A mosque in Ohio has pledged $1 million to the University of Cincinnati in order to "boost classes and research" related to Islam.
The University of Cincinnati Foundation announced that the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati has donated $1 million to create a professorship in Islamic Studies that will be named after the mosque's former board chair and his wife.
According to the foundation, the funding for the new Inayat and Ishrat Malik Professorship in Islamic Studies came directly from Dr. Inayat and his wife, a urologist who came to the United States from Pakistan in 1967.
The school said that the new professorship will allow it to enhance research related to Islamic studies.
"We have a significant Muslim population in the area now, many of them affiliated with UC Medical Center," Inayat Malik said in a statement. "Ishrat and I felt that we needed to make this resource available to UC, not just for the sake of the Muslim community but for the larger community so they have an understanding of the history of Muslim civilizations and contributions."
Malik studied urology at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and also served for two decades as a member of the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine's clinical factory.
He was also instrumental in the creation of the Islamic Center, which today is located on an 18-acre campus in West Chester, Ohio. He served as the mosque's board chair for 18 years.
The foundation reports that the Islamic Center is "celebrated for its strong interfaith relationships, cross-cultural understanding and community service."
"I am impressed by the Maliks' desire to lift up UC and the entire community," University of Cincinnati President Neville G. Pinto said in a statement. "This professorship will strengthen our relationships in the Muslim community, similar to how our Judaic and Catholic chairs are linked to their respective communities. It also will deepen our academic expertise in related fields including history, philosophy and international relations."
The professorship in Islamic studies will be located within the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Cincinnati.
The creation of the Malik Professorship comes as Judaic and Catholic studies chairs already exist at the university. The University of Cincinnati believes that the Malik Professorship will round out its "complement of expertise in Abrahamic religions."
Malik is not the only ties that the Islamic Center has with the University of Cincinnati as the mosque's current board president, Shakila Ahmad, is a 1982 graduate of the university and a trustee of the University of Cincinnati Foundation.
"When we realized the need that existed at the university, we felt the Islamic Center had a responsibility to fill the education gaps in regard to Islam and understanding the Muslim-American community," Ahmad said in a statement. "The Muslim community has a strong link and commitment to the university and relies on it as an institution with a wealth of knowledge."
Cincinatti.com reports that before the College of Arts and Sciences begins its search to fulfill the professorship, it will invite Islamic studies scholars to the school to learn more about the field next spring.
There are only a few colleges in the United States that offer Islamic studies majors. Other colleges that offer Islamic Studies program include the Jesuit-founded Georgetown University, Villanova University (Catholic), Columbia University in New York City, Boston College, The Ohio State University, George Washington University, American Islamic College, and the University of California, Los Angeles.