1887
Volume 2012, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2218-7480
  • E-ISSN:

Abstract

Vice Chancellor, Your Royal Highnesses, Director, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a very great pleasure for me to be here today to help you celebrate the Oxford Centre's twenty-fifth anniversary. Whereas bits of your Patron are dropping off after the past quarter of a century, I find quite a few bits of the Centre still being added! However, I cannot tell you how encouraged I am that in addition to the Prince of Wales Fellowship, the number of fellowships you now offer continues to grow and also that this Summer you will welcome the fifth group of young people on your Young Muslim Leadership programme which is run in association with my charities. This is a vital contribution to the process of boosting the self-esteem of young Muslims – about whom I care deeply.

I am slightly alarmed that it is now seventeen years since I came here to the Sheldonian to deliver a lecture for the Centre that tried to do just this. I called it “Islam and the West” and, from what I can tell, it clearly struck a chord, and not just here in the U.K. I am still reminded of what I said, particularly when I travel in the Islamic world – in fact, because it was printed, believe it or not, it is the only speech I have ever made which continues to produce a small return!

I wanted to give that lecture to address the dangers of the ignorance and misunderstanding that I felt were growing between the Islamic world and the West in the aftermath of the Cold War. Since then, the situation has both improved and worsened, depending on where you look. Certainly the sorts of advances made by the Oxford Centre have helped to build confidence and understanding, but we all know only too well how some of the things I warned of in that lecture have since come to pass, both here and elsewhere in the world. So it is tremendously important that we continue to work to heal the differences and overcome the misconceptions that still exist. I remain confident that this is possible because there are many values we all share that have the powerful capacity to bind us, rather than what happens when those values are forgotten – or purposefully ignored.

Healing division is also my theme today, but this time it is not the divisions between cultures I want to explore. It is the division that poses a much more fundamental threat to the health and well-being of us all. It is the widening division we are seeing in so many ways between humanity and Nature.

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