Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of Allameh Tabataba'i University it is my pleasure to welcome you to the First International Conference on 'Social Policy in the Islamic World'. We are proud to host this conference and the distinguished scholars and researchers who have attended it.
Let me extend my very warm and especial welcome to all of our guests from outside Iran and wish a pleasant stay for them here in Tehran. I should also welcome his Excellency Professor Ali Rabiei, Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare as well as Professor Hossein Salimi, President of Allameh Tabataba'i University and thank them for accepting our invitation to address the conference as keynote speakers in the opening plenary session.
When we started our discussions about designing the SPIW conference in the academic board and with our partners, several political processes were making huge waves across the world affecting Muslim Societies and communities such as political unrests, armed conflicts, and international streams of migrations from or among Muslim countries.
All these issues are still existing and completely related to the social policy agenda. We believed that the lack of a comprehensive and inclusive social policy is related to many of these political developments in Muslim countries. Therefore, the SPIW conference represented a timely response by the academic community.
On the other hand, religion plays a significant role in Muslim societies despite the worldwide processes of modernization and secularization. Bearing in mind that one of the most outstanding features of Islamic social teachings revolves around social welfare concepts, principles, as well as strategies and solutions, there is a question that why Muslim societies have not been able to reach a genuine and comprehensive welfare system stemming from their own tradition.
Of course, all of us agree that there is not a single reading of Islam and it is not possible to portray a single picture of social policy in Muslim societies given the vast diversity of historical, political, and economic circumstances they have experienced as well as various cultural characteristics they possess. However, despite these diversities they have to respond to more or less similar issues and problems in different social policy domains and with regard to various target groups. Hence, there is an important question on how do they deal with these issues and what is the status and role of Islamic teachings in such social policies.
All these questions made us to design the conference and its main themes in a way to stimulate thoughts about various aspects of social policy in the Islamic world from its historical roots to the current situation based on a multi-disciplinary approach.
It is a great pleasure for us to announce that the conference attracted widespread international attention. Nearly 160 abstracts were submitted to the conference, from which 112 abstracts were accepted by the academic board of the conference for oral or poster presentations. Researches and scholars from a diverse range of disciplines as well as from a diverse list of Muslim countries alongside researchers from non-Muslim countries who work on Muslim societies supported this conference by submitting their valuable academic works. Although we do not have the presence of all those who sent their papers to the conference at the moment, but we appreciate their role in enriching this event. This conference is a great opportunity for all of us to share knowledge as well as to challenge each other and to have fruitful discussions.
Allameh Tabataba'i University intends to hold this conference on a regular basis as part of its internationalization strategy and therefore invites all academic institutions and individual researchers who are interested in social policy issues to establish links with the university in various forms to provide grounds for richer academic events in future. Social policy is one of the main academic areas that the Social Science Faculty of ATU has on his educational and research agenda and is going to expand it with a comparative approach. Focusing on Islamic societies for this comparative approach is a priority for us and therefore we are welcoming all kinds of academic collaborations. Since social policy is a multi-disciplinary field, it requires intense cooperation and interaction across disciplines and academic institutions in different parts of the world.
I do believe that this conference could become a proper beginning point for stimulating future academic collaborations with our counterparts in other academic institutions across the globe.
I would like to thank Prof. Hossein Salimi, President of ATU and Prof. Oloomi Yazdi, the Deputy for Research, Dr. Mohammad Reza Vijeh, Deputy for Resource Management as well as Dr. Mandana Tishehyar, Director of the International Academic Cooperation at ATU, for their support to the SPIW conference at the University level.
We are also very grateful to our sponsors and partners both at the national and international level. This important academic event could not come to reality without the support from a long list of national and international entities as well as the intellectual contribution of an outstanding international academic board. ATU is honored to extend its gratitude to all entities and scholars who supported this conference in different ways. My especial thanks go to Professor Jane Millar, Chair of the British Social Policy Association, Professor Guy Peters, President of the International Public Policy Association, and Dr. Rana Jawad, Senior Lecturer in social policy and Coordinator of MENA Social Policy Network at Bath University who are not here but did a great job in supporting the conference.
Last but not least, I should thank all of my colleagues who did an excellent job to arrange this conference and especially let me thank Mrs. Fatemeh Srkani as their representative who was in the forefront of all contacts on behalf of the SPIW team and of course I am very thankful to the full team behind all activities during the past year. We found a great pleasure to work together in the past 12 months and I am glad that we have become good friends during the process of this conference and look forward for future joint activities with them.
Finally, and as you already know, there will be a Tehran tour element to the conference for our guests from abroad which will be today and tomorrow afternoon and evening as well as on Monday for the whole day. So, be ready at the end of the afternoon panels for the tour which will end in Dinner and which I wish you will enjoy it.
Thank you all again for your attention and have a good time at the SPIW conference.