuals who demonstrated outstanding achievement in their own field of endeavor. As a scholar of Islam he has made significant contributions to the contemporary world of Islam in the domains of the Islamization of contemporary knowledge and of Muslim education.

He was responsible for the conceptualization of the Islamic University, which he initially formulated at the First World Conference on Muslim Education, Makkah (1977), as well as the establishment of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (STAC) in 1987. He designed the plan and the building of ISTAC in all its architectural details as well as the landscape and interior d├ęcor (1990-1991). For his creative and scholarly contributions to the contemporary Muslim world he is honored by being conferred for life the Distinguished Al-Ghazali Chair of Islamic Thought by ISTAC (1993). King Hussein made him a Member of the Royal Academy of Jordan (1994). The University of Khartoum conferred upon him the Degree of Honorary Doctorate of Arts (D.Litt.) in June, 1995. The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), on behalf of the Islamic World and through its subsidiary the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) conferred upon him the IRCICA Award for excellent contributions in the various field of Islamic Civilization (2000); the Russian Academy of Science honored him in a Special Presentation to the Academicians, Moscow (2001).

Prof al-Attas is Member of the Advisory Board of Al-Hikma Islamic Translation Series, Institute of Global Cultural Studies, Binghamton University, SUNY, Brigham Young University; Member of the Advisory Board of the Royal Academy for Islamic Civilization Research, Encyclopedia of Arab Islamic Civilization, Amman, Jordan.

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