The Centre for Islamic Studies is a pioneering organization in the field of conveying the message of Islam to humanity in Sri Lanka. Well known by its acronym (CIS) it was established in 1985 and incorporated by an Act of Parliament by the Government of Sri Lanka in 1991. CIS enjoys a unique place among other Islamic organizations to-day. Not only is it the premier Islamic organization engaged in introducing the religion, culture and traditions of Islam and the Muslims to communities of other faiths in Sri Lanka, but also remains the foremost of such organizations that engage in interfaith activities through an array of programs conducted at the Centre and in different parts of the country.
The CIS with its headquarters at the heart of Colombo, 15A Rohini Road, Wellawatte has since its inception spread its wings far and wide, reaching out to other communities, explaining the beauty of Islam in a most meaningful way. Its multi-faceted programs include Mosque Tours, Lectures by renowned Islamic thinkers, scholars and speakers from all corners of the world, distribution of free books, booklets, handouts and pamphlets on Islam, conducting in- house training programs, workshops on leadership, personality development and motivational courses for youth, classes on principles of Islam, Tafsir classes with detailed explanation of the Holy Qur’an for learners and support services such as self employment and training in cottage industries among a host of other welfare services offered to the less fortunate sections of the community.
A well equipped bookshop and library provide a continued flow of information on Islam to all who patronize the Centre.
CIS HARMONY CENTER
The latest addition to CIS’ Outreach Program, the Harmony Center was set up a few years ago with a view to reaching out to people of other faiths by serving as a forum for inter-faith activity and inter-religious dialogue.
The Harmony Center set up in the Sheikh Ahmed Deedat Auditorium in the first floor is a fully-equipped outreach center with seating for hundred persons, microphone and AC facilities among other conveniences. It also incorporates a POSTER WALKTHROUGH with colourful and informative posters on a variety of timely topics explaining and clearing misconceptions of the Islamic faith, covering themes such as Equality, Tolerance, Co-existence, Human Rights, Women’s Rights and Animal Rights among other things.
“Mosque Tours” is a unique interfaith initiative where people of other faiths are invited to mosques to learn about Islam. The project undertaken by the Centre for Islamic Studies Harmony Center (CIS) in association with the trustees of local mosques has since its inception in 2014 seen over twenty five (25) mosques in all parts of the country open its doors to people of other faiths. It has had over 15,000 visitors of other faiths ever since it commenced its activities. The concept has been quite revolutionary since it has also been the only occasion where any religious place of worship has been opened to the public by open invitation.
Mosque tours are basically cultural tours aimed at giving those of other faiths a better understanding of the Islamic faith and Muslims in general. Generally visitors of other faiths are keen to visit mosques and experience its rich architecture besides curiosity about what’s going on in mosques due to media publicity, making it all the more necessary for mosques to be seen as welcoming to those of other faiths.
The mosque is also well placed to explain Islamic faith and traditions since it is the centre of Muslim worship to which pious Muslims resort to five times a day to offer their prayers. Furthermore, every aspect of the mosque from its minarets to its absence of idols and prayer rows marked in its rich and ornate carpets lend itself well to explain the fundamentals of Islam such as its uncompromising Unitarianism and spiritual life expressed in daily cycles of prayer.
Besides a tour of the mosque and Q & A, participants are also given an opportunity to enjoy and experience the traditional culture and hospitality of the community as they are invariably served traditional Muslim foods, given free calligraphy of their names in beautiful Arabic script and gift packs of literature clearing misconceptions of the Islamic faith to take home.
Another unique feature of the program is its poster walkthrough which involves large colourful posters in Sinhala, Tamil and English languages being placed side by side and forming a walkthrough which visitors are directed to shortly after the mosque tour proper. The posters which are fixed into stands are replete with colourful imagery expressing the beauty of Islamic culture all over the world together with fairly detailed text that covers everything from Shariah Law and Conditions of its Application to Religious Tolerance, Co-existence, Human Rights, Women’s Rights and Animal Rights among other topics about which little is known among people of other faiths due to prevailing misconceptions.
Of the notable activities of the CIS, the most spectacular have been the sponsorship of lectures by world renowned Islamic Scholars. The year 1985 witnessed the arrival of the first such scholar Br. Yusuf Islam, followed by Sheikh Ahamed Deedat who took the city of Colombo by storm, and whose voice yet resonates through the streets of Colombo and the rest of the Island through the audio tapes of his lectures that were produced subsequently as well as in the hearts and minds of those who had the fortune of listening to him in action. This magnificent lead was followed by professor Jamal Badawi (Canada), Khalid Al Mansur (USA), Ahmed Von Denfer (Germany), Garry Miller (Canada), ,Zakir Naik (India), Yvone Ridley ( UK) ,Yusuf Estes (USA), Jeffry Lang (USA), Ayesha Lemu (Nigeria), Nurdin Lemu (Nigeria), and Idris Tawfiq (Egypt). These lectures programs were well received by the local audiences.
AMAL INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
Amal International School is a Mega Project of CIS – a glittering star over the CIS sky. Being the pioneer in the field of National Education in the English medium, Amal has today grown to be a fully fledged school, with Islam as a base and classes from Montessori to G.C.E. Advance Level and with all modern facilities, state of the art computer Laboratory and Science Laboratory.
Amalians have carved a niche for themselves both in the country and overseas. Many have taken to academic pursuits, following different disciplines in various Universities throughout the world including in Sri Lanka. One is already a doctor and a Hafiz al Qur’an who has assumed duties in a Sri Lankan Hospital. Many Amalians have found gainful employment in some of the best corporate sector establishments both in Sri Lanka and overseas.
“SHARING AND CARING’ WELFARE PROGRAMS
CIS undertakes a number of welfare programs especially in the Holy Month of Ramadan where dry rations and other basic needs are provided to the needy and destitute persons.