The International Peace College of South Africa (IPSA) over the weekend celebrated its 10th graduation ceremony. The graduation was held at the Centre of the Book, and witnessed the graduation of approximately 30 students donned in vibrant green, white and black. IPSA is the first and only Islamic institution registered by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in South Africa that offers accredited programmes; a Higher Certificate in Islamic Studies, a Bachelor of Arts in Islamic Studies, and a Bachelor of Honours in Islamic studies.
In 2005, IPSA celebrated its inauguration with the joint graduation of merging partners – the former Islamic College of Southern Africa (ICOSA) and the Darul Arqam Islamic Institute.
The road to accreditation was a long and difficult process, which in 2013 culminated in the momentous achievement of provisional accreditation.
In 2015 the National Student records database of DHET indicated that over 1000 students enrolled at the institution since its inception. By 2014, 533 BA degrees and Higher Certificates in Islamic Studies were issued.
The institute boasts some of the top ranking Islamic scholars in South Africa, including; Shaykh Fakhruddin Owaisi, Shaykh Ebrahim Moos, Shaykh Ihsan Taliep, and Shaykh Ismail Londt.
IPSA, since its inception, has endeavoured to adopt an active role in developing Islamic scholarship and research at a national level. In addition, the institute conducts numerous public programmes.
In addition, the institute is launching a special chair and the School of Maqasid Studies as a means to meet the growing demand for authentic research and post graduate programmes within Muslim community of South Africa.
Newly appointed lecturer, Dr. Jasser Auda, explained that he joined the institution since he views the institution as “promising” as it is the only Islamic institution of higher learning in South Africa that is accredited.
He further noted that despite the institution being accredited, it has upheld its Islamic identity. Auda explained that IPSA’s location within South Africa provides a backdrop of a uniquely diverse context. Importantly, Auda noted, the context of South Africa’s recent emancipation, in contrast to Islamic countries, will give rise to “new” Islamic thought.
IPSA boasts a unique array of students who range from between the age of 16 and 55. The institution also accommodates for students that have unique circumstances.
One such student, a pregnant graduate, attests that the most challenging aspect of studying was the preparation for finals, stating the she “would sleep everywhere.” In spite of the challenges that she faced as an expecting mother studying, she noted that the most rewarding aspect of joining the IPSA family is the fact that she was able to meet “amazing people”, including shuyukh, which she described as “outstanding” individuals who facilitated for her a deep a spiritual connection.
A parent of a graduate explained that her son’s attendance at IPSA was a “good thing.” Since the institution encourages critical thinking, his attendance acted as preparation for his entry into university – “his new habit is saying that there is not just one answer.”
VOC (Thakira Desai)