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The fast changing world requires everyone to keep acquiring new knowledge and update existing skills for them to have an edge in their personal and professional lives. Indeed,living in the 21st century requires everyone to be lifelong learners.

The concept of lifelong learning is well-imbued in the West but it is slowly catching up in other parts of the world. In Malaysia, lifelong learning plays a crucial role in nurturing a knowledgeable and skilled workforce, capable of contributing to national development and economic progress. Through lifelong learning, Malaysia hopes to achieve developed nation status as envisioned by her leaders.

In Islam, the pursuit of knowledge is incumbent upon all Muslims, regardless of gender. The unsurpassed achievements of scholars during the early Islamic Empire has been credited to the importance placed on learning and education.

Throughout Islamic history, Muslim scholars have excelled in diverse fields including astronomy, medicine, physics, geography, education and engineering. But since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1924, the Muslim world has not been able to regain its political dominence or its social and economic prominence.

In order for the Muslim world to progress, Islamic education must be made readily available to the community and easily accessible at a time convenient to them.

Malaysia addresses this issue through its Lifelong Islamic Education’s initiative by the Ministry of Higher Education. Its main objectives are two-pronged – offering continuous Islamic education to all levels of society particularly those who missed the opportunity to learn during their academic life and secondly, to provide complementary professional skills to students of religious studies so that they can get better jobs.

The Government is also working towards creating more professionals from among the huffaz (someone who memorises the Quran) such as doctors and engineers, not just as imam or religious scholars. This is important to the country in its efforts to groom a generation of Muslim professionals who can contribute towards building the nation.

This international conference hopes to draw scholars in the fields of Islamic education to discuss issues affecting the Muslim world. It also provides the platform for the exchange of ideas and networking opportunities for participants to collaborate in areas that are of mutual benefit to both their communities and countries.